Chapter 11

Chapter 11

"Merlin's shiny brass balls, what a mess!"

Terry sniggered at the imagery, standing behind his boss as they surveyed the hodgepodge piles of books and scrolls interspersed with broken wood and mangled lanterns. "At least the light is coming back into the section," he remarked, flicking a large splinter off the cataloguing table the Wizengamot clerk had used and pulling the chair out. It was remarkably intact and Aeolian commandeered it with a sly grin. "So, what now?"

"Now we put it all back again," the Archivist sniffed and sighed. "The spell is as simple as possible, a single command of 'shelf' with the wand movement of wingardium leviosa and the book you aim at will take itself back to the correct place on the shelf. Try it."

Nothing loath, Terry tried the spell and grinned as half a dozen books took wing, upheld by the blue radiance that surrounded all things Archival. Nodding to each other, the two men set to work to demolish the piles of tomes and scrolls, sending a steady stream back to the shelves. The work progressed steadily until one particular tome suddenly began to hiss and spit at Terry like an angry cat or as if bacon was frying inside its covers. Taking a step back, his wand at the ready, Terry glanced over to where his boss was smirking at his surprise.

"I wondered when we would hit one of those," Aeolian muttered, crossing over and tossing a handful of extra blue radiance at the angry sounding work. "Phew, it's a tough one, lend a bit more power, lad, it's going to absorb a lot."

Frowning, Terry spun more blue light and dropped it onto the cover of the book, watching it sink in before he noticed what looked like letters and sentences falling out of the bottom of the pages. They turned to white ash and blew away before they hit the ground, the crackling and popping noises diminishing as the letters trickled off to nothing. A final shake of the book and it flew away obediently as if nothing odd had occurred. Terry stared after it then turned to Aeolian who wore such a smug expression it was nearly funny.

"Listen and learn, young chela, listen and learn, and don't roll your eyes like that, you'll hurt something," the older man huffed in amusement. "You know how laws are made? What do they teach in school these days! Very well! If someone wants to make a new law they first write it up, test it against existing laws to see if it contravenes anything and if it can be counteracted easily. Once they are happy with the wording and the form, they put it to the Wizengamot who debate it and give it to their own law firms to pull apart then they eventually vote on it. If it is passed, it becomes Law, a magically binding Law that is registered in the Archival volumes pertaining to that particular branch of law. With me so far?"

"It's not law until it is ratified by the Wizengamot and recorded in the Archives."

"Good. Now, the Archive protects its own tomes; it will not allow them to be altered or erased or defaced in any way, except by order of the Wizengamot. There is a particular kind of magic that protects the new laws and only allows the genuine version of that law to be recorded in the Archive. The correction or amendment is recorded along side the original order, nothing is erased so that a trail of changes and alterations can be tracked."

"Okay, understood, but what just happened?"

"Give me a minute, you impatient cub! This section of the Archives has been cut off from the source of the Archival magic for nearly a hundred years. The lawyers have had free and unsupervised access to the books of law, making changes and amendments with a free and generous hand. Obviously someone made changes to an existing law, er, unlawfully; using an erasing spell or simply removing a statute or altering the wording to change the meaning of the law. Because of the amount of discharge and magic it took to correct the illegal changes, I would say that was an old correction and one with far-reaching consequences."

"Explain."

"All that spluttering and hissing changed the tome in question but it also changed every single copy ever made of that book, the decisions made based upon the altered law and any other changes to other texts, either here in the Archives or out there in the world at large. Every single lawyer's office will have felt the change going through and every single text will have the changes recorded in big bold bright red lettering so no one can miss it. It is my guess that there are some law firms going quietly insane out there right at this very minute and quite a few people scurrying around trying to cover their bums as they are hung out to dry." The little man laughed maliciously, unable to speak further for quite some time.

"I wonder what just changed," Terry mused. "I hope nothing bad happened."

Aeolian spluttered into silence then patted his friend's leg in passing. "Them's the breaks, Lad, sometimes making things right causes problems you wish didn't happen and solves other problems you really couldn't cope with. Yin and yang, balance, all that sort of philosophical crap; not our job to worry about it, ours is simply to correct the mistakes and cheating lies of past generations as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Best we get this lot cleaned up before the ramifications of that one change lead to other, less salubrious changes. Take heart though, changes made by one generation are often overruled and reversed by a future generation and we may find our amendments cancel each other out so there are no repercussions in the real world."

Terry shuddered and began to reshelve as fast as he could, tossing out as much magic into the spluttering books as he had available. Aeolian smiled a little sadly and hurried to keep up with his colleague's hurried pace.

oo0oo

There was an air of suppressed glee and subdued chaos in the corridors as Terry made his slow and weary way toward the Aurors' side of the building and their secured apparition point. A pair of young witches in business robes giggled together by the brass gates of the elevator, gossiping as hard as they could, gave him a clue.

"… and then a wave of sparks and bright red light shot out into the hallway, like a Howler it was. 'The laws pertaining to the incarceration of non-humans under such conditions are very clear and these charges are hereby dismissed as unlawful,' something like that but all very pompous. Then another voice came blasting out saying 'the castration of any centaur found outside the designated area was also unlawful and the writs were hereby voided as of this moment'. It just kept on for ages, all sorts of things being cancelled and called illegal, unconstitutional and outside the jurisdiction of the office. Libby from Control came out with her hands over her ears and could barely breathe for the ash floating around in the department. Half their books and reference texts went up in smoke, she told me."

A young Auror came hurrying down the hallway, a smoke blackened book in his hand and a look of utter shock on his face. The girls squealed and grabbed his arm exclaiming over his gob smacked expression and demanding to know what happened. "My book exploded. I was studying the laws on child protection and my book exploded," he gasped.

Terry pulled back a little and waited for the next carriage on the lifts, exiting in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement rather carefully. Aurors were running around, voices raised and tempers frayed as he carefully made his way down toward his customary exit point. Before he could reach the secured area, Kingsley Shacklebolt espied him and beckoned him over imperiously.

"Well, can you explain this?" he demanded, holding out the shredded remains of a text on property and inheritance law.

Terry sighed. "We put the Archival books back on the proper shelves," he said softly, glancing at his feet. "Unfortunately, a hundred years worth of cheating, lies and unlawful altering of the written laws were also corrected in the last few hours. The Archive has reverted to the original state of the law and anything that was illegally altered has been fixed, despite the problems it will cause. Sorry, but you cannot screw around with the Archives and expect there to be no repercussions, that is just naïve."

Kingsley sat down hard. "So what now?" he asked softly, a wash of horror flowing over him.

"You're going to have to relearn the laws of the land and how to apply them. You are going to have to seek clarification from the Wizengamot over some long standing statutes that were based on a lie to begin with. Most of all, you are going to have to deal with the fallout of a hundred years of legal cheating and corruption that was dissolved at the stroke of a spell today, and I really don't envy you the task."

"Damn it, Boot, what the hell are we going to do?" the Auror demanded, scrubbing his shaven scalp distractedly. "Does the Wizengamot know?"

"Oh, they will, in about ten minutes time, I think," Terry said as he took a seat and smiled maliciously. "I'm sure Aeolian is delivering the bad news right now!"

oo0oo

"What did you do?" the Supreme Mugwump screamed furiously as the small man took centre stage on the floor of the Wizengamot.

"I did nothing, except clean up after the hundred years of corruption and graft that has flourished under your noses. You allowed the Law to be controlled by the lawyers with no checks or balances, no impartial and incorruptible overseers to keep the line. And now you are going to pay for it. Now the chickens come home to roost; now the fat is in the fire and any other bloody cliché you want to trot out at this point. You are screwed and there's not a damned thing you can do about it because the magic looks after its own, regardless of what we mere humans want."

"How can we stop it or fix it?" The Chief Justice asked quietly into the ringing silence.

Aeolian sighed deeply and scrubbed at his prickly beard. "You can't, except by righting the wrongs and fixing the broken. Track down the problems and see if there are solutions, if there are other ways to solve the issues; but apart from that, just deal with it."

"Its going to change the way we do business with other countries and how we relate to other species," the Chief Justice said softly, the wheels and gears in his head already turning.

"And is that such a bad thing?" Aeolian asked a half smile on his face.

"Perhaps not."

The End (of part two)

08/03/2008

Author's Note: So, there you go, hope you enjoyed this installment. Thank you for your support over the last few months, I really do appreciate it and thanks again to Zarathrusta who betaed this piece of fiction, whipping it into a readable shape with unfailing skill.

I started writing an installment about Severus but he has taken over and is demanding a full length tale, so perhaps I will tackle Hermione and Draco next, or Lavender and Crabbe, who knows. So, until next time, lights out, sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite. LOL