"Harry Potter" belongs to J.K. Rowling
AN: I want to extend my thanks to the great members of my Discord server, who have helped me with the writing of the chapter itself, but also re-igniting my passion for this.
Special thanks go to Meneldur, who has not only aided me with the crafting and editing of this chapter, but also the story as a whole.
With that out of the way, please enjoy the chapter!
A Godfather's Promise
Chapter XXII: The Trial
The deafening tapping of boots on the marble floor was the only thing that could be heard in the hall. One pair belonged to Harry, while the others belonged to the squad of Aurors that flanked him. They had been his constant companions during the previous day as they kept watch over his cell, even throughout the night.
Harry didn't blame them for his predicament. Orders were orders, and the Aurors followed them to the best of their abilities. They didn't treat him like a criminal, mostly telling him what would happen and delivering his meals. They were even kind enough not to bind him in chains as he was being marched through the Ministry.
"This is it," said the captain, stopping in front of a door. He looked at Harry and gave him a sympathetic nod. "Good luck."
Returning the nod and standing straight, Harry strode into the room. Immediately, the murmurs among the Wizengamot came to a halt. With so many of them in the same place, their faces became unrecognizable. He spotted a chair with chains arrayed around it in the middle of the room and, trying to ignore the countless eyes focused on him, took his seat and didn't move. He knew that if he tried to resist now, the chains would come to life to stop him. Two Aurors walked in with him and took their place behind him.
A man stood and cleared his voice. From what the Aurors told him, this was Ian Davis. He briefly noted the similarities between Tracey and her father. "This court is now in session: Cornelius Oswald Fudge, Minister of Magic; Amelia Susan Bones…"
Ian Davis' words blurred while Harry focused on the faces around him. Fudge stood in place, jittery and yet with a defiant look in his eyes. It seemed as if the Minister was either ready to crawl in the middle of the room and cry or start shouting at the top of his lungs. Either way, Harry wouldn't be surprised.
In stark contrast, the woman at Fudge's left was sitting stiffly, barely able to contain her frustration. Harry recognized the dark shade of red and realized that this must be Amelia Bones, Susan's aunt and only remaining family.
There were others: Lucius Malfoy, placed right next to Fudge, and a toad-like woman behind both of them who had a smile that made Harry twitch in his seat. Seated between the Protectorate were many faces he recognized as the parents of his classmates. These were just some of the many faces that Sirius had once shown him pictures of the previous evening when preparing him for the trial, yet now he couldn't remember the names.
Yet there was one that caught Harry's interest, not because of his actions, but due to him being the only one who looked disinterested. He had black hair, reaching around his shoulders, and sat in a chair that almost looked bigger than the rest. There was nothing in his face that revealed his intentions, not even his eyes: dark violet eyes, calculating eyes… Daphne's eyes.
Harry looked around to search for any signs of a familiar face. There were none. A lump formed in his throat. Would he have to face these people all by himself? Biting his lips, he searched for something, anything that would help him. His ears caught a distant echo, getting closer with each step, until finally they stopped at the other side of the door. On the other side, were Sirius, Remus, Dora, and most surprisingly, Aunt Andromeda. He hoped for a sign of Fleur, but knew that she would not be let inside. She was not family… yet.
"Lost your way?" growled Fudge.
"We were not told that about the change of schedule," retorted Sirius with clenched teeth.
A sigh came from Cygnus Greengrass. "Let us not dawdle any longer. Some of us have business to attend to." The Wela all muttered in agreement.
"Who stands for the accused?" asked Ian Davis to a silent room.
"I do," stated a familiar voice. Harry turned to see Andromeda Tonks, dressed smartly and with a sterner face than he'd ever seen before. Murmurs erupted from the stands, and a fair share of hateful stares from the Protectorate. A chair with a desk appeared in front of Harry, slightly to the right.
"Mrs. Andromeda Tonks," announced the Speaker. "And who stands for the prosecution?"
"I do," stated a pudgy, balding man dressed in richly embroidered black robes. Another desk and chair were summoned, to the left of Andromeda.
Ian Davis nodded. "Very well, Lord Goyle, you may begin."
Goyle cleared his voice and the room went quiet. "Yesterday in the afternoon, Mr. Harry Potter is known to have been located in Diagon Alley at the same time that our esteemed Lord Crabbe was perusing among the shops, as he was known to do as an esteemed patron of our society. Suddenly, and without cause, Mr. Potter is known to have performed an enhanced version of the Cutting Charm on Lord Crabbe's neck, the damage being such that by the time the proper authorities arrived, Lord Crabbe had already, most regrettably, passed away."
He pointed at Harry. "The timeline of events is clear: Mr. Potter, already a young wizard with a history of aggressive and reclusive behavior, saw Lord Crabbe and, thinking that he would not face any consequences thanks to his name and status, killed Lord Crabbe in cold blood. As such, he is too dangerous to walk among decent, true wizards. The only place for him is a cell in Azkaban, or… the dementor's kiss!"
Harry tried to stop the feeling of ice trailing across his spine. There was no fate worse than that. Even death was a better alternative. Briefly, he recalled the dementors and the way they sucked the joy out of him. Around him, he heard gasps, and even some of the members of the Protectorate looked uncomfortable at the suggestion. Immediately, Aunt Andromeda stood up with a fiery look in her eyes.
Ian Davis raised his hand to stop the mutterings. "The defense will now make its case."
"Thank you, Mr. Speaker." Aunt Andromeda and stared at the onlookers. "Respected members of the Wizengamot, I must inform you that you have been led astray. My client, Harry James Potter, did not attack without reason. It was Lord Crabbe, a wizard that had the Dark Mark etched on his forearm, who initiated the conflict. My client was simply defending himself."
The toad-like woman cleared her voice dramatically. "Lord Crabbe was under the Imperius Curse; might I remind you. He was found not guilty." Harry shivered at her girlish voice, almost feeling the need to clean his ears from the noise, as though she had dripped oil in them.
"I was not aware that commentary from members of the Wizengamot was part of the opening statements, Madam Umbridge. In any case, of his release, I am well aware. Of his innocence, I remain unconvinced," Aunt Andromeda replied. Muttering was heard around the room again, Umbrdige flushing red, Fudge looking uncomfortable but clearly not planning to try and stop Umbridge.
Cygnus Greengrass rolled his eyes and whispered something to the Speaker. Immediately, Ian Davis cleared his voice until everyone quieted down.
"Let us not stray from the case or break protocol. Lord Goyle, you may bring your witnesses."
"Certainly." Lord Goyle grinned a yellow smile and several wizards and witches walked in, along with younger wizards that must have been their children. It didn't take long to recognize Adrian Pucey's scarred face. Harry tightened his fingers. The last time he'd seen those faces where when they were about to rape Fleur.
"I would like to begin with several first-hand accounts of Mr. Potter's violent nature, just in case our esteemed members of the Wizengamot were under the delusion of a carefully manufactured image of heroism. Mr. Pucey will talk for all of Mr. Potter's victims."
Adrian sent Harry an oily grin as took a seat and repeated the oath that Ian Davis made him swear. "Thank you for your attention, esteemed members of the Wizengamot," Adrian said smoothly.
"Mr. Pucey, what can you tell us about Mr. Potter?" asked Fudge.
"Well, I can tell you that he's always been an arrogant gloryhound, and one that gets into fights often. He usually tells outlandish excuses about basilisks or blames someone else when he gets into trouble, as he often does. For example, in second year…"
"Finish quickly, boy," spat Lord Greengrass.
Adrian Pucey actually squeaked when he saw Cygnus Greengrass. "V-Very well. I can tell you about the time he assaulted me and my friends during our last year."
"Lord Speaker, I must object. These statements have no relevance to the events that transpired yesterday," declared Aunt Andromeda.
Umbridge raised her annoying voice. "I believe we must hear what this young man has to say. No doubt it will shed some light on understanding the character of Mr. Potter."
Fudge nodded in agreement, and after a glance at Greengrass, Davis replied: "We will allow you to speak, Mr. Pucey, but if you stray into irrelevance once more you will be removed."
"Thank you, Lord Speaker," said Goyle. "You may continue, Mr. Pucey."
Harry had to clench his hands on the armrests as he heard Adrian's reimagining of the events. If this version was to be believed, Fleur had used her allure to knowingly entice Adrian and his friends, but their 'purebred mental strength helped them see through the deception'. The same could not be said about Harry, apparently, who proceeded to assault them out of jealousy. Fleur joined in, apparently for money, as all Veela do.
'I should've scarred the inside of your face,' thought Harry.
After Adrian was done, questions followed. All of them were answered with the same saccharine infused lies. Nobody looked convinced, and after a cough from Lord Greengrass, the Speaker thanked Adrian and called in the next witness. A man, dressed in brown robes, with graying hair and a wrinkly face.
"Gregory James saw the confrontation of Mr. Potter and Lord Crabbe," informed Goyle. "He stayed behind while others fled to see the events, and as his testimony will prove, Mr. Potter is guilty of starting the conflict."
Harry tried to remember yesterday as best he could. Many things were blurry; Goyle's curses were the only thing he had truly concentrated on then. Despite his best efforts, he could not recognize the man.
"Mr. James, tell us, in detail, what happened," ordered Goyle.
The man fidgeted. "Yes… erm… well, I was walking yesterday around the alley, like I always do. I had to 'round Madam Malkin's for some stuff… and erm… the Leaky Cauldron! Yes, I was going to the Leaky Cauldron but… erm…"
"Get to the point," exhaled Lord Greengrass.
Jumping and then widening his eyes at Cygnus Greengrass, the man cast his eyes on the floor and continued. "Yes well… ahem… I saw Harry Potter come out with his wand. I didn't think much of it at first until I saw the murderous intent in his eyes as he looked at Lord Crabbe. He fired the first spell and hit Lord Crabbe in the back. Lord Crabbe grabbed his wand and tried to defend himself, but Harry Potter kept on his assault until he killed him… yes… that's all."
"Thank you for your testimony, Mr. James," said Goyle. "Now, onto –"
"Wait," interrupted Aunt Andromeda, standing up from her desk. "If I may ask some questions?"
Fudge shook his head. "We really must keep going."
Lord Greengrass coughed, drawing a slight glance from the Speaker. After a nod, Ian Davis cleared his voice. "The defense is allowed to cross-examine the witness."
Aunt Andromeda walked to the man, who seemed to be shrinking with each passing second. "Mr. James, you mentioned that you were at Madam Malkin's and were going to the Leaky Cauldron. Madam Malkin is situated at the south side of Diagon Alley, while my client was at the Apothecary, at the north side. Why the detour?"
"I… ehm… I got a bit lost a bit. Sometimes I tend to just walk about," he stuttered.
"I see… and you mentioned you saw the entire confrontation in detail? Even when Lord Crabbe held his wand?"
Gregory James nodded nervously, avoiding eye contact with the entire room. "That I did, Ma'am."
"Then you'll no doubt tell us which hand Lord Crabbe used to hold his wand?"
"I… err…" The man looked towards Goyle with a pleading expression. "It was the right hand, if I remember correctly… yes, the right."
Aunt Andromeda turned towards the room. "I trust we all remember that Lord Crabbe was well-known for being left-handed?" The Wizengamot erupted into mutterings.
"That means nothing!" barked Fudge, his face starting to boil. "Let's go straight to the sentencing! I want this finished today!"
At a nod from Greengrass, Ian Davis stood up once again. "The defense brings their first witness."
Harry watched as Dora stood up and walked to the middle of the room. Despite the situation, Harry couldn't help but be impressed at how practiced her walk seemed at the moment. He almost expected her to trip in the middle of the entire Wizengamot.
"The witness is a family member of the accused, is she not?" asked Goyle.
"If you do not wish to hear her testimony, I have five others that are willing to speak. Be assured that all of them will tell the truth of my client's innocence," retorted Aunt Andromeda.
"No need. We will hear the witness," said Lord Greengrass this time, instead of Ian Davis. Very few people seemed to notice or care. "Just make it quick."
Dora began telling what happened yesterday since the moment they arrived at Diagon Alley. She told of how she had followed him through the crowds and then spotted several masked wizards coming their way with wands at the ready, and how she had been briefly separated from Harry, making it clear that it was the wizards that had attacked first. She finished when she had reunited with Harry, and the Aurors came soon after.
Aunt Andromeda brought in more witnesses that corroborated the story as Harry remembered it. Even after Goyle's interrogations, most of them recalled a similar set of events. Yet Harry knew it was all pointless. This was a kangaroo court, plain and simple. The only thing that would decide if he was innocent was the decisions of corrupt politicians.
"We will now question the accused," declared Ian Davis.
Fudge stood with a glare, fingering the papers even though he did not read them. "Did you, Mr. Potter, cast the Severing Charm on Lord Crabbe?"
"I did, in self-defen –"
"And did this charm cut Lord Crabbe's neck, which resulted in his death?"
"It did, but I did not intend to –"
"Thank you, Mr. Potter."
Amelia Bones raised her voice. "Did you truly engage in a duel with a wizard over twice your age and win?"
"I am not lying," Harry responded.
Raising her hand, Amelia Bones continued. "I am not calling you a liar, Mr. Potter. But you must admit that it is quite… unusual for a young man about to enter his fifth year in Hogwarts to beat and kill a seasoned wizard like Lord Crabbe without being injured yourself."
Harry shrugged. "He was not a good fighter, Madam Bones. He was fat, clumsy, and overconfident." A few snickers came from the people sitting at his right; hisses from his left. "That, and I trained hard for the tournament."
"Mr. Potter admits his guilt!" boomed Goyle.
"I admit to defending myself after I was attacked. Yes, I cast the Severing charm. Yes, it hit his neck. Yes, he died, but it was either him or me," replied Harry.
Fudge stood up suddenly, interrupting Madam Bones. "Let's move on to the judgement, now!"
The Speaker stood up. "Those in favor of clearing the accused of all charges shall raise their wands with a green light – those in favor of finding the accused guilty, respond with a red light-
Before Davis even finished the sentence, to Harry's left, the members of the Wizengamot raised their wands immediately to emit a bright red light at the tip. To his right, the other side swiftly responded with a green light. Everyone stared at the center, where the majority of the Wizengamot stood still, without raising their wands. The Wela sat nervous, almost as if they were ready to cave under the pressure and choose a side, until they inevitably looked at Cygnus Greengrass, still undisturbed, and kept their silence.
Fudge turned to glare at the Wela. "You must make a judgement!" he demanded.
"We must," agreed Lord Greengrass, "but not immediately, and not now. The Lord Speaker did not complete his call for a vote due to unseemly haste by some of our members." He eyed Harry's left with a smirk of derision. "Haste makes waste. Certainly, a decision made in haste is not usually the wisest one. Especially one that would set such a precedent. Mr. Potter would be the youngest wizard sentenced to not only Azkaban, but also the dementor's kiss. I think none of us wish to live in a world that hands out such a sentence so easily." Most of the room, even some of the Protectorate, grumbled in agreement.
"Logic must trump emotion, and for that, I suggest a debate of the facts, and a brief recess to reach a decision tomorrow after I've had a chance to… hear both sides on this."
Grumblings erupted from the left and the right, but Davis quickly acceded to Greengrass's suggestion, calling for Harry to be removed so the debate could begin. One of the Aurors placed a hand on Harry and nodded towards the exit. As the discussion started and he walked away, he suddenly noticed Sirius walking up to him.
"Got yourself into some trouble, eh?" Sirius grinned tiredly. "Don't worry. I'll see you in your cell. Amelia still owes me a few favors."
Harry nodded and kept on walking, only managing to hear the start of the debate between the Wizengamot. As the door started to close, he took a last glance at the tall, dark-haired man, who was being approached by Lucius Malfoy and Kingsley Shacklebolt. Once again, Harry couldn't help but notice the similarities between Daphne and her father. Cygnus Greengrass, the man that would either free him, or doom him.
'What is it you want, Lord Greengrass?'
Hermione had greeted her parents many times. It was so instinctive, so primal, that memories of all the hugs seemed to coalesce into one. This time, she waited, peeking down the stairs to see Emily and George Granger greeting Evanna.
Everything seemed normal at first, until Hermione started to notice the little details: the way Evanna held her hands behind her back and her head down, the way her mother briefly trailed her fingers around Evanna's neck, or how the hug with her father lasted longer, her father's hand reaching down to caress or perhaps grope Evanna's ass.
"How was the trip?" asked Evanna.
"Good, very good, but tiring," responded Emily. "Is Hermione home?"
Taking a moment to avoid suspicion, Hermione opened a door and then loudly stomped on the floor. "Mum? Dad?" She quickly went down the stairs. For a moment, the revelations of the previous weeks were ignored. When both of them hurried for a hug, Hermione remembered that these people were still her parents, no matter who they were behind closed doors.
"Sorry for not being here, Hermione," said Emily, letting go of the hug. She widened her eyes once she got another look at Hermione. "Is this really my daughter? Wow, Hermione… you've grown so much!"
Feeling the warmth spreading from her heart, Hermione smiled. "I guess I'm not your little girl anymore, Mum."
Her father laughed. "You'll always be that little girl in her pink princess costume granting wishes with her magic wand to me."
"Dad!" Hermione felt her entire body heat up. "I was six years old!"
Everyone laughed until a noise made Hermione snap her head towards the front door, where she managed to spot a white envelope falling to the wooden floor. Sparing a single look towards her family, Hermione stepped forward to snatch it from the ground. Two letters were emblazoned at the front – "S.B."
'Sirius,' Hermione realized. Quickly, she ripped open the envelope and grabbed its contents: a short letter.
Harry is in trouble. Voldemort is making moves that we didn't think would come so soon. I think it would be for the best if you come with us for protection. We'll be there to pick you up tomorrow morning. Stay safe.
"Hermione? What is it?" asked Emily.
Hermione turned around to see all eyes on her and let out a breath she didn't even know she was holding. "I… I need to go." Confused stares surrounded her. It was her father that spoke first.
"What do you mean? We only just got here."
Staying quiet for a few moments, Hermione thought of what to say. "Mum, Dad… I… this year has been hard. I've had to deal with many revelations about others and myself. At first, I didn't know what to do about it, but now I know that there's so much to learn about me. Right now, things are… tense in that other world. I need to go for protection, but I also need to go for myself. Please, can you understand?"
Her parents looked at her, concerned. "Are you in any danger? Do you need us to help the authorities?"
She shook her head. "It won't help, but there's probably nothing to worry about. Everything is just a precaution. I promise I'll be back before the summer is over. It'll probably just be for a few days."
"Alright," said her father, though still visibly concerned. "Do you at least have some time for dinner? I want to see you a little more before you go off again."
"Good, then we'll be off to buy supplies. You can start by setting the table," said her mother as she walked back to the vehicle.
"Evanna?" she asked once her parents were gone. "Do you need help with anything?"
"That's alright. You need to start packing if you really need to leave."
Hermione nodded. "Yeah, I… thanks for everything. It's been a little hard, learning about all these things, and without someone to talk to, I might have gone completely crazy!"
Evanna giggled and grabbed Hermione's hand. "What are big sisters for?"
All at once, Hermione felt memories of her life come at once, from the first moment she met Evanna, the way she helped her study, the trips to the library, and the way she comforted her when the other girls were mean to her in school. Now that she was leaving, the thought of leaving Evanna tugged at her heart.
"Well… I am going now, and I don't know when I will see you again. I… need to find out more about myself now, and I have to do it by myself." She swallowed the knot in her throat. "Hopefully, when I see you again, I will be able to understand more clearly." A tear rolled down her cheek until Evanna dried it.
"I will always be here to help – me and your parents. Are you sure you don't want to tell them about…?"
She shook her head. "Not yet. One day, I promise I will, but not today."
Evanna nodded. "Alright then. You should get packing. I'll start dinner when your parents return."
After another hug, Hermione walked upstairs. Her heart was beating fast, even though she didn't know why. Fear? Anxiety? Sadness? Or was it joy? Perhaps it was all of them at once? Was it normal to feel this when your life seemed to change so quickly?
Slowly, she walked to the window, barely hearing her own breathing due to the heavy droplets of water smacking against the glass. Lighting flashed in the distance, heralding the cracking roar that came later. It seemed to go on forever; a sea of lifeless grey, getting darker every minute, when all of the sudden, it stopped. A gentle, warm light spilled between the clouds, getting larger with each passing second, until the setting sun was in full view. Hermione found herself smiling at the sight, and stood there for what seemed like hours until she heard Evanna's call for dinner.
Fleur didn't think that such a short amount of time could feel so long. With Harry, days tended to pass as easily as the summer breeze; without him, like the coldest storms of winter, each hour an eternity. She laid on the bed, all the covers doing nothing to stop her shivers, as she watched the arms of the clock slog forward, every tick deafening in the silence.
Yet despite it all, her heart still leapt a little when she heard the door open. Only one person didn't bother to knock. She turned around to see Dora, almost taken aback by the lack of pink hair. Without the color manipulation that she had due to her abilities, Dora had long, light brown hair, just like her mother.
Frankly, Fleur didn't think she'd be able to handle the time if it hadn't been for her. It was Dora that made sure she ate and bathed, and kept everyone out of the room that Fleur didn't want coming in. It felt like Dora was the only person she could trust in the entire city right now.
"'Ow did eet go?" asked Fleur, heart thumping fast when Dora's smile dropped.
"It was all a big joke!" exploded Dora. "Mum absolutely destroyed the prosecution. It was almost embarrassing to watch. I can't believe there's even a question as to Harry's innocence and yet they're still going to have a debate. They're going to decide tomorrow."
Fleur exhaled, not really knowing if she should feel relieved or worried. Nothing had really changed, Harry was still imprisoned, but at least he hadn't been declared guilty. "Why are zey 'olding ze decision?"
Pursing her lips, Dora walked to the window. "It's Lord Greengrass. He's the one that decides Harry's fate now. The good news is that the other side hasn't given him what he wants. The bad news is that he's going to expect something from Harry, something that the Protectorate can't give him."
Greengrass. Fleur remembered the Slytherin bitch that bore that name. Younger than her, and yet Fleur admitted that the girl would one day become as beautiful as a woman could get without being of Veela ancestry. She also remembered the aristocratic coldness, and thought of the kind of father that would raise a girl like that.
"Hey," whispered Dora, putting a hand on Fleur's shoulder, "I've known Harry forever and he always gets himself out of things like this. He will be alright."
Fleur gave a single, slow nod. "Oui… I know."
As Dora rose to leave, Fleur felt the emptiness creeping back. The thought of spending another night alone was unbearable. Before her mind could process her emotions, Fleur opened her mouth "Could you stay wiz me?" she blurted out
The metamorphmagus turned around with a questioning look. "What do you mean?"
"Please? Just until ze night. I… don't want to be alone. Can we just talk?"
Dora didn't think about it long. "Alright. What do you want to talk about?"
Fleur sighed. She didn't really want to talk about anything in particular, she just wanted to not think about tomorrow. "Ah… you said zat you didn't want to be an Auror anymore, oui?"
"Yep! That's gone. The uniform's been demystified now. I'm almost glad my initial application was rejected now. If I had been on the team that arrested Harry…" She shook her head. "I wanted to join because I wanted to do some good in the world. To fight for… I dunno. Justice? Honor? Aurors uphold the law, but what happens when the laws are made by crooks?"
"Zen you work to defend people from bad laws," replied Fleur, almost without thinking.
A snort escaped Dora's lips, it later turned to a chuckle, and later into full-blown laughter. "Oh… Merlin, I can't believe I'm actually starting to think of this."
"Zinking about what?"
Shaking her head, Dora looked around the room, biting her lips. "I think that I finally realized why Mum decided to go into law… bloody hell…"
"Ah… zen you are zinking of becoming a lawyer. Zat would be good if you wish to 'elp people, oui? And you wouldn't 'ave to answer to what some superior tells you is right."
"That's easy for you to say," sighed Dora. "I mean… you look like you'd fit right there with that white collar stuff."
"What do you mean?"
Dora breathed out a laugh. "You have seen me around the place, right? I'm… a little clumsy."
Little was an understatement. Rare was the day that Dora didn't stumble into something or drop an item on the floor. Even then, Fleur had the belief that every woman could be civilized. For Hera's sake, if she had done it with Luna, then she could do it with anyone.
Suddenly, Fleur had an idea that made her smile. "Well… I could 'elp you." Her lips formed a smile, after yesterday, she almost didn't think she would ever be able to smile again. When she opened one of her suitcases, her heart skipped a beat once she realized that it was mostly filled with her fetish clothes. She peeked into another one; it was the same. With a flush, Fleur realized that most of the clothes she had with her were made out of latex. 'Maybe I do have a small addiction.'
She turned around to see that Dora was thankfully looking away. Feeling the rubber on her fingers, Fleur couldn't help but think of a fetish version of the jeans and jacket the metamorphmagus was wearing. 'Purple… yes… dark purple, maybe some hot pink to match the hair.' Shaking her head, Fleur returned her attention to the suitcase and pulled out a pair of three-inch heels.
"What size are you?" asked Fleur.
Dora grinned and took off her boots, morphing her foot longer, then shorter. "I'm any size."
"Oh, right." She closed the suitcase and knelt beside Dora. Grabbing her foot, Fleur fitted the high heeled sandal and secured it with the small strap.
"Umm… Fleur, I don't think this is such a good idea," said Dora once Fleur took off her other boot and began to fix the other sandal in place.
Fleur shook her head. "Nonsense. I will 'elp you find your balance. Trust me." Frankly, she was a little more concerned with the state of Dora's toenails. Having spent half a year with an avid foot fetishist had made Fleur slightly more predisposed to taking care of that particular area. She would have to arrange for a pedicure some other day.
With as much force as she could muster while still maintaining a gentle grip, Fleur pulled Dora from the bed. "Stand up… slowly. Oui, zat's good."
The metamorphmagus stood up on wobbly legs and quick, gasping breaths. Fleur kept her hands clasped with hers until she was certain that Dora could stand up by herself without toppling to the ground. " 'Ow does eet feel?"
The poor witch's mind was so focused on herself that she didn't respond, instead, she took an unsure step forward and, despite the utterly ungraceful movement, managed to land without a problem. After that, came the second step, slightly worse and yet a little more confident. The third one was rushed, and unbalanced her so much that she had to take a fourth, and a fifth… until Dora was waving her hands about.
"Ah!" Dora pushed herself on the wall but that only made her balance worse and she would have already been on the ground if it wasn't for Fleur quickly breaking her fall. "Thanks," she mumbled, grabbing onto Fleur as if she was wounded until she dropped on the bed.
"Sacre bleu, zat was close." Fleur grinned at Dora's glare.
"I told you it was hopeless. Mum tried to get me to wear them for years and it always failed. I guess the world will have to get used to lawyers wearing flat boots from now on." Glaring at her own feet, Dora reached for the small straps to undo them but Fleur swiftly stopped her.
"Non. We can make eet work wiz enough practice! We just need to work through eet!" insisted Fleur. If she had managed to work with Luna's frumpy fashion then Athena help her, she could very well do it with Nymphadora Tonks!
Unfortunately, Dora was not of the same mind. "You cannot make a fish fly," she responded.
Fleur smiled. Dora would be a little harder to convince to see things her way compared to Luna, but she would try her best. "s'il vous plait? Eef you let me 'elp you wiz your balance, I will let you 'elp me wiz dueling. 'Arry told me you were ze best in 'is family."
There was a flush, a grin, a sparkle in the eyes, and Fleur already knew she had won.
"Alright! I'll show you. I'll beat these damn shoes and then I'll beat you with a wand." Dora stood up immediately, apparently forgetting that she was still wearing the heels. "Come on, let's go for round twooooaah!"
Quickly, Fleur snatched her again, Dora's head resting below her neck. With all her worries forgotten at the moment, she allowed herself a laugh. 'This is going to be fun!'
Sirius remembered the jail cells very well from his time as an Auror. Oftentimes, he and James would bring in a captured Death Eater and be tasked to watch over them. Most of them, unfortunately, had gone free after the war. Lucius Malfoy had been a guest, as well as the Carrow twins, along with Nott, Crabbe, Goyle and countless others. People who deserved to be in here and much more. Never did he think that he would be looking at someone as out of place as his godson.
"Hey, Prongslet. You're looking good." It was not a lie. Even behind bars, Harry held himself with pride. If there was fear in his heart, he did not show it. Most people his age would not be able to stay strong for so long.
Snapping his head towards Sirius, Harry stood up and approached the bars. "Sirius!" he shouted with a tired smile.
Sirius approached his godson, raising his arms for a hug until the bars stopped him. Feeling the cold metal on his bare hands, he looked at Harry's eyes. "How are you holding up?"
"As well as I can be," responded Harry, taking Sirius' hand with his own. "Is Fleur alright? What about Dora? And Hermione? Have you heard from her? They may know that she's my friend! And then there's –"
"It's alright, Harry," assured Sirius, holding his palms in front of him. "They're all going to be alright. The only person you need to be worried about right now is yourself." He could see his godson was not assured. "Fleur and Dora are safe. They've been keeping each other company. It's very unlikely that Hermione is going to be targeted, but we're going to be taking her into Grimmauld as well just to be sure."
Harry sent a look to the guards and nodded, satisfied. "There's someone else I need you to get into Grimmauld if you can. Her name's Luna Lovegood, lives in Ottery St. Catchpole with her father. Blonde and petite, with silver eyes. I don't think many people know of her but… I can't lose her."
"Who is she? A friend? An ally?"
"If all goes well, she's the next Lady Black," whispered Harry.
Sirius almost felt his eyes pop out of his sockets. "What?! You didn't tell me?"
"I didn't really want to say until it was official, and it still isn't. She can be a little… odd. Smart, even brilliant, but odd."
"Does Fleur know about her?"
Harry chuckled. "She's the one that practically brought her into our relationship."
"Pureblood," confirmed Harry. "Not from a noble family, but the laws only say that she has to be pureblood."
Despite the situation, Sirius felt his heart brighten. He may not know who this Luna was, but he was glad that there was now somebody that would continue his line, tainted as it might. "I'll send someone out for her, and prepare another room."
Harry shook his head. "No, send her with Fleur – she'll take care of Luna. How did the debate go?"
A tired breath escaped Sirius. "Debate? I guess that is what you could call Malfoy and Fudge trying to offer favors to Cygnus to take their side. The good news is that Madam Bones successfully managed to drop the dementor's kiss off the table, but Goyle is still pushing for the life sentence."
Nodding, Harry paced back and forth across the cell. "So it's all about Lord Greengrass now, is it?"
"Yes. The good news is that Cygnus appeared to not accept whatever the Protectorate was offering, though with that poker face, it's hard to know." He gave his godson a serious look. "Harry, it's very likely that Lord Greengrass wants something from you. He still hasn't left the Ministry, which means that he is going to come here to talk with you… alone."
Rarely did Harry ever look nervous about something, yet even if for the briefest of moments, this was one of those times. "What will he want? Should I accept?"
Shaking his head, Sirius placed a hand on Harry's shoulder. "I don't know the answer to either of those questions. His conversation will be with you, and the choice will be yours. Know that I will support you no matter what." One of the guards gave a cough; Sirius squeezed his godson's arm. "I will see you tomorrow."
Sirius walked back until he could no longer see Harry. He shook his head sadly. This was an inevitability that his godson would have to face one day. Politics was the dirty game of lords, and Harry would be one soon. As he walked out of the department, his mind was a storm of thoughts and self-doubt.
Did he do right in keeping Harry away from it? Sirius thought he did. That's what Lily and James would want, wouldn't they? For their son to have a normal childhood? But now that time was coming to an end, and Harry would have to dive into a pit of snakes, a pit that he would never be able to escape.
Death sentence or not. Freedom or not. Harry Potter the child would die before the day ended.
Harry jumped from the bed as soon as he heard the door open. His cell being the last in the hall, he tried to peer through the bars to see who was coming unsuccessfully. What he did manage to hear were the footsteps: slow, calm, and imposing.
Arranging himself to look his best, Harry stood in the middle of the cell and put on a neutral face to hide his nervousness. Soon, the steps got as loud as his own pumping heart. From the corner of his eye, he finally saw the man he'd seen earlier that day.
There were many things about Lord Greengrass that reminded Harry about Lucius Malfoy, from the expensive clothes to the manner that he walked, even the unnecessary but expensive looking cane, and yet he was not like Lucius Malfoy. For one, he did not have a look of constant distaste, but rather a calculating gaze. When he entered the cell, he did not frown at the sight like Malfoy would have. In fact, Cygnus Greengrass looked as much a lord inside the cell as he did in the seats of the Ministry.
"Mr. Potter," drawled Cygnus with a deep voice that gave away as much as his expressionless face.
"Lord Greengrass," replied Harry.
The eyes and hair were not the only things that Daphne had inherited from her father. Cygnus Greengrass was the tallest man Harry had ever seen, at least, for one who was fully human. He calculated the man was only a few inches short of a full seven feet in height. No wonder Daphne was the tallest witch of their year.
Lord Greengrass gave a nod to the Auror beside him and without even a question, the cell door was opened and he stepped in, taking a look at the window. "Ah, at least you have been given some light. The same could not be said for Crouch and Pettigrew."
"Either way, the sooner I'm out, the better," responded Harry with as much calm in his voice as he could muster. "Is there a reason why I've received this visit, Lord Greengrass?"
Cygnus Greengrass gave hima barely noticeable smirk. "I have been told you are a sharp young man, so I will assume you already know why I have come here."
"Yes," responded Harry. "The only mystery is that I have very little clue about what it is you want. From what I see, you have more power over this world than I've ever had. Most politicians are already under your control, and you are one of the wealthiest wizards in the world."
"Second richest, Mr. Potter," agreed Lord Greengrass. "And do you know why your family, despite being reduced to only one living scion, still is above mine? Do you know why I, regardless of how much I have worked, have never been able to make House Greengrass surpass House Potter?"
Lord Greengrass exhaled sardonically. "House Greengrass is the oldest family in these isles Mr. Potter… only of these isles. Your family came from another land, and another culture. A culture in which magic was able to live side by side with the government, and the military. It's one of the reasons the civilization your family helped found stretched from Scotland to Mesopotamia."
Harry couldn't help his lips from forming into a smirk. Lord Greengrass barely seemed to notice as he continued.
"When your family settled here, that tradition remained in place, generation upon generation, even despite our traditions of staying away from those without magic, of the larger world. The pureblood families resented you for it, even more so when they saw the advantages those connections brought you. House Potter, through an old agreement with the Muggle government and the bank of Gringotts, is able to open a business in Diagon Alley and Lombard Street at the same time. Only you have been given that right, a deal that has never been replicated, and never will. That is, unless…" Lord Greengrass trailed off.
"Unless," continued Harry.
"Unless it passes through family," said Lord Greengrass. "Have you ever found it curious that your family never took consorts? Even when many offered – and there was never a shortage of male-less Houses seeking to continue their lines – your family always rejected them. Do you know why?"
Harry gave a curt nod. "I imagine that it would be because if one of my ancestors took a consort, those families would inherit that special deal you talk about."
"Correct. And, I believe you already know the price of my vote."
He knew, but Harry asked just the same. "You wish for me to marry one of your daughters?"
"They said you were smart." Harry didn't know if the man was being sincere or sarcastic. "You are correct, Mr. Potter. I happen to find myself with a problem. I have built a powerful House, but with the laws of our world, and given that I have four daughters and no son, the only way my line can continue is with a child born from one of my daughters. That son must carry the name of Greengrass, not the name of Potter, and yet, their blood will fulfill the requirements of the law. House Greengrass will have the advantages of House Potter. And of course, that is besides what I will gain - the best husband for my daughter possible, powerful, rich, noble, and with my aid, soon to be victorious against Voldemort."
A fire lit inside Harry, an ember that strengthened with each passing word. "Do you care so little for your own family that you would… sell one of your daughters in such a way?"
The lord sent him a stern look, but he didn't even look angry, rather amused. "Come, look outside the window." He pointed towards a spot in the bustling streets of Diagon Alley. "Tell me, what do you see?"
Narrowing his eyes, Harry tried to pick something other than the usual. Was there some disturbance of some kind? Giving up, he followed Lord Greengrass' finger. "The healer's shop?" he asked.
Lord Greengrass nodded. "It was not always so. Around thirty years ago, that place was Elric's Pub. That's where my father used to spend his days, and his money. Mother often sent me for him… I was eight years old when he gave me this." He rolled his sleeve to show a deep scar. "One week before I left for my first year at Hogwarts, he was found face down in a puddle of his own sick and with a knife at his back, leaving us with nothing more than a crushing debt. He was as good a gambler as he was in everything else in life."
His finger pointed to another spot, a corner. "Now, that corner I remember very well. It was the place where my mother sold the heirlooms we had left. Priceless artifacts of our ancestors since the time of Morgana: jewels, paintings, grimoires… all of it so that my mother and I could afford a hovel in Knockturn Alley and food in our stomachs. Tell me, Mr. Potter, you are about to enter your fifth year, are you not? Same as Daphne?"
"Ah, I must confess that I cannot tell you much about fifth year. I never completed it. Mother came down with an illness that made it impossible for her to work. Halfway through my fifth year, I had to drop out of Hogwarts to support her. I never graduated."
He pointed to another building. "Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment. That's where I got my first job as an assistant. Classmates of mine would come in to buy materials… and to mock the 'Knutless Greengrass' – too poor to even go to Hogwarts. They were right, I never got to finish my magical education… but life became my teacher."
"By night I taught myself the lessons that my classmates learned in Hogwarts, but by day I learned to read people, how to sell objects to anyone, and how to convince them to make a deal. I learned to speak, to listen, and the finer points of business."
Nodding at another building, he continued. "Now there's that shop. I'm sure you've visited Madam Malkin's before… that's where my Eleanor worked when I first met her. She didn't come from a rich family, but her pure blood would still have made sure she married to a wealthy heir." He traced the humble band on his finger. "But she accepted my courtship, and within a year we were married. I owned Wiseacre's and the Apothecary by then."
"We are a great team, my Eleanor and I. Without her, I would not have been able to do half of what I have done in my life. By the time she announced to me that she was with my first child, we had already taken back everything that my father had lost. Our home, our heritage, and our honor. That is the world my daughter came into."
Lord Greengrass took a locket from under his robes and showed Harry a picture of a baby. "From the moment I held Daphne in my arms, I swore to both Eleanor and myself that she would never have to go through that life. Every day, I worked to secure a future for my family. That is what I am doing now. Securing Daphne's future."
Harry took a deep breath and tore his eyes from the window. "I understand that, Lord Greengrass, but I must refuse. I have already promised myself to another witch." 'Two witches,' he added to himself. "I love her as much as she loves me, and I cannot accept without her consent."
"Ah, the French Veela. A Lady Potter, I presume? That is of no concern. Daphne's line will inherit House Greengrass. It is well within the laws of our world. My Daphne may not be a Veela, but I trust you have seen her beauty by yourself."
He knew of Daphne's beauty, alright, and relatively little else of her. "I understand, but I still love Fleur too much to do this to her."
Cygnus' snorted. "You talk to me about your love for your French chit. You are young, Mr. Potter, so I will forgive you your weakness and absurd notions of love – extravagant displays of affection appeal to the young. Talk to me when you have survived twenty years of a relationship to the same woman, through thick and thin, through a devastating war and political upheaval, and your partnership is still equal and as strong as it was the first day. What do you have to compare to that? What have you done for the Delacour girl, and what had she done for you but some awkward fumbling and pleasurable kisses?"
A surge of hot anger spread over Harry's being. He tried to calm himself as best he could. "We chose to be together, Lord Greengrass, a decision we made for ourselves, not by the machinations of others. If you love your family with the intensity you claim to do, then you will see the folly behind this arrangement."
"I love my wife, Mr. Potter, and I love my daughters, but I do not love them similarly. Let me tell you what love for one's family is, Mr. Potter. My daughters have never known the feeling of an empty stomach, and their heads have never rested on the cold stone for lack of beds. They've never had to see their history, their legacy, be sold for a pittance just to get by for another day. Most importantly, they've never had to feel the shame of holding the name 'Greengrass', a name driven to the mud by a useless father. That, Mr. Potter, is what love for family is."
"And what is Daphne's opinion on this? Is this truly in her best interest, or just your House? She does not have feelings for me, and as for myself, she is just a friend. Our marriage would have no love in it."
"I give her a young wizard of good looks and a powerful House. A wizard that, if my judgement is correct, is noble enough to not harm her. Someone who has ambition and smarts to reach new heights – even if your temper is something to watch out for. Believe me, Mr. Potter, in our world, those are rare traits. As for love… that can come later, but even if it doesn't, what you will give her should be more than enough."
In spite of the situation, Harry had to admit feeling a bit of pride at the compliments coming from someone like Cygnus Greengrass. "I… I'll have to talk it over with Fleur and my godfather."
Cygnus huffed and made for the door. "Then our deal is off, Mr. Potter. Quite unfortunate."
"What?" asked Harry. "What do you mean? I have not rejected your deal!"
The lord turned back with a sharp look. "You, Mr. Potter, are making a decision as a boy, not a lord. Lords do not need the permission of their godfathers or their lovers, they make those decisions for themselves."
"Yes, Lord Greengrass, but you must understand –"
"No!" snapped Cygnus. "You must understand me. By voting in your favor, I am allying myself to you, and there is no coming back from that. I will choose to take your side against the Dark Lord, and I do not make allies with children, but with men and lords. So tell me, boy – are you ready to become a lord? Or will you remain a child?"
Harry quickly wracked his brain for something to say, something that would turn the tables in his favor. "It won't matter, you know? If Voldemort," he noticed Lord Greengrass didn't flinch at the name, "takes over our world, he will purge you like the rest. He is not willing to share power. What will it matter then? What will you have left?"
"Time," responded Cygnus calmly. "Plenty of time, a couple of years if my calculations are correct. You Mr. Potter, don't have much of that, I'm afraid. In fact," he looked at his watch, "you have exactly one hour." With that, he turned around and left.
Standing up with a blank mind, Harry started to pace around the cell. Thoughts flew in his head, each more incoherent than the last, and he was unable to grasp any of them. The only thing his brain managed to process was the sound of the door opening once again.
In strode a woman he'd seen early that morning. She had crimson, if graying, short hair. The Aurors straightened at her sight.
"Madam Bones?" he asked with a tired voice.
She nodded and opened the cell door. "You can leave us," she said to the guards; they obeyed without question. "How are you doing, Mr. Potter? These were the best accommodations I could find for you."
"I'm thankful. It's nice to have a window. The fresh air really helps," commented Harry. "I don't really need anything else, Madam Bones."
Amelia Bones gave a single nod. "I must apologize, Mr. Potter."
"You have nothing to apologize for. There was nothing you could have done about this and your support has been encouraging."
She closed her eyes and exhaled softly. "You misunderstand, Mr. Potter. I do not ask for your forgiveness for what has happened. I ask for your forgiveness for what I am about to ask from you."
Harry narrowed his eyes. "I am sure that I can be of aid. Your goals and my own seem to converge, as far as opposing the Dark Lord, at least."
"Aye, Mr. Potter, you can always count on me to oppose the Dark Lord, of that you can be assured. That is the job I accepted when I became the head of the DMLE, to say nothing of my familial legacy and my personal experience and losses. What I wish to ask of you is a rather… personal matter."
Harry suppressed the need to roll his eyes. "What is it you need?"
"Very well, I will be blunt. I wish for you to marry my niece."
If the situation had been different, Harry would have laughed. Two marriage proposals on the same day? "I… do not understand, Madam Bones."
"It is a lot to ask of you, Mr. Potter, and something that I feel ashamed of asking. You should have not been placed in this cell, and this trial is nothing but a charade, and yet…" She looked out the window. "Susan and I are the last of our family. Vol… Voldemort killed my parents and all my brothers… all except for Edgar's daughter. Once we are gone, our family is gone."
"I am sorry for your loss," responded Harry. "But you do know that Susan will only be in more danger if she is close to me. She is pureblood, so even if I die, she will be spared. If she is married to me…"
"If she is married to you then you will be as committed to ensuring the preservation of my family as I am," Madam Bones responded sharply. Slowly, she turned towards the window. "Mr. Potter… Susan… she is a brilliant young witch, but she has never been a fighter. From the youngest age, she couldn't bear to see even the slightest suffering. I am but one woman – Susan needs more than me to continue protecting her. Once you marry her, you and the French witch will protect her, and I will be at peace to fight this war."
Harry closed his eyes and took a breath. "Will that also be the price of your aid, Madam Bones? Are you bargaining with me as Lord Greengrass did?"
"Merlin, no. I will do what is the right thing, which is to support you. I do not ask this as a deal like Cygnus Greengrass does. I ask this as a woman who is placing everything she has left in your hands. No matter your answer, my judgement tomorrow will remain the same as today. This is not a bargain, Mr. Potter – this is a plea."
Nodding, Harry looked at the sky. "I have to give an answer to Lord Greengrass in less than an hour."
"Then I will leave you to think, Mr. Potter."
Trapped inside the cell, Harry didn't know if time passed too quickly or too slowly. In less than an hour, he had to make a choice that would forever alter his life. What would Fleur think about this? What about Luna? Daphne and Susan would be consort marriages, his children with them the heirs of Houses Greengrass and Bones respectively. In essence, nothing prevented his plans with Fleur and Luna.
The problem, however, would be with how they would react. Would Fleur leave him if he accepted? It felt like a joke, having to choose between the witch he loved and his freedom. 'She won't leave you,' said a part of his mind, and yet the thought was still there, entrenched and unwilling to leave. Shaking his head, Harry tried to think of something else.
Daphne and Susan…
He began to think about the two witches and what he knew of them. Susan was sweet and friendly; Daphne was cold and bitchy, and yet they were friends. If Harry was any judge, they had become even closer friends than they had been with Hannah and Tracey. According to Fleur, they were more than just friends.
An idea formed in his head. These marriages were meant for political reasons and nothing more. Long ago, these unions were the norm. In paper, all that was required of them was to have children and appear at several events, nothing more. If he could bring the both of them together… perhaps together they could be happier than separated with another wizard?
By the time the door opened once again, Harry had already made his choice.
Even through the loud mutterings of the Wizengamot, Sirius could feel his heart pounding. Each member talked to each other in different conversations, and yet, despite their undecipherable dissonance, their eyes all looked at one man. The man that would decide the outcome of today. The man that would finally have to choose a side to fight on in the coming war.
Cygnus Greengrass sat as still as a statue, unbothered by the looks everyone sent him. No doubt he had spent the entirety of the last day talking to almost every person in the room with that steel tongue of his, listening to them, humoring them, but making no promises, if Lucius Malfoy's concerned stare was any indication.
The muttering stopped when Harry entered the room and sat on the same chair as yesterday, this time, making little effort to hide his exhaustion. Sirius doubted he'd had even a minute's sleep last night.
The Speaker wasted little time. "Esteemed members of the Wizengamot, I believe that we've all been granted enough time to come to a conclusion." He turned to look at Cygnus to confirm. "Now, we will resume the judgement for Mr. Harry James Potter. All those in favor of convicting, show the red light – those in favor of clearing all charges, a green light."
Those on the left of the room stood up immediately to flash the red light, just as they had done yesterday. The other side responded with a green light. Both sides now looked at the center, who maintained their posture, all of them looking at the mighty lord of House Greengrass.
Time compressed to an eternity in that room as Cygnus Greengrass stood from his seat. Sirius watched every movement, every twitch of the powerful lord's muscles as he reached for his wand and slowly raised it to the ceiling. The sudden intake of stale air hurt Sirius' lungs as he waited… and waited for the light to come.
The room was completely silent as the other members of the Wela rose, some quickly, others nervously, but all rising nonetheless and raised their wands, all of them with a green light at their tips.
"By judgement of the court, the defendant, Harry James Potter, is hereby cleared of all charges!" announced Ian Davis.
The Speaker's words shattered the calm. Immediately, the Protectorate's faces turned red, and some bared teeth at Cygnus Greengrass. "Blood-traitor!" shouted one of them and other insults followed – Cygnus ignored all of them, instead sending a smirk and a nod towards Harry, who reluctantly nodded back before walking away, the Aurors not stopping him now. In fact, one of them handed him his wand back.
To Sirius, the pandemonium of the room stopped mattering. His attention was focused solely on his godson walking over to him. "Harry!" he gasped with a hug. "You did it! You're free." Yet as soon as he looked more closely at Harry's face, he noticed the lack of joy. "What is it? Are you alright? You're free, Harry! Free!"
"Yes," agreed Harry. "I get to keep my freedom." He strode towards the door. "Now, I have to see if I'll get to keep my girlfriend."
AN: Hope you all like the chapter, and sorry to all for the relative delay. I'm taking my Masters and since I'm working at the same time, that means a lot less time to write. I will the focus my attention to my other story for a couple of chapters before returning to this one.
If you liked this chapter, or wish to leave your opinion, please leave a review. You can also join my Discord server.
Until next time!
The Metal Sage