- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Discussion - Child Abuse
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
Sirius wondered again why he’d returned to Britain as he watched the Wizengamot descend into chaos. A number had jumped to their feet, protesting loudly against the insults Malfoy and the Minister had levelled at Lord Longbottom and Director Amelia Bones. Sirius stayed seated and quiet, observing who was on their feet, who was smugly sitting and who was sensible enough to do what he was doing – watching.
The horde on their feet were known members of the Light alliance. Sirius wasn’t surprised to see James Potter among them.
He looked good, Sirius mused; Potter had grown up in more than one way it seemed. The black robes over the neat formal wear couldn’t hide Potter’s slight but muscular frame. He was still handsome with thick dark hair which was swept neatly back from his face in an artful cut which made the most of its natural wave.
But there was a toughness in his expression; the faint hint of lines around his mouth and eyes that gave away his suffering, and his hazel eyes were more sombre than Sirius remembered. It wasn’t surprising given the son and marriage Potter had lost before he had even turned twenty-five. The visible proof of Potter’s grief only added to the overall air of tragic hero that radiated from Potter as though it was part of his magical aura.
If what Sirius had Seen was true though…a boy with Potter’s features and bright green eyes…who knew what it meant – but it had been part of why Sirius had returned.
Sirius repressed the urge to shake himself like his animagus form would do. He was irritated that his old crush on Potter had apparently not died a death. He’d admired the charismatic Potter from afar during his years at Hogwarts even though it was patently obvious Potter only had eyes for Lily Evans. His own eyes flickered to the former Lady Potter and noted how her hand remained in comfort on her godson’s arm, how fiercely she glared at Fudge.
It still boggled Sirius’s mind that anyone had made the idiot Minister of Magic. His grandfather had been apoplectic about the election. But for all of his political skill even Arcturus Black had been thwarted in the matter of Fudge. Sirius knew his grandfather had believed Malfoy had been behind the sudden rise of Fudge to the office of the Minister of Magic but it had been impossible to prove.
Malfoy was one of the members of the Wizengamot who remained seated but his eyes gave away his glee at events. There was no doubt in Sirius’s mind that Malfoy was behind the Minister’s move against Longbottom. If the rumours abroad were right, the rumours which had also added weight to Sirius’s decision to return, there was someone else pulling Malfoy’s strings. His mind drifted momentarily to the rumours he’d heard; rumours that Voldemort had returned the night of the finale to the TriWizard Tournament in June – the night Cedric Diggory, the Hogwarts Champion had gone missing. Sirius believed them.
And it made sense why Malfoy and Fudge had been on a campaign to ruin the Longbottoms all summer. There had been a persistent press campaign against the Longbottoms’ reputation…remarks about the disappearance of Diggory from the maze and how Longbottom had been the last to see him. There had been a call by Malfoy for an investigation which hadn’t garnered enough votes earlier in the summer to proceed but the events of the hastily called emergency session were clearly a second attempt…
Sirius glanced again at Malfoy who looked incredibly self-satisfied and knew he was right.
The pureblood had always been hungry for power and prestige. It was the reason why Malfoy had seduced Narcissa and petitioned to enter the Black family.
Sirius had blocked the betrothal contract Malfoy had presented for Narcissa. His grandfather had made Sirius heir the summer before he had entered Hogwarts; the same summer Sirius and his younger brother had been removed from his parent’s dubious care because Sirius had almost died protecting Regulus from a beating.
Sirius sighed. His opinion about Malfoy might have prevented any official familial connection but it hadn’t stopped Narcissa running away and eloping with the twat. At least it had meant that Arcturus had refused to acknowledge either Malfoy or his spawn within the family magic. Narcissa was welcome if she was willing to repudiate her husband and Sirius was pretty sure that she would never do that.
A small bang erupted from the wand of the Chief Warlock.
Some of the faint-hearted in the public gallery shrieked but everyone sat back down with a low grumble which petered out under the disappointed glare of Albus Dumbledore.
Alice Longbottom remained standing and Dumbledore gave way to her with a nod.
She cleared her throat. “Just as the Minister has the right to reply, I have the right to counter. My son is fifteen. Under our laws he is still considered a minor and accidental magic no matter who the audience is considered acceptable if unusual. While I will concede that any breach of the Statute of Secrecy is important and warrants close attention, the muggles involved already know about magic as they are the parents of a muggleborn witch who is friends with my son.” She glowered angrily at an unrepentant Fudge. “A hearing is the appropriate way to handle these matters and just because people label my son with that awful moniker does not mean that he should be treated any differently to any other child!”
Sirius gave Alice props; she certainly knew how to defend her son. Her argument was sound.
“The law is clear,” Fudge shot back, “should any magic harm muggles breaking the Statute of Secrecy, it is a crime! The two muggles involved may have known about magic in the abstract due to their daughter’s existence but they were witness and a victim to magic in their own muggle home! And while the Lady Longbottom may not like the fact that her son is famous and a role model for our young people, he is and therefore his circumstances are different!”
And there was a good counter-argument – one Fudge must have already had prepared, Sirius considered.
“Shall we put it to the vote?” Malfoy suggested, his finger rubbing against his upper lip. “I believe that is the proper protocol when such a disagreement exists.”
“The Honourable Member is correct, Chief Warlock.” Dullard said, capturing everyone’s attention. “The Act of 1876 allows for the Minister to insist on a vote on whether the Wizengamot should rule in judgement when he deems a case important enough to be considered within the chamber.”
A murmur went around the chamber as everyone digested the information. Sirius wasn’t surprised. His grandfather had drilled him in British law relentlessly. He had an inkling he knew where Malfoy and Fudge were leading the chamber – straight into a trap.
Well, Sirius thought with amusement he made sure didn’t show on his face, traps could be turned on the hunters if they weren’t careful and he had just the thing…he tuned back into the conversation just in time to hear Malfoy baiting Griselda Marchbanks about the validity of the clause.
Lady Marchbanks glared at Malfoy. “Unfortunately, on this particular point, you have the correct interpretation, Mister Malfoy.” She turned her head to Dumbledore. “You’d better the call the vote, Albus. The sooner we get on with this, the sooner it will be over.”
There was a long moment of silence as Dumbledore considered what had been said before he nodded slowly. “The Wizengamot will vote on the matter of adjudicating the case of the Ministry of Magic versus Lord Neville Longbottom, Duke of Salisbury. Those in favour of judging the matter before the Wizengamot, say Aye with the raising of your wands.”
Sirius raised his wand – after all, if he was going to turn the trap on Malfoy and Fudge he had to look as though he was duped with the others.
Dullard looked down at the magical parchment which automatically captured the results. “The Ayes have it, Chief Warlock. By a count of forty-one to thirty-four.”
Fudge exchanged a quick triumphant look with Malfoy which solidified Sirius’s suspicion that the two were in collusion with each other. Perhaps more worryingly, Sirius considered soberly, it was likely that Malfoy was encouraging Fudge at the behest of his Master.
“The Ayes have it.” Dumbledore repeated sadly. “The case will be heard.”
There was a flurry of wands raised to speak.
Dumbledore recognised Lord Ogden.
“Chief Warlock, if we are to hear this case then surely we cannot do so without Lord Longbottom having representation and time to prepare a proper defence.”
“Surely such a defence was already prepared in readiness for his hearing this morning.” The Minister countered smarmily. “Besides, as the Act of 1876 states a case presented by the Minister for immediate review and voted on by the Wizengamot to be heard, has to be heard in the same session.”
Most heads turned to Marchbanks who unhappily nodded.
“But he is entitled to an advocate, legal representation so his rights are not trampled on.” She stated firmly.
Sirius kept silent. He had to wait for the right time to turn the tables and that unfortunately meant allowing the farce to continue longer.
“Perhaps the Lady Longbottom could stand for her son?” Malfoy suggested, his expression smugly arrogant. “She will need to recuse herself either way.”
If looks could kill James was pretty sure Longbottom’s glare would have incinerated Malfoy on the spot.
“I will stand for Lord Longbottom.” Lily rose from her seat. “I am already aware of the facts of the case and both as Neville’s godmother and his Professor I am an approved advocate.”
Alice sent a brief nod of thanks to her closest friend and sat back down.
“Thank you, my dear Lily.” Dumbledore beamed at her.
“Well,” Fudge sniffed dismissively, “can we begin, Chief Warlock?”
Dumbledore inclined his head.
Immediately a chair appeared in the centre of the floor; it was wooden with a high back, simple arms and sturdy legs. It looked stark and uncomfortable.
“The defendant, Lord Longbottom, will take his place and be seated on the chair.” Dullard said almost apologetically.
The Longbottom boy checked with his godmother but Evans nodded and walked him over.
Sirius was impressed with Longbottom’s courage; he kept his back straight and his head held high. It reminded Sirius of Frank. Frank Longbottom had been a Gryffindor and two years older than Sirius but their paths had crossed thanks to a host of society events throughout their childhood and beyond. Despite their families’ differing views, they’d had something like a friendship, a camaraderie. Sirius had been truly saddened to hear of Frank’s death a few years before when he’d finally succumbed to the injuries he’d sustained fighting the Lestranges in defence of his heir.
On the floor Neville turned to the approaching Dullard.
“Raise your wand in your right hand. Do you Neville Francis Longbottom, Duke of Salisbury, swear on your magic to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” Dullard recited.
Neville nodded. “I so swear.”
“So mote it be.” Dullard completed. He retreated to his seat.
Neville sat down in the chair.
Fudge puffed up. “I call Madame Hopkirk to the floor to bear witness.”
A thin mousey looking witch stood and scurried to the floor. Dullard took the witch’s oath and once again retreated.
“Madame Hopkirk,” Fudge said briskly, “on the night of the eleventh of August, did you register a magical act by an underage student?”
“I did.” Hopkirk’s fingers twisted together in front of her.
“What was the location of the disturbance?” Fudge asked.
“Muggle London.” Hopkirk replied.
Fudge peered at her for a moment. “You were notified as per the Ministry protocol.”
“Yes, Minister.” Hopkirk nodded. “As per the spells of my office I received an automatic notification as soon as the magic registered.”
“And what did the notification state?” Fudge pressed.
“It stated that accidental magic had been recorded at the home of a known muggleborn witch; Hermione Granger. However it also noted that two muggles had been affected.” Hopkins stated clearly.
“This led you to request the Accidental Magic Reversal Department attend?”
“Yes,” Hopkirk nodded again, “and I issued the usual warning letter to Miss Granger.”
“When did you become aware that the magic had been performed by Lord Longbottom?” asked Fudge.
“Upon reading the report from Unspeakable Lowry.” Hopkirk confirmed. “I immediately invited Lord Longbottom to attend a hearing today to discuss his actions as is usual practice.”
Sirius didn’t think he was the only one to hear the slight stress she had placed on her words; a reminder that what they were all doing was not usual practice at all.
“And what did Lord Longbottom’s magic do to the muggles?” Fudge pressed, leaning forward.
Hopkirk hesitated and her eyes flickered momentarily to the boy waiting stoically in the chair beside her. She turned her gaze back to Fudge.
“It knocked them unconscious.”
“Not just unconscious though.” Fudge reached out a hand and the odious Under-Secretary placed a parchment in it. “According to the report from the attending Auror, both muggles were subjected to a magical stunner from Lord Longbottom which tossed them into a wall.”
Whispers sprang up around the chamber; murmurs of horror.
“They sustained severe head injuries and three broken bones between them. Isn’t it true Miss Hopkirk that Miss Granger only survived the same due to accidental magic of her own?” Fudge stated almost gleefully.
Hopkirk visibly squirmed but eventually nodded.
“And isn’t it true,” Fudge pressed loudly to raise his voice over the steadily rising murmur, “that Neville Longbottom did not do this accidentally, but with intent and used his wand!”
And the chamber erupted into chaos.
Sirius glanced over at the stricken and guilty features of Neville Longbottom. Ah, Longbottom, thought Sirius not unkindly, no wonder Fudge and Malfoy thought they had the advantage. Well, not for long – not if Sirius had anything to say about it.