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

Another Prisoner, Another Professor: Chapter Fifty

But Harry’s mind wasn’t on Hermione. “My dad was an unregistered Animagus too?” he asked Black. “What sort of animal could he turn into?”

“A stag,” Black replied. “Peter was a rat – he used to have to sit on James’s antlers and hang on tight so he could keep up with the rest of us.”

Harry had been standing up to go back to his chair, but suddenly he stopped. “Peter Pettigrew was a rat Animagus?”

“Yes,” said Black, looking puzzled. “Why?”

Harry shrugged and sat down again. “It’s just weird – Crookshanks, Hermione’s cat? The one whose ears twitch whenever someone says ‘Animagus’? He really hated Ron’s rat, Scabbers.”

Black and Swift exchanged looks. “Well,” Swift said slowly, “they were a cat and a rat.”

“I know,” said Harry immediately, “but, I mean...he really hated him...” He stopped, feeling stupid. Both Black and Swift were looking at him as though they were trying to find the kindest way to tell him how wrong he was. “Look, you weren’t there, okay?” he blurted out. “Even if Crookshanks had just eaten too much, he’d see Scabbers and lunge at him. I’m not saying Scabbers was Pettigrew or anything – I know Pettigrew’s dead, I’m not stupid – “

“Of course you’re not stupid,” said Black. “I’m just trying to think of other explanations. You’re right, it does sound a little odd when you put it all together – “

“Well, one way to find out,” Swift said, leaning back against Black’s desk. “Where’s the rat?”

“We don’t know,” Harry told him. “He disappeared – we think maybe somebody’s owl got into our room and carried him off. There was blood on Ron’s sheets. There aren’t – there aren’t other rat Animagi, are there?”

“Not registered ones,” Black said. He stretched out his legs in front of him. “But I suppose if we managed the transformation when we were fifteen, there’s no telling how many Animagi there really are – “

Swift shook his head. “I can see where you two are coming from,” he said, “but personally, I don’t see anything to indicate that the rat wasn’t a rat. The cat hated the rat, the rat disappeared, the cat has twitchy ears. The end.”

Harry and Black looked at him. “Besides,” Swift continued, “let’s say for the sake of argument that the rat was really an Animagus. The only rat Animagus we know of is Peter Pettigrew and at least a hundred people saw him lying dead in his coffin.”

“All right,” Black replied. “Let’s say for the sake of argument that the rat was really an Animagus. What was he doing living as Harry’s best friend’s pet?”

“Spying for Voldemort, I suppose,” said Swift, rolling his eyes.

“If you think this is funny, Brutus – “

“I don’t,” Swift retorted. “Harry, when did your friend get the rat?”

“Ages ago,” Harry said. The tendons in Black’s neck were standing out. “He was Ron’s brother Percy’s rat first – then Percy got an owl and didn’t want him anymore.”

“When did Percy get the rat?”

“I’m not sure. Ron had Scabbers when I met him.”

Swift gave Black a pointed look. “Fine,” Black said. “I’m satisfied. But let me say this, Brutus, it’s blatantly obvious that you don’t have any children.”

Swift waved his hand dismissively. “What’s blatantly obvious to me is that we need someone able and willing to devote all of his time to searching for Remus. What would you think if I asked Alastor Moody?”

“I’ve already asked him to take my job next year if I can’t,” said Black. “I don’t want to ask another favor of him if it’s at all possible.”

“Fine,” Swift replied, “but it might not be at all possible. We need someone with Auror-level skills and no previous commitments – besides, you’d probably be doing him a favor. You know he’s chomping at the bit to be back in action.”

“Who exactly is Alastor Moody?” Harry asked. “Besides the bloke who might have your job next year, I mean.”

Black opened his mouth to reply, but Swift beat him to it. “Alastor Moody,” he said, pushing himself up onto Black’s desk, “is a former Auror with one leg, a disfigured face, and a magical eye that sees out the back of his head. They call him Mad-Eye Moody. He was fantastically good at his job, but the Ministry decided he’d got old and paranoid.” Swift snorted. “A couple of weeks after Moody left, Remus broke out of Azkaban. If the Ministry had any sense they’d be groveling on their knees to get Moody back.”

“I know him from the war,” Black added. “He can be a little disconcerting – “

“Especially once you realize he can use that eye to see through clothing if he wants to,” said Swift.

“ – but Brutus is right, he was a wonderful Auror. He’s ferocious.” Black looked at Swift. “That’s another reason I’m not sure we should ask him. If Moody finds Remus, are we sure he’d bring him back in one piece?”

“Oh, he’ll bring him back in one piece. He’d love the chance to show the Auror Office they were fools when they sacked him. Besides, if it turns out Remus was innocent all along, Moody’ll love the chance to bring down whoever was really responsible, especially if it’s Lucius Malfoy. If Moody’s the king of the Aurors, Lucius Malfoy’s his missing crown jewel. Oh, that reminds me – I stopped by Malfoy Manor last night and talked to Kingsley Shacklebolt. They’ve put him in charge of the entire search – “

“That’s the first I’ve heard,” Black said. “No one from the Auror Office has been keeping me up to date and I think it’s appalling.”

“Oh, you never even liked Regulus.”

“I may have never liked him, but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested to know whether our cousin and her contemptible husband killed him. What did Shacklebolt tell you?”

“Well, don’t blame him,” said Swift, exasperated. “They’ve got policies about what information goes public and when. All I could get out of him was that they found a photograph of Regulus and Narcissa that has the date ’19 October, 1981’ written on the back.”

“The nineteenth of October?”

“Yes, the nineteenth of October.” Swift gave him a curious look. “What’s the significance of that?”

“The last time anyone saw Regulus was the seventeenth,” Black said quietly. His fingers were digging into the armrests of his chair. “They established that during the initial investigation after he disappeared – the last time anyone saw Regulus was on the seventeenth of October when he stopped by my mother’s house in the afternoon. He brought her a pound cake and told her he had a few days off from researching because Slughorn was going on holiday to Spain.” Suddenly, he leapt to his feet and began to pace the room. “I knew it, I knew they killed him. Maybe it was Lucius and not Narcissa, but at least one of them did it.”

Swift looked at Harry. “You know,” he said, almost under his breath, “it never gets boring around your godfather.”
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