The Wizengamot Council
Author's Note: Sorry for the long delay. The day I posted the last chapter, my internet shut off, and I couldn't afford to get it back till now.
However, soon to come to your email alerts, and my profile, I have one maybe two NEW stories coming that are sort of in the same manner of this story. Harry/Hermione/Harem stories and so on. I've been doing a lot of writing during my hiatus from the internet. One of my new stories has at least 25 new chapters that will be coming through two-to-three updates a week. Unfortunately not with this story... sorry. So there might not be an update on this one for a while. But if you like this story, you'll also love the new ones coming!
Here is the next long-awaited chapter. And it is a long one...
(Friday, August, 10th, 1991 – late afternoon)
Deep in the bowels of the Ministry of Magic, where even the lifts did not go, was what was known as Level Ten. There was very little to visit on Level Ten. A good majority of the Ministry's numerous staff members had never been this far down into the Ministry's depths.
While most of the courtrooms were on Level Nine, one floor above, there were two courtrooms on Level Ten. These rooms were where the most dangerous criminals were put on trial – most of the guilty who walked out of those courtrooms had ill fates in their future – either they would be spending the rest of their lives in Azkaban Prison, or worse, they would be walking toward their death – either through the Veil, located in the Death Chamber in the Department of Mysteries, or to the Dementors to be Kissed.
It was in one of these courtrooms that Sirius Black would be put to trial in less than twenty-four hours. At the moment however, he was currently in a cell in the Ministry's jail, which also resided on Level Ten, far away from the common everyday Ministry worker or visitor.
To the oblivious, one would think the Ministry's jail was a much better place than Azkaban Prison. But to anyone who spent time in the jail could tell you otherwise. While there were no Dementors roaming the corridors, the jails were still guarded by Aurors, most of whom were training for security stints at Azkaban. However, they never talked to the prisoners unless to order them around. So the prisoners in the jail cells would be locked away in an almost silent isolation. Each cell had silencing charms around it, so the prisoners couldn't speak to one another. This also assisted in the isolation.
When Sirius Black was told he would be moved to the Ministry prison, at first he thought things would improve for him. He was quite wrong. In the past five days he had been there, he had rarely left the cell – only leaving to spend an hour or so per day with the Ministry Healers to start his recuperation, at least to the point that he could be coherent enough and somewhat presentable for his upcoming trial.
In Azkaban, he could sometimes transform into his Animagus form, Padfoot – a loveable dog which resembled a Grim. However, his cell was always in view of the Auror guards, and his Animagus form wasn't public knowledge. He would be revealing his form to the public at his trial, as part of his defense. To do so beforehand would take away a key part of his defensive strategy, so he hadn't dared transform.
Also, he hoped he would at least be able to talk to some friendly faces. But other than the Auror security and Healers, none of which were familiar to him, he hadn't seen anyone since Sunday evening. There was one person he was wanting to see again, and she hadn't come to the jail once.
Then, as if his thoughts had summoned her, he heard the voice he had been longing to hear again.
"Amelia Bones to see prisoner Sirius Black," the voice said.
Sirius sat up from the flimsy bed he had been laying on, and saw shadows marching his way. Then she appeared, being lead by an Auror, in front of his cell.
"Open up the cell," Amelia ordered the guard, "I want to go in there."
"Ma'am, I am not sure that is a good idea," the guard said.
"He won't hurt me," Amelia said, "I will be as safe in there as I am out here. Isn't that right, Sirius?"
Sirius wanted to reply verbally, but he knew his voice was still hoarse from misuse. He hoped the discussion Amelia would have with him would help. He simply nodded his head.
The guard didn't look reassured but he still moved to open the door, whilst ordering Sirius to stay where he is. The cell door opened, and Amelia stepped inside. She pointed her wand at the ground and a chair appeared.
"You may return to your station," she addressed the guard as she sat down. " I'll call for you when I am finished."
The guard shrugged, closed the door, locked it, then walked away. As he and Amelia studied each other, Sirius got his first good look at her. She was dressed in her official garb usually seen on highly important members of the Ministry. Some might consider it boring, but Sirius thought it looked good on her.
"Good afternoon, Sirius," Amelia said, after a full minute.
'Is it afternoon?" Sirius asked, "I wouldn't know. Time has no meaning down here."
"It is Friday afternoon," Amelia said, "Tomorrow morning is your trial."
"So that is why you are here," Sirius said, "You've finally come to prepare me for my trial. Seem to be cutting it pretty close – I thought you would visit me sooner than this."
"I've been quite busy lately," Amelia said.
"Or perhaps you've been avoiding me," Sirius said.
"Or maybe I didn't think you would want to see me," Amelia countered.
"Why would you think that?" Sirius asked.
Amelia stared at Sirius in silence for a few moments. A frown turned her lips and she also looked confused. This allowed Sirius to do some thinking. He thought back to before he had landed himself in Azkaban. He and Amelia hadn't exactly been on good terms. He was angry at her for ending their romantic relationship. He had been thinking about asking her to marry him. Another month or two in their relationship and he probably would have popped the question.
But she had ended their relationship – he had been part of the Order of the Phoenix, and she was beginning her career in Magical Law Enforcement. It wouldn't do to have an apprentice of law having a close relationship with a member of a rebellious group that the Ministry didn't approve of. Or at least that had been Amelia's excuse. Amelia's brother Edgar had been a part of the Order but she could still be seen with him, simply because he was family. Sirius had considered Amelia a member of his family, yet she had thrown it away. Sure, he had told her he supported her reasoning, but that was so he could keep a friendly relationship with her. In the end it didn't work, however. Every conversation was awkward to the point they ended up avoiding each other. That caused Sirius to be angry with her. All those memories, and years of romance between them and it came down to avoiding each other. It pissed him off.
"'The one voice I've tried to ignore for ten years has finally made it to my ears'," Amelia said, "That is what you said when I spoke to you at Azkaban. I thought you didn't want to talk to me. I thought you wanted to avoid me. That is why I haven't visited you this week."
"I didn't think anything of the sort," Sirius said. "Dementors – those foul creatures, the moment they sense you thinking of a happy thought or memory, they snatch it from you. I wasn't going to let the bastards take away those memories I had of you – of us. For these past going on ten years, I have done my damnedest to not think of you. Just so when I finally got out of that hell on earth, I would still have all those happy memories. That is what I meant."
Amelia stared once again at Sirius, but this time the frown on her lips didn't seem to be confusion or sadness. Sirius wasn't sure what she was thinking. This angered him a bit. He used to be good at reading people. Azkaban and the Dementors had taken that from him. If he was a free man starting tomorrow, it was one thing he would have to work on.
"I see," Amelia said. "You must have fought quite hard. Most prisoners are driven insane by the first couple of years in Azkaban."
"I've survived these years in hell because I knew I was innocent," Sirius said, "That wasn't exactly a happy thought, so the Dementors didn't take it from me. They let me keep that thought – I am sure they felt that it would destroy me quicker. An innocent man rotting away in Azkaban – the horror of it all! Sitting there for all these years, while everyone in society thought I was a traitor to the Light, that I betrayed my best friends. That tore me up inside, but it also gave me a purpose. If I could just survive, then maybe I could tell everyone the story of what really happened. I assume that is why you're here? Do you want me to tell my story now, only to repeat it tomorrow?"
"No," Amelia said, "Your defense will be heard for the first time tomorrow."
"Am I getting a solicitor or am I defending myself?" Sirius asked.
"Ted Tonks has offered to be your solicitor," Amelia said.
Sirius smiled. A familiar name and face. Ted Tonks was the husband of his favorite cousin, and had been a good friend..
"Is he here?" he asked, "Can I talk to him?"
"He'll see you an hour before the trial," Amelia said.
Sirius snorted. "An hour's worth of preparation for my defense. I see very little has changed around here. I shouldn't be surprised. I ended up in Azkaban without once stepping foot into a courtroom."
"I do apologize for that, Sirius," Amelia said, "Had I known..."
"What?" Sirius asked, "What could you have done? You were but a lowly apprentice back then. I doubt Bagnold or Crouch would have heard a word of what you had said. I am sure they knew we had been an item. You would have said anything for my defense. They wanted a scapegoat. I was their man. But you want to know something which has been on my mind all these years. Why didn't Albus Dumbledore say anything? He knew key facts about what had happened – he knew I was innocent! He's the Chief Warlock, he was even then!"
"Dumbledore has a lot to answer for as of late," Amelia said, "That is just one of the questions he needs to answer."
"What do you mean?" Sirius asked, "What has Dumbledore done?"
"I can't tell you anything more until after the trial, Sirius," Amelia said.
"You mean until you know I'm innocent or guilty, right?" Sirius asked, raising an eyebrow.
Amelia only shrugged. She didn't answer; she didn't have to. Sirius knew he was correct.
"I've written a lot of letters over the past week when it comes to your trial," Amelia said; Sirius snorted at the obvious change of subject, "I've been in contact with several people who I think might support you. I don't know about character witnesses yet, but they'll at least be there. Just recently I received a reply from Remus Lupin, stating he will be here tomorrow."
"Moony?" Sirius said, with a small smile, "You're telling me the Geezergamot is going to let Remus be a character witness?"
"No," Amelia said, "Unfortunately I couldn't ask him that request. His – illness – isn't common knowledge yet, but if that ever happens, and he is a character witness for you, it could mean bad things in the future. No, he'll just be there for support. Frankly I am surprised he replied. Many people have regarded him as a missing person these many years."
"Missing?" Sirius echoed, suddenly quite worried about his friend.
"It just means he retreated to the Muggle world," Amelia said, "Probably a self-exile. Can you blame him, Sirius? He lost most of his friends that Halloween night."
Sirius sighed. He knew Amelia was right. Remus' condition caused him to have a hard life. While he was rather popular at Hogwarts, he rarely ever noticed such things. He feared people learning about his condition. Sirius, James, and Peter had found out about it on their own, and had coerced him into revealing it to them. Remus had only ever told a small number of people about his condition, and a few of those were authority figures at Hogwarts. Among those outside authority, Amelia and Lily had been his biggest support aside from his fellow Marauders. Without his friends, Remus would have gone back into his isolation. The Muggle world, where werewolves were regarded only as creatures in scary stories, would be the best place for him.
"Harry will be here tomorrow as well, Sirius," Amelia said, with a small smile.
Sirius' eyebrows perked. If he was in his dog form, his tail would have wagged excitably.
"You said on Sunday that you saw him recently?" Sirius asked.
"James and Lily's wills were finally opened very recently," Amelia said, "Last Saturday, there was a Will Reading. I attended and so did he. A lot of things were revealed that were quite big. It was where I found out about the Godfather Ritual."
"Those wills should have been opened years ago," Sirius said, "I know I was labeled as a guardian for Harry, but there were others too. You, if I remember correctly."
"Yes, I know," Amelia said..
"James told me Dumbledore was a witness to his and Lily's will recording," Sirius said.
"Yes," Amelia said, "But as I said, I can't tell you about that yet. Let's just say that James and Lily's wishes were stamped upon basically. Harry grew up living with Lily's sister."
"Petunia?!" Sirius snarled, "I met the bitch once. She hated Lily. She would hate Harry! James and Lily forbid that he be raised by them."
Amelia sighed. "We know that now. Harry's no longer living with them."
"So where is he?" Sirius asked, "Is he living with you?"
"He's emancipated, Sirius," Amelia said, "He is now Lord Harry Potter, the Head of his family. I don't know where exactly he is living, though I have some ideas. I received a letter from him just last night inviting me and my niece, Susan, to his place for a big dinner party if you are found innocent. A celebration of sorts. You'll be the guest of honor."
"Potter Manor," Sirius said, "That is where he's living."
Amelia nodded. "Probably."
"He's probably alright then," Sirius said, "If Missy the house-elf is still around, or even her daughter, Melina, they could take care of him. Missy was the most motherly house-elf I ever met, and she'd have taught that to her daughter."
"He wants you to be his Mentor, Sirius," Amelia said. "If tomorrow goes well, I mean."
Sirius smiled, then he frowned when he realized something. "If? Not too confident, are you?"
"I don't want to get my hopes up," Amelia said. "The Godfather Ritual is evidence that you didn't betray the Potters. But Peter Pettigrew, those Muggles..."
"I'm innocent of that too," Sirius said, "Peter's alive. He's still out there."
Amelia raised her eyebrows. "If that was true, then why hasn't he revealed himself?"
"He's a Death Eater," Sirius snarled. "Everyone thinks he's dead. He could hide in plain sight, and probably has done so all these years."
"If that is true," Amelia said, "then I'll do everything in my power to bring him in. I need to go now, Sirius. I will see you tomorrow."
Amelia stood, vanished her chair and walked over to the cell's bars, then called for the guard.
"Amy," Sirius said, calling her by his pet name for her, "You do believe I am innocent, yes?"
Amelia turned, and Sirius saw that her face still had a pensive expression. "I do, Sirius. But it isn't me you'll have to convince tomorrow."
Sirius watched in silence as Amelia left the cell, and thought about what she said. She was right. It wasn't Amelia he was going to have to convince. She was just one vote out of many. The Wizengamot – a band of political power-players, split between Light, Grey and Dark, all with different agenda – it was these people he would have to convince.
He already knew that most of the Dark members would likely vote against him. He had been their scapegoat. Most were either Death Eaters hiding in plain sight, or Voldemort sympathizers. The spotlight had been pointed away from them ever since he had gone to Azkaban. If he was found innocent, the spotlight might go on them.
It was the Light and Grey he would have to convince. He had a good defensive strategy. The question, however, was... would they listen to it? And would they believe him?
(Saturday, August 11th, 1991 - early morning)
Harry stood in his bedroom at Potter Manor, in front of the body-length mirror, whilst deep in thought. Today's events would be very big, and even though he was quite nervous about the whole thing, it hadn't stopped him from doing his usual routines. He had woken up earlier than usual today and got in his morning routine of jogging and spell casting after taking the second of three nutrient potions.
After his routine and shower, he and Holly had a big breakfast which had been made by Melina. During breakfast, he and Holly talked to Melina about the dinner party they would be having the following day. Melina looked quite excited and said she would do her best to make sure it went perfectly.
Now Harry was standing there in front of the mirror, studying his appearance. He had chosen to wear one of his formal robes, due to the importance of the events today. It wasn't his most extravagant attire, though, he would be saving his best robes for the following evening's dinner party. He was studying the House Crests on his robes when Holly called his name.
"Harry, are you ready?" she said, then stepped into the doorway, "It is almost time to go. Oh! You look quite handsome."
Harry looked at Holly through the reflection of the mirror. She was wearing the feminine style of formal dress robes expected of respectable Ladies attending events. Throughout the almost two weeks that Harry had known her, Holly had only worn jeans and t-shirts, so seeing her in a skirt was new.
"Thanks," Harry said, "Do you think it is a good idea to wear my House Crests?"
"Yes," Holly said, "Today is a big day. You're going to be glamored, of course, but only for the trial. After the trial, you'll be meeting some important people. Important to the Ministry... and important to you. You're a Lord now, and everyone knows that, thanks to your letter in the Daily Prophet. Yes, Harry, it is expected of you to wear your House Crests."
Harry sighed and nodded, knowing Holly was right. He unconsciously brushed his fringe across his forehead, covering the barely visible scar, and turned away from the mirror.
"Alright," Harry said, "Let's go."
Harry and Holly left the room and headed downstairs where Melina was waiting for them in the sitting room.
"Melina," Holly said, "By the time we return, several things may be happening. We may have one or more people coming with us to stay for a while."
"I will ready two of the guest rooms before you return," Melina said, "and can have more ready if needed."
"Also we hope to have the Floo Network open for our fireplace," Holly said. "This can be done from the Ministry, since the house has already been connected, but someone from the Floo Regulation Department may contact the house via the Floo."
"I will keep my ears open," Melina said.
"Thank you, Melina," Harry said, "We're ready to go now. Take us to the Ministry of Magic's Atrium. Madam Bones wrote us yesterday and said she would be waiting for us in a private section."
"I can feel it," Melina said, "We have been given permission."
Harry and Holly each took hold of one of Melina's hands. Melina counted down from three, and Harry closed his eyes and felt himself vanish from the sitting room. Apparation by house-elf was relatively painless and very quick. When he opened his eyes, he found that he was standing in the center of a small room. A few feet away, he saw Madam Bones standing beside a young blonde woman. Amelia smiled when she saw them.
"Good morning Harry, Holly," she said, "This is my personal assistant, Samantha. Samantha, this is Lord Harry Potter and Lady Holly Evans."
Harry smiled softly, noticing that Samantha was blushing quite brightly, and her eyes were wide as she looked at him.
"N-nice to meet the both of you," Samantha said.
"Nice to meet you," Harry echoed, then turned to Melina who stood between him and Holly, "Thank you, Melina, you may return home."
Melina bowed slightly and vanished silently.
"I hope we arrived on time," Holly said, "We know you are quite busy today, Madam Bones."
"Tosh!" Amelia said, waving her hand dismissively, "Your security – specifically Harry's - here is important to me today. Other than my responsibilities at the trial today, I am here to serve the two of you. And you arrived right on time. It is half-past-nine, we have half-an-hour before the trial begins. Plenty of time to get to the courtroom. Now, before I apply the glamors, is there anything you need?"
"Yes, actually," Harry said, "Our residence, Potter Manor in Northampton needs the Floo Network to be turned back on. I believe it was used back before my parents died."
Amelia smiled. "I will take you to the Floo Regulation Department myself after the trial. It is on the way to our later destinations – you're still alright with meeting with myself and the Minister of Magic after the trial?"
Harry nodded shyly. He was still rather nervous about meeting with the Minister of Magic.
"Excellent," Amelia said, "I will apply the glamors now and we can be on our way. It must be done by myself or another high-level member of the Ministry, or alarms will go off. We have had several problems with glamors over the years here at the Ministry, so we've had to limit such things. Remain still, please."
Amelia waved her wand in complicated patterns and Harry felt that recently-familiar feeling of magic coursing through and over his body. The same was done to Holly, but after all was said and done, Harry still recognized her as herself.
"Finished," Amelia said, "The two of you, myself and Samantha – and anyone I give permission to – will be able to identify you as who you really are. Everyone else will see you as a couple of older teenagers."
"Everyone?" Harry asked, "I know there are some out there – like Mr. Ollivander, the wand-maker - who can see past glamors."
Amelia smiled. "People like Mr. Ollivander can see past amateurish glamors. No offense to you, Lady Evans, or your budding magical skills, but I have more experience in glamor charms. I assure you, they are foolproof. Alastor Moody's magical eye would have difficulty seeing through my charms. It was always something that annoyed him. Alright. We better be off. Follow me."
Holly offered Harry her hand, and he blushed lightly and took it. They followed Amelia and her assistant out of the small room and into the large Atrium of the Ministry of Magic. Harry's eyes widened as he looked around. Even though it was the weekend, there were still hundreds of witches and wizards bustling through the Atrium. They approached a long queue near security gates, but Amelia led them past the security without delay.
"Being Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement has its advantages," Amelia explained, "No need to check-in with the security."
"Kind of risky, isn't that?" Holly asked, "What with such spells like the Imperius Curse?"
Amelia laughed lightly. "I have trained myself to fight the Imperius Curse. I doubt I would be in my position if I hadn't! There is very little anyone can do to impersonate me. If someone tried to do so, say, under Polyjuice, they would still have to know my code-phrases to get into important Departments. However, no plan is ever completely foolproof. Caution is used everyday when in my position."
Amelia lead them to one of the lifts, which was separated from the rest. It turned out that this was used by high-level Ministry workers and their guests. So while most of the lifts were usually crowded, Harry, Holly, Amelia and Samantha were the only ones using this lift at the moment. Because they were all headed to the same destination, the trip only took about a minute before the lifts doors opened again.
"Level Nine," a cool feminine voice said, "Ministry Courtrooms and the Department of Mysteries."
"Follow me, everyone, today's trial is on Level Ten," Amelia explained, as they left the lift, "The lifts don't even go down that far. The courtrooms there are for the major criminal trials. Sirius Black will be tried in front of the entire Wizengamot today."
"Does Sirius have a good chance to win?" Harry asked, as he followed Amelia, whilst still hand-in-hand with Holly. He was voicing the question he had been asking himself many times over the past few hours.
"I spoke to him yesterday and he informed me he had a good defensive strategy," Amelia said. "We already know he is innocent for one crime he was thought guilty of. But I will be honest with you, Harry. In the end, this isn't about Sirius Black. His fate is in the hands of the members of the Wizengamot."
"A good percentage will already have their vote in mind before Sirius says one word, won't they?" Holly asked.
"I am afraid so," Amelia said, "There is much corruption here in the Ministry. There are members of the Wizengamot who are sympathizers of You-Know-Who. There are several with Dark allegiances who were once thought to be Death Eaters, but claimed they were under the Imperius Curse."
"And you can't do anything about them?" Harry asked.
"I am only one voice, Harry," Amelia said. "Most of the Light and Grey allegiance still remember what happened during the Great War. They're still afraid; you can sense the fear in them toward the Dark allegiance. They just need a strong voice to lead them."
"You're talking about the Great Alliance," Holly said.
"Indeed," Amelia said, "If the Great Alliance can return, things will change in the wizarding world, and it will start in the Wizengamot and the Ministry. But change can begin with a simple event; today's trial may be a spark that ignites change. Or at least one which starts the sparks."
Amelia lead them down some stairs and into another long corridor. Halfway down the corridor, standing outside large brass doors, several people were standing around and talking to their neighbors. As Harry got closer, he spotted several people with cameras.
"I thought there were very few people who knew about the trial going on today," Holly said.
"A few spectators have been invited personally with permission by the Magical Law Enforcement or Minister Fudge himself," Amelia explained, "However, very few – including the media – know they're about to attend a trial. Most simply believe this is an important Wizengamot session. Most of the Wizengamot believe the same, as a matter of fact. Very few will know this is a trial until it is announced. Though I am sure many suspect as much – this courtroom is rarely used except for trials. Follow me, we're going straight into the courtroom."
Harry and Holly followed Amelia and Samantha passed the large crowd and through the doors into the courtroom. Harry looked around in amazement. The room, even though it was deep underground, had a high ceiling. Harry expected that the room had some magical enchantments so as to not interfere with above levels.
On the far side of the room, raised high above the ground were several rows of chairs. These were for the Wizengamot members, though they were empty at the moment. On the near side of the room, there were half a dozen rows of chairs, used by spectators and media, which were raised slightly above the ground though much lower than the Wizengamot chairs. They were guarded by what appeared to be a magical bubble for the spectators' safety.
It was these latter chairs that Amelia lead Harry, Holly and Samantha to, and they ended up sitting at the end of the second row of chairs.
"This will give you a good view of the events," Amelia said, "But you'll be amongst the spectators, just part of the crowd. Samantha has volunteered to sit with you in case you need anything. I must finish some last minute preparations. Remain here after the trial finishes, no matter the result, and I will come for you."
"Alright," Harry said, "Thank you for everything."
"Thank me later," Amelia said, "The day has just begun."
Amelia smiled and walked away from them. Just then, the doors of the courtroom opened once again and the crowd of people who had been waiting outside the courtroom was now making their way inside and toward their designated rows of chairs. Harry looked around to see if he could recognize anyone, and found Nymphadora Tonks sitting down with a woman who must have been her mother. Harry remembered Ted Tonks calling her Andie – Sirius' cousin. Sitting beside them was a brown-haired gentleman; Harry noticed a few scars lining the man's face. Holly gasped lightly, and Harry turned toward her.
"What's wrong?" he asked in a low voice.
"That man there sitting with Dora," Holly said, "I know who that is. That's Remus Lupin. He was a friend of your parents and Sirius. He's basically an Uncle to you."
"Why wasn't he on the list of guardians in the will?" Harry asked.
"He has – well – an illness of sorts," Holly said. "I can't say anymore than that. It is up to him to tell you. Let's just say that the Ministry wouldn't think he was a proper guardian."
Harry nodded. Suddenly, a door on the far side of the room opened, and several witches and wizards, all dressed in formal and official looking garb started pouring into the room and making their way to the chairs high above the room. Harry knew immediately these were the many members of the Wizengamot. When he had first heard the term Wizengamot, he pictured a large group of elderly men and women, but only a third of the members seemed to be what most would refer to as "old". Most seemed to be around Amelia Bones or Ted Tonks' age – in their thirties and forties.
Samantha started naming a few people she recognized amongst the Wizengamot. "There's Rufus Scrimgeour, the Head of the Auror Department. It is well-known that he isn't exactly a big fan of Sirius Black. It will be interesting to see how he votes in the end. He is amongst the neutral allegiance. Bartemius Crouch, he used to have Madam Bones' job, but a member of his family got into some bad business and he resigned from the post."
"He is one of those responsible for sending Sirius to Azkaban with no trial," Holly said.
"Yes," Samantha said, "I don't understand much of what happened back then, hopefully it will be more clear today. I know you recognize Augusta Longbottom.. Amelia told me you met her. Powerful member of the Wizengamot – a strong voice. There's the Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge. He's actually my Uncle. And ... that's your future Headmaster... the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, Albus Dumbledore."
Harry stared at Albus Dumbledore, studying him. He was taking a seat in the front row to the left of Cornelius Fudge; Madam Bones was on Fudge's right side.
It was easy to see why most people saw him as the Leader of the Light. He looked like the ideal grandfatherly gentleman; with long white hair and beard. Even from where he was seated, Harry could see a twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes and a smile on his face. What was the man plotting behind his smile, he wondered.
In a small room off to the side of Courtroom Ten, the majority of the group of wizards and witches known as the Wizengamot were standing around, waiting to enter the courtroom. To anyone who might have admiring the group, they would notice a pattern. The Light and Dark Alliance supporters were on separate sides of the room, talking to their closest neighbors. The neutral – or Grey – members were speaking to everyone, however; their sole mission at the moment was to see which direction their votes and decisions would go today.
Albus Dumbledore strode into the room, looking for one person in particular. He considered himself very unprepared at the moment and didn't like it. He needed to know why the Wizengamot were meeting today, so there would be no surprises. The only memo he had received concerning today's Wizengamot meeting was the very same which had gone out to every member of the Wizengamot – that this was your typical monthly Wizengamot meeting. But Dumbledore knew better. Several things had happened recently that might be discussed in today's meeting, and he wanted an early opportunity to censor some of the topics beforehand.
He walked throughout the room, then found his target near the door that lead into the courtroom. Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge was currently speaking to Amelia Bones. But their conversation was in whispers and Albus couldn't hear any of it. He knew Legilimency wouldn't work – both Fudge and Madam Bones were strong Occlumens. They would notice his attempts before he could get any answers.
"Minister!" he spoke up, "Good morning!"
Cornelius turned toward Albus and gave him a respectful smile. "Good morning, Albus. I was wondering where you were. You almost didn't arrive on time."
"I was doing some last minute preparations for today's meeting," Albus said, "I must admit it was rather difficult. If I was more prepared, I might have found it easier. I wonder if you could ease an old man's troubled mind and give me a hint as to what is going to take place this morning?"
"You will learn about it at the same time as everyone else, Albus," Fudge said.
"Minister, surely you can tell me something," Albus said, "I am the Chief Warlock, after all. It is my job to lead these meetings."
"Not this morning," Fudge said, "As Minister of Magic, it is my right to lead today's meeting. You are here as a regular member today. If you excuse me, I must address everyone."
Albus kept his emotions intact, as he backed away from Fudge. But it was difficult. Internally, he was currently seething! How dare Fudge do this to him! Fudge would not be in his office if it wasn't for Albus, and this was how the man repaid him? Albus was the Chief Warlock, the most powerful member of the Wizengamot! It was his job to lead the sessions! Now the Minister was treating him like a common member of the Wizengamot, when he was certainly much, much more!
"Attention everyone!" Fudge said, raising his voice, "Can I please have your attention?"
The room gradually silenced as everyone turned their attention to the Minister.
"Thank you, everyone," Fudge said, "To begin, I must thank everyone for being in attendance. I know there are many of you who are wondering exactly why we are here today." He glanced momentarily at Albus, before addressing the group again. "To begin the council meeting, we will treat it as a normal Wizengamot meeting – if you have any issues that need to be voiced today then I will listen to them. Afterward, we have an important trial taking place today."
Several members of the Wizengamot murmured to their neighbors. A few raised their voices, asking the Minister who would be on trial.
"I will reveal who the trial is for at the appropriate time," Fudge said, "Not one moment before. Now, because there will be a trial, there are several spectators in the Courtroom at this very moment, including members of the press and media. They will be viewing both the council meeting and the trial, so I ask that all of you be on your best and most pleasant behavior. It is no secret that harsh words are sometimes exchanged amongst us during heated council meetings. Please keep that to a minimum. Thank you. We will now make our way into the Courtroom."
Albus wanted to speak up, wishing to request a short delay before the meeting would begin. He wanted to have a few minutes to walk amongst the council members and see if he could get any hint of the issues which would be spoken about. Perhaps he could make a few deals of his own beforehand. But he could see in Fudge's expression that the man would deny his request. The doors opened and the council members began making their way into the Courtroom.
So, woefully unprepared, Albus Dumbledore calmed himself using his old Occlumency training and put on his grandfatherly Leader of the Light mask he wore in public. He waited until the room emptied, and made his way into the Courtroom shortly behind Fudge and Madam Bones. He knew there was currently tension between himself, the Minister of Magic, and DMLE Head, but he didn't want the media or spectators to get any hint of that. It would be disastrous to his long-term plans if there was any public reveal, hinting the troubles he had with other high-level members of the Ministry.
He followed Fudge and Madam Bones toward the center of the front row in the Wizengamot seats. His destination was the centermost chair, but Fudge immediately took that very chair. Madam Bones sat on Fudge's right, leaving Albus to sit on Fudge's left. This was a travesty in his opinion. Aside from the very center of the front row, the chair to its right was the most important. The term "right-hand man" had shown power throughout history. The fact that Madam Bones sat there instead of him spelled out a possible alliance forming between herself and the Minister of Magic. He would have to watch the actions between the two over the next few weeks and months.
A few moments later, Fudge smacked the gavel down in front of him, gaining the attention of everyone in the Courtroom.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," Fudge began, "Members of the public, members of the press and media, esteemed members of the Wizengamot. Good morning. Welcome to this, the Wizengamot council meeting on the eleventh of August of the year nineteen-ninety one. I am Minister of Magic Cornelius Oswald Fudge and I will be leading today's proceedings.
"We begin today with a council session. To the general public, I make this simple request: if you have any opinions of today's council session I ask that you send a statement to the Ministry via written word at a later date. Council sessions are rarely ever witnessed by the general public; this is a privilege and can be taken away. If there are any interruptions, you will be removed from the courtroom. Members of the media and press, all questions will be handled after today's session in the corridor outside. Any interruptions will ban you from the press conference."
If there were any problems with this, nobody decided to speak up. Fudge was correct, to view a council session was a rare gift for the general public. Most issues and topics discussed amongst the Wizengamot during these meetings were usually kept private, unless it was decided amongst the higher members of the council that they could be addressed to the public through the media. However, even then, only the most important topics were sent to the media outlets. If any issues were not passed by the council, then they usually never made it to public ear.
The fact that this session was open to public viewing made Albus even more curious. There was rarely ever a council meeting before the trials went underway. This could only mean one thing. Whoever was being put on trial today was facing the entire Wizengamot. Usually only the most severe of criminals faced the entire Wizengamot, and usually the trial was hyped and discussed in the Daily Prophet beforehand. But Albus had seen no hints – and he had thoroughly searched – which would point to who was facing trial this morning. Cornelius Fudge was keeping this information locked up tight until it took place.
"Members of the Wizengamot," Fudge continued, now looking around at the council, "I speak to you now. If there are any issues you feel need to be addressed today, speak now or hold your peace until the next council session. We will begin now."
On the left side of the seats, a gentleman in his fifties stood up first. To most of those present in the room, this man was easily identifiable. His name was Frederick Flourish, and he was the co-owner of the Flourish and Blott's bookshop.
"Good morning Minister Fudge, my fellow members of the Wizengamot," Flourish began. "As you might have seen in the Daily Prophet, or perhaps because you were a part of the events yourself, things have been very hectic this week at my many bookshops around Great Britain. Riots and arguments were common, and if it wasn't for the combined efforts of Madam Amelia Bones, Rufus Scrimgeour and their departments –" He bowed respectfully to Madam Bones and Scrimgeour, " – I fear things could have become much worse. These events were started because of Harry Potter's letter in the Daily Prophet."
Murmurs and whispers were heard amongst the media and other spectators. Madam Bones cleared her throat, so the murmurs would stop.
"Frederick, my good man," Fudge said, "Surely you are not attempting to throw any blame toward Harry Potter for the riots, are you now?"
"I assure you, Minister Fudge," Flourish said, "That is far from my intentions. His words in his letter in the Daily Prophet were honest and impressive. However, these riots and Harry Potter's letter may have never taken place if but for one thing. The history books which told the story of that tragic Halloween night in nineteen eighty-one. Harry Potter tells us that the facts in the history books concerning that evening simply may not be true. I agree with him. I am not the first to express such an opinion. Several of my customers tried to return their copies of history books, simply because they no longer believed the facts about that night. These books were approved by this very establishment, but apparently we have been reading the wrong facts! I am standing in front of you today to suggest we do something about this and soon."
"I fear I do not see the issue here, Flourish," Bartemius Crouch said. "You, and everyone else who shares your views, are basing your opinion on the written word of an eleven year old boy."
"That eleven year old boy is Harry Potter, Bartemius," Augusta Longbottom said, "And, as he stated in his letter in the Daily Prophet, he is the only witness, the only survivor of that tragic evening."
"Precisely!" Flourish said, "Many of you may not remember, but we in the book industry do. The history books which told the tales of that Halloween night were published less than two months afterward. This tells me one thing. The books were published only for profit, for money, and for popularity. It was a race to publish the story first, and in doing so, it seems they got their information wrong. I suggest that we fund the creation of a real Ministry-sponsored history book, this time written by someone here in the Ministry of Magic. Whatever is published about that evening needs to be truthful, well-researched and written with the respect toward Harry Potter and his dear, late parents."
"Mr. Flourish, while I support this idea of yours," Augusta Longbottom said, "I must confess I have some issues with it. Content that is truthful and well-researched could only come from a very small handful of sources. Harry Potter was fifteen months old the evening his parents were killed. Even if Lord Potter volunteered his time, I doubt there will be much information we can receive for a book's worth, much less a page. According to the article, what he remembers from the night may not be real, but from nightmares. Council, you must remember that Lord Potter has just returned to our society after nearly a decade away. At the moment, he is testing the waters before jumping in. I suggest we do not pester him about these concerns at this very moment. We would only frighten him. I move to delay a vote toward this issue until we are sure that this project would have even-footing to begin with."
Fudge took a vote, and in the end, there were enough votes to agree with Augusta Longbottom. Mr. Flourish and the Regent of the Longbottom House then agreed to head the project. Albus had voted with Augusta Longbottom's decision; he decided that if the book succeeded, it may work in his favor later in Harry Potter's opinion of him. He was quite interested to find that every member of the Wizengamot who were once a part of the Great Alliance had voted with Augusta Longbottom. This included Castor Greengrass, a part of the Neutral alliance. He had always been quite wary of the Great Alliance because of their power. However, it had been a long time since they had shown any great importance when it came to agreeing on votes. He would have to watch them in the future.
Over the next few minutes, there were more issues brought up that Albus didn't consider important to worry about. Most concerned personal matters or issues in Departments that needed handling. Then Lucius Malfoy stood up.
"Fellow members of the Wizengamot," Malfoy said, "I stand here this morning to voice a recent issue which was troubled myself and a few other respected members of our society. Just this recent Monday, I was given a letter from the Goblins at Gringotts. They informed me that they were claiming back the Vault which had been in my family's use for many years now. I was given twenty-four hours to remove all of my valuables and gold from my Vault and move them elsewhere. There was no previous warning before this. I consider myself very lucky that I was able to move my valuables and gold from my vault before they were claimed by the Goblins of Gringotts. They didn't consider that I could have been ill or injured, or otherwise indisposed. If I had not emptied my vault in twenty-four hours from the received notice, my hard-earned gold would have been gone, claimed by the Goblins. Unfortunately for some fellow members of our society, they were not so lucky. I know that at least one gentleman and maybe others – hard-working individuals – lost everything from their vault simply because the Goblins took it back."
"This is the first I've heard of this, Lucius!" Fudge said, "Why wasn't I informed earlier?"
"I would have made you aware of these issues earlier this week," Lucius said, "However, I know you've been quite busy, so I decided to bring forth this issue today."
"Have you spoken to Dirk Cresswell?" Fudge asked.
"Yes," Lucius said, "He informed me would address the issue, but I have not heard back from him."
"It appears you are having some personal issues with the Goblin Nation, Lord Malfoy," Albus said, "However, I must ask what you suggest we, the Wizengamot, do about it? As you are well aware, I believe, there is a treaty between the Ministry and Gringotts. I would tread carefully, Lord Malfoy. What you may suggest may only lead to possible war between us and the Goblins."
"It is the last thing I want, I assure you, Chief Warlock," Lucius said, "However, I must press the issue. A handful of Vaults were reclaimed by the Goblins. How long before they wish to reclaim more Vaults? What if this event leads to them closing down Gringotts in the future? It would prove disastrous for the wizarding world. Our Goblin Liaison Department – what does it do, I ask? What are its limits? Is it truly limited by the Goblins? Fellow council members, I am not suggesting anything which leads to war between us and the Goblins. But I ask what we are doing to prevent it? The Goblins seem to do as they please, especially when us wizards and witches are in question."
"I must agree," a sweetly-sickening voice spoke up, and the small figure of Senior Undersecretary Dolores Umbridge stood from her chair, "Recently I was doing business in Gringotts when I was removed physically from the premises, along with every other witch and wizard who were present. Forced from Gringotts by Goblins! I could have been injured! We must do something about this before our very freedoms are taken by those -"
"Madam Undersecretary," Amelia interrupted; this was a good thing – Umbridge seemed on the verge of insulting the Goblin Nation, "I am well informed of the issue that lead to the temporary removal of wizards and witches going about their business in Gringotts that day. They were taking care of personal business solely important to the Goblin Nation. I understand there was a confrontation that could have become physical. It seems if there were any witches or wizards present during that time, it could have lead to possible injuries. The Goblins were very acting very respectful and responsible toward the general population. I see no problem here."
"I agree with Madam Bones," Fudge said, "What is your point, Lord Malfoy?"
"I move to refurbish the Goblin Liaison Department," Lucius said. "We need a louder voice representing us at Gringotts, else we may come to a financial crisis in the future."
"How would you suggest we achieve this if we were to support your decision?" Augusta Longbottom asked.
"At the moment the only people qualified for the Goblin Liaison Department are those who feel they could put up with the Goblins," Lucius said, "In other words, they are not brave enough to voice an opinion which supports the Ministry of Magic's views. I would have my Vault returned to me already if the Department had the confidence to do what must be done. We must change those ideals if we are to continue to be financially successful."
"I oppose this movement," Augusta Longbottom said. "Lord Malfoy's suggestion would only lead to possible violent confrontations between the Ministry and Goblins. We cannot afford that."
"Let us put it to vote," Fudge said.
Once again, the opposition against the movement won over the votes. It seemed most of the Wizengamot – the Light Alliance and many of the Neutrals – agreed with Augusta. They did not wish to anger the Goblins – there would be no refurbishment to the Goblin Liaison Department. Albus was interested to note that those who voted alongside Lord Malfoy were those rumored to be Voldemort sympathizers. He wondered how many of those who voted had recent problems with Gringotts.
"If that is the last topic the council wishes to discuss today?" Fudge asked, as he looked around at the council members. Nobody answered otherwise; it seemed they were all content. "Very well. We will now move on to today's trial. Auror Shacklebolt, will you please bring in the defendant?"
The tall, dark-skinned Auror nodded and walked out of the Courtroom. The change in the atmosphere of the Courtroom was significant. This was why the general public and the representatives of the media and press were in attendance. It then occurred to Albus that, while he knew nothing of the identity of the defendant, it seemed as though some in attendance did. The spectators viewing a trial usually consisted of people whom either supported the defendant or were perhaps victims,or related to victims of the defendant. Albus quickly searched the audience for anyone familiar, anyone who might have given him a clue to the identity of the defendant.
Then he slowly began to recognize a few people. Andromeda Tonks was sitting beside her daughter, Nymphadora, a recent graduate from Hogwarts. Sitting with them was a man that Albus had not seen in many years. The man's appearance had changed, but he was still familiar. The man's name was Remus Lupin. It had been rumored that he was on self-exile from the wizarding world ever since that fateful Halloween night.
It was then that Albus realized exactly who the defendant in today's trial was.
And it did not mean good things for his plans in the immediate future.
Meanwhile in the spectator seats, the disguised Harry Potter sat waiting for the reason he was here today. He had already witnessed one important event, and another would begin shortly. The Wizengamot Council meeting had been very interesting. He knew that one day he would very likely be sitting in one of those seats as a member of the Wizengamot council, discussing and voting on ideas that would change the very fabric of British wizarding society.
Even as a simple spectator, he had witnessed as his name had been tossed around on the council. Mr. Flourish had called his article 'impressive'. The man had spoken of the riots that had come from his article. Then they had discussed penning a new history book. He would have to remember to thank Augusta Longbottom for saying what he could not – that he did not want to be the center of research for a history book. He had given some information to the Daily Prophet, and would give more to Xenophilius Lovegood and the Quibbler. And that would be it. The history books already had their chance to tell his tale and they had failed. He didn't need another debacle like that! He just wanted to be a normal kid growing up in this strange new world.
Lord Malfoy's issue toward Gringotts had interested him as well. Holly had told him in whispers afterward that Malfoy must have been one of those targeted by the Goblins' investigation spearheaded by Ragnok the Sixth. It seemed Malfoy didn't like any of it. Malfoy reminded Harry of his Uncle Vernon. In public, both men were deviously respectful toward everyone, but what were they hiding behind that mask. Vernon was hiding many secrets that would destroy him if they were ever revealed. What was Lord Malfoy hiding?
"It seems our future Headmaster has just realized exactly why we are all here today," Holly whispered to Harry. "He hides it well, but I can see the panic behind the mask he wears."
"What does it all mean?" Harry asked.
"A panicked predator can become even more dangerous," Holly said, "We'll have to keep an eye on him."
Harry swore silently to keep two eyes on Albus Dumbledore. The man had wronged him already in many ways. This man had been the reason he had faced nearly ten years of abuse at the Dursleys, when he should have remained in the wizarding world with friends of his parents who would have treated him like family. The man had stolen money from him and possibly more of his possessions. How many other countless things had he done? What else was he plotting?
Harry wanted the man to answer for everything he had done to him, but that would have to wait for another day. It wasn't Albus Dumbledore on trial. It was Sirius Black whose fate would be decided today.
Suddenly, the large doors to the courtroom opened once again, and, as if on swivels, the heads of everyone turned toward them.
The biggest trial of the decade was about to begin.
You probably should have seen this coming, huh? I did this in Bonds of Time, separating the trial into two chapters with a tease like this before. However, this was the first time I ever wrote a Wizengamot council meeting. I hope you liked it! I am planning more like it in the future.
I almost ended this chapter before Dumbledore's PoV, and would have had it in the next chapter, but I wanted next chapter to focus mostly on Sirius and the trial. The decision to keep Dumbledore's PoV in this chapter made this one of the longest chapters in the story so far! Haven't had one this long since early on in the story.
Hope you enjoyed it!
Next chapter: Sirius Black Versus The Wizengamot! HOWEVER, do not expect a quick update for this story. I have one or two other stories that will be coming!