Chapter 13: Wizengamot
As Harry remained in his Avada Kedavra-induced slumber the morning after he fired the green curse at his own face, the movers and shakers in the Wizarding world convened an emergency session of the Wizengamot to address the surprising and calamitous occurrences of the past several days. Dumbledore, newly reinstated as Chief Warlock, presided over the session; Amelia Bones, Director of the Department for Magical Law Enforcement, attended as acting Minister for Magic, though only a select few individuals knew that before the session started. It would be a Wizengamot for the ages, with Cornelius Fudge and other top officials revealed as Death Eaters, Ragnok's wish to attend and address the assembly, and the general fear and shock over what Voldemort had orchestrated in Diagon Alley.
Dumbledore arrived early to a chamber that was already filling with witches and wizards. Attendance for Wizengamot sessions was usually spotty at best, but due to the confluence of recent events and the Chief Warlock's emergency summons, it looked like just about every seat would be filled by the opening gavel at eight o'clock. As he ascended to the Chief Warlock's chair on the platform for top officials, his thoughts turned to Harry.
He had expected Harry to be angrier, and in many ways the disappointment he'd felt from Harry was worse than Harry going nuclear. Dumbledore would never truly understand how much damage he'd done to Harry's childhood, but he was starting to see how his single-mindedness and arrogance had cost a child his innocence. In his heart of hearts he still thought Harry had been too young for the knowledge of what he would have to do and what had resided in his scar, but he was coming to understand that Harry was selfless, brave, tough, and a host of other adjectives that largely negated his reservations.
The fact that Harry had shot a Killing Curse at his own face to rid the world of one more piece of Voldemort, while impulsive, was a testament to his courage. Dumbledore had been reasonably sure the Avada Kedavra would kill only Voldemort's soul fragment and not Harry as well, but not sure enough to actually carry out the act himself. It was cowardly, he knew, but what if he had killed Harry? Harry made it moot point, though, and Dumbledore expected him to wake later that day. Poppy had assured everyone he was perfectly healthy and just in some kind of magically-induced slumber as his core recharged.
The Chief Warlock's wandering thoughts returned to the room before him as two Aurors closed the main doors, signaling it was time for the session to begin. Amelia sat to his left in her usual chair; the Minister's chair to his right was conspicuously empty, and Dumbledore knew many in the room were curious about the Minister's whereabouts.
He rose from his chair and approached the podium; a hush fell over the gathered magicals. He gazed seriously at them over the top of his spectacles, hoping they were somewhat able to deal with the series of shocks that would be thrown at them today.
"My fellow Wizengamot members, I welcome you to our eleven thousand four hundred forty-fifth session, and our three hundred and twenty second emergency session. I am glad to see you all heeded the emergency summons and made it on time this morning. As you are well aware, we have suffered two shocking and, in the case of the latter, devastating attacks on our community by the wizard known as Lord Voldemort."
Cue the appropriate gasps, flinches, and "Oh mys!" Dumbledore really had to resist the urge to roll his eyes at the Wizengamot. He'd been preaching for years that fear of the name only increased fear of the thing itself, but very few people had listened to him. He could count on two hands those who could say the name without stuttering or pausing or looking around nervously as if Voldemort would appear just because his name was uttered.
"It can no longer be denied, as hard and as long as this government wanted to deny it, that the so-called Dark Lord has returned from whatever exile his spirit managed after Halloween 1981. And it can also no longer be denied that Harry Potter survived the Killing Curse that night not by fluke of fate, but instead by sheer will and destiny."
At the noises of consternation he heard coming from the more conservative members of the assembly—coincidentally the ones who probably secretly supported Voldemort, or at least his ideals—he held up his hand for silence once again.
"I will remind you that he has now faced this 'Dark Lord' six times and fought him to victory or draw every time. Not even I have stood against Voldemort so many times. But the issue here is not whether Harry Potter has deserved the animosity and the ugly way you have treated him during his time at Hogwarts—it is instead what we are going to do as a government and a society to stand against this canker sore, this evil rotting us from the inside. For if we do nothing, good men and women will die and magical Britain will fade away into tyranny, poverty, and desolation."
The ghost of Dumbledore's words trailed around the circular chamber as they all considered what he'd said. He hadn't planned any of it ahead of time, but it had the desired effect. They were all paying more attention now than they had been five minutes ago.
"Our first order of business is, in an indirect way, the empty seat you see before you. I relinquish the floor to Amelia Bones, Director of the Department for Magical Law Enforcement." He turned and, with a nod to Amelia, returned to his seat. He watched her back as she took a deep breath and adjusted her monocle. Then, she gripped the sides of the podium and stilled, staring at the assembly.
"It is with a heavy heart that I announce the deaths of fifty nine witches and wizards yesterday in the conflagration in Diagon Alley, with another seventy one injured. Take this moment of silence with me as we mourn the passing of too many of our loved ones, friends, and colleagues."
Silence spread across the chamber once again. Putting an actual number to the casualties Voldemort caused in the Alley should make even more of the Wizengamot realize this was no game anymore: Voldemort had struck the first major blow in this new war and it was up to them to respond.
Suddenly Amelia smacked the podium, which was amplified due to the area-of-effect Sonorous charm on it. The loud noise resounded startlingly through the chamber.
"I hope all of you in this room are beginning to realize exactly what Voldemort is and always has been," she all but growled. Now she was angry. Dumbledore just watched the faces around the room. "He is nothing but a terrorist," she said, paraphrasing what Harry had said the day before. "And how have we responded to this terrorist over the past year? We have enabled him to grow his forces, spread his terrible bigotry, and lay the opening salvo in what could be a long, bloody war. All because of our inaction!
"But no more! On this day, our apathy ends and our journey to a better, more tolerant world begins." She turned slightly toward the empty chair on Dumbledore's right. "And that journey begins with the vacant chair you see next to the Chief Warlock. You are all wondering where our esteemed Minister is, no doubt?"
She left the question hanging in the air for maximum effect. No one dared respond to the rhetorical question.
"Aurors, bring in the prisoners!" she called.
A door slammed opened from the side of the lowest riser, on the floor of the chamber. The implication was shocking enough that most of the Wizengamot stood to get a better look.
An Auror emerged from the door, followed closely by the heads of the government revealed as Death Eaters in the War Room: Yaxley, Rookwood, Thicknesse, and, finally, Fudge himself. The Minister's shackled and down-trodden appearance caused an immediate uproar across the chamber. People were shouting and pointing that did not know ahead of time this would happen, which was most of the chamber, so it was quite a crescendo of noise that erupted as a second Auror appeared after Fudge. All four prisoners were chained to each other and appeared to be silenced, since Yaxley at least was shouting but no noise was forthcoming.
"What is the meaning of this?" someone shouted above the rest. Dumbledore stood and moved next to Amelia—the whole session would devolve into complete chaos if he did not act.
"Silence!" he commanded, shooting off deep red sparks from his wand and letting loose some of his magic for all to feel. The noise was somewhat dampened and many returned to their seats, but the overall feeling in the chamber was still very restless and unsettled.
"Thank you, Chief Warlock. I had hoped our brothers and sisters would show a little more decorum, but I see my expectations were too high for even this lofty assembly," Amelia said, subtly appealing to their dignified, arrogant standings. "These four prisoners stand accused of high treason against the magical government of the United Kingdom; they are so accused because they all four harbor the Dark Mark on the insides of their left forearms, which signifies support of and service to Voldemort, the so-called Dark Lord, and the number one enemy of the state. Aligning oneself with him is sedition against this government, and the punishment for insurrection—the intent to start a war against one's own nation—is death by Killing Curse."
The Aurors sat the prisoners in the four chairs that had magically appeared in the center of the floor; magical chains snaked up and over their arms and legs, further binding and restricting them. Yaxley was red in the face and looked furious; Rookwood was emotionless; Thicknesse was crying; and Fudge was white as a sheet. One-by-one, an Auror ripped back their sleeves, exposing the Dark Marks for the chamber to see. The temperature in the room dropped a few degrees as everyone shuddered at the implication—if the highest level of the government was corrupted by Voldemort, what hope did they have?
Dumbledore thought they all had more than enough hope, considering what Harry and his friends had managed in the last several days, and they could potentially have a lot more after this session was over. For now, the trash had to be taken out; he was watching the assembled Wizengamot members closely, looking for any reaction that would suggest they were complicit with Voldemort as well. So far, if there were other Death Eaters in the crowd, they were hiding it well.
"Master Hobard, please come forward," Amelia called. From another door on the other side of the chamber, an older wizard entered wearing robes of deepest emerald. He was carrying four small vials. "Potions Master Hobard was selected by this government to provide Veritaserum for these four trials due to his long history of fairness and impartiality. Are there any objections to him administering and monitoring the Truth serum?"
"How do you know they don't have the counter agent in their systems?" someone asked.
Hobard stepped forward. "Due to the fact that they have been detained for longer than the counter agent could remain in their systems. I have been carefully monitoring and controlling their food for this purpose since they were arrested."
No one raised any more objections, so Hobard stepped forward and administered the serum to Yaxley after he was immobilized. After everyone could see the telltale glassy eyes, he was freed and un-silenced.
"Are you Jonathan Yaxley?" Amelia asked.
"Yes," came the monotone reply.
"You stand accused of conspiring against the magical government of the United Kingdom, taking the sign of the so-called Dark Lord Voldemort known as the Dark Mark, and attempting to incite insurrection against the homeland. Do you deny the presence of the Dark Mark on your left forearm?"
"No, I do not deny it."
"Were you marked by Voldemort willingly?"
"What did you have to do to take the Mark?"
"Torture and kill a Muggle family. I Crucioed the father until he choked on his own tongue, disemboweled the son, and raped both the mother and the daughter. When I finished with them, I put out their useless, sloppy existences with two Killing Curses."
There were some quiet noises of displeasure, but otherwise everyone was listening with rapt attention. Dumbledore ordinarily would not have wanted these prisoners executed—rather imprisoned—but hearing firsthand what Yaxley had done to "earn" his Dark Mark had silenced that voice in his head.
"Do you support Voldemort in his war against the current government of magical United Kingdom?"
"Why?" Amelia asked, and this was a tricky question. Sometimes even Veritaserum couldn't sort such a philosophical, existential query.
"We have allowed our traditions to be corrupted by the half-bloods, the Mudbloods, and the disgusting Muggles. They should be exterminated or made our slaves. Only Purebloods should have the right to wield magic and participate in our everyday life."
On a different day, that kind of rhetoric may have found some support in a chamber that was at least half-filled with Purebloods or those who supported the old ways; but there would be no such support for a confessed rapist and murderer.
Amelia turned her eyes from Yaxley toward the witches and wizards of the Wizengamot. "Members of the Wizengamot, please light your wand if, based on the evidence before you, Jonathan Yaxley should be convicted of treason and sentenced to death." Amelia and Dumbledore both raised and lit their wands, as did the vast majority of the members. Only two lit their wands for not guilty and only seven more abstained. Dumbledore knew it would be unfair to single out the two that had voted not guilty out for further scrutiny, but war was not fair. The DMLE would likely keep a close eye on them…
"Jonathan Yaxley, you have been found guilty of treason by an overwhelming majority. You are therefore sentenced to death for this highest of crimes. Executioner, please carry out the sentence."
A new man, dressed in white robes with a hood that obscured his face, entered the chamber from a side door; he drew his wand as he moved toward Yaxley. The serum was starting to wear off, though, and Yaxley was fighting at his bonds. He eyes turned from glassy to panicked. The white-robed executioner pointed his wand at Yaxley's face.
Dumbledore didn't think Yaxley would survive a Killing Curse to the face.
"No!" Yaxley shouted, fear causing his voice to crack pitifully.
"Avada Kedavra," the executioner intoned, emotionlessly. The green curse jumped the ten feet between them in no time at all. Yaxley slumped in the chair, his eyes open wide in the thousand-yard stare of death.
Fudge promptly retched all over himself.
The trials of Rookwood and Thicknesse proceeded in much the same way. Both took the Marks willingly and both had to torture and slaughter a Muggle family to earn them. That both men also admitted to raping the females in the family before killing them contributed to the developing pattern, which placed Muggles on the lowest part of the magical totem pole and Muggle women beneath even that. The sense of entitlement sickened Dumbledore, but he did his best to hide it. The executioner—Croaker, he knew, of the Department of Mysteries—loosed two more Killing Curses before the eyes of the chamber turned to the former (assumed former, anyway) Minister for Magic.
By this time, Fudge was a quivering, white-faced, puke-covered mess. The pompous man had regressed into exactly what the confessed Death Eaters had hated so much—a disgustingly "normal" human being with no dignity left whatsoever. Fudge was immobilized and the Truth Serum was administered for the fourth and final time.
"Are you Cornelius Oswald Fudge?" Amelia asked.
"Yes," Fudge replied, in the flat voice of someone on Veritaserum.
"You stand accused of conspiring against the magical government of the United Kingdom, taking the sign of the so-called Dark Lord Voldemort known as the Dark Mark, and attempting to incite insurrection against the homeland. That you did all of this while the Chief Executive Officer of our nation compounds the charges against you. Do you deny the presence of the Dark Mark on your left forearm?"
"Were you marked by Voldemort willingly?"
"What did you have to do to take the Mark?"
"Torture and kill a Muggle family. I used Severing charms to behead the mother and father, but the Dark Lord wanted me to 'savor' the children, so he told me to Crucio the three daughters until their voices broke. So I did. Then I was informed of the tradition of raping the Muggle females before killing them, so I raped the three daughters and killed them with Asphyxiation curses."
"And you did all of that willingly?" Amelia asked, her voice wavering slightly. Dumbledore couldn't believe Fudge of all people had it in him to commit such terrible acts. All this time he had believed the former Minister to be a pompous windbag, a man of inaction, and ultimately someone who had no true allegiance to anything except to money.
"Do you support Voldemort in his war against the current government of magical United Kingdom?"
"The Dark Lord promised me money and power—more money and more power than I already have as Minister for Magic. He also has the means and the ambition to root out the infestation of Mudbloods and Muggles, something which I have desired strongly since I was a child. We are a proud race and we should keep our traditions."
"Members of the Wizengamot, please light your wand if, based on the evidence before you, Cornelius Oswald Fudge should be convicted of treason and sentenced to death," Amelia said, calling for the fourth and final vote. Every single wand in the room was lit; Fudge clearly had no friends left in the Ministry.
"Cornelius Oswald Fudge, you have been found guilty of treason by an absolute majority. You are therefore stripped of your title as Minister for Magic and sentenced to death for this highest of crimes. Executioner, please carry out the sentence."
Surely, this day would go down in infamy. The Chief Executive of a nation was about to be executed for attempting to incite war against his own country—how many times had that happened throughout history? Dumbledore knew there were other occurrences, but nothing so blatant stuck out in his mind.
As Croaker raised his wand toward the now blubbering former Minister, Dumbledore heard Amelia mutter, "And may the gates of Hell swing wide upon your arrival."
The Killing Curse flashed from Croaker's wand. Fudge's soulless body crumpled forward, the restraints of the chair the only thing keeping him from falling to the floor.
"Aurors, please remove the bodies of the executed," Amelia called. All eyes watched in pure silence as the four Aurors removed the bindings and levitated the corpses, exiting the chamber with their burdens in tow. The bodies would be kept in stasis in Ministry holding cells until proper disposal was arranged.
"Thank you for your service on this blackest of days, Executioner. It is a sad day when we must call upon you."
Croaker bowed slightly toward Amelia before striding from the chamber. All that was left in his wake was a shell-shocked Wizengamot. They had just witnessed their first live executions since the height of the first war, and those executions had never been of highly-placed government officials, let alone the former Minister for Magic.
Amelia sat and Dumbledore once again stood before the podium.
"Now we face the task of finding a new Minister for Magic," Dumbledore started. "Nominations must be called and seconded, and once all nominations have been made, we will reconvene here tomorrow morning at the same time to cast our votes—"
"Albus Dumbledore!" someone called. "I nominate Albus Dumbledore!"
Funny how just a few days ago they were all willing to believe Dumbledore was a senile old man with an unhealthy interest in a teenaged boy… The man in question suppressed a wry smile and shook his head as noises of assent joined the two voices.
"I abstain from candidacy," Dumbledore announced. "Hogwarts is where my heart is, and I am too busy being the Chief Warlock and the Supreme Mugwump to be the Minister as well. Would that not be a conflict of interest anyway?"
"I nominate Amelia Bones," the Dowager Longbottom called, standing from her seat and looking around the chamber.
"Seconded," Dumbledore announced. There were calls of "thirded" and "fourthed" and so on, and soon there was a wave of support for Amelia swelling in the chamber. Dumbledore glanced back at her and she raised an eyebrow at him. This time he did not suppress the smug smile. He thought she would be nominated and as soon as he seconded her, he knew she would receive the lion's share of support, even if she was fairly liberal—socially, at least.
"Are there any other nominations?" Dumbledore asked. He expected several more people to either nominate others or themselves, but after thirty seconds of waiting, he thought he might be mistaken. Everyone was looking at each other now, as if silently asking who else should be nominated.
"Final call—are there any other nominations for Minister for Magic?"
Dumbledore waited for another thirty seconds with no response. "Then that makes my job easy," he said. "All in favor of Amelia Bones for Minister for Magic, light your wands."
Dumbledore lit his wand, as did the vast majority of the chamber. There were only nine that abstained from the vote.
"By the power vested in me as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot of the magical government of the United Kingdom, I hereby appoint Amelia Susan Bones to Minister for Magic, with the support of the clear majority of the Wizengamot. Amelia, do you swear to uphold the laws of the land?"
Amelia stood and faced Dumbledore.
"I do hereby swear to uphold the laws of the land."
"Do you swear to govern by the rights and responsibilities concomitant with the position of Minister for Magic?"
"I do hereby swear."
"May I present Minister for Magic, Amelia Susan Bones! Hear, hear!" Dumbledore called, standing back and letting Amelia take the podium once again. There were some cries of "Hear, hear!" around the chamber, and Amelia waited until they quieted down to make her first address as the Minister for Magic.
"Thank you. I am honored by your nomination and support in our time of need and I hope to overcome the aspersions cast upon this position by the former Minister." She raised the sleeves of her robe. "In my first act as Minister, I prove to you all that I am no Death Eater, nor could I ever be. Voldemort killed most of my family. If our national security was not already of utmost importance to me, you could rest assured this fight against Voldemort is personal as well. I ask you as Minister to consider your role in this coming war, and if you are at all unsure about it, I ask you to also consider your role in this august body. You all witnessed the executions of four confessed Death Eaters today, all of whom were seditious. Future traitors will be treated the same way."
Her stony glare was intensified by her monocle. Dumbledore loved the effect she had on the audience, some of whom were the crustiest wizards he'd ever met.
"In my second act as Minister, I am about to violate the tenets of this chamber, but it is now time to set aside the old ways—that fostered Voldemort's rise to power in the first place—and look to new traditions and fresh ways of thinking."
She turned her eyes toward the double doors two Aurors were still guarding. She nodded at them and they stepped aside.
"Witches and wizards of the Wizengamot, King Ragnok of the goblins has requested an audience with us on this day, and I, as Minister for Magic, grant him that audience. King Ragnok, you may enter!" Amelia called.
The double doors swung open and there stood King Ragnok, in his ceremonial mail, scarlet cape, black trousers, and long sword. His long black hair was in a tight pony tail and the ragged scar across his face stood out in all of its glory. He was escorted by four goblin elite guards.
There were some shouts and other noises of protest as the goblin King strode into the chamber accompanied by his guards, but Amelia and Dumbledore ignored them. Most were just watching Ragnok's entrance with wide, disbelieving eyes. The last time a goblin had entered this chamber was at the end of the of the most recent goblin-wizard war, about three hundred years earlier, for the signing of the treaty.
"Thank you, Minister," Ragnok said, in his lilting baritone. "And may I congratulate you on your new position and the swift justice exacted upon the traitors in your midst."
Amelia nodded her head slightly toward Ragnok. Dumbledore watched the byplay, internalizing every minute of it. What had Harry wrought by visiting Gringotts? How far would Ragnok go today?
"Thank you, Your Majesty," Amelia responded, using the honorific and eliciting more gasps from the crowd. "To what do we owe the pleasant surprise of your requested audience?"
Ragnok turned slightly from Amelia to address the chamber; in fact, he ended up turning a full circle by the time he was finished.
"Voldemort, also known as the Dark Lord, perpetrated an attack upon Diagon Alley the magnitude of which has not been seen in my lifetime or any of your lifetimes, or indeed in many generations of lifetimes. If it were not for the quick thinking, selflessness, and heroic courage of seven young witches and wizards, we would have been content to lock down our land and let the world burn, as it were.
"But no more. A wise young wizard—one Neville Longbottom—told me the time had come to make a stand, and that is what the goblins will do. Voldemort threatens our very way of life and everything we hold dear here in the United Kingdom. He despises non-human magical species more than humans without magic, which would surely mean our exile if he were to rule this country.
"To that end, the goblin nation will, from this day until the day Voldemort's spirit no longer lingers on this plane of existence, align itself in the war against him with Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore, and Amelia Bones."
Dumbledore raised a silent toast to Harry and Neville as the King and his four guards pulled their swords from their scabbards, kneeled, and looked up toward Amelia with the swords across their hearts. The two unsuspecting teens had just played the ultimate prank on the Wizarding world.