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Chapter Twenty-Six

Pointe Break

Friday 13 August 1999

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"And if I refuse?"

"The Malfoy line will cease to exist in thirty minutes. If you agree, you may keep your vineyard and your family, and I'll never be back. Your debt will be put paid."

Lucius remarked, "I could kill you where you stand."

In an even tone, the man replied, "Perhaps you would try. Perhaps you would be successful. If you are, then there would be four bodies to collect in twenty-nine minutes."

Lucius had known that this day was likely to come. Based on the terms that the Assassin offered, he wouldn't be broke and he could live out his life a free man. The man wasn't trying to squeeze his last knut from him. He could try to kill him – no, it was unlikely that the man was alone. Malfoy realized that he'd be cut down before he'd drawn his wand. He nodded at the man.

"Sign here, here, here, there, and here. The choice is yours." He handed Lucius a blood quill.

Lucius signed the documents. As he signed each one, it magically disappeared. Lucius asked, "What about Nott?"

The Assassin remarked, "He signed a half hour ago. The other three Death Eaters believed me to be joking or valued a few galleons above their lives. You and Stephen are the only two left alive on the planet. You both have purchased your freedom. Make the most of it. Guide your son to be a decent, productive human being. You don't want to have to bury him." He reached into his shirt pocket, pulled out a small bottle and a Popsicle stick. He carefully placed the antidote on the table, made eye contact with another man sitting at another table and snapped his stick. Within a second, there were two flashes and Lucius was sitting alone.

In 1995 he had a net worth of just over one hundred million galleons. He now had a small business worth just over one million and a case in a safe deposit box with one hundred thousand in gold and AU dollars. He counted himself a lucky man.

A few seconds later he noticed that the small bottle had disappeared, as had the dark-haired waiter who'd served them the poisoned wine. The young man had suddenly recalled an urgent appointment.

The man at the other table pocketed his wand and snapped his own stick. He and Moody had spent almost two years tracking down the unaccounted for Death Eaters and had wrapped them up like loose ends. They believed that if they didn't, sooner or later those men or their heirs would be back to cause trouble.

They hated loose ends.

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Friday 1 September 2000

Hermione threw herself into her work with her usual diligence. Nearly two years ago, she was contacted by the Wartime Victims fund, a private charity, which was looking for a new chief analyst. The then nineteen-year-old witch realized that she'd been hand-picked for the position. Her assignment was to look back thirty years, and identify those that had been wronged by the Tom Riddle war and assess the degree of their loss.

That was the easy part. In addition, she had to weigh the relative losses and measure them on a scale of one to a thousand. Finally, she had to identify survivors, heirs, estimated property values and the more abstract losses.

Her assignment was to hire a staff of assistants, document the victims and their current contact information. Finally, she was to have the work substantially completed within two years of the death of Tom Riddle.

When the two anonymous Managing Directors of the fund read the report, they were dismayed at the magnitude of the loss. In total, between 1943 and 1995 Riddle and the Death Eaters were responsible for one thousand, four hundred and ninety six deaths, rapes, or severe injuries. There were heirs or survivors found in just under one thousand of the cases. Based on Hermione's "Loss Scale" of between one and a thousand, payment amounts were determined and the disbursement paperwork had been sent to Gringotts.

Hermione was astounded when she read the Daily Prophet a week after submitting the report.

Wartime Victims Fund Pays 150 Million to War Victims

The Managing Directors of the Wartime Victims Fund announced that payments had been made to compensate documented losses relating to the 52 years of terror brought on by the former dark lord, Tom Marvolo Riddle and his followers, the Death Eaters. The anonymous Directors stated, "Years of research and analysis was performed to document the losses, weigh the relative pain and suffering, and identify survivors or descendants. We would like to thank the claims research team headed up by Hermione Granger and her staff of analysts. As a result, we believe that there has been an equitable distribution of the donated funds. We would also like to recognize the generous donations that were made, which made such a reparations fund possible."

The payments ranged in scope from ten thousand to five hundred thousand galleons. Several orphans, who had been adopted as infants, were quoted as saying that they had no idea that the notorious terrorist, or his followers had killed their parents.

When asked about her future plans, Miss Granger announced that she was getting married in the fall to her long time companion, Cedric Diggory.

Recipients will be notified of their compensation payments this morning.

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Across Britain, hundreds of black Gringotts owls made their way to various recipients. Alastor Moody, Rufus Scrimgeour, Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter, Susan Bones, Aberforth Dumbledore, Hermione Granger, Michael and Michelle Wood, Minerva McGonagall, Kingsley Shacklebolt's son and hundreds more were the recipients of Survivor's Benefit class awards.

Hundreds more, such as widows and survivors of Death Eaters were systematically denied payments. The Managing Directors had been clear in the instructions – No payments to Death Eaters or their families. Their spouses or parents made willful decisions that had a lasting negative impact on the lives of others.

Hermione solemnly accepted the check that the Gringotts Goblin handed her and looked at the amount – Four hundred and twenty thousand galleons. Though she was grateful for the money, she understood what her eleven-year-old friend, Harry had told Ron and her so many years ago – "I'd give it all back in a blink if I could just have my parents back again."

She felt saddened at the years of misdirected anger and jealousy, which her former friend had invariably forgotten about had been paid for by loss, subsequent beatings, and suffering. They hadn't spoken in several years as he'd been traveling the world. She didn't know if they would reconnect in the next several years either, but held out hope that someday they might reconcile.

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