Harry's farm in Russia is in lovely condition. The house elf here – Glumpy – reminds me a bit of Dobby – keen and enthusiastic. He makes his hot chocolate with a splash of vodka.
Good to hear that Harry has settled back into Hogwarts. Remember not to panic if he doesn't call you on the mirror every night. You'll see him every Wednesday night for your duelling lessons.
Stay safe, Moony."
Bloody Moony, Sirius thought morosely.
He sighed. It wasn't Moony's fault that the estates needed visiting, and Sirius had agreed for Moony to go so it was all done and dusted before Halloween. They'd already put if off during the Summer so Remus had the chance to properly get to know Harry. But he knew from the daily missives Remus was sending him that his friend was concerned especially after Sirius's minor, very minor, breakdown on the train.
A man couldn't turn into a dog for a couple of hours without it becoming a big deal, mused Sirius grumpily.
Healer Allen had been more sanguine about the whole affair, noting that some backsliding was to be expected now Sirius's primary motivation for healing and keeping his emotions in check was removed from his immediate vicinity. In other words, Harry was back at Hogwarts.
Some of his malaise was simply missing his son; the evocation of similar feelings of grief and loss that reminded him of Azkaban. But Healer Allen had pointed out that Sirius had never had a chance to fully grieve for James and Lily; for the absence of Harry in his life for eleven long years. Without having to be a full time father figure for Harry, Sirius's mind and body were pushing him to finally acknowledge his pain.
But Sirius knew lurking underneath that was his fear about not being able to keep Harry safe now his son wasn't living with Sirius day in, day out. He knew some of that fear was rooted in his guilt over James and Lily; how he believed he had failed them in suggesting Peter. Some of it was rooted in his guilt over Harry's life with the Dursleys which would never have happened if he hadn't gone haring off after Peter. And a lot of it was rooted in his fear that no matter what his efforts the damned prophecy would come true anyway.
Sirius took a deep breath.
Fear about Harry's safety was rational. Allowing that fear to cripple him and prevent him from continuing with his plan to keep Harry safe was not – and it would be counterproductive. He had regular contact with Harry (and he was so relieved Harry was using the mirror every night despite feeling that it was more for his benefit than for Harry's); he would see him face to face every week for his duelling lesson.
He set aside Remus's note and forced himself to focus on the notes and reports he needed to read ahead of the Wizengamot session the next day. He only looked up when Penny knocked on the door and he realised his next meeting had probably arrived. He swore a little under his breath at forgetting to set an alarm especially given who had requested the meeting. He rose from his seat as she ushered in Nott.
Sirius covered the formal greetings, called Kreacher for refreshments, and motioned towards the seating area. "Lord Nott." Death Eater, his inner voice snarled. A Death Eater who he had a pact of neutrality with, he shot back silently before sheepishly realising that he was in effect arguing with himself. He motioned for Penny to leave; he had the sense that Nott wouldn't want the meeting recorded. He waited a moment as Kreacher delivered the drinks and cake; the elf shot a look at Sirius that told him he expected the cake to be eaten which presumably meant he and Dobby were conspiring about Sirius's loss of appetite.
Sirius repressed the urge to sigh and sat down in a chair with a languid elegance that belied his tension. "Your request was unexpected, Benjamin, I had rather thought that we had covered the salient points of this month's Wizengamot session at the meeting with Lucius, Stewart and Norman on Monday."
Apart from the détentes agreed, the others had all agreed to abstain in the vote on the Muggle Affairs report which recommended setting up the Department of Muggle Affairs.
Nott smiled at him and took a sip of his coffee. "So we did. This is not about the Wizengamot session but rather the matter of what took place at the World Cup."
Sirius arched an eyebrow. "I wasn't aware there was anything for us to discuss."
"Your Heir protected mine." Nott said simply.
Sirius had hoped that Nott would not press the matter over whether there was a life debt between the Houses. Although, he noted with wry amusement, Nott was recognising that there was a life debt between the Heir of the House of Black and the House of Nott, not between the Head of the House of Potter and the House of Nott; a subtle difference that highlighted Nott's politics.
"I can understand that the Potter alliance does not wish to argue the matter," Nott said smoothly, "and indeed given the oaths between those Houses of support and protection, there is even a convincing case that a life debt between them doesn't exist. I would guess the House of Zabini is probably of a similar mind since I'm certain an alliance of mutual aid and support will be announced tomorrow."
Only years of pranking enabled Sirius to keep the information off his face. The alliances with the neutral Houses would be announced at the session but he was damned if he was going to confirm it to Nott ahead of time.
Nott's lips twitched into a facsimile of a smile. "No such oaths exist between our Houses."
"Your son was there as a guest of the House of Black," Sirius began, "albeit through the Malfoy family line. It was no more than my Heir's duty to see to his safety."
"And I would counter that no such responsibility existed for the Head of the House of Potter." Nott rejoined.
Sirius was surprised Nott had countered with that. He'd hoped Nott's abhorrence to recognise Harry's Potter status had been a sign that he wouldn't be pushed into doing so.
"The Head of the House of Potter was the target of the attack." Sirius said firmly. "As he was the reason your Heir was endangered…"
"It is hardly the fault of the House of Potter that my Heir was endangered because someone attempted to kidnap Lord Potter." Nott interrupted. "The only one who endangered my Heir is the one who decided to attack; Lord Potter did nothing but defend my son. Regardless of your son's power, the shield he established and maintained could have caused magical exhaustion at risk to his life if the attack had lasted long enough; we both know it."
Sirius stared at him hard. Nott was determined to have the life debt acknowledged; that much was clear. The question was why?
He sipped his coffee, inhaling the rich aroma and letting the familiarity of it soothe him. "Let's say for a moment that as the Regent of the House of Potter, I was inclined to accept such a debt exists between the Houses, what would you propose as settlement?"
Nott sat back and brushed imaginary lint from his robes. "The Weasley Heir is in service to repay the life debt incurred in the saving of the Weasley girl. I would not consider a lesser proposition since I am certain that I value my only son as much as the Weasleys value their only daughter."
It was extremely difficult to keep his shock from showing. "You wish to swear your Heir into the service of the House of Potter?" Why, why, why would Nott want to do that?
"I'd prefer to swear him to the service of the House of Black but you made a valid point about the duty of a host." Nott said with a sly look over his cup.
Oh Merlin, Nott was good. Sirius had to admire the man's Slytherin talents. If questioned by his pureblood allies, Nott could legitimately claim he had been pushed by Sirius into accepting the debt was between Potter and Nott.
Sirius wanted to pace but pacing would give away his unease and so he reached instead for the Battenberg cake Kreacher had left. He took a bite and thought over Nott's insistence and his proposal.
Nott had declared a position of neutrality between the Houses of Black and Nott with the détente. It could argue with Voldemort when he returned that neither he nor his son could raise a wand against Harry or Sirius. But it wouldn't stop Voldemort from demanding Nott's son be Marked as Nott was himself; from demanding that in all other respects the House of Nott side with Voldemort. True neutrality was something that Voldemort would not countenance from a man branded as his follower.
But if Nott Junior was sworn to service in the House of Potter, he could not be sworn to the service of Voldemort. Theodore Nott would be placed firmly on the side of the Light. And done under the guise of the life debt and honour, it would make it hard for anyone to argue with.
Was Nott protecting his son from Voldemort?
It seemed unlikely yet Sirius couldn't shake the feeling he'd deduced Nott's motives correctly. And yet he couldn't also dismiss the possibility that Nott was using his opportunity to place his son as a spy close to Harry.
"Answer me something truthfully, Benjamin, and I might consider taking you seriously." Sirius said slowly and ignored how Nott stiffened almost imperceptibly at the challenge. "Why do you want this life debt acknowledged so much?"
"It's what Theodore wants." Nott said simply.
Sirius's eyebrows shot up.
Nott picked up his cup. "Theodore's politics are much more closely aligned to Lord Potter's than mine."
"Most Heads would be encouraging their Heirs to follow their agenda not a rival one." Sirius said carefully.
For a long moment, Nott remained silent, regarding Sirius intently.
"Do you remember Sebastian?" Nott asked eventually. "My brother's son? When Christian and his wife died of Dragon Pox, I took Sebastian in as my own and he was a wonderful Heir. Sebastian was perfect in every way; a wonderful boy. He was devoted to my agenda and a devoted supporter of the Heir of Slytherin. When Riddle needed a sacrifice for some wretched ritual, Sebastian offered himself. Eighteen years old and he died for the cause that I had indoctrinated him into believing." His dark eyes met Sirius's.
Sirius was at a loss how to respond.
"Riddle arranged my marriage to my ill-fated Sophia to compensate me for my loss, so I could replace one Heir with another as though he had sacrificed a puppy not a person; as though one human life was simply interchangeable with another." Nott continued in the same measured tone, his words lacking the bitter edge that Sirius might have expected to hear. "I cannot even regret his pitiful and monstrous thinking because otherwise I would not have Theo. This son I raised to think for himself; to question and challenge, and come to his own conclusions. I will not sacrifice another son to Thomas Marvolo Riddle especially one who does not want anything to do with him."
"I'm almost surprised that you still want anything to do with him yourself." Sirius murmured, absorbing Nott's strikingly honest confession.
Nott harrumphed. "I know your Grandfather taught you to take responsibility for the decisions you make. I made my decision and I will live with the consequences of it. Tom was once a very charismatic and powerful wizard and I was once young and foolish and swayed to his side with promises of something new and revolutionary. At the time he made me feel excited for the future, and not foolish at all but proud and powerful to be accepted to stand by his side." He raised his cup. "I'm certain the Heirs of the Potter alliance might have felt something similar when they decided to rashly declare their fealty to your son."
Sirius shot him a ferocious look. "I think there's rather a substantial difference myself."
"Your son has a very different vision for our world, and given the power at his disposal, one hopes a very different nature." Nott agreed calmly. He allowed a small smirk at Sirius's questioning glance. "He called the family magic of the entire Potter alliance," he raised a hand when Sirius went to deny it, "and please do not insult my intelligence. No alliance could have coordinated so perfectly; he did it alone." He rearranged his robes. "You didn't really think that it was our détente alone that brought Wilkes and Selwyn to your door? That prompts Gibbon and Adams to approach you now?"
No, he hadn't but it was disconcerting to realise the other Ancient and Noble Houses might know of Harry's affinity for family magic; his skin crawled with unease.
"We've drifted from the point." Sirius said evenly.
"Yes, we have." Nott murmured. His dark gaze met Sirius's once again. "Is it so hard to accept that you are not the only father who wants his son safe, Sirius?"
Sirius inwardly sighed and stuffed the remaining Battenberg in his mouth while he considered his answer. He set the plate aside and swallowed the last of his coffee. "As the Regent of the House of Potter, I'll accept the service of the Heir to the House of Nott for one year to actively begin at his graduation from Hogwarts. Until that time he will be considered to be in service to the House and will need to take an oath of loyalty as soon as it is possible for it to be arranged."
Nott allowed a look of relief to cross his features and bowed his head. "Thank you. I'll request a private meeting for our Heirs and ourselves next weekend at Hogwarts? I'm sure Albus will be happy to provide us with a room."
"Accepted." Primarily because it meant he could see Harry twice in a week.
They both stood up and Sirius sent a signal to Penny who immediately turned up at the study door to escort Nott out.
"Good day, Sirius."
"Good day, Benjamin." Sirius returned the formal farewell. He waited until Nott was almost out of the study before he spoke again without looking at the older wizard. "Nott, if your son ever betrays mine, I will not need my wand to kill you both; understood?"
Nott stopped and glanced back at him. "Arcturus would be proud of you, Sirius. He was right; you are a formidable Lord Black."
And with that he was gone.
Sirius wondered if he'd been complimented or insulted or both. He grumbled to himself as he checked the time and settled back at his desk. He continued to work through what was left of the afternoon, shooing Penny on her on her way around five o'clock. He barely touched the meal Kreacher delivered to him, picking at it absently as he went over his lesson plan for that evening. Finally, it was time to leave and Sirius headed for the Ministry to pick up his replacement assistant for the night.
He made it to the office of Amelia Bones without running into too many people and he was shown straight in by her secretary who seemed to have a problem with her eyelashes they were fluttering so much.
"Amelia!" Sirius smiled widely at the witch as he took her hand in the professional shake she preferred in the office.
"Sirius!" Amelia grinned at him. "You look well."
"Don't lie," Sirius remonstrated, "I look awful."
"Awful is relative, Sirius," Amelia said as she started to pack up, "and I assume the bags under your eyes are evidence of a few sleepless nights because of your first experience of empty nest syndrome?"
"I miss Harry madly." Sirius admitted. "And the new house doesn't feel right yet. How goes the tribunal preparation?" He asked, deliberately changing the subject.
Amelia gave a very unladylike snort. "It goes. We have the nominations in for who should sit; Gideon Baron is nominated by a land slide so he's definite. The other person…is surprisingly Daniel Greengrass although Malfoy came close. Travers continues to say nothing while the other three claim Imperius every time a guard speaks to them." She waved a hand to dismiss the topic. "Thank you for asking me along to substitute for Remus tonight, by the way."
Sirius's eyes took on a mischievous glint. "Brian's not upset I'm borrowing you, is he?"
Amelia shot him a warning look but answered anyway. "Brian thinks it's a splendid idea. I'm looking forward to duelling Harry."
He grinned. "He might surprise you."
She laughed heartily and ushered him out of her office, ignoring the jealous look cast her way by her secretary. "I'm looking forward to surprising Susan." There was a hint of evil in her grin as they made their way to the floo discussing the plan for the duelling lesson.
They arrived into Alastor Moody's floo. Moody was already there, wand poised as he cast detection spells on them before grunting and pointing at a piece of parchment.
Amelia rolled her eyes but pricked her thumb and placed her blood on the parchment. It immediately confirmed her identity. Sirius did the same before he turned and held his wand on Alastor.
"Your code word, Alastor?" Sirius demanded.
"Long John Silver." Moody replied gruffly with a nod of approval at Sirius's caution.
Amelia sighed. "I wish this wasn't necessary."
"Until we catch the prat with the improved Polyjuice, everyone's going through it." Moody said firmly. "Constant vigilance!"
"We should get to the Duelling training room." Sirius excused them before Moody could get going or Amelia got wound up by Moody's paranoia.
The Duelling training room was already filled with excited and chattering fourteen year olds. Pausing on the threshold, Sirius grimaced at the number realising all of the fourth year had turned out despite the duelling club not being mandatory.
"I thought you were a Gryffindor, Black." Amelia whispered in his ear and forcefully pushed him through the door.
Harry spotted him immediately and hurried over to give a small bow – Andromeda's etiquette lessons had been well pressed into his head. Sirius reached out to take hold of his shoulder, wrestling back the urge to hug him half to death with the internal promise he'd do it at the end of the lesson when they'd gotten rid of an audience. He drank in the sight of Harry; warm, alive and safe.
"Auntie?!" Susan's shriek cut through the babble and helped to silence the room as she bounded across for a hug from her Aunt.
"Well done, Susan," Sirius said loudly, "for introducing the stand-in for Professor Lupin for tonight's duelling lesson: Director of Magical Law Enforcement, Amelia Bones!"
There was a round of applause as Susan gazed in stunned bewilderment at her aunt who took a bow and grinned at the fourth years.
Sirius whistled and gained everyone's attention. "For those of you who don't know me, I'm Sirius Black. I've been told that you have to call me Professor." He made a face which had a few of them chuckling. "Right. So this is how it's going to work normally: there will be a practice session in the first half where we show you a spell and you practice casting it with speed and accuracy. Then in the second half, we'll invite those best performing to duel in a demonstration with the aim of using the spell they have been practising. For today though we're going to practice some simple duelling spells to see where everyone's level is at. Neville and Harry, you'll both work together because of our previous lessons – everyone else; find a partner." He quickly gave the instructions for the disarming and shielding spell – he and Amelia demonstrating both three times so that the kids got to see the wand actions in full.
He had Amelia check on the rest of the room while he taught Neville and Harry a freezing spell and got them to start practicing it on dummies in a corner of the room.
"Why do they get to do that?" Ernie MacMillan demanded furiously.
Sirius raised his eyebrow and banked his irritation with the memory of Minerva warning him to be patient with the students when he was teaching. "Because I've been teaching them over the Summer and I know they're well beyond disarming. Once I've assessed all your skill levels I can see which of you can move up. Why don't you show me how you're doing with the disarming?"
Ernie flushed but signalled his partner Justin. The pair demonstrated and Sirius corrected them both, telling them to continue practicing. He moved on.
Daphne Greengrass was soon sent to work with Neville and Harry, as was Millicent Bulstrode. Theodore Nott joined them along with Draco Malfoy. Sirius shook his head. He might have known that the Slytherins would be advanced. He sent Padma Patil, Anthony Goldstein and Michael Corner from the Ravenclaws; Amelia had sent Terry Boot and Hermione over along with Sally-Ann Perks and Susan Bones.
All the others needed substantial work.
Sirius spared a moment to go over to the advanced group and watched as Harry carefully instructed them, Neville helping him demonstrate. Clearly, Sirius thought with amusement as he took in the captivated students nodding as Harry spoke, he wasn't needed. Sirius moved back to the struggling students and was pleased to see how they all progressed in a short space of time with some constructive feedback.
Half an hour later, Sirius called a halt. He and Amelia quickly set up a duelling platform and seats for the students who would be only spectators.
"Right!" Sirius clapped his hands. "So duelling tonight is…Daphne Greengrass and Hermione Granger!"
The two girls both looked pleased at being chosen. They took to the dais. Amelia set up the shield dome as Sirius instructed them to keep it to non-harmful spells. The girls bowed to each other.
Sirius went to stand beside Harry. He was surprised to overhear Neville placing a bet on Hermione in a teasing exchange with Blaise. Sirius hid his smile and kept his eyes on the duelling students.
Hermione shot off an impedimenti jinx but Daphne spun away from it, and shot a disarming spell back at her. The Gryffindor girl dived to the floor to avoid it and shot ice at Daphne's feet encasing them in a solid block before she disarmed the surprised Slytherin who couldn't move away from it. Daphne accepted her defeat with a gracious handshake and Hermione bounded over to Harry with a grin.
Sirius winked at her. "Well done, Hermione!" He patted Neville on the shoulder. "You're up next! Terry Boot, you're his opponent!"
Neville smiled sheepishly and took to the dais with the Ravenclaw. Sirius could hear Blaise betting with Draco that Neville would win.
The duel was a good one; both boys were evenly matched and they managed to evade each other's spells for a good five minutes before Boot managed to catch a tiring Neville with a mild tickling hex and followed it up with a disarming spell.
But Neville clung onto his wand despite being sent backwards. He immediately responded with the freezing spell sending it surprisingly on target to Boot's wand arm, encasing it and his wand in ice.
The duel was over.
Neville grinned at Terry as Amelia removed the freezing charm. They shook hands with Terry clasping Neville's hand jokingly with his ice-cold one. Blaise was the first to congratulate Neville as he stepped off the stage.
Sirius turned to Harry. "Right, you're up next, Harry. You and…Amelia."
There was a surprised murmur but Harry simply nodded and took to the stage.
Neville unsurprisingly bet on Harry as Sirius raised the dome.
Harry bowed deeply to Amelia – a show of his respect for the Head of the DMLE. Amelia bowed back just as deeply.
It quickly became obvious the strategy that Harry had decided upon; he cast nothing but he moved. He spun, dived and leaped across the floor as effortlessly as though he was on his broom chasing the snitch.
Amelia wasn't static either. She moved trying to counter the dance he was doing; sending stunner after stunner after him.
She couldn't catch him.
After the first minute, the students were on their feet, shouting encouragement to both participants.
Sirius could feel his own heart pounding as he wondered if Harry would tire…if Amelia would get her shot on target…if, if, if….
Harry dodged another barrage of spells, turning away from one, turning away from another, turning away from a stunner, and suddenly…
"Expecto Patronum!" Harry yelled.
Prongs clattered onto the dais and went straight for Amelia.
She swore and jumped out of the way of the stampeding stag, straight into Harry's freezing spell that forced her to bring up her wand to deflect it…
And Harry disarmed her.
The crowd went wild.
Sirius took down the shielding dome as Harry handed back Amelia's wand. They shook hands as everyone clapped enthusiastically.
Prongs nudged Harry's shoulder and Harry patted his patronus before dismissing it.
Sirius whistled and got everyone's attention. "That's it for this week! Harry, stay behind a moment. Everyone else, you should get to your Common Rooms. Thank you all for coming and I hope to see you again next week!" He watched amused as Neville trooped out, chatting with Blaise and taking his winnings.
Hermione and Ron hovered for a moment at the door before Sirius shooed them out.
"Good use of tactics." Amelia complimented Harry. "I did not expect a patronus."
"Sirius once said to me he'd used it in duels before," Harry commented, "because it can take people off-guard."
"It certainly did that." Amelia gave a rueful smile. "That was a good duel. I enjoyed it and I expect a rematch the next time I stand-in."
Harry nodded, smiling.
Amelia motioned at Sirius. "I'll meet you at Alastor's floo?"
"Thanks, Amelia." Sirius said warmly.
He barely waited until Amelia had shut the door before he opened his arms and was thrilled to pieces when Harry didn't hesitate but immediately took the invitation and hugged him. For a long moment, Sirius revelled in having his son close before he took a deep breath.
"You were brilliant tonight." Sirius said, stepping back.
Harry grinned at him. "I think she underestimated me."
"Well, she won't make that mistake again." Sirius said dryly. He rocked back on his heels. "I do have something to tell you." He explained about Nott and the life debt. "What do you think?" He concluded.
"I agree." Harry confirmed. "Theo's pretty decent. He really doesn't agree with his father's agenda." He frowned. "What are we going to get him to do as his service?"
"We'll have that discussion nearer the time, I think." Sirius said. "There are plenty of things that would benefit from having another pair of hands."
"OK." Harry said, peering at him. "You look tired."
"Not used to the bed in the new house yet." Sirius said lightly, not wanting to worry Harry with his sleeplessness. He threw an arm around his son's shoulders and urged him toward the door. "Come on; I'll walk to your dorm. So, any pranking yet?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "Fred and George managed to prank the Gryffindor seventh years red and gold all through dinner on Monday."
"Ah, showing House loyalty!" Sirius said, grinning. "A wonderful thing!"
"They're planning to get them back." Harry commented with a shrug. "Angelina's already warned them if they put Fred and George out of action, she's not going to be pleased."
"Encouraging creativity! Excellent, she'll be a good Captain." Sirius joked. "And what about your lessons? How are they going?"
"They're going," Harry said lightly and shrugged, "I, uh, I'm finding the practical side easy. The essays they've assigned us are quite difficult though. What do you know of Chanker's Charm theory?"
They chatted absently as they walked, both confident of their direction after their years in the school. It seemed like no time at all before they were in front of the Fat Lady.
The Fat Lady bristled angry at the sight of Sirius. "YOU!"
Sirius shifted weight as he fidgeted at the sight of the irate portrait. "I've been found innocent! And…uh, may I offer my sincere apologies about, um, attacking your portrait last year? I wasn't quite in my right mind."
"You were never in your right mind, Sirius Black." The Fat Lady huffed. She glared at Harry. "He's not coming in even if you know the password."
"I should get back anyway." Sirius said.
Harry's face fell.
Sirius hugged him goodbye and for the first time questioned whether it was a good idea for them to see each other every week. It was going to be even harder to let go and step away.
It might be difficult but it was better to see Harry every week than not to see him. Sirius dropped a kiss on Harry's head and eased back.
"Nott's arranging with Albus for us to do the vow of loyalty at the weekend so I'll see you then." Sirius said.
"And you'll call me tomorrow?" pressed Harry. "I want to know what happens at the Wizengamot."
"I'll call you." Sirius promised. He ruffled Harry's hair. "Go on, inside."
The Fat Lady grudgingly allowed Harry in after making him whisper the password. Sirius waved a final time to him as he disappeared behind the portrait. He made his way slowly back to Alastor's office, feeling an all too familiar ache of loneliness again.
He found Alastor and Amelia sat drinking Firewhiskey and talking about the tribunals.
"Want to join us?" Alastor raised his flask.
Sirius shook his head. The mood he was in he'd start and not stop, Sirius thought morosely; his father had been the same way and he had no wish to tread that path. "I should get going. I have a stack of reading still to do for tomorrow."
It was a lie but a good one.
Amelia nodded and downed her drink. "I should get going too. Brian's expecting me for a late supper." She sighed. "And I have to 'fess up to being beaten by Harry."
"You've gotten slow behind a desk." Alastor informed her bluntly. "Time was you would never have been surprised by a fourteen year old."
"Thank you for helping to heal my wounded ego, Alastor." Amelia said dryly.
"That's Cutter's job." Alastor returned with a glint of mischief in his eye. "Mine's to keep you alive."
The words gave away Moody's sense of responsibility to every one of the Aurors and Hit Wizards he'd trained. Sirius felt comforted knowing Harry was being trained by Moody.
Amelia frowned suddenly and reached into her robes pulling out a communication mirror. "Bones."
"Director," it was Rufus who looked like the lion who'd just caught the antelope, "Rowle is singing like a songbird."
"You'd better call his solicitor on record." Amelia sighed heavily. "I'm on my way."
Sirius and Alastor said goodbye to her as she flooed back to the Ministry. Sirius didn't wait around; he said his own goodbye to Alastor and flooed to the Hogsmeade home they'd named The School House since they'd only ever use it when Harry was in school.
Dobby popped in immediately. "Dobby has Harry Potter's Paddy's supper waiting."
"I've eaten, Dobby, thank you."
"Kreacher informs Dobby that Paddy has not eaten." Dobby's ears flapped wildly. "Harry Potter beings upset if he learns his Paddy not eating."
Well, who said house elves couldn't throw guilt trips, Sirius mused as he was ushered to the table where a roast beef sandwich and a mug of tea awaited him.
"You will bes eating and then going to bed." Dobby instructed fiercely.
Sirius gave in and sat down. "So," he said to the hovering house elf, "do you want to hear about Master Harry Potter's fantastic duelling lesson?"
Dobby smiled widely and waggled his ears; he climbed into an empty dining chair and looked expectantly at Sirius. And Sirius began talking in between bites of sandwich, the loneliness eked away in the company of the happy elf.
Amelia wasn't happy.
Janice Mickle had both gone missing the day before. Mickle was an unmarried pureblood who had been reported missing by St Mungo's after she'd failed to attend a pre-natal check-up and they'd been unable to find her. Her mother had been hysterical when they'd told her but more about Mickle's unknown pregnancy than at her being missing in Amelia's opinion. The pregnant woman had been seen in the Market Place just off Diagon Alley around two o'clock but nothing after that.
The speedy report of Mickle's absence was thanks to the cover story that Amelia and the War Council had worked out; namely a warning issued through the Healer community that a muggle serial killer was known to be targeting pregnant women and for them to pass the warning along to all expectant parents and report any unusual absences immediately to the Aurors. It had been an attempt to prevent any pregnant witches from being harmed by Riddle but clearly it had failed.
Amelia sighed and placed the report down. She looked up at Bertie and Rufus sat across the desk from her. "Your thoughts?"
"In the normal scheme of things, I would be inclined to think it the usual missing person situation given the girl's situation; pregnant by a muggle, unmarried, and her family likely to hit the roof when she confessed all." Rufus grimaced. "However, with the intelligence we have of this ritual Riddle could be doing…I think it's likely Mickle is dead by now."
"We can't assume that." Amelia said sharply at his bluntness. "And her mother is certainly not going to accept that for an answer."
Rufus nodded and gestured across her desk. "I suggest we follow protocol as we would normally. Hand it over to an Auror team; have them investigate."
"We'll have to inform them that there is no muggle serial killer." Amelia murmured. But she knew Rufus was right. "Bertie…"
"There is a small chance he's kept her alive." Bertie conceded, looking grim. "She fits his mother's profile almost perfectly; a pureblood witch of little status pregnant with a muggle man's child. He clearly thinks it's important within the ritual enough that he targeted her specifically rather than any other witch. He needs the amniotic fluid and if he needs more of it at some point, he may feel it would be better to impregnate a hostage rather than trying to find another pregnant woman with the same profile."
Amelia shuddered in distaste and horror. She sighed. "Rufus hand the case over to two of your experienced Aurors, Shacklebolt would be good – he'd got a decent head on his shoulders. Tell them we think Pettigrew could be involved in this thanks to some anonymous information."
Rufus nodded. He got to his feet and left the room.
Amelia slumped back in her chair. She folded her hands over her stomach, her eyes on the abandoned report. "I'm not sure if I should be rooting for Mickle to be alive or dead."
"Alive." Bertie said gently. "Perhaps she will suffer a great deal at Riddle's hands or his followers. It is all too likely that she has already lost the child she carried. But she can be healed of her wounds and her trauma in time if she lives."
"If." Amelia wasn't so certain of Bertie's assertion that healing was possible. How did someone heal from losing their child, abduction and potentially torture? Her compassionate soul couldn't help but feel for Mickle.
A knock on the door had Amelia straightening and calling 'enter' half-heartedly.
Her secretary looked in with a frown. "Amelia, Percy Weasley is asking if you have five minutes to discuss the tournament security?"
Bertie got to his feet and waved away Amelia's protest before she even got started. "I have to find where I've put my Wizengamot robes. I'll see you at the session."
Ameila nodded at her secretary. "Send Weasley in."
Percy Weasley walked in with a layer of nerves visible under his show of confidence. He took the seat she offered with an insincere apology for disturbing her. She knew from the office scuttlebutt that he was a good worker but rumour had it that his lips were firmly attached to Crouch's arse and he had none of Arthur's likeability. The news that he had worked the day after the World Cup rather than spend time with his injured family hadn't done him any favours.
"What's this about?" She took the parchment he brandished with a raised eyebrow, put on her monocle and read it with an increasing sense of disbelief. "Which moron decided this was a good idea?"
Percy winced. "I believe Mister Bagman was initially responsible for the idea but all parties were consulted before it was agreed during the final negotiations this Summer."
She was so hexing Bagman the next time she saw him, Amelia considered furiously as she reread the parchment. The Goblet of Fire would be removed from its secure vault in the DOM and displayed in the Ministry atrium before it would be delivered to Hogwarts for the Initiation ceremony which would then begin the twenty-four hours when contestants could enter.
Bugger, bugger, bugger.
"As you know Mister Crouch has been on sick leave since the World Cup. He sent me the parchment as he had some concerns about the security that Mister Bagman has been put in place…" Percy began officiously.
"Namely that Bagman hasn't put any security in place." Amelia commented dryly. Well, at least Barty was on the ball about something despite his Wizard's flu lingering like the smell of rancid fish.
"That would be the problem that Mister Crouch has identified." Percy admitted. "His proposal is included." He pointed at the parchment.
Amelia nodded absently as she reread the section. Barty's suggestions were good; an escort of Aurors at all times while the Goblet was in the Ministry, the Goblet placed in a glass case for the showing to ensure it couldn't be tampered with, and for him to personally take the Goblet to Hogwarts rather than Bagman.
"Leave it with me." Amelia said. She'd have to confer with Rufus and probably the War Council for a wider view. The whole thing seemed to be a disaster waiting to happen in Amelia's book. They were trying to prevent situations where the Goblet could be interfered with and a public display was the exact opposite of what they were trying to achieve.
Percy didn't seem to get the hint. He fidgeted in his chair. "Mister Crouch asked for an immediate response."
"If Barty wants an immediate response he can come back to work and arrange things himself." Amelia said brusquely. "I have a Wizengamot session and four tribunals to prepare for. Inform Barty he'll be informed of the security arrangements once I've had the chance to work them out with the relevant parties. Understood, Mister Weasley?"
Percy nodded quickly.
"You're dismissed." Amelia stated bluntly. She shook her head at the departing figure of the young man and wondered whether she should have a word with Arthur. In her opinion the Head of the Weasley family was finally getting the acknowledgement he deserved and he didn't need one of his sons messing that up by being a priggish arse.
Her secretary gave her a ten minute warning for the beginning of the Wizengamot and Amelia quickly shrugged into her robes and gathered her files. She made it into the chamber with time to spare and spent a few moments exchanging pleasantries with Arthur while inwardly wondering how to bring up the matter of Percy to him. It didn't surprise her to see Sirius enter with Cornelius; it was a show of strength on Sirius's part, Amelia mused, the visible indicator of who was the power behind the Minister. Cornelius didn't view it that way; he positive preened in the reflected power and glory of Lord Black.
Sirius gave her and Arthur a warm smile of acknowledgement as he crossed the floor. He took the stairs to his seat and Amelia watched as not just the Ancient and Noble Houses but all of the Houses who held Wizengamot seats rose as a mark of respect for him, only sitting when he was seated. She almost laughed at Dumbledore's surprised expression as the Chief Warlock called for order and the chamber to be sealed. Clearly the old wizard hadn't surmised that one of the implications of Sirius's and Cornelius's power play against Voldemort in the Wizengamot would be a rise in power and status for the incumbent Lord Black, the regent of the House of Potter.
Amelia shook her head and tried to get comfortable. It was going to be a long session.
The clerk Dullard got to his feet and cleared his throat as he got to the first item on the agenda and announced Lord Black. The alliance with Zabini wasn't a surprise; Amelia noted Nora, who looked a million galleons in new dress robes purposely designed for the cover of the Daily Prophet, was smugly assured in her response to confirm the alliance. She no doubt considered it a step towards getting Sirius into bed or into marriage whichever came first. Amelia figured Sirius was too focused on Harry and the situation with Voldemort to consider any kind of romantic liaison and that Nora was likely to be very disappointed. The Black détentes with Gibbon, Selwyn and Wilkes raised eyebrows and Amelia kept her eyes pinned to the Minor Houses of the pureblood alliance; she anticipated most would be signed up by the October session.
Dullard moved on; Bunting's proxy was named, Longbottom announced a similar mutual aid and support alliance with Zabini; Livingstone formally announced his Heir…and finally, it was back to Sirius but this time in his role as the regent of the House of Potter.
Sirius rose from his seat and smiled sharply. ""The House of Potter is pleased to announce the addition of the following members to the Potter political alliance; the Ancient and Noble Houses of Cavendish, Greengrass, Goldstein, Rickett, Smith, and including the House of Zabini and the Order Houses of Ample, Belby, Brocklehurst, Bunting, Carter, Davidson, Farley, Higgs, Livingstone, MacNeill, Samson, Toke, and Warren."
Amelia looked around as the rest of the Potter alliance rose, as the new alliance members stood up to be counted, as the Heirs of age and present made their way to the floor.
"Who speaks for these Houses?" Sirius asked.
Daniel Greengrass straightened his shoulders. "I, the Head of the House of Greengrass, speak for these Houses."
"Who speaks for these Heirs?" Sirius asked.
It was twenty-two year old Simon Cavendish who took the step forward as the eldest of the Heirs present. "I, the Heir of the House of Cavendish, speak for the Heirs." His blue eyes seemed calm and his voice assured.
The vows began and once again, the magic stirring in the air disconcerted Amelia. She had assumed Harry's presence and the presence of the totems of his family magic had been the cause the last time. But as the vows progressed to Sirius's vow of acceptance, the air was thick with magic once more.
"I, Sirius Orion Black, Regent and son of the House of Potter, Head of the House of Black, accept your oath of allegiance on behalf of Harry James Potter, Head of the House of Potter, Heir of the House of Black, and offer to you the protection and sanctuary of the House of Potter, his wand and his magic in your defence, to lead you with fairness and honour. So have I sworn; so mote it be."
A griffin's cry screamed through the air and there was a rush of wind across the chamber causing more than one member to shriek. Amelia wasn't entirely surprised to see the Potter griffin and the Black snake take form, sitting in the Potter chair as though they were both meant to be there.
An instant later, the rest of the totems of the Ancient and Noble Houses in the alliance coalesced next to the Heads of the Houses.
Sirius seemed unperturbed even if Amelia liked to think she knew him better than to accept his lack of reaction at face value. He continued onwards as if nothing of note was taking place, turning to take the Heir oaths. Amelia glanced at Cavendish and wondered whether the Heirs would also swear fealty. She didn't have to wait long to find out as Cavendish gave a cheeky grin but answered in the usual manner rather than following Neville Longbottom's reply.
Sirius nodded gravely, not visibly disappointed at any rate, and made the vow of acceptance with solemnity. The totems responded again with a fierce cry of approval and disappeared except the griffin which waited to exchange a mutual bow of heads with Sirius before dissipating like a golden mist.
Amelia wasn't surprised as the Wizengamot descended into chaos again. She looked up to her younger brother and Richard gave a shaky nod. Their discussion after the August session echoed in Amelia's head…
"It was the strangest feeling – just this rush and a stream of power like nothing you've ever felt." Richard said. "And suddenly, Whiskers was just there!"
Whiskers was the fond name for the silver cat who was the totem of the Bones family magic. Their ancestor Elijah Bones, had been an animagus – a cat animagus. Whiskers was thought to be a manifestation of Elijah's form.
"You didn't call him?" asked Amelia, trying to understand what had happened.
"I definitely didn't call him! And I know for a fact that Leonard didn't call the Abbott's Golden Retriever." Richard gestured impatiently. "It was Harry! They responded to him! And Amelia…" his eyes met hers with a worry he couldn't keep hidden, "I couldn't have taken Whiskers back. There was a definite sense that he wouldn't have come if I tried."
Amelia frowned heavily. That was worrying.
"It's almost…" Richard murmured before shaking his head and trying to laugh, "well, it's stupid really, but it felt almost like Whiskers was telling me he wasn't mine, ours I mean."
"I'm not sure I understand." Amelia said.
Richard looked at her worriedly. "It was like Whiskers was trying to tell me that the family magic isn't ours but Harry's; it all belongs to him. We can just borrow it because of the blood relationship of those wizards who created the magic in the first place." He sighed heavily and flapped his hand at her. "Ignore me. Maybe it's just…it should have been Edgar taking the vow; maybe that's why Whiskers didn't feel like mine."
Amelia placed an arm around her younger brother comfortingly. "Edgar would have been proud of you, Richard; I know I am."
Dullard called for order loudly yanking Amelia back to the present, but it was the Chief Warlock who finally regained silence enough to acknowledge the additional alliance members formally.
The Potter alliance sat down but Sirius remained standing.
"There is one other piece of business; the House of Potter has agreed that the House of Nott owes it a life debt for Harry James Potter, Head of the House of Potter, protecting the life of Theodore Sebastian Nott, Heir of the House of Nott, during the events following the Quidditch World Cup." He shifted his weight, his gaze running around the chamber as a rustle of whispers swept over the public tier.
Amelia noted that Benjamin Nott was carefully ignoring the glares from other pureblood Houses.
"While the majority of the Houses involved in the attack on the Potter alliance tent were covered by various oaths between them negating any life debt from being incurred, no such oath exists between the House of Potter and the House of Nott." Sirius stated firmly. "It has therefore been agreed that Theodore Sebastian Nott, Heir of the House of Nott, will begin service to the House of Potter for one year following his graduation from Hogwarts, and until such time, he will be considered within service to the House of Potter and under its protection."
The whispers became a raucous babble as people began commenting excitedly to their neighbours; Nott had just effectively allied his son to the Light.
Dumbledore called for order. His blue twinkling eyes sought out Nott who rose to his feet. "You can confirm this, Benjamin?"
"I can," Benjamin said evenly, "the Heir of Nott is now in service to the House of Potter to satisfy our honour in acknowledgement for the life debt incurred between us."
Clever, clever Benjamin, Amelia mused with reluctant admiration. There was no way he could have allied with the House of Potter or Black without fully renouncing his position with Voldemort but this was better, allowing him to continue to profess his service to Riddle while his son remained protected.
"The service is so acknowledged by this Wizengamot." Dumbledore said cheerfully in direct contrast to the grumpy faces on the likes of Wilkes and Selwyn.
Sirius nodded sharply and sat down.
The legislative session moved forward briskly. The allocation of the new budget was discussed again and amendments approved. Amelia breathed a sigh of relief as her request for additional aurors was rubber stamped. She had the headache of recruitment and training to go but the extra bodies was a good thing. It seemed like no time at all before the Muggle Affairs report was being presented by Arthur.
The red-headed patriarch of the Weasley House stood up and Amelia sensed a new confidence about him. Being attacked at the World Cup had roused his inner Gryffindor, she realised.
"You've all seen the report so I will not repeat it verbatim," Arthur began, "rather I will focus on the main findings." He cast a look around the chamber. "Finding One: the muggles' technology is well advanced from our records. Three technologies in particular are a threat to us. The first is this…" he waved his wand and a projected image filled the floor of the chamber.
A small box with a lens appeared.
"Camera technology is something we share with the muggles but theirs has taken a different route to our own." Arthur said. "This camera records events constantly allowing them to be replayed in actual time at a later date. Many of these cameras are affixed to muggle streets especially in areas such as shopping precincts, for example. Imagine if you will that a wizard performs magic on a muggle in a muggle street at night. A team of our Aurors appear out of nowhere to deal with the situation, obliviate the muggle but do not see or understand the threat of the hidden camera and leave it. Unfortunately, the entire thing is caught on camera and replayed, so breaking the Statute of Secrecy."
Whispers filled the chamber.
"Here is our second threat."
It was a box with a thin board attached that had blocks with the alphabet written on them like an old muggle typewriter. Amelia frowned as she recalled the device from Arthur's report.
"This is a computer. It is linked via muggle communication technology to all other computers with a simple command." Arthur continued. "Simultaneous communication with something they call the World Wide Web. Pictures may be uploaded and viewed all across the world. Imagine that a picture of the night I have just described is uploaded onto this device and shared? Not only would our world be revealed here in Britain but all across the globe. The muggles believe this technology will only increase in popularity and improve."
The projection changed to one of a long pointed device.
"This is a missile. It carries with it an explosive bomb known as a nuclear weapon." Arthur explained solemnly. "It can be fired from land in one country, or from a muggle flying machine, targeting another country with specific coordinates. On exploding, it will destroy all life in the impact zone." He straightened. "The muggles have already used this on themselves during their last World War. They killed over a hundred thousand of their own kind."
There was a stunned and appalled silence.
"We have no defence against this weapon or against many of the other weapons they have developed or the other technologies that I have shared with you." Arthur said. "That must change. We must protect the Statute of Secrecy and find a way to defend ourselves against the muggle technology." He dismissed the projection. "To that end, the Muggle Affairs Committee is proposing a new Department of Muggle Affairs. It will have three main objectives: firstly, to establish better relations with the muggle government to ensure their scientific and technological knowledge is shared; that they work with us in protecting our secret. Secondly, a Muggle Research Department will be set-up jointly with the Department of Mysteries to document muggle technology and find ways to counter it. And thirdly, a Muggle Law Enforcement Task Force is to be set-up in conjunction with the DMLE to focus on dealing with all aspects of muggle and wizard policing issues including the misuse of muggle artefacts. The budget projections for the next year are in your reports including start-up costs. I seek permission today to progress in the set-up of the Department."
Cornelius sprang to his feet. "The proposal has the support of the Ministry."
Bertie rose from his chair. "And the Department of Mysteries."
Amelia got up. "And the DMLE."
Dumbledore nodded sagely. "Thank you. Shall we open the floor to opinions before we take a vote?"
Sirius immediately held up his wand and was instantly recognised.
"No matter what the detail of our political agendas may be, one thing is consistent across this entire chamber; our want and need to protect our children." Sirius began. "Whether we think of muggles as inferior or simply different, we cannot deny that they have advanced in technology and we have failed to keep pace with them. They pose a threat to the secret of our world, and if they discover us in the worst possible way, they have the ability to destroy us totally. We need a closer relationship with the muggles if we're ever to catch up and understand their science and how we can counter it with our magic; we need a closer relationship with them to ensure the safety our world, our children. We need this new Department."
He paused to send another gaze sweeping around the chamber.
Amelia's lips twitched as she watched him wordlessly captivate every single person there.
Sirius sat down.
"Any further contributions to the debate?" Dumbledore asked.
Nobody signalled to say anything. The lack of debate was a thunderous acknowledgement of Sirius's political and personal power that he had silenced the harshest critic before they'd had the chance to speak; that every corner of the political spectrum bowed to his argument.
Dumbledore's thin white eyebrows rose in surprise. "Then we shall vote."
The Department was soon officially given the seal of approval.
Cornelius rose. "Thank you all. I appoint Arthur Weasley as the Head of the new Department of Muggle Affairs and…"
Simon Wenlock stood up. He was a known member of the pureblood alliance but his father had fled to the Continent rather than be Marked by Voldemort. He was not tagged as a Death Eater. Amelia wondered if he could be the elusive suspect that was tormenting Harry.
Wenlock's dark eyes scoured the chamber and settled derisively on Arthur. "We are all agreed that this new Department is of vital importance to our security. Are we prepared to risk that by giving its leadership to a wizard who is known for his love of muggles?"
The chamber erupted.
Most of the Houses on the Light side were up on its feet yelling at Wenlock, others in the pureblood alliance followed Wenlock into an exchange of insults…Amelia noted Malfoy was carefully taking note of who was allowing their allegiances to be revealed in such a foolhardy move…
Sirius remained seated and unspoken; he was observing the drama with interest but not taking part in it. He really had grown up, Amelia thought. The stories of his time as a Hit Wizard often spoke of someone hot-headed and reckless.
Eventually, Dumbledore had to create a small bang to regain order.
"Please!" Dumbledore said forcefully. "We are all adults here! I should not have to step in as though I was standing in the Great Hall at Hogwarts and faced with unruly children."
The sharp words were a mark of how annoyed Dumbledore was; it took a lot to irritate him.
Cornelius stood up. "With the permission of the Chief Warlock, I believe I have the right of reply to Lord Wenlock's objection?"
Cornelius threw Wenlock a disgusted look. "It is the Minister's prerogative to assign the Heads of Department. Arthur Weasley is one of the most honourable men it has been my pleasure to work with. He has led the Committee which produced the recommendation for the Department and has the most knowledge of the issues and concerns. He has also begun to build relationships with our muggle counterparts and is well liked by them. He has remained steadfast despite being the target of hatred and violence. No-one should question his integrity!"
"You may trust him but I do not!" Wenlock argued back. "His insistence on loving muggles will doom us! If you show such poor judgement in your appointments, perhaps it is time the Wizengamot should choose the Heads of Department!"
Griselda Marchbanks stormed to her feet again. "Pish and tosh nonsense! Lord Wenlock, you are a moron of the highest order!"
Dullard sprang up. "Lady Marchbanks!"
"I could declare a duel for your insult!" Wenlock snarled across the expanse of the chamber.
"And I could declare one for your insult to my honour!" Arthur's quiet assertion arrested the rising chatter.
Wenlock stared at Arthur along with most of the rest of the Wizengamot.
Arthur glared right back at him, his shoulders straight, his chin up and a glint in his suddenly steely blue eyes that would have had his family running for cover. He rarely lost his temper but when he did…
"Do not mistake the fact that the seat I hold in this body is Ministerial to mean that I do not know the traditions associated with my Ancient and Noble House, Wenlock!" Arthur stated forcefully. "You're right in that I do like muggles! I have a lot of respect for their intelligence and creativity. Rightly so given what we have uncovered! And you're right that I would hope one day we could live in a world where we don't have to hide and we could live peacefully together." He held up a hand as Wenlock went to interrupt.
Amelia looked on in pleasure as Arthur continued.
"But that day is not today! That day may not happen in my lifetime! Right now, our concern is to build a foundation of trust and cooperation so that we may be safe and secure! So that our children may be safe and secure!" He looked in disgust at Wenlock. "I have seven children! How dare you insinuate that I would ever place their safety and security at risk! Frankly, I do have half a mind to call you out for the insult anyway!"
Sirius cleared his throat and spoke before Wenlock replied. "Perhaps an apology, Lord Wenlock? We all understand how emotions can run high and I'm certain in hindsight you didn't mean to insult Mister Weasley. After all, as the Potter Regent I would be honour bound to stand as Arthur's second in a duel under our alliance of friendship, and I so did hope to keep these robes clean of blood." He smiled sharply across the chamber at a furious but rapidly paling Wenlock.
Oh, Amelia thought with amusement, that threat was very well done.
The rest of the chamber looked expectantly at Wenlock.
Wenlock bowed his head quickly. "My apologies, Mister Weasley."
Arthur nodded stiffly.
"And we are agreed that Cornelius may continue to assign who he wishes?" Sirius said smoothly. "After all, I'm fairly certain that all of us would like this body to remain firmly focused on our legislative and judicial duties rather than eroding Ministerial authority in these matters."
"I know that's my view." Nott spoke up in agreement, sending Wenlock a disgusted look, possibly for the brashness of his attempt to depose Weasley rather than the attempt itself.
Wenlock cleared his throat. "I remove my objection entirely." He sat down with the air of a man who was trying not to look like he was in full retreat and failing.
"As I was saying," Cornelius said brightly, "I appoint Arthur Weasley as the Head of the new Department of Muggle Affairs and leave it in his capable hands to establish the Department and staff it appropriately."
It seemed like everyone in the chamber took a deep breath of relief.
"The legislative portion of the session is thus concluded." Dullard said. "We move onto judicial matters. The only item on the agenda is the formal permission of the Wizengamot for the tribunals that are provisionally scheduled for tomorrow. Director Bones?"
"Thank you." Amelia rose to speak. "As you are all aware, on the night of the Quidditch World Cup, Aurors and Hit Wizards apprehended four men dressed in dark robes and white masks; two were torturing muggles; two were torturing a muggleborn family. While there is no evidence linking these attacks with the fire that was set at the stadium, nor the attack on Lord Potter or the Weasley family, to ensure a fair trial, many of those of you present will have to recuse yourselves. With that in mind, we propose instead to establish a tribunal; the Chief Warlock will sit as the principal judge, Mister Baron has been nominated to the second seat, with Lord Greengrass nominated to the final place. I seek formal ratification of the Wizengamot for the tribunal so we can proceed with the trials forthwith."
Tiberius Ogden held up his wand. "I have no issues with the formation of the tribunal, its powers and even those nominated to sit but I do worry about the lack of transparency as the proposal insists that the tribunals be held in Courtroom Ten, the public barred, and without the members of the Wizengamot present. I would like to propose an amendment for the Wizengamot to elect a witness and propose Lord Black be that witness."
Amelia saw the gleam in the old wizard's eye and somehow wasn't surprised when the motion was seconded by Norman Wilkes.
"Nobody can argue that Lord Black does not believe in justice." Wilkes barked before he sat down.
"Is Lord Black agreeable to standing witness?" asked Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling again as he glanced over to Sirius.
Sirius got up. "I will be happy to stand witness."
The motion carried and passed; and the Wizengamot session ended with the tribunals granted the legal authority they needed.
Amelia smiled in satisfaction. It was time to deal with the Death Eaters.