The clothing reveal went off without a hitch, though there were a few side comments about Harry spending his inheritance frivolously from Mrs Weasley, especially after she saw the dragon hide boots. These complaints were quickly quashed by Sirius who insisted it was well past time that Harry had decent clothing. Lily and James would be quite happy to ensure that their son was properly dressed, he knew that both would have been horrified to see Harry in Dudley’s cast offs, (not second-hand clothes per se but ones that were so ill fitting and worn out) and had a decent set of boots. In fact, Lily would insist that the boots were a safety requirement for anyone studying potions. Other than that, the next few days passed in relative harmony.
Each night Percival and Harry retired to the library after dinner to practice meditation, with Sirius joining them when there were no Order meetings. Focussing on repairing his occlumency shield combined with the meditation helped Sirius to address the grief and guilt he felt over the deaths of Lily and James for the first time, as opposed to the daily cycle of reliving the memories he had experienced care of the dementors. On the whole the practice appeared to be helping the shaggy haired man as much as his Godson, it had been several days since he had last referred to Harry as James.
Late one evening when the house was quiet and all the other occupants were in bed, Sirius wryly confessed that there was a part of him that was hoping that Harry would be expelled from Hogwarts so that they could spend time getting to know each other. He had a fantasy of the two of them leaving Britain and hiding out in Australia. With a bit of prompting from Percival he was able to acknowledge it wasn’t necessarily healthy or the best option for Harry (though it might seem safer initially) and he promised to talk to Healer Addison about it once Harry returned to school. There was no doubt in Sirius’ mind that Dumbledore would not allow his Golden Boy to be thrown out of Hogwarts.
In some ways Sirius’ confessing his struggles with grief, guilt and visions of the past, encouraged Harry to admit to his own issues. Sitting in front of the flickering fire he finally revealed the contents of some of his nightmares (Percival decided that after the trial, Vernon was another issue he was going to raise with the Lawyer). Harry ran his fingers over the rug he was sitting on as he admitted his fear that the Horcrux would be able to fully possess him. Then there was also a long discussion over how Harry felt about Remus Lupin. Sirius was curious as to why he still referred to the man as ‘Professor’ and why he didn’t consider him family. Finally, Harry was able to voice his anxiety that the ministry would just use the trial as another excuse to discredit and slander him further. This last fear was allayed somewhat by a letter they received from Samuel McMillan who arranged to meet them, along with Madame Picquery the day before the trial.
Of course, the time spent bonding didn’t go unnoticed for long. Inevitably it was Molly who noticed Percival and Harry’s daily disappearances into the library. When she brought it to the attention of the Headmaster, Sirius was challenged by Dumbledore at the next meeting of the Order. They had gathered as usual in the evening after dinner. The Headmaster sat at the head of the table and twinkled over his glasses at Sirius.
“Sirius can you tell me why you have been keeping Harry separate from his friends since he arrived?”
“I really don’t know what you’re talking about Albus?” Sirius replied calmly. Very briefly a wrinkle creased the Headmaster’s brow, when had Sirius started to call him by name? He might have to take steps to bring Sirius back into line!
“Come now, Molly tells me you have been sequestering him away in the library, and yet no one has been able to find you once you have entered. You cannot keep encouraging the boy to hide away. I understand that you want to get to know him, but I can’t condone you keeping him from his friends. It is important that he maintains contact with them so that he can recover from the dementor attack. You wouldn’t want to stand in the way of his healing, would you?” the long pointed nose dropped so that mournful peering over the glasses could occur.
“As far as I’m aware Headmaster he hasn’t been hiding away, I’ve been able to find him every time I’ve looked for him,” Sirius answered airily, ignoring the guilt inducing look as he poured himself some tea from the pot on the table. “I understand, from the discussions we’ve had, that he’s taking the opportunity to be a little more studious this summer,” Sirius pretended he didn’t see the lemon-sucking face that Snape pulled, turning to filling the cup Minerva held out in a silent request for tea instead. He thought the restraint he showed in not commenting was admirable. “He mentioned that he felt like he was letting his parent’s down by the lack of effort he’d put in thus far and he wants to make amends for it.”
“That would be good to see,” Professor McGonagall, smiled. “I always thought that he had a lot of potential that he hasn’t been using. I did wonder why he took Divination instead of Arithmancy or Runes, like Lily and James.”
“It seems no-one thought to tell him anything about his parents, so he didn’t know what they studied. I told him in a letter last year. He had no-one to advise him on what courses to take, so he just took the same ones as Ron. I believe Percival is intending on tutoring him in both subjects, and if he does well he will….” Sirius was interrupted from saying more by the Headmaster.
“Now, now, Sirius the library is a small room,” Albus focussed on the topic he wanted discussed. Honestly who cared what the boy studied, it wouldn’t make any difference in the end. “You can’t tell me that he can stay hidden in there all day. It is easy to see that there are no hidden corners, the others say he isn’t in there when they look for him. Where have you been taking him?”
Placing his cup on the table, Sirius glanced at the Headmaster for a moment, contemplating how much to reveal, “Well Albus if you must know. The other day I was encouraged to make an attempt to restore the family tapestry. Miraculously it worked! It seems that I was not magically disowned after all. That act has allowed myself and my heir to be accepted by the house and it revealed a portion of the library that had been previously concealed by the family magic. Looking at it I dare say that no one has been able to enter the deeper areas for as many as two hundred years. Harry has spent a great deal of time exploring and using the resources to completely review his homework.”
Somber blue eyes, peered at Sirius over the half-moon spectacles, “Do you think that is wise Sirius? We all know the dark depths of depravity to which your family has descended. I don’t believe that Harry should be exposed to such things, much less without supervision.” Sirius stifled his chuckle at the predictability of Albus’ condescending tone.
There were many hums of agreement from around the table and a murmur about finding some way to lock the children out of the library.
Leaning against the back of his chair, Sirius crossed his arms, and stared down the table, being sure to engage his occlumency shields. “Here’s the thing Albus, it appears that what everyone knows about the Blacks isn’t the truth. I will readily admit that most of the recent books, that is to say, the last one hundred and fifty to two hundred years’ worth, are indeed of a darker nature. However, these have been spelled to prevent anyone under age or not related to the family from removing them. I was going to bring out the worst ones and ask Bill if he would have a look and check the protections after the meeting. The older books, that we have just gained access to, are not what I expected. It certainly surprised me. We have even found a copy of A Treatise in the Exploration of Healing Charms - by Morgan Asclepius. Which is hardly a dark book!”
A rapacious look crossed Dumbledore’s face though he was quick to suppress it, “If that is the case, then I’ll have to insist that you allow me to examine the books. Who knows, we might find something in there….” He began eagerly.
“Did you not hear me Albus, the House will only allow myself, as Head of the House, Harry, as my Heir and for some strange reason Harry’s friend Percival,” there was an odd twist to Dumbledore’s face that Sirius did not miss, “to access the deeper sections. Books can be removed to the parlour for a short time by the Head of the House,” he raised a hand to forestall Albus’ interjection, “however if they are in anyone else hands they immediately return to the shelves. It is impossible to take anyone else in there, which is why Harry’s friends haven’t been able to find him. They already know this, and Ron at least seems to understand and support Harry’s new interest in studying. Besides, he is a boy, not a pet, Albus. “Snape snorted. “And as such he is allowed to spend his time where he chooses. You cannot dictate what he does.”
When Dumbledore spoke, it was clear that he was ignoring Sirius’ last comment, “Well I must insist that Harry, spends some time with his friends it’s no good for him to be cooped up for too long. Nor to spend his entire holidays working on his homework,” Dumbledore paused as if considering things further. “I also understand that Harry has been receiving a series of potions. He needs to stop immediately and as his Godfather I must ask you to tell him. Who knows what he is consuming?”
“What?!” Lupin exclaimed, turning to his friend. “Sirius, did you know about this? What’s he taking?” There was concern in those pale green eyes, golden flecks just starting to break through.
“Pftt, Remus, don’t start acting like you care about him now,” Sirius scoffed.
“What?! I have always cared about him! He’s part of my pack, he’s my pup!” Remus denied with a shake of his head.
“I will tell you now that, that’s not how Harry sees it. And before you become all self-depreciating it’s not about the wolf. If you want to know why then you will have to talk to Harry,” Sirius reached out to take up his cup once more.
Remus opened then closed his mouth before taking a deep breath and pushing the hurt aside said, “That’s beside the point Sirius, you can’t support Harry in this….potion taking behaviour!’
There was a mirthless laugh and the cup paused just short of Sirius’ lips, “Did you ever stop to consider that there might be a very good reason for Harry to take these potions?” He glared at the adults gathered around the table sternly. “Did any of you ever wonder why, when Lily and James were as tall as they were, Harry’s so damn short? Why is he as thin as he is? I know that I did the moment I laid eyes on him!” Albus opened his mouth, but Sirius kept going, pointing a finger at the old man. “Do not even consider telling me he’s a fussy eater or some other rubbish! We have all observed that Harry will eat anything that is placed in front of him without complaint!” Sirius paused and made an effort to moderate his volume and tone to make them less confrontational. “Now I know, that Molly will have told you about some of the arguments that have gone on in this house recently, but the main point to take from them is that my Godson, has not been treated as he should have while under the care of his relatives.”
“Oh Please, so Prince Potter was not pandered to at every opportunity!” scoffed Snape.
“Shut it Snape!” Sirius snapped. “I mean, he was locked in a cupboard, fed one meal a day if he was lucky, forced to do more chores than one would reasonably expect a person twice his age to be capable of and was beaten if he didn’t finish them or made a mistake. Before you deny it, he has the scars to prove it. If you must know I have approved the potions he is taking.”
There was quiet around the table for minute before a chorus of protestations broke out.
“Now Sirius,” And there was the patented look of Disapproval and Disappointment again. “You really shouldn’t encourage these delusions. It’s true Harry hasn’t been as loved as we might like, but Vernon and Petunia…..”
“You left the boy with Petunia!” Snape choked out, through a horror clenched throat. “By the Gods we’re lucky he’s not an obscurial!”
“Now, now, Severus there’s no need for the dramatics. Harry is fine, he’s just exaggerating in order to get attention,” Dumbledore dismissed Snape’s concerns. “Potions are certainly not warranted.”
Severus failed to acknowledge the Headmaster and continued talking, “I insist that I check the potions that the boy is receiving!” He looked directly at Sirius, who nodded his acceptance.
“I would appreciate that Snape,” Sirius inclined his head. The rest of the room had devolved into bickering over whether the claims were true, with almost half agreeing with the Headmaster and Rita Skeeter, that Harry was a disturbed boy prone to exaggeration and making up stories.
It was a few minutes before Albus could re-gain control of the meeting and seeing that he wasn’t going to stop the current disagreement he turned the discussion to the more suitable topic of guarding the item in the Department of Mysteries.
Now that they had Dobby’s help and Dumbledore’s acceptance of the restricted access to the deeper parts of the library, they found it easier to escape Grimmauld Place for their meeting with Samuel McMillan. Mr Samuel McMillan was a distinguished gentleman of indeterminable years who’s calm deep voice and stoic demeanour went a long way to easing Harry’s fears.
“First of all, Mr Graves here has provided a written statement from a Dudley Dursley. Who is your….?”
“He’s my cousin.”
“And do you reside with your cousin?”
“Does your cousin know about magic? Or rather, did your cousin know about magic prior to the events on August the Second?”
“Yes, he did.”
“Good. Now on the night in question, were there any other witnesses to the performance of the patronus charm?”
“Not apart from Percival, everyone else had gone home and we were in a dark alleyway.”
“Excellent. Now there is a spell that will show the last spells that were cast by your wand. Do you know it?”
“Yes. Prior Incantato.”
“Good. Do I have your permission to perform this spell on your wand at the trial tomorrow?” He hardly waited for Harry’s nod before continuing. “There are two other means of confirming the events that happened. The first is the use of veritaserum, which is potent truth serum and the second is with the extraction of the memory. Now the first would require your guardian’s approval, which given she is a muggle, should be fine for a hearing. However, given the current political environment, I believe that they will escalate the situation to a full trial, and it would then not be admissible. Memories can be modified, so are generally not accepted as a reliable means of evidence in court. Though an argument could be made that due to your age, you’re unlikely to have the ability to manipulate them, so I will keep that one up my sleeve for now. Be assured though that in this the law is on your side.”
“Mr McMillan,” Percival said gaining the lawyer’s attention. “If you look at the statement written by Dudley, you can see evidence that he is actually a squib. Is it not possible that Harry’s Aunt could be the same? In which case if she signed a declaration would it not be possible to use it in the trial? If not, I am sure that my guardian would be willing to give permission for me to take veritaserum, instead of Harry.”
Mr McMillan rubbed a hand over his chin, “Excellent thinking my lad.” He glanced at Harry, “do you think she would be amenable?”
“Perhaps, if you approached the house as a muggle, and only arrived after my Uncle has left for work?”
“Right well if you’ll give me the address, I’ll follow that up this afternoon. I will be waiting for you in the Ministry foyer tomorrow morning.”
Harry jotted down the address on a scrap of parchment while asking Magic to bless the meeting between Aunt Petunia and Mr McMillan. As he passed the address over, his Lawyer gave him a last piece of advice, “tomorrow, be confident in your answers. Do not let them cut you off. You are the Heir of House Potter, one of the most distinguished houses this country has ever seen and that means you can command their respect. You will have Percival and myself on your side, and if all else fails,” he gave a sly glance at Seraphina, “I’m sure our ex-Lady President here can move you to America to complete your education.”
“I’m sure that won’t be necessary,” Seraphina said shaking his hand and sending him through the floo. “Now boys, how about some lunch and you can tell me all about those fascinating books you’ve been finding in that library of yours.”
Unsurprisingly Harry woke early the next morning, a quick tempus revealed it to be before 5.30. He rolled on to his back with a groan. There was no way he was getting back to sleep now. A snuffle from beside him had him rolling back onto his side so he could see Percival. The older boy was resting peacefully for once and Harry didn’t want to disturb him, so he spent a few silent minutes just observing the outline of his roommate’s body under the covers.
Finally, Harry huffed out a breath, he really should get ready. It wouldn’t do to be late but lying in bed was so much more preferable to facing the upcoming trial. Seraphina had advised them to arrive at the ministry before eight, because eight was the absolute earliest that a trial could start as per some obscure law written in the 1700s, after one member had called a session at two o’clock in the morning. Apparently half the Wizengamot had been un-impressed at being woken and the other half were drunk. They had passed a law that it was illegal to wear purple feather boas on Saturdays. Seraphina wouldn’t be meeting them with Mr McMillan, instead she would be joining her friend Amelia in order for her entrance to have the most impact.
Scrubbing a hand over his head, Harry decided to have a shower to start the day and shuffled into the ensuite. It seemed Mrs Weasley had been in at some point during the night as there was a set of freshly washed and pressed jeans and a tee-shirt for him to wear hanging over the towel rail. Well wasn’t she going to be surprised! The shower steamed up the mirror, obscuring Harry’s pale reflection.
Fortunately, by the time he had finished Dobby had hung his formal clothes and robes from a hook on the back of the bathroom door, so he was able to dress without disturbing Percival. After trying to make some order of his Eventually Harry emerged from the bathroom, to find a sleep addled Percival sitting on his bed rubbing his eyes.
“Morning,” he greeted the taller boy.
“Morning Harry,” Percival’s jaw split in a wide yawn. “Wait for me I won’t be long.”
Harry moved to sit on his bed and Hedwig, fluttered over to his shoulder. He reached up a hand to stroke her chest.
“Even with all the help, I’m still worried,” he admitted. “What if they don’t allow Mr McMillan to speak? I don’t think I could do it on my own.” Hedwig coo’ed at him and butted her head against his cheek.
Percival, true to his word, emerged from the bathroom not even ten minutes later wearing formal robes and joined Harry in traipsing down the stairs to the kitchen. Surprisingly Mrs Weasley, Sirius, Remus and Tonks were all already sitting at the table, cups of tea present in every hand. Much to the annoyance of the others, as indicated by the irritated glances he was receiving, Sirius was nervously tapping his fingers on the table. He stopped as soon as he saw Harry.
“Did you sleep alright….?” the Animagus began only to be cut off by the Weasley matriarch.
“Now what are you wearing Harry?” Mrs Weasley huffed derisively. “I laid your clothes out for you. I want you to run upstairs and change. We discussed this at the Order meeting and Professor Dumbledore feels that appearing in a thoroughly non-magical fashion will give the best impression. You don’t want to start the hearing off on the wrong foot now do you? Arthur will walk you down and take you through the visitor’s entrance. He’s a bit excited that you’ll get to catch the train, just like a muggle. Now what would you like for breakfast, I’ll put it on while you’re changing.”
“Um,” Harry was a little bamboozled by her verbal barrage. “Um, just toast thanks,” he said in the end as he sat down next to Sirius, who was now jigging his leg. He decided to ignore her comments about his clothes for now. A moment later Arthur walked in.
“Now Harry, you’ll come to work with me. The hearing is on the same floor as my office,” Mr Weasley stated as he finished buttoning up his robes. Mrs Weasley put a plate of kippers and toast in front of her husband.
“What about Percival?” Harry enquired, wondering if he could get away with having a cup of coffee.
“What?” Arthur paused with a forkful of food, halfway to his mouth.
“Percival?” Harry pointed at his friend. “He will be my key witness, so he needs to come with me. We’re meeting …”
“Huh, well I guess he’ll make his own way there,” Arthur shrugged dismissively, and continued eating.
“No,” Percival, could not remain silent in the face of this farce any longer. “And quite frankly this ‘non-magical’ thing you’re trying to arrange here is utterly ridiculous and quite likely to put the judge off right away. We’ll floo Harry,” he stated flatly. “Mr McMillan, is expecting us at 7.40 near the fountain of Magical Brethren.”
Arthur gulped like a fish, “Now you see here, Dumbledore made these arrangements, I think we can all agree that he knows best about these things. We know that the floo system is being watched!”
Sirius snorted, “Arthur the house is under fidelius so anyone watching won’t be able to tell where he has come from and it doesn’t matter if the someone is watching the floo, because they already know where Harry is going to be today.”
“Sorry Mr Weasley, but I’m with Percival on this one,” Harry cut in. “I have no doubt that the ministry is going to bump this up above a simple hearing for under age wizardry to a full trial, so I’m going in prepared for a proper court case. Which is why I won’t be changing clothes. I’m sorry if you were put out Mrs Weasley,” he added with an apologetic smile.
“Is that why you’re meeting McMillan?” Sirius asked.
Harry nodded, “He got in contact with me recently.” Harry mentioned offhandedly to make it seem like a coincidence to those listening in. “Apparently the Potters have had McMillan and Sons on retainer for the last three generations. Given the circumstances I thought it would be good to get appropriate legal advice. And after the trial we’re going to discuss with him what can be done about the slander in the prophet and those books that someone has published in my name, I never gave permission for anything like that.” That conversation had actually already happened, but they didn’t need to know that. This way it wouldn’t be unexpected when it all came out.
He turned to look at his friend, “Are you ready Perce?” With a nod the other boy rose from his place and the two made their way over to the fireplace. “Wish me luck,” he said fatalistically.
“Before you go Harry,” Sirius grabbed him by the shoulders and gave him a quick hug before pulling back and looking him in the eye. “Amelia Bones is going to be in charge. She was in Hogwarts years before I was, so we haven’t met, but the word is that she’s fair. So you shouldn’t need to worry. She’ll hear you out. Stay calm and listen to McMillan. Look after him Percival,” he glanced at the other boy who nodded. He gave Harry another quick hug before stepping back so Harry could move over to the floo.
“Best of Luck Harry,” Remus Lupin, somewhat awkwardly reached around Sirius to pat Harry’s shoulder. Harry smiled hesitantly at him before grabbing a pinch of Floo powder and stepping into the fireplace without another word.
He whirled around in the green flames, stepping out calmly and confidently when they came to a stop (thank heavens they had spent an afternoon flooing between Grimmauld place and Seraphina’s apartment to practice). Harry emerged into a very long and splendid hall. One of the glossy black-green tile lined walls had a multitude of fireplaces set into it, through which dozens of workers were arriving to start their day. With a quick step to the side Harry cleared the way for Percival to exit the fireplace. A hurried inspection of their robes revealed the need for a wandless cleaning charm, fortunately there were no creases. Surprisingly Mr Weasley had followed them through.
“Now boys,” the balding man said as he bustled up behind them. “I’m afraid you can’t…. I mean I can’t just allow you to meet this Mr McMillan. I…I mean..we…I mean…you don’t know him…”
“Mr Potter, Mr Graves,” a confident baritone called. And they were both very relieved to see tall figure of Mr McMillan approaching. “I’m so glad that you’ve managed to get here on time, if you’ll follow me.” He turned to lead them away.
“Now listen here!” Arthur said firmly, grabbing the man’s arm and turning him back around. “I don’t know what business you have with Harry but I …”
“What business I have?” Samuel McMillan raised an eyebrow. Then looking the redhead up and down he continued, “Mr Weasley I presume? The business that I have with these young gentlemen, is that I have been employed as Mr Potter’s legal representative. As such, I need to ensure that they arrive at the appropriate location at the correct time for Mr Potter’s trial, so if you’ll excuse me.” He turned and headed towards the lifts with a flustered Mr Weasley following behind.
“Now boys, I have been advised that the trial has been moved, we are headed directly there, so straighten yourselves up. And Mr Graves,” he made eye contact with the older boy, “I’m afraid your guardian will be arriving a trifle late,” he finished with a smirk.
“Is that so, and she’s usually so prompt!” Percival smiled.
After registering their wands with the grumpy Welcome Wizard at the security desk, they paused in front of the fountain. Harry saw silver sickles and bronze knuts glinting up at him from the bottom of the pool. A small smudged sign beside it read:
ALL PROCEEDS FROM THE FOUNTAIN OF MAGICAL BRETHREN WILL BE GIVEN TO ST MUNGO’S HOSPITAL FOR MAGICAL MALADIES AND INJURIES.
“What do you think Perce?” Harry asked. “Is it like a muggle wishing well?”
There were crinkles around Percival’s eyes as he smiled, “Well it can’t hurt Harry, especially not with a request for Magic to bless your trial.”
A moment later Harry had his Gringotts pouch in his hand and was reaching into to it for a galleon, Mr Weasley blustering beside him not to waste his money, “Lady Magic, hear my plea, I ask your blessings on this trial, let the truth be known and justice done.”
“Blessings be,” repeated Percival and Mr McMillan, ignoring the shocked expression on Mr Weasley’s face.
“Now we’re going to courtroom ten,” Samuel said as they entered the lift, “If one of you could press the button.”
“But, that’s not right, we were told it’s in Amelia Bones’ office” Arthur protested, as they were joined in the lift by a half dozen workers, a number of inter-departmental memos and Kingsley Shacklebolt, who slipped behind Arthur in the crowded lift and whispered in his ear. “Oh, ne…never mind. On to courtroom ten then,” he stammered, flapping his hand around his head in an attempt to ward off two memos that had started attacking him. Eventually he gave up and plucked them from the air, scrunching them up and pushing them deeply into one of his pockets to be read later. Fortunately, Harry had already pressed the appropriate button.
“They haven’t used those courtrooms for years,” said Mr Weasley angrily. “I can’t think why they’re doing it down here - unless,” Mr Weasley stopped speaking as the lift was inundated with another stream of passengers.
“Right then Harry,” Mr Wesley said as they arrived on the right level. He grabbed Harry by the elbow and propelled him out of the lift, leaving Percival and Mr McMillan to follow. Mr Weasley bought them up to a plain black door at the end of an empty corridor. Half expecting to be herded through it Harry was surprised when Mr Weasley seized him by the arm and dragged him to the left where there was an opening leading down a flight of stairs.
“Down here, down here,” panted Mr Weasley, taking two steps at a time, he seemed to be trying to run away from Percival and Mr McMillan, which Harry thought a little odd. “The lift doesn’t even come down as far as this.”
They reached the bottom of the steps and ran along yet another corridor. The doors they passed here were heavy wooden ones with iron bolts.
“Courtroom…Ten…I think ….we’re nearly….Yes.” Mr Weasley stumbled to a halt outside a grimy dark door with an immense iron lock and slumped against the wall.
“Not ominous at all,” huffed Percival as he sauntered up behind them.
“Yeah it’d give Snape’s dungeon a run for its money,” Harry grinned, and he wiped his hands down his robes to settle them after the flight through the corridors,
“Right I suppose we had best get in there,” Mr McMillan said and leading the way he turned the heavy iron door handle and stepped inside the courtroom.
Harry had to suppress the urge to gulp, reminding himself to stand tall, as he entered a large dungeon which was strikingly familiar. This was the place he had visited inside of Dumbledore’s pensieve, the place he had watched the Lestranges be sentenced to life imprisonment in Azkaban.
A cold male voice rang out across the courtroom, “You’re late.”
Mr McMillan, instantly on alert replied, “I beg to differ. Not only are we early, as no trial may commence before eight am,” here he visually checked the time, the numbers glowing before him showing 07:55. “But court rules state that all attendees must be advised in writing of any changes to times of hearings and trials.”
“That is not the Wizengamot’s fault,” said the voice arrogantly. “An owl was sent to you this morning.”
But the Lawyer would not be cowed, “All notice must be received no later than twenty-four hours prior to the scheduled hearing time. As such if the owl was sent this morning then you are in fact in breach of the law, which would result in this hearing being declared null and void.”
There was silence for a moment before the voice stuttered, “Y…Ye…Yesterday morning, advice was sent yesterday.”
“You’re not very sure of that are you. I expect you to show me the delivery slips before I leave today.”
“It doesn’t matter, we are all here now,” cut in another voice. “Mr Potter take your seat.”
Harry dropped his gaze to the chair in the centre of the room, the arms of which were covered in chains. He had seen those chains spring to life and bind whoever sat between them. His footsteps echoed loudly as he walked across the stone floor. When he sat gingerly on the edge of the chair the chains clinked threateningly but did not bind him. Feeling rather sick he looked up at the people seated on the benches above him. In the middle of the front row sat Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic. A broad, square-jawed witch with very short grey hair sat on Fudge’s left; she wore a monocle and looked forbidding. The seat on the other side of her was vacant. On Fudge’s right was another witch, but she was sitting so far back on the bench that her face was in shadow. It seemed that Percival had slipped into a seat off to one side as they had entered.
“Very well,” said Fudge. “The accused being present - finally - let us begin. Are you ready?” he called down the row.
“Yes, sir,” said an eager voice Harry knew. Ron’s brother Percy was sitting at the very end of the front bench. Harry smiled at him, ignoring the fact that he gave no response. Harry couldn’t blame him really. Not after the fight he had, had with his family. If you looked at it from a certain point of view, Percy was really just trying to protect his family, it could be seen in the letter that Ron had received the previous year and Harry couldn’t blame him for that.
“Disciplinary hearing of the twelfth of August,” said Fudge in a ringing voice and Percy began taking notes at once. “Into offences committed under the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery and the International Statute of Secrecy by Harry James Potter, resident 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; Delores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister. Court Scribe, Percy Ignatius Weasley.”
“Lawyer for the defence, Mr Samuel Jonathon McMillan the third, with Witness for the defence, Mr Percival Ezra Graves,” Mr McMillan interjected in a strong voice, that had the Minister pausing.
“I wasn’t notified of a witness,” exclaimed the Minister. “Permission for him to speak is denied.”
“Uh hum,” Samuel cleared his throat and projected a copy of a form that he held in his hand onto the blank wall behind him for everyone to see. “As you can Minister, I have here a verified copy of my request to present both a witness and other evidence. Stamped, approved and filed within four days of the original trial date and time as per procedure.”
“None the less. We don’t need to clutter this trial with what I am sure was to be a well-rehearsed fabricated story that Mr Potter has made up, and which one of his friends has agreed to support, either out of fear or some desire to obtain a little second-hand fame!”
The chains clinked and moved as Harry stood and raised his wand to the ceiling, “I, Harry James Potter, swear that every word I speak in this courtroom from now until the end of this trial shall be the truth. On my magic so mote it be.”
Red cords pulsed around him. The courtroom was stunned to silence.
Finally Fudge, who looked as if he had just swallowed a lemon, shuffled his notes and deciding to ignore the oath spoke, “Well then. So. The Charges. Yes,” he extricated a piece of parchment from the pile before him, took a deep breath, and read out, “The charges against the accused are as follows; That he did knowingly, deliberately and in full awareness of the illegality of his actions, having previously received a written warning from the Ministry of Magic on a similar charge, 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, which constitutes an offence under Paragraph C of the Decree of Reasonable Restriction of Under Age Sorcery, 1875 and also under Section 13 of the International Confederation of Warlocks’ Statute of Secrecy. You are Harry James Potter of number four Privet Drive Little Whinging Surrey?” Fudge said, glaring at Harry over the top of his parchment.
“He is,” answered McMillan though Fudge studiously ignored him.
“You received an official warning three years ago, did you not?”
“He did, though the details of that are currently being investigated Minister, as such they may not be used as evidence in this trial,” McMillan smirked.
“Yes, you see it appears, that a house elf has actually confessed to having cast that piece of magic, which has raised the question as to the accuracy of the Ministries detection system. It seems to be unable to tell the difference between human Magic and Elf magic. An investigation has been started and the results at this stage…..”
“That’s not the point,” huffed Fudge. “The point is that Mr Potter knew about the laws.”
“Yes, he did,” agreed Mr McMillan.
“Right. And on the night of the second of August Harry James Potter did knowingly produce a Patronus charm in front of a Muggle!”
“He did not,” denied the Lawyer.
“He did not produce the patronus charm on the night in question Minister.”
Fudge looked around, then flipped hurriedly through the pieces of parchment he was holding “What name was it. Ah yes Hopkirk!” He pulled another sheet out of the pile and placed it on top. “Here is the document. It says right here! That you, Harry Potter, produced a patronus on the night of the second.”
“I did not,” Harry denied strongly, it was the first time he had actually spoken, since giving his oath and his words were heavy with the weight of the vow, there was no mistaking the truth of them.
“Th….the…then explain what happened!”
Mr McMillan took over, “It is simple Minister. Harry was out at the park, in the presence of his cousin. Here he met with our witness Mr Graves, who was seeking some advice on muggle transportation, having become lost in the area. When a pair of dementors descended upon them. It was Mr Graves who, after first confirming that Mr Potter’s cousin knew of magic, cast the charm. An act which is not illegal in his country of origin.”
“Hem hem,” the witch beside the Minister cleared her throat. “Are you implying that Ministry controlled Dementors were out of bounds roaming around in a Muggle neighbourhood Mr Potter?” For some reason she refused to direct the question to the lawyer.
“They were,” Harry responded with words like lead.
“I am not sure whether this tale is a result of your deluded mind, or if someone has pressured you into making these false accusations against the Ministry Mr Potter,” she said derisively ignoring the fact that he was oath-bound, “but I will not tolerate you deriding the ministry. And to convince this other poor soul to lie for you is the epitome of…”
The door to the courtroom crashed open, and a woman swept in. It was the power of her aura as much as the glittering robe that she wore that drew the attention of the room. “I hope I’m not too late Amelia,” Seraphina’s dulcet tones echoed around the room.
“What is the meaning of this! We are in the middle of a very important trial. You can’t just come waltzing in here. Those doors should be locked!” spat the Minister.
The witch seated next to Fudge rose to her feet, “Really Fudge, is that anyway to treat Madame Picquery. Surely you recognise her. You remember the ex-President of MACUSA?” Amelia prompted, smiling at Fudge benignly. “She asked if she could visit, I told you about it on Wednesday, you agreed that it would be alright.” Seraphina took the empty seat, next to Amelia Bones.
Wiping his now scarlet face with a handkerchief Fudge stuttered a greeting to their guest, before adding sharply, “If I may continue.”
“By all means go ahead, I have always wondered what the inner workings of the British Ministry were like. It seems rather odd, to hold a full criminal trial, for a simple case of underage Magic! It certainly wouldn’t happen in America.”
A red-faced Fudge turned back to the floor, “Now tell us the truth Mr Potter, you cast the Patronus in front of the Muggle knowing full well…..”
“As has been previously stated Minister, I did not,” Harry continued to deny, remembering to remain calm.
“If I might clarify the situation Minister,” Mr McMillan picked up another piece of parchment and projected it onto the wall. “This is the written statement of the individual in question. He clearly states he could see the dementors therefore he is not in actual fact a Muggle at all but is instead a squib. This is also evidenced by his signature in blood, and if we cast the right charm,” there was a slight pause as Samuel, pulled out his wand and cast. “Like so, we can indeed see that there is a small amount of magic present. It is not all that surprising seeing as he is the nephew of Lily Potter. Therefore, no breaking of the International Statute of Secrecy occurred regardless of who cast the patronus. If that is not enough evidence…” He glanced up at the muttering Wizengamot and the scowling Fudge. “Then continuing on, I believe it is time for our witness to make a statement.”
“I am not going to listening to some cock and bull story made up by a delusion teenager,” spat Fudge. “He’s obviously been taken in by Harry Potter who we all know is mentally unstable.”
Samuel McMillan paused, glanced sideways at Harry, who had slumped slightly in the chair and decided that , yes this was time, “I will address your last point first, Minister,” McMillan stated solemnly. “Are you in fact a Healer?”
“What?!” spat the Minister in disbelief, rising to his feet.
“It was a simple question, are you a healer? Hmm, No? Well then you are in no way qualified to state that someone is or is not in their right mind. Such a statement is slanderous. A fact that I will be pursuing on behalf of Mr Potter will be pursuing at a later time.”
“I am the Minister for Magic, you cannot speak to me this way. Mr Potter is lying!”
A soft voice cut across the Ministers diatribe, “I have already sworn an oath to Magic, but as that appears not to be enough for you, I am willing to submit to questioning under vertiaserum.”
With a gulping of air, Fudge bought himself under control, and said with a sneer, “Unfortunately Mr Potter. You are a minor and as such require your guardian’s permission. Given she is a Muggle, it is inadmissible in this court!” Fudge sat down triumphantly.
“Again, Minister Fudge,” McMillan projected yet another parchment and the Minister scowled. “Here we can see that Mrs Dursley nee Evans, as evidenced by her signature, is in fact also a squib, as such she is of magical descent and……”
“Regardless,” Fudge sneered. “The fact remains that as a squib, her evidence is inadmissible.”
“That point could very well be debated Minister, however this isn’t a statement of evidence. If you had taken the time to read it, you would have seen that it is in fact her permission for her nephew to be given veritaserum. I think that you will find that following the trial in 1864 of Pollux Black against Renita Goldsworthy a precedent was set, that allows any Magical relative of a minor to give written permission for the use of veritaserum in a trial.” The smirk that graced McMillan’s face had definite shark-like qualities.
“Minister Fudge,” Madame Picquery said in a deceptively demur voice. “The lads relative has clearly given permission. If you aren’t willing to accept it, I suggest you move things along. I have no doubt that the honourable members of this body have more important matters to attend to then this charade. In order to hasten proceedings, I will advise you now that I give permission for my ward to give his testimony under veritaserum. So, the truth will be uncovered regardless of your decision.” She smiled at him innocently.
“Your ward?” Fudge choked out.
“Yes,” she nodded sweetly. “The witness who is my Godson. You remember the one you were sayings was perhaps coerced into appearing or what was it that you implied…..that he was after a little bit of second-hand fame?!” Seraphina continued to smile at the Minister.
“Ah….” Fudge stuttered.
“Yes, perhaps you would like to consider the International incident that might result from your ill-considered words? Did you really think that I was interested in turning up to what is clearly a jumped-up farce of a trial, that has been designed to sate your vendetta against young Mr Potter?” she raised an eyebrow. Mr Fudge sank back in his chair. “Now make your decision wisely.”
With a glance at Amelia Bones, who inclined her head. Fudge barked out, “Please bring veritaserum for Mr Potter.”
An elderly wizard, wearing purple robes the same colour as the rest of the Wizengamot, but with no insignia, shuffled into the room, carrying a small green glass bottle on a cushion. Amelia descended the stairs to take the bottle from him.
“As Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, I am delivering the dose of three drops of veritaserum to Mr Harry James Potter,” Amelia stated formally. She indicated for Harry to open his mouth and placed the drops onto his tongue, immediately his face became blank.
“Test question one: Mr Potter what colour are your eyes?”
“What is your date of birth?”
“31st of July 1980,” Harry could hear and understand the question it just felt like he couldn’t stop the emotionless words from falling out of his mouth.
“The veritaserum has been verified and I will begin the questioning. Mr Potter, what happened on the night of the second of August at approximately twenty minutes past nine?”
“I was in the park and had been stopped by my cousin Dudley and his gang. They had me surrounded when suddenly the temperature dropped, and it started to get dark. All Dudley’s friends fled. Dudley and I ran to an alleyway near Wisteria walk. I noticed we had been joined by another boy. In the alley Dudley stopped. Dudley was accusing me of causing it, and Percival asked if Dudley lived with me, he said yes. Then he asked if he knew about magic, Dudley again said yes. I had drawn my wand, but Percival told me not to use it and he cast Lumos Maxima, which revealed two dementors entering the alley. Dudley gasped and nearly collapsed to the floor. Then Percival cast a Patronus, it drove the dementors away. When they had gone, we helped Dudley up and Mrs Figg found us…”
“That should do for the moment Harry?”
“Hem, hem, surely you can’t mean to say that two Ministry Dementors were so far from Azkaban, Mr Potter. All dementors are under the Ministry’s control. Surely you aren’t implying that someone at the Ministry ordered such a thing? I mean why would anyone do such a thing?”
There was a small part of Harry’s mind that decided to take the opportunity that was offered by this rhetorical question, despite it not being addressed to him and his mouth just answered, “Because Fudge or someone who supports him wants me silenced,” the monotonous words still holding the weight of his earlier vow, made the statement both more and less dramatic, there was a susurrus from the stands.
“Why would Minister Fudge want you silenced?” asked Amelia Bones, Seraphina drew her wand, and keeping it hidden in the sleeve of her robe pointed it at Fudge ready to silence him if necessary, but he seemed to have been struck dumb.
“Last June I witnessed the re-birth of Voldemort and at the end of my third year, I presented him with evidence that Sirius Black was innocent. He doesn’t wish for either event to become known.”
“Sirius Black is innocent? You are aware that he is responsible for revealing the location of your safe house to Voldemort, resulting in the Deaths of your parents?”
“Yes. He couldn’t have revealed that knowledge, as he was not the secret keeper and he is my Godfather.”
“If he wasn’t the secret keeper, who was?”
“Peter Pettigrew,” Amelia opened her mouth and then closed it again. “I think we will examine that later. After all Sirius was sentenced after his trial.”
Despite there not being a question that small part of his brain that still seemed able to respond forced a reply to pass his lips, “He had no trial. He was taken straight to Azkaban.”
The Wizengamot’s murmuring grew louder.
Fudge banged his gavel, “Silence! Silence! Amelia that is not the focus of this trial, if you continue with this line of questioning, I will have you removed”
Stonily Amelia raised a hand to stop Fudge from speaking any further, “I might remind you Minister,” her words were clipped. “That there is still information I need in order to be able to perform my job properly. Mr Potter, tell me about the events that happened in June?”
It was if a tight spring in his centre had been released and in a waterfall of words, Harry told them everything. He told them about the end of the Maze, and the decision to take the cup together with Cedric. Of Pettigrew and the words ‘kill the spare’. The words spilled out of him, the potion, the ritual, and the man emerging from the cauldron. Then the fight and the joining of wands, seeing his parents and finally Cedric’s last request. There was a cry from the far corner of the room as Amos Diggory broke down once more as the boy in front of him recounted the last moments of his son’s life in an emotionless monotone. Finally, Harry spoke of his return to Hogwarts, the transformation of Alastor Moody into Barty Crouch Junior, the Dementors kiss being administered to Barty Crouch Junior at the Fudges direction and the Minister’s conversation with Albus Dumbledore.
As the drops of the antidote hit his tongue and the veritaserum induced fog lifted from Harry’s eyes Harry glanced up at the stunned Wizengamot. There was a surprising mix of both shocked and disturbingly blank faces. He glanced sideways, Percival was wearing a decidedly pleased expression.
Just as Fudge was lifting his gavel to call the proceedings back to order, the door Harry had entered through opened to admitted Albus Dumbledore.
“Witness for the defence Albus Wulfric….” He began to intone.
Snap. Fudge bought the gavel down, “I believe we are up to the sentencing. Raise your wands if you believe the accused to be guilty of the charges as stated.” A dozen or so of the blank faced wizards raised their wands.
“Thank you,” then with a sigh in defeat at the foregone conclusion he said. “Raise your wands if you believe the accused to be not guilty.” A significantly larger number of wands were raised. “Cleared of all charges,” Fudge grumbled bringing down the gavel for the last time.
“Shall I contact the Senior Undersecretary to make an appointment so that we can discuss the issue of slander Minister Fudge?” Mr McMillan. Fudge just winced and scurried out after the aforementioned secretary.
“I would like to have a discussion with your client, Sam,” Amelia Bones approached the accused’s chair as Harry was standing up on shaky legs. Percival drew the younger boy into a rough hug. They didn’t see the Headmaster approaching.
“Now Amelia,” twinkle. “I’m afraid that, that won’t be possible, besides don’t you think that Mr Potter deserves to enjoy his summer? Hmmm.” Twinkle.
“I will make the arrangements as necessary Amelia, though I will want to ensure the safety of my client,” Samuel McMillan responded ignoring Dumbledore.
“Completely understandable Sam.”
By this time Seraphina Picquery had joined the group on the floor, “Percy.” She held her arms open for a hug, which was freely given. “And young Mr Potter, my Godson has told me a great deal about you.” She shook Harry’s hand as if they were meeting for the first time.
“Percival is your Godson?” Dumbledore enquired as if he were only mildly interested.
“Why yes Albus. I’m sure you remember his namesake, such a tragic loss. Now I have had about all I can stomach of the British Ministry for the time being, so we will bid you farewell, Sam. I am sure that if you are anything like my ward Mr Potter, you will soon be looking for something to sate your hunger.”
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible Sera,” Albus began.
“I believe that proprietary states that you should address me as Madame Picquery, Mr Dumbledore,” she responded sharply. “And as there is no doubt to the safety of my apartment, I believe the boys and I will leave.”
“Be that as it may, Harry, cannot go with you Se….Madame Piquery, he is currently under my guardianship.”
“Since when?” Harry asked, in confusion.
“Why always my boy!” Dumbledore seemed surprised at the question. Percival surreptitiously moved his hand to cup Harry’s neck as he felt his friend tense. With some members of the Wizengamot still leaving (some were very elderly and moved slowly, others were covertly trying to spy on the group) it wouldn’t do to have Harry blow up at the Headmaster right this minute. He hoped Harry would forgive his intervention.
“I am afraid that is not the case Mr Dumbledore,” Mr McMillan said, pulling out a piece of parchment from his never-ending pile and waving it briefly in front of the Headmaster. “The wills that Lily and James’ filed with us are quite clear. Harry was supposed to go into the care of Sirius Black with assistance and guidance from a Mr Remus John Lupin,” Harry tensed again, and Percival began to drew circles on the back of Harry’s neck with his thumb. “Failing that his guardianship was and is to be held by the Magical person or persons whose house in which he resides.”
“Exactly,” Dumbledore smiled beatifically, this was just the opening he needed to get the boy back under his control. “As his Aunt is a muggle, then his residence for ten months of the year is Hogwarts and so I am his guardian.”
“Even if that were correct Mr Dumbledore, it would be Professor McGonagall as his Head of House who would act in loco parentis as per Hogwarts charter. As it is I proved earlier that Petunia Dursley is a squib, and she has given permission for Harry to spend some time in the company of Madame Picquery and her Godson. In fact, she has asked Madame Picquery to take over Harrys guardianship in the Magical world for the foreseeable future. She signed the paperwork just yesterday, which includes permission for him to visit her residence and even to stay there while Hogwarts is in recess.” A look of annoyance crossed Dumbledore’s face.
“Then I must insist on inspecting the protections…” Dumbledore started to say, yes if he could get in the house he could add some monitoring charms. The boy was just not behaving the way that he should, the issue needed to be addressed. Perhaps it was because of Sirius Black? Yes probably. It was understandable that Harry who had been denied the love of a Family for so long, when presented with one, would cling to it. Clearly, the boy idolised the man. That would have to be dealt with and soon! Surely there was someone he could use at Grimmauld place to drive a wedge between the two.
“No. Dumbledore. The only thing I will tell you is that my place of residence in London is protected by the Fidelius, and the secret keeper is not on this continent. The other protections have been erected by the Head of Macusa’s Department of Security. I assure you that Mr Potter will be perfectly safe while he is visiting.”
“But don’t you think Harry should spending time with his friends?” Albus tried a different avenue. Really the woman was infuriating! She had no reason to be interfering. What could Percival have possibly told her? He had only known Harry a couple of weeks.
“Headmaster, she isn’t kidnapping me! We’re just going to have lunch. I’ll be back in time for tea. I promised Ron to let him beat me at chess tonight,” Harry smiled innocently.
“You really need to raise your goals Harry,” Percival dropped his hand so that he could elbow the shorter boy in the ribs.
“You can’t comment until you’ve played against him! Then remember I only learnt the game in first year! I can’t wait to get out of these robes,” Harry huffed suddenly, pulling at his collar.
“Did you even bring anything to change into?” Mr McMillan asked curiously, as he hadn’t noticed either boy carrying a bag.
“Um, no,” Harry groaned, dropping his head to his chest.
“It’s alright I’m sure I’ve got something you can wear at Aunt Sera’s,” Percival reached out and messed up Harry’s hair.
“Hey, don’t do that, it took me ages to get it that neat this morning!”
“That was neat?!”
“Well it was neater then it’s ever been before!” Harry protested.
“Mr Potter, you do realise that your Grandfather created a potion, specifically aimed at controlling hair as wild as yours, don’t you?” Seraphine Picquery asked with a smile.
“Uh, no. Does it work? Wait! Did you know him?” Harry turned his green eyes on her imploringly.
“Not well,” Seraphina replied, smile growing. “But we did cross paths once or twice. How about I tell you about it while we are having lunch. Amelia, I insist you join us. Come now boys.” With a brief nod to Albus Dumbledore and Samuel McMillan, Seraphina herded the boys out of the door.
As they left they nearly ran into Mr Weasley who was standing right outside the doors, looking pale and apprehensive. “I sent an owl to Dumbledore as soon as I could. I hope it turned out all right Harry.”
“Cleared,” Harry said, pulling the door closed behind him, there was no point mentioning that Dumbledore hadn’t helped at all, “of all charges!”
Beaming, Mr Weasley seized Harry by the shoulders ignoring the boys flinch, he turned Harry and lead him away an arm still around his shoulders. “Harry that’s wonderful! Well, of course, they couldn’t have found you guilty, not on the evidence, but even so, I can’t pretend I wasn’t…” But Mr Weasley broke off, because there waiting at the lifts were Cornelius Fudge and the toad like witch. Fudge acted as though Mr Weasley and Harry were part of the wall, but the witch peered at Harry almost appraisingly. Percy was waiting at the lifts too, clutching a large roll of parchment and a handful of spare quills, his back rigid and his nose in the air.
As they entered the lift Harry made sure to stand behind Percy on the opposite side to Mr Weasley. After the doors closed he leaned forwards slightly and whispered, “Congratulations on the new job Percy.” Percy ignored him but the tenseness in his shoulders seemed to relax a little bit.
Finally, they exited the lifts and made their way back across the foyer. Harry stopped at the fountain once more and spilled the contents of his money pouch into its depths, with a quick ‘thanks’.
“Why on earth did you do that Harry?” asked Mr Weasley in horror, as the ripples the coins had caused faded away. There had to be at least five Galleons there!
“When we passed by the fountain on the way in, I asked for Magic blessings on the trial,” Harry explained calmly. “I don’t think it would have been possible for her to bless it any more than she did, unless maybe Sirius had gotten cleared as well, which would perhaps have been a touch unrealistic an expectation. There isn’t much I can do to pay her back, so this, is my way of saying thank you.”
“But Harry, Magic isn’t a being! When we talk about Lady Magic it’s a concept, it’s not real!” Arthur was beginning to wonder if the boy was actually a little unstable, he would definitely have to mention it to Molly. There had to be something they could do, maybe a healer who focused on the mind. Now that he thought about it, that might help Sirius too, though he seemed to be doing a little better of late.
“Either way,” Harry said, not wanting to argue in the middle of the ministry. “This is a thank you for her blessing. Regardless of whether she exists as anthropomorphic personification or not, it’s also providing support to St Mungos and you have to agree that is a worthy cause!”
And there was nothing Arthur could say in response to that. He let it go with a sigh, the boy had always been generous with what little he had, never failing to offer compensation for food when he had stayed with them.
“Right,” he cleared his throat. “Now I know you are going with….” he nodded towards Madame Picquery.
“Aunt Sera,” supplied Percival helpfully.
“Y..Yes, your Aunt,” Arthur nodded. “But you need to ensure that you are home in time for tea, or I’ll never hear the end of it.”
“We will Mr Weasley,” Harry promised cheerfully, and they waved him goodbye as they stepped into the floo.
Plates of sandwiches and fruit were already laid out on the table when they arrived in the lounge room of Sera’s flat, but they were ignored as the four got themselves settled.
“Now boys, go and change into something more comfortable,” Picquery ordered. “Amelia, remove your outer robe and come and have some tea. You’ll want it, this is going to be a rather disturbing conversation.”
“Well, I certainly feel unsettled now that you’ve started it off that way ‘Phina!” Amelia commented drily, hanging her robe on a hook beside the floo.
“I don’t even know where to begin,” Seraphina mused as she lead her friend over to the couch. “Just realise this Voldemort fellow of yours, has dabbled in things that should have been left alone.”
“Yes, well we knew that during his last attempt to take over Magical Britain,” Amelia huffed.
“Perhaps we shouldn’t be calling him Voldemort!” Harry said softly as he re-entered the room, settling in an arm chair opposite the couch. He was wearing a soft knitted burgundy sweater that he had borrowed from Percival but had decided not to change out of his dress pants.
“I’m sure Dumbledore’s already told you that fear of the name increases the fear of the thing itself,” Amelia raised an eyebrow.
“Yes, but he didn’t tell me that it was entirely possible that the name had a Taboo on it during the last war. Now that he has been returned to a body, there is every chance that he will do the same again.” Amelia’s skin turned grey. “However, his real name’s Tom Riddle. With Tom being such a common name, I can’t imagine he’d bother to put a Taboo on that.”
“Tom Riddle, are you sure?” Madame Bones asked curiously. She had over heard her niece, Susan, gossiping about the things that Harry Potter had been up to at school. Perhaps this would shed light on some of the rumours. “How do you know?”
By now Percival had also rejoined the group and sat it in the arm chair next to Harry’s. “It all start in my second year. You see Arthur Weasley and Lucius Malfoy got into a fight outside of Flourish and Blotts when we were buying our books.”
“Yes I heard about that,” Amelia nodded.
“Yeah it was the day that Lockhart was there signing books, so I think it made the Prophet. In the kerfuffle Mr Malfoy slipped an extra book, a diary, into Ginny Weasley’s cauldron. Now I don’t want Ginny to get in trouble but, she did something that she should have known not to do. In her defence, that wasn’t a very good year for her. She was away from home for the first time in a strange place, so she started writing in that diary. When the book started writing back instead of talking to one of her brothers, or to her parents, she kept writing in it. Susan may have told you that strange things were happening at Hogwarts that year. The caretaker’s cat, a ghost and students all got petrified.”
Harry raised his eyes from where they had been focussed on the coffee table in front of him to look at Madame Bones. She nodded, “Unfortunately she didn’t tell me until after the year was over, otherwise I would have come to the school myself to invesigate. She disappointed me that year Harry.” Harry’s eyes widened in surprise as Madame Bones continued. “I over heard her and her friend Hannah talking about what had gone on and that you had been involved. The mentioned something about you being the Heir of Slythering.” Amelia gave a dry laugh. “I told them they were ridiculous, that it was much more likely that you were the Heir of Gryffindor with your Potter and Peverell roots! They were supposed to apologise for the way they treated you, but looking at your expression now I can see that they haven’t. I am sorry,” she frowned.
He continued his tale with a shrug, dismissing the apology, “It was a mystery. At some point she became scared of what the book was telling her and the gaps in her memory after she had been writing in it. She threw it away and I found it. Not knowing any better I wrote in it too. It had belonged to a boy called Tom Riddle, he showed me the events that led to Hagrid getting expelled. A muggleborn student called Muggle Warren had been killed at Hogwarts fifty years ago, when Dumbledore was a transfiguration teacher. He implied that Hagrid was the cause of that death and the strange happenings. However, before I could find out more, someone stole the book from me. Not long after that Ginny was taken into the Chamber of Secrets. We figured out where that was and went to the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. He tried to obliviate us, so we took him with us at wand point.”
“Me and Ron Weasley. There was an accident down in the chamber, and we got separated so I went on alone. I saw Tom Riddle who had somehow gotten a body. He told me he was using the diary to draw the life out of Ginny to create a new one for himself. Eventually I destroyed the diary and we all emerged from the chambers a little battered but alive.”
“The diary was draining her energy?” Amelia frowned. “There are a few dark objects that can do that but only one that I know of that could channel that force into a new body. The bastard created a horcrux.” She gasped in realisation, “and if he has now created a new body then he must have created more than one!”
It was somewhat of a revelation for Harry, to have an adult with no other obligations, listen to him and believe what he said. Picquery had done it but that had been through her trust in Percival rather than in Harry himself. Healer Addison and Samuel McMillan were both being paid by Harry and so were obligated to, in the very least, act like they believed him regardless of their actual opinions. McGonagall had fobbed him off when he had bought the issue of the Philosopher’s Stone to her in first year. And Dumbledore? Well the less said about him the better. So it was nice to have Madame Bones, listen to him.
Amelia herself was at a loss. It had been clear throughout the trial that Fudge did not want to believe that Harry was telling the truth and he was going to do his utmost to discredit him, hopefully Harry’s lawyer would help contend with that.
“I think at least in the short term, it would be best if we kept this to ourselves,” she murmured, Harry’s heart sank. Seeing his expression, she added, “It isn’t that I don’t believe you, however there are a couple of matters we will have to contend with. The first being Fudge, I will have to work behind his back and that will be easier if he doesn’t suspect I am up to anything. The second is that at this point in time we don’t know which of his old supporters have returned to him. Finding his Horcruxes is going to take a lot of research, and that will be easier done if we aren’t being waylaid by his Death Eaters.”
“I can give you a list of everyone who was there the night that he returned,” Harry offered quietly.
“Good,” Amelia nodded. “Though we must assume that there are other, lesser Death Eaters who weren’t there, or people who have joined since. The quieter we keep this the better.”
“Um, someone else already knows,” Harry admitted.
“Healer Addison, you see we already know where one of the others is,” Harry lifted his fringe to reveal his scar. “But he has sworn an oath not to reveal the information to anyone.”
“Oh Harry,” Amelia shut her eyes, she could not imagine what it felt like to be this boy. The boy who had saved them once already and now had such a heavy burden to bear.
“Healer Addison is doing some research, we’ll see him the day after tomorrow to see if he discovered anything. He thinks there is a way of removing it from me so that it can be destroyed,” Harry added trying to reassure her.
“If you send me the time Phina, I’ll try to be here. Now,” she leaned forwards resting her chin on the tips of her steepled fingers. “What can you tell me about Sirius Black?”