Hi, I'm back with this story. Hope you like my new chapter. Thanks for the reviews you left. Happy reading.
A Popped Bubble
Amelia Bones was working her way through the amounts of paperwork that were the documentation of the interrogations of the so called imperiused Death Eaters. She wanted to throw up, reading about some of the crimes they had committed. Not one of them had ever been forced to do the bidding of Voldemort. Not one had been under the imperius curse. She cursed Fudge and Bagnold for being corrupt morons. With letting the Death Eaters go without questioning them under veritaserum, they had enabled them to gather new money and live comfortable lives in most cases.
The people that were arrested now and awaiting trial next Tuesday for the first five, it would be a stressing and long day at court, mostly belonged to old pureblood lines that had amassed wealth over centuries. And you could say what you wanted about Lucius Malfoy, the man was great at conducting business. Now the interesting question was what would they do after the Death Eaters were convicted? The Pettigrew trial had set precedence for punishment. It was a good and fair solution.
They didn't risk that Voldemort could get his most loyal and powerful supporters back if he returned, which Harry and Sirius were quite sure of. Harry had seen Voldemort's spirit in his first year and that was enough for Amelia to be on guard. Of course Fudge would never agree with any actions taken to prepare the Ministry for a threat like that, he would stubbornly cling to the belief that Voldemort was dead.
But the group that had the goal to get Fudge out of office and someone competent into office was already preparing to oust him. They needed to make sure Fudge couldn't get out of his self-made mess. Really, the standards at the Ministry had fallen so far, any halfway competent dark Lord would be able to easily take over at the moment. It was a fact that scared her. She had fought against Voldemort's Death Eaters, she had lost family to those monsters and her niece was an orphan because of them.
She had done her best to prevent a war like the one back in the seventies from ever happening again. She had climbed to the top of the DMLE, but she knew that more should have been done. In the first years after Voldemort fell thanks to Harry Potter, they had been strong. Minister Bagnold had kept the funds high to catch the Death Eaters. Only to let those that had enough money go under the flimsy excuse of imperius curse. True, you couldn't detect the imperius; it was the reason the curse was such a terrible weapon in Voldemort's arsenal, but you couldn't lie under veritaserum.
Even Occlumency didn't work against the truth potion. Only if you had taken the antidote before you took the veritaserum you would be able to lie, but with the Death Eaters being in Ministry custody before their trials that wouldn't have been a problem. Sadly things had gone down after the Minister felt that they had got all the Death Eaters. Slowly Minister Bagnold had cut the funds for the DMLE and she had not got any new recruits for three years. The argument was that the force that existed was enough to guarantee order in the population.
Then more and more funds had been redirected and former aurors and hit-wizards were reassigned to new departments if they wanted to keep working for the Ministry. After all, why would they need such a force in peace times; that had been the argument Bagnold used to justify the cut in funds. While the regular magical law enforcers were not a problem and she could live with them being reduced in numbers, she didn't like the cuts with the aurors at all.
It had taken too long to answer the suddenly appearing threat of Voldemort in the past. You couldn't just give young graduates from Hogwarts a six week crash course and expect them to hold their own against trained dark wizards. It just didn't work. But Bagnold didn't listen to her complaints. Fudge was even worse. He had cut the already slim budget the DMLE got and gave the money to his toadies. The sad thing was that nobody was powerful enough to step in. Fudge had become Minister in 1990 because there simply was no one else who wanted the job.
She didn't have the ambition to be Minister, she liked her position. She felt she could do more good in law enforcement than in a mostly diplomatic position. If only that position didn't give Fudge the power over the funds. No, they needed somebody in the top position, who wouldn't hesitate to do a thorough clean up. As much as Rufus liked the idea of running for Minister, she knew he wouldn't be the best option. While he was a good head auror, and definitely would be better than Fudge, his methods weren't suited for the top position. He tended to talk a lot but didn't get done what he spoke of. No, he was better kept in the head auror position.
No, they needed somebody who had political sway, didn't take crap from anyone, had a family name to please the pureblood faction, but was open to the other parts of the magical society. He or she needed to be powerful to make clear that the new Minister would work from a position of strength and was willing to modernize the Ministry. She would bring up her thought at the next meeting. She needed the input of the others. She was not a Hufflepuff for nothing.
Dumbledore sat in his office waiting for Severus. He needed to discuss some things with his spy and it was better to speak in private than where the other teachers could listen. Things were not going his way and he needed to make sure that they didn't totally spiral out of his control. He needed to at least be able to influence Harry somewhat. And Severus could find out more during his lessons by using Legilimency. He got the magical signal that Severus had entered and was on the staircase.
"Come in, Severus." He called out.
He loved the connection he had with the castle. It made it look that he knew everything that was going on, even if he didn't. Some things, like Harry Potter's actions, were out of his sight, because the castle wouldn't spy on a founder's heir that had been made aware of his heir status. And Harry knew.
"Good evening, Headmaster. What did you want to talk about?" Snape asked.
"I wanted to ask you to find something out for me. I want you to subtly scan the thoughts of Harry Potter to find out what he is up to. His father has made it impossible for me to be alone with Harry; either Minerva or Sirius is to be with Harry in my presence. It is annoying, but I am sure it will pass with time. But I need to know what Harry is doing. As the portraits and ghosts won't report to me regarding heirs of the founders, you are my best chance to regain control over the boy. He needs to be carefully guided to be capable to fulfil his destiny once Voldemort returns." Dumbledore explained.
"It won't work, Headmaster." Snape said.
"Oh and why not?" He asked annoyed.
"The heir ring of house Black prevents mind attacks. And I am sure Black has Potter learning Occlumency already. I know this because I was friends with Regulus Black. He wore the ring during his time at Hogwarts. His parents had decided to give the ring to Regulus after Sirius was sorted into Gryffindor. The Blacks feared mind intrusion above everything else, therefore their heir ring protects the mind of the heir until he is capable of doing it himself." Snape answered.
Dumbledore frowned. He of course knew of the powers of heir rings. They were not to be underestimated. Normally there would only be shields against curses in most cases, but some families had other priorities. It would make sense for the Blacks to concentrate on mind magics as they trained their children in spells before they attended Hogwarts.
"That is really unfortunate. How strong are those protections?" He asked.
"From what Regulus said, I would need to use a full-powered Legilimens to penetrate the shield and that would alert Potter immediately. There is no way to do it subtly. And any full-powered Legilimens on a minor is a straight ticket to Azkaban." Snape informed him.
"Do you have any idea how we could obtain the information?"
"I could try Weasley or Granger. Perhaps he told them." Snape suggested.
"No, that would be a problem. Weasley is a pureblood, even if Arthur is not working for the Ministry anymore, he has many friends there, and Amelia Bones is one of them. At the moment they all concentrate their ire on Cornelius, but if she found out you attacked Weasley with Legilimency, she would act fast and arrest you. And I would imagine that Granger would notice the attack as it produces a headache. This needs to happen without anybody finding out." Dumbledore said frowning.
"As if Weasley would notice an intrusion." Snape scoffed.
"Probably not, but the symptoms could be interpreted. I don't want to risk pushing Harry further away and attacks on his friends would do that. If I learned one thing about the boy, it is that he is always ready to protect his friends. As you know I intended to use that for my plan to finally bring down Voldemort." Dumbledore reminded Snape.
"The boy is not capable of defeating the Dark Lord and you know it." Snape sneered.
Albus kept his thoughts for him. Severus didn't know the whole prophecy, only the first half.
"Try to think of something that could work, Severus. We need to get more information." Dumbledore said.
"Of course, Headmaster." Snape answered and left the office.
Vernon and Petunia Dursley sat in their living room in the evening. Dinner had just been finished, Dudley was at Smeltings and they were enjoying their evening as a normal couple.
"Ah, this is life, Petunia. None of those abnormal things happening as the freak is away. Dudley is at school with his friends and learning the things a strapping lad like him needs for his future. We have a peaceful evening like any normal couple after my day of work." Vernon said, drinking his tea.
"Yes, dear. And nobody will ever disturb our peace again. We won't take the freak back for the summer. Nobody can expect us to keep up with him after what he did to your sister." Petunia agreed.
"Damn right. We just won't go to the station to take him back. No matter what the old coot says. I still don't know who he thinks he is to be allowed to interfere with people's lives like he did with ours. We didn't want anything to do with that unnaturalness. We have done what we could. It's not like the freak is a helpless baby anymore. Let them deal with it, we have had enough." He stated.
"Yes. One other thing, I am a bit concerned about Dudley's grades on his midterm result paper. Do you think we should get him help to do better at school? I mean perhaps if he got another teacher to explain the things he didn't understand; it would be easier for him. I am sure he is smart; he just doesn't get the right support in his classes. I have heard that children learn differently. Perhaps Dudley just needs another method of teaching." She suggested.
"Nonsense, Petunia. Dudley is at an age where teenagers question everything around them. And teachers are at the top of that list. He will pull through and at the end of term you will see that everything is alright. Even if he doesn't get top marks, the only marks that will be really important will be his O-Levels and then the A-Levels. And he has time until then. Let him be a boy for now." Vernon diminished Petunia's concerns.
"You are probably right. I just want my baby to be successful at school."
"As every good mother would. But as you didn't have a brother growing up, you don't have the insight of differences between boys and girls at the age Dudley is at the moment." Vernon comforted her.
"How is the audit at Grunnings coming along?" Petunia asked changing the topic.
"They expect results at the end of February. But I don't expect anything bad coming out for me. I have always done my best for the company and got a nice bit of money for the deals I made for them." Vernon boasted.
Petunia smiled. She loved how normal their lives were without the freak that was unfortunately her nephew.
At the same time the board of Grunnings met at the office of the CEO. As a special guest Comte de Jarjais, the guardian of the underage majority owner of the company was present.
"Thanks to everybody for coming to this meeting tonight." Stewart Grunnings the CEO greeted the assembled men and women.
"The thorough audit that had been done for the whole of our company is nearly complete. We will go over all the departments and all of our personnel. But first, I want to introduce Comte de Jarjais to all of you. He is the guardian of our majority owner, who will remain anonymous regarding that he is still a minor."
The others nodded. Everybody had a name tag sitting in front of their seat so that they could address everybody by name. Mr Grunnings continued.
"I am pleased to say that barring the last tenth of analysing data, we have finished with the audit and that most of our departments have done great work. We have found some minor discrepancies but they mostly come from accounting mistakes. We will hold mandatory seminars for all our employees that will take about a week each to prevent those mistakes in the future."
Overall nodding was the response. It was logical to rectify a spotted problem that way.
"Now we come to the overview we did on our employees. There are some that are problems. Not many, but we will address them all. Within our 467 employees we have spotted five that have a serious problem with alcohol. They will be given a period of six months to get control over their addiction, otherwise they will have to go. We can't risk that they make mistakes in the production or in making contracts for our company. The names will be handled confidentially. Two others are addicted to drugs, they get the same ultimatum."
Again, the others nodded.
"Now we have one special case. He not only is a problem for the company, he also is guilty of child abuse and neglect and embezzlement of funds given to him for the welfare of said child." Grunnings said with a strained voice.
Disbelieving whisper was the answer to the accusation.
Sirius grinned. So they had found out what Dursley did to Harry. He had expected it as the goblins were masters in digging up dirt. He would lean back and enjoy the show.
"Whom are we talking about, Mr Grunnings?" Joan Coppers asked?
"Vernon Dursley. He and his wife Petunia, living at Number 4, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, were given custody of their nephew, Harry Potter, in November of 1981, following the death of James and Lily Potter. From what we found out, Dursley put the reason for them having to take care of the boy down as the parents dying in an alcohol induced car crash, while the boy survived.
"Petunia Dursley as the boy's maternal aunt was the closest living relative, so the placement was nothing out of the norm, even if there was tension between the two sisters. After all, every decent citizen would take in their orphaned nephew, even if he didn't like the parents that much. With the Dursley having a son only two months older, it was seen as a good placement by the authorities. A mother of another child would definitely be suited to raise a second child the same age."
The group agreed. It made sense.
"Sadly the animosity that Petunia Dursley had for her sister transferred to the child. The boy was seen as nothing more than a burden and was treated horribly. We found out that the child was only given the way larger cast offs of his cousin and didn't receive the necessary medical check-ups every child is entitled to. We have the records of all the doctors and hospitals in the area of Surrey and no doctor had a file on Harry Potter. Of course they didn't want to break their oath of silence, but they could tell us if there was a patient called Harry Potter.
"The only records we were able to find were those of the school nurse at the local primary school in Little Whinging. They show that Harry was there a lot of times when a group of other kids beat him up, including his cousin Dudley Dursley. As the school had been warned that Harry Potter was a delinquent by his guardians, they never really investigated the matter further, no matter what recommendations the school nurse made. We have got statements from the bank that Mr and Mrs Dursley were paid a monthly stipend of 150 pounds for the needs of Harry until the age of five, when he was entered at primary school the amount was increased to 300 pounds.
"That amount was never used for the needs of the boy, but witnesses at Privet Drive told that the Dursleys' son Dudley was spoiled with many presents. We have reason to believe they used the money meant for the care of their nephew on their son. The only thing we can't accuse them of is direct physical abuse by them, only their son was beating the boy. But as a minor, he can't be held accountable. We have statements from Harry Potter, who attends the same private school as Comte de Jarjais' adopted son that he was living in a cupboard under the stairs for ten years of his life until he got his acceptance letter for the private school." Mr Grunnings stated angrily.
What followed were shouts of outrage. How could anybody treat a child like that?
"More, they are definitely guilty of verbal abuse, calling the boy 'Freak' or 'Boy' instead of his given name. He reports periods of starvation at their hands and punishments of imprisonment for prolonged time. The last one going over two weeks in his room, while he was getting his food through a cat flap his uncle installed at the door, which also had many locks on it. The boy was only let out for short bathroom visits two times a day. Thankfully friends from his school rescued the boy after finding the lack of communication during that summer suspicious."
Everybody was appalled.
"How old was the boy when that happened?" Jason Ranloff asked.
"Eleven. He had returned from school for the summer and we don't know what triggered the event. The neighbours reported that there were bars installed at the window of the boy's room. The Dursleys told them they were to keep burglars put and that the rest of the bars would be delivered later on. They explained the lack of said bars later on with the company going bankrupt." Grunnings answered.
"And nobody did anything for the boy?" Ranloff wanted to know.
"No, the neighbours were led to believe the same as the school. And sadly they believed the Dursleys as they portrayed the perfect normal family on the outside. Now, I don't want that man to be employed by us any longer. I have already organized that all the things our investigations brought to light will be handed over to Scotland Yard." Grunnings ended his report.
"What will happen to the boy?" Coppers asked.
"He will move in with me and my son." Sirius said. "They are friends at school and I have no problem being guardian of both of them. Harry's parents were friends of mine when we were younger, so I feel that I owe them as much."
Many had relieved looks on their faces.
"How much will firing Dursley hurt his department?" Oliver Malloy asked.
"None at all. While he made some good deals for us, he is not well liked by his co-workers. The only reason we kept him was that he did his work properly. But by now we have trained up a replacement. Christopher Lang will take over the open spot." Timothy McNorton stated.
"That's good to know. Now we will go over the discrepancies we found. We have one employee that had embezzled fund from us, which will lead to her being fired and put on trial." Grunnings continued.
So, now the judgment of the Dursleys has started. Vernon will be fired and investigated by Scotland Yard. And the Ministry rebels will also soon make a decisicve move. Till next time.