Who: Henry Radford, others
Where: The Grotto
When: 30 June 2002, evening
Henry Radford was losing his mind.
He hadn’t shaved or showered in days. He’d barely left his study since he’d been told he could no longer assist in the hunt for his daughter. He’d barely spoken to Susan as it seemed that neither of them knew what to say anymore.
Instead he was pouring over evidence. Over and over. Trying to make sense of it all.
Which was nearly impossible when it was all he could do at any given moment not to let the pounding in his head and the bloody wound where his heart had been overwhelm him. It was only the need to find Daisy that allowed him to fight through it.
The Brocklehurst girl had done it.
He knew it. He’d known it since Frankie had handed him Blaise Zabini’s handkerchief. She had motive, having been in love with the Cornfoot boy for years by all accounts. She’d had means--hadn’t she been the one to discover Cornfoot’s assault and the “missing” files that had lead to the graffiti? Hadn’t she been with Daisy when she’d been Imperiused to disappear? And now that he was closing in, now that people in town had seen his files and word had likely gotten back to her about their content, his daughter had disappeared.
It was Mandy Brocklehurst, for all he had been avoiding telling Susan who her friend really was.
He knew it.
He just needed something solid, something besides the circumstantial evidence stacked against her a mile high, to prove it.
He was on his third firewhiskey of the evening and staring at crime scene photos he’d stared at a hundred time. It had to be here. The slip-up. The mistake. There had to be something. Something, anything, that would solidify his suspicions enough to help him find Daisy.
And then he was saw it.
The knot. It was so simple. So obvious. How could he have missed it? How had he had it all so wrong?
How could he have been so fucking blind? How had they all?
Jolting to his feet, he wrenched the door open and barked something to Susan before Disapparating. The DMLE would listen to him now. They’d have to.
He’d make them.
Megan Jones was not very bloody amused.
What kind of person caused such a racket late at night that they woke up innocent people who were fast asleep in their own beds? Some people could not spend their Monday night partying at the Grotto celebrating the World Cup. Some people had to be at work in the morning. And some people needed their beauty sleep, dammit!
And why was the commotion happening on the Brocklehurst’s front porch of all places?!
Hauling herself out of bed, she groped about for her spectacles, shouted some bleary insults out the window, and went in search of tea, a silencing charm, and perhaps something to break.
It was the third building they raided that finally yielded his daughter.
The attic of Orpington Industries. How fitting. How twisted. How perfect a window into the mind of a psychopath was it to find Daisy playing an Imperiused tea party in the attic of the offices that had belonged to the first murder victim.
But Henry didn’t have much time to contemplate this. Not right now. Because as soon as the Obliviators helped to free Daisy from the Imperius Curse, he fell to his knees and pulled her tightly into his arms, rocking her as he sobbed into her hair.
Daisy, for her part, was confused about why her daddy was crying at her tea party. Wouldn’t he like some tea?
It took everything Henry had to return Daisy and the medical team to his home (and Susan’s waiting arms in the case of Daisy), and then walk away again. But he did it.
He had a murderer to catch.
Sally-Anne wasn’t sure how much she’d drunk, just that the bright red Russian-themed cocktails tasted so much like raspberry that she could hardly taste any of the lovely, lovely vodka in them. When she realised that she wasn’t just talking to Tom Pippin but was flirting with him instead, she decided that it would probably be best if she got some fresh air to clear her head just a little bit before she had another drink.
There were none of the usual smokers clustered around the entrance to the club, though, just the bouncer who seemed far meeker than normal and a man that Sally-Anne recognised as one of the Hit Wizards who had been in the village recently. He was one of the nicer customers, so she gave him a tipsy smile.
His expression remained stony. “You should go home,” he told her quietly.
“I’ve only had a couple of drinks,” Sally-Anne said, shaking her head. Or four. “I’ll be fine.”
A quiet conversation behind her made her turn her head. There was a pair of Hit Wizards there, both in uniform. Over there down the street was another one. Sally-Anne felt light-headed. This wasn’t normal for a Monday night in Helga’s Hill; she wobbled a little on her heels, feeling like nothing was ever normal here any more. “I should go home?” she asked uncertainly.
The Hit Wizard looked grim. “That would be the best idea.”
When she saw another Hit Wizard appear, she nodded weakly. “Okay.”
When he saw Henry Radford, he knew this was the end. Moments of clarity like that happened every so often, the world dimming in places and brightening in others to tell him exactly what to do. Just like that one May night a year ago when the most sensible thing in the world had been to strangle Xavier Orpington with his own tie when a final mention of his legacy had been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Orpington’s legacy wasn’t a high rise. Orpington’s legacy wasn’t “improving the community”. Orpington’s legacy made him coffee and dealt with the angry investors and heartbroken women that he left in his wake.
Orpington’s legacy was the son of Leticia Pugh, yet another woman that he had dumped, this one after he found out she was pregnant with his child. Years later, he’d been so very kind as to employ his son, as though that made up for nearly two decades of cold shoulders. It didn’t.
It was all out in the open now. If he was here, dearest Daddy Radford had probably been reunited with Daisy; he was looking delightfully unravelled now. Yes, the Imperius connection to the little girl was gone, her week-long playtime in the attic finished. Daisy’s tea party with her toys was over and it was time to go back to reality instead.
The reality for Stephen Cornfoot right now was that he was about to be arrested for murder, kidnapping, numerous uses of the Imperius Curse, and probably even a few misdeeds that even he had forgotten about; it had been a long year.
Stephen realised that he was surrounded by Hit Wizards a little too late. Well, that wasn’t sporting. He couldn’t help but smirk, meeting Radford’s eyes and realising that the club had become quiet, the chatter beneath the music dying as more and more people turned their attention to the uniformed DMLE wizards.
Casually, Stephen took his time to turn and put down his glass of very nice Chilean red wine, watching Radford out of the corner of his eye all the while. If Radford had wanted to take the easy route, he could have stunned him from a distance. He probably wanted this arrest to be seen, so Stephen decided that he would give the anxious crowd something to watch. As he returned to his previous stance, he smoothly removed his wand from his jacket’s inner pocket. “Imperio.”
People started to run before the gasps had even died down. Not Stebbins or Dunstan. They moved away from their spot at the bar, blank expressions pasted on their faces as they became the perfect temporary lackeys. While their minds were a little more resistant to his invasion than he would have liked, Stephen still took control with relative ease. By this point, he had cast the spell so many times that saying it aloud tonight was merely for show. The two Hufflepuffs were the first to start firing hexes, cursing the Hit Wizards as though their lives depended on it and evening the stakes just enough that Stephen could focus most of his energy on wearing down what remained of Radford’s stamina.
The World Cup party was well and truly over, the music switching off mid keychange just before someone screamed. One of the mirrors behind the bar smashed as a spell hit and a bottle of something highly flammable exploded. The flames caught Stephen’s attention and that was when he made the mistake of turning his head to look. As he saw a streak of red light hit a shocked Mandy, his mouth fell open and his wand arm shifted a few inches as though trying to reach out to her. No!
Then, Stephen froze.
Henry stepped through the chaos towards the frozen Cornfoot after glancing over to make sure that someone was seeing to the poor, maligned Miss Brocklehurst’s injuries. She was an innocent victim in all of this. Just one of the many taken in by Stephen’s charm and good looks and need to control and trick those around him.
Taking Cornfoot’s face in his hand, he forced the young man to look him in the eye so he could understand just what was happening and just how real it was.
“You’re done,” he murmured so only Stephen could hear him. “It’s over.”