A/N wishing Marianne (alix33) a happy birthday!
Chapter 36 - Pups, Pranks and Punishments
Cedric was suffering from information and emotional overload. Everything he'd seen and heard about the Institute had in no way prepared Cedric for the experience of actually visiting the place. Case in point was their visit to the library during their tour. As quidditch players, they had all seen the Quibbler pictures of the Institute's first quidditch match. Here though was displayed a picture of their team, before the match. It was one figure in particular that caught Cedric's eye, and he had to check the names underneath to make sure he had the witch's identity correct.
Indicating who he was commenting on, Cedric blurted out the first thing that came into his mind. "I don't remember her smiling this much at Hogwarts. In fact, I don't remember her ever smiling at all."
Fred couldn't resist. "This isn't Hogwarts, Cedric, everyone smiles more here."
His twin was of course quick on the uptake. "Yeah, even Percy smiles since he came to the Institute."
Since his elder brother was standing behind them smiling, the Weasley twins were actually being believed. It would appear absolutely everything was different here.
As Cedric sat at dinner, her musical laughter entrapping him like a siren's song - before being interrupted by George politely nudging him in the ribs.
"We don't sit and stare at people here. If you want to get to know her, go over - introduce yourself - and ask if you can join their table. It happens every day here, almost every meal, so don't make a big thing out of it - because they won't."
Fred also offered some advice. "She's a lovely witch, and friends with practically everyone - including us. This is another benefit of our classes being so small."
"The slight downside to that is the staff miss nothing. Step out of line and the Headmistress will be down on you like a ton of bricks."
While agreeing with his twin, Fred didn't want that possibility putting Cedric off. "We're all going to be busy from tomorrow, when the orphanage arrives. Tonight might be your only chance for a quiet chat."
Percy then chipped in with some information his brothers didn't know. "Miss Greengrass is not actually staying for the full holiday. Her father managed to arrange for Professor de Marco to do some consulting work for him - he's hoping the Professor will be able to offer advice on modernising his businesses. Daphne and Astoria will accompany the Professor back to Britain next week."
Putting down his knife and fork, Cedric lifted his glass of juice and made his way over to the table that thankfully - due to most of the students heading home today - had a few empty seats.
"Hi, I'm Cedric. Do you mind if I join you?"
A smiling Daphne quickly answered the handsome seeker.
"Sure, grab a seat. We're all dying to know what's been happening in Hogwarts…"
Albus was determined that things were going to change around here. Stuck on his iron bed, with that metal not even allowing the comfort of a cushioning charm to be applied, his old body had developed sores. Since the iron room also prevented the use of healing magic, only lotions or potions would be effective in this location.
The old wizard had developed a respectful fear of Mr Smith, with only his mastery of Occlumency ruling out Albus having his mind read. This didn't change the fact that Smith appeared to be, as unbelievable as that seemed, two steps ahead of him at every turn. Anything that Albus didn't understand, he couldn't control. Not being in control terrified Albus, and no matter what he tried the old wizard couldn't wrestle the slightest smidgen of control over his current situation - or Smith.
Today would be different. These sores were rapidly approaching the stage where he and they would need a healer's attention. Since this room appeared to be constructed primarily to avoid any magic being able to be performed within it, they would have to move Albus - and that would be his chance to escape.
He would be forceful, he would play on Smith's humanity, he might even shed a few tears about really needing to see a healer but this was Albus's moment. He had used his vast experience and carefully bided his time, that same mountain of experience was also screaming at Albus to make his move now.
As he heard the locks on his cell door begin to disengage, Albus took a calming breath in preparation of pressing his case - only to discover all his preparations was for naught.
A smiling John Smith entered the room with an unmistakable spring in his step. "Well Albus, this is the last time we'll meet. I can't say it's been fun, what I can say is you're easily the darkest bastard ever to grace this room with their presence."
Albus didn't care what else Smith said, he couldn't wait to get out of here. Again though, it appeared his adversary was once more a few steps ahead of him. A pair of burly gents were manoeuvring what resembled an iron hanging gibbet cage into the room, standing tall on a low wheeled trolley.
The gibbet, though newly manufactured, was obviously modelled on the medieval version that historically were used to seal convicted murders inside - sometimes still alive - so the public could witness their punishment being carried out.
Fear might be clutching at his old bones but it was his anger that had Albus screaming his defiance. "This is outrageous! I won't play any further part in this. Who are you people? When the ICW discovers how I've been treated, it's you who will find yourselves stuffed into one of these appalling and barbaric cages…"
That calm voice that Albus had really come to detest once more interrupted him.
"Albus, Albus, Albus! It would appear I will have to explain some of the changes that have happened since we've been having our little chats in here. Where to start might be the problem though. Let's see, you're no longer a Dumbledore - nor even a British citizen. The number of people after your blood are far too numerous to mention…"
The shock displayed on the old wizard's face couldn't be missed, so John went in for the kill. "I suppose the real kicker is Britain petitioning the ICW to have you declared a 'Dark Lord'. With Italy, France and Bulgaria all throwing their full support behind that motion - it easily passed. That might seem shocking to you, but actually it's hardly surprising - considering how often you pulled the loyalty spells / potions shit in your former home country. You see, when it was discovered that some of the ICW members were under charms or potions to be loyal to you - well it meant the petition to declare you a 'Dark Lord' was the most supported motion presented by the British in well over a century."
As this move had been planned to the smallest detail, his two associates already had the cage open and were moving the instant John delivered the final verbal blow. Before he could even think to resist, a totally shaken Albus had been transferred into his new portable home. As expert hands secured that home around him, John got to say what Albus had immediately worked out - but couldn't yet control his shocked body enough to articulate.
"Your case will be heard by the ICW, while you observe from your new portable prison. They are currently contacting whatever witnesses they wish to hear from but you already know that you being declared a 'Dark Lord' means you won't get to question these witnesses - or even offer a defence. You should know, since it was you who introduced and championed the 'Dark Lord' protocols to the ICW. I can't help but wonder who you intended to use that specific protocol on, but I also can't help loving the poetic justice that sees this particularly disgusting piece of legislation used on the person who invented it."
Due to his interrogations, John knew this was the old bastard's last line of defence for Harry Potter. Should the lad somehow defeat Voldemort and survive, Albus intended to use this legislation to have him declared a 'Dark Lord'. With the sheer amount of witches and wizards spelled / potioned to be loyal to the old bastard, John could easily see that particular outcome coming to pass. He was absolutely delighted that the people above were now using Albus's own diabolical scheme against him.
With news coming back to him too that Voldemort was really gone, and the Potter lad was rid of the terrible affliction the dark bastard had left behind that Halloween, this really was a joyous day for John. He actually felt dirty just being in the same room as this piece of filth, and absolutely agreed that Albus was the darkest of dark lords.
The cage was designed to contain the prisoner in a standing position but the old git's legs had collapsed as the once great wizard sobbed uncontrollably while being wheeled from the room.
Albus simply couldn't believe what he was hearing. He knew there was absolutely no hope left for him now. Albus had written those protocols himself - specifically to strip any possibility of the accused even being allowed to legally defend themselves. Once you were officially declared a 'Dark Lord' by the ICW, all your legal rights and entitlements were stripped away.
All his grand schemes and underhand dealings were left about as much use to him as the shit being washed away in this room. Like that shit, his hopes just disappeared down a very deep drain. He wouldn't even be allowed to mention horcruxes, or the fact that Potter actually still was one.
Albus then had an emotional breakdown, unable to mentally cope with once more being so thoroughly outmanoeuvred and totally defeated. Albus had moved people around like chess pieces to suit his needs for most of his life, never thinking that one day he might be faced by people who played the manipulation game better - and more ruthlessly - than he did. Only one word kept running through his now shattered mind - checkmate!
John had faith in the people above him, the justice being handed down here just emphasised that faith was more than justified - and his superiors knew exactly what they were doing. Albus would never escape and, with that last bit of hope crushed, John didn't think the old wizard would last long after receiving whatever totally deserved punishments were handed down to the ancient git. Albus simply had nothing left to live for.
In stark contrast, a wizard who once thought he had very little left to live for was discovering just how wrong he had been. Standing shoulder to shoulder with his godson, they watched as the adorable Joan scattered rose petals in front of Francesca - as the bride walked down the aisle toward her soon to be husband.
A beaming Sirius couldn't take his eyes of his beautiful bride to be, leaving Harry having to carry out his best man duties earlier than expected as his godfather needed to be nudged every time a verbal response was required for the ceremony. Only after Harry handed over the ring did Sirius manage the rest of his duties without prompting, he certainly didn't need to be told twice when it was time to kiss Francesca.
While Harry, Hermione and Joan were all delighted for the newlyweds, those three members of the wedding party couldn't help but think of another wedding - one where they officially became a family. Their ages decreed that ceremony wouldn't be taking place any time soon, but the decision of where to hold that wedding was made here today.
The mere thought of Joan walking in front, while Dan lead Hermione down the aisle toward him had all of them wearing wide grins. Celebrating with the new Lord and Lady Black had placed grins on everyone's faces, though Emma and Dan's hugging of the trio confirmed their thoughts had drifted toward that future too.
A wonderful meal followed before Harry had to get his head back in the game - he had a best man speech to give. Thankfully he'd enlisted Hermione's assistance to help him write it, so was confident it would be well received - except possibly by Sirius.
The 'Hogwarts' group stood and watched the chaos that ensued as the residents and staff of the 'Black Orphanage' arrived at Pi. It only took a moment though for them to realise just how organised this chaos actually was. They then got a bit of an explanation from Daphne, who seemed delighted with the opportunity to talk with Cedric again.
"These kids spent part of the summer staying at Harry's house, along with his close friends. That's when they decided to adopt Joan. They've all known about this visit since before school started, and it's hard to tell from here who's most excited about their visit."
This was true. From where they were standing it looked more like a large family all happily greeting each other, rather than a group of orphans visiting a school.
"It's not just because Hermione, her parents and Neville are on the board of the orphanage. Everyone who took part in looking after them over the summer was excited for their return visit. Harry says these are some of the young witches and wizards he built the Institute for, children who wouldn't catch a break back in Britain. Every single one of them already has a place reserved here for them - and they know it. That might be why they're so excited to be here, but I think it's more to see again the people they met over the summer."
Looking around, it was Alecia who just had to comment. "I'm surprised there's no radio or press present - this is pure publicity gold."
Again it was Daphne who supplied the answer. "The Institute was certainly offered piles of gold to allow that, but immediately refused. You might see a picture or two in the Quibbler after Christmas, which is owned by Luna's father, but that will be it. The only reason there was a radio broadcast from here was to try and take the pressure off Gringotts - they were being inundated by parents trying to get their children into the Institute. They don't go looking for publicity here, it's just that people can't seem to get enough of hearing about our Institute."
With a shake of his head, Cedric just had to ask. "How do you know so much about all this?"
"Simple, Cedric, there really are no secrets here. The goblin you see over there greeting the children is the Potter Accounts Manager, Barchoke. He's a frequent visitor here, on the board of the orphanage, and Joan calls him her uncle. You can be sure he'll be sitting with us tomorrow for Christmas Dinner, though might have a slightly different menu. Can you see any of that happening back in Britain?"
There was no time to answer that as the group began being introduced to the Institute's latest visitors. They were soon involved with getting the children organised for their stay - the youngest ones were back in the tents they'd loved at summer, only this time erected in a classroom. Those older children were staying in student accommodation - emphasising what they had to look forward to in a few years. The Hogwarts visitors quickly found themselves caught up in the organised chaos, and actually enjoying it.
That evening the planned bbq was a roaring success. Even a couple of their younger visitors having to be fished out the pool didn't dampen the mood. It was a chuckling Fred who confirmed to the Hogwarts contingent this was normal.
"When we have the parents visiting, there's usually at least one younger sibling who can't resist the pool. Little Maggie Creevey loved getting magically pulled out of the water and being dried by a charm, she currently holds the record with jumping in five times over one weekend."
His also chuckling twin looked around before confidently predicting that record would be broken during the orphanage's visit.
Katie had noticed some younger kids around before the orphanage had turned up, and wondered if they had problems with the pool too.
George was again confident in his answer. "They live here, Katie, all year round. None of their parents even left for the holidays, so they're all well used to our pool. They even have swimming lessons in it twice a week, as part of their day classes. The Institute is like one big family, and we all love it."
With impeccable timing, Professor de Marco interrupted their conversation. "That's quite a recommendation there, George, but not quite true. I was supposed to be leaving with the Greengrass sisters, to visit their father's potion business…"
Daphne was quick to pick up on the 'supposed' part. "Has there been a change of plan, Professor?"
"Yes, unavoidably I'm afraid. The ICW is proceeding with the trial of Albus Dumbledore, and I've been called to appear as a witness over what he did to the Longbottoms. Professor McGonagall has also been cited, with the Headmistress being excused - they didn't want to pull too many Institute staff away, knowing the kids from the Black Orphanage were visiting."
It was Fred who asked the question they all wanted to know the answer to. "Are Harry and Hermione being cited to give evidence?"
A smiling Rosa was able to put their minds at rest. "Dumbledore is guilty of so many crimes, only a few are going to be gone into detail at his trial. Harry, Hermione and the Longbottoms are all being spared having to give evidence." Turning to Daphne, Rosa revealed why she came over.
"Can you please phone your father and explain about the change of plans? Probably better if you check with Astoria to work out what you two would like to do before you phone home."
As she headed over to talk with her sister, Cedric was having a bit of a moment. "Daphne can phone Britain and talk to her family? I saw them in the room we were given but I never put it together before. How do you get one of these back in Britain?"
"We've got one at the Burrow - mum loves it!"
The staff were all well aware Cedric was rather taken with the eldest Greengrass sister, so Rosa threw something into the cauldron that none of them had realised - far less even thought about. "When Francesca gets the new nonmagical building completed at Hogwarts, the students there will be able to phone any friends they have at the Institute."
This bomb dropped like it was full of smiling gas, as each person realised what that would mean to them personally. The links between the Institute and Hogwarts began to strengthen right there and then.
It was hard to tell if the children were this hyper because it was Christmas Eve, especially since they'd displayed the same level of excitement every day since their arrival. A friendly quidditch match between the Institute and Hogwarts had their high-pitched voices screaming with excitement, Lee and Antonio's hilarious commentary helping to keep that excitement level bubbling away.
Heading toward lunch, the arrival of Sirius and Francesca cranked that excitement up another notch. Hagrid's arrival almost started a riot. To be fair, it had been snowing heavily when Hagrid left his cabin and headed to the Hogwarts portkey point. With his hood up, his cloak, beard and hair full of snow, to a child Hagrid looked like a very tall version of Santa. With it being Christmas Eve, almost all the young children thought he'd simply arrived early.
With his cloak removed, the warmth of Hagrid's welcome would soon have the snow melting from his person, if Minerva hadn't spelled it away - before hugging her huge friend. As old friendships were renewed, Hagrid finally got to talk with the people who'd invited him to spend Christmas here. A smiling young couple were soon engulfed in the tearful half-giant's gentle embrace.
Joan stood waiting with the Grangers, before Hagrid dropped to his knees in front of them. "Ah, an' yeh must be Joan. These two told me it would be worth comin' here jus' to meet yeh - an' I've never known our Hermione here to be wrong about anything."
It was a smiling Joan who held out her hand. "Please to meet you Mr Hagrid. Mum and Harry have told me so much about you…"
Hagrid held his hand out, and let the little girl rest hers on his much larger version. "Please, jus' Hagrid. Oh, I almost forgot in all this excitement - I brought a little somethin' fer yeh."
It wasn't just Harry and Hermione who looked on with a little trepidation as their largest friend went back to his cloak and searched through his deep pockets. Both were very relieved after instantly recognising what Hagrid had returned with, fearing one of his 'misunderstood beasties' might be making an unwelcome appearance here. Holding out his hand to Joan, the little girl's eyes sparkled with excitement at what was nestling in the palm of this massive hand. The little bundle of brown and white fur opened its eyes and proceeded to wag its tails as he spied Joan.
"Oh, he's beautiful! Is he really for me?"
As if answering Joan's question, the little pup roused itself and ambled to the edge of Hagrid's fingers and into the now speechless Joan's waiting arms. "He's a cruppie, tha''s a crupp puppie. He's very smart, loyal and, if he likes yeh, will be a friend fer life."
Since the pup was currently cradled in Joan's arms, licking her face while wagging both tails like mad, everyone took it as settled that these two would soon be the best of friends.
Harry knelt beside Joan too, and whispered to the happily crying girl. "The first time I ever met Hagrid, he gave me a present too. Hedwig has been with me every single day since." As if mentioning her name summoned the snowy owl, she glided in and landed on Harry's shoulder. The smart owl appeared to cock her head to the side, examining this new member of their family, before bobbing her head up and down and adding a bark to her obvious seal of approval.
As Hermione introduced Hagrid to her parents, both were very conscious of their daughter telling them the large wizard was one of the gentlest souls she'd ever met. Dan couldn't help but feel relieved at that. Especially since neither he nor Emma could think of anything they had in their arsenal that could stop an angry Hagrid - should that ever became necessary. The longer they watched this gentle giant interact with their family though, the more they discounted that possibility and relaxed.
They had spoken before with Hermione and Harry about this habit of 'compulsive situational threat assessment' they'd both recently developed, not something that had ever concerned the former dentists before this summer. Hermione had hugged them both before confessing that she and Harry were the exact same - and that this 'habit' increased at least tenfold where Joan was involved. Both were dismayed to learn Hermione thought this was something Harry would have in one form or another for at least decades - due to his childhood spent with the Dursleys and then Dumbledore's shenanigans during Harry's time at Hogwarts.
Joan found her path to lunch blocked by a suspicious Crookshanks, the little girl confidently held her cruppie toward the curious cat. This had Ron laughing. "Does this seem familiar? I remember getting Crookshanks to check Pig on the Express back from Hogwarts. Hey Harry, shouldn't it be Institute policy that Crookshanks has to check any pets that get brought here?"
A hand settled on Ron's shoulder as a smiling Hermione confirmed her familiar was already on the job. "This is where Crookshanks' family is, we don't need a policy to cover something he's already doing." Hermione was going to mention that they had all learned that lesson the hard way, but it was Christmas Eve - and there was a movie to watch after lunch.
Pomona and Minerva sat either side of their large friend as Hagrid got his first taste of the Institute during lunch. "I've spent the last fifty odd Christmases at Hogwarts, but I've never felt anythin' like this. I think it's 'cause everyone actually wants to be here, in stead o' simply havin' nowhere else to go. Sirius must have cut his honeymoon short to be here - now there's a hell o' a recommendation fer yeh." Both witches couldn't help but laugh at that, and at Sirius's prank too. Remus was sitting having lunch with Jillian Green, when a large sprig of mistletoe appeared above their heads. Neither seemed to mind the resulting kiss, though it generated quite a reaction amongst all who witnessed it. As everyone began making their way to the cinema, Cedric was left wondering if his conjuring was up to creating mistletoe - but only if Daphne was sitting next to him.
Joan said goodnight to everyone in their apartment before heading off to bed. Harry gave Hermione a few minutes to get Joan settled before going in to say goodnight. Hedwig was as usual perched on Joan's headboard while Crookshanks stretched out across the bottom of the bed. The cruppie, named Patch by Joan, was snuggling into his new owner as Joan couldn't stop talking to Hermione.
"Oh I knew this was going to be my best Christmas ever, just being here with you and Harry was enough to do that, but I never thought it would be this good. Hagrid looks so scary, yet is a very, very nice wizard. How did he know to pick Patch specially for me?"
"You're right. Our friend Hagrid is a very nice wizard, he's also an expert with all types of animals. He chose two of the three animals in here now, and Crookshanks is so clever - he chose me himself."
Harry now had his arms around Hermione from behind as he too answered Joan. "You have to remember, this is our best ever Christmas too - and you Joan Potter are a big part of that."
She lay there almost glowing with happiness as both her favourite people wished her a good night. Joan didn't think she'd be falling asleep anytime soon, but wasn't bothered about that. She lay there bathing in an emotion the little girl didn't have any experience of before this summer - contentment.
Cedric also got his Christmas present early, when Daphne confessed she and Astoria were now staying for the entire holidays - with their parents coming out here for a few days after Christmas - but before New Year. The Hufflepuff thought that news could have him conjuring mistletoe wandlessly, with how happy that made him. The former Slytherin though had other ideas, as it was her wand that created the mistletoe above their heads. Cedric was again reminded how different the Institute - and its students were - before Daphne's kiss blew all thoughts of anything but this beautiful blonde straight out of his head.
It had been arranged that breakfast would be served first, before the presents would begin being distributed. The only exception to this rule being Joan, who had Patch sitting on her knee while she ate. As soon as breakfast was cleared away though, the tables groaned under mountains of presents. The sounds of tearing paper, squeals of delight and laughter rang around the Institute.
There were soon bicycles, tricycles, sit in/on toy cars/carts and even toy brooms whizzing around the pool area, with plenty people available to act as marshals and keep the 'traffic' flowing safely.
Minerva was keeping a close eye on everything - and everyone - while thinking just being involved in this made her feel so proud of the small part she played in helping organise these festivities. As an educator of many years standing, Minerva couldn't remember being busier, happier or more content with her life. She was about to discover some people didn't think the affect she'd had on their lives was 'small'.
The new Lady Black approached her and, after wishing each other a 'Merry Christmas', had a request for Minerva. "I've started some rough drawings for Armonia and I'm looking for people to give me a bit of input - basically on exactly what they're expecting from the village. I'm asking you because we know you're planing to live there. I'm intending the process to be rather like the way things developed with the Institute, only I need a little more detail from you."
It took a moment for Minerva to reply, as she struggled to understand the last part of that question. "Of course I'd be more than happy to help but what details do you need from me?"
"Simple things like do you want a house, cottage or an apartment? How many bedrooms? What type of kitchen? Think of it as your wish list. Oh, and some former Gryffindors we both know and love intend to see those wishes come true. You tell me what you want, and where on the site you want it, and we'll make it happen."
As the first tear escaped, Minerva looked over to where Sirius was following behind Joan on her little bike - not trusting her safety to the stabilisers or balancing charms. A basket had been hastily added between the bike's handlebars where Patch seemed to be enjoying the ride as much as Joan was. Watching as members of the current and former Gryffindor quidditch team were doing a similar type of shepherding with the kids on toy brooms saw the rate of those tears increase.
Tomorrow she would play her part in tearing down a wizard Minerva thought was a great and good man - someone she'd respected and followed for decades. Minerva now knew just how wrong her opinions were, and how a lot of those opinions were falsely manufactured and manipulated by an old bastard she'd considered a very good friend. Minerva was more than willing to do her bit in court tomorrow to see justice done.
It was thinking about what all those years of being manipulated while under charms or potions might have cost Minerva that had her Highland temper running hotter than molten lava. Could Dumbledore's manipulations have possibly cost her a chance of a family of her own? Minerva had been under so many compulsions, over such a long period of time, the healer had said he was amazed that she could still function at all.
It came as quite a shock then for Minerva to discover that, not only did she have a family, but that family forgave her actions while she suffered under Dumbledore's control and manipulations. Francesca led the now crying witch away in search of a cup of tea - or perhaps something a tad stronger.
The 'Dark Lord' was wheeled into a transparent booth, a booth that was charmed to allow sound in - but not out. Everyone inside the chamber would be able to see Albus, but not hear him. With the booth now sealed, the chamber doors opened - allowing the wizards and wizards to flood in. The hostility being directed toward the booth was as shocking as he'd planned it to be, only in those plans Albus wasn't the one in the booth. No, he would be the Supreme Mugwump - who just made her stately presence felt by her rather royal walk to her grand throne at the centre of the chamber.
"Witches and wizards, we will now bring this extraordinary sitting of the International Confederation of Wizards to order. The wizard formally known as Albus Dumbledore is with us today, not to face trial, but to hear testimony of his many, many crimes. The wizard is well aware of this process, since it was he who authored and championed it through this very chamber."
The sheer amount of hostility within the chamber aimed at the booth was palpable, again everything was playing out as Albus has designed.
"How this piece of disgusting legislation ever made it into our laws will become clear as we proceed today. After his sentence is passed down, there is already a proposal to remove these protocols from our legislation. A task force is already being set up to look through all legislation passed while this wizard was a member here. This will be a massive task, only surpassed by an unsurprisingly similar task our British friends find themselves faced with."
The first person called to give testimony against Albus was his brother. The medical reports indicated Aberforth Dumbledore had been under the influence of constant compulsion charms since his late teens. Abe's description of how Albus used a lover's tiff with Gellert Grindelwald to murder their magically damaged sister, Arianna, drew gasps of shock from those members in the chamber. The packed public section had to be threatened with being evicted before they calmed down enough to allow Abe to continue.
His brother then proceeded to tell the chamber how Albus had basically ruined his life, using spells and compulsions to destroy his credibility - so no one would believe Aberforth's claims that Albus had murdered their younger sister. Those spells had to be repeatedly recast on Abe over many decades, basically isolating him from mainstream wizarding community for his entire life. Before Abe left the witness stand, he stared right through his broken brother. Albus could only nod, Aberforth had finally gotten the justice he desired, though it felt more like revenge to the brother in the booth.
Before Minerva stood to give her testimony, again a healer's report was read - leaving no one in any doubt of Albus's crimes against this witch. Minerva highlighted Albus casting charms on her to basically do his job at Hogwarts, while he swanned around pretending to have three full time jobs. His tendency to use Hogwarts as his own personal fiefdom was also accomplished by liberal use of his wand on anyone who disagreed with him.
Minerva highlighted that a professor possessed by Voldemort was teaching Defence for a full year. It couldn't be coincidental that this was the same year Albus hid the Philosopher's stone inside Hogwarts - a decision that led directly to a death at the school. Allowing a dark artefact to control a pupil - who released a sixty foot basilisk within the school was yet another case of criminal negligence highlighted by the former Deputy. The revelation that some students were left in a petrified state for over six months by the former headmaster again focussed a ton of ire in Albus's direction.
"After spending a year with dementors surrounding the castle, I found that my treatment of certain students in my care was simply wrong - on so many levels. I asked our school healer if I could be referred to St Mungo's, you all heard the report that was read out before I took the stand."
The next witness surprised Albus, simply because he was sure he'd never seen this wizard in his life before. Turned out he hadn't, but this highly respected Italian mind healer soon piled on the pain. He was clearly incensed about what Albus had done to a young witch in his care, altering her memory to cover up the fact there had been a basilisk roaming around Hogwarts - with no thought given to the mental health of this innocent young girl. The Italian Ministry had been required by their laws to remove this child from her situation, though thankfully all sides were now working together for the benefit of this child.
Albus thought memory charming the Weasley witch was a trivial matter, but it was clear the chamber didn't agree. Almost all had children of their own, and some even grandchildren. Albus simply didn't understand that no parent would ever stand by and let some amateur mess with their child's mind.
Once again Albus didn't recognise the next witness. Hearing that she was an Italian Potions Mistress explained that, discovering that she taught potions at Potter's Institute meant this wasn't going to be good news either.
"I would just like to say upfront what this wizard did in this case is the most despicable and disgusting use of potions I've ever heard of. The Longbottoms were a husband and wife team of British Aurors, they excelled at their job and were a highly respected team - receiving honours for their bravery and dedication to duty. After an incident that saw them suffering prolonged bouts of the torture curse, they were admitted to St Mungo's hospital - spending over a decade in the spell damage ward."
Rosa needed to stop for a drink of water, before she could continue with the next part of her evidence.
"The potions they were being administered at St Mungo's were actually designed - by the wizard in the booth - to keep both in an almost vegetative state. On breaking down the components of this potion, an antidote was brewed - but it didn't work. You see, this wizard had infused the potion with his magic, meaning only stronger magic could free them from their potion prison. I'm delighted to report we accomplished that task, and the entire Longbottom family sat down together to enjoy their Christmas Dinner at the Potter Institute."
A stunned Albus couldn't believe this witch had deconstructed and then brewed an antidote to his potion, or that anyone else was magically stronger than him and able to release the Longbottoms. He also couldn't believe the applause this witch was receiving, but at least he recognised the next witness.
Once again a healer's report was read out. That the British Minister of Magic had so many spells cast upon his person once more saw the chamber vent its considerable outrage in Albus's direction.
Cornelius calmly explained that he was beginning to suspect the old wizard was playing fast and loose with his wand, so took steps to protect himself. The Minister readily admitted being outraged to discover he was right, but then horrified when the reality of just how prolifically fast and loose the old wizard had been with his compulsion and loyalty charms began to unfold. The Minister really did paint a horrific picture of just what Dumbledore had been up to, and admitted that it would take years before they could ferret all the harmful legislation he'd steered through the Wizengamot - the very same Wizengamot he'd personally compromised to aid his aims.
"The main reason we handed the prisoner over to stand trial at the ICW is that we still have no idea how many 'back doors' he deliberately inserted into our laws. There would have been lynch mobs at the Ministry if the wizard formally known as Albus Dumbledore had gained his freedom on a technicality - one he specifically placed there for that purpose. He has proved time and time again that he can't be trusted, and truly believes he's exempt from the laws the rest of us live our lives by. To protect our world, and its citizens, this wizard should never see the light of day again."
Albus had known what his sentence would be from the moment Smith broke the news he'd been declared a 'Dark Lord'. Hearing the Supreme Mugwump pass that life sentence of solitary confinement though added that touch of finality to the situation. He never noticed the booth opening, and barely registered the sting of a needle on his hip. An unconscious Albus was wheeled from the chamber - still in his iron cage.
The Snape family were listening to Dumbledore's trial, which was being broadcast live to most corners of the world. As Albus was being led away, Severus switched the radio off - he had no interest in listening to some commentator spouting rubbish about something they knew nothing about.
An exasperated Draco couldn't hold his silence any longer. "That's it! There's no more? They didn't even mention Potter, and we all know he started this entire thing."
Narcissa huffed in Draco's direction - the further into her pregnancy she traveled the further away patience seemed to be. "Think, Draco. This was nothing more than a carefully planned and perfectly orchestrated political exercise to put that old git away for good. The French and Bulgarians just wanted their champions out of the Triwizard, and Dumbledore punished. The Italians wanted their pound of flesh, so were able to promote their potions mistress and healers - while royally sticking it into the old git at the same time."
Severus took over from his wife. "Fudge didn't want to shoulder the cost or responsibility for getting Albus to trial, and containing him for the rest of Dumbledore's life would have been a nightmare. Potter has now rid us of two dark lords, there was no need nor appetite to drag him into this. Fudge wouldn't want anything to jeopardise our new muggle studies building and Potter's Institute is such an international boon to the Italian Ministry they wouldn't allow his participation - unless Potter wanted to."
Knowing Potter, Draco was confident that would be the last thing he would volunteer for. Deciding to change the subject, as to not upset his mother further, Draco threw something out there that was sure to get a discussion going. "Is de Marco really that good a Potion's Mistress?"
Watching as her two wizards discussed their favourite subject put Narcissa into a reflective mood - sitting wondering if next year could be as bad as this one. Considering she was sitting here, carrying her new husband's baby, Narcissa thought she would have to use a different word than 'bad' to describe the last twelve months.
A/N I'm flying off on holiday this week so the next chapter might be delayed a bit….