The Minister for Magic looked across his desk at the pale-faced witch in the shabby robes, and then continued reading out the notes from the open file. "This meeting is to inform you we have finished reviewing your case. It is fully confirmed that you were placed under an imperius curse by Bellatrix Lestrange in the first week of last June, date uncertain. Therefore, none of your subsequent actions were in fact your responsibility, up to the point at which you broke the curse on the night of the 1st of May." He smiled across at the impassive face. "In short, there is no case to answer; you are not guilty of any crime. Your actions after that date have been eminently commendable. There is no further problem."
Antigone Sutch inclined her head in acknowledgement. "It was very kind of you to look into the case personally, Minister."
Kingsley Shacklebolt sighed. There were so many cases to review at present, so many for both criminals and victims, but this one had bothered him. "I have, in fact, looked into your entire case history, Miss Sutch," he said slowly and sadly. "From the reports both you and your brother Mr Abraxus Sutch have given, it seems to me both the wizarding government and magical society at large have repeatedly failed you."
"My father was used and murdered by the Dark side, who then took their revenge on my mother by torturing my younger brother. The government tortured my father into betraying the names of his fellows, admittedly criminals, and then left him open to their retaliatory attack. Our house and property were confiscated for 'compensation,' and all Healers refused to attend, let alone treat, my dying mother." Tiggy looked up calmly. "Yes, I think I would agree with you there, Minister."
The Minister was silent for a minute. "Is there anything which can be done?" he asked heavily.
Tiggy smiled gently at him. "No, thank you. You can't change the past. And you can hardly blame Rax or I for growing up feeling that the Sutches have never been wanted, and therefore wishing to mind our own business."
Kingsley leaned forward. "There must be something I can do for you, Miss Sutch. Surely?"
"But you have done something-"
"Reviewed your case?"
"You have acquitted me," Tiggy corrected. "And you let me go free until the case could be reviewed, which was kinder than you would know, as I have a childhood horror of small, dark cells underground. But more than that," she added as Kingsley made a sharp exclamation, "you took note of the case; you have listened, you have talked to me now, and been kind enough to call my very long walk that morning commendable. Other people would have asked more questions before taking me to their safe house. It has been very nice to find and know there is somebody who thinks more about Right than Justice."
"So if that makes the difference," said Kingsley paternally, smiling his slight embarrassment away, "what is it that you are going to do now, Miss Sutch?"
"Go home. Yes. Back to the attic and Knockturn."
"No!" The Minister looked outraged. "Miss Sutch – building a new world is impossible and therefore doomed to failure; but we are at least trying to make a fresh start, to correct some of the mistakes and problems. You do not have to be excluded – there must be a better place for you somewhere... The sheer determination you showed that morning in getting to Hogwarts would make you suitable for probably a dozen of the posts I am trying to get filled here at the Ministry." He smiled at her in exasperation. "Life is wider than your attic!"
It was Tiggy's turn to speak slowly and sadly. "And it can be far worse, too. I know what I have done, Minister." She pointed to the file on the desk. "All those things – just because you are Imperiused does not mean you do not know something of what you are doing. The best that I can do after that is to go home. Not as in to lock myself away – just that it will be a nice and restful change. And I am needed there: I have Anticles to look after. And what your side has done for him is about the kindest thing ever. He isn't mad any more, he's just not quite all there. He's actually growing a little, and taking a great interest in chess pieces – Rax thinks he may be able to carve, in the end. He won't frighten people now. And on top of that," she finished warmly, "you have given us Grandfather's friends back – in spite of Long Ago. So thank you."
Tiggy rose as Shacklebolt folded up the papers. "There would be one thing, Minister. You could not prosecute me for not reporting Benait and Ali's dragon egg smuggling habits – I do have to live next door to them."
The Minister stood up with a hearty laugh, and shook hands. "If you will remember that should Right rather than Justice no longer need you at home, there will always be a job that needs your determination somewhere, then I am sure you can forget the dragon eggs."
Down Diagon, up Knockturn and through a door without looking – this time there was a good reason to hurry. The boys would need feeding. There would be a proper beef stew for dinner. The Minister had ensured the 'compensation' confiscated after Father's death had been returned to them. It had probably come out of someone else's property, but it was nice not to be destitute any more.
Tiggy stopped, and lit her wand. It worked better now, as if wrenching it and her mind out of Bellatrix Lestrange's power had forged a bond between them. She stood for a moment in the pool of light and listened. The faint growls of Anticles' current posse of six marbles sounded from three floors above. That meant Rax must be carving a complicated piece, and didn't need someone pestering for a spare block to play with. And that meant the pawns from the set must be finished, and would need her to polish them.
And that – was good enough.
Antigone Sutch started up her stairs with a smile.
A/N: There will be a very different tale covering the same timespan in DH coming up soon, inspired by a quote from Remus Lupin this time, rather than Sirius Black:
"There are other wand makers," said Lupin. "But Ollivanders were the best." Who were these other wand makers? Where were they? And what happened to them in the war?
Look out for 'Blood Status' over the next couple of weeks!