DISCLAIMER: That part of this world and those characters you've seen before belong to their Creator: JKR. The rest is mine - although I cannot quit my day job as I make no $$$
CHAPTER NINE: NOT SO PRIVATE
MONDAY, MARCH 7th 1994
Harry and the others entrance into Gringotts happened to occur at an early enough hour that business at the teller windows was slow. Most of the shops in Diagon Alley were not scheduled to open for at least another hour and from what Harry had heard, most shoppers never arrived early. Thus, the entrance of fourteen young people who clearly should be in school went largely unnoticed by the two or three humans at the windows. It was fourteen because Anna Fitzhugh was also part of this excursion. The group was met by a Goblin.
"It is good to see you again, Lord Warriors and friends," Grisha said loud enough for them to hear but not loud enough to distract the customers from their arguing with the tellers. "This way. We're all set up for today's entertainment."
Harry couldn't help but roll his eyes having already seen what Goblins considered entertaining. They were led deeper into the bank and to a larger room, not unlike a theater. There were some adults present, most all of whom were residents of the Estates and at least a couple had clearly taken the day off from work. Harry's parents were there as well as Neville's and his Grandmother. Hermione and Ginny's mothers were there as was Luna's father. The Greengrasses were not there, but seeing as to what had happened their day before that was hardly a surprise. Also present were Andi Tonks, her daughter Dora (who somehow got time off from Auror training), Sirius's wife Connie, Cissy Black and her four charges who were here for the educational experience. There was one person, probably a wizard, whom Harry did not recognize. But it also seemed that for every human there were at least two goblins, most of whom had already taken seats in the back of the theater.
"You will be seated in front," Grisha said speaking to the Estate residents. "After all, this is more your affair than ours. This is Mr. Miles Darby," he added indicating the wizard they did not know. "He's a legal pupil at Mr. Tonks' firm and he is here to answer any questions you may have."
"Pleasure," he said. "As Grisha said, I'm here to answer your questions, but in that vein and given that it will start soon, I will merely say I'm a pupil and not yet a full on solicitor. I'm training to become one. More critically for today's show, it seems I can be in two places at once."
"That …," Hermione began, "I'm not sure it's possible."
Mr. Darby seemed to flash a very Goblin like smile. "And yet, as we speak I am seated in the Juvenile Court at the Ministry and what you will be watching on the wall behind me is what I am seeing and hearing." With that, the wall seemed to dissolve into another space. It had a courtroom like look to it, assuming such places had a look. Close to the viewer was a table with Sirius and Ted Tonks. The viewer was behind them. There were two other tables as the viewer looked around. Dumbledore sat at one with a man Harry did not recognize and Draco Malfoy at the other with two men he did not recognize. The three table all faced a raised bench with what looked like three empty, high backed chairs behind the bench and facing them. Before the bench was a small desk with a woman behind it writing with a quill. Finally, there was an empty chair which faced so that some seating there could speak to the bench or the tables with just a turn of their head. No one was in the chair. Harry guessed that was for witnesses.
"Really wished they taught a little about Goblin magic at school," Darby chuckled. "What we're seeing and will be hearing is what a Goblin is currently seeing and hearing. Lord Black and my boss Mr. Tonks know this. No one else does. To everyone there, it looks like me. I don't want to think about how accurately although when I saw the Goblin it was as if I was looking into a mirror. He also sounds like me were he to speak, although we've been told not to ask that of him as that spell is the weakest and his English is weak. Fortunately, as a law pupil he or I am seldom seen and never heard – at least in the Courtrooms."
"Seems a little dodgy," Mr. Granger noted.
Darby smiled. "Our legal practice is not quite as … polite … as the Muggles. There are rules and then there are those rules which are only there for the fools who get caught breaking them. This case is a Minor's Estate which means it's not supposed to be a public forum. But things happen. Even if my double wasn't there, you can bet one way or another this would come out. I dare say Denby – he's Parkinson's solicitor – and Raston – Dumbledore's – are doing something to see that this becomes public if they win. Naturally, we're doing the same."
"We are going to win, aren't we?" Anna asked.
"We know more than either of the other parties," Darby said. "One thing about this sort of practice: you never want the other side to ever know more than you do. Oh, it's starting."
"All rise!" the witch at the desk said standing. "The Tribunal of Minor Estates is now in session, the Right Honorable Malfada Hopkirk as Senior Adjudicator Presiding!"
Three people entered from a side door all dressed in robes. They each took their seats in the high backed chairs, the one in the middle was clearly a witch.
"All those with matters before this court, please make your presence known!" the clerk called out.
The man identified as Denby spoke: "Jarome Denby, Your Honor, counsel for Eldreth Parkinson, Guardian in personem and ad litem for the Minor Ward Draco Malfoy in the matter of the Estate of D.M., a Minor, by his guardian E. Parkinson Against the Minor's Trust of the Ancient an Noble House of Black."
"Cyrus Raston, Your Honor, Cuthbert, Thorte and Howe, Counsel for the Chief Warlock in his capacity as Guardian of unclaimed magical Orphans and Muggle Borns." Draco snorted. "We filed a companion petition in this matter questioning Lord Black's fitness to serve as a guardian over a Minor or Minor's Estate as Mr. Parkinson's Petition points to highly suspect irregularities and Lord Black's actions in regard to the Minor are likewise questionable."
"Theodore Tonks, Your Honor, on behalf of the Ancient and Noble House of Black and Lord Black individually."
"You may be seated," Madam Hopkirk said. "Ordinarily, we begin with the Petitioner," she said. "However, the procedural posture of this case requires otherwise. Mr. Tonks? You requested an expedited trial without discovery or negotiation as per right."
"I did, Your Honor."
"You're client is aware, is he not, that in so doing you are admitting each and every fact alleged in the Petition but not any inferences or conclusion, correct?"
"My client is aware of this, yes Your Honor."
"He is further aware that as Respondent he was under no obligation to prove anything, to put on any evidence whatsoever? He is aware that ordinarily it is the burden of the other parties to prove their cases and there's no requirement for him to disprove them?"
"Yes, Your Honor."
"And yet, by requesting this expedited trial, he has shifted the burden of proof to his side such that he must prove that despite the admissions now part of the record, the Petitioners are entitled to no relief?"
"Yes, Your Honor."
"That is my understanding, Your Honor," Sirius added.
"Well," Hopkirk sighed. "In my thirty-two years with this Department and fifteen as an Adjudicator, I do not recall a single instance where there was such an expedited trial."
"My research indicates the last such instance was sixty-two years ago," Ted Tonks said.
"This should prove interesting. Since it's your case to prove, Mr. Tonks, you have the floor."
"Thank you, Your Honor. I will begin with the Parkinson Petition. It is alleged that his ward, one Draco Malfoy, was the named beneficiary under a House Black Minor's Trust. We can stop there for a moment. As the Trust will be placed into evidence, it's more accurate to say that Master Malfoy is the conditional recipient of disbursements from a House Black collateral line revocable Supplementary Trust. To shorten it is also to suggest rights and obligations that are not nor ever were intended. It states the Minor was entitled to disbursements omitting that such entitlement was only if all other forms of financial support for the minor had been exhausted. If financial support was available from any other source aside from his parents income, there was no entitlement, rather disbursements had to be authorized by the Head of House Black or its designated representative and executed before the Accounts Manager for the House of Black. Naturally, such procedures would be unnecessary if the Minor were entitled to disbursements. It does state that the Minor's mother, a daughter of the House of Black – actually a third cousin of the current Head of House on the patriarchal line – authorized numerous disbursements over the years most of which did not inure to the benefit of the Minor. We do not deny those specific allegations for they are the truth of the matter…"
"Then pay up!" Malfoy exclaimed.
"Young man! Are you seated in the witness chair?"
"No … Madam."
"Have you been sworn?"
"Has any question been directed to you by myself or Mr. Tonks?"
"Then you are to remain silent! I will not tolerate the free-for-all that you may be used to at that school of yours! This may be the Minor's Tribunal, but you will neither be heard nor will you speak unless spoken to. Do you understand?"
Draco only nodded.
"I expect you to make sure your ward behave, Mr. Parkinson. Do continue, Mr. Tonks."
"Yes. But, there can be no misappropriation attributable to House Black unless it was the free and voluntary act of the House's Authorized Agent. In other words, if the former Mrs. Malfoy was forced, coerced, compelled or in any way made to act against her will in such matters by another, House Black is not responsible for the loss. We will show first, that all withdrawals could not be authorized as at all times there were unexhausted funds that could and should have been used for said Minor's support and furthermore, that the withdrawals were affected by material misrepresentations as to the Minor's finances. Further that the former Mrs. Malfoy was forced to make such misrepresentations and forced to withdraw those funds against her will. And finally, that she in no way benefited from such acts rather such funds went to her husband."
"That's a lie!" Draco shouted. "My father would never…"
"Silence!" Madam Hopkirk exclaimed. "If I hear another word, Master Malfoy, you will be taken from this place and sent back to your school. I will not sign the authorization that allowed you to miss classes meaning your absence will be without excuse. And further, I will give serious consideration to ruling in favor of House Black and against you regardless of the evidence. Do you understand?"
"But," he replied weakly.
"DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"
She turned to Mr. Tonks. "You are aware that under our evidentiary rules the former Mrs. Malfoy cannot bear witness against her husband for actions that occurred during their marriage."
"We are Your Honor. But her testimony will prove unnecessary."
"You are also aware that Mr. Malfoy is in prison?"
"And as a result of a plea deal whereby he cannot be asked to testify as to crimes other than the ones he pled guilty to, yes Your Honor. And as he did not plea to stealing from his son's Trust he cannot be called to testify in such a matter."
"It shall be interesting to see what other admissible proof you have then."
Mr. Tonks merely nodded. "There's no point in letting the proverbial cat out of the bag," Mr. Darby said to the audience in Gringotts.
"As to the Chief Warlock's Petition," Mr. Tonks said, "were this a motion to dismiss it would be easy to point out that the Parkinson Petition in no way implicates Lord Black's capacity as a Guardian. While the petition does list several transaction which it claims evidence theft from the Minor's Trust, the last of those Transactions occurred on July 10th of last year. Despite all that has happened in regards to Lord Black in the last several months, there can be no dispute that he was still locked away in Azkaban Prison at the time of that transaction as he had been … without trial as I need not remind this Court … as he had been since November 2nd 1981. Moreover, he could not have assumed the responsibilities as Lord Black before December of 1991, a time when he was still incarcerated, as until that time Lord Arcturus Black still held title. Thus, for every alleged transaction, Lord Black was in no position one way or another to have aided or abetted in the alleged thefts nor in any position to have prevented them.
"The remainder of the allegations refers to, among other things, Juvenile misconduct that occurred more than fifteen years ago at a time when he was not expected to exercise such responsibilities. It further suggests that his service as a Hit Wizard and Auror during the war suggests an – and I quote – unstable personality as evidenced by the fact that he killed known members of other Houses - unquote. I seem to recall that killing the enemy in a war is not exactly an uncommon occurrence. Moreover, no one said those people who died had to stand and fight for You-Know-Who. Next is that his stay in Azkaban renders him unstable and unreliable. He was exonerated by the Wizengamot and found to have been wrongfully and unlawfully imprisoned and now the Chief Warlock seems to add insult to injury by using a situation created by others to deprive Lord Black of the right to manage his House Affairs. The Petition further states that Lord Black's actions at Gringotts on 9 August 1993 were a sign of irresponsibility. In this case, I will demand that allegation be stricken lest we be found in violation of the Sanctions imposed by the ICW for the flagrant breach of the Treaty with Gringotts which stipulated that the government of Greater Britannia may take no action for any reason that might be deemed retaliatory by any person, being or nation in regards to the events of 9 August and the ICW sanctions."
"So noted," Madam Hopkirk said. "The allegation is struck. Nothing may be placed into evidence inconsistent with the ICW findings and sanctions."
"Next," Mr. Tonks continued, "the Chief Warlock makes the rather unprecedented assertion that Lord Black's status as a bachelor disqualifies him from managing Minors' Estates. This has two glaring problems. First off, that has never been the law. Second and fatally for the Chief Warlock, by his own assertion he is unqualified to serve in any capacity in regards to children. And yet he sits here as Headmaster of a prestigious school for children and, worse, as Chief Warlock he is de facto guardian of estates for all Muggle Borns and all magical orphans without a designated guardian. By his own argument, he also cannot serve in any such capacity and therefore has no dog in the hunt. He lacks standing before this Court!
"But, we shall present our evidence before asking this court to consider that rather bizarre position. He further states that Lord Black's capacity to act in the best interest of a Minor is diminished by virtue of the fact that he has no children of his own; an argument as meritless as the previous and which incapacitates the Headmaster and Chief Warlock with the same stroke of the quill!
"We will, if need be, prove the following: First, Lord Black was married on August 23rd 1981, before his incarceration and has remained so married to this day and has lived with his wife since his discharge from St. Mungo's in September of last year, practically the earliest date he could resume his role as husband given the attack that sent him there. The Chief Warlock, on the other hand, is not and has never been married. Second, that Lord Black became the father of a daughter by his wife born June 6th 1982 in London, a child he was unaware of as his wife only learned the joyous news on the same day he went after one Peter Pettigrew, a mission that left him rotting in Azkaban for twelve years without a trial. There is no record of the Chief Warlock ever having a child.
"Conspicuously absent from the Chief Warlock's Petition is any allegation that Lord Black is now or could be the magical guardian for any minor excluding his daughter. Naturally, that is what the Petition seeks to prevent. But we will show that there is, in fact, a potential magical guardianship out there, more than just another Black Family Trust. We will show that there is a possibility, in theory, that Lord Black could become guardian over a major Estate. This Estate happens to be one that had, during Lord Black's long, unfortunate, and illegally imposed absence had been held and had been managed to the detriment of the Minor and his future Estate by Albus Dumbledore under his authority as Chief Warlock. Finally, we will show that despite all that has happened, no one can assume such guardianship again. It is for that reason that we have not sought dismissal of which we feel otherwise entitled. Were we to have done so and succeeded, this matter would be back in another form. It ends now. Thank you."
The other two solicitors gave a talk about what they thought the case was about and what they thought they would prove, but they did not seem nearly as certain about things as Mr. Tonks had. The Parkinson solicitor seemed scared. When they were done, the court ordered a recess.
"Well," Darby said, "it would seem we've knocked them back on their heels."
"Oh?" several voices answered.
"That's known as the opening," he said. "The solicitors merely state what they think the case is about and what they think they'll prove as you probably figured out. What we did was surprise the lot of them. We don't like surprises in this business. They probably wondered whether there was one in store when we did the unusual and demanded immediate trial. But the reason that's not done and hasn't been in a long time is you really have to be sure of your case to pull it off. We are, but if it were just Parkinson's case, we wouldn't have gone there. Using the normal procedures, we'd've gotten them to go away quietly. But Dumbeldore would be back, again and again as you can guess. We're hoping to end that here and now with no warning and no preparation. Parkinson should never have agreed to let the old man in and is probably kicking himself as we speak, but it probably seemed like a good idea at the time having the backing of the Chief Warlock." Darby then gave a very interesting talk on magical trial procedure, mainly because he was far more amusing than the material would have been.
"What about bribes?" Mr. Granger asked. The wall or screen that had showed them the courtroom was still blank which they hoped meant the court was still in recess. "Couldn't that change the outcome?"
"Wouldn't be surprised if that's why we're still in recess," Darby said. "But it will backfire for a few reasons. First and foremost, Hopkirk doesn't play that game so if some money is changing hands, it's somewhere else in the Ministry to alter the outcome. But when Mr. Tonks calls his first witness, well that should be interesting."
"If any such attempts at influence have been made, when we put the Black Accounts Manager on the stand, it will announce that we'd have access to any suspect financial transactions and suggest our willingness to expose such transaction. While bribery is all too common in our world, it is illegal. We don't go looking for it, which perhaps is why it happens as often as it does. As a result, getting caught is particularly humiliating since that implies a lack of intelligence on the part of both parties to the transaction and suggests that their families are not too bright which would affect such things as future marriages. Being a dullard suggests begetting dullards and that's not a desirable trait. But this is all academic. We don't know if any such activities have occurred although we do know that there has been no suspicious account activities on the part of the opposition prior to this morning."
"We have been watching for that," Grisha added.
The blank wall changed, again revealing the courtroom. It seemed the parties were already seated and a couple of minutes later or less, Madam Hopkirk was as well.
"You may call your first witness, Mr. Tonks."
"We call Senior Accounts Manager Markash," Mr. Tonks said.
At first there was no reaction from the other two tables. Then a Goblin entered the courtroom and walked towards the witness chair. Both of the other solicitors leapt to their feet and shouted "Objection!"
"Surely, both of you cannot have an objection," Madam Hopkirk said. "Unless, that is, this testimony has a bearing on both."
"Senior Accounts Manager Markash is called in regards to the activity and circumstances of the withdrawals from the Minor's Trust, not in regards to the Chief Warlock's case," Mr. Tonks said.
"In that case, Mr. Raston your objection is overruled," Madam Hopkirk said. "Mr. Denby?"
"Goblins can't testify," Mr. Denby said. "That's well known. I don't know what they're playing at bringing that … alleged witness in here."
"Ordinarily, I would have to agree and had Lord Black's counsel not submitted a confidential brief prior to this morning, I would expect a lengthy explanation assuming I was inclined to allow it. But your statement as to Goblin testimony is inaccurate. Goblin testimony as to accounts under their management or Gringotts transactions are per se admissible in our courts pursuant to the terms of the Truce of 1715. Moreover, having looked at the Truce and the relevant precedents it is further clear that such evidence and testimony is to be deemed incontrovertible by any other means. This means, Mr. Denby, that no witch or wizard may offer admissible testimony or evidence that contradicts the evidence submitted from Gringotts on such matters. However, your objection is duly noted and should this witness's testimony depart from that which is allowed under the Truce, it is sustained. Otherwise, your objection is overruled. The Senior Accounts Manager may testify."
The Gobin took the stand and was sworn. He stated he was the Senior Accounts manager handling the financial affairs of the Ancient and Noble House of Black and had held that position for the last sixty years. House Black was his only account and he had five junior assistants with no other account responsibilities.
"You are aware of Supplementary Support Trusts?" Mr. Tonks asked.
"Indeed," Markash said. "It is a commonly used vehicle. Beyond that statement, however, my knowledge is limited to its use within the Black Estate."
"Understood. The Black Estate uses it then?"
"Not nearly to the same degree as in years past, but yes. The Supplementary Support Trusts are used to provide a contingent source of income to collateral members of the House in good standing. By this, I mean relations of the Head of House other than his direct lineal descendants. Those collateral members are themselves lineal descendants of a former Head of House, but at the time of their birth, such ancestor was already dead. Per House Black rules, it extends to the descendants in good standing of the current Head of House's deceased grandfather's legitimate nieces and nephews in good standing and their legitimate descendants."
"I thought 'legitimate' went without question," Mr. Tonks said.
"That is not truly the case," Markash replied. "Wizards assume that, we don't as our society does not distinguish. If the financial arrangements do not differentiate such status, we would provide services to all qualified persons. House Black, however, excludes illegitimate issue per its contract with us. In this case, the Head of House Black whose kin and their descendants would be eligible for support would be numerous as Lord Sirius Black the Elder, whose nieces and nephews and their descendants are at issue, had over one hundred brothers and sisters. Most, naturally, were not his father's legitimate offspring and so, since they were not legitimate their multitudinous descendants were not entitled to such support. Many others who might have been have either been disowned or their qualified ancestor left but a small few qualified descendants who receive such support as we speak."
"Is Draco Malfoy a beneficiary of one such Trust?"
"He is, one of the few in fact."
"While House Black has been … prolific … in the past, and that's disregarding the multitude of bastards, they have also had a penchant for disowning their kin. Few lines remain in good standing. When Mr. Malfoy was born, his mother was in good standing so a trust was set up to supplement his sources of financial support."
"What do you mean when you use the word supplement?"
"Trusts such as the one we are speaking about are not meant to be the primary support for the beneficiary. They are in addition to other financial arrangements, and not exclusive of such arrangements. In the cases of children who have wealth from another side of their family, there is often a similar primary trust for their support and where such trust exists, so long as they can draw from that trust, the Black trust remains dormant and inaccessible until the beneficiary turns twenty-five at which time he can terminate the trust and draw on all of its assets, at a reduced rate of interest but without penalty. Some choose that, some do not.
"The trust is in two parts. The first part, the Principal, is deposited from House Black. The second part is the interest on the totality of the trust, which is the principal and any accrued interest. The trust earns a preferred rate of three quarters of a percent per month or nine percent per year. The beneficiary can withdraw up to an amount equal to all accrued interest without penalty. Invasion of the principal incurs a fifteen percent penalty. But even with the interest, there are severe limits on what the child can access on his own at least until he's seventeen.
"The terms of the trust are the same as any of the other Black Supplemental Trust. The day after the child is born and on each birthday thereafter, House Black deposits 5,000 Galleons in the Trust. The deposits continue until the child turns twenty-five. Beginning at age five, the boy may withdraw small amounts each month. At first it was not more than twenty-five Galleons, but that 'allowance' increases with age. At thirteen it's up to one hundred. However, the minor cannot make a greater withdrawal at any given time without approval of his guardian which must be done in my presence. It does not matter that he had not made prior withdrawals. Any monthly withdrawal in excess of the 'allowance' must be requested by the guardian in my presence. Even then, no withdrawals of any kind are allowed if the child is a beneficiary of any other trust and he or his guardian has access to that trust. At seventeen, the beneficiary can have unlimited access to accrued interest only. He cannot access the principal until he's twenty-five and then only if he elects to discontinue the trust."
"Have there been withdrawals from the Malfoy boy's trust?"
"Indeed, quiet substantial ones I might add."
"How was that possible?"
"House Malfoy did not see fit to provide for its scion's financial well being. There was no trust set up for him by his father or his father's family, nor is he a beneficiary under any other trust. As such, there was no primary source of support aside from his parents' income which is not something we consider when authorizing withdrawals. That is a standard provision in these Trusts."
"If House Malfoy had made such a trust; what then?"
"The boy or his guardian would need to establish that there were no funds available from that other trust at the time of the request in order for us to approve any withdrawal."
"The boy could make such withdrawals?"
"No more than set number Galleons in any given month the amount increasing as he gets older, but yes. He would need his designated guardian's approval for any greater withdrawal."
"Has he made withdrawals?"
"He has indeed. His first withdrawal was in August of 1985 for twelve galleons and change. His total withdrawals since that date add up to 3,432 Galleons and change."
"What a bloody spendthrift!" Ron said at Gringotts.
"Some of the withdrawals were with his mother's authorization," Markash concluded. "In only three of the years since he first made a withdrawal have his personal withdrawals exceeded the amount he could have withdrawn on a monthly basis."
"What the hell could a kid spend that kind of money on?" Ron continued.
"Were those the only withdrawals from his trust?" Mr. Tonks asked.
"They were the only ones he was present for, but no. That represents a fraction of what has been withdrawn from the account. On eight occasions since his seventh birthday, his father accompanied his mother to my office to withdraw funds from his Trust."
"Was young Mr. Malfoy present?"
"No. His father was never present with his son; at least not in my presence and the provisions of the trusts are that excess withdrawals can only be authorized in my presence. I only ever saw young Mr. Malfoy when he sought a withdrawal in excess of his monthly allowance in Galleons and only his mother was with him on those occasions. Those were rare occurrences, although twice yearly since he started Hogwarts."
"Did you see Malfoy senior on any other occasions?"
"I should think not. He had no legitimate interest in the Black estates aside from the fact that his son was a trust beneficiary."
"On the occasions when he was with his wife, Draco was not with them, correct."
"Never, that is correct."
"And the wife made a withdrawal?"
"The day before Mr. Malfoy's seventh birthday, she withdrew almost all the earned interest from the account: 14,500 Galleons were withdrawn leaving his interest balance at 339 Galleons. The day before each of his birthdays since then, Since then, she as withdrawn most of his earned interest on the days before his birthday. Then, on September 7th, 1992, she requested a substantial withdrawal, one which wiped out his remaining interest and invaded principal incurring a fifteen percent penalty on top of that."
"And how much was withdrawn without young Master Malfoy being present?"
"46,745 Galleons in total," Markash said.
"Which Mrs. Malfoy pocketed, yes?" Mr. Tonks added.
"Our investigation suggests she did not benefit from those withdrawals."
"Oh? You conducted an investigation?"
"Indeed. The first withdrawal all but demanded it. Our findings were reported to Lord Arcturus Black, again as it was suspicious. He did not authorize us to take any additional action other than to maintain a record of all suspicious activity and monitor any other accounts either Mr. or Mrs. Malfoy held. There were no unusual deposits into Mrs. Malfoy's personal account or her Black family trust. With one exception, an amount equal to what had been removed from Master Maloy's trust was deposited into his father's personal account the same day."
"With one exception?"
"There was a 7,245 Galleon withdrawal from principal on September 7th, 1992 which included penalties that was not so deposited. It corresponded with the exact price at that time for seven Nimbus 2001 racing brooms with the fifteen percent withdrawal penalty added in."
"Bloody hell!" Ron said back at Gringotts. "Daddy bought the git onto to his House Team after stealing the money to do so from the git!"
"Looks like it," Harry agreed.
"Could either Mrs. Malfoy or the Minor son have withdrawn funds from Mr. Malfoy's personal account?" Mr. Tonks asked.
"And that money remained there?"
"That account was very active," Markash said. "It seldom maintained a balance over a thousand Galleons. Just about everything that went in, went out again within a few weeks."
"That we cannot answer except to say there were no corresponding deposits into the Malfoy family account, Mrs. Malfoy's trust or personal account or into young Master Malfoy's trust."
"This has been going on for how long again?"
"And Gringotts did nothing."
"Everything we learned was duly reported to the then Lord Black until he passed away. In a codicil to his will, he directed that unless his heir changed his order, we were to cut off the trust once the Malfoy father's theft exceeded 50,000. Until then, we were to keep records of all suspect transactions and to report all we had learned to the new Lord Black as soon as it became possible to do so. As the new Lord Black was then in Azkaban, in all probability the theft would have exceeded 50,000 prior to Mr. Malfoy's next birthday which means last June's 5,000 Galleon deposit was to be the last one."
"Why last June? You said it was only 46,745 Galleons that had been removed."
"The pattern that evolved was to practically remove all earned interest from the trust each June. As of March 1st of this year, there's 3,770 Galleons on the interest ledger that can be removed which is alone enough to exceed the 50,000."
"You did nothing else? You did not question the withdrawals or report it to the Ministry?"
"Both of which are forbidden under the terms of the Truce of 1715," Markash answered. "Unless we are asked, we do not advise wizards on either the wisdom or legality of their financial affairs. If they are fools with money, so be it. If they steal from each other, again so be it."
"When was the current Lord Black informed of this?"
"We went over the Black family Supplementary Trusts with him during his meeting back in August. His orders were to deny any request for withdrawal in excess of 500 galleons and report it to him immediately. He modified the Trust limiting its annual withdrawal terms to no more than a combined total of 1,000 Galleons in excess of the Minor's unrestricted allowance amount, that 1,000 requiring Mrs. Malfoy's authorization. He further ordered that not so much as a single knut could be withdrawn if Mr. Malfoy Senior was physically present in the bank at the time of the withdrawal. Most regrettably such a transaction never occurred after that meeting."
"You are aware that the marriage between Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Black has since been annulled?"
"Were there any changes as a result of the annulment?"
"There was, naturally, a change in young Mr. Malfoy's guardianship. That transferred to the father of his betrothed Mr. Parkinson. As far as the trust is concerned, there has been no change. Miss Black retains authority regarding withdrawals in excess of the monthly allowance subject to the final approval rules initiated by the current Lord Black. As no additional thefts are anticipated, however, the 5,000 Galleon annual addition to Principal will resume with young Mr. Malfoy's next birthday until he turns seventeen, at which time Lord Black will reevaluate the situation."
"Has Draco's new guardian make a withdrawal?"
"No. He did, however, ask to authorize one on behalf of Mr. Malfoy this past December supposedly to allow the boy to purchase presents. As he was not authorized under the Trust, we refused his request, naturally. He was amusingly upset upon hearing that."
"So, if my notes are correct, the boy's mother stole 46,745 Galleons from her own son?"
"I cannot speak to what your notes say. From where I sit, that is not at all the truth of the matter as to either the identity of the possible thief or the amount."
"Your own testimony stated that only Mrs. Malfoy could authorize the withdrawal of sums in excess of the boy's monthly withdrawal allowance which has been between twenty-five and one hundred a month and that his mother was the only person who could authorize withdrawals in excess of that. Why am I mistaken about the thief."
"I cannot speak to wizards' law. Under our law, however, you cannot unintentionally steal. The act must be an act of free will and the thief must know they have no right to what they have stolen. In this case, we can surmise Mrs. Malfoy knew she had no right to the monies she removed without her son's knowledge. But we also know not one of those transactions was an act of free will. We used a magic quill as required under the provisions of the trust. I dare say, the Lords Black were never the trusting sort. Anyway, that quill responds to the will of the user and if the user is being forced to sign, is under magical compulsion or in any way is not authorizing the withdrawal of her own volition, this is duly recorded. At no time was any transaction with her husband present an act of her intention. As to how she was forced to sign away her son's money, that we cannot answer."
"So it was the father who made it happen?"
"That is the probable conclusion."
"And you said the amount is wrong?"
"The amount in your notes is the amount withdrawn against Mrs. Malfoy's intent. However, one must remember that had those funds remained in the trust, it would've earned interest over time and young Mr. Malfoy is not only deprived of that 46,745, but the interest that would have accrued. A calculation assuming the 3,445 that Mr. Malfoy withdrew since he could access his trust would have been the extent of all withdrawals results in a total loss to the trust over time of 66,767. That is the difference between the current balance in the trust and what the balance would have been had the other withdrawals never occurred. As the current account balance stands at 66,553 as of the first of this month, Mr. Malfoy has lost just a little over half of his money through those questionable withdrawals."
"As we sit here today, did Lord Arcturus Black fail to fund the trust in accordance with its terms?"
"No, all the required deposits were made in the stated amounts at the stated time."
"Did the current Lord Black fail to fund the trust in accordance with its terms?"
"There has been no occasion to fail or succeed. The last deposit occurred while the current Lord Black was in Azkaban and the next one is not due to be deposited for another three months."
"I have no further questions at this time."
"Mr. Denby?" Madam Hopkirk said as Mr. Tonks sat.
"Hopefully, only a few," the man said as he stood. "Who is responsible for seeing to it that such a trust is fully funded?"
"That is a vague and broad question," Markash said. "Define fully funded."
"That the principal is there."
"No one really. A trust such as this does not obligate the donor to fund it at all."
"What if it was there and someone took it. Doesn't the Black family have to see to it that it's put back?"
"What if Lord Black had taken it?"
"That's a different situation, naturally. It is also impossible. While Lord Black can at any time stop adding to the trust, he cannot withdraw from it."
"But Mrs. Malfoy could."
"As she was both a Black and the natural mother of the beneficiary, she could. She was and is, in fact, the only other person who could aside from the beneficiary."
"So she could've taken those funds and given them to Lord Black, couldn't she?"
"Hypothetically, that is a possibility."
"So perhaps that is what in fact happened?"
"No, it is not."
"You're certain of this?"
"We tracked the money from the Trust vault to Mr. Malfoy's personal vault or, with that one exception I mentioned, Quality Quidditch Supplies in Diagon Alley. At no time did any funds transfer from anyone in the Malfoy family to Lord Black or any of House Black's accounts."
Denby clearly looked disappointed to learn that. "So who then is supposed to pay that money back?"
"I cannot answer for wizards and about wizard's laws."
"Gringotts failed to prevent the thefts!"
"Arguably," Markash agreed to many people's surprise. "But the Truce of 1715 prohibited us from taking any action beyond advising Lord Black of the questionable transactions."
"You could be considered a co-conspirator under our law," Denby began.
"Under the Truce, we cannot be held responsible for the action of wizards. So the answer to that question is no, we cannot and I cannot unless, of course, you seek war."
"War? What do you mean?"
"The Truce of 1715, despite what you might believe, was no more than an armistice – a cessation of hostilities. So long as the Truce is not violated, my nation agreed to remain at peace. But a violation is grounds for us to resume war with your nation. We have been patient, but recent events… Well, our patience is running thin. To suggest we are liable for young Mr. Malfoy's loss is an insult. To demand that we repay him? For that, we could demand his head and yours as well to avoid further effusion of Wizard Blood should such a demand be refused! Are you making such a demand of us?"
"N-no," said a visibly pale Denby. "N-no further questions."
"I have no follow up," Mr. Tonks said.
"I wish to apologize for the ill advised and ignorant implication of Mr. Denby, Accounts Manager Markash. Rest assured, it will not go unnoticed. I thank you for your time. You may step down."
Markash merely nodded before getting up and leaving the courtroom.
"Your next witness, Mr. Tonks."
"In regards the Parkinson Petition, we rest, your Honor."
"Very well. Mr. Denby? Do you have any witnesses?"
"I call … um … Narcissa Black to the stand."
"I will object," Mr. Tonks said. "First of all, I am certain she is not waiting outside of this court so this is a stalling tactic at the least. Secondly, I remind this court that Mr. Denby pointed out earlier that she cannot be asked to testify against her former husband, thus she cannot testify as to those withdrawals beyond confirming that they occurred. That being said, she cannot be called to contradict anything Markash said."
"She could say that she kept some of that money, or all of it for that matter. That would neither implicate her husband nor contradict the Goblin," Denby said.
"How would it not contradict the Goblin?" Madam Hopkirk asked.
"The Goblin said he tracked the money to the vault of Lucius Malfoy. But it remains possible she made a deposit at some later date from that vault, does it not?"
"It's perilously close to implicating her Husband, Mr. Denby."
"If she made deposits, we need not ask the source."
"So limited it would not violate those rules," Madam Hopkirk agreed. "But without more I see no relevance to that line of inquiry whatsoever. Unless you can show here and now you can connect the dots without contradicting Gringotts or implicating Lucius Malfoy directly, I cannot allow that witness."
"This is an expedited trial, your Honor," Mr. Denby said. "I have not been allowed to question any witnesses. Surely a little leeway is acceptable."
Madam Hopkirk sat pondering for some time. "Very little," she finally said. "You may call the witness. But if I think the testimony is moving in an improper direction, I will put a stop to it. Be advised, that threat to the Goblin has placed you and your client's case on very thin ice. How much time do you need?"
"A few days, I should think," he replied.
"You're request it then denied. You've had notice of this trial for a month which should've been more than enough time to try and subpoena the witness."
"In that case," he said disappointed, "I call Sirius Black."
"Any objection, Mr. Tonks?"
"I'd like a continuing objection to testimony in contradiction of Account Manager Markash. Aside from that, although I fail to see the relevance, no objection."
"Lord Black then, please take the stand."
Sirius did as asked and was sworn. The initial questions were his name, occupation ("Idly wealthy, although considering possibilities"), whether he had been convicted of any crimes ("Not convicted. It's well known I've spent some time in Azkaban, but I wasn't convicted of so much as spiting on the pavement.")
"Did you annul the marriage of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy?" Denby finally asked.
"You mean aside from the fun it produced?"
"Is that why you did it?"
"It certainly was a factor in doing her sister's marriage. But in both cases, no. The marriage was annulled for material breach of her betrothal agreement by Lucius Malfoy and at the request of my Grandfather and Narcissa. I did give her that option, although I will not say I would have refrained had she not wanted it herself."
"Did it have anything to do with stealing money from the trust?"
"You did know that there had been thefts."
"I knew there were suspicious withdrawals. I was made aware of each and every one of them as was my Grandfather. I cannot say for certain whether they were thefts, as you put it, although it certainly looked that way."
"And so you annulled the marriage."
"No. Well, I did, but that was later and for a different reason. The betrothal agreement did not require Lucius to refrain from robbing his son blind. Neither did the trust, come to think of it."
"So why did you annul the marriage?"
"Lucius Malfoy was in material breach," Sirius said. "Specifically, he brought dishonor and disgrace upon a member of House Black and subjected that member to scandal."
"By stealing from the member's trust?"
"By pleading guilty to two notorious murders and being sentenced to Azkaban, which is also why I annulled the marriage of Narcissa's sister. Grandfather further left it to me whether any of them should be disowned. Thus far, I have refrained from that step."
"Are you married?"
"When did you marry?"
"Can you explain why no one has found any record of your marriage?"
"We were married in Bordeaux in France. The records would be in the provincial office, wherever that is."
"Weren't you disowned?"
"No. I would say I thought I was. But I like everyone else was mistaken."
"Your parents disowned you."
"My mother said she had. I have no idea what my father thought on the issue and he was dead not long after my mother made her opinion clear. I'm sure her parents and siblings thought that was the case as well. I know her nieces did. But my mother was not Lord Black and neither was my father. Lord Arcturus Black never disowned me and as only he could do so, here we are."
"Didn't you also bring dishonor and disgrace upon your family?"
"Arguably, as I was sent to prison for some pretty nasty stuff. But I was also never convicted, which Lord Black knew all too well. Not that it matters if your suggesting my incarceration should have prompted immediate disowning."
"Why wouldn't it?"
"Well, he didn't disown Bellatrix Lestrange who did have a trial and was a convicted mass murderer and Death Eater. The truth is the only members of his House he ever truly and permanently disowned were my mother and her brother Alphard. She was disowned for violating his expressed wishes when she allowed my brother to become a Death Eater – thereby becoming a vassal to someone not of his immediate line and disqualifying himself as a potential heir – and getting killed as such. Although I can't say if the getting killed bit was a part of the reason or not. My Uncle was disowned for similarly declaring fealty to another, unrelated line."
"But your marriage was annulled, wasn't it?"
"No. I'm still married. Quite happily, I might add."
"But did you not bring disgrace upon the family?"
"First off, there was no betrothal agreement. Second of all, if there was she didn't violate it."
"I met her, we had lunch, got engaged and got married. We would've married that day, but for the fact that a woman deserves a honeymoon if at all possible and I had to request vacation time to give it to her. We tied the knot about three weeks after we had that lunch, which was as soon as I had the time to do it right."
"There was no wedding announcement."
"There was a war on. I had ended the careers of more than a few Death Eaters and she had no training to defend herself against those filth. To announce such a thing at that time would've made her a target. We decided to keep it quiet until the war was over – provided the Death Eater scum lost."
"She wasn't a Pureblood, was she?"
"You don't know me too well, do you?" Sirius snarled in reply. "Had she been a Pureblood, under the circumstances we would have married anyway. We might even have had an announcement although I doubt it. She still would've been a target to get at me. But as she was Muggle Born, that made it certain she would be a target."
"Did your grandfather know this?"
"Not until later."
"And he didn't annul the marriage?"
"Without a betrothal agreement, he could no more annul it than he could make the sun rise. And before you ask, unlike some of his ancestors, including his father, he saw no reason to disown me for my choice in such matters obviously, seeing as I wasn't disowned. Moreover, he supported my wife for the rest of his life in one way or another. He put her through Healer Training in Paris for example and paid for my daughter to attend the best schools on the Muggle side of things until she was old enough for magical education."
"You have a daughter?"
"She was born when I was away. My wife found out she was expecting the day I failed to come home."
"And the wife never asked for an annulment or a divorce?"
"No, she did not. I'd like to think she had faith in the system; that she had faith that sooner or later the government would realize its mistake and at least give me a trial. But the truth is that while that is true, divorce was not an option even had she thought of it, which she didn't."
"I suppose it would've been difficult," Bode conceded.
"To say the least."
"So, your only reason for annulling the Malfoy marriage was his being in prison?"
"It justified annulment. Unlike me, he confessed to those murders so a trial was unnecessary. Actually, as I understand it he confessed and accepted life in that place to avoid trial altogether. They had him on far more than those two murders and that does not include any of the stuff he did during the war, which was apparently subject to reopening. As he was a Death Eater as well, that was a material breach as it adds more than a little notoriety on top of being a confessed murderer."
"You said it justified the annulment. That suggests there was another reason."
"There was, but I agreed not to make that public and I would have if I used it as grounds."
"What was that reason?"
"I agreed not to make it public."
"I think," Madam Hopkirk said, "that unless you have a better reason not to answer, I will ask that you do."
"You asked for it," he said to Denby. "First off, I had the bastard dead to rights for attempted line theft and attempting to kill the Head of an Ancient and Noble House. That's how DMLE caught the bastard 'cause he tried to have me killed so that his son Draco would become Lord Black. Never thought the ponce had brains. His plot failed, naturally. Even had he succeeded, Draco there would be left with nothing but the trust his Daddy seemed to have raided. After all, I have a legitimate daughter."
"Aside from your testimony, there's no record of a daughter."
"Well, she was born in a muggle Hospital. There was no Healer involved at all, so there was no magical birth certificate. Then there's the fact that my wife and Lord Arcturus agreed that under the circumstances the girl would not take the Black name until she was seventeen, unless it was by virtue of a Line Continuation agreement. That was to keep her safe and to avoid Merlin knows how many betrothal offers. Oh, don't get me wrong. She is a Black. The law does not require her to take that name. That's simply a societal convention."
"So, what is her name?"
"I don't see the relevance of that question," Ted Tonks said.
"I was wondering when you would object, seeing as I don't see the relevance of this line if inquiry at all."
"Many of the questions asked thus far I would have asked in my case against the Chief Warlock's petition. But the name of the child is irrelevant."
"Agreed and sustained."
"The imaginary wife then," Denby pressed.
"Objection, move to strike."
"Sustained as to unduly argumentative and insulting and as to relevance in either case. And my ruling on the daughter's name is in either case as well. Move on, Mr. Denby."
"When did Mr. Malfoy allegedly try to kill you?"
"Nothing alleged about it. But to answer your question, it was back in September. Some idiot named Fletcher tried to hex me in the Ministry Atrium. That was after I was exonerated, but the idiot still thought there was a reward for bringing me in. Malfoy made his move when I was in St. Mungos. He failed and copped to those murders rather than go down as attemting to put his son in as Head of House Black. It wasn't his first go. He made two prior attempts when I was in prison; not to kill me but to set his son up in my place. Cost him a bloody fortune to fail which might explain why he needed to steal money from the boy – assuming that's what he did. But they had him on more than that. The investigation brought his whole house of cards tumbling down. Had he not pled as he did, DMLE had him on trying to kill me, murder for hire, attempted line theft, possession of enough illegal drugs to justify five life terms, smuggling, over 500 counts of possession of banned magical items, four counts of kidnapping, several hundred counts of rape, running a prostitution ring, at least five other murders and that does not include anything he did during the war. He's been a very busy man, it seems. But, as those charges were not public knowledge, I could not use them for an administrative annulment. The murder plea was another matter. I gave Narcissa the chance to ask for it, and she did. But I would've annulled it regardless."
"And rendered their son a bastard," Bode said.
"From what I've heard, he already was one," Sirius shrugged. "He knew enough about the attempted Line Theft that I can disown him. He's a bastard under the law, but not a disowned one. Had I disowned him we would not be here 'cause he would've lost all of the money in that trust, not just the bits his Daddy made off with. And for what? Had his Dad not tried to snuff me, he might still be around committing all sorts of crimes. And he tried to snuff me to make his son Lord Black when the boy wasn't even the next in line!"
"One could say he was unaware of your daughter."
"True, but even if I had no child, Draco Malfoy was not the next in line."
"He wasn't?" Denby asked in shock. Looking around, it seemed Parkinson, Malfoy and even Dumbledore were surprised. "Who was after you if not Draco?"
"That can't be!" Draco said.
"Mr. Malfoy!" Madam Hopkirk began.
"Oh, but it can," Sirius said almost evilly. "Dorea Black was Harry's Grandmother. Her brother was Draco's Great-grandfather. Harry is a generation closer to me than Draco is, so he is the next in line or was once the rest of the males between him and me died."
"But wasn't Dorea Black disowned?" Denby asked.
"No. Although her marriage to Charlus Potter avoided her betrothal which no doubt caused some consternation, do you honestly think a Lord Black would disown her for marrying the direct heir to another Ancient and Noble House? Such a marriage was several steps above whatever her father could have arranged. So she was not disowned and as there are no daughters between her and Harry, he remained eligible. Draco is one generation removed, one generation further away. Under House Black rules, Harry was the next in line after me and his father when he was born."
"No further questions," Denby said hastily.
"Mr. Tonks?" Madam Hopkirk asked.
"I reserve the right to recall Lord Black in the other matter, but have no further questions as to the Parkinson Petition."
"Any other witnesses, Mr. Denby?"
He was whispering with Mr. Parkinson for several seconds.
"No, Your Honor," he said and sat down looking dejected.
"In that case, we consider the Parkinson matter submitted. We will rule in due course, but not until after the close of evidence in the other matter before us. We shall adjourn until one this afternoon."