Marauder The Slash Nymph, NEW MOM (marauderthesn) wrote in mtsn_hp_au,
Marauder The Slash Nymph, NEW MOM

Another Prisoner, Another Professor: Chapter Sixty-One

The Wednesday after Easter.

“Wizards are damn near impossible to track down,” Swift said, picking up a tapestry needle and weaving a loose thread back into the chair cushion. From the battered desk to the faded sofa, Harry couldn’t see a single piece of furniture that looked younger than twenty years old. “Trust me, I have a client who’s been chasing after her ex-husband for seven years. The amount of alimony he owes her is astronomical. I don’t know why the Aurors were expecting to find Remus soon after he escaped – I could have told them otherwise, if they’d bothered to ask me. The mere fact that he can apparate makes it difficult. Add a lifelong history of deception and you’ve got the perfect escaped prisoner. Be careful near that lamp, I just bought it for Portia’s desk last week.”

Harry turned to see a stained-glass lamp on the table behind him; between the golden finish and the tiny pieces of rose and purple glass, he was sure it must have cost Swift a good bit of money. “Why’d you buy a lamp for Portia’s desk?” he asked. “Why didn’t you get new furniture instead?”

“Because,” said Swift, setting down the needle again, “wretched furniture gives off the impression of genteel poverty and makes clients more amenable to paying high hourly rates. I’ve had much fewer arguments about payment since I took the leather sofa home.”

Harry looked at him incredulously. “Slytherin,” Swift said, raising his eyebrows. “I wasn’t Sorted there because Gryffindor was full, you know.”

Sirius smiled to himself, but Harry didn’t understand it. Although he more than appreciated all the things Swift had done for them, he didn’t know why Sirius would have picked a Slytherin lawyer in the first place. “If you’re a Slytherin, why’re you helping us? Why be on our side?”

There were several scratches on the sofa legs; Swift went to his desk and got out a small can of wood varnish. “Whose side would you expect me to be on?”

“The Malfoys’,” said Harry. He wasn’t sure if Swift really didn’t know or if he was asking the question to make a point, but he suspected it was the latter. “They’re Slytherins like you, and Sirius is a blood traitor who used to run a school for werewolves. Why’d you take him as a client?”

Swift picked up the can and knelt down next to the sofa. “Because,” he said, taking out a paintbrush from the pocket of his robe, “he needed an attorney, and he struck me as more pleasant than most of my clients. The Malfoys are criminal scum and anyone who’s not in their pocket knows it. Even if Sirius hadn’t been my client before this whole Malfoy business started, I wouldn’t have gone with their side. I care a lot more about what people do than about what some hat said dozens of years ago.”

“But you’re supposed to be ambitious – “

“I am ambitious. I didn’t become the best wizarding lawyer by sitting around watching the clock tick. And right now my ambition is to save Buckbeak from the axe, save Remus from the dementors, and save these sofa legs from people wearing pointy-toed shoes. I finally had a letter from the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures this morning. The appeal’s scheduled for the sixth of June at Hogwarts, starting at seven in the evening and finishing whenever it gets finished.”

Sirius had been sitting calmly in Swift’s shabby brown armchair, looking faintly amused at the conversation; at the words “the sixth of June,” he sat up straight. “That’s the final day of exams. Is there any way they could – “

“This was the earliest date and time we could get,” replied Swift, firmly putting the lid back on the varnish can. “We’ve got the research on our side and we’ve got the witnesses. The best thing to do is to get it over with – Hagrid’s probably been having nightmares for weeks.”

With the appeal date now so close, Harry felt a sense of inevitable dread settle over him. “What if we lose?” he asked, looking at Sirius. Sirius exhaled slowly. “We can’t just let Buckbeak – “

“If we lose, someone’s going to have to set Buckbeak free,” Sirius said. There was something evasive about his voice; though he was looking in Harry’s direction, he wasn’t meeting his eye. “Maybe someone invisible. Someone who’s had years of practice being invisible and who has experience with illegal modes of transportation. The kind with two wheels.”

Harry swallowed and glanced at Swift. Swift’s gaze drifted towards the ceiling. “D’you think maybe that someone,” Harry began cautiously, “might need to borrow something from someone else? If he wants to be invisible?”

“That someone will think about the logistics later.” Sirius turned to Swift. “About filing for Remus’s appeal on Saturday – “

Swift had the answer ready before Sirius had finished his question. “Bad idea,” he replied, getting to his feet and sitting down on the sofa. His face looked especially pink. “I can see why Remus wants you to do it, but he’s not your lawyer and he doesn’t understand how the wizarding justice system works.”

Sirius snorted. “Of course he doesn’t. He only had it explained to him for about a minute before they threw him in Azkaban.”

“He can’t have an appeal until he surrenders himself,” Swift continued, “and he’s not going to want to surrender himself until he’s found whatever that final piece of evidence is. He’ll turn up once he’s got it.”

As confident as Swift sounded, Sirius wasn’t convinced. “Turn up where, exactly?” he demanded, leaning forward in his chair. “He’s a convicted felon who thinks he doesn’t have a friend left in the world. For all he knows, I’d kill him if I ever saw him again. If we’re not filing an appeal, we need some other way to let him know he’s not alone in all this.”

“How do you propose we do that?”

“I’m not proposing anything,” Sirius replied irritably. “I’m turning it over to you because you’re my attorney and you can find some way to sort it out.”

“We know he’s reading the Daily Prophet,” Harry said. “He’s following the Malfoy investigation and he’s looking for any sign that Swi – that Brutus is getting him an appeal. We could figure out how to do something through that, couldn’t we? People send letters to the Prophet and get them published – “

Swift lay back on the sofa and swung his feet up onto the armrest. “That would be a good idea, if Sirius weren’t the veteran of a decade-long war with the press. On good days they cordially detest each other.”

Harry turned to look at Sirius. “Starting a school for werewolves makes a good article,” Sirius said. “So does being tried for being a Death Eater, and so does having a brother who might have been murdered by your cousin. I must’ve turned down a dozen interview requests since Regulus’s button was found in the woods. The Daily Prophet does a fair job of reporting the more ordinary news, but when it comes to personal tragedy they’re like vultures. They’ve only left you alone because you’re underage.”

“Sirius drives them batty,” added Swift. “Not only does he refuse to be interviewed, but no one who knows him ever gives up the goods.”

“That’s because I don’t tell them any goods to give up.”

“So – wait a minute,” Harry said. “You don’t want to talk to them because you hate them, or they wouldn’t publish something you said because they hate you? Because I think helping Lupin’s loads more important than not giving the Daily Prophet what they want you to give them.”

Sirius and Swift exchanged looks. “If it’s absolutely necessary, I’ll do it for Remus,” Sirius said. “I just want to know that it’s absolutely necessary before I do it. Whatever happens, I’m not consenting to a full interview. They can have a letter and consider themselves lucky.”

“We’ll have to work on it,” replied Swift. “Speaking of working on things, how are the errands going?”

For someone who was supposed to be staying safely indoors, Harry had been all over London during the last few days. He and Sirius had gone to a dentist, where Harry had to have a tiny cavity filled; to an eye doctor, who said Harry’s prescription had changed; and to three different department stores, where Sirius wouldn’t buy Harry the expensive trainers the sales clerks kept showing him. Sirius might have been willing to spend over twenty thousand Galleons on Firebolts for Gryffindor, but he refused to pay a lot of money for shoes he said Harry would outgrow in a year.

“I think we’ve finally finished,” Sirius told Swift. “We had to replace most of Harry’s Muggle clothes. The one thing we’ve still got to do is pick up his new glasses tomorrow.” He looked at Harry and smiled. “No more Sellotape.”

“Nymphadora says she wants my old glasses when I get the new ones,” said Harry. “She wants to take the lenses out and use them for a costume.”

After half a year of false starts, Nymphadora had come up with a script for her first film, a horror picture about a monster with blank white eyes and long, wrinkled fingers. The monster lived in an abandoned mansion and strangled unsuspecting travelers who tried to stay the night, stealing locks of their hair to add to its gruesome collection. Ted had offered to supply the hair and Sirius had agreed to let Nymphadora shoot the film in Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, on the condition that she stay out of the rooms he and Harry were living in. Andromeda, on the other hand, thought the entire idea was a waste of time and would distract Nymphadora from passing her Stealth and Tracking test.

Andromeda had a new project of her own; to Harry’s amazement, she was trying to recreate Neville’s failed Shrinking Solution, theorizing that it was either a hallucinogen or some other sort of mental potion. Harry hoped she would find a use for it, preferably before the Potions exam in June. He knew it would boost Neville’s confidence enormously to know that one of his dozens of Potions mistakes had actually been a discovery.

“I’m supposed to tell you that Portia’s volunteering to be in Nymphadora’s film,” Swift said, adjusting the needlepoint pillow under his head. “I, however, am not. I’m not going to give Timarchus Hagen the satisfaction of being able to watch me being strangled. I think I’m going to give myself the satisfaction of an afternoon nap, though. Turn off the lights as you leave, will you?”

“All right,” Sirius said, standing up. “Come on, Harry.”

“I’m not sure if I’ll see you again before you play against Slytherin,” Swift said to Harry as Harry was heading to the door. “Do your best to beat Draco Malfoy.”

Sirius switched off the light. “You mean decimate, Brutus. They’ll be defeated, be destroyed, their hopes will all expire. A Nimbus broom is just a broom – “

Harry grinned in the darkness. “A Firebolt is fire.”
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