A/N: Happy Friday - well 8pm Friday night. It has been an insane week, but I am getting around to this. I need to!
Chapter 124: Set A Plan For Good
"So, I've reached out to some of my loyalists," Dumbledore spoke as the whole gathering of friends sat down to coffee and sweets in the parlour, after dinner. "I expect many of you have your own. I understand that this is short notice but things are about to happen, tomorrow, that could potentially shift the balances and change the outcome of the war, a war that so many believe over, but that has only grown quiet and hidden away."
"Far from over," Severus grumbled.
He'd grabbed Harry out of his high chair and had held him though his settling and into the beginning of slumber. It had been a long day for the little one, but Severus wasn't quite ready to release him. The thought of being away from him had been excruciating and now that he was within arms reach, he wasn't about to let him go.
"But we are all together now and know the side we stand for. So what exactly are we to expect now that we are here?" Sirius asked a little more aggressively. He'd returned to Poppy House, from Grimmauld, pleased with the state of the place and had opened it up to several people to stay in. That street buzzed with activity, people were seen, and already rumours spun around the city of London.
"You have not been yourself since you arrived. Is everything all right?" Severus asked.
"We left Remus alone at Willow House with the ghosts to take care of him," Sirius answered. "I don't know that that was all together wise, nor do I fully trust him at this time, to stay put."
"He has Doctor Dillard," Lilina spoke. "And Doctor Hammond, and it was very clear he would not leave the house, which is for his own good. We know that you are worried about your friend but he does love his solitude. He will be fine."
"And I plan, if we may, to return tomorrow as soon as the trial is over. I would much rather have Harry away from London. I am happy to have him here with me but we don't belong in the city anymore."
"You belong here as much as the next man," Dumbledore spoke, "but I know that you've become comfortable, or have found safety and comfort there. I understand that you want to go back but please don't be too haste. Things may happen here that will need our direct attention and I would prefer to have you here for that."
"You would prefer to see us stay longer?" Rocco asked.
"I would prefer to see an end to the infernal tit for tat that seems to be going on within the ministry. I would prefer to be at Hogwarts with my students getting them through their exams, not that Minerva isn't capable, but that is where I should be. Now I know I am not the one in charge at the ministry, nor do I want the post, but I would like to see more influence for the good or the side we stand on. The whole point the minister is trying to make by attempting to interact with my loyalists is to make herself look better, stronger, more of a head of state that I am. But I am a strategist and I don't see the need for the ministerial middle man at this point in the fight," Dumbledore explained.
"That isn't very civilized of you," Edward Southborough spoke from his place in a corner. "Then again, war is the construct of civilization. What are we to do exactly for the cause?"
"Well that is the question. I don't know just yet as we are still very much in the dark about what is to occur tomorrow. I'm up for suggestions," Dumbledore responded.
"What was your plan when you summoned us all to you?" Arcturus Primm asked as he looked to Severus.
"I was angry and simply wanted to rub her nose in it," Severus confessed. "She wanted me to give her intelligence into Dumbledore, our community and our commitment to him. She wanted me to stand at her side and to be loyal even though she did not give me reason to be. Dumbledore, later gave me insight into why she is looking to his loyalists and that she will likely summon you all in turn, but to have you here squashes that plan. I would prefer to stand on the side I know is going to fight to make life better for each other and so I suppose that is why I summoned you all here, rather than wait to have you pulled in by her. We work together, we are building each other up and are loyal to what we have as a community. I want her to see that, and know that without one of us, she would not have all of us."
"So what did she tell you then?" Anthony Collins asked.
"There is to be a secret tribunal before the trial of Lucius Malfoy, if he is the only one on trial, I know not. After the trial, there is to be some sort of public display, but she did not say what, only that she wanted me to stand and be present for it all, with her. She gave no other particulars."
"A public display, wide open for all to see? A kiss, a curse, a message sent?" Sirius asked.
"I assume so, but I can't say for certain," Severus answered. "But I disagree with the public nature of the event, though not the punishment for the guilty. A public display throws the magical community out into the open, and that goes against almost everything the ministry of magic stands for."
"It would be an act of war to make it so public," Dumbledore added. "And it would bring the muggles into it."
"That cannot be the thing we stand for. That's what got us into this in the first place," Gloria said softly. "Actions cloaked with good intentions…," she said and made eye contract with Severus.
"We need to do something different this time," Severus said with a nod. "We can't be complacent. We can't just run to my estate and hide, though I would wish to. We have to make a statement of unity and harmony."
"But what?" Sirius asked. "Isn't that exactly what they are doing?"
"What they have planned, whatever it is, it's not right," Severus said.
"You don't think he deserves the Dementor's kiss?" Sirius asked.
"He does, he deserves to be punished to the full extent of the law, but if that is the reason for the publicity, as a scare tactic, then it is wrong. That is not the right thing to do and many people will see it, not as an example, but a challenge. We could very well see an upheaval. It is for this same reason that the Unforgivable Curses were named and outlawed, because if we broadcast them and use them, we normalize them and condone them."
"Then we stand against it," Dumbledore said. "Those who would commit such acts should be in prison. The kiss should befall those who kill and that just the knowledge should be enough for the public, but we will show a united front and we will protest the publicity of it all."
"By going?" Sirius asked.
"No, by leaving," Severus said. "We go en-masse to the trial and then we leave; publicly and with voices raised against the plot. We condemn the Minister and her government for enacting an act of retaliation, an act of war, against those who deserve a trial and their punishment via the law, not by public opinion, and certainly not for the entertainment of the general public. A spectacle is beneath us and to be so open about the magic could cause mass hysteria where the muggles are concerned."
"I agree with you," Anthony Collins spoke. "This does not bode well for any of us or the innocent that may get caught up in it."
"I will keep you all informed as to the ongoings of the secret tribunal. I hope that you will come, I know you're invited, and I understand that you've turned it down, but Severus, I think you of all people should be there," Dumbledore began by addressing everyone in the room but turned his attention to Severus.
"You should go," Gloria added as Severus hesitated. "I'll stay here with Harry, you need to be with Dumbledore to prove your point. Everything will be ship shape when you return," she finished as the door bell rang.
"I'll get it," Peter said as he stood and then returned. "Rita Skeeter says Doctor Hannibal Carthridge has been apprehended. He's alive."
"Is she here?" Severus asked as Dumbledore jumped to his feet.
"She's in the hall," Peter confessed.
"Take him and hide," Severus said as he handed Harry to Gloria and she fled into another room. "I'll see her in the sitting room off the dining hall, with Dumbledore and Sirius. You tend to your daughter," he finished with an order to Rocco and Lilina. "As for the rest of you, I'm sorry to end this so abruptly, feel free to stay as long as you wish, if you are not already staying in my house, and I expect to know all of your thoughts on the subject in due time. We will not act upon this lightly or without counsel, but I really must deal with the reporter," he added with a slight movement of hesitation and then followed Sirius and Dumbledore out into the hall.