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14 July 2012 @ 12:55 pm
Fic: The Consolations of a Summer's Day, part two  
Part one



Harry looked around quickly. The coast was thoroughly clear, so he swung the cloak from around them and stepped away from Malfoy, just as Malfoy stepped away from him.

‘She was there,’ Malfoy said without preamble, pointing at the floor.

The bloodstain would have given the position of the body away, even if Harry had not looked at the photos time and again.

‘Right. I’m going to have a close look, you stand at the door and let me know if you hear anything or anyone moving in the house.’

Malfoy stepped past him, looking anywhere but at the blood. Harry couldn’t blame him.

Instead, he sat down and examined the bloodstain. It was smaller than it had appeared in the photos. He took out his penknife and made a small, straight incision into the middle of the stain. And then again further out. And then two more. It didn’t make any sense.

‘Malfoy,’ Harry said, not looking up. ‘Mr Parkinson said that you had blotches of blood all over your clothes. Was that right?’

‘Yes,’ Malfoy replied tightly. ‘Blotches is a good word for it. On my shirt, and on my trousers, from the ground, I was kneeling about where you are now.’

‘I can see the smudges,’ Harry confirmed. ‘But I just need to be sure. Blotches, not big patches.’

He looked up this time, and Malfoy was looking at him, sad and wounded.

‘Blotches,’ he confirmed. ‘A bit here,’ he touched his left shoulder, ‘then some here,’ above his heart, ‘then more on my trousers, from where I was kneeling.’

‘That proves you’re innocent,’ Harry said, adding a bit of an encouraging smile. ‘And it strongly suggests that Luna’s blood theory is right.’

Malfoy was interested despite himself. ‘How can you tell?’

‘Look,’ Harry said, scratching at the blood-stained floor wax. ‘This is just on the surface, it doesn’t penetrated into the boards.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘It means there wasn’t enough blood. The MediWizard who looked at Pansy afterwards said the knife hit a major artery and that the blood would have gushed out, but the body was on its side, sort of face down …’

‘That’s how she was when I got here,’ Malfoy confirmed.

‘And her clothes were bloody, but not sodden. I thought it must have seeped into the floor, but there’s just not enough here. Either the killer was soaked in her blood, or they’ve taken it.’

Malfoy was frowning at him. ‘How could you have missed this before?’

‘I only saw the photographs,’ Harry admitted. ‘It wasn’t my case.’

‘Then why are you suddenly so involved now?!’ Malfoy snapped.

Harry shrugged. There was no point trying to answer Malfoy when he wasn’t sure of his own motivations.

‘Do you often take over cases?’ Malfoy asked, more calmly.

‘Not often.’

‘How often?’

‘First one,’ Harry admitted.

Malfoy looked at him, more curious than calculating. ‘Thanks, then, I suppose,’ he said at last.

‘I don’t like injustice,’ Harry told him. ‘And I don’t like it when my department does sloppy work because it’s easy.’

‘Yeah, that’s totally worth risking your career over.’

It remained the case that there were few worse feelings than Draco Malfoy being right when Harry didn’t want him to be.

‘Shut up,’ Harry said. ‘And start thinking about who would want Pansy’s blood.’

‘We should research blood spells,’ Malfoy said. ‘Once we know what it can be used for, it will narrow the field of suspects.’

‘Good idea. So, Hogwarts library?’

Malfoy shook his head. ‘Their Dark Magic section isn’t what it could be. You won’t be surprised to learn I know where we could find the perfect books. The problem is that we can’t go there.’

‘Malfoy Manor?’

Malfoy nodded.

‘We can’t go there,’ Harry agreed. ‘But Kreacher can.’

‘That’s a good idea,’ Malfoy said, surprised.

‘We should finish up here first. Can you see anything unusual?’

Malfoy looked around, reluctantly. ‘There’s that Floo powder you were talking about. And that chair is usually pulled up to her dresser, but she might have pulled it out for me to sit in, or maybe one of your people did.’

‘They didn’t move anything.’

‘OK, well, the chair, then. And there should be a little towel on her dresser, she always protected her clothes when she was doing her make-up. It’s not there.’

‘Excellent. Anything else?’

‘Not that I can see.’

Harry nodded. ‘Good work.’

‘Potter…’

‘What?’

‘If you want to hand me in now …’ Malfoy swallowed and went on, lifting his chin. ‘You said that we had proof I didn’t do it, so if you want to take me back to the Ministry and keep going by yourself, I understand. It would probably be better.’

Harry couldn’t help smiling. ‘Are you trying to be noble?’

‘I’m trying to keep you from getting the sack.’

‘I thought you wanted to catch this bastard.’

‘I do.’

‘So we keep going.’ Harry stood up and dusted off his trousers. ‘Though I have to confess something: you’re finally right, and I do get special treatment these days. The likelihood of me getting the sack is vanishingly small, and if it all goes horribly wrong I’ll just claim that you panicked and Apparated us to Belarus and it’s taken us this long to work our way back to civilsation.’

A small smile crossed Malfoy’s face. ‘Quite believable,’ he admitted. ‘In that case, where do we go next?’

‘You’re never to tell Hermione that I did this voluntarily, but we’re going camping. In the Forest of Dean.’

It was almost exactly as Harry remembered it; the bushes a little higher, the undergrowth a little more filled in after a wet spring. Malfoy’s surprise at the tent made Harry laugh.

‘Let me guess, Malfoys don’t camp?’

‘We’re not famous for it,’ Malfoy replied, but to do him credit, he held back any sneer.

‘You’re welcome to stay outside,’ Harry offered.

Malfoy looked around at the verdant foliage and seemed tempted, but a wildlife-ey rustle nearby saw him square his shoulders and head into the tent. He took the less-dilapidated of the armchairs, Harry took the other and pointed his wand at his bag.

Accio mirror,’ he said.

It flew obediently to his hand, and he peered into it. ‘Kreacher?’ he tried, in case the house-elf was nearby. There was no reply.

‘Charmed?’ Malfoy guessed.

Harry nodded. ‘Kreacher has the matching one. What’s left of it, at any rate. He has instructions to check it every quarter hour to see if I need him, so we won’t have to wait long.’

‘Good.’

They sat in silence for an entire minute.

‘Hungry?’ Harry asked, for something to say.

Malfoy looked at him. ‘We just had breakfast.’

‘Right.’ He glimpsed a flash of movement in the glass. ‘Kreacher!’

It was. The elf’s furrowed face swam into view.

‘I need you here,’ Harry said, beckoning.

The face in the mirror nodded, disappeared, and a moment later reappeared in the tent, with the rest of Kreacher attached to it. In one hand he held a large knife and in the other a plate of roast chicken. He looked around sharply, and appeared sorry to see Malfoy sitting quietly in his chair.

‘Master Harry needs Kreacher?’ he said. ‘Kreacher did not think there was sufficient food.’ He waved the plate of chicken, in a bid to make the knife seem like an entirely reasonable accessory.

Harry pressed his lips together for a second to stop his laughter.

‘No, we’re amply provisioned, thanks,’ he said. ‘But I need you to sneak into Malfoy Manor and borrow some books.’

‘Easy to do, Master,’ Kreacher replied.

Malfoy interrupted. ‘You’ll need to get past …’

Kreacher didn’t let him finish. ‘Easy to do, son of Narcissa.’

Malfoy started to frown, then seemed to realise that he was arguing with a house-elf. ‘Fine. Potter, give me a quill and some paper, I’ll write a list.’

A few minutes later, he blew on the ink to dry it and handed the list over to Harry. It was not long: four books and their locations in the Manor. He had, to Harry’s amusement, given brief notes on the protective spells securing each book, despite Kreacher’s protestations.

‘If you could borrow these for us, it would be very helpful,’ Harry said. ‘And if any of the Malfoy house-elves see you, you could let them know that he’s safe with me, and that we’ll be returning the books later.’

‘Is Master Harry sure he wants it known that he has the Malfoy boy?’ Kreacher asked, his eyes sliding meaningly over to the knife and chicken, now on the table.

‘Probably for the best,’ Harry conceded. ‘And we’ve managed not to kill each other for all these years, it would be a shame to start now.’

‘His mother was one of Master Regulus’s favourites,’ Kreacher allowed.

‘And she’s very fond of me!’ Malfoy put in.

Kreacher sniffed, accepted the paper, and Disapparated.

‘Potter,’ said Malfoy, looking at the space where Kreacher had been.

‘Yes?’

‘Can I ask two questions?’

Harry turned to him. ‘Of course.’

‘One: why does your house elf keep feeding you? And two: how many enormous knives do you own?’

‘Ah.’ Harry managed to keep most of the laughter from his face. ‘All right, in reverse order: lots, and I hope never to find out what they are all meant to do, because I have some dark suspicions with a few of them. I don’t think he actually wants you dead, you know. He’s just a bit protective of me and you’re … well, you were … anyway. And Kreacher has been feeding me up ever since the War. He thinks I starve myself voluntarily when he’s not around.’

‘You are pretty lean,’ Malfoy allowed.

‘Never had quite enough to eat before Hogwarts, I think my metabolism has decided it can spend the rest of my life catching up.’

Malfoy gave him a strange look, but let it rest.

They sat in their chairs, itchily silent. Harry glanced across to see if Malfoy looked as though he was keen to talk. Malfoy was in fact staring at a point on the canvas roof. Harry followed his sightline until he spotted the diligent spider weaving a web out from one of the poles. He watched in quiet fascination as the gossamer web was constructed, thread by thread. He’d always been impressed by the spiders when he lived in the cupboard – so determined and direct in their actions. This one was no different, and Harry watched it come up against a patch of roughness on the canvas and move that anchor thread a fraction to the left. He smiled, and jumped when Kreacher appeared with a loud crack at his elbow.

He held four thick books. ‘Oh, well done!’ Harry said. ‘Thanks, Kreacher!’

Kreacher handed the books across and nodded his head. ‘Is there anything else Master Harry requires?’

‘No thanks. Head home, Kreacher. See if you can hose things down if it all goes a bit pear-shaped at that end. I’ll be in touch if I need anything, so keep checking the mirror when you can. Otherwise, I’ll see you tomorrow, unless we can wrap things up today.’

Kreacher gave Malfoy one last suspicious glare before Disapparating again.

‘Did he get the right books?’ Malfoy asked, ignoring Kreacher’s glare.

Harry passed them over, and was rewarded with a grudging nod.

‘Should we take two each?’ Harry suggested.

Malfoy nodded, reached across and took the top two from the pile, then sat back and began to read without a word.

Harry silently passed him more paper, found himself another quill, and began to read through his two books, taking notes of any spells that collected blood with a silver knife as he went.

They were not nice books. It wasn’t just the spells – To Bend Another’s Will To One’s Own, To Bring Pain To One’s Enemy, To Taint The Dreams Of An Other – it was the books themselves. The leather covers felt slick and grim under his hands, and he only hoped they were indeed leather … from an appropriate animal, he mentally specified. The pages, while seemingly quality parchment, had a twitching, resistant feel, as if unwilling to be read by Harry. The printed words edged away from his focus, as though his glasses were smudged with oil. So much so that he took his glasses off and cleaned them twice before realising it was the print itself.

He managed to read for twenty minutes before he put both books down and stood up, shaking the sense of contamination from his hands. Malfoy looked up at him, inquiring.

‘The books,’ Harry said in explanation. ‘Don’t you feel it?’

Malfoy shrugged. ‘They’re Dark Magic.’

‘I suppose you’re more used to it …’

Malfoy dropped his books heavily. ‘Fuck you, Potter. It doesn’t matter what I do, does it?’

‘Oh for fuck’s sake. That is not what I meant,’ Harry snapped. And then stopped, with his hand held up, fingers splayed.

Malfoy glared at him in confusion.

Harry took five deep breaths. He’d have to tell Hermione, she’d be so proud. It actually worked.

‘Stop,’ Harry said. ‘We need to stop. Or it will just end stupidly, the way everything used to.’

Malfoy stood up. ‘I need to go for a walk,’ he said, calmly. ‘Outside. Just for a bit. I’ve spent most of the past five days sitting down in enclosed spaces, and … if I have a walk, it will all be better.’

Harry nodded. He should have offered to go along, but the prickly anger was still too close to his skin. Instead, he reminded Malfoy to stay close, and to call if he needed help.

‘I have a wand,’ Malfoy reminded him. ‘And a bunny pendant.’

The smile that came to his lips surprised Harry almost as much as it appeared to startle Malfoy. ‘See you soon, then,’ Harry said.

Malfoy paused at the tent flap. ‘Potter,’ he said, without looking around. ‘Thank you for the wand.’

Harry was grateful for the respite. From the research more so than from Malfoy. He picked the books up from the floor and placed them on Malfoy’s chair, noting that Malfoy’s list of possible spells was a little longer than his own.

He considered reading on, but his head ached a little from the book, and his bladder was full, and he hadn’t had a cup of tea in a while, so he started with the loo and went on from there.

Malfoy reappeared just after the kettle boiled and in time to ask for black with lemon, and maybe a bit of that chicken if it was still going.

Harry passed him his tea, followed by a plate of chicken, and then followed him over to the table to sit and sip and gnaw quietly on a chicken leg. He waited until they had both eaten a little before he spoke.

‘I meant to say that you lived around those books, and they would have been less of a shock to you.’

Malfoy kept his eyes on his tea. ‘It’s all right. I know you weren’t being a … weren’t trying to be offensive. Can you understand that I’m …’ his voice trailled off, and he took refuge in the tea.

‘… You’re mourning your friend, falsely accused and having to turn to someone you don’t particularly like for help?’ Harry completed the sentence for him.

‘You volunteered yourself,’ Malfoy corrected him. ‘But yes, the other bits …’ He took a deep breath and pushed his hair back. ‘Anyway, we should crack on with it.’ He stood and took the empty plates and cups over to the kitchen sink.

Harry was pleased to see that he left them on the draining board: a Draco Malfoy who voluntarily did the dishes would have required a substantial rethink in his worldview.

The books were less confronting after a cup of tea. Malfoy was considerably faster than Harry and took his second book from him before Harry was more than halfway through the first. Sustained by cups of tea and the rest of the chicken, they drew up their lists, and at the end of nearly two hours were able to return to the table and compare notes.

‘Is this what it’s like being an Auror?’ Malfoy asked as he smoothed out his sheets of parchment.

‘A lot of the time,’ Harry admitted. ‘Though we have a bigger staff, and some people who really enjoy the paperwork and research.’

‘While you’re more of a running around rescuing type.’

Harry gave a warning look, but Malfoy ventured a small smile.

‘I speak from experience and have benefitted from your hobby,’ he said.

‘Well, it is more fun,’ Harry admitted. ‘All right. I think we should sort these into types, there seem to be a few themes running through both lists. What do you think?’

‘I agree,’ Malfoy said, for possibly the first time as far as Harry was concerned. ‘There are four to give one desired strengths and abilities, then this whole set of – I suppose you’d call them attraction potions, but who in their right mind would kill someone for an effect that you could manage with cosmetics?’

‘They’re very likely not in their right mind,’ Harry pointed out.

‘True. Then all of these ones for controlling the weather. They worry me. You can do a lot of damage with a weather spell. And there are the werewolf spells, to take on the powers or to cure the curse, which is rubbish, everyone knows you can’t cure lycanthropy, but that’s what you get from trusting 18th century lunatics.’

‘Was that a joke?’ Harry asked, determined to at least admit it was clever if it was.

‘What? No, oh, yes, I see. No. Would have been in poor taste. Anyway, there are a few ways that we can sort them out, but I think those are the four basic groups: Strengths, Desirability, Weather and Werewolves.’

Harry waved his wand over the pages and the notes reorganised themselves into the new order.

‘Is that an Auror cataloguing spell?’ Malfoy asked, interested. ‘It’s neatly simple.’

‘McWiggins Librarian’s Friend,’ Harry told him. ‘Was very popular about a hundred years ago, but not used much now. Except by Aurors and old librarians.’

‘You’ll have to show it to me later,’ Malfoy said, then frowned.

‘Sure,’ Harry said quickly. There was no reason he couldn’t manage to talk to Malfoy long enough to pass on a simple spell after this crisis was over and then they could go back to ignoring each other, which was what they did best.

A sizable part of his brain told him this was a barefaced lie, but Harry decided to ignore it.

‘This is the longest list,’ he said, picking up the one headed Weather. ‘I’d normally think that increased the chances of it being one of these spells, except that there’s too little to focus on.’

‘What does that mean?’ Malfoy asked.

Harry pointed at the second spell on the Desirability list. ‘This spell will only be used by a certain sort of witch, or maybe wizard. One who is so desperate to be found physically beautiful that they’re willing to do anything. I can think of maybe three people who would use a spell like that if they needed to take a teaspoon of blood from another person by force, I can’t think of anyone who would kill for it, but I bet if we searched, we might find ten across the country, and they would be the right ten, it would be one of them, because they’re the only ones who are that sort of person.

‘But controlling the weather – it might be an insane hang-glider, or a farmer who wants to blight their hated neighbour’s crops, or a terrorist who plans to wipe out a town … there are too many possibilities to narrow it down past Very Bad People.’

‘I see,’ said Malfoy. ‘But surely Very Bad People are exactly the ones we should be going after?’

Harry kept his face blank as he looked at Malfoy’s. There was no irony or sarcasm there. ‘As a general rule, it’s a good one,’ he agreed. ‘The problem is, there are quite a lot of them and some masquerade as perfectly good people.’

‘Like my father,’ Malfoy said matter-of-factly.

‘Yes,’ Harry replied, more cautiously.

‘He was with my mother the whole time, and she wouldn’t give him a false alibi if it was over something that would hurt me.’

Harry replied even more carefully. ‘I don’t actually suspect your father for this …’

‘But we can cross one name off the list,’ Malfoy said. ‘It’s a start. Because you have a list, don’t you?’

And Harry nodded, because he did, even if it was only a partial one and it had had Malfoy’s name at the top.

‘I thought you did. It has to be someone Pansy would let in through the Floo, doesn’t it?’

‘Yes.’

‘So when we check to see if the Floo Regulation Panel was conducting tests on Pansy’s part of the Network, you’re going to ask them to check out all of those addresses, too, aren’t you?’

Harry blinked. ‘I am now,’ he admitted. ‘That’s very good thinking, I can’t believe I missed it.’

Malfoy pressed his lips together firmly.

Harry noticed, and smiled at him. Malfoy managed a slow smile in return. The likelihood of them getting through this without serious hexing improved.

‘So,’ said Harry. ‘That leaves the Strengths and Werewolves spells. Strengths only has four, let’s check the other ingredients.’

They spent a few minutes cross-referencing, and were able to rule out two of the four immediately as they relied on ingredients that had not been available for centuries.

‘Can you even imagine the experiments that decided dodo blood was the right ingredient?’ Malfoy asked, with a hint of disdain.

‘I really want to make a joke about it being a fowl process, but I shouldn’t,’ Harry answered.

Malfoy shook his head, which Harry admitted was better than he deserved.

‘It can’t be this one, either,’ Malfoy said, looking at another spell. ‘It needs to be cast at the winter solstice, and that was months ago. There’s no point killing her now when they could wait and have fresh blood closer to the event.’

He turned to the final spell, and paused.

‘Is that one a possible?’ Harry asked.

Malfoy turned the book and showed him. To Attain Invisibility, it said, and then a list of ingredients that included The blood and life of a brave woman amongst several commonplace items, and a method that was so simple even Harry felt confident he could manage it. Malfoy looked as green and ill as Harry felt.

‘We’ll find him,’ Harry said impulsively. ‘Or her. Pansy may not have been a friend of mine, but she was a very good friend to those closest to her. She didn’t deserve this.’

It appeared to be the right thing to say. Malfoy looked less as though he was going to be sick, and more as he had that morning, when he had been keen for the hunt. Harry remembered something.

‘Millicent Bulstrode sent me a letter about you.’

‘Really? What did she say?’

‘She said that it was all my fault you’d turned into a feckless layabout since I left you with a third-rate wand and that you were no more likely to have killed Pansy than I was to have punched Hermione, so could I please get off my lazy arse and go and sort things out.’

Malfoy was grinning – mostly at the abusive bits, Harry noted. ‘So is that why you came to Tallinn?’

‘Actually, her note only just reached me before I left, but she was quite right that you were always a ridiculous suspect.’

‘Thank you, Potter. That is easily the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.’

‘Not at all,’ Harry said, feeling the retreat of grimness about them. ‘So. New list, this spell’s at the top of it, and I think it points us towards someone planning something seriously criminal.’

‘Like breaking into and out of Gringotts,’ Malfoy suggested. ‘Or murdering the Minister. Should we warn them?’

‘I think so.’

‘Me too. Should we send an Owl or do we rope your house-elf into things again?’

‘Kreacher, I’m afraid. And I’ll need him to take a message about the Floo checking, too.’

Malfoy thought for a moment. ‘If you’re going to send messages to the Ministry, isn’t it going to be awfully hard to pretend you didn’t deliberately spring me from custody this morning?’

‘Yep. But in a worst-case scenario, I do think everyone’s been waiting for me to completely lose my mind for a bit, ever since the war ended.’

Malfoy said nothing.

‘You,’ said Harry, ‘are getting really good at holding in your natural impulse to insult me.’

‘Basic politeness, under the circumstances.’

‘We should check through this werewolf list before we call Kreacher, just in case,’ Harry said.

The spells in that list were the oldest, and Malfoy pointed out that many, like the werewolf cures, had since been discredited. The only one that stood out as a likely candidate was one that gave its caster the physical power of a werewolf.

‘Ideal for an assassin,’ Malfoy pointed out.

‘Kingsley’s the only likely target,’ Harry mused. ‘No-one else has a profile half so high.’

Malfoy scoffed. ‘Except you, the Muggle Prime Minister, the Royal Family, Rita Skeeter, the Weird Sisters …’

‘Bugger … Stop being right. OK, I’m writing directly to Kingsley. He’s most likely to be able to protect everyone in time, and warn Gringotts about thieves, and to shield the two of us from any fallout when we come in.’ Harry pulled out his quill and got to work on the letters.

‘And who’s going to protect you from this potential assassin?’ Malfoy asked.

‘Since we’ve established you’re not a homicidal maniac, I’m safe enough for the moment, and I’m assuming you’d give me a heads-up if you saw anyone waving a wand at me.’

There was a deliberate pause while Malfoy elaborately thought about things. ‘I do need to keep you alive until we’ve cleared my name,’ he decided. ‘But do you really need to tell the Minister to protect Skeeter? She’s a very unpleasant witch.’

‘You were all for her when we were at school,’ Harry reminded him.

‘And then she did the Death Eaters Who Deserve Dementors special to mark the fifth anniversary of the war,’ Malfoy reminded him.

‘How awful,’ said Harry. ‘Makes me glad I don’t take the Prophet.’ There was no reason for Malfoy to know about the framed copy of the article behind Ron’s desk at the Ministry. ‘Right. I’m done. Do you want to want to wait outside while Kreacher comes?’

Malfoy rolled his eyes, so Harry took out his mirror and waited until the elf checked in.

Kreacher arrived without food or weapon this time, though it clearly cost him. He took the letters and instructions and departed again, with hopes to see Harry soon and only a quick glare at Malfoy.

‘So,’ said Malfoy. ‘Now we wait?’

‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ Harry said. ‘Now we start narrowing down the list of Very Bad People and we go after them.’

****************************

The Auror office was having a quiet day.

‘Potter back?’ one of the trainees asked, sticking his head around the corner of Harry’s office.

‘Not yet,’ came the reply from Harry’s assistant, not bothering to raise his eyes from his novel.

‘I’ve got a report due, but I haven’t finished it …’ the trainee confessed. ‘Do you know when …’

‘He was due in court this morning. The Estonians are very thorough, I’d say you’ll be safe if you get it to my in tray by four. I’ll tell him you dropped it in first thing this morning.’

‘You’re a mate, Smiggins.’

‘You can buy me a drink.’

‘You’re on. Have we heard anything about the trial?’

‘Not a word,’ said Smiggins, turning his page ostentatiously.

The trainee took the hint and left, spreading the word that this was a day for long lunches as he went.

****************************

There were a very small number of upsides to centuries of foreign occupation and political unrest, mused Uurija Evald Kask. A system that could quickly unite for the good of the country when it mattered was one of them.

Advokaat Ruohonen had taken charge of the situation once the Doxies had been cleared. She had walked into the courtroom and asked for a continuance due to her client’s sudden and unexpected ill health, which had been granted as a matter of form.

Then she had walked back out, heels clicking a double-tempo beat on the tiled floor, summoning Uurijas Kask and Tamm to fall in behind her as she passed them. They, being experienced officers of the law, immediately did so without question. Because one day, they might need her to display this much force on their behalf.

She had an office in the Old Ministeerium, and led them directly to it. Evald had already run through the sequence of events with Veigo while everyone else was still coughing up Doxycide. Aside from a set of English shouts amid all the Finnish, there had been nothing to alert them to any problems, and they had only turned around a moment before Potter and Malfoy disappeared.

Ruohonen held the door open for them and closed it firmly behind them. Evald and Veigo took the two comfortable client chairs, while she went to the other side of her desk and took a bottle and three glasses from a drawer.

‘It’s a little early,’ Veigo began, but stopped at Evald’s swift ankle kick.

Ruohonen poured a little from the bottle into each glass and handed them out, then raised hers in a toast. ‘To not being unemployed tomorrow!’ she declared.

Evald drank his fervently, as did Veigo.

‘So,’ said the Advokaat. ‘My client and the most famous wizard in the world disappeared. You ran out of time to tell me how before we went into court, I have time to listen now.’

Evald shook his head. ‘I can’t give you many more details, we only saw a few seconds of the escape. But it was only the two of them, Malfoy had taken Potter’s wand, and Potter did not look at all upset about the situation.’

He watched Ruohonen’s eyes widen with surprise, then turn to Veigo, who confirmed the details.

‘So you are saying that you think it was a collaboration?’ Ruohonen asked.

Evald nodded. ‘I have met Potter before, several times. He has not been himself on this case.’

‘Draco was happy to talk in front of him,’ Ruohonen mused.

‘And Potter asked me very specific questions about the location of the trial and how the prisoner would be transported,’ Evald added.

‘We think Malfoy is innocent,’ Veigo weighed in.

‘Of course he is,’ Ruohonen said with all the certainty of the Counsel for the Defence. ‘Unfortunately, he’s now guilty of escaping custody and kidnapping a Senior British Auror.’

‘Unless Potter kidnapped him,’ said Veigo.

Evald looked sharply at him, but Veigo lifted his chin. ‘It’s possible,’ he insisted.

‘So, gentlemen, how do we deal with the fact that we have no prisoner to hand over or to return to the cells?’

Evald was a bright man, despite his mother’s complaints that he had wasted his intelligence going into law enforcement. He knew what the Advokaat was not saying. ‘You have just told the Court that Malfoy is too ill to appear, so we can legitimately extend his absence from our cells on health grounds. But we need a place that he could feasibly be …’

‘Uurija, we are a cat’s whisker away from forming a conspiracy, I’m not bringing any other innocents into it,’ Ruohonen said.

‘Evald, my name is Evald. And no, definitely no one else needs to be involved. But do you want to go to the British and tell them their favourite wizard has taken leave of his senses and run away with a suspected murderer for who-knows-what reason?’

Ruohonen shook her head.

‘I can think of a reason,’ mused Veigo.

Evald shook his head, Ruohonen bit back a laugh.

‘Can you find them?’ she asked.

‘I think so,’ Evald replied. ‘Malfoy was running when he came here, but he didn’t seem to be running away from Potter.’

‘No,’ Ruohonen agreed.

‘So if they’ve teamed up, it only makes sense that they plan to investigate the crime together.’

‘It’s about time someone did,’ Ruohonen muttered.

Evald held up his hand. ‘We know. We read the reports, they were substandard and would not have passed muster in our system. However, if they are going to investigate the crime, then there are a certain number of places they will have to go. Veigo and I will go to those places and we will find them and bring them back.’

‘While I …?’

‘Take care of your terribly ill client at your well-guarded holiday house?’

‘Which is being guarded by?’

‘Veigo and me, of course. Where else would we be?’

‘Ah,’ said Ruohonen. ‘It could just work.’

Evald smiled. It was a good smile, it reassured people, while gently reminding them that he could hex them into next week without drawing his wand should they decide to cause him grief.

Ruohonen smiled back. Hers said that she recognised the precise value of Evald’s smile and that he would be cushioning her fall should this all go horribly wrong.

Veigo looked blankly between them.

‘Off you go then,’ said Ruohonen. ‘And don’t come back without at least a signed statement from the British Ministry.’

Evald stood and reached out to shake her hand in a bargain.

‘You should call me Meeli,’ she said, clasping it. ‘And if you pull this off, I will pay for the celebratory dinner.’

‘Excellent. Up you get, Veigo. We’re going travelling. You’ll need an umbrella.’

****************************



Part three
 
 
 
Loyaulte Me Lie: aurors - undercovershocolate on July 14th, 2012 11:42 am (UTC)
‘We know. We read the reports, they were substandard and would not have passed muster in our system. However, if they are going to investigate the crime, then there are a certain number of places they will have to go. Veigo and I will go to those places and we will find them and bring them back.’

They are really good.

blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 14th, 2012 01:43 pm (UTC)
They are also very handsome. My brain apparently designs most OCs along the lines of Richard Armitage, Paul Bettany, Rupert Pemnry-Jones and Chewitel Eijiofor. Because I am terribly, terribly shallow.
being_herebeing_here on July 14th, 2012 02:32 pm (UTC)
You have no idea how much I am enjoying this <3
blamebramptonblamebrampton on July 14th, 2012 02:47 pm (UTC)
HURRAH! Thanks!
Azure Jane Lunaticazurelunatic on July 16th, 2012 10:44 am (UTC)
Voluntary camping! Crisis indeed!
wedjateyewedjateye on December 27th, 2012 11:24 pm (UTC)
I've been laid up post-surgery and am taking the opportunity to re-read this. It is such a joy! Every character so well drawn. Such fabulous dialogue. Such intelligent plotting and writing. The consistency and flow is wonderful. I adore your Luna - she still has her quirkiness (I love the flopsy bunny pendants) but her compassion, humanity and intelligence shine. I love your created characters - their efficiency, ability to think on their feet and communicate with such brevity. I really love how you keep things moving and that scenes like the division of spells, which contain a fair bit of exposition don't feel as if they do. It's all clunk-free. Your adult Harry and Draco are so human and likeable. I like your lightness of touch - bits like Harry taking five breaths and crediting Hermione for the technique, are so deftly done. You make me feel Harry's loyalties and connectedness to the people who matter to him without even bringing his friends into the scene. I've raved about this Kreacher before - he is truly wonderful. A very believable development from the paranoid Kreacher of the books, with his loyalties now firmly with Harry, as they were when we last saw JK writing him. He is absolutely hilarious but he also moves me immensely. Harry having such devotion feels very healing to me.