Disclaimer: HP belongs to JKR/OCs belong to me
Chapter 95: An Understandable Decision
After passing sentence, Tiberius turned to Harry. "Commander Potter, as the filer in this matter, do you concur with the unanimous decision made by myself and my fellow Interrogators?"
About to ask for a life sentence and that Justin be stripped of his magic instead of receiving the Killing Curse, something suddenly occurred to Harry, something he had overlooked. "May I ask him a question, your Honor, before I respond to yours and the matter is finalized?"
"Although it seems to be a cut and dried case, you may, Commander Potter. Healer Smithers, please re-administer the Veritaserum to Lieutenant Black."
After being once again forced to take it, Justin once more refusing to take it willingly, he then begged, "Harry, for the love of God, please don't ask me anything else. Just let the ruling stand."
Tiberius ignored Justin's plea to Harry. "Commander Potter, the floor is yours."
Justin's response more than anything else convinced Harry he had definitely missed something. "Thank you. And I'm sorry, Justin, but I have to do this, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't. In the interview, exhibit 4B, you refused to answer me when I asked if there was anyone else in the room with you, and so..."
Justin's response was desperate as he realized what Harry was about to ask. "Harry, don't, please don't."
"I swore an oath, Justin, I have to ask about anything I think is amiss, and since Justice Ogden has omitted to ask about this, I have to. And so, was there anyone else in the room with Bethany at the time she died?"
Almost in tears himself, as he believed he had finally worked out why Justin had been willing to die rather than tell the truth, Harry asked softly, "Who was it?"
"My son, Oliver."
"How old is Oliver?" Harry asked, deducing that by mentioning Oliver's name first, Justin was trying to stave off the inevitable outcome.
"He's not quite two."
"Did he perform any accidental magic that day?"
Even though it was tearing him apart to ask, Harry continued, "And was there any other member of your family in the room that day your wife was killed?"
"Yes, my son, Orion." Justin looked desperately at Harry and whispered, "Please, Harry, don't do this to my son."
"I'm so sorry, Justin, so, so sorry." Harry then finally asked the one question Ogden had failed to, not believing it necessary until then, the evidence alone having convicted Justin without Justin's confirmation. "Lieutenant Black, did you kill Bethany Black?"
"No." The word was spoken so softly and reluctantly that all but Harry and Remus had to strain to hear it.
"Did your son, Orion Black, kill his mother?"
"Yes." Again the response was barely above a whisper.
Harry ignored protocol, and uncaring about the rumors he knew his actions were about to incite, he climbed up to Justin's seat, holding his best friend's head against his chest as Justin broke down, well aware of what his confession might mean for his son.
Tiberius Ogden called for quiet as the Court by now was in uproar.
Healer Smithers handed over calming potion. "Here."
Harry had to coax Justin to take it, wiping his face with his handkerchief, before he shakily said, "I didn't want to do this, but I'll do whatever I can to help him. I swear."
Scared to death for his son, who at fifteen, thanks to recent changes in the law, could now be tried as an adult if the crime was murder, Justin had to put his trust in his best friend. "Thank you."
"Are you able to go on, Lieutenant Black?"
"I don't want to, but yes, your Honor."
"Please explain to the Court what happened." The case now not so cut and dried, Tiberius had decided to find out exactly what had transpired.
"As I said in my statement, Beth came to see me to tell me that she was going to contest my father's decision to deny my sons as his heirs. She had Orion and Oliver with her, and I asked that we discuss it elsewhere rather than in front of them. She refused and said Orion needed to know the truth. She then told Orion that my father had rejected him and his brother as his heirs."
"May I ask why?" Tiberius already knew, as Justin had made it clear in his statement, and he was now doing this for the rest of the Court's benefit, just as Harry had been when he had questioned Justin about his son's age.
"They both have a disease that will cause any woman they impregnate with a male child to die, something called Filius Superstes, and Dad didn't want them one day to feel as if they had to do their duty, and so he removed the onus of responsibility for carrying the Black name on."
"Healer Smithers, can you confirm this?"
"No, your Honor, but the condition exists."
"Continue, Lieutenant Black."
"Beth started being vile about Dad, going on and on, and we began a heated argument. However, I didn't attack her as I stated previously. Instead, afraid I'd do something I'd regret, I walked out. I'd barely stepped into the hallway when I heard a bang and Orion began screaming. I then heard a thud, and looked round to see Orion standing there with his mother's wand in his hand, and Beth lying in a pool of blood in front of the fireplace."
"You didn't see him kill her?"
"No, your Honor, but he kept on saying he was sorry for killing her over and over again."
"And so you decided to take the blame for your son?"
"I did, and so I obliviated him."
"And Healer Black decided to do the same for you, by also claiming to have killed her."
"I did, your Honor," Sirius confirmed.
"May I ask where your son is now, Lieutenant Black?"
"With my mother."
"Commander Potter, please arrest and bring Orion Black in. There will be a brief recess."
After checking to see who was there, Cordelia answered her front door with Oliver Black in her arms, and Del standing beside her, Cordelia paling as she saw who it was. "Justin?"
"He's going to be found not guilty."
Cordelia was obviously relieved. "I knew there was no way he'd have ever killed Beth." It was then she noticed the four men with Harry. "Why are they are?"
"Justin was covering for Orion, Cordie."
"Oh my God!" Cordelia glanced behind her, Orion still having been kept back from returning to school after what had happened to his parents. "He's watching TV with Lester and the other children."
"I'm going to take him into custody, and I think it might be better if you came too as I know he's going to be scared."
Orion was visibly concerned as he entered the tiny formal sitting room, saying, "Nan said you wanted to speak to me, Uncle Harry. Are Dad and Pops okay?"
"They're fine," Harry said, soothing the boy's fears for his family. "Orion, I'm really sorry, but your dad had to tell everyone that you were there when your mum died."
"No, I wasn't."
"I'm afraid it turns out you were, and I have to take you to the Court, but before I do, I have to arrest you. Do you understand?"
"But I wasn't there. Nan, tell him!"
Cordelia put her arm around Orion, Harry's fears about Orion being scared proving correct. "Orion, it doesn't matter if you were or weren't there. At the moment, the Court is where you have to go. Harry doesn't have any choice about taking you, but I'm going to be with you. Okay?"
In tears and very frightened, Orion nodded. "Okay."
After handing Oliver to Del and sending her into Lester, Cordelia placed her arm around Orion. "Go ahead, Harry."
"Orion Black, I'm placing you under arrest for the murder of Bethany Carol Black. Anything you say may be used against you in the Grand Wizarding Court." Harry then snapped at one of his men, "No cuffs!"
"But, Sir, it's proce..."
"Do you want to be busted back down to third year?"
"Then put them away."
"But, Sir..." the Auror continued to protest.
"We don't need the cuffs as we're going straight to the Courtroom," Harry pointed out, "so it's not as if he's going to be able to escape. However, I am going to check to see if he's armed, and you'll be seeing me tomorrow morning at six for disobeying a direct order."
After finding Orion clean of any weapons, Harry took hold of Cordelia's arm, and warned her, "Cordie, keep a tight hold of him, and both of you should take a deep breath, as this will be a little bumpy while we go through the wards."
Lester, who by now had Oliver in his arms, his daughter Lou, and Hermione's children watching silently by his side, barked out, "You lot. Out of my house."
With Harry vanishing, they did as they were told.
Although frightened, Orion broke free of his grandmother's grasp when he saw his father, belting towards him, only for Harry to use his wand to summon him, spotting his men withdrawing their wands. "Lower them. He just wants to see his father."
"He can approach Lieutenant Black," Tiberius said, glaring at those who had raised their wands to Orion.
Harry let him go, and Orion ran over to his father. "Dad, tell them I wasn't there."
"I can't, Orion."
"Commander, please give Lieutenant Black your wand to undo the obliviation spell."
Orion backed away in fear as, after being released from the chair, Justin aimed the wand at him, Orion bursting into tears as the spell took away the cloud hiding his memory. "Merlin, I'm sorry, Dad, I'm sorry."
Justin put his arms around him. "I know."
"Since I don't wish to administer Veritaserum to him unless absolutely necessary, Lieutenant Black, may we see a copy of your son's memory?"
"Administer the Veritaserum antidote to Lieutenant Black, and then arrange for my pensieve to be set up in the antechamber."
As Orion was distraught, it was easy for Harry to extract the memory, it currently being the foremost thing in Orion's mind.
Harry, together with Cordelia, Justin, Tiberius Ogden, and four members of the Court then entered the pensieve.
"Begin the memory."
Justin was pale as he watched himself shaking his head and softly saying, 'I can't do this anymore. I just can't,' before stepping into the hallway, turning his back on wife.
Harry placed a hand on his shoulder as they watched Bethany raise her wand and cast a blasting spell, Orion screaming and going for the wand. As he did, his actions forced the wand towards his mother, the spell leaving it and hitting her.
"I'm afraid we need to administer Veritaserum to determine whether the boy's action was intentional," Tiberius said regretfully as the memory ended.
"And if I don't allow it?" Justin asked, still wanting to do everything he could to defend his son.
"I'll have no choice but to overrule you and force it on him, something I'd rather not do."
Harry said softly, "Give it, Justin."
"You have my permission."
Back in the Courtroom, seated where Justin had been, although not chained, with Cordelia and Justin both holding his hands, Orion opened his mouth to allow Healer Smithers to administer the Veritaserum.
"Commander Potter, if you would test the veracity, please."
"Orion, do you have a girlfriend?"
"Yes." Orion turned bright pink as he admitted to the truth, the word yes popping out of his mouth although he had tried to say no.
This took Harry by surprise, Orion always denying he liked girls, and so he was caught off guard a little. "I'm sorry, Orion, but as I expected a no from you, I need to ask, who is it?"
Orion tried hard not to say, but in the end, his face red from the effort of fighting the Veritaserum, he said, "Mimi Lupin."
Harry had known Justin's son had a crush on Hermione's youngest daughter, the two of them sharing a love of every animal known to man and wizard, but not that he was actively dating her. However, unable to help herself, Hermione was the one who said, "For how long?"
"Since New Year," Orion said, his reluctance to respond more than obvious to everyone there.
Having seen how surprised Harry and Hermione had been, Tiberius smiled. "I believe we can safely say the Veritaserum is working, so I'll begin if my fellow Court members have no objection." No-one offered one up, so Tiberius did as he said, and asked in a gentle voice, hoping the response to his next question would be a negative one. "Orion, on the day your mother died, did you deliberately turn her wand against her?"
"No, of course not," Orion said, shaking his head quite vociferously. "I'd never have deliberately hurt my mum."
"So why did you try to take her wand?"
"I knew how much Mum hated Dad because she thought it was his fault that Pops wasn't going to make us heirs after Dad, and when I saw her raising her wand, my only thought was to stop her from hurting him. I didn't meant to kill her."
As Orion sat shaking, Cordelia quietly reassuring him, Tiberius conferred briefly with his colleagues, before he said, "Administer the antidote, and we'll finalize this case. Excuse me for a moment."
Seeing tears coming into his son's eyes, Orion now terrified by what this might mean for him, Justin leant over and said quietly, "You're going to be fine. You did nothing wrong."
"What about you and Pops?" Orion asked, not only afraid for himself, but also for his father and grandfather.
"I don't know," Justin said, convinced that while Orion would no doubt walk free without any repercussions, things might not go so well for him and his father after what they had done. "But no matter what happens, just remember that none of this is your fault. I chose to take the blame for you, just as your grandfather chose to take the blame for me."
"But I did it."
"It was an accident," Justin said, before straightening up and mouthing, "Obliviate him," to Hermione, who nodded, as Justin was afraid Orion was going to take it badly if he and Sirius ended up in New Azkaban for their deceptions.
Tiberius turned back around. "First of all, let me deal with Orion Black." Spotting the young man tense up, Tiberius quickly got on with what they had decided. "Orion Black, we are all very sorry for the loss of your mother, an incident which I, and my fellow Interrogators, have ruled a dreadful accident. You are free to leave once this matter is over."
Relieved, but also scared, Orion said, "Thanks, but what about Dad and Pops?"
"I'm about to get to them, young man," Tiberius said, turning to Justin. "As a senior member of British Auror Division, you, more than most, Lieutenant Commander Black, will appreciate that we cannot simply dismiss what you did without some form of punishment being handed down."
"I understand, your Honor."
"But it was my fault!"
"Orion, be quiet," Justin said in a firm voice, before he said, "Your Honor, I apologize for my son's outburst."
"His desire to protect you is perfectly understandable, Lieutenant Black," Tiberius said, "as was your own to protect him. And we have therefore decided that all the charges pertaining to the murder of Bethany Carol Black against you are to be dropped."
Justin felt Orion sag with relief, but Justin knew from Tiberius' previous statement that he was not going to walk unscathed, and he waited for Tiberius to continue, which he did after making a few notations.
"And, although we understand why you did it, we have decided that charges of wasting both Court and Auror Division time, deception, and perjury will also be brought up against you by this Court. Lieutenant Black, how do you plead?"
Justin could not deny any of the charges, and had to plead accordingly. "Guilty, your Honor."
"Do you have any defense you wish to state?"
"No, your Honor."
This time Orion remained silent as Tiberius once more conferred with his fellow Interrogators, before turning back to Justin. " Justin Edmund Sirius Black, we find you guilty of the charges laid against you, and you are therefore sentenced to two years in New Azkaban, and fined five thousand Galleons. Commander Potter, in accordance with Revised Law 7624b, as the initial filer in this case, you may offer up an objection to this ruling."
"Then I move to do so, your Honor. In light of his service to British Auror Division and for risking his life to defeat Tom Mortimer, I would ask that Lieutenant Black's sentence be struck down as should the fine, as I intend to render a fine myself, a proportion of which will be paid to the Court for their time."
Tiberius again discussed it with his fellow Interrogators before addressing Justin. "Lieutenant Black, count yourself very lucky that we have decided to take Commander Potter's recommendation to drop the charges, provided the offered restitution is made from BritAD."
"Thank you, your Honor, and I wish to formally apologize to everyone here for my actions."
"We accept your apology, Lieutenant Black, and, you're free to leave once this matter is concluded." Tiberius then turned to Sirius. "You, however, Healer Black, are not. Although, as I said, we understand a father's need to protect his son, we do not feel the same way about unlawfully coercing Mrs. Lupin into your scheme to do so. And, although all charges against you in the murder of Bethany Carol Black are hereby dropped, we are going to bring up further charges of wasting Court and Auror Division time, deception, perjury and coercion against you. How do you plead?"
Exactly like Justin, Sirius had no defense, and, after pleading guilty, he was to have a nervous five minutes waiting for the Court to converse.
After finishing his conference, Tiberius said, "Sirius Orion Black, we find you guilty of all the charges set out against you, and you are therefore sentenced to eight years in Azkaban, you are fined five thousand Galleons for wasting Court time, and fined a further ten thousand Galleons, which you will pay in restitution to Mrs. Lupin for taking away her free will. Commander Potter, as the filer, do you wish to offer up any objection?"
"May I confer with Mrs. Lupin before responding, your Honor?"
After moving to Hermione's side and erecting a privacy bubble, Harry said, "Hermione, I don't believe Sirius knew you'd end up here."
"He apologized just before we were led in," Hermione revealed. "But I was so angry with him that I told him I didn't accept it, but I don't want him to go to prison. I think he should receive the same treatment as Justin."
Harry reminded her of the additional punishment. "And the money?"
"I don't want it."
After dropping the privacy bubble, Harry turned back to face Tiberius. "Your Honor, I move to offer up an objection to the sentence. After speaking to Mrs. Lupin, we are both in agreement that Healer Black would never have involved her in his scheme to save Lieutenant Black if he'd known that Mrs. Lupin would end up in this situation."
After Tiberius had Hermione confirm what Harry was saying, he was allowed to continued.
"However, since what Healer Black did to Mrs. Lupin was without doubt immoral, I disagree with her that Healer Black should not serve a prison sentence." Harry could feel everyone's shock at his statement, and how angry Hermione was with him. Ignoring the negative emotions he was being bombarded with, Harry continued. "However, in the light of his service to British Auror Division and for his part in helping to work against Tom Mortimer, I would ask that the sentence should become probationary, and, in spite of Mrs. Lupin stating she doesn't want the monetary reward, I believe that it should also still stand as should the fine imposed by the Court."
Sirius knew in that moment, with Harry leaving his fine to be paid to the Court, by him directly, that Harry was going to fire him, even if he somehow got away without a custodial sentence, and he also knew he only had himself to blame for whatever punishment that was about to be inflicted upon him.
Tiberius turned away, once again conferring, this time at some length, before he said, "Healer Black, I'm afraid we have to disagree with Commander Potter. What you did by dragging an innocent party into your scheme was beyond the pale, and we have therefore decided that you will still serve a custodial sentence. However, in the light of their pleas and your service to British Auror Division, by a very slim majority, we have decided to reduce your sentence to three years. You will also pay the monetary reward to Mrs. Lupin and the fine imposed by this Court. "
Sirius gulped, the thought of returning to prison a far from pleasant one, and one he knew was going to impact more than just him.
Tiberius, however, had not yet finished. "Since we have reduced your sentence, once released, should we have cause to see you here again before us within the period of ten years, you will serve the full eight years plus any we consider adding to it. Do you understand?"
A very shaken Sirius said, "I do, your Honor."
"Then, after you've spoken to the clerk to make payment of the restitution, you will be transferred to New Azkaban to begin your sentence. Case dismissed."
As manners dictated, Harry walked over to shake hands with Tiberius. "That's a case I don't ever want to live through again."
"I can well imagine, Harry. Will you punish Lieutenant Black for wasting time?"
"Yes, as well as fining him as I said, although I've yet to decide on exactly what form his punishment will take, but I won't be asking him to resign."
"A wise decision. He might have made a mistake but I believe Lieutenant Black to be a good man."
"He is," Harry said, noticing Tiberius had left Sirius out of his statement, Sirius being led out as they were speaking. "I should go. As the filer I'll have to process him."
"Make certain he knows he's very lucky; some of those here wanted him locked up for a good deal longer than the reduced three years, service or no service to BritAD," Tiberius said, well aware that prejudices against Sirius still occasionally reared their ugly heads.
"I can well imagine, and as much as I'd like to stay and talk, I really should be off," Harry said, holding out his hand. "Good afternoon, Tiberius."
"Good afternoon, Harry."
Harry headed in the direction of where his men and Sirius had gone so that Sirius could sign the necessary forms to release funds to Hermione and the Court, although Harry knew they would likely have taken him to the outward departure area for New Azkaban to do it.
In the holding area, Sirius spotted Harry heading his way. "Thanks for trying."
After dismissing his men, Harry said, "You should've just come clean to me, Sirius. I'd have bent over backwards to help Justin, you know that."
"But I also know that you follow the law, Harry, and you heard what they wanted to do to him."
"It would never have gotten that far, as his case would've crumbled without you muddying the waters by involving Hermione in this."
"Something of which I'm well aware, since I'm about to spend three years of my life back in prison," Sirius said in a somewhat wry voice.
"It wouldn't be as bad as before," Harry said, well aware that Sirius was nervous in spite of his cool outward display. "Don't forget that there are no Dementors, you'll be in a low security wing, you'll have a real bed, access to a library, three decent meals a day, and you'll be allowed one visit every fortnight."
Sirius knew all this but he was still nervous. "Sounds almost like a holiday except that I know when I get out, I won't be returning to my former life, will I?"
Harry shook his head. "No. I'm going to have no choice but to terminate your employment."
"And no hospital's going to take me," Sirius said, before saying, "Even so, I'd still do it again for Justin."
"I know." Harry turned away and spoke to the clerk, requesting and receiving a two-way portkey for New Azkaban, which was built on Bridge Ledge, a formally unoccupied island just off the south tip of England.
"I don't get to say goodbye to anyone?"
"No," Harry said brusquely, still annoyed at what Sirius had done to Hermione. "Although I'll review the list of anyone wanting to see you, and decide who it's to be as soon as it comes across my desk."
"Yes, and I imagine Justin will be your first visitor."
"Somehow I doubt it's going to be Mi. She wasn't exactly happy with what I did when I did it, and after being incarcerated for so long, and enduring a court case, I doubt it'll have improved her outlook. She told me to stick my apology."
"Can you blame her?" Harry asked. "And thanks to you, I don't imagine I'm going to be her favorite person either."
"Don't let her blame you, and please make certain she takes the money. Tell her to spend it on the girls if she doesn't want it."
Harry felt a pang of misery coming from Sirius. "They'll still love you, Sirius. You're the one who more or less brought them up with her."
"At least they have Remus again, someone else I imagine is going to be angry with me for involving Mi, even though the antidote we gave him worked."
"Again, can you blame him?" Harry took hold of Sirius' arm. "This is about to go off as it has a two minute window from my accepting it."
"Then let's go."
By the time he returned, Harry discovered that everyone, including Lester, had moved en masse into Sirius' London home, Justin having eschewed his own home after what had happened there.
Harry found Justin in his room with Hermione, who had been crying. "Cordie said you were both up here. I wanted to see how you were both doing."
"Pretty awful after what's happened," Hermione said brusquely, blowing her nose. "Is Sirius all right?"
"Shook up, but relieved that New Azkaban is a much more civilized prison than the one he's used to." Harry then relayed what Sirius had said about the money, before apologizing to her. "I'll understand if you don't want anything to do with me after this."
"Harry, as much as I'm angry at what happened, I know you had no choice, and it would never have happened if Sirius hadn't done what he did."
"Just as I know you had no choice in what you did today," Justin said, before Harry could respond. "I've sworn the same oath myself often enough to know how it works, and you wouldn't deserve to hold the position you do if you hadn't followed up on your suspicions." Justin walked over to the desk and handed over a piece of parchment. "It's my resignation, and before you try and refuse it, you don't have any choice, Harry. I was an officer of British Auror Division, and I pleaded guilty to a crime."
"I do have a choice as the charges were struck down."
"They might well as not been." Justin sat down on the sofa. " Harry, if you don't accept it, you'll make yourself look weak in BritAD."
Harry reminded Justin of something important. "It was a closed court thanks to your position, and no-one in there can discuss what happened, not even Tiberius Ogden, except to pass on information as to the verdict, which in your case was no charges."
"But you told Cordie what was happening," Hermione said, pointing out the obvious.
"I was ordered to bring Orion in, and what I did uses a necessary loophole, but all those inside the Courtroom are unable to talk about what happened inside. Even I can't discuss it outside of the circle of people in this house today."
"Harry, there were twelve Aurors in that Courtroom," Justin protested. "And they can talk about it to each other."
"And if I hear them bad mouthing you in any way, they'll find themselves on punishment duties," Harry retorted. "As it is, Nellis is going to be appearing in my office tomorrow for trying to cuff Orion when I told him to back off."
"And my punishment?"
Harry decided to simply get it out of the way rather than holding a formal meeting. "Apart from a fine of twelve thousand Galleons for the manpower and time incurred by my men and the Court, I've decided that after I've talked to the twelve Aurors involved and explained my reasons for not firing you, you'll be spending one week with each of them, except for Nellis, acting as their assistant."
Justin grimaced. "Perhaps I should just go with the resignation and the fine. Hermione was going to ask if you'd employ me at PBC."
"Not a chance," Harry said, tearing up the resignation. "You're going to take it on the chin, and do your time with your fellow Aurors, Lieutenant Black."
"Yes, Sir." Justin then returned to the subject of Orion. "I had to obliviate Orion of the knowledge he killed his mother. He was so upset, Harry, and so he now believes it was an accident, and that Beth slipped and hit her head, but that the Court thought one of us might have killed her."
"And how did you explain Sirius' imprisonment?" Harry asked.
"I left things almost exactly as they unfolded; that Dad ended up in New Azkaban for trying to protect us, and that he coerced Hermione into helping him."
"I've already taken the liberty of making you his first visitor."
"Thanks." Justin turned to Hermione. "Do you want to come too?"
"I'm still too angry with him," Hermione confessed.
"But you defended him in Court."
"I might've been angry, Justin, but since I've done something stupid like that myself when I stopped Harry from trying to apprehend Dru to save her, I didn't want to see Sirius in prison for doing the same thing for you."
"Then you'll go to see Dad?"
"Harry can include me on the list for next month, and if the girls can go, I'd like them to visit him the month afterwards, as all of them are upset about it, and think that Ogden is an idiot."
"He was worried how they'd react."
"Harry, they love him as much as he loves them," Hermione said, Del being particularly broken up by Sirius' imprisonment.
"Then I'll do that."
May 7th 2022
It was almost four am when Justin came awake to hear screams, and he reacted quickly, rolling out of bed and disapparating to the source of the screams, having recognized them as Del's. He was shocked to see a werewolf standing panting on the floor on the far side of the room, blood strewn and shredded clothing lying close by, the lamp that was usually on Del's nightstand, lying on its side illuminating the scene, and Justin immediately feared the worst.
Behind Justin, the door flew open, and he turned to look, as did the werewolf. Taking in the scene as Justin had, Hermione and Mimi both sent different spells flying at the werewolf.
Justin had never seen a werewolf this close up before, and although he had nothing to base his belief on, in that moment, he would have said it was terrified. As this thought flitted through his mind, and the spells flew towards the werewolf, Justin was faced with an impossible decision: should he save it or should he let it die.
Mimi did not know what to think as, with only one wand on him, Justin threw himself in front of the Reductor Curse she had just fired off at the werewolf, while at the same time he cast a low powered reflective shield to deflect the blasting spell Hermione had chosen. Neither Mimi nor Hermione had shielded as they had not expected retaliation from a werewolf, and certainly not from Justin, and, in trying to push her mother clear, Mimi was impacted by the full blast and hurled into the wall.
Across from them, Justin was hit by the Reductor Curse, the force of it breaking his ribs and puncturing his lungs, the powerful Curse going through him to hit the werewolf in the hip, although with less force than it had impacted Justin with, Justin's body slowing it down and absorbing some of the effects.
As Cordelia, who was staying with Hermione in order to celebrate her granddaughter's birthday, reached her stepdaughter, she knelt down by her. "Hermione?"
Trying to pick herself up, Hermione said in a weak voice, "Be careful, Cordie, werewolf in Del's room."
Afraid for her granddaughter, Cordelia charged into the room in spite of Hermione's warning. Picking up a silver trophy, she approached slowly, before kneeling down and, keeping her eyes on the werewolf, which was simply lying there and whining, she said, "Justie?"
By now Kara had reached them, and she pulled her grandmother out of the room as she spotted the werewolf. "I'll summon him."
Warily Kara did as she said, keeping her eyes on the whining werewolf before slamming the door. She then said to her grandmother, "We need to get them to hospital, Nan. We can tell them to send some men here to deal with this." She then gently pulled her now unconscious mother towards Justin and Mimi so that she was lying over Cordelia's lap. "Medicus Instanter Justin Black."
Both Harry and Remus turned up a few minutes after the group had disappeared, Kara being allowed to fire-call her father, who had immediately asked Harry to join him.
With Remus flanking him, their wands drawn, Harry slowly opened the door, the werewolf cowering back and whining loudly. Harry almost immediately lowered his wand, barely able to believe what his senses were telling him. "Del?"
Both men quickly made their way over to the injured werewolf, Harry saying in a low voice, "I think she's somehow stuck in an Animagus form."
"A werewolf is a Dark Creature and can't be an Animagus form, to say nothing of the fact that Del was unable to find her form," Remus argued. "I think she's a natural werewolf."
"They first change at birth," Harry contended. "But we can argue about it later. Right now, we need to get her back into her usual form."
Remus agreed. "Del, we're going to try and force a change, so try to keep as still as possible while we do this otherwise it's going to hurt more than it needs to."
Screams filled the room as loud as those that had woken everyone up as Harry and Remus forced a transformation, blood gushing everywhere as Del was forced back into human form, causing more damage to the wound that Mimi had inflicted.
Harry quickly stopped the flow of blood by applying a field dressing on it, while Remus draped a blanket over his daughter. "Let's take her to USAD."
Toby Jenkins came rushing into the arrivals area, the alarms going off in the building having alerted him to the fact that an Auror had operated their medical ring yet again. He was shocked to see that this time it was a young woman being placed on a bed. "What happened, Harry?"
"She had an accident, Toby," Harry said, hurrying by him. "Right now, I think we need to get her into surgery otherwise I imagine she's going to bleed out. How are the others?"
"Mimi and Mrs. Lupin are being dealt with by a junior healer, and Mr. Lupin's eldest daughter is with them. Damien Dukes is about to begin operating on Justin. who's being listed as critical."
"Over my dead body is he touching Justin," Harry said, Dukes' nickname being 'Deadman'. "I want him off Justin's case now, and Justin portkeyed to New Azkaban. Remus, take Del back to the UK and have Donald Noble deal with her."
Having left Remus to deal with his daughter's care, Harry accompanied Justin on the portkey journey to the UK, staggering a little as he arrived, the gap between jumps not quite as long as he would have liked. After showing his ID, he snapped, "I want Sirius Black in the operating theater ten minutes ago."
Sirius was annoyed to be hauled out of bed, but since he worked in the small hospital located in New Azkaban, it was not unusual, and he guessed someone had fallen ill during the night and the healer on duty must be otherwise engaged. Kneeling down and facing the wall, he put his hands behind his back and was led out.
Harry met him at the door. "Justin's in bad shape, and I don't trust anyone else to deal with him. Uncuff him."
Once inside the secure hospital, Sirius began to bark out orders to the healer who was on duty, who was more than a little annoyed to be usurped by a prisoner, up until now having been able to boss Sirius around. Nevertheless, as Harry was his commanding officer, Healer Jellyweather had little choice but to do as he was told.
New Azkaban Medical Center
Justin opened an eye to see Harry sitting by his bed. "So I guess I made it." Justin said, slowly becoming aware he was hooked up to a drip and his stomach was throbbing horribly.
"I guess you did."
"Am I in New Azkaban?" Justin asked, noticing the bars on the windows.
"You are. Deadman Dukes was on duty at USAD and I refused to let him to touch you, so I had you portkeyed here for Sirius to operate on you. It's thanks to him that you're alive as Jellyweather wanted to give up on you."
"Nice to know," Justin said, before going on, "How is everyone?"
"Both Hermione and Mimi recovered within a few days. Although Hermione initially stayed with Mimi and Del, she swapped today with Remus. Del was finally transferred home to Boston five days ago, although the Curse did quite some damage but not as much as Remus and I did to her forcing a transformation back into human form."
"So it was Del."
"Yes. How did you know?"
"I didn't exactly, but the werewolf looked so frightened, I knew something wasn't quite right, that and it wasn't a full moon, so I reacted instinctively and decided to defend it. So how long was I out?"
"Almost ten days. Sirius had to regrow your lungs, kidneys, liver, and quite a few bones. If you weren't magical, you'd be dead."
"Then thank Merlin I'm magical," Justin said with a smile.
"Up until he swapped, Remus has been here every day, as has your mother as I gave her special dispensation to stay here, and they've been sleeping in the rooms next to yours, although Hermione's the one here now." Harry moved on, a grin on his face. "Oh, before I forget, a certain young lady related to Hermione sends her love. The card with the hearts on is from her."
Justin knew it would not have been Del, hearts were definitely not her thing, nor could it have been Mimi, since she was now engaged to Orion. "Don't tell me... Kara."
"Yep. Is there something between the two of you?" Harry teased, well aware that his goddaughter had a big crush on his best friend, something Hermione was doing her best to head off, particularly as Will had washed his hands of Kara more than a year ago, sick of her mooning over someone who wasn't him.
"Harry, she's a bloody kid! Of course there's nothing between us!"
"Talking about Kara?" Sirius asked, walking in from the corridor, Justin's door wide open.
"Yes," Justin growled, his father grinning as much as Harry was. "I was hoping she might have gotten over her stupid infatuation by now."
Sirius shook his head. "Sorry but no, and according to Hermione she was fuming because you sent Del a massive bunch of flowers and a bottle of champagne to cheer her up, as well as her favorite chocolates."
"You were pretty bombed out when you asked me to arrange it, but it still annoyed the hell out of Kara," Harry said.
"Perhaps when she gets a Reductor Curse go through her, Justin might do the same for her," Sirius said, his voice full of amusement.
"Unlike Del, she'd probably take it to mean he was interested," Harry said, laughing.
"Don't even go there," Justin warned, before saying, "So how long until I get to go home?"
"Another week. You'll undo everything I've done if we move you sooner," Sirius warned his son. "And your organs have only just finished re-growing, so I'm not willing to risk it."
Aware an argument was probably about to brew, Justin disliking hospitals as much as Harry did, Harry decided to make himself scarce. "I'm off to do an inspection, but if you need anything tell a messenger I'm in room 4 while I'm over here, which is going to be for the next few days while you continue to recover."
"You're very welcome, Justin." Harry then got up, squeezed his friend's shoulder gently, and left the room, closing the door behind him, leaving father and son together.
Justin quickly began to feel drowsy again as Sirius fed a fresh dose of painkiller into his IV, before Sirius went next door to check on Hermione, who had been complaining of a headache.
"How are you feeling?"
"Better." Hermione sat up. "I think I got a little panicked by the whole bars on the windows and no access to the outside at all."
"Tell me something I don't know," Sirius said, sitting down on the edge of her bed. "If Harry hadn't assigned me to the medial unit to take my mind off it, I think I'd have gone nuts."
"He woke up, but I've knocked him out again as he'd still be in too much pain to cope."
"At least he's going to be okay thanks to you," Hermione said, reaching over to the cupboard at the side of the bed and holding out a glass to Sirius. "I'm afraid my headache might have put me off this, so wine?"
Sirius grinned and took a mouthful of Hermione's wine. "I haven't had anything nice since you visited four weeks ago."
"You can thank Harry for letting me bring everything but my wand and the kitchen sink into the hospital wing." Hermione had had to check her wand in before entering the wing, but she had been allowed to bring in wine, sweets, and chocolates, even though it was fairly obvious to Harry she was doing it for Sirius.
"This is one of mine," Sirius said, savoring the taste that he easily recognized.
"It is," Hermione confirmed, before yawning. "Sorry."
"Late night yesterday?"
"PBC is keeping me more than a little busy," Hermione said, "and yes, it was a late night. The two youngest girls were excited Remus was over."
"Modeling job in Milan."
"Still being a pain in the arse?"
Hermione nodded, her daughter having become almost unrecognizable from the sweet girl she had been since she had snapped up by a Muggle modeling agency fifteen months earlier. "Big time, and as much as it pains me to say it, we all had a much nicer time without her. It was definitely good to spend some quality time with Remus."
"Are you two back together?" Sirius asked, the way Hermione said it making him wonder.
"No, of course not!" Hermione said, wondering why Sirius would think that. "We're both seeing other people."
"Sorry, it's none of my business anyway. I'd better let you get some sleep." Sirius then leant in and kissed Hermione lightly, before standing up. "I should get back to Justin's room as I don't want to end up on report for bad behavior."
"Are you still valid for early parole?"
"According to Harry I am, so if all goes well, I'll be out by Christmas Eve, which I won't be if I linger in here drinking wine." Sirius drained the glass, winked at Hermione, and walked out.
August 15th 2022
Justin dashed into the bar where Del and Kara were eating lunch during Del's break from training that day, Kara on one of her rare days in the UK. Finishing college almost two years early, Del had applied for and won a place on an accelerated training course to become an Auror, Hermione having little say in Del's choice of career in spite of several arguments over it.
"Sorry to break this up, but there's a massive fight going on up the street, and the entire place has been warded."
"Death Eaters again, Sir,?" Del asked in alarm, dropping her half eaten sandwich to withdraw her wand.
"Yes, and so you're staying in here as you've no field combat training yet."
The word 'yet' came out half strangled as Del pushed Justin and Kara to the floor with some force, several spells having smashed through the window, although thanks to Del had sailed over their heads.
Kara went to pieces. "We're going to die. We're going to die."
"No, we're not," Del snapped at her sister. "Get under the table."
"Del, use whatever spells you need to," Justin called out in between firing back.
"Yes, Sir." Del knew a lot of spells she knew she had no right knowing, and she began to send a lot of decidedly Dark spells when it became clear they were going to be overrun.
Justin was impressed at how fluidly she moved, almost as fluidly as he did, and at the speed with which she made it across the room to help a brave member of staff who was trying to protect a group of women and children, who were cowering behind overturned tables. Kara also went scuttling across the room to join those hiding but instead of helping, she chose to hide with them.
With both Justin and Del using much Darker spells than the staff member, the tide eventually began to turn, although Justin ended up taking a glancing curse for Del when she had failed to notice it and neither of them had the right shield erected to deflect or absorb it. Then it was over almost as soon as it began, Aurors beginning to take back control, and the Death Eaters leaving, although leaving quite a mess and a slew of bodies in their wake.
"You're bleeding, Sir."
Justin noticed a cut on his arm was dripping quite profusely from the curse he had taken. "Can you cast a field dressing on it?"
Del did so, although it failed. "That should've worked. Is your hand the same, Sir?"
"No, it's already clotting."
A small pool of blood was already accumulating under Justin, and pale faced, Kara said, "You should go to the hospital to get that checked out, Justin. You don't look well."
Del decided her sister was right, and she spotted Tonks, who like a lot of others there, had been eating lunch. "Lieutenant Tonks, I'm taking Lieutenant Black to the hospital. Can you take over, please?"
Tonks looked to Justin, who was standing in a surprisingly large pool of blood from such a small cut, and she nodded. "I can. Dismissed, Trainee Lupin. You can return home after escorting Lieutenant Black to the hospital."
"I'm coming too," Kara said, her crush on Justin far from having died a death.
As Justin was shunted into an examining room, Kara turned to her sister. "Do you think he'll be okay? Should I have gone in with him?"
"He'll be fine," Del said, rolling her eyes at her sister's concern. "And he doesn't need you holding his hand."
"For heaven's sake, Kara, get a grip! I know the Muggle world thinks you're the best thing since sliced bread, but Justin doesn't, and, besides, he's way, way too old for you."
Kara reddened angrily. "He's experienced, not old, and you're just jealous because you're never going to get anyone now that you're an abnormal freak."
Del took a step backwards as if she had been slapped, her face pale, just as Harry stepped out of the examining room, his arm in a sling, having heard the conversation.
"You two, my office, now."
"I said now, Kara," Harry said, pointing up the corridor.
Pouting as she flounced along, Kara eventually reached Harry's office, dropping into a seat, although Del remained standing.
"This is informal, Del, so please sit down," Harry said as he closed the door.
Harry perched on the edge of his desk to face the two young women, his initial issues with Kara. "First of all, you're going to apologize to your sister."
"And mean it," Harry said, more than a little angry with Kara, who had grown even worse over time thanks to the adoration she had been receiving, her modeling career already making her famous in the Muggle world as Del had just pointed out.
"I'm sorry, Del."
"Actually, it's not," Harry said, addressing Kara. "What you said about your sister is way out of line. She's a natural werewolf, which is more normal than your father or I'm ever going to be, or perhaps you consider us abnormal freaks." Harry had been reminded of the Dursleys and their attitudes, and it had made Kara's comment about being a freak rankle probably more than it should have done.
Her face sullen, Kara responded, "No."
"Then don't ever let me catch you talking to her like that again. Do you understand?"
Harry then brought up his second issue. "And Del was correct when she said that Justin is too old for you. You're barely twenty and Justin is forty-two. That's a twenty two year difference."
"Dad's twenty years older than Mum, and so's Pops."
"Your mother's not dating Sirius."
"Yeah, but she still married Dad! So why can't I like Justin?"
"Because your mother was considerably more mature than I'm beginning to think you'll ever be," Harry said, well aware Kara considered herself quite sophisticated.
"I've kissed men almost the same age," Kara said, trying to prove Harry wrong.
"I'm certain Remus will be delighted to hear it," Harry said drily, before dismissing her. "You can go as I want to talk to Del, but please leave and don't go back to bother Justin. Do you understand?"
"Are you going to tell Dad?"
"Goodbye, Kara. Please close the door on the way out."
As Kara slammed the door, Harry decided to ease into the issue he had with Del. "I'm holding a discussion tonight about this attack, and I'd like for you to be there."
Harry could feel how pleased she was, but he knew that was about to change. "Yes. Justin said you did well but that you used some decidedly Dark Arts spells, and both he and I noticed your eyes aren't black, Del."
Del experienced a moment of panic and considered trying to bluff her way out of it, before she came clean, believing that she should be open with Harry. "I know. They stopped turning black ages ago."
"How long, Del?"
"I can't remember."
Harry had a sinking feeling about the situation, but even so he still hoped to be able to salvage it. "I need to see whether I can put you through withdrawal."
"Hand me your wand, Del. That's an order."
Del handed it over without complaint. "Here, Sir. Now what?"
"We wait in here." Harry locked and warded the main door, before doing the same to Justin's office door.
After two hours had gone by and Del showed no signs of stress, Harry gave her the wand back and could only come to one conclusion. "You've gone over the edge somehow and managed to embrace the Dark Arts, but someone should've noticed."
Del thought Harry had to be wrong, but she was curious as to Harry's comment. "Why?"
"Because you should've been paranoid and angry, so angry you could've killed someone, and that's hard to miss."
"Del, I tried to kill your parents when I went through it, so believe me I know what I'm talking about."
Shocked by Harry's confession and what it meant, Del quietly said, "You've embraced the Dark Arts?"
"I have," Harry said, his forehead puckering up as he tried to think of any time Del might have also done so but failing. "Didn't you ever feel so angry that you thought everyone was out to get you?"
Del thought back and was about to say no, when she recalled the only time she had ever felt like that. "I can only recall one time. I've never been rude to Mum ever, but for a few days before I was, I'd felt as though I couldn't do anything right, and that night I decided she was definitely picking on me and I called her a mean cow. She grounded me for two weeks and sent me to my room, and that's when I changed into a werewolf. But I felt okay again when I finally came round from my operation."
"You were unconscious," Harry said, cursing under his breath. "You couldn't take out your paranoia on anyone because of it."
"So you really think I've embraced them?"
"Yes, and I also believe that you changed because of the rage you were no doubt experiencing. It's probably why none of us could figure out how a dormant ability could suddenly come to the surface out of nowhere."
Del had one major concern. "Will I become evil?"
Harry laughed. "Not unless you consider me evil."
"There are..." Del went red and stopped.
"There are plenty of people here who consider me evil, I know," Harry said, his hearing making talk about him easy to pick up on. "And thank you for being discreet enough not to continue with your sentence as I've no wish to place you on punishment duties."
"I sometimes can't shut up," Del said, having done several stints in the cleaning area of BritAD thanks to her runaway mouth.
"You're getting better," Harry said, straightening up. "I think we should go talk to your father."
"So do I."
Remus listened as Harry told him what had happened. "Del, of all the girls you're the one I expected to show a little more sense."
"I know, and I'm sorry, Dad, but the first book I found, and I'm not making excuses, but when I touched it, it was as if I had to look inside."
Harry placed a hand on her shoulder. "This is my fault. I gave the girls free run of the library and I didn't think about the darker stuff in there. And I imagine the book Del chose on the Dark Arts had some sort of compulsion spell on it, and she wouldn't have known."
"I suppose it's neither here nor there as it's too late to do anything about it now, and she doesn't seem adversely affected."
"Probably because she's a Dark Creature now," Harry surmised. "And it could've been worse, it could've been Kara in there."
Remus read between the lines. "What's she done now?"
Harry told him, and Remus pinched his nose, a sure sign he was angry.
"If anyone had told me that being a father would be such a trial sometimes, I'd have become a Muggle priest! Do you know where she is?"
"She can wait, and it's not as if I can ground her," Remus said, his eldest daughter now living in New York in an apartment of her own, having refused to listen to either of her parents.
"There's a meeting set up for seven, so if you want to come by and have dinner first..."
"I will. Arya's doing her own thing tonight," Remus said, mentioning his on-off girlfriend.
"Then I'll see you both at five."
Harry nursed his scotch as he read the report of the attack: they had lost five Aurors, one Unspeakable, and twenty-two civilians. Dropping it on to the sofa beside him, he rubbed his eyes. "I don't think it's Darius Mortimer, I think it's Tom. If we rely on Del's vision of the attack on Sophia Longbottom, I'd say that by now Darius would still be no taller than Cammie Mortimer, and yet the man who led the attack fitted Darius' description except for being taller and older."
"But Justin killed Tom," Del said.
"We believe Cam somehow brought him back by bastardizing a spell that used Tom's father's bones, blood of an enemy, probably old blood of mine, and servant's flesh, although we've no idea what servant would have been barking enough to give up a sizeable chunk of flesh," Ron informed her.
Del snorted. "You can't think of anyone?"
Remus disagreed with his daughter. "Come on, Del, you can't honestly think Dru would have done it?"
"Dad, if Kara had been there and a Death Eater, I'd have said she'd have been capable of it, and while Kara's bat crap crazy sometimes, it's obvious Dru's twenty times crazier than Kara's ever been."
"She has a point," Harry said, agreeing with Del's hypothesis. "And until I learn differently, I'm going with the belief he's returned."
Tonks, however, thought differently. "I think that's what they want us to believe. Harry, think about it. Mortimer should have been doing her best to avoid detection in the graveyard and yet she appears there with enough men to cause alarm?"
Dudley also agreed. "And there was no purpose to the attack in Diagon Alley. It's now mostly restaurants, nothing more, with most business coming out of Winterville and Summerdown. The only business left at Diagon apart from food places is Gringotts."
Tonks continued. "And anyone could have pretended to be Tom. Dru had Auror rings in that bag she took when she ran away in case you've forgotten."
"You've raised a good point, but I'd still like to err on the side of caution," Harry decided, before changing the subject. "Remus, according to Justin, Del handled herself like a seasoned Auror today. Even though she's not one yet, nor is she qualified, I'd like to offer her full-time employment working for Justin and myself as an assistant of sorts, doing paperwork for us, research and the like, and for her to continue training while working on the job in order to qualify. Usually I'd ask for someone with a background as a fully qualified Auror but she's already proven herself not only in the area of research and out in the actual field, and she gels well with both Justin and myself."
"And you berated me for employing Emsie before she'd finished her training!" Justin said, but he winked at Del as he did. "I mean it's not as if Del finished top in the whole of the US for her chosen studies and twenty months early to boot."
Del grinned back at him, having done exactly that, but even so, she was tickled pink by Harry's offer. However, she thought it strange Harry had brought it up now. "Why are you telling Dad?"
"Because he knows that I was already think of asking you to work for me," Remus told his daughter.
Del pulled a face that told those in the room what she thought of that idea. "Dad, I love you, but really, can you imagine me giving up my training as an Auror to work in a dusty old bookstore?" She then noticed everyone grinning. "What's so funny?"
Remus pulled out a card from his pocket and tapped it, passing it to Del.
"Is this some sort of joke?"
"It's no joke. I'm Ignotus, and I was hoping to take you on at the bookstore as cover while you worked for me as an Unspeakable. You know how much your mother hates that you work for BritAD."
Although Del was surprised, she was also sensible. "I know she does, but I love what I do. And although the offer from you is flattering, I don't think I'm quite ready for that sort of responsibility yet, Dad, and, until I am, which I imagine will be some time away, I think I'd like to take Harry up on his offer to work for him and Justin." It was then that Del realized she had missed something. "Hold on. If you're telling me in front of everyone here, then they either know who you are..."
"Or we're all Unspeakables," Ron said, grinning as he did so.
"And although I'd originally considered bringing Kara onboard, her new lifestyle and friends makes her a liability."
Justin agreed with Remus. "To say nothing of the fact she doesn't have the temperament for it. She hid while Del stood side by side with me today to fight off our attackers."
"So, she's definitely out, which means I don't consider her capable of taking over from me when I retire or die, unlike you, Del."
Kara, however, was the last thing on Del's mind as she protested, "Dad, I don't want to hear about you dying!"
"Del, you need to hear this," Remus said, wanting to be upfront with his daughter. "Ignotus is usually a position passed from one family member to another, although I only succeeded to this position because Luna Lovegood felt unable to take it on after her own father died, and when Lucy took over from me it was because she was my number one at the time and you were far too young to be considered, although I once again took up reins after Lucy's death."
Justin gave Del a smile. "I'm Remus' number one now, but you get to choose who you work with, so nothing's set in stone."
"This is sort of a lot to take in, but since I'd like to get some experience first, and, although I do have questions, is it something I can put on hold?"
"It is, but you're going to need to swear an oath to keep this conversation secret," Remus said, handing her his wand.
The group then chatted generally about what it mean to be an Unspeakable, Del changing her mind by the end of the night about her decision, Remus offering to make her an Unspeakable but not to involve her in any fieldwork until she felt capable of dealing with it.