Mrs. Corden had tried her best to keep busy over the last few days. The house was desperately quiet, so she had taken to leaving the telly on when she was cooking or cleaning, just for the noise. Teenage boys created a lot of noise, and now she felt so guilty for hating it so when it had been around.
She was just getting herself ready for bed. She was staying up far too late as it was, waiting, she realized, as if he was about to sneak in after curfew, when the knock came at the door. She shut off the TV and made her best attempt to make herself presentable. She had stopped weeping so much, days ago, but she swore her eyes were still puffy.
When she answered the door, she was not so surprised to see what looked to be a police officer standing there. They had frequented her house quite a lot over the past week. Still, this was an odd hour for one, especially considering the inquest had now been officially closed. Moreover, the woman seemed odd all by herself.
“Yes, officer?” Mrs. Corden said out of sheer reflex.
“Evening, madam,” the officer said and took off her hat. “Sorry to disturb you at this hour.”
“It’s not a problem,” Mrs. Corden replied, and indeed it wasn’t. She welcomed the distraction, even if it reminded her too much of the past few days.
“I just have a few questions for you, madam,” the woman said calmly and pulled out a pad and pencil from her robes, which Mrs. Corden had just taken notice of. “Just some items to wrap up. Is that alright?”
“Go ahead,” Mrs. Corden sighed. She wrapped her arms around herself, self-consciously bracing for the recollection.
“Do you recall anything odd about your son?” the woman began. “Before the incident?”
“Odd?” Kyle’s mother asked, somewhat surprised.
“Any strange behavior?” the woman went on. “Did he mention something strange happening to him in the previous few days? Any strange people?”
Mrs. Corden shook her head. The question didn’t confuse her by itself. It was something she had been asked before, by several officers. “Standard procedure”, they had told her. Truthfully, it was something she had asked herself. But still it came as a surprise as it felt very much as if the woman was referring to some, other, entirely different brand of “strange.”
“I see,” the officer replied and made another note in her pad. The pencil suddenly stopped scribbling. The woman seemed to be thinking about something. She padded one of her pockets and looked back up at Kyle’s mother. “Did your son like music, madam?”
“Music?” Mrs. Corden replied. This was altogether a different line of questioning. The other police had never asked her about that. “I suppose. He was always listening to those…” She waved her hand in the air, looking for the word. “Downloads, you know. On his mobile.”
“Do you know what kind?”
“Kind?” Mrs. Corden repeated.
“Was there a particular sort of music he’d been listening to recently?” the woman went on.
“I couldn’t tell you. Kyle never talked to me about them,” and she found herself choking a little on his name. “Goodness knows, I could never remember the names when he did.”
“I understand, madam,” the officer replied. For a moment, she seemed like she had something else to ask but instead flipped her pad shut. She looked at Mrs. Corden for the longest time. “Madam, I am very sorry for your loss,” she said finally, and there was a sincerity in her voice that both surprised and comforted Mrs. Corden. She had heard the phrase too often over the many days, from friends, neighbors, and police officers alike. Yet the words took on a new meaning now, as if the strangely dressed woman very much understood her loss and was indeed sorry for it.
“Well, I will leave you to your evening, madam,” the woman said.
Without another word, the officer set her hat back on her head, concealing again the pearl-white hair. She touched her helmet and turned and walked out into the dark street. Mrs. Corden watched her for some time, not noticing until she turned, the broom oddly strapped to the woman’s back.
She was ready to find the whole thing very strange, but, somehow, it just didn’t seem to matter.
The night enveloped Rhiannon Gillford as she flew over the city. London twinkled below, a bustle of muggles moving back and forth, utterly unaware of the woman on the broom passing over them. She often found night flying to be soothing, or she did whenever she got the chance to fly recreationally, which was far too infrequent these days. Right now she was on a mission but still managed to find a moment to take in the night air as it flew past her.
Flying helped her think. The world was smaller up here, among the clouds, father away and quiet. She was free to let her mind work over everything, collecting and ordering it. Her mind was working fast. There was a lot to consider.
She slowed the broom as she neared a particular rooftop of a particular building in a non-descript section of the city. She circled and hovered down towards it, swinging a leg over and stepping off just as she landed. She spun the broom and once again clipped it to her back.
The roof was bare but for a single door in a raggedy shed that presumably led to a stairwell. Officer Gillford approached the door and knocked three times. After a second, a previously unseen peephole, looking very much like a crystalline eye, appeared in the door. It seemed to consider her. Rhiannon responded by tapping the shield on her helmet.
“Rhiannon Gillford,” she said. “Patrolwitch, Department of Magical Law Enforcement.”
The crystal eye seemed to consider her again, with a kind of tired air. Finally there was a click and the door opened, revealing a spiral staircase with polished bronze runners that descended down into the building.