A/N: Hello again. Here we go with a shiny new story. I will point out that although the key characters in this are given as Harry Potter and Susan Bones, I currently have no idea was to whether or not they will be the pairing for this story. At the moment I am leaning towards "yes" but it has yet to be set in stone.
Plot description: Before the start of fifth year, Dumbledore changes the plans. Unfortunately he didn't bother to inform Harry. At his trial, Harry realises that it is down to him to save his own skin. To do so, his Slytherin side must come out to play, and once it's out, it sticks around. Now Dumbledore and the Ministry alike must watch their backs…
Harry Potter: Junior Inquisitor
Chapter 1: The Hearing
With violent lurch the Knight Bus came to a stop. Harry Potter turned to watch as Stan Shunpike, the bus conductor, saw a rather ill-looking Madam Marsh off of the bus. Then the doors snapped shut and with yet another violent lurch the purple triple-decker bus sped off once again.
Shifting his body to try and find a less painful sitting position, Harry could not help but notice that more than a few of the other passengers were giving him funny looks. This was nothing unusual, of course. Ever since he had re-joined the wizarding world at the age of eleven all kinds of people had been giving him funny looks. The difference now though was that, whereas before the funny looks had a touch of mild curiosity about them, now they contained suspicion and mistrust.
Harry turned away from them in an attempt to ignore them. As he did so he felt a prickle of pain shoot through the lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead. Harry was aware that the pain was somehow caused by his nemesis Lord Voldemort, though he had no idea how it was being done.
Harry turned his head to rest his forehead against the window of the bus. It was cool and helped soothe the area around the scar. He took a deep, calming breath and closed his eyes before beginning to think over the events that had led him taking this ride on the Knight Bus.
At the end of the previous school year Harry and another student, Cedric Diggory, had been kidnapped from the school by a portkey. Cedric had subsequently been murdered, and Harry used in a ritual to bring Lord Voldemort, one of the most evil wizards ever to walk the earth, back to life. Harry had managed to pull off an escape from Voldemort, and gotten back to the school and tried to raise the alarm. There was a problem, however; whilst Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts School had believed Harry to be telling the truth, Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic had not. With the Ministry not prepared to face up to the truth, Dumbledore had taken matters into his own hands and reconvened some kind of vigilante group in the hope of tackling Voldemort and his followers.
And that was all that Harry knew on that front. He had gone home from Hogwarts with all the other students when the school year had ended on the third of July and then for a whole month he had heard nothing. No word from Dumbledore, no word from Harry's Godfather, Sirius Black, and no word from either of Harry's two best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. No letters, not a telephone call from Hermione, nothing. Not even when he sent off letters asking for answers with his snowy owl Hedwig.
After the third attempt, Hedwig had not returned.
Harry had been so desperate for news that he had actually begun a subscription to the wizarding newspaper The Daily Prophet. Harry had had bad experiences with the Daily Prophet during the past year, particularly one of its reporters, Rita Skeeter, but in the end his desire for news had won out against his personal distaste of the newspaper and its unscrupulous journalists. That, though, had been a wasted effort. If Voldemort was active and attacking people then it would have been front page news. Harry didn't bother to read the papers as they arrived; he merely glanced over the front page and, seeing nothing pointing to the activities of Voldemort and his followers, the Death Eaters, he ignored the rest. He had decided that either Voldemort was playing a waiting game, or, far more likely in Harry's opinion, the Ministry was engaging in a cover-up and putting pressure on the staff of The Daily Prophet to keep quiet.
After a month of being away from Hogwarts and the magical world, Harry had begun to really feel the strain. An orphan, he lived with non-magical relatives from his mother's side of the family. They did not like him and the feeling was very much a mutual one. By the second of August Harry had been reaching the end of his tether. Between his hateful relatives, the lack of news and the weather of Britain suddenly deciding to roast everyone with a heat wave, Harry Potter was just looking for an excuse to take out his magic wand and give someone a good hexing. That evening Harry had bumped into his bullying cousin Dudley. Words between them quickly became heated and, sensing that Dudley about ready to throw a punch, Harry had drawn his wand.
Then it happened.
Two Dementors, monstrous, wraith like beings that fed on the happy memories of people and sucked out their souls had swooped down upon Harry and Dudley, attacking them. Harry had utilised the only effective method of repelling a Dementor, the patronus charm, in order to send the two terrifying abominations fleeing, saving not only his own life but the life of his cousin as well.
Following that event, several things had happened one after another. First Mrs Figg, a batty old neighbour, had arrived on the scene. She had revealed herself to be a Squib (a person born to a magical family but had no magic themselves) and then informed Harry that Dumbledore's people had been keeping an eye on him all summer, following his every move.
Fat lot of good they were if the best that could be provided in a crisis was a Squib.
Dudley was far from being alright after his encounter with the Dementors. Once Harry had gone through the immense effort of dragging the fat tub of lard back home, his relatives were far from grateful. Utterly convinced that he had done something to harm their precious son, Harry's Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had been all for throwing him out on the street. It was testament to how deep his loathing of his family ran that Harry actually found this to be a highly tempting offer.
Then, for the first time in a month, word from the magical world came. It was a letter, delivered by an owl from the Ministry of Magic, informing him that he was now expelled from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This just gave his relatives more encouragement to throw him out onto the streets. With the Ministry also threatening to snap his wand, Harry had been all for making a run for it right there and then. At that moment, however, a flurry of letters from his friend Ron's Dad, from Harry's Godfather and from the Ministry had turned that plan on its head. Though the three letters had barely contained thirty words between them, the gist of their message had been that Harry was not expelled yet, but would have to attend a disciplinary hearing that the Ministry on the twelfth of August.
And that was where he was heading right now.
In the days that had passed since the Dementor attack, Harry had heard nothing from anyone. He had long since given up hope of receiving any friendly correspondence from anyone, but was it too much to ask that someone, either from the Ministry or from Dumbledore's lot would have made contact in order to make arrangements for him to get to the Ministry of Magic building, especially given how he had never been to the place in his life?
Evidently it was too much to ask, as no one had bothered to get in contact with him to offer up any such information and, without Hedwig, Harry had been unable to send a letter containing his questions.
It was just as well that, before his third year at Hogwarts, Harry had discovered the convenient, if stomach-churning service provided by the Knight Bus (as they had sure as hell never mentioned it at school!) Several hours before his hearing at the Ministry, Harry had left the home of his relatives and flagged down the Knight Bus. There had been a few people already on board before he got on, but he was assured that he would arrive at the Ministry of Magic in plenty of time.
With another lurch the Knight Bus came to a stop, this time to pick up someone, and then it sped off again.
After having a word with first the new passenger, and then with Ernie Prang, the driver of the bus, Stan the conductor made his way along the aisle between the rows of seats to Harry.
"A'right 'Arry?" he asked "We just got an passenger on board 'oo needs to get to da Leaky Cauldron 'sumfink fast, so we is gonna change our course an' drop her off an' den you."
Harry nodded in acceptance "That's fine."
To be honest, although he was dreading the upcoming hearing, he could hardly wait to get off the Knight Bus. Had he eaten anything more than a single slice of dry, slightly stale bread for his breakfast that morning, then he was reasonably certain that violent jostling of the Knight Bus would have caused him to throw it up by now.
The bus made the drop off outside the Leaky Cauldron and then sped off once more. Then, all of a sudden they were stopped again with Stan loudly announcing "Ministry o' Magic, Visitor's Entrance."
Harry got to his feet and got off the bus. He was surprised to find himself facing, not some kind of grandiose door that marked the entry point to the Ministry of Magic building like he had expected, but rather a red telephone box.
Harry turned back towards the Knight Bus and saw that Stan was watching him.
"What-" he began, but Stan interrupted him.
"Jus' get in an' dial "magic."" Stan said before the doors to the bus slammed shut and the bus raced off.
Confused, but not knowing what else to do, Harry stepped into the phone box and picked up the receiver. He held it to his ear and heard nothing but silence. There was no dial tone. However, given how this was supposedly the visitor's entrance to the Ministry of Magic, Harry suspected that the lack of a dial tone was to deter Muggles.
Harry checked the keypad and saw that, as expected, each number also had three letters beneath it. In order to spell magic, Harry pressed six, two, four, four and two in that order. Then a nasal female voice came through the receiver.
"Welcome to the Ministry of Magic. Please state your name and business."
"Er…" said Harry, "Harry Potter, here to attend a disciplinary hearing…"
"Thank you," said the voice "Visitor, please take the badge and attach it to the front of your robes."
There was a click and a rattle, and Harry noticed something slide out of the chute where returned coins usually appeared. He picked it up and saw that it was a squared shaped, silver badge with the words Harry Potter, Disciplinary Hearing engraved on it. Harry pinned it to the front of his school robes (the only robes he owned besides the dress robes that he had worn to the Yule Ball the previous Christmas, and they were too dressy for the hearing.)
The female voice spoke again "Visitor to the Ministry, you are required to submit to a search and present your wand for registration. This can be done at the security desk, which is located at the far end of the atrium."
Then the floor of the telephone box gave a slight shudder and began sinking into the ground. It took about a minute, though it seemed a lot longer to Harry, for the telephone box to come to a stop. The door swung open as the female voice said "The Ministry of Magic wishes you a pleasant day."
Harry stepped out of the telephone box and found himself standing at one end of a very long and splendid hall, the walls of which were tiled with black marble. The floor consisted of a dark wood that was highly polished.
Along the walls stood a line of fireplaces, and every few moments one or more of these would roar into life with green flames and a wizard or witch would step out into the atrium. Floo powder, though efficient, was not Harry's preferred choice of magical travel.
Half way along the hall there was a large golden fountain that gave Harry pause for thought. It featured a wizard, a witch, a Centaur, a Goblin and a House Elf, the last three of which were looking up at the witch and wizard with adoration on their faces. Only the expression on the House Elf seemed right. The Centaurs of Hogwarts' Forbidden Forest would likely be greatly insulted by their depiction, and it was just as well Goblins didn't do business with wizards and witches outside of the bank, Gringotts. Harry was willing to bet all the money he had that if a Goblin ever caught sight of that statue, the Ministry would be dealing with a full-blown Goblin rebellion within the hour.
At the other end of the hall, Harry came to a desk with a plaque on top that read Security. Harry approached it and cleared his throat to get the attention of the guard, who had his nose buried in that morning's edition of The Daily Prophet.
The guard looked up and asked "What?" in a gruff voice.
"Er… I just came down the visitor's entrance." Harry replied "The phone said to contact the security desk."
The guard gave a resigned nod (resigned because he would have to do some actual work today) and set his newspaper down on the desk.
"Come round this side," said the guard. Harry did so and found himself subjected to the strange experience of having an object rather like a television aerial waved about in front of and around him. Obviously satisfied, the guard set the strange device down on the desk, and held out his hand to Harry, demanding "Wand?"
Harry handed over his wand and watched as the guard examined it. After confirming the make of wand and the length of time it had been used for, the guard gave Harry his wand back before picking up his copy of The Daily Prophet again.
Evidently that was the end of the security check. Harry, however, wasn't done with the man.
"Excuse me," he said, trying to sound as polite as possible "but how do I get to the… um…" he suddenly realised that he didn't have a clue where he was meant to be going. He tried asking another way "I'm here for a hearing for underage magic use. Do you know where I'm meant to go?"
The guard didn't look up, but did give a reply "Go over to the golden gates and get into a lift. Get out on the second level, the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Ask someone there."
"Thanks." replied Harry, though he wasn't really sure exactly how helpful the man had been. On the plus side though, the man hadn't recognised him. The last thing Harry wanted at the moment was to be pointed out in the middle of this crowd. If they all stopped to gawk at him, or more specifically his scar, as wizards and witches not used to the sight of him usually did, he'd likely never get to the hearing.
Harry weaved his way through the jostling crowd and found his way into one of the lifts. Unlike buildings in the Muggle side of Britain, it turned out that the levels of the Ministry building didn't go from the ground floor up to the first floor and so on. Instead the floor numbers decreased with height. It turned out that the Atrium had been on level eight. With the floor he wanted being on level two, Harry had quite a wait but finally the lift doors opened and the female voice from the telephone box announced "Level Two, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, including the Improper Use of Magic Office, Auror Headquarters and Wizengamot Administration Services."
To Harry the name "Improper Use of Magic Office" sounded promising. He was obviously on the right level and got out of the lift.
Harry found himself on a corridor lined with many doors. Two people had gotten out of the lift with Harry and they promptly marched off down the corridor, leaving him behind. He moved more slowly, reading the little sign on every door, explaining what the room beyond was for. Finally he came to one marked "Improper Use of Magic Office" and tried to turn the handle. The door swung open and Harry tentatively stepped into the room beyond. Inside there were two lines of three desks, one line along each side wall, and another, larger desk in between but at the back. Hanging on the wall behind this desk was a massive map of the Great Britain and Ireland. At a guess, Harry supposed that the map somehow indicated where magic was being used inappropriately, either before Muggles or by an underage witch or wizard. Technically Harry was guilty of both, though it was to save both his life and that of the stupid fat tub of lard that he technically was supposed to call his cousin.
Only four of the desks were occupied, including the big one at the back, and everyone in the room looked up at his sudden intrusion into their work day.
"Um… hi?" said Harry. Getting no greeting in response, Harry continued "I got a letter about attending a hearing-"
He broke off as the eyes of the witch sitting at the big desk lit up in recognition "Oh, Mr Potter! Yes, we were expecting you, though not for another hour or so. I'm Mafalda Hopkirk, I'm the head of this little office. Why don't you take a seat at Summerby's desk, she's in Majorca for the month, and I'll go and let Madam Bones know that you're here."
As Madam Hopkirk bustled out of the room, Harry made his way over to the nearest empty desk; the front left one, and saw a plaque with Summerby's name on it. Trying to ignore the stares he was getting from the other people in the office, Harry sat down in the chair behind the desk. The desk was untidy; a clutter of parchment, some of which contained hastily written notes, the rest of which contained what appeared to be runes of some kind. Harry supposed that the runes had something to do with how this office tracked the improper use of magic. There was also a picture of a boy of about Harry's age. Harry recognised him as Eric Summerby, a student from Hufflepuff house who was in the year above Harry. It was a strange thing, last year Eric Summerby had been one of the students who had treated Harry with contempt after he was entered in the tri-wizard tournament, and now Harry was sitting at his mother's desk at the Ministry awaiting a trial for underage magic.
I really was a small world after all.
A few moments after it had shut the door to the office opened again. Madam Hopkirk came in, and with her was a square-jawed woman with close-cropped grey hair and a monocle.
"Mr Potter" stated the monocle-wearing woman "you're here, good. I'm Amelia Bones, the Head of the DMLE. Follow me."
Confused, Harry none the less got to his feet and followed Amelia out of the room saying "I'm sorry, I thought that my hearing was taking place in here."
Madam Bones shook her head "No, those hearings usually take place with me in my office."
"Usually?" asked Harry.
"There has been a change of plans." replied Madam Bones as she led him towards the lifts at the end of the corridor "It seems that Minister Fudge doesn't trust me to come to a suitable outcome to this situation all by myself and has decided to hold your hearing before the whole Wizengamot."
"The what?" questioned Harry.
"The Wizengamot." replied Madam Bones as they got into a lift "A judicial and legislative branch of the Ministry. They are usually involved in the passing of decrees and the creation of new laws."
Trying to not sound rude, Harry asked "But why should my trial take place before all of them?"
"That is the point, Mr Potter," said Madam Bones "It shouldn't."
On floor four several Ministerial employees from the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures got into the lift and Madam Bones went silent. Harry took the hint and kept quiet as well.
To Harry's surprise they didn't get out at the level of the Atrium and instead continued on downwards. When the lift came to a stop, the door rattled open and the female voice said "Department of Mysteries."
"Er…" began Harry as Madam Bones led the way out of the lift.
"Nothing to do with where we're going." she said to him as the lift doors clanged shut behind him.
Ahead Harry saw nothing except a single, plain black door set in the wall at the far end of the corridor. Harry half expected to be led through it, but with a "This way." Madam Bones guided him down a staircase off to one side.
At the bottom of the staircase they came to a corridor that consisted of rough stone walls and flaming torches in brackets. They passed several doors, each of which was heavy and made of wood, with iron bolts and keyholes.
"Here we are." said Madam Bones, stopping by a particularly dark and grimy door "Courtroom Ten." She turned to Harry "I have to head straight in as I'm a key member of the Wizengamot. You take a seat on that bench over there and someone will call for you when we are ready."
Harry gave a nod, turned and sat down on the bench. By the time he looked towards Madam Bones again, the door to the courtroom was just shutting behind her.
Harry remained sitting in complete silence for several very long minutes before hearing something. It sounded to him like the footsteps of someone trying to not make a sound and failing miserably.
He turned to look along the corridor, and the sound of footsteps stopped.
"Hello?" he asked aloud, but no reply came.
Harry got to his feet, his eyes straining to see in the torchlight.
"Hello?" he called again.
Almost as if in answer, the door to Courtroom Ten opened and a voice Harry recognised called out "Harry Potter?"
Harry turned and was surprised to see Percy Weasley, one of Ron's older brothers standing in the doorway, holding a roll of parchment and a quill. He was looking directly at Harry, but there was no sign of recognition on his face "Hurry up and get inside, Mr Potter. It won't do to keep the Wizengamot waiting."
And with that Percy turned and strolled back into the room, Harry following tentatively in his wake.
Harry recognised the dungeon-like that room he was now in. He had seen it before. He had been in it before… well, kind of. He had seen it in a memory in a pensive. It was where the Ministry had carried out Death Eater trials at the end of the last war with Lord Voldemort. Were they treating him as if he were a Death Eater?
Benches lined all the walls, but the ones to either side of him were empty. In front of him, however, in the highest benches of all, there sat many shadowy figures. They had all been talking in a low murmur, but as the door behind Harry swung shut, an ominous silence fell.
A cold male voice rang out "You got our owl with the message that the time and place of the hearing had been changed?"
"No." replied Harry "I arrived early and met with Madam Bones. She told me." He had no idea what games the Minister was planning on playing, but Harry had no intention of going along with them
"Very well," said the male voice "Take your seat."
Harry looked to the middle of the room where a very uncomfortable looking wooden chair sat. There were black metal chains attached to the arms. It was the kind of chair used to keep the worst of the Death Eaters seated as they were sentenced to life in Azkaban, the wizarding prison.
Harry felt a surge of annoyance. Madam Bones had said that he should not be facing a trial by Wizengamot for his crime. The Minister's earlier question proved that the man had been hoping to make Harry look bad by changing the time and the place of the hearing without letting Harry know in enough time. And now they expected him to sit in that chair.
Harry stood resolute and asked "And if I refuse to accept being treated like a murdering Death Eater?"
The murmur of many voices talking at once began again, and became louder than it had been when he first entered the courtroom.
Someone began banging a gavel, causing Harry to wonder just when the British Ministry had taken to mimicking the Muggle courts of the United States, as Muggle judges in England did not make use of such things, and never had; despite what films and television shows claimed (he knew this thanks to a lecture from Hermione in his second year.) Nevertheless, the action served its purpose; the members of the Wizengamot quietened down and Madam Bones spoke "I appreciate your concern, Mr Potter, but you have my assurances that the spells on the chains of that particular chair have been removed."
Harry eyed the Wizengamot with a doubtful look for a moment longer before making his way over to the chair and sitting in it. The black chains seemed to twitch, almost as if threatening him, but true to Madam Bones' word, he wasn't bound to the chair as the Death Eaters had been.
Upon entering the room, Harry had felt slightly sick. Now he felt a little more self-confident. The thing he had to remember, to focus on was that Madam Bones was the head of Magical Law Enforcement and she was on his side… at least in so far as being disapproving of the way his hearing was being carried out anyway.
"Very well," said Minister Fudge, a portly man who usually wore a lime green bowler hat (though today he appeared to have dispensed with it) "With the accused now present, let us begin. Are you ready?" he called down to where Percy Weasley was sitting, parchment and quill poised for writing.
"Yes, Minister." Percy called back.
In a ringing voice, Fudge began "Disciplinary hearing on the twelfth of August into offences committed under the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery and the Statute of Secrecy by one Harry James Potter, of Number 4, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey. Interrogators; Cornelius Oswald Fudge, Minister for Magic; Amelia Susan Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement; and Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic."
Harry frowned in confusion and thought 'Senior what to the Minister?" He knew that some businesses liked to create job titles out of thin air or pad them out to make the position sound more important than it actually was but bloody hell, that one just about took the biscuit! Come to that why was a secretary going to decide his fate? Shouldn't she be doing Percy's job while someone like Mafalda Hopkirk sat in the seat she was currently occupying? Harry noticed that she hadn't come down here with him and Madam Bones, and it was her office he was in trouble with!
Oblivious to Harry's internal rant, Minister Fudge continued on "Court Scribe Percival Ignatius Weasley…"
On and on the list of names went, with Harry fairly certain that there had been a "half-sister to the lady who cleans the canteen on a Thursday afternoon" in there somewhere, but nowhere was there a mention of someone who might be on Harry's side. He was fairly certain he was entitled to a solicitor or something like that to speak in his defence here. Come to think of it, where was Dumbledore? Harry was certain that in amongst that man's many titles there was a 'Chief Something to the Wizengamot.' So where was he now, because from the sounds of it every member of the Wizengamot was present, along with every member of their respective families.
And the neighbour's dog!
Finally the long and boring list of names and pointless titles was ended and Fudge got on with the actual proceedings "So, we all know the charges," Harry wasn't entirely sure anymore but wasn't about to interrupt again; he was bored enough already. Fudge continued to tell them all anyway "The accused did knowingly, deliberately and in full awareness of the illegality of his actions, having received a previous warning from the Ministry of Magic, produce a Patronus Charm in a Muggle-inhabited area, in the presence of a Muggle, on the second of August at twenty-three minutes past nine in the evening, which constitutes an offence under Paragraph C of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery, 1875, and also under Section 13 of the International Confederation of Warlocks' Statute of Secrecy, 1692."
Fudge looked up from the sheet of parchment before him, from which he had read the charges, and turned his gaze upon Harry.
"You are Harry James Potter of Number four, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey?"
"Yes." Harry said.
"You received an official warning from the Ministry for using illegal magic three years ago, did you not?"
"And yet you conjured a Patronus on the night of the second of August?"
"Yes," replied Harry "but-"
"Knowing that you are not permitted to use magic outside of school while you are under the age of seventeen?"
"Knowing that you were in an area filled with Muggles?"
"Fully aware that you were in close proximity to a Muggle at the time?"
"Yes," said Harry angrily "but I only used it because we were-"
It was Madam Bones who cut across him this time "You produced a fully-fledged Patronus?"
"Yes," said Harry "because-"
"A corporeal Patronus?"
"A – what?" asked Harry.
"Your patronus had a clearly defined form? Was it more than mere vapour?"
"Yes, it's a stag. Always a stag." replied Harry who, quite frankly, was getting fed up with this questioning. They weren't letting him answer the key question of why he cast the Patronus in the first place.
"Always?" asked Madam Bones "You've produced a Patronus before now?"
"Yes," replied Harry "I've had to do it before."
"Yes," said Harry "I thought that the Ministry was aware of that."
"And why would we be?" asked Madam Bones.
"Well in my third year, the Ministry of Magic ordered that a group of Dementors be stationed around the school for the safety of the students. After one attacked me on the Hogwarts Express and a whole lot of them attacked my in the middle of a Quidditch match, causing me to fall from a height of over a hundred feet, the Defence Professor volunteered his time to teach me."
Harry looked directly at the Minister, who looked slightly uncomfortable at his words. Harry chose to drive his point home. "Surely you remember, Minister. The Dementors attacking me at the Quidditch match was why the Headmaster refused them any further access to the grounds, no matter how much you insisted."
Fudge was now turning a shade of purple that would have done Harry's Uncle Vernon proud "Be that as it may, it does not exempt you from the fact that you performed the spell in the presence of a Muggle."
The Wizengamot began murmuring again. On seeing Percy give a sanctimonious little nod, Harry was driven to speak.
"I did it because we were being attacked by Dementors." he said loudly, before anyone else could interrupt him."
Harry had expected the response to that statement to be more muttering. What he got was silence.
Finally the quiet was broken by laughter coming from Fudge "Ah, yes," he said "Yes, I was wondering when we'd be hearing some cock-and-bull story like this one."
"Cornelius," said Madam Bones, and Harry was pleased to note that there was a tone on warning in her voice.
She turned to Harry and asked "What do you mean by that last statement?"
"It's simple," replied Harry "my cousin and I were walking along an alleyway that would lead us back home when we were attacked by two Dementors."
"Poppycock!" Fudge burst out "The Ministry has no records for there being two Dementors in Little Whinging on that evening or any other. Why would they be?"
"I don't know," replied Harry "Perhaps they were two wild Dementors."
"There are no wild Dementors in the British Isles." replied Fudge.
"Then it follows that the Ministry's records are wrong." said Harry.
"Or that you are a liar." commented the woman sitting next to Fudge. Harry had quite forgotten her name, along with her self-important job title, but noticed for the first time that she was dressed all in pink, and looked rather like a toad.
"I am not a liar," replied Harry "Is it possible that two of your Dementors went rogue?"
"The Ministry does not lose control of its Dementors." replied Fudge.
Harry leaned back in his chair and tilted his head back to look up at the ceiling, he could think of at least two incidents where the Ministry had lost control of its Dementors. Actually he could think of a third, but bringing that one up would only cause trouble for a lot of people. His problem now was how to convince the Wizengamot that he was telling the truth.
And then it came to him. Hadn't Professor Dumbledore warned Fudge that this very thing might happen during that unpleasant day in the Hospital Wing of Hogwarts, back near the end of June?
Was the Minister still so prepared to ignore the truth as he was back then? All current evidence pointed to the answer to that question being a resolute "yes" but Harry knew that he had to try.
Turning his attention back on Fudge, Harry said "There is one other, of course, who could have ordered those Dementors to attack me in Little Whinging."
Fudge caught on to exactly what Harry was getting at and replied "He's not back."
Harry scowled "Still ignoring everything that the Headmaster told you back in June, Minister? Are you still so determined to ignore the fact that your perfect little world is in danger once again?"
Silence greeted this. Harry could not help but notice that Fudge, the toad-lady and several other members of the Wizengamot looked triumphant now.
Not the reaction he was expecting.
Madam Bones leaned forward slightly in her seat and spoke "Mr Potter, Albus Dumbledore withdrew his statements regarding the alleged return of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named a month ago."
Harry stared back up at her feeling stunned. "Withdrew his statements?" Did that mean Dumbledore had reason to believe that he, Harry, was not telling the truth? But that was preposterous. Dumbledore had questioned the Death Eater Barty Crouch Jr. himself, under the influence of truth serum. It just did not make any sense.
"Or does it?" asked a voice from somewhere in the back of Harry's mind. Harry blinked at the question, and thought on it. Dumbledore had changed his mind and withdrawn all his comments regarding the return of Lord Voldemort. Why? The answer to that hit Harry like a ton of bricks. Obviously Dumbledore stood to gain somehow if he kept quiet on the subject. Perhaps Fudge had bullied the rest of the Wizengamot into threatening to force Dumbledore out of his Chief Warlock post is he didn't stop. Apparently Dumbledore had done so, but why hadn't he informed Harry?
"So you can take the fall." replied the voice in the back of his mind.
"Why?" Harry wondered.
"Because by detaching himself from you, he will look better in the eyes of the Ministry." the voice said.
And suddenly it all made sense: the lack of contact with people he knew, the lack of news, no one showing up to help him today; it was probably all done upon Dumbledore's orders to keep himself looking good to those in power. And those who were watching him at Privet Drive were doing so, not for his safety, but to make sure he didn't do anything that would make Dumbledore look bad. They were probably checking to make sure he didn't send a letter to the Daily Prophet or something; they sure as hell hadn't been of any use to him when he was attacked!
Harry looked up at the hundred or so faces before him and saw that every single one was watching him intently. And Harry came to the sudden realisation that if he wanted to keep his wand in one piece, he would need a change in tactics.
One method immediately sprang to mind, but the question was whether or not he could do it.
"A very Slytherin plan." the voice noted.
Harry would normally have shied away from anything that might associate him with the Slytherin House of Hogwarts, but acting like a Gryffindor had gotten him nowhere. It was time to let his Slytherin side out to play.
Slowly he stood from his seat and stepped forward before bowing low to the Wizengamot and saying "My sincere apologies. It appears that the plans have been changed and that Dumbledore did not see fit to inform me of the situation."
The murmur of the Wizengamot grew loud very fast following that statement, and Harry was pleased to see that Fudge looked positively overjoyed at his "divulgence."
A/N: So how's that for a first chapter? Sorry to end on a cliff hanger, but it felt like an appropriate stopping place. On a side note, at over 6,600 words, I believe that this is the longest first chapter I have ever written, as well as being the one of the longest chapters overall.
As I mentioned at the top, although the main characters are given as Harry and Susan, I am undecided as to whether or not that will be the pairing. I am leaning in favour of it though; I usually go Harry/Hermione, so it's time for a change, and Harry/Susan is my second favourite pairing... no, Harry/Luna is second, this one is third. Anyway, I hope that you enjoy what comes, regardless