We Call It The Legacy Preservation Act
The main court room of the Wizengamot was stadium like in nature with each higher circle going back to allow for seating. The main floor was empty, but could have chairs brought in, though most preferred it to be empty so they could move about as they spoke and addressed the assembled. There was very little light in the courtroom, and what there was, was focused upon the floor and whomever was speaking, effectively keeping the governing body in shadow.
The focal point of the round courtroom, was a podium, set on the first level above the floor where the Chief Warlock would usually sit. Below him, two court scribes sat to record the minutes of each meeting. The rest of the room was filled with small box seats for members of the court to sit. There were seven staircases set around the courtroom to allow for any who wished to get to the floor where they could speak to the Wizengamot.
Higher up were the seats for the press and anyone who wished to observe the session. Today, those seats seemed especially full. And this made Albus Dumbledore slightly confused as he made his way to the podium where he would preside over the session as Chief Warlock. He intended to make the wizarding world aware of the looming threat that Lord Voldemort had returned after fourteen years of silence.
Dumbledore had asked all the members of the Order of the Phoenix who could attend to do so, and to bring anyone who they thought would listen. The more people he could convince, the more he could press the Minister of Magic to act against the threat that was even now, building an army against them all.
When he took his customary seat, Dumbledore called the court to order. He was a tall, thin, elderly wizard with long silver hair and a long silver beard. He wore half-moon spectacles on a long thin crooked nose, and bright twinkling blue eyes. Today he wore fairly conservative robes of steel gray, which was a change from the normally garish robes he was known for.
When everyone took their seats, and silence finally reigned, Dumbledore fixed them with a very serious look of worry. He had to make them see that the signs had been there for two years, and while taken one at a time these clues were trifles. Strange coincidences. But when put all together, they were pointing to danger on the horizon. There would be protests against him, Dumbledore knew. No one wanted the dark times to return, and those in the courtroom loyal to Lord Voldemort would wish to keep their master's return secret for as long as possible. But if Dumbledore could just make those who didn't know what awaited them, perhaps then he could force the Minister to see reason and prepare.
"Ladies and Gentlemen of the Wizengamot, I wish to begin today's session by informing you all of a very dire matter. Something that we must address now, before it is too late. My gravest fear has come to pass, and…"
Suddenly, the doors directly across from the Chief Warlock were slammed opened quite loudly, and the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Oswald Fudge himself entered, followed by three of his staff, all of whom were carrying stacks of parchment. This was very unusual as the Minister almost never attended sessions of the Wizengamot. His attendance was only ever really required for the introduction or amendment of laws. Dumbledore wondered idly just what Fudge was doing here, as there wasn't anything on the docket that he needed to be present for.
Fudge walked to the center of the room, and began speaking quite loudly addressing the room at large, and avoiding looking in the Chief Warlock's direction.
"Fellow witches and wizards, please forgive the intrusion. I wish to address this grand body today on a matter of great importance, if I may be permitted, I am of course aware of the procedures to present new charters, but I fear that I would have been rebuked."
Fudge turned to Dumbledore, almost challengingly. Dumbledore merely smiled patiently as he now turned to address the court.
"If there are no objections in hearing what our Minister has to say?' He said and when no one responded, Dumbledore motioned for Fudge to begin.
"This morning, my Undersecretary sent each of you a package with some very important and disturbing material. If you have already viewed this information, then I expect that you are as heartsick and outraged as I am. My fellow witches and wizards, it is my sad, sad duty to inform you that we are becoming an endangered species." Fudge said theatrically.
Murmurs began and Fudge allowed it to carry on for a few seconds, allowing his words to gain traction.
"Yes, I know." He said as he began to pace like a caged lion. "Our population numbers are dwindling my friends. In the last fifty years alone, we have seen no less than fifty noble bloodlines wiped out forever. All of them, victims of war. War with muggles, and especially war with ourselves."
There were more mumblings as Fudge nodded as he looked to each of the boxed seats.
"But there is more. If the research I sent to you proves as true as I believe it to be, there is also a significant decline in the power of the average magical person. The birth rate of squibs is increasing with every generation. If this trend continues, I daresay that within the next fifty years, at least ten more families will disappear forever. My friends, we cannot simply stand by and allow wizarding kind within Great Britain to become extinct." Fudge proclaimed. There was a general murmur of agreement, and light applause.
"So I have taken it upon myself to contract several of our most notable healers, historians, magical genealogists and alchemists, paying for their services from my own vaults to come up with a solution, of which I included information in the packages you all received this morning."
At this, Fudge turned to a short, heavy-set woman with tightly curled hair, thick glasses, a pouchy face and wearing a bright pink cardigan over her robes. This woman handed the Minister a thick bundle of parchment sheets tied together with leather cord, which the Minister then held up almost like a trophy.
"We call it the Legacy Preservation act." He said proudly.
The room rumbled with low murmuring, and Dumbledore eyed the Minister suspiciously. He'd heard of this so-called act before. In fact, he was quite certain this act had come up many times over the past one hundred years. Usually it was a pureblood from and ancient and noble house who was looking to spread his seed. But this was different. Fudge was married, and had two sons who were also married. In fact, Dumbledore was certain that one of fudge's grandkids would be starting Hogwarts in a year or two.
"Minister," A man over Dumbledore's left shoulder asked, rising from his seat. "We've heard of this proposal before and every time it has been voted down. What makes your version any more appealing?"
There were murmurs of agreement, and Fudge merely smiled, like a snake oil salesman.
"My good people, I am aware, of course, that versions of this bill have been proposed. However, unlike other variations, this bill has only one single goal in mind. Propagation of our kind. There is no gain for the Ministry or a single family. Friends, if we do not act, we could see another ten bloodlines gone in two generations. Two!" Fudge said holding up two fingers.
"The Legacy Preservation Act will require last scions who fit into certain criteria to marry a suitable witch in order to procreate and expand the bloodlines and help rebuild a population that is in serious threat of disappearing forever." This came from the squat, pink clad witch. Half of the rumbling died away at this revelation.
"And just how do you intend to do this?" Dumbledore asked suspiciously. "And exactly what criteria will you use to determine who must follow this… act?"
"Those families whose lines are most in danger of disappearing, who have only one son, will be required to take part. We shall strive to cleanse the more polluted bloodlines which have been tainted by generations of inbreeding by requiring that no less than ten generations have passed since particular lines have joined. We will then require those pairs to have a set number of children within a time period of our choosing." Fudge explained, still avoiding looking at the Chief Warlock.
"If the guidelines set out in the information you all received are followed, we could see a dramatic rise in not only our population, but a serious decrease in the amount of squibs born, and a definitive rise in magical power from the next generation."
This actually got another smattering of applause, and Fudge waved it away as if he didn't deserve such accolades. Dumbledore thought he was playing the court like an expert puppet master, and was becoming disgusted. The mere idea of forcing people into marriage for the simple act of repopulation was repulsive.
It was then that Dumbledore began to realize there was something else at work here.
"Minister Fudge." A lady rose from her seat, looking disapprovingly at the Minister. "You are only securing male bloodlines. What of prominent families who only have a female heir remaining?"
"Madam Marchbanks, you are forgetting that our laws already protect families with only a single female heir." Fudge pointed out. "The second born child in any union can be given the mantle of the wife's family name and be treated as first sons of said family to carry on the name and line. Your own brother carries on the line of your mother if I am not much mistaken."
The lady gave a nod and resumed her seat as Fudge smiled up at her.
"Minister." Dumbledore said looking rather irritated. "We cannot simply force people to marry and produce children. It is simply barbaric, and we are…"
"So you would see us extinct?" This came from a tall, though aged man from the left. He was glaring at Dumbledore hard. Benedict Forsythe and Albus Dumbledore had barely ever agreed on anything, and the Headmaster of Hogwarts thought that Forsythe would always oppose him just to spite him.
"My esteemed colleague, you misunderstand me. To force people into marriage is to take away their basic right to choose who they wish to spend their lives with. To force them to procreate takes away their own right to choose how they live their lives." Dumbledore stated.
"You assume the Minister is heartless?" A woman shouted. "You think he would not take into account people's feelings?"
"The Chief Warlock is right." A man shouted indignantly. "We can't simply force people into marriage just so we can bolster the population. We have evolved."
More shouts began as people voiced their thoughts until Dumbledore held up his hands calling for quiet.
"Minister, I fear you are overstepping the bounds of your office. It is commendable that you wish prosperity for our society, but you can't force people to join in this matter." Dumbledore said evenly.
"Chief Warlock, if I may?"
It was Pius Thicknese. Pius was a very well respected man among the other members of the court. A tall thin man with a mane of long salt and pepper hair and round dark eyes. He was well spoken, and quite intelligent, which helped him when he chose to persuade the court. Thicknese was a man many would pay good gold to have on their side before a vote, as he could charm many to his way of thinking.
In Dumbledore's mind, this man was dangerous.
"The chamber recognizes Pius Thicknese." Dumbledore said, fighting to keep the venom out of his voice.
"Thank you." Thicknese bowed low. "Ladies and Gentleman, I am a pureblood, and the last of the Thicknese line. I have no heir, and when I die, my family line will die with me. Some of you might ask yourself why didn't I marry someone if this worried me? Perhaps I was too busy working for the betterment of our society. Perhaps when I should have been looking for a wife, I was here, in this very room, listening to pointless debates on whether we should allow flying carpets, or standardizing cauldron bottoms, or allowing Muggleborns more rights. Or perhaps, I am just far too picky for my own good."
This got a few chuckles from his fellows. Thicknese continued.
"I know there are some here who are old enough to at least remember when arranged marriages were quite common. Some families still arrange marriages to unite houses even today, though it is admittedly rare. But isn't that essentially what we are speaking of here today? A simple arranged marriage? A dated custom, to be sure, but one that is even now still used among those in our world. But instead of it benefiting one or perhaps even two families, this new bill benefits all of us. And when we are no longer threatened with our own extinction, perhaps then we can repeal this bill. But I agree with our Minister. We must act now. We must stop ourselves from fading away into the good night."
There was thunderous applause around the room and Dumbledore felt a weight settle upon his shoulders. A quick glance around showed him just how much support this "bill" had. He also noted that more than a handful of those on their feet now had at one time allegedly had ties to the Death Eaters. A curious coincidence, or a glaring clue as to the true purpose of this charade?
"It has been fourteen years since the end of the last war, and we are still feeling the effects of those dark years. How many of us lost family, or friends to that monster that terrorized our world for so many years?" Thicknese continued. "I have read the material, and find it sound, and fair to all who will be bound to follow it. I will be the first to submit myself because I wish very much to see our world grow again."
"Members of the Wizengamot, I think it wise for us all to review the information provided by the Minister's office, and debate the merits, and drawbacks of this bill before we put it to a vote." Dumbledore said loudly, gaining the court's attention. "For now, I wish to speak to you about a grave danger now looming over our world. A darkness that has risen once again. You all know of what happened at the end of the Tri-Wizard tournament, and it is my wish to inform you of a horrible truth. Our enemy, Lord Voldemort has returned!"
"I now see I chose wisely in coming today." Fudge stated loudly. Dumbledore turned to stare at the Minister and sighed heavily.
"My good people, I apologize for my outburst, but I simply can't in good conscience allow you to be submitted by these falsehoods. Albus Dumbledore is trying to sow the seeds of discontent among you and shatter the peace and prosperity we have enjoyed for fourteen years, all because he fears his own mortality, likely because our esteemed Chief Warlock has no heir of his own!"
"The state of my family is not the …" Dumbledore started.
"What proof do you have that what you claim is true, Dumbledore?" Madam Augusta Longbottom asked curiously.
"Let us consider all that has happened in this past year. Things that by themselves may seem trivial on their own…" Dumbledore started, but a large man with long dirty blonde hair rose from his seat. Gwain Thatcher was yet another man whom Dumbledore had often butted heads with.
"You wish to have us see logic where it may not exist?" he said loudly. "Surely you have something more substantial than occurrences that when pieced together could mean any number of things depending on the point of view of he who is trying to see danger where none exists."
"Harry Potter witnessed the Dark Lord's return." Dumbledore stated. This was followed by a long rumble of whispering and murmuring among the Wizengamot and those observing in the upper levels. Dumbledore had not meant to announce it that way, but the damage was done, and he also knew, thanks to Rita Skeeter's reporting, it had been the wrong thing to say.
"The word of a child?" Galen Avery asked. Avery had never been accused of associating with Death Eaters, but his son, Thomas had been convicted and was currently in Azkaban for crimes against the people.
"A child who is clearly unstable." someone shouted.
"I assure you that Harry Potter's mind is just as sharp as my own." Dumbledore stated categorically. Fudge scoffed, and many others snickered.
"Perhaps that is not as glowing a commendation as you think it is, Dumbledore." Fudge replied. "Your record as Chief Warlock speaks volumes as to your mental character. Not to mention some of the crackpot decisions you've made as Hogwarts headmaster. Werewolves as teachers? Really?"
Whispered statements of agreement were heard throughout the court.
"Cornelius, why do you not wish to face facts?' Dumbledore asked, almost pleadingly. "If you simply would listen to reason, we could do what needed to be done and prevent the events of fourteen years ago."
"What facts Albus?" Fudge countered. "You have only the word of a fourteen year old boy who was clearly exhausted and perhaps traumatized within the maze. A child who has let his own legend go to his head. The boy has a history of instability, not to mention a willful disregard for authority."
Fudge said coldly before turning once again to address the court at large. "But what I find most baffling is your quick dismissal of the matter brought before you today!"
"It did appear that you changed the topic rather forcefully, Chief Warlock." Pius Thicknese added.
"Why can't we speak more on the matter of the growth of our people?" Someone asked.
More and more voices chimed in, and Dumbledore realized he'd been out maneuvered. He'd underestimated Fudge and the Minister's friend's purses. The Chief Warlock raised his hands for quiet, and when it was finally granted, and to his utter distaste, Dumbledore allowed the Legacy Preservation Act to be debated.
Nearly three hours later, and Dumbledore was dismissing the Wizengamot with the promise that a vote would be taken first thing in the morning over the ratification of the Legacy Preservation Act into law. He'd been astounded at how the act was debated when almost no information had been given on exactly how this potential new law was supposed to work. Not once had Dumbledore heard mentioned just who would have to take part, or how those men would be matched to what kept being referred to as a "proper" witch.
Back and forth went the arguments, and Dumbledore had been surprised at the amount of people in support of this new bill, until he realized that the supporters were largely Pureblood families, and many of them in Lucius Malfoy's pocket.
And that was the clue that made the Hogwarts Headmaster figure out exactly what was happening. Lord Voldemort was making his first move. This law was nothing more than a very elaborate ruse to get to young Harry Potter, whom Voldemort feared was set to bring about his complete and total destruction. A sentiment that Dumbledore hoped was true.
How this was going to happen, Dumbledore was not entirely sure, but he knew it would involve Harry being forced to marry a woman whose family had connections to the Dark Lord. Fudge was being manipulated, and the whole world was going to suffer for it.
Dumbledore realized he needed to rally people against this proposed bill in order to protect Harry, but do so without appearing to be protecting one individual. His relationship with Harry was already under incredible scrutiny.
"That was very well done, Minister."
Cornelius Fudge smiled as he entered his office followed by his Undersecretary, one Delores Jane Umbridge. She was a very short, heavyset woman with a pouchy face and short tightly curled hair that was turning gray. She had large bulgy eyes made even more prominent by her glasses.
"Yes, that went rather well, but we still have much to do. Dumbledore's outburst and his refusal to even hear out the bill gave us exactly what we needed in order to call for a vote of no confidence."
"And we need to reach out to all the members of the court in order to see the bill ratified." Umbridge added.
"No, no. Lucius is seeing to that." Fudge replied as he went to his liquor cabinet and poured himself a modest brandy. He gave it a long look, before adding more with a little whistle. "When we get the Legacy Preservation Act ratified, how long before we can begin the selections?"
"Two weeks at the minimum." Delores replied. "Most of the tests are ready to proceed. All the last sons will need to submit themselves to a physical by our healers, as well as a test of their magic along with a study of each family history to make sure we do not get any contamination. Then we'll need to get families to offer their daughters. Of course, any lady of age may submit herself without family consent, but they won't get as much in compensation. We've worked up the breakdowns for reimbursement if you'd like to review them?"
"What is the most we are offering?" Fudge asked as he sat behind his desk in a very comfortable leather chair.
"One hundred thousand galleons." Umbridge stated. Fudge spit his mouthful of brandy and Umbridge leapt back to avoid the spray.
"One hundred thousand?" Fudge shouted.
"Oh yes sir. But the chances of any witch collecting that amount is very slim. We've made the criteria very difficult to achieve. Her line must be absolutely pure for one thing. Her genes must be impeccable so as to produce a strong magical child, and she must be extremely strong, magically speaking. Nothing short of Morgana herself could be worth a full one hundred thousand, sir."
Fudge relaxed as Umbridge explained, and accepted the sheet of parchment she handed him, looking it over very carefully. His smile returned a moment later when he realized that this would not bankrupt the Ministry after all.
"Of course, Pureblood witches will fetch a bit more gold for their family, but we did feel that Half-bloods… of standing of course would be acceptable." Umbridge smiled.
"Good. Very good." Fudge nodded, handing back the sheet of parchment. "I was assured by Lucius and a few others they would indeed offer their daughters, and I'm certain that once we get Harry Potter out from under Dumbledore's thumb, we will have a very useful weapon in our arsenal." Fudge said rather self-congratulatory.
"He will prove quite helpful once we undo all the conditioning Dumbledore has most likely inflicted upon that poor boy." Umbridge smiled. Fudge nodded in reply as he took another long draw from his brandy.
"Sir, there are a few concerns I have regarding those below the age of majority who will be required to participate. They may have trouble adjusting, and I feel it might be a good idea for them all to be counseled and guided through this rather difficult change. To have someone to listen to them and help them adapt to this change. I know we are already preparing for the possibility of someone from the Ministry at Hogwarts in order to observe practices there, but might we ought to have someone making sure that these young people keep up their responsibility to the Ministry and the wizarding world?" Umbridge asked innocently.
Fudge thought about what she had said for a moment before eyeing her inquisitively.
"You actually think some of them might try and neglect their duty?" He asked.
"I think that if we don't have someone in place, Dumbledore might try and make them believe they do not have to uphold the new law, not to mention offering birth control potions and teaching contraceptive charms." Umbridge countered. Fudge nodded in agreement and pointed at his Undersecretary.
"You are absolutely right, Delores. It is just the sort of thing Albus would do if only to undermine me and the Ministry. Let's begin looking for candidates. Perhaps we could even combine a counselor with someone who can keep tabs on Dumbledore, eh?"
"Very good sir. I shall begin making up a list at once. If there is nothing further?" Delores smiled, and Fudge shook his head.
"Good day, then." Umbridge bustled off, leaving Fudge to contemplate his next move against Dumbledore. After all, she had a lot of work of her own to do.
Sirius Black stood in the far corner of the room that had been chosen for this meeting. It was the largest room in the whole house, and he was certain it wasn't big enough. Everyone had come to the meeting tonight, and they were all murmuring amongst themselves about what it was all about.
The Order of the Phoenix had only just been reformed. Barely three weeks after the end of the Tri-Wizard tournament, and the resurrection of the dark wizard known as Lord Voldemort. A resurrection that was being wholly ignored by the wizarding government, putting every single man, woman and child in mortal danger.
Sirius had never been so disgusted, and he had been thrown into prison without a trial for crimes he had never committed.
It was Remus Lupin, Sirius' friend since boyhood, and in Sirius' mind, the only other remaining Marauder. Sirius turned to his friend who looked care worn, and so much older than his true age. A terrible side effect of his curse.
"I didn't expect any less." Sirius replied dourly.
"Do you think he managed to convince Fudge after all?" Remus asked optimistically. Sirius gave him a disbelieving look and Remus nodded.
"I didn't think so either." the werewolf smirked.
I think it's more likely he's found an ally within the Ministry. Maybe Bones, or that guy Scrimgeour Arthur spoke of last meeting." Sirius remarked. Remus hummed an agreement.
They remained silent for a bit, watching the gathered converse. Sirius noted a few new faces among the Order. People he hadn't seen at the first gathering. This helped lift his dark mood a smidge. It meant that not everyone was as blind as Fudge.
Before Sirius or Remus could say any more, Albus Dumbledore swept into the room, followed closely by Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape. Sirius and Snape locked eyes and glared at one another, but said nothing.
Thank you all for coming, I'm afraid I have some difficult news." Dumbledore said as he headed for the front of the room and turned to face the gathered who fell silent at once. Sirius noted how distressed the old man appeared, and was about to remark on it to his friend when Dumbledore continued to speak.
"This very afternoon, Minister Fudge entered the Wizengamot, just before I was able to speak about the return of Lord Voldemort. He then introduced a bill that I am afraid will be ratified into law tomorrow when the Wizengamot convenes. I tried very hard to rally support against this new bill, but I am afraid that Lucius Malfoy's gold knows no end. I also believe that the Minister is seeking to see me thrown out of the Wizengamot."
"What do you mean, Albus?' Someone asked.
"Can he do that?" someone else asked. More and more people began to voice concern, but Dumbledore held up his hand, calling for quiet again.
"Please. While I appreciate your concern, it is not important. I knew that Fudge would do his utmost to make sure no one would believe my warnings. And, so long as they do not take me off the chocolate frog cards, I am not upset by this maneuvering. What is important is this new law that Fudge is trying to force through the court. I believe it is a ploy to get control of young Harry Potter."
Sirius tensed, and made to shout as others were currently doing, but Remus grabbed his arm and held him back. Dumbledore was waving for quiet from the rest of the room.
"Please, allow me to explain. Some of you may remember a bill that has floated in and out of the Wizengamot for the last fifty years or so. It has had many different names, but the intention of it has remained unchanged. It has been defeated each and every time it has come up, but I am afraid that this time there is nothing to stop it. The Minister is foregoing normal procedure with the help of certain prominent members of the courts."
"He can't do that!" Someone shouted.
"What is he trying to do?" Another asked angrily.
"What bill are you talking about?" A witch asked. Everyone began to quiet waiting to hear what Dumbledore had to say next."
"They are calling it the Legacy Preservation act." Dumbledore said. Whispers began to circulate in the room and Dumbledore waved for silence once again.
"In short, this potential new law would force male heirs who meet certain criteria into marriage to ensure the continuation of their bloodlines. Over the course of the last hundred years, we have seen more than a fair amount of family lines become extinct. This law would prevent any further lines ending prematurely." Dumbledore explained, sounding very sour as he spoke.
"What do you mean by certain criteria?" Molly Weasley asked, looking rather anxious. She had six boys of her own, and hated the idea of any of her children being forced to marry a girl they did not know, much less had no feelings for.
"As I understand it," Dumbledore sighed. "It would be males from families with only one child. Last scions, if you will. Like Harry."
This made the room erupt with protests, and Dumbledore had a bit of a struggle to calm the room down.
"It is highly likely that the older pureblood families will give this their full support, regardless of their loyalty to our enemy, and many of those I spoke to this evening are leaning towards support, with very few opposed. As I said, Lucius Malfoy's pockets are very deep indeed." Dumbledore continued. "The purebloods are dying out, and without this act, more of them will disappear in the coming conflict. They all know this."
"How is it going to work?" Arthur Weasley stood up. "Who decides which boy will marry which girl, and who does it affect? Surely they won't marry a child to someone much older, will they?"
There were nods and looks of frightful concern on every face.
"At this time, I do not know how the selection process will work, nor who is eligible, though I am sure it will involve having those forced to participate to be under a magical contract. I also know that it will affect every last male of the bloodline, unless of course there are extenuating circumstances." Dumbledore smirked as he eyed Sirius.
"So, I'm off the hook." Sirius scowled. "But you think this is a way for Voldemort to get his talons on Harry?"
"I do." Dumbledore nodded. "You see, the proposed bill will affect all males who are the last of their line and are aged fifteen to fifty. Males who are still able to procreate.."
"But what about the girls?" Molly Weasley asked. "You said it only affects the males, what about the girls they are supposed to marry?"
"I'm afraid I do not know anymore, though I suspect that gold will be exchanging hands. The families loyal to our enemy will of course offer their daughters in the hope they will be matched to Harry and be able to serve him up to Voldemort. But that is not enough females to ensure the marriages the Ministry is looking for. I believe gold will be offered as incentive for those not loyal to Voldemort." Dumbledore sighed.
"How can we prevent this?" Elphias Doge asked. Dumbledore could only sigh again.
"I fear we have effectively had our hands tied. The Minister's so called information was rather light on the details of the parameters of this matching process. And without that information, it is unclear how we may at the very least, alter the odds in our favor." Dumbledore stated.
"You're talking about Harry's life here Albus!" Sirius snapped. "Even if by some miracle he doesn't end up with some troll hell bent on serving him up like some kind of lamb to slaughter, he's still being forced to marry someone he may not care about, or even like."
There was a chorus of agreement, and Dumbledore nodded apologetically.
"I understand your ire, and I agree with you all. Harry and all of us should be given the choice in whom we give our hearts, and wed who we deem worthy. Normally I would not even bother telling you all this, as the bill would be voted down. However, I fear that this will not happen here. Lord Voldemort's influence is already permeating into our government." The leader of the Order looked to each and every member of the rebellion pointedly.
"Without knowing how the selections will be made, or who exactly is being considered, I am afraid there is little we can do. I would like it if all of you who work within the Ministry kept your ears open for any word about this. All the information we can get will help in finding a way to protect Harry. That is all for tonight. We shall met in one week."
At this, people began to rise and mingle, or leave as was necessary.
Sirius sighed and turned to Remus whose face showed exactly what Sirius himself felt.
"Sirius, A word, if you please." Dumbledore said from across the room. Sirius gave Remus a look, and the werewolf nodded that he would stay until Sirius returned.
Sirius followed Dumbledore into a small study on the second floor, and shut the door as Sirius passed through.
"Sirius, if this bill passes, I am going to bring Harry here immediately. If by some miracle he is matched to a young lady not associated with the Death Eaters, he will have a great deal to learn. I didn't bring this up, but while I believe that Voldemort is behind this, I also believe Fudge was convinced of the idea with the promise that he may gain control of Harry. As such, Harry will need to understand wizarding customs, and etiquette as well as political maneuvering. I know you scoff at the idea of it all, but you also are the best teacher, as you come from and Ancient and Noble House. Also, there is no one else who would have an idea of the Potter Family's traditions." Dumbledore stated.
"You think he'll need that stuff?" Sirius inquired.
"I have no doubt, and it may end up being the only way we can turn things around. While I am certain the Minister has had people closing every loophole to keep Harry under the thumb of the Ministry, there is a very slim chance Harry could be recognized as an adult. As such, he will gain control of his fortune, and the Potter seat. And, with the help of a few others who will be affected by this law, will prove useful to us in the future. Harry has a loyal following, even if he is unaware of it at the moment." Dumbledore said conspiratorially.
"I see." Sirius began to smirk. "We could essentially control to the court the way Malfoy has for years now."
"In a sense yes." Dumbledore nodded.
"Alright then. How soon should I expect my godson?" Sirius asked feeling a bit uplifted if merely from the thought he'd finally get to spend real time with his godson.
"I cannot say for sure until I know the outcome of tomorrow's vote. But I believe it will be quite soon."
"I'll get a room ready for him." Sirius said, and Dumbledore offered a hand, which Sirius shook, both men feeling worried for the same teenage boy who was likely asleep at that very moment, somewhere in Surrey.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Wizengamot," Pius Thicknese addressed the court room. "Yesterday we saw yet another example of Our Chief Warlock's growing apathy, and his disrespect for our ways."
Dumbledore frowned at the man but remained silent. He had known this would be coming. Several of his true friends had warned him that there had been murmurings. But there were always murmurings. Dumbledore had never been the most popular head of the court, especially with his pro muggle leanings. But he had always been respected. But fear ruled now, not wisdom.
"I ask this noble body, how can we be expected to maintain order, our way of life, and work to better our society when we are hampered at every turn by our own Chief Warlock. That is why I am calling for a vote of No Confidence in Albus Dumbledore."
"I second!" Galen Yaxley rose from his seat and shouted.
"Very well." Dumbledore said rising from his own seat. "As per our law, a vote must be taken. Should the vote be against me, I will leave the court room. Those who are against my dismissal?"
Dumbledore quickly scanned the room to seek out the lit wand tips. He felt a tightening in his chest as he counted only twenty four. His head dipped a bit as he sighed.
"All those in support of my stepping down?" He said, a hitch in his voice. It was overwhelmingly in favor of Dumbledore's dismissal. Dumbledore hung his head, and with one final bang of his gavel, stepped back from the podium and walked down a short flight of steps to the main floor.
"Friends, and respected members of this noble body, I have worked side by side with you for many years, and I must honestly tell you I have never feared more for our continued existence. I beg you all to stop burying your heads in the sand. Dark times are upon the horizon. If we do not act, we are signing our own executions."
"We'll take it into consideration." Benedict Forsythe stated dismissively.
"Very well. Good luck to you all." Dumbledore said, and began to leave the court room. He was slowed in his progress by a smattering of applause from those who respected him and had been strong supporters over the years. Try as he might, Dumbledore was unable to prevent a few tears leaking from his twinkling blue eyes.
Despite his removal, Dumbledore still wished to witness the outcome of the major piece of business. He had to sit through a quick vote on who would be the next Chief Warlock. Several names were entered, Tiberius Ogden, Benedict Forsythe, Oliver Gibbon, Tyrion Yaxley, and Theodore Nott Sr. When it was over, Oliver Gibbon stepped up to the podium, and Dumbledore's heart sank. Gibbon had bought his way out of Azkaban after Voldemort's fall. Dumbledore also knew that Gibbon was very close to the Malfoy family, and would no doubt do whatever Lucius wished.
Almost as soon as Gibbon picked up the gavel, he called for any final arguments for and against the Legacy Preservation act. Several people argued against it, but Gibbon only allowed them a few minutes in which to make their case, while those who argued for its ratification prattled on and on and on. Dumbledore was sickened by this charade.
Dumbledore decided that he was not going to get anything done watching this travesty of justice, and felt it would be better to try and discover how the selection process was going to work. He hoped he would be able to find a way to prevent Harry from winding up with someone from a dangerous family.
However, no one seemed to know how the selection process was to be conducted. Dumbledore wondered if Fudge and his staff even had a process, or if it had all been a show. Some kind of song and dance to distract everyone from Dumbledore's warnings.
That is until he paid a visit the department of Mysteries.
"Albus, as I live and breathe!" A tall man with a heavy build rose from his desk to greet the old headmaster, and his friend.
"Algeron, it has been too long." Dumbledore smiled as he sat down across from the Unspeakable.
Algeron Croaker had a short gray beard and sharp deep set blue eyes. His nose was bulbous, and he had very big ears that stuck out quit prominently. He had the look of a man who had once had an athletic build that had gone to seed. He wore the customary black robes of the Unspeakables though the hood was pulled down to reveal his balding head.
"It has, it has. Now, I expect you're here to find out how the Legacy Preservation act is going to be conducted?" Algeron asked slyly. Dumbledore chuckled, shaking his head slightly.
"I am too transparent." He said.
"True. If it were a social visit, you would have sent me an invitation to tea." Algeron laughed. "An unannounced visit means you're seeking answers. Being as the Legacy Preservation Act is up for a vote… Hey, why aren't you in the courtroom?"
"I was," Albus cleared his throat. "Asked to leave."
"Oh dear." Algeron said grimly. "I fear that will not bode well for us in the future."
"Nor I." Albus sighed.
"Well, you have my sympathies." Algeron gave a warm smile. Dumbledore shook his head.
"It is not sympathies I need today, my friend. It is answers." Dumbledore said pointedly.
"Right." Algeron nodded. "Well, it will be mostly based on magical compatibility. The ministry wants magically strong children. So each person will have their core examined, and documented. They will also be taking blood samples to seek out any possible genetic anomalies, that might prevent good healthy births. Should anything be found, the patient will be treated. Of course you know about the family history, to prevent any mixing of lines who have already married."
"Ten generations was the buffer, correct?" Dumbledore asked.
"Yes." Algeron nodded. "Now, each male's results will be placed on a special piece of parchment and placed in a magical filter, not unlike the Goblet of Fire. Then, all suitable females will be entered as well. When a match is made, the male and female name will come out together. Four Unspeakables will be around the device at all times to prevent tampering with the selection."
"I see." Dumbledore said with a thoughtful nod. "Is there any way to tamper with the criteria?"
"Of course.' Algeron laughed. "But the device will not match a pair if it detects any tampering, especially with the blood which is what it is heavily keyed to."
"What?" Albus looked up interested. "It's going to bind them to their union?"
"You didn't know?" Algeron looked unsurprised. "Another dirty little secret. Yes, it is keyed to their blood, and it will bind them into a magical obligation."
"Damn." Dumbledore sighed. "That complicates matters."
"Albus, I know that I don't need to tell you, but everything we've discussed…"
"Algeron, you have my word, I will not say anything to anyone, though I would like to." Dumbledore sighed, offering his hand. Algeron shook it firmly.
As Dumbledore promised to invite his friend to tea soon, he was already trying to figure out what he could do now to help Harry potter avoid being hand delivered to Lord Voldemort. Perhaps his best defense for now was to get Severus to urge that the prophecy need to be retrieved before meeting Harry again. That would at least buy a little time.
Lucius Malfoy walked purposefully towards the main chamber of the house feeling confident he would be rewarded this night. His plan was working perfectly. Lucius had taken a great chance in urging the Dark Lord to trust in him and that his plan would end with Harry Potter being delivered to him in less than a year's time. Lucius had laid out the plan in intricate detail, and the Dark Lord had liked it. In his eyes it served two purposes, the least of which was the repopulation of Purebloods.
In truth, Lucius felt this was likely the only way his waste of a son would find a proper witch in which to impregnate and continue the Malfoy line. After learning of Draco's relationship with the Parkinson girl, Lucius realized that Draco clearly had no idea how to find a proper witch the befit his station. Now Lucius was confidant the Malfoy name would carry on and grow in strength. Lucius would of course guide his son's spawn and teach him better than Draco. After all, the child would not likely suffer from any ill effects of breeding inbreeding as Draco had.
Lucius school his face to appear humble before the Dark Lord as he arrived at the chamber and entered.
"Lucius." The Dark Lord said icily. He was pacing slowing before a roaring fire, his skeletal hands behind his back and his head bowed in contemplation.
"My Lord." Lucius said, kneeling before his master. "Our plan is now in effect. The bill was passed this morning, and I have just received word from the Minister that it will take two weeks before they will begin testing. Letters will be sent to those who need to submit themselves will begin being sent as early as tomorrow morning."
"Good." Voldemort nodded. "Every one of my followers with a girl child must offer the girls to the Ministry. The boy will be matched to the daughter of one of my Death Eaters, and after their union, he will be brought to me. During the courtship, I wish the boy to be subjugated and beaten down so when he comes before me, there is no fight left in him."
"Of course My Lord." Lucius agreed.
"How soon before we know what lucky witch will be marrying our young mister Potter?" Voldemort asked.
"I do not know for sure, but I suspect it will likely be August. There will be a lot of matches to be made, though I have already spoken to a few of our contacts and they promised they would do all they could to process Potter first." Lucius said with a confident smirk.
Voldemort gave a nod and Lucius took a breath.
"You should also know, My Lord. Albus Dumbledore was sacked as Chief Warlock. The Ministry continues to ignore his warnings, as well as the boy's. Your resurrection is still a secret. You may continue to work unimpeded by the Ministry." Lucius stated.
"Good. Good." Voldemort said. "Leave me Lucius. Report back when you discover whom Potter will be bound to. I will wish to speak to that witch at once."
"Very good My Lord." Lucius bowed again, and quickly left the chamber, not wishing to anger the Dark Lord in any way.
Voldemort continued pacing, thinking hard on all he had learned today. Sure, it appeared as if all was going well with Lucius' plan, and that it was likely he would have the bane of his existence before him very soon, but this also presented a problem. The boy had managed to avoid meeting his fate three times now. In fact, with the exception of their last meeting, the Dark Lord had come out the worse for it. The boy was lucky for sure, but there was more to it as well.
The one with the power to destroy the Dark Lord Approaches. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…
Severus Snape had delivered that message to him fifteen years ago, and it had nearly proven to be the Dark Lord's undoing. He knew there was more to it, and had originally ignored it. Now however, he was filled with doubt. What if this Prophecy provided the answer to how Harry potter was able to not only escape death, but nearly destroy his mortal enemy? Snape had suggested that very afternoon that Dumbledore was contemplating moving it from the Department of Mysteries to keep certain information safe.
What if the answer actually resided in that prophecy? What if without that knowledge, he would never be able to destroy the boy? Could he take that risk? No. So long as the boy drew breath, He, the greatest wizard to have ever lived would be doubted. He would be questioned. And most importantly, His own legacy of power would be in doubt. No, he had to get that Prophecy. He had to hear its contents himself. Then, and only then would he truly be able to destroy Harry Potter once and for all, and then take what was rightfully his.