Percival stared at the files scattered across the table in front of him with disgust. His head ached, and he felt like there had been no progress on this for too long. The original twelve aurors had always been important in American wizarding society, and that gave their descendants certain privileges. Percival had been on the receiving end of a lot of those himself, along with the expectations that came with being a Graves. He didn’t mind the fact that Charlotte Fischer had got promoted a little early, or that Thomas Fontaine had been allowed back to school after hexing a No-Maj who had bullied him. It was an irritation, a reminder that no matter how much he believed in equality he would never receive it. But that was all.
Rufus Grimsditch was an entirely different matter. The Grimsditch family were respected, of course they were, after Robert Grimsditch had laid down his life in the fight against the Scourers in an attempt to protect wizarding kind. It was just a shame that his descendants hadn’t followed his example. Percival looked at the photograph that faced him, anger bubbling inside him at how happy Rufus looked at a party, smartly dressed and wearing expensive tailored suits.
It was an open secret that Rufus Grimsditch and his sister Kathleen were dealing in trafficking. Not just the parts of magical creatures, that was sickening enough, but in humans. In squibs and No-Majs mostly, but the occasional wizard or witch that no one would miss. They treated their prisoners little better than the creatures that they cut up for parts. But there was no proof, and without proof they couldn’t make their move – especially with the family’s close ties to the New York Ghost. Make a mistake, accuse them with insufficient evidence, and it would be Percival’s aurors that would be punished.
He turned the photograph over, no longer able to look at the other man. He had been at Ilvermorny the same time as Percival, two years above him and in Thunderbird House. They had sat opposite each other at the dinners which were held for the Descendants. And Percival had had to listen to Rufus spouting off about blood purity. He’d been listening too much to the European wizarding lines, thought that the original twelve should be as inbred as the Sacred Twenty Eight. Even suggested that Percival woo Kathleen. Percival had despised the man then. He hated him now.
The evidence wasn’t quite enough. There were rumours, but that was all. A few rescued No-Majs with most of their memory obliterated, who flinched back when shown photographs of Rufus. Trades of animal parts when Kathleen was in town visiting friends, and a vast amount of money flowing into the family from no visible source. Nothing he could prove, but a certainty none the less.
Percival groaned softly, resting his head on his hands. Rufus was in New York for a business trip, was staying for the next two months if his wand permit was to be believed. This could be Percival’s chance to catch him in the act. But until he had evidence, he could do nothing, and before he did something he could not get the evidence he needed. He closed his eyes, willing all the files back into their folder, and looked up at a knock to his office door.
Goldstein stuck her head around the door before walking in. Percival was grateful that at least today she had remembered to knock. She looked almost bouncy, resembling her sister more at that moment than ever. Percival could recognise when the young woman had a lead on a case, she was just so exuberant about it.
“What is it Goldstein?”
“Gnarlack.” She smiled brightly. “He’s been to see me.”
“What about?” Percival prompted, sighing a little at how getting information from Goldstein at times could be like trying to get blood from a particularly reluctant and hyperactive stone.
“Sorry sir.” Goldstein seemed to catch herself, and flashed him an embarrassed smile. “He’s got a trade in unicorn blood going down in the Blind Pig tonight. He might not want a raid but he doesn’t want the deal to happen. Bad luck, you know?” She asked, and Percival nodded.
“And why are you quite so delighted?” He asked. It was good news, but that didn’t quite explain her demeanour.
“Because the deal is being carried out by Arnold.”
Arnold was a well known associate of the Grimsditchs. If they could catch the deal taking place, that would be reason enough to raid the Grimsditch premises.
“Get everyone together. We’re carrying out a raid tonight.”
Apparating into the Blind Pig was always an experience, and never a positive one – there were glimpses of other figures apparating out as they appeared, screams of ‘MACUSA’ rending the air. Curses went flying, but those were easy enough to block.
Percival saw Arnold and cast stupefy over him before he could escape, as his aurors dealt with the man he was with. Scarce able to believe his luck, Percival approached, and saw that Arnold had been holding a glass vial when he fell. It was filled with silver-blue liquid which seemed to shine. He turned to his aurors.
He left some of the rookies behind to deal with the two who had carried out the deal, while he organised the rest of the squad. This was a raid he had been planning for months, but had thought might never happen. The Grimsditch family were too well protected, but even their name couldn’t save you if you were handling a substance as restricted as this.
It took his best aurors nearly an hour to work through the wards which protected the warehouse which the Grimsditch family used. It was far away from their main property, and past evidence had led Percival to believe that this was where the illegal dealings took place.
He was first inside, in case there was some trap they had missed. The first thing he noticed was the stench of death. Whoever had been here had left in a rush. The building was near empty, but a unicorn’s body was lying on the floor, ripped open and with blood spilled on the nearby tiles. Percival looked away, knowing he could do nothing for that creature now. Hopefully it would provide the evidence needed to lock Rufus away for a long time, regardless of his family name.
He sent the signal to his aurors to come in. Goldstein gagged at the sight of the unicorn, walking closer to it and stroking a hand over the soft fur.
“Poor thing… she didn’t deserve this.”
“Remember, we’re looking for any evidence we can find.” Percival told them, and they spread out, wands drawn.
Percival was the one to find a dead woman, lying with her body curled up and her neck bent at a strange angle. She was painfully thin, burns and scars littering her body. Early thirties he would guess. She was wearing only a few rags and chains that were still around her wrists and throat. Magical brands spiralled across her arms and beneath her clothing. He couldn’t tell if she was magical or not. He leaned down, closing her eyes. He would make whoever had killed her pay.
“Director?” Davidson called out, and Percival scanned the room he was in briefly. There was nothing else here other than a couple of smashed potion jars. “I’ve got someone alive back here!”
Percival apparated towards the shout. If it was one of the victims, he needed to get them help, and if it was one of the perpetrators then he wanted to be the one to take the lead on the interrogation.
He walked into the room, and stood beside Davidson. It was only from where she was standing that you could make out the thin figure of a man, hiding between three large crates that had been left behind. He was too far back to see clearly, but Percival crouched down for a better look, and the man flinched back, staring at the floor.
The man was shivering, far too thin, his reddish-brown hair matted with blood. His brilliant blue eyes were darting around the room in fear.
“You’re safe now.” Percival told him, wishing he had had the sense to bring a healer on the raid. “Come out of there.”
The man didn’t move.