Kat Meadows, Terry Boot, and Al Potter listened with rapt attention as Lily discussed what she'd uncovered.
The last three pairs of victims were clearly romantically linked, but the first two were harder to connect.
"I think this all fits with the profile," Terry Boot exclaimed. "The perpetrator is fuelled by rage.
I don't think the perp was directly involved with any of the victims, but clearly they crossed paths enough times for him, or her, to pick them.
We need to find out how the perp is picking people, which will hopefully allow us to break the cycle. This is going in sequence, but what is that sequence?"
"Well, the first couple were just friends and the next couple had gone on their first date. Then, we had recent proposal, a case of adultery, and a courtship.," Al summarized.
"So those are all different phases- except for adultery, hopefully- in a relationship," Lily said, pursing her lips in concentration.
"Hmmm," Kat Meadows began. "What are we missing? Divorce, separation, marriage? The problem is if death is next…"
Terry Boot spoke up, "the last couple was involved in adultery and they also received the worst of the torture so far, which again makes it feel like the rage is growing.
To put it mildly, this is a bad trend…."
Terry was stopped by further discussion by the entrance of Harry Potter and Parvati Patil, who both looked very grim.
"We just got word from Wales," Harry said soberly. "We have a report of two curse deaths preceded by torture, it was a newly married couple.
Get out there right now! Everybody we can spare- including the trainees. I just need Lily for a moment before you go.
" The other Aurors filed out of the room and Harry looked at his daughter closely.
"Lily I wanted to be the first to tell you. The victims have been identified… " Lily hadn't seen her father so solemn in a long time.
"The victims were Helen Carr and her husband Owen."
Lily felt as if she'd just been plunged in cold water. Lily and Helen had started together on the Harpies and had been roomates at Hogwarts.
"The news hasn't broken yet. We're keeping it quiet. I was just about to contact the Harpies. I'm so sorry, Lily. If you'd rather not go to the crime scene no one would blame you.
I've seen a lifetime of dead friends and it's not easy to stay professional. It hurts... "
Lily put her face in her hands, but she refused to cry. She was an Auror, or at least trying to become one. There would be time for tears once the case was over.
She owed it to her friend to stay strong, to find the monster that hurt her. She resolutely put her hands to her sides.
"No, dad. I want to find this monster! To stop him or her or it from hurting anybody else!" Harry looked at his daughter with a mixture of sadness and pride. He nodded and reached out to her.
Lily sat on the bedroom of her small flat flipping through scrapbooks of her friend with pictures of Hogwarts, the Harpies, and even her recent wedding.
She was distracted by a knock at her door. She moved to open it and found her mother standing in the doorway. Lily mutely moved aside and allowed her to enter.
"Lily, I know you've been hearing nothing but sorries all day, and I am, but I want you to know that I'm here if you need to talk, to yell, or even to scream.
I'd hoped my children would never feel the evil of murder. Your father and I saw so much death during the Battle. Eventually the ones we love leave us, but to have them taken by a monster...
" Ginny paused and collected her thoughts. "Dad said you volunteered to tell her parents and the Harpies squad."
Lily nodded sadly, "It was horrible, telling your best friend's parents that their only daughter and son-in-law were brutally tortured and murdered by a madman,...
they thanked me, said how much I meant to Helen, and said they knew I-we-would do our best to find the killer. I guess the training is working. I held it together.
I'm even more certain that my new life is right; that I'm on the right path! I will find this bastard and I hope I can be the one to place him into custody. Did dad tell you what we discovered?"
Ginny nodded and Lily continued. "It appears that Owen was forced to kill… " Lily wasn't able to continue her thought.
Ginny saw the fire in her daughter's eyes, and she feared for her,
but she knew that the spark in Lily to become an Auror had burst into a bonfire and was quickly becoming a smoldering determination to see justice done.
She'd seen the same flame in Harry's eyes, in Albus and even James over the years, and she recognized the same fighting spirit in herself.
In spite of the tragedy, she was so proud of her children- of what they'd become.
Lily walked quickly down Diagon Alley on her way to the Ministry. Her monochromatic Auror uniform, and determined gait, were enough move the other pedestrians quickly out of her way.
Unfortunately Lily was so consumed with her own thoughts that she didn't notice the young man standing in front of her,
and she collided with him with impact hard enough to put both of them on the ground.
"I beg your pardon... " the young man began.
"Why weren't you watching were you were going?" Lily snapped with ill temper.
"I could ask the same of you! I was standing still. If you'd been paying attention, and not moving like a bat out of hell, you might have seen me."
"You were gawking like a tourist, map and all," Lily snapped back.
"Well, that's because I am a tourist!" The man studied Lily with interest.
"I was trying to find my way around, but given how beautiful the sights are," he grinned at Lily, "I seem to have made out quite well." The man stood and offered Lily his hand.
"Your accent. You're an American!" Lily allowed herself to be helped to her feet. He continued to hold her hand lightly.
"Guilty as charged. I'm Andrew Fontana," he kissed her hand, "The pleasure is all mine. Miss?" He let go of her hand, but continued to grin widely.
Lily looked askew at him. He was self confident, that much was very clear, and she had to admit quite handsome.
Bright blue eyes, dark hair, and tall, although being taller than her wasn't a hard thing to accomplish as she was only 5'3".
"Lily Luna Potter," she said slowly and distinctly, and wondering if he may have heard of her. Quidditch wasn't as popular in North America and Potter was a rather common name.
"A beautiful combination of names befitting a beautiful woman," Fontana replied, grinning again.
"I think that's the worst pickup line I've ever heard!" Lily laughed.
"It's only the worst if it doesn't work. If it does, I'm golden. Besides you have to admit that Lily Luna Potter has a certain poetic ring to it.
" Fontana spread his hands out in a gesture he hoped would be conciliatory. Lily shook her head and grinned back.
"Poetic? Are you a poet?" Lily asked raising an eyebrow.
"With a muse like you I'll give it a shot," Fontana laughed. "Maybe over dinner tonight? You can show me around town... " Fontana smiled hopefully.
"But what if your poetic falterry falls flat? That'd be sad, indeed," Lily said with mock seriousness.
"I'll take that risk to see you again, beautiful Lily," Fontana noted as he gazed at her steadily. Lily reflected that it been a long time since she'd been on a date and she was very tempted.
Lily glanced at her watch and realized that she'd soon be late for work.
"Look I have to get to work, but I should be off around 5 and let's say you happen to visit the Leaky Cauldron, you'll find it on that map of yours,
and just maybe we'll bump into each other again. If that were happen, perhaps we could visit Muggle London. IF we bump into each other, that is…"
"Don't worry! I'll be there and I'll make sure to find you. Who knows- it could be true love! Till we meet again," Fontana took her hand gently and kissed it again.
He walked away and with a backward glance and grin he vanished.
Lily continued on to work wondering if fate was once again moving her in a new direction, but all at once she sobered as she remembered the killer was still out there somewhere.