|Synopsis||Holly shouts at her client, and they get his story straight.|
|Date||Nov 09, 1994|
It's hours after the trial that Holly finally comes to see Sirius. She's not angry about the Dark Mark, though she is somewhat shaken. Dark Marks mean followers of Voldemort, and, to face facts, it certainly didn't look good at the trial of this particular client. Still, there's no proof that Sirius did it, and it's actually pretty ridiculous that anyone would think he did. Most likely, it's someone else who was out to get Sirius. Holly won't rule that out. Even so, he had nothing to do with it.
There's no knock. She just storms into the room, looking for all the world like she's about to do some killing, herself. The door slams so hard against the back wall that it actually rebounds and closes again with a loud slam, so if Sirius was asleep, he wouldn't be anymore, unless he's a very sound sleeper! Holly's wand is out, and the first thing she says as she points it at the dark-haired man? "Silencio!"
Sirius hasn't exactly calmed down after what went down at the trial. It was supposed to be a simple case of going over the charges and his plea. While he wasn't expecting anything to actually start, he's relieved yet still wary. The Dark Mark is always a cause for concern, even in miniature and in envelopes meant for other people. He's been churning it over in his mind just what significance it's holding in this case. Umbridge isn't the sweetest old matron, so it could have been a threat on her. Who knows? So many questions, so little answers at this time.
As Holly bursts into his room, he /was/ laying down on the bed, an arm thrust over his eyes. As the door slams open and rebounds, he's on his feet. It's a reflex to the hard fighting and paranoia he was under before Azkaban. About to ask what in the name of Merlin's pants it is that Holly's on about, a silencing spell is cast at him. Well that's just rude and he shows his displeasure at this by flashing a rude gesture. Not his usual style in the past as he preferred words, but seeing as he can't use those…
Holly's eyes are narrowed. There's not a whole lot that actually gets to her, but feeling like a fool in the courtroom is one of those things that just sends her over the top. "If you ever mouth off in my courtroom again — " Yes, her courtroom, dammit. She was running circles around Umbridge!
Okay, maybe she's a little bit cocky.
" — You will be finding someone else to attempt to bail you out." Ignoring the rude gesture - at the moment - she pokes Sirius in the chest with her finger. "Is that clear?"
Seeing as he can't speak.. Sirius doesn't say anything. At the poking in his chest, he reaches out quickly to try and grab Holly by the wrist. Don't. Do. That. As for mouthing off? Umbridge had it coming, and Snape's a greasy, detestable ball of slime.
See this? Huh? You see this? Totally not scared of you, Sirius Black. Looking at him from under lowered brows, chin jutting out almost defiantly, she stops the poking, raises her wand, and unsilences him. "You and I need to talk. But if you ever do what you did again, you will find yourself silenced. I'm not going to lose this trial, and if you keep that up and push yourself into contempt of court, there's not a god-damned thing I can do for you. Do you understand? Umbridge is looking for an excuse to toss us out on our asses. If she was a little quicker on the uptake, we'd already be gone, but it's going to occur to her eventually, and I'm not ending this trial this way. Do you understand?"
"You could have warned me you were calling upon that greaseball to answer questions," Sirius growls, still rankling that Snape of all people was called forth. He was expecting it, but NOT then. "Umbridge is a spiteful little toad whose days are numbered." As far as he's concerned? She has no real authority, or rather, authority he does not recognize. Oh he knows she's sitting Minister, he just has zero respect and does not bow to her will. "Fine, and I understood you the first time." He backs away from Holly, arms folding across his chest. Moody this one is, and none of it is personally directed at Holly. She's just catching him in a fit, and didn't help it. "What is it we need to talk about?"
"No. No. Do you know what that man did for you? Were you even listening, or were you so busy glaring at him that you didn't see what I was trying to do? Sirius. I work my testimony out before hand. I ask questions in such a way that the truth is the only answer. And that truth will always, always help my clients. Despite how he put it, he vouched for you. You can bad-mouth him all you want after this trial is over, but you will not speak out of turn again. If you can't promise me that right now, I will take precautions to ensure you don't."
Whether or not he understood her the first time, she's going to drill it home. After all, he doesn't have to like her. He just has to listen. It does occur to her that he could very well speak out of turn in the court again just to spite her, but… "I trust you do want your freedom, don't you?"
She'll let that sink in for a second. "We need to talk about your testimony. What I'm going to ask, how you're going to answer. We don't have a lot of time, either. Umbridge scheduled the second hearing for tomorrow."
And /that/ ladies and gentlemen.. is what's sticking in Sirius's craw. Maybe Holly just can't understand how deep the hatred of Snape runs. "Fine," he says in a rather short and haughty manner, showing his bloodline as he does. "Right. Let's move on then." He sees no need to answer the obvious questions here, and he's far too annoyed to be on the rational side. It's not a dislike for Holly, far from it. He's just in a mood and it will run its course and he'll be fine again.
"Good. I'm glad we're clear." Pocketing her wand, she takes a few steps away from Sirius, hands on her hips. She's still seething. He must honestly think that she's never called a witness her clients have loathed before! …Okay, she hasn't. Point still stands, though. "You've been away from human contact for a long time," she says. Tomorrow's testimony is going to be the singular most important part of this trial, so I need to you act as polite as possible. If it makes you feel any better, think of it as rubbing it in their face. Show them you're a gentleman, because they expect you to act like you do on your wanted posters."
He's done okay so far, barring a few minor incidents that could hurt him in the long run. But he's never been on the stand before. "I've requested to have you out of the chains for your testimony, provided there are Aurors on either side of you, so you'll be comfortable. I don't know if that will happen, but it's a shot." And hopefully there will be a compromise somewhere in there. "Your testimony is going to encompass the most time in this trial. You have the most to tell. And you're going to be telling everything. Are you ready for this?"
That's also part of it too. Lack of regular human contact, that is, with the general populace. People that aren't screaming in the dark, crying, whimpering and going quiet that is. Perhaps he can remember enough social niceties to pull this off. The upper class manners his mother drilled into him and his brother, perhaps those aren't too distant in his mind. "Now or never. I've not been one to be a coward. I'll face them all and tell the truth." So in other words, yes, he's ready for this. At least, as ready as he'll ever be.
"We're going to have you in new dress robes for this portion of the trial," she says. Maybe help him remember that ol' training he had.
"Okay, we're going to start before the night the Potters were murdered. The entire trial rests on the point that you were the Potters' secret-keeper. That's a key event that we have to disprove right outta the gate, so tell me exactly what happened." No notebooks this time. She's just here to make sure he gets his wording right.
"Fine. I'll call my house elf and set him on that task." It'll be hilarious. Everyone will get a kick out of seeing how little Kreacher obeys his master. Unless Sirius just decides to set Tonks or Remus to the task, giving them access to his vault. As to having his wording? Sirius has had 13 years to roll this over in his mind. That's not going to be a problem. "It was no secret that James and I were closer than brothers, I was the obvious choice to be Secret-Keeper. So I talked Lily and James into switching to Peter at the last minute. No one would suspect him, and I would do what I do best. Cause distractions, leading away from where the Potters were hiding as well as Peter. Halloween night, I had gotten a feeling something was wrong, so I checked on Peter.. He wasn't home, and then I got scared. I rushed to the cottage in Godric's Hollow.. and found it in ruins." The emotion in his voice is restrained, even to this day, he's having a hard time digesting what happened.
"No, Sirius, I'll be doing that for you." This trial is important to her. She can't see an innocent man sent back to Azkaban because the Ministry is too proud to admit they made a mistake. Or because they're too bull-headed to look at evidence. "You know, right after the trial, I was hexed? I had to go to Saint Mungo's to have horns removed, because someone thought I should 'look the part.' I'm not giving up on you, and I'm still gonna make this look good. So I'll be by tomorrow morning before we head to the Ministry."
That she doesn't have to correct anything Sirius said is actually impressive. "Now I need to get back to a question I asked you before. I asked you to think about this when I first asked you, and I hope you have. What would drive Peter, in your own mind, to betray the Potters?"
"Fine. I'll write a letter for the goblins at Gringotts, granting you access to my vault. Best if I don't have to call Kreacher to do anything for me." Sirius /will/ pay for those robes, understood? "Should have kept the horns as a mark of pride," he says with a shrug. He would have sported them.. after returning the favor three-fold. Again.. Sirius has had over a decade with this rolling through his head. It kept the Dementors from affecting him fully. Now when Holly moves on to that question, he turns to glare at her sharply. "I've never put myself in his head to even begin to fathom his reasons." This is where he's going to have the hardest time. "Peter was always the weakest of our group. Magically and personality-wise. The sort Voldemort attracted and forcefully recruited. Everyone had their own motives for joining his side, by their own will, or because they were cowed into it."
Holly really doesn't want to be sporting devil horns at the trial, so, offering a wry smile and rolling her eyes, she drops the subject. "You can pay me back when we win the case. Deal?"
The reaction he provides for the next question is much more like what she expected. Nodding to herself, she paces a moment. Thinks. "First of all, no glaring. I know you hate Peter. I'm sure a lot of people would like to hate him, but you can't look like the villain here at all. Calm response. Collected." This time, the smile she offers is more genuine, along with a nod. "So if you want to get all the yelling and screaming out of your system, do it tonight after I leave."
Taking the ever-present notebook out of her pocket, she jots down some notes, then hands them over to Sirius. "Don't memorise that, just keep it in mind."
It basically puts a spin on Peter's story that makes him look like the bad guy, rather than Sirius. Instead of 'weak,' she's written 'withdrawn.' She's also painted him as the typical headcase, that, notably, Sirius and his friends could never pin down. Yet! They were always loyal to him, called him a friend, and that his betrayal was a shock.
"You can spin that any way that you want to. No name-calling, no saying…" She hesitates, then, "No saying 'Vol…Voldemort' in court. People seem to think that only Death Eaters will say the name. Use You-Know-Who. Even if you think it's silly, it shows empathy for the people watching the trial. They'll latch onto that."
Sirius waves off the subject of payment with a gesture of his hand. It's such a minor issue right now. "I can't promise I won't glare, as it's understandable seeing as what he did." The notes are given a glare, then a shrug. "We were loyal, we never believed him susceptible to Voldemort's recruiting until that night. Otherwise, I /never/ would have suggested he act as Secret-Keeper. He should have /died/ rather than betray his friends." The words are heated, and heavy with emotion. "All of this.." he waves the note, "the softening of words.. it's all molly coddling and a load of rubbish." After a pause, he adds, "Obviously not one of my strongest suits. I've never been one to hold back."
Holly listens, noting the emotion in the man's voice. It had to have been painful for him. It's a pain she can't relate to, really. She's never had a friend betray her so completely before. She's never had a friend murdered. The kids that attacked her father are in jail, and justice has been served. "I can't claim to be able to put myself in your shoes. I can't completely understand how you feel. The thing you need to understand, though, is it's not rubbish. Like I said, it's a game, and the difference between you being freed and you being sent back to Azkaban to face the Dementors is how you make your story sound.
"I do understand how it feels to have to hold back, though. I practically called Umbridge a liar at the trial, but no one could say anything to me about it because of how I said it. I can point out her flaws all day in that courtroom, and make her look like a complete moron to the rest of the Wizengamot, and she has nothing on me."
She can only hope that Sirius' testimony goes as good as Snape's did. "You ignore the insults. They're just words. Unless someone draws their wand on you, they can't hurt you. I'll take care of anything said off the record. I promise."
"As I said, not one of my stronger suits these days.. While I've always been the sort to speak my mind, I was a little more restrained in my younger days." Such as when James and Remus had a hold on his leash. In a manner of speaking. That's the best Sirius can say as far as holding back and playing the game. It's going to take some work and a great deal of willpower, something he does not lack.
"Miss Maplewood, no matter how I 'spin' my side, there are those who will not believe me, even if I testified under Veritaserum. As far as I'm concerned, those who can be convinced.. nevermind.. I'm speaking from extreme bias here," Sirius starts to sound agitated again and moves past Holly so that he can pace. "Peter's not a complete coward.." Otherwise, he wouldn't have been sorted into Gryffindor. It's not a House of cowards. "I can't even begin to fathom his reasons.. He chose that path, passed our secrets to Voldemort for a whole year. He chose that path over solidarity and standing by his friends."
"Fear's a powerful thing," she says. Some people just can't stand against it. A lot of people can. But even the bravest people can let fear overtake them, as it's been done so many times in the past that it's hard to keep count. Fear makes people stupid.
She goes to the window, looking out over a landscape that doesn't really exist. It's something to look at, though. "We have the burden of proof, unfortunately. Usually, it would be the other way around. There's no innocent until proven guilty here, though. We have a solid case, and to be honest, a lot of those people on the Wizengamot will believe anything if you tell it the right way." She hopes, anyway. Umbridge is pretty dead-set on anything that will convict Sirius.
"At some point, you're going to have to tell the court that you're an Animagus," she says, changing the topic for now. "I want you to tell them. Don't show them like you showed me. Chances are, they'll ask for a demonstration anyway. I know you like the shock factor, and believe me, if it were any other trial, I'd say go for it. But this one, we're walking on eggshells. This is when we'll be telling them why you decided to become an Animagus. We've gone over this story in the past — just tell them what you told me. With one difference."
He mentioned a paper before. The one where he noticed the rat missing a finger. Well, she's got a copy of the front page. Taking it from her notebook, she unfolds it and places it on the floor. "Stick with the fact that you and James Potter wanted to help Remus Lupin. Offer the fact that Peter was there, but don't tell them you helped him. I'll ask you that seperately. I'll ask, 'and what about Peter? Was he able to become and animagus, too?' That's when you'll mention it. And that's when I will tie the finger they found in with this photograph."
A faint smile creeps across his face when Holly points out that Sirius likes the shock factor. "Fair enough, and that /was/ the reason we became Animagi." He sounds a bit annoyed that Holly is spinning things, where spin is not needed. "I'll just say that Peter was with us too on the matter." He's really hating having to play this game. Holly's stressing the need for it, but Sirius is just too straightforward to have the patience for it. He glances down at the paper that Holly's placed on the floor. Seems almost a lifetime ago when he first saw that in Fudge's hands.
"I know, that's what I'm sayin'," she says, smiling. "Just leave Peter out of it at first. Just you and James. This is part of painting Peter in that bad light I was talking about, without name calling. You say you helped Peter become and Animagus, but not to help Remus, you see? Then we pull this."
She knows this is frustrating. Murder trials are frustrating, bureaucratic-red-tape-filled things of nightmares. But the story will get told, and it'll be told in such a way that the Wizengamot will see their side of it.
The questioning and prep for trial will continue for hours. By the time Holly leaves, though, she's confident that Sirius Black's testimony will not only wow those listening, but might also cause a few people to sympathise with him. Sure, she'll have to figure out a way to explain that his illegal status as an Animagus isn't what he's on trial for, but that'll come.
It's getting dark by the time she exits the house, and the half-mile walk to a point where she can apparate is a long one. Still, it was worth it. Tomorrow, her client gets to shine.