(1939-02-22) Jewellery to Die For
Details for Jewellery to Die For
Summary: The Aurors Edwarlinda Malfoy and Genevieve Cooper interview a hospitalised Muggle terrorist — the best and only human lead in the MLE's investigation into the attack on the Sykes Holiday Gala.
Date: February 21st, 1939
Location: The Spell Damage ward at St Mungo's Hospital.
Related: Holiday Horror

Spell Damage

This area of the hospital has been set up for a double purpose. At the beginning of the ward are multiple stations meant to deal with transitory cases that only need the attention of Medi-wizards or Healers for a few hours. These stations have a small adjustable bed and a rolling chair and a stand with all the necessary tools to deal with any kind of temporary damage caused by misfiring or misused spells. The back of the ward has been designed to resemble a boarding house with individual rooms for each patient. These rooms are separated from the primary ward by a set of double doors securely locked by multiple charms. Over the doors a large wooden signs reads:

"Spells Damage Ward. Long Term Care Wing."

During the night this ward is illuminated by the ever present light globes floating around the ceiling.

Overall, this investigation has seen quite a slow start. The actual attack itself had taken place over a month ago, and the lack of progress has left high members of pureblood society tense while MLE officials remain on the edge. There's no way around the truth - a few factors have prevented the proverbial ball from rolling.

"As you already know, he's mute," Cooper sits across from Edwarlinda in a dim room that is mostly empty save for the severe metal table they sit at. To Eddie's right is a wide rectangular window that takes the span of the entire wall. On the other side of the window is the muted suspect himself, sallow with age and likely no younger than 100 years. The hospital bed seems to consume his week frame, which is still tied to the bed rungs. A no-nonsense auror stands guard by the door that leads from Cooper and Eddies' room into the hospital room.

"It took a lot of tests but we learned that he wasn't born that way. Neither is he choosing to keep silent. His mouth has been bound shut - some dark curse, likely activated by his chums when he brought him into custody. And try as we might, we haven't been able to remove it, at least without killing the man. But we'll still keep trying." Pushing her frames up the slope of her nose, the messy haired Auror places a manila envelope on the table marked 'EVIDENCE' for later viewing. First she must deliver a bit more bad news. "And also … remember that background check you wanted us to do on him? Finger prints, asking others if they recognize his face?" Cooper lets the words linger there a moment, as if she knows Eddie won't be happy with what she has to say.

The shell of a pistachio nut cracks between Edwarlinda Malfoy's fingertips, where she'd rather be holding a cigarette. She gave in and smoked a furtive fag in a stairwell this morning, after having to be up and out before the sun again, and with the memory of nicotine hardly stale in her lungs even her favourite displacement snack just isn't cutting it. Still, there were people to see, statements to read over, ducks to try to line up in something resembling a row, before confronting this criminal who has had the poor taste to stay snoozing longer than any of his victims — his surviving victims — and to stay silent longer still. Cooper's brain may be, as Eddie has discovered in recent weeks, a more miraculous resource even than she knew when they worked together in the past, but her own used not to be so shabby either and she's been working it hard… reviewing, well, mostly the material Cooper puts on her desk every day. Teamwork, right?

… She pops the pistachio nut into her mouth and the empty shell into one of the many already-overloaded pockets of her grey robes, which hang open over a flaming red suit of soft wool with threads of gold woven through the collar. "All right," she sighs, reaching for the 'EVIDENCE' envelope to draw it across to her side of the table. Though she leaves it to sit — her eyes are still upon her younger colleague, waiting for the executive summary, or at any rate for whatever's too important to be left till she finds it on her own. "Let me have it. In what other way is he going to make our lives more difficult than they already are?"

Cooper presses her lips together watching Eddie de-shell and snack so tensely in front of her. Unaware of the woman's inner turmoil, she's interpreting this as disapproval from a superior officer for a job not well done. But she must tell the truth anyway. "The identity that was tied to him, tied to his prints and his description, whatever we could gather - it didn't match. We kept ending up with this Muggle optometrist, Clarkeson King who was born in 1813 and died in 1878." Cooper turns her head to look through the window (which is obviously the other side of a one-way mirror) at the suspect. "I mean, he's old .. but he's not that old." A hand combs through her already ridiculous hair. Letting the news of the dead-end sink in, the frumpy and tired looking Auror inhales deeply and sighs. "I'm sorry Eddie. I really tried exhausting every angle on this one … maybe you can think of another way we can approach this. If you don't have any questions, I can show you what was on his person when he was caught."

Marvelous. Superb. The best lead they have is a man who might drop dead at any moment, who can't say a word in the meantime, and who is, whatever else he might be, not a Muggle optometrist who's been dead for sixty years. Another pistachio nut begins its progress toward its doom as Eddie considers what she's just been told. "I know you'll have tried everything," Eddie assures Cooper. The nut vanishes into her red-lipsticked mouth, the shell into her grey pocket. Eddie Malfoy. Glamour girl and highly professional Auror, all at once. "So I'll just have to think of something besides everything. If no one's elderly relations can recognise him, if his fingerprints don't lead anywhere… Have you had someone put a quill in his hand and try to talk him into writing? He might give something away, even by accident — his physical condition is so weak that his mind can't be at its most acute." She opens the folder and glances at the top page, then up at Cooper again. "Yes, remind me what he had on him. Show me. I read the list, but you may have gathered something from it that I didn't."

"Two heads are better than one Eddie. There's no way I could have thought of everything," Cooper tries to reassure her partner somehow. Feeling that this may be a stressful evening she props her boots up onto an empty chair and says, "We did try asking him to cooperate and write something before. Only he was highly resistant. Simply resorted to writing lewd things on the parchment instead of answering our questions. You're right though, he's greatly waned health wise since then. Perhaps we can give it another go."

Right, the evidence. "Plain black robes, socks and shoes. His wand - a ten and a half Fir - is not his, we found out. So we're working with Hawthorne and Ollivander to see if they can help identify its true owner." When Eddie picked up the envelope, she'll notice there was a slight bit of weight to it, and that the loose item within slid back and forth agains the manilla material.

Once it's opened, she will see that it's a necklace with a thick gold chain. Its pendant is a heavy gold crown, embedded with diamonds and small enough to fit in the palm of one's hand. It has five points, each of which carries a red gem at the tip. There are latex gloves available for Eddie to handle the object. "This was found around his neck. We haven't found any notable markings or prints on it."

Eddie nods her approval. If Hawthorne and Ollivander between them can't identify the wand — well, it's impossible; with that much expertise, they'll win through eventually, probably without raising a sweat. "Do you remember that blackboard they had your words appearing on when you were in quarantine here — when you had spattergroit?" she asks Cooper, as she edges her hands one by one into those clingy, awkward latex gloves. Her fingernails are a damned sight shorter now, after nearly eight months of motherhood, than at any other time in her adult life; which reduces at least the risk of an accidental manicure-related puncture. "Every time you said 'shite' or 'bollocks', the words were censored… Perhaps we could get one of those in here for him." She nods unsympathetically at the mirror, or the window, or whatever you want to call it. The second glove snaps into place. She takes hold of the necklace, very delicately, by its chain; and dangles it in the air close in front of her, where it sways like a pendulum before her cool blue eyes.

Cooper leans in against the table so that she can watch the glint of the pendant in the lone light. In the meantime, she sneaks a few of Edwarlinda's pistachio's in her hands, following the woman's same procedure. Deshell, eat, discard. However, when Eddie brings up the memory of her all-too-long quarantine, she chokes on a nut with a highly unattractive 'huuhhh-gh'. There a fit of coughs she must go through to regain her composure, and Cooper eventually manages a wheezy, "Yes, I do remember that. Let me go — erm actually. I'll send for one." Finishing out her coughs, she heads to the other door that lead to a main hallway. There are some quiet words exchanged and Cooper is back next to Edwarlinda. "So what do you think Eddie? Find anything interesting."

"I don't know," Eddie admits. She has set the necklace down on top of the manila envelope, though her attention lingers upon it and she's kept the latex gloves on in case she fancies pawing at it a little more. "It's not exactly out of one of the displays in Asprey's, is it?" She mentions the favoured jeweller of the Muggle royal family, a firm whose lavish premises in Bond Street are attractive even to members of the magical world — if they happen to be female. "I'm going to show it to my brother Cyril," she decides, touching one of the red jewels set in the points of the crown with one delicate, gloved finger. "The jewellery he's given me — if this is out of a tomb or a palace or a hole in the ground somewhere, he might be able to give us an idea of the location of that particular hole, or who else in Britain might be selling this kind of trinket to that kind of lowlife."

"Not Asprey's indeed," Cooper agrees idly, also taking a long look at the pendant. Her nose scrunches and a slight smirk forms on her face, "It's almost … tacky isn't it?" A snicker follows. "At least for my taste. It's hard to believe our ancient grandfather here was carrying it. Almost makes him seem like a godfather of some sort." Her eyes look over to the ailing elderly man on the other side of the window. But her brows raise at the mention of Cyril. "Oh…yes that's uh…that's a good idea…," she pushes her glasses up the slope of her nose once more in a returning anxiety. "I think perhaps you may want to leave my name out of it … I don't know if he told you but. You remember when you came to visit me right? How he wanted to take me out? Well I uh … stood him up." Awwwwkwardddd. When the professional world and the business world collide! Luckily, Cooper is saved by a knock at the door. Looks like the spattergroit slab has arrived!

In the midst of shoving the tawdry pendant back into the envelope, and the envelope into one of the capacious inner pockets of her robes, Eddie looks up at Cooper with an expression of wholly feminine dismay. "What did he do?" she demands, as is a sister's prerogative. "… No, don't tell me," she sighs. "We can talk about it later over a glass of something."

In response to the knock Eddie stands up to her full and magnificent high-heeled height, and smiles grimly at the hospital dogsbody who has delivered the special blackboard from the quarantine ward. "Thank you, I think we'll find this rather useful." She indicates that it should be given to Cooper to carry (seniority has its benefits) and puts her latex-gloved palm flat against the door of the inner chamber to push it open.

In she strides. Tall, confident, unconsciously aristocratic, with the look of the Malfoys about her. Just the sort of visitor a Muggle terrorist will adore.

Cooper begins her explanation with a few clumsy words, "Well nothing really I-" But she's told by Eddie to not continue further. And the older Auror is correct! Cooper snaps back into business mode, gingerly accepting the chalkboard due to all the terrible memories it holds. And like Sancho Panza, she follows the beautiful Don Quixote into the suspect's room.

He indeed is quite thrilled to see her. It's written all over his miserable, jaundiced face, that glares at Eddie with intensity despite his weak state. The healer who delivered said board adjusts the hospital bed so that the man could begrudgingly sit up. And with the help of Cooper, they place his veiny, liverspotted hands on the top two corners of the slab. Meanwhile, the guarding Auror pulls a stool for Edwarlinda to sit upon for taking his place back by the door.

Ahh, what a lucky terrorist. He has now the two best-looking blondes in the MLE gathered round his bedside, arranged so that he can't hope to keep his eyes on both of them at once. While Cooper superintends the board, Eddie perches upon the stool, further back on the other side of the bed, crossing one leg over the other at the knee and regarding their miserable weasel of a prisoner with an expression so infinitely calm it's verging upon blankness. "Your name," she says quietly, her ice-blue eyes looking all the way down into his without flinching. Whatever she sees there will, she knows, be damnably unpleasant — but, equally, she knows she's seen worse. "And the names of your co-conspirators."

The answer doesn't come immediately. The elderly suspect instead sizes up his adversaries - first the healer and Cooper who have his hand stuck on the board. Then Edwarlinda herself. Easing up on the intense glare, he instead settles to a calculating and cool look. In their regular resting state, his eyes are rather dark and devoid of emotion - almost as if he were dead already. And yet he scans her feet to face in a rather creepy and evaluating manner. 'Malfoy, right?' the words begin to show up on the chalkboard slab. 'You have a nice a~~~.'

Gotta love Mungo's censorship.

The weasel is deeply mistaken. It is the bottom of the case they are supposed to be getting at — but Eddie, who has resolved to be calm, to be patient, to give no one any grounds upon which to claim the pureblooded sister of a pureblooded torture victim was anything but professional in her dealings with a Muggleborn prisoner, keeps her face carefully blank in response to the provocation. Let Cooper be affronted (as she seems to be) on her behalf. She herself will still have a nice arse when the wretched facsimile of a man before her is feeding worms. Next week, perhaps.

"Very helpful," she answers coolly. "You seem to know my name, so why don't you sign your name to your opinion?" A beat. "And follow it with the names of your fellow conspirators in the attack upon the Sykes home. The names of your fellow torturers, and fellow murderers. We'll find out soon enough — this may be the only opportunity you have, today, to secure a scrap of goodwill from us."

Cooper is as solid as a rock, luckily graced with a god-given poker face that's gotten her quite far in her career. Undercover was really more her thing after all! But the elderly man whose hand she keeps still seems to be the one affronted. His scraggily grey brows knot together, his lips twist into a frown. 'If you want to arrest any torturers or murderers, you should looks deeply within your own kind. I don't need the pathetic good will of your dying and diminishing society.'

As the board is displayed to her, Eddie breaks eye contact with the prisoner just long enough to read this unappealingly self-righteous and hypocritical drivel with every appearance of interest. And then she looks back at him and raises an eyebrow. "Are you implying that your little cabal, your alliance of cold-blooded and sadistic criminals, who tortured schoolchildren and murdered mothers, was in fact directed by pureblooded wizards with some sort of arcane vendetta, rather than by Muggleborns such as yourself?"

'I'm not saying sh~~~ other than pure bloods are the real filth and mud of this world. And that Grindelwald and his gaggle of rubbish wizards are committing greater atrocities against innocent people. Only the magical world seems to be worshipping at his feet. We merely gave pure bloods a taste of these atrocities.' The elderly man's nostrils flare slightly, his brows knotting more furiously. 'But you'll all be sorry. Mark my words, you'll all be sorry.'

Edwarlinda reaches casually inside her robes. The manila envelope she tucked away there crinkles; and then her prudently-gloved hand re-emerges with the chain of the crown necklace wrapped twice around it, and the pendant tucked into her palm. She lets go of it and spins it out slowly, almost absent-mindedly, in the air between herself and the hospital bed to which the prisoner is secured, as she speaks. "Sorry indeed, that anyone with your taste for violence, your disregard for civilised morality, your inability to tell the guilty from the innocent, should be a part of wizarding society." Her voice is serene, distant, extremely well-bred. She will not be provoked. "If it helps — you're the guilty one here."

And suddenly the aggressive and indignant look on the elderly man's face wavers and then melts into one of pale helplessness. He finally looks like the frail old man he really is. His dark eyes stare at the golden crown for a while and then the struggle begins! Thrashing his arms and legs (which are constrained by leather belts enforced with magic), he desperately tries to make a grab for the pendant, only Cooper and the healer keep him restrained further.

"Oh! I think he was looking for that when he woke up from being unconscious," the healer says, remembering how distraught the man was as he tried to feel for something around his neck. All the while, the old man continues his thrashing that the bed shakes. At this point, the guarding Auror has stepped to help.

However the violent movement stops. The old, archaic suspect goes stiff, and let's out a series of coughs, each one more horrid than the last until the last few where actual blood is spit up from his mouth. It splatters on to the guard Auror, the healer and Cooper, a few speckles even reaching Edwarlinda.

A reaction. Of course Eddie was hoping for a reaction to the sight of this potentially precious piece of the prisoner's property in her hands. But it seems she's overshot her mark; and, to judge by the healer's concern, and the alacrity with which she's summoning her colleagues to the bedside as well, she's rendered the antiquated weasel unquestionable for the rest of the day as well as creating an immediate necessity for her suit and possibly also her robes to be taken out and burned. She restores the pendant to the envelope in one of her many and various inside pockets; and rises from the stool and takes a step back, motioning for Cooper (board in tow) to join her in the next room and leave the way clear for the healers to do their work.

"Priority number one," she murmurs, wrinkling her nose now that they're unobserved. "Change. Priority number two… the necklace."

Cooper quickly catches Edwarlinda's signal, and relinquishes the reviving duties to the green-robed healers, who pour into the room with the proper supplies. Back in the previous room, she takes notes on Eddie's priorities as the two women quietly and unaffectedly watch the elderly man cough another round of blood and seize in the hands of the healers. "Yes, you'll have to see what Cyril says about this," Cooper says, casually cleaning blood off her lenses with a clean part of her lumpy sweater. But with a more stern look on her face she adds, "And we'll have to talk to Ogden about increasing security. I'm sure you heard him - about making purebloods sorry. I don't think the Sykes Gala is the last we'll see of this…"

Eddie Malfoy stands with her arms folded across her bountiful bosom, and pensive eyes upon the medical drama via the one-way mirror. "Not the last by a long shot," she predicts. "He'll have to be questioned again, once the healers let us in. What are you doing for dinner? We can order something in to the office and look in on him again afterwards."

Little do the two women know in that moment, that they will not have another chance to question the mysterious mute. For a while there are many reviving techniques and potions tried on the ailing senior, but after an hour, the healers make it official. The only human lead in this investigation is pronounced dead.

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