Desperation – 3/6 – Sunfire

Title: Desperation
Author: Sunfire (SunfireScribbles)
Fandom: Harry Potter
Genre: Drama, Family, Kid!fic, Hurt/Comfort, PreRelationship, Slash
Relationship(s): Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy
Content Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Discussion- Child Abuse, Violence- Canon Level
Author Notes: Dumbledore-bashing and Good Malfoys. And awesome art by Tiffany
Beta: NCP
Word Count: 24,234
Summary: The Boy-Who-Lived, and now the Second-Time-Savior, Harry Potter is also the heir to three renowned Houses. Thanks to the training and education he received after being taken in by the Malfoys at age seven, an eleven-year-old Harry is fully aware of his place in the Wizarding World, and has many plans for how to use his power and influence to shape that world. He has already taken the first step, destroying Voldemort. Now, it is time to face his other, and no less dangerous enemy. Albus Dumbledore. With Draco by his side, the Lord and Lady Malfoy behind him, and Harry’s desperation for justice fueling him, the old man doesn’t stand a chance.

Artist: Tiffany


Art by Tiffany


Art by Tiffany

Volume II: To Confront

Chapter Eleven: Ammunition

The soft pop of the house elf’s arrival woke him and by the time Harry Potter had gotten his glasses on, the creature had already popped out, leaving the morning’s newspaper behind as he had requested the night before. The young wizard immediately slipped on a robe and rushed into the adjoining sitting room, calling Draco’s name as he went. He wouldn’t have needed to go looking for the blond if not for the dose of Dreamless Sleep. The stress of the interview would have surely caused a nightmare, which Narcissa had seemed to know as she had offered the potion without even being asked. The taller boy was out of his bedroom in seconds, just as anxious to read the article as Harry was. Neither seemed to breathe as they took in the nearly two inch letters that made up the inflammatory headline.

HORROR AT HOGWARTS! BOY-WHO-LIVED DEFEATS DANGER AGAIN!

The article that followed was full of lurid accounts by various students describing the duel between Harry Potter and the possessed professor. Some of the supposedly first hand accounts were by people neither boy had ever heard of, let alone had DADA with. Even so, combined with what the reporter called Harry’s ‘raw, heroic account’ of events, it all made Harry Potter out to be a larger than life defender of wizardkind that made Draco smirk and Harry blush as they read it. The article also cast an extremely favorable light on the blond Slytherin’s defense of his fellow students and ‘stalwart presence at the side of his best friend, Harry Potter.’ The description of Severus Snape’s role was slightly more indecisive as it referenced the man as both ‘a critical aid to our hero in defeating the foe long thought dead’ and a ‘former Death Eater, turned spy’ in the war.

Harry was less concerned with the compliments it paid the ‘Second-Time-Savior’ and much more focused on the actions of the Headmaster. While the reporter called him ‘well known and respected’ she was not otherwise kind. In fact, she all but called the school’s current hiring practices shameful and the actions of its administration almost – though unfortunately not quite – dangerous to the students it housed. Included were mentions of the ‘strange and slightly worrying’ placement of the Philosopher’s Stone within the school, as well as its full grown Cerberus guard.

Harry was extremely relieved to see that the reporter hadn’t ignored his brief mention of the start of term warning about the third floor and the repeated detentions given during the year to students who explored the corridor. The woman had interpreted it as they had hoped, having pointed out in two places in the editorial the possibly ineffective measures taken to keep the students away from such dangers. In one of the references she even called the situation ‘shocking in its lack of concern for the safety of our children.’

The less than complimentary critique continued in a smaller article on the third page that included excerpts from at least nine different letters that the old man had sent to concerned parents who had owled him in response to their children’s correspondence after the DADA duel. Both boys were quite fond of the title, ‘Missives of a Dismissive Dumbledore.’ It was quite satisfying that the elderly wizard’s own words made it seem as if the Headmaster had not been overly concerned with the fact one of his professors had been possessed by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and attacked a student. Those same words gave the impression that he had lied to parents in order to cover up the event.

I can assure you, madam, that all is quite well here and that any classroom issues are being handled with all appropriate care” Draco read out-loud with a sneer.

“This one’s even better, Draco, look, “The staff here at Hogwarts is quite accustomed to the types of outbursts which can be common amongst the stressful end of year exams.” The two shared incredulous looks that turned more than a little outraged as they read another quote. “…we believe that children should be allowed to verbalize their stress however they choose and such dramatics should not be punished.”

“Did he really think he could just deny it ever happened, say it was just a silly story made up by naughty school children and everyone would just believe him because he’s Albus Dumbledore?” Harry’s tone was almost shrill as he stood abruptly and walked to the other end of the room.

Draco’s tone was far deeper, with a harsh undertone that showed his growing anger. “Probably.”

Harry paced restlessly for a minute before calming enough to rejoin his friend on the cream silk cushions of the settee. He took a deep breath to gather himself and picked the paper back up, turning it to the front once more. There was another article there, covering the bottom third of the front page and continuing onto the second. He didn’t want to read it, but he knew he needed to. As he did so, he did his best to pay more attention to how things were said than what was said. It had been bad enough having to say it the day before. Reading it, and knowing everyone else in the Wizarding world was likely reading it, was almost too much.

Draco allowed the smaller boy to read it through himself and waited for him to set the paper down before reaching for it. It was difficult to read, almost as difficult as it had been to listen to when Harry had spoken to the reporter. Knowing that his best friend had been ignored and hurt and mistreated by the Muggles had been one thing. Hearing it had been quite another. And he knew for a fact that what had been said hadn’t been close to all of it.

Much like his friend he paid closest attention to the journalist’s tone and the indirect and not-so-indirect suppositions she had made about who and what was to blame for the appalling life Harry had described. The blond was sure that the tale of neglect and near starvation, of constant verbal and physical abuse, had been the very last thing she had expected to hear when she had been assigned to interview the Boy-Who-Lived.

The brunette bit his lip, waiting anxiously for his friend to finish reading the last article. “Well, what do you think?”

Draco set aside the paper and stood. “I think you come across sounding rather reasonable about the whole Quirrell situation, and that everything else in the article is more than flattering. The letters from Dumbledore were a fantastic bonus.” The two young wizards exchanged smiles, though Harry’s was a little strained.

“And the last one could do quite a lot towards making the old fool look uncaring and inept if things go even half so well as we hope this week.” The taller boy briefly squeezed the other’s hand, his voice dropping slightly. “There might be comments, of course, and I doubt the first session or two of the Wizengamot will be focused on anything other than your situation. But some people who read it will hopefully be more focused on the actions that allowed it to happen rather than on you personally.”

The Potter heir took a deep breath, having already known that speaking so publically about his past meant he would have to suffer through a lot of whispers and pitying looks. Maybe being simultaneously lauded as a hero for the DADA duel would help mitigate it. It was possible. Another breath and a nod had both boys returning to their rooms to dress before heading down to join the adults for breakfast.

The Lady Malfoy’s voice drifted into the hall before they reached the dinning room door, the adults having obviously already read through the paper. “Well, it would seem this Sinclair woman is a more than passable writer. It is nice to see that the Prophet’s hiring standards have improved.”

“Indeed,” responded Lord Malfoy with a hint of amusement in his tone that was mirrored in the small smirk evident when the two boys entered the room. “It is certainly fortunate.”

Draco couldn’t hold back a smirk of his own at the reminder. A few months after Harry had moved into the Manor, the Malfoy Patriarch had begun to tailor his political actions and comments in preparation for his eventual alliance with the Houses of Potter, Peverell, and Longbottom. A reporter named Rita Skeeter had written an article about the shift. In it she had implied that the House of Malfoy was growing indecisive and speculated about what could have caused the change, including Lucius Malfoy being senile or being distracted by a Muggle mistress. It had been the last article she’d ever written. Shortly after the article was published, she had inexplicably lost her job and been blocked from any reputable employment in Britain.

The Lord’s smirk only widened when the young wizards joined them at the table. “Good morning gentlemen.” Grey eyes he had once found intimidating met the brunette’s green gaze.

“I believe congratulations are in order, Mr. Potter. You did an admirable job with your interview yesterday. You both came across very well indeed.” Lucius glanced over at this son with a smile, no doubt remembering the way the reporter had said several of their classmates credited the blond with protecting them from the duel. His attention returned to the smaller boy with a nod. “The quote regarding your Proxy selection was especially well worded.”

Harry blushed a little, having been too tired the afternoon before to discuss the interview after their return to the Manor. “Draco and Neville helped me prepare responses on the ride, sir. I just took their advice.”

Another look passed between father and son that had Narcissa and Draco both looking quite pleased as the elder wizard continued. “I believe today’s articles will set things in motion quite nicely. It bodes very well for our plans.”

Green eyes brightened. “Do you think the situation is secure enough to visit the bank?”

Before either adult could answer Harry’s hopeful question, Knobby popped in to announce the arrival of the acting Lady Longbottom and her grandson. Augusta took in the sight of the breakfast still in progress and gave a brisk nod. “Perfect. There is just enough time left for a good cuppa.”

As he watched Neville and his grandmother sit down and serve themselves, the brunette glanced around in slight confusion. Seeing the expression, Narcissa explained the morning’s schedule. “It is a risk, as you know, to leave the Manor before the legalities are fully settled. However, Augusta has managed to arrange a special Portkey to take us to and from the bank. There are few, if any, wards stronger than those around Gringotts. We will all be quite safe as long as we do not stray outside of the bank. Such entrance is not often granted, but the goblins have agreed to extend us this courtesy in order to access your vaults.”

Harry didn’t hold back the smile that information prompted. He had been rather impatiently waiting for it to be possible to visit the bank so he could finally open his parents’ Wills since he had first been told about them. In the years since, it had been far too dangerous to leave the safety of the Manor for fear of the Headmaster’s interference before the Malfoys had gained legal custody of him. Which of course, had been impossible to do without alerting the Chief Warlock that he was not where he had been left in the Muggle world. Harry would risk nearly anything before he’d risk being sent back there. So he had waited, and now it seemed the wait was over.

The two other boys had a hard time keeping their emerald-eyed friend occupied enough to allow everyone to finish their tea and scones. They were slightly successful as he found the adults’ conversation more interesting, if no more distracting than his friends’. His attention was caught briefly when the Longbottom Regent informed them that she had already received a half dozen owls on the subjects covered in the three articles. Most had been from reporters wanting a comment about either Neville’s having seen the duel or his relationship with the Potter and Malfoy heirs. One, however, had been from the Ministry department of Wizarding Children’s Services requesting an interview about her knowledge of her daughter-in-law’s efforts to obtain custody of Harry after the Potters’ deaths.

Everyone at the table found that quite interesting – and encouraging – news. Lucius was able to provide equally entertaining information as he finished his breakfast. “I heard from my contact at the Ministry this morning. He owled not two hours after the special early morning edition was sent out to say that Dumbledore had only just left. The old man tried to seize custody of young Mr. Potter for what he termed safety reasons.”

The child in question shuddered in his seat at the idea of being completely in the man’s control. The last time that had happened he had ended up in a basket on his Aunt’s porch in the middle of the night. No one missed his reaction, but they didn’t comment on it either, for which he was grateful as the elder wizard continued. “I can only assume that this morning’s paper was not well received by our illustrious Headmaster.”

Everyone smiled at that. “What did he do, dear, when his request was denied?”

They both knew that someone had tried to breach the wards that morning, it was the reason that Lucius was already awake when the owl arrived. He did not say that, however, simply answering his wife in a calm tone. It was nonetheless obvious that he was amused by what he was about to say. The others’ reaction were a bit more mixed when he informed them that Dumbledore had tried to file charges against the Malfoy Lord for supposedly kidnapping Harry Potter from his Muggle relatives.

“My contact assures me that everyone in the office was perfectly shocked and horrified that he thought Mr. Potter belonged with the Muggles and should be returned to their care.” The aristocrat’s lip curled in disgust before he went on. “The wizard in charge promptly explained that I had already been granted emergency custody and that there was, in fact, no legal guardian on file to which Mr. Potter could be returned.”

The wizard’s sneer turned to a satisfied expression so sharp Neville actually worried Lord Malfoy’s lips would start to bleed. “The Chief Warlock tried to tell him that the Dursleys had been removed from the file for Mr. Potter’s protection in case anyone intending him harm went looking for the information. The excuse was not well received. My contact also told me that after the Headmaster’s departure, his superiors had a closed door meeting about the ‘rightful chain of custody,’ which I can assume is when you were contacted, Lady Longbottom.”

After that, the conversation failed to hold the eleven-year-old’s attention. Not a quarter hour after the Longbottoms had arrived, Harry’s patience ran out and he asked as politely as possible if they could leave yet. With an arched brow and a look at her watch, Augusta said that they were only minutes away from the time set to activate the Portkey. Far slower than the brunette would have liked, they all gathered in the entrance hall, cloaks on. Everyone except Augusta had their hoods drawn up to minimize the likelihood of their being recognized.

Minutes later, once his stomach had settled back down into its proper position, Harry realized that they needn’t have bothered. The group was promptly taken from Gringotts’ private receiving room to another private office deeper in the bank. The two guards that accompanied them were the first goblins that Harry had ever seen and he finally understood why the Malfoys had been so adamant that he learn goblin etiquette the year before. The sight of the Potter/Peverell account manager, Brynjar, only reinforced that, especially when Draco whispered to him that the name meant ‘warrior in armor.’ Despite the crisp business suit, it was a very fitting name, in the brunette’s opinion.

For a nerve-wracking few minutes, the Potter heir stumbled through what he could remember from the lessons as an appropriate greeting and a brief discussion of what he wanted to accomplish during his visit. Eventually another goblin brought in several ledgers of files and handed them to Brynjar. One of those files included his parents’ Wills, their last wishes for him.

He took a deep breath and nodded at his account manager to begin the reading. Two scrolls of parchment where placed in front of him and Draco helpfully whispered a reminder of what he was suppose to do. Another steadying breath and a simple spell cut the tip of his index finger, allowing three drops to fall on each seal. The wax holding the scrolls together seemed to evaporate and the two lengths of parchment rolled open. The hour that followed was one of the most informative, and angering, that Harry had experienced since his first lesson with Lord Malfoy.

The account manager was in another part of the bank getting some file or other for them to review when the words had finished tumbling through his head and coalesced into an understandable pattern.

“We were right about the Proxies they assigned,” Harry said in a flat, emotionless tone. Draco rose from his seat beside his friend and took a step closer, reaching out to put a hand on his arm, but the brunette continued woodenly. “Though being the Black heir is a bit of a surprise. I’m sure we can use that.”

His being listed as the heir to the Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black had come as a surprise to everyone in the room, including the goblin, who had left the office under the pretense of collecting the Black and Gryffindor documents to go over as well as the Potter and Peverell files. The being most likely was more intent on avoiding the storm visibly brewing in the powerful young wizard. The concerns of wizards were only of interest to the goblins when it directly impacted the bank, the goblin nation, or the finances of either. And while it could be argued that the heir to four great Houses could impact all three, the account manager obviously felt that could be addressed after Harry had been calmed down.

He sounded perfectly calm, of course, so calm it was almost painful to listen to, but everyone in the room knew with only a glance at the shimmer of magic pulsing in time with the brunette’s shortening breaths, that he was anything but calm. The eldest Malfoy chose to ignore that for the moment and go along with his temporary ward’s current need to address everything except the reasons for his rage. “You are correct, we can certainly use it. I must agree, however, that it is quite a surprise to see that Sirius knew enough of the old rituals to have made you his heir. It is a tricky matter to assign a non-blood relative as such and he left his family before that level of magic would have been taught.”

“I agree,” added the last member of the Black family not dead or imprisoned. “Perhaps he took some older texts with him when he left Aunt Walburga’s. I doubt he found that type of book at the Potters’.”

“No, as well regarded as the House has always been, even by the traditional families, the Potters never did truly follow the old ways,” admitted Augusta.

The eldest blond made a sound that would have been a snort if it hadn’t been somehow sophisticated. “No, they hardly ever so much as sat in their Wizengamot Seat.”

“The Potters preferred social deeds to legal ones,” the Lady Longbottom pointed out. “And they were no fans of the established order within the Ministry,” she went on, a pointedly raised brow aimed at the wizard.

The Potter seat would be occupied soon, as would the Peverell, and the Gryffindor, and the Black, the heir to all four Houses corrected silently. His families’ power would be felt in full on the first court session after he turned twelve. He would be able to name his Proxies before the Wizengamot then, and the other Houses would be very clear on where he stood. The thought of how much he looked forward to that day calmed him a little, making him at least appear reasonable when Brynjar returned with the additional files and began to explain the state of his many accounts. They started with those from the House of Gryffindor, then Black, then Peverell. Last were those belonging to the Potter family. The task took almost an hour and was boring enough to further dull the edge of Harry’s anger. Until they reached the secondary Potter accounts.

The first clue that the wizards and witches had as to the content of the next folder was the eager expression on the goblin’s face as he picked it up. “Vault 496 is a subsidiary account of the House of Potter and was opened by Lord Potter in 1979, not long before he and his Lady went into hiding. The funds were to be available for certain prescribed uses related to the war effort, including but not limited to a bi-yearly donation to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and an annual stipend for St. Mungo’s Hospital. All withdrawals were ceased upon the Lord Potter’s death as is usual with any financial transaction that was not indicated by the Lord as ‘in perpetuity.’”

The file was laid open on the desk for Harry to see. Lucius, after a nod from Harry, leaned forward to peruse it as well. It was a list of several dozen withdrawals of varying amounts, starting on 2 November, 1981. “However, in November of 1981, when a previously scheduled withdrawal did not continue, we were given a statement, signed by Lord and Lady Potter, and accompanied by the key to Vault 496. The statement instructed Gringotts that all monetary transfers to the Red Wing Foundation were to continue indefinitely.”

“What is the Red Wing Foundation?” asked the blond wizard, causing a wicked expression to fill the account manager’s face.

“We at Gringotts can not share private information concerning our clients with anyone not expressly authorized. Except directly to said client or their direct heir and only if questioned by said client or heir,” was the goblin’s careful response as he slowly turned his gaze from the elder Malfoy to the smallest wizard in the room.

Green eyes blinked several times before the young wizard understood what wasn’t being said. “What can you tell me about the Red Wing Foundation, Brynjar?”

“I’m glad you asked, Mr. Potter. The Foundation was started on Feburary 19th of 1970 by your grandfather, Lord Fleamont Potter, and Albus Dumbledore. The formation of the Foundation was sealed the same day on Lord Potter’s request.”

“Were the transfers made?” Harry asked, the brunette having to work hard to keep from gritting his teeth.

“Two Magical Signatures were attached to the document with the instructions for transfer. They passed an initial identity scan. We attempted to send a message to the designated guardian of Heir Potter to confirm the instructions but were unable to find any such wizard or witch on file. Without access to living or preserved Magical Signatures, we were unable to prove the ones on the statement to be false.”

“And the only preserved Magical Signature of enough clarity to use for full verification is that which has been recorded on a sealed legal document such as a Ministry contract or Last Will and Testament, the former of which the Potters did not have, and the latter of which was unopened,” concluded the Malfoy Lord.

“Precisely. Normally, a Will is read automatically upon the issuance of a death certificate by the Ministry, but in this case, a legal injunction had been filed the day before those certificates were signed, which prevented the reading of the Potters’ Wills. Under these conditions we were unable to prevent the transfers. We did, of course, maintain careful record of all such transactions, as you can see. We also kept the original letter under stasis in case the opportunity came to compare it to the requisite signatures.”

All eyes went from the ledger to the recently opened Wills. All of the effort he had gone to in order to suppress the feelings of anger and betrayal began to crumble as James and Lily Potter’s only son instructed the signatures to be compared immediately. Brynjar was more than happy to comply as the deceptively gentle tones of the Lady Malfoy inquired as to the identity of the person who presented the alleged statement.

“Headmaster Dumbledore, the other originator of the Foundation, of course,” the account manager answered.

“And under whose authority was the injunction filed?” asked Lady Longbottom.

“Chief Warlock Albus Dumbledore,” replied the goblin with a sharp grin.

“I do believe Mr. Potter would be most interested in acquiring a copy of all the records concerning the Potter Wills, the injunction against them, the activity of Vault 496, and this Red Wing Foundation,” Lucius Malfoy stated with a smirk as the comparison spell began to flash a dark red. Agreement was given without hesitation, a second goblin being summoned and sent to organize the records in question.

Harry did his best to pay attention, but the byplay between the blond Lord and the goblin barely registered through the fury he had only managed to outwardly contain. Dumbledore was stealing from him and had forged his parents’ Magical Signatures to do so. The thought was infuriating. But it was soon drowned out by another as his gaze followed the red light to the two open Wills. Which made him think about everything that had been in them and what it would have meant for them to have been read when his parents first died.

He had known, of course, that he shouldn’t have been left with the Dursleys. Even if his mother had listed her sister as a possible guardian for him, even a halfhearted check would have shown that he shouldn’t remain. His bedroom was a cupboard for Merlin’s sake. Without even taking into account the way he was treated in public and the disdain his relatives barely even tried to hide in front of teachers and neighbors, any type of home inspection whatsoever would have clearly shown that Number Four was not an acceptable place for him to be.

Yet Petunia Dursley was his aunt, she was his mother’s only sister, so it was possible that the initial placement was not strictly illegal. Discounting the fact that he had been withheld from his godmother, of course, as she was his legal guardian in the Wizarding world. But there was a slim chance that Lily Potter had in some way mentioned her sister as an option to care for Harry. And she had mentioned her. She’d stated, unequivocally, that her son was to not be left in the care of Petunia or Vernon Dursley under any circumstances.

There were, in fact, half a dozen people listed as possible guardians for Harry Potter. Sirius Black and Alice Longbottom, as his godparents, were listed first, of course. Then there had been Remus Lupin, Mary McDonald, Augusta Longbottom, Minerva McGonagall, and even Severus Snape had been listed. There had been absolutely no reason for him to have been left in the Muggle world with relatives that hated him and had no chance of defending him from the Death Eaters that had probably wanted him dead in the wake of Voldemort’s disappearance. All it would have taken was for one of them to track him down and wait for him to walk to school. Or do the grocery shopping as he often did. Or, perhaps, be beaten unconscious by his loving Uncle for being a no good freak as had happened at least twice by Harry’s recollection.

The brunette’s thoughts spun and spun in his head. There had been so many options. So many things that would have, should have happened. If his parents’ Wills had been read, if anyone had thought to question his disappearance or listen to the Longbottoms when they repeatedly brought up that fact, if anyone had just checked on him once, he never would have…. Harry cut off that train of thought abruptly and tightened his grip on the arms of his chair, pointedly ignoring the thought that the old man might have checked in on him at some point and just not seen a problem, or not cared that there was one. His breath began to come a little faster. Then another hand, paler than his own, covered his fingers in a solid but gentle grip, forcing green eyes to snap up and meet familiar grey.

Draco gave him a concerned look and the smaller boy did his best to return it with a reassuring one of his own. The worried narrowing of his best friend’s gaze told him he had failed; badly. But the blond’s action was enough to pull him from the enraging thoughts and return at least part of his attention to the others in the room, just in time for the goblin to finish talking to the adults and turn back to his client.

“Is there anything else you require of me today, young wizard?”

Harry glanced briefly around the room and seeing nothing to indicate another problem had come up while he had been distracted, he shook his head. “No, thank you, sir. You have been most helpful. I look forward to our next meeting, may it prove profitable for us both.”

Brynjar stood with a nod. “May we make much gold together, Mr. Potter.”

Everyone else stood as well and Harry silently thanked the Malfoys for his lessons once again as he supplied the appropriate closing to their farewells. “And may it be at the expense of our enemies.”

The smaller being grinned, flashing rows of sharp teeth, then led them all back to where they had arrived so that they could Portkey back to the Manor. The trip back was as disconcerting as the trip there and the three lordlings each took a moment to regain their balance when they arrived. Once everyone had enjoyed another cup of tea and a short exchange of gossip, the Longbottoms took their leave and Lucius was smirking as widely as Harry had ever seen him.

“Well, I believe that was a most productive outing.” As if noticing that his son’s best friend was not feeling as accomplished as he was, Lucius pinned the young wizard with a level stare. “We now have solid documentation to prove that Albus Dumbledore forged papers in order to steal from your vaults, issued a legal injunction to prevent the reading of your parents’ Wills outside the prevue of the Chief Warlock, and that he acted against your parents’ explicit wishes. We have proof that he circumvented several laws in order to retain personal control over you and your placement. This makes him, Mr. Potter, solely liable for any harm that came to you while in that placement. And we will make him pay for it.”

Harry nodded in understanding, taking a deep breath to keep the underlying anger from bubbling back up. “When can we present the case against him?” the brunette asked, though he already knew the answer.

“The next session of the Wizengamot opens at nine o’clock on the morning of the Summer Solstice. It is not so very long to wait, Mr. Potter.”

Chapter Twelve: Censure and Suspension

 

It may not have been very long, but the three days it took felt like they would never end. And then, it was June twenty-first and time seemed to cease entirely. Narcissa, had given up on distracting the young wizard by lunch time and the Malfoy elves even ceased trying to get the brunette to eat by the time tea was served that afternoon. All Harry was able to do was pace and worry. It was far too dangerous for the famous boy to attend in person, even as an observer, until the court itself had officially, and publically, reinforced the Malfoys’ emergency custody.

Knowing that his fate was being decided left a cold, hollow feeling in his gut that even his best friend couldn’t lessen. The blond continued to try, however, as Harry’s anxiety levels rose throughout the day.

“Lord Malfoy isn’t going to bring it up?” Neville asked quietly in slight confusion, having been summoned an hour earlier when the young blond had finally started to reach his wit’s end.

“No,” Draco whispered back as worried grey eyes followed their friend’s restless movements. “There is almost no chance that Dumbledore would allow anyone to address the court before his stooge tries to levee his intended charges. Besides, my father believes it would be best if he acted as though the matter were settled as far as he were concerned. He isn’t supposed to know that Dumbledore tried to file charges against him, after all. He has legal custody, even if only temporarily, so he is going to plan on introducing the Act and allow Dumbledore’s lackies to make the first move since they would most likely manage to do so regardless. If they are so intent on it, let his man be the one to make an accusation, he’ll look just as unreasonable as he did after the first article went out.”

Three hours later, once Augusta and Lucius had returned from the Wizengamot and the Longbottoms had gone home, Draco was given the opportunity to see first hand if his prediction was correct. Well, almost first hand.

The memory swirled to life around them and Harry watched, his best friend at his side, as Albus Dumbledore, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, opened the court for the Summer Season. The old wizard tapped his wand on the podium before him, causing a series of bangs to reverberate around the large chamber as he called the court to order. Only a member of an Ancient and Noble, or Most Ancient and Noble House, was allowed to make introductions to the assembly. Dumbledore, as a member of the Administrative tier, could not do it himself, and Lucius’ voting bloc traditionally consisted of all but three of the current members of the requisite tiers: Longbottom, Ollivander, and Rosier.

When there had still been a Lestrange on the court, the Malfoy Bloc occasionally swayed his vote as well, but as with Rosier, the House’s arrogance did not allow for a longtime leader. Augusta had been a strong supporter of the Headmaster in the past and had needed to employ some creative dancing when interacting with the Chief Warlock since she had learned of Harry’s circumstances in order to prevent him from thinking otherwise. No doubt, the old man had assumed he would have full control of the Potter and Peverell seats when a sheltered and beaten down boy entered the Wizarding world and gladly fell under the great Albus Dumbledore’s care at Hogwarts. It would be a rude awakening for the manipulative goat when he realized how out of reach control of the court would soon be for him. Harry and Draco both watched the old man closely as Octavian Ollivander requested to speak on an ‘urgent and troubling matter’.

“Of course, Lord Ollivander, I am sure our other business can wait, what did you wish to say to the body?”

The two boys exchanged looks, wondering if Dumbledore really thought he was being subtle or if his cache truly caused everyone to humor him to such a degree. Whatever the case, the expression of shock and concern that covered the aged face was mostly convincing as the Ancient and Noble House of Ollivander Accused the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy of kidnapping the Boy-Who-Lived. Draco wondered, as agitated whispers began echoing in the larger chamber, how Lord Octavian managed to make so many capitalizations audible in his pompous speech.

The thought was discarded as the composed visage of his father began refuting the charges in a calm but offended tone. Dumbledore’s wasn’t the only face that was amusing to watch as the various pieces of evidence were produced one after the other. First, the parchment detailing Lord Malfoy’s emergency custody, then the letter Draco had written at the end of the year detailing events in DADA, then Harry’s request to go home with the Malfoys for the summer, and finally the signed statements from Harry about his time with the Dursleys, all which had made the temporary custody possible.

Even with the publication of Harry’s interview regarding his past, there was still a titter of dismay and disbelief at the presentation of the statements. It had been months since the initial tide of outrage regarding the rumors of Harry Potter’s complete lack of knowledge regarding the Wizarding World and his own family had died out at the beginning of the school year. The swell of disgust and pity which had so recently inundated the Wizarding public after the interview had hardly ebbed, however, and the Lord’s words only served to whet the appetite of his fellow Nobles, making their morbid curiosity all the stronger.

“As you can see, my custody of Mr. Potter is completely legal. I have in no way broken any laws, be they legal or moral, and have in fact acted in the child’s best interest. I cannot say the same, however, for the person responsible for placing our Savior in such deplorable conditions to start with. I, Lord Malfoy of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy, do hereby officially Protest the actions which preceded and those which followed the placement of Harry James Potter, heir to the Ancient and Noble House of Potter and the Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell, with the Muggles Vernon Dursley and Petunia Dursley, nee Evans.”

A wave of silence seemed to overtake the Wizengamot chamber for several seconds before dozens of conversations started at once. While the wizard in question stood, slack jawed, his lackies in the various tiers either protested loudly or looked to their leader for cues on how to proceed. When Lucius spoke again, he had to cast a Sonorus to be heard.

“Furthermore, I allege that Harry Potter was placed in the care of the Dursleys illegally and as the result of custodial interference as, in being left with the Muggles, Potter was kept from the rightful guardianship of his Magical Godmother, Alice Longbottom.”

“I- I protest this allegation on the grounds that at the time he was given into his Muggle relatives’ care, continued attacks by Death Eaters made placement of the Boy-Who-Lived with anyone in the Wizarding World too dangerous,” Lord Ollivander finally managed to say with a nervous glance to the Chief Warlock. “Not only did his placement elsewhere protect him from the attack on the Longbottoms that occurred shortly after the Potters’ deaths, but I postulate that the placement was made in good faith and under the assumption that Lily Potter would have wished for her only child to go to his only family, her sister, Petunia Dursley.”

“Since the Headmaster received this premonition that the attack on Lord and Lady Longbottom would take place, I am surprised the family was not offered some form of protection. Or that the Longbottom heir was not moved from such a dangerous place, since apparently legal custody means less than the opinion of Mr. Dumbledore. Regardless of the perceived danger, the placement of a minor is not the sole decision of any one wizard and certainly not that of someone not granted any form of guardianship by our laws. Where their only child was to go after their deaths was the Potters’ decision, but obviously Mr. Dumbledore did not care about that since he filed an injunction against the opening of their Wills on the same day they were found murdered, another act that was outside the prevue of the Chief Warlock.”

A voice rose above the increased mutterings of the other Nobles to ask in disbelief if the Chief Warlock did indeed block the reading of Noble Wills.

The old wizard himself finally spoke up, looking greatly saddened, his grandfatherly mien as strong as it had ever been as he asserted that it had unfortunately been far too dangerous to read the Potters’ Wills right after their deaths as it would have been automatically recorded in the Noble register, allowing anyone who wished the boy harm to learn of his guardianship and therefore his location.

“Yes,” responded the blond aristocrat with a strangely elegant sneer, “I can see how worried you were, how eager to prevent harm to the boy, seeing as you went so far out of your way, and so far around the law, to make sure you were the only one to know where young Potter was. And it is clear that you were then so conscientious in checking on the child so many times to make sure he was doing well.” The sarcasm was heavy enough to reach every corner of the courtroom, causing a marked drop in other voices as they all listened even more closely.

“Since you would have done so, I am surprised that you missed the overwhelming evidence of repeated physical abuse, criminal neglect, and physiological torture inflicted on Mr. Potter by the illegal guardians you assigned him.” A shocked gasp echoed around the room as Lucius continued, drawing out a thick folder and magically providing copies to all the Lords and Ladies around him. “In case you did not, in fact, check on the child, I have ample evidence of his treatment here for you.”

Files flew open on every desk and were exclaimed over with vigor. Reading about an abusive home life and seeing evidence of exactly how bad that abuse had been were quite different things for the majority of the Nobles. Harry narrowed his eyes at the memory of Albus Dumbledore, the only one who did not appear shocked or disgusted at the contents of his file, but rather furious as he demanded to know how Lucius came to have readouts from diagnostic spells and magical photographs of injuries on a seven-year-old Harry Potter.

At the question, most everyone turned their attention from the horrible file to the wizard who had supplied it. The Lord Malfoy scanned the faces of his peers as he spoke. “In a desperate attempt to escape his abusive home, Harry Potter accidentally Apparated onto the Malfoy grounds in May of 1987. He was found by my son, and brought to our Manor where he was treated by wife, Lady Malfoy, who was trained in healing at the Mungo Institute. Mr. Potter had been beaten and starved and was so afraid of doing magic that even the word caused the child to have near hysterical panic attacks for weeks after he came to us.”

The eleven-year-old Harry shifted self consciously, prompting his best friend to take a firm hold on his hand as they watched the various members of the Wizengamot react. Several of Dumbledore’s supporters yelled, stating that the Boy-Who-Lived should have been brought to St. Mungo’s immediately, but their words were easily drowned out by their peers’ outrage at the Savior’s treatment.

A closer look by the young wizards showed that some of the Lords of the older families appeared equally, if not more upset, by the implications of the view of magic that the famous wizard had been raised with in the Muggle world. Still others, mostly members of the Malfoy Bloc, looked rather contemplative, no doubt at the idea of a seven-year-old Apparating through heavy defensive wards. Harry could see the calculation in their gaze and resolved to keep a watch on those families as he listened to Dumbledore claim that he had no way of knowing that such terrible things might happen, and that he would have taken the ‘appropriate steps to keep the boy safe in his home’ if he had any such indication.

“No, you would not have known before you left Mr. Potter there, as you blocked the reading of the Will in which Lily Potter stated clearly that her son was to never, under any circumstances, be left in the care of her sister. Lady Potter also stated that the Dursleys were known to hate magic and anyone who practiced it and she feared how her child would be treated by such a couple. Furthermore, if the Potters’ Will had been read as the law requires, you would have known that the Potters listed seven other people whom they wished to take guardianship of their son and heir. So it is understandable that without the Will and the last wishes of the Lord and Lady Potter, you instead circumvented the law in order to leave a toddler on a Muggle doorstep in the middle of the night, in October, with only a note and a single blanket, to be cared for by the very last people who should ever have done so.”

Pandemonium ruled for several minutes during which various Nobles shouted about one aspect or another of the startling revelations. Harry’s attention remained fixed on the Headmaster as he appeared to struggle with simultaneously directing his supporters, defending himself from everyone else, and acting as the Chief Warlock to quiet everyone down. When order was finally restored, the elderly wizard conveniently looked every inch of his advanced years as he informed the court that mistakes are sometimes made in times of war. He didn’t get any further as Lucius cut in.

“Yes, Chief Warlock, mistakes were most certainly made. Mistakes that you went out of your way to make, outside of the law and without any concern for the helpless child that would be effected.”

The twinkle behind the half-moon glasses was a shadow of its usual self while Dumbledore, obviously flustered, declared that he had a great deal of concern, only for the blond Lord to talk over him once again.

“You had so much concern that you never once thought to check on the boy or his home life or so much as inspect the cupboard under the stairs he had been given as a bedroom.” Over half the Sitting members of the Wizengamot stood and expressed their outrage, forcing the Lord of House Malfoy to cast another Sonorus to be heard. “Perhaps you were too busy arranging the quarterly transfers from the Potter vault to your own Red Wing Foundation. I can understand how that would have taken up much of your time seeing as the statement from the Potters which allowed it, was quite skillfully forged. The goblins were unable to prove it to be a forgery until the Wills you had sealed were finally opened by their heir three days ago.”

This time, nothing could bring the members to order and the Chief Warlock simply sat, appearing to shift between being overwhelmed, and being enraged. When the volume eventually began to lessen, Lucius called for a vote before the old man could attempt another denial or excuse.

“I believe we can all agree that many crimes have been committed against the only heir of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter. As there were never any guardianship papers filed and Albus Dumbledore was, by his own account, the person to have possession of the child and in fact the one to place him in such deplorable conditions, I move that the person to be held accountable for the abuse that followed must be Dumbledore himself.”

A lengthy debate followed, establishing a clear division within the Wizengamot. There were those who supported the infallible Dumbledore and refused to believe the old man in any way intended or purposelessly allowed any harm to come to their Savior. And there were those who felt the Chief Warlock should be held criminally liable for all the varied crimes against the Potter heir, his estate, and the laws of Magical Britain. The two boys watching the memory couldn’t help but take note of who fell into which category.

Neither expected any type of criminal charges, they knew that filing such would require seventy-five percent of the entire court to vote against the beloved defeater of Grindelwald and not even what had been revealed was enough to shake his ardent supporters. The proposition of a fine and an official Censure, however, only needed a majority vote. As such, the far lesser punishment was eventually obtained as Lucius had told them that morning would likely happen.

It was far from what the manipulative wizard deserved, but it was still a ruling against him, which would be publicized throughout the magical world. It stated that the Wizengamot considered Albus Dumbledore to be officially responsible for a host of legal misdeeds. The young heirs found it enjoyable to watch the expression on the old man’s face when he, in his role of Chief Warlock, was required to read out his own Censure as it had been written by the court.

“Albus Percival Wulfric Brain Dumbledore has been found to be responsible for the following: custodial interference in his refusal to hand over a child to his legal godmother despite her repeated attempts to gain her rightful custody. The unlawful placement of a Magical minor with an individual other than their legal guardian. The purposeful circumvention of the court, the intentional ignorance of procedure, and a failure to file the proper parchment in assigning guardianship. The use of a Noble’s Magical Signature without permission in order to unlawfully access a vault owned by said Noble. The unlawful sealing of a legal document and the subsequent failure to hear and abide by the legal Wills of Lord and Lady Potter. And the endangerment and negligence which resulted from said unlawful placement and subsequent failure to monitor the wellbeing of the minor child known as Harry James Potter. For these misdeeds, the aforementioned is hereby officially Censured by this court.”

Where so many times that day there had been whispers and muttering and exclamations, there was now silence in the wake of the ruling. Harry made his way closer to the memory of the wizard who had caused him so much pain, watching as the old man’s jaw clenched behind his outward look of humility. Draco, for his part, stood next to the image of his father, peering out at the courtroom, trying to see it as his father had. The attention of both boys was seized by the bearded wizard when he raised his wand slightly, bringing it down as if to tap it on his podium to begin bringing the day’s session to an end.

Before the process actually began, Lucius raised his wand and waited to be given leave to speak. For a moment, it appeared that the Chief Warlock would not yield the floor, but he eventually did so with an angry expression he was mostly able to hide. “Lord Malfoy?”

“Chief Warlock, I have a matter to discuss,” the Lord responded, as though he hadn’t spent the last hour and a half presenting a case against the older man. “I am on the agenda.”

When he clenched his teeth this time it was obvious enough that at least some of the Lords and Ladies around him must have noticed it. “You have a matter other than that which has already been addressed?”

“Yes, Chief Warlock. I propose that recent events have uncovered a need in our country for a more stringent and clear set of laws to protect the welfare of our most vulnerable members.” The steel grey gaze swept over every member of the assembled court. “I, Lord Malfoy of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy, do hereby Introduce the Child Protection and Custody Act for the consideration of this body.”

A single, 13 inch parchment appeared in front of each of the thirty-eight Nobles and administrators in the large room. On the parchment was the name of the Act and a clear, concise outline of protections for magical children within both the Wizarding and Muggle worlds. The Act had taken the Malfoys and Lady Longbottom a full year to craft with several rounds of discussion with Harry and the other boys throughout the summer before their first-year began. It had been carefully written and structured to provide simple but strict regulation for the monitoring of magical minors under the guardianship of anyone other than their parents.

The Act included stringent stipulations for the chain of custody to assure the will of the parents and the safety of the child left behind. It was aimed mostly at orphan situations but it put in place several laws and regulations that would also apply to any magical child who was suspected of being in a dangerous home. Where the Wizarding World had always relied heavily on parents being accountable to themselves for the care of their children, the Act would allow for the Ministry to investigate possible cases of abuse.

The Nobles would be far too likely to bristle at overt challenges to their power within their own House, Lord Malfoy had stated early in the process. So the CPC Act was purposefully structured to concentrate on children under guardianships and to only subtly overlap into traditional home situations. It put in place the tools to more fully develop the department of Wizarding Children’s Services, the adults had assured him, but it did so while focusing on situations like his own in order to prevent the things that had happened to him and to utilize the tide of public opinion while outrage was highest over his situation.

The members of the assembly had barely had a chance to read through the document before a member of the second tier stood. The green-eyed boy knew what had been planned and was not surprised to see the Noble stand. He knew that not only could nothing be Introduced to the Wizengamot by anyone other than a member of the first two tiers, items also had to be seconded by a member of the Most Ancient and Noble Houses, of which there was only one currently, or a member of an Ancient and Noble House before it could be put to a vote. Luckily for them, they qualified on both counts.

“I, Lady Augusta Longbottom of the Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom, do second the Introduction of the aforementioned Act and call for a vote of this assembly.”

Draco met his best friend’s gaze with a slight smirk as they watched Dumbledore’s jaw clench yet again. “If he grinds his teeth much longer, he might need to stop by the Hospital Wing on his way to bed tonight,” the young blond said softly.

Harry swallowed a chuckle as they watched the old man. To oppose an Act structured to protect children and to prevent the illegal actions he had just formally Censured himself for would make it appear that he did not, in fact, believe he had done anything wrong. It would make it seem he didn’t view what Harry had gone through as the horrible mistake he claimed to. And yet, supporting it would be stating that laws needed to be put in place to prevent actions such as his and therefore be an admittance that he had been wrong from the beginning despite his previous assertions that he had been acting in what he thought were Harry’s best interests.

It was more than a little amusing to watch the Headmaster struggle to appear calm as he cleared his throat. “I, Albus Dumbledore, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, do request that a postponement be given to the vote on this matter in order to allow the members of this assembly to fully review the Act hereby proposed and give it the consideration it is due. I caution us all to not miss this opportunity to best protect our children by acting in haste.”

There was a rumble of voices in the various seats before Lord Ollivander stood once more and seconded the postponement. Before anyone else could request the floor, Dumbledore tapped his wand thrice on his podium, the sounds echoing throughout the chamber as the first Wizengamot session of the Summer Season came to a close. The entire memory began to grow indistinct around them and an instant later, the

two friends exited the pensive with a stumble, then turned to one another and grinned.

“Merlin. I can’t wait to see the headlines tomorrow,” exclaimed Draco.

“Indeed,” the elder wizard calmly agreed. “Everything seems to be right on track.” Grey eyes drifted from his son to his temporary ward. “I do hope your summer homework is equally so.”

Harry and Draco knew a dismissal when they heard one, and with a few polite words, headed to the private library to finish what still remained of the work in question. As they attempted to focus on their work, they wordlessly shared a look of appreciation, for once almost thankful that the Hogwarts curriculum was so far behind. They both doubted the scores they earned on the essays they wrote that day would be less than dismal, otherwise.

 

Saturday’s edition of the Prophet contained the usual Quidditch scores, store ads, and other such mundane information. It also had an article that rehashed the previous editorials about the DADA duel, the interviews with Harry Potter and other Hogwarts students, and a new section they had all expected to see. The section was about three paragraphs long and covered the Wizengamot’s decision that Albus Dumbledore was to be Censured for unlawfully taking custody of a minor, and his subsequent neglect of said minor that led to frequent incidents of abuse over a period of several years. They seemed to be focusing on the theme, as mention of the theft and forgery were almost a footnote at the end.

As enjoyable as the almost harsh critique of the beloved Headmaster’s actions was for Harry to read, it was the small article printed the next day that caused a large smile to smother his face. The article wasn’t written by the Daily Prophet staff, but was rather a reprinting of an announcement by the International Confederation of Wizards, originally published in the Wizarding World News. The ICW, after hearing of the Wizengamot’s action had decided to suspend its Supreme Mugwump indefinitely, ‘pending an investigation into Mr. Dumbledore’s actions and an assessment of his legal and moral qualifications to remain Head of the Confederation.’

His grin stretched across his lips as he turned to face Draco. “Everyone knows now. At least a lot of it.”

The blond returned the expression with a decisive nod. “They do. And they’re listening, Harry. The Wizarding public is paying attention to the fact that their beloved icon of the Light isn’t as pure and wholesome as they thought.”

Harry felt like whistling a jaunty tune, and probably would have if he could have done so with any reasonable skill. Instead, he simply spent the day with a smile that was almost painfully wide. Needless to say, it was a good thing that it was Sunday and he was not required to sit for his summer lessons, as he was quite sure he would have been unable to do so. He wasn’t able to sit them on Monday, either, but it wasn’t directly because of his cheerful inattention. Rather, it was a result of that cheer’s cause: the ICW investigation.

The investigation, which was apparently, starting with a personal interview of the old man’s primary victim. And which then proceeded the following day with private discussions with each member of the Malfoy family and both Longbottoms. Snape was interviewed along with the Hogwarts staff on Wednesday, which was helpful as they had so far managed to downplay Severus’ involvement in the custody situation.

During that time, the two young wizards shared strained smiles as they played on their brooms on the Malfoys’ pitch behind the maze. They clasped hands briefly for no obvious reason as they fed Polaris and laughed convincingly when the peacock tried to chase them through the formal gardens in search of an extra treat. They even sat on the grass at a dead end in the maze that led to one of the water features found so many places on the grounds belonging to Vivien’s descendants. The two hours the boys spent there, leaning back to back as they read over the next day’s lesson with their new tutor, were the least stressful Harry spent that entire week.

The brunette eleven-year-old couldn’t help but spend hours thinking about what the others had been asked and how they had answered because the ICW members had cast confidentiality spells before every interview. Not being able to talk with his best friend about his own interview was even worse. Draco was always the one he spoke to about things that were on his mind or about which he was stressed. Yet he couldn’t tell the blond how many of the questions focused on his years with the Dursleys, including what he’d known about how he had come to be there before he had met the Malfoys.

The representatives spoke with the Potter heir about what he did and what he learned while at the Manor as well as what he went through before that and seemingly everything that transpired in between. They touched somewhat briefly on his visit with his goblin account manager and had him sign something giving Brynjar permission to speak with them about certain things. And there were just as many questions about Quirrell, and his interactions with the Headmaster during his time at Hogwarts.

The wizards and witches from the ICW seemed keen on asking if he had known about certain things when they happened and when he found out and how. Including his knowledge, or lack thereof, of the Wizarding World. They took copies of quite a lot of his memories and even examined him to see if he had been Obliviated at any point. They checked for other things too when they did the diagnostic scans but the Healers they had performing the tests didn’t tell him exactly what they were looking for. He could guess, as one was a specialist in Mind Arts, and the other in Physical Trauma and Injury.

The exams were uncomfortable on several levels, but somehow didn’t feel as invasive as the discussion they had requested he have with the Children’s Mind Healer. Though ‘requested’ may not have been the best word to use. Certainly they had asked, and had gone out of their way to tell him it was optional each and every step of the way. But it was clear to him that while he could say no, and the Wizarding Minor Advocate would have enforced the decision, he also knew that they would read a lot into any such refusal.

He wanted, more than almost anything, for someone important to take seriously what he had gone through, to do something about it. He thought he had gotten that from the Malfoys, and he had. But having an international authority take notice was different somehow. There was only one thing he wanted more that day than for the ICW members, important wizards and witches in their own countries who had respected Dumbledore – who perhaps still did – to pay attention and do something about what the horrible old man had caused to happen. Harry wanted his friend there with him.

He had asked at the beginning if Draco could be there but it wasn’t until they had finished the questions and exams and were telling him briefly how their investigation would proceed and what to expect personally during the process that they had allowed the young blond into the room. During those last ten minutes before the representatives from the ICW left, Harry held one of Draco’s hands like a lifeline. He continued to do so in the subsequent nights when nightmares, which had started to come more frequently again in the wake of the DADA duel, continued to torment him. Only about half included the green light of the Killing Curse or Voldemort’s twisted face protruding from the back of his professor’s head.

Chapter Thirteen: Opportunity and Advice

 

Anticipation and anxiety reached a fever pitch in his head the next Thursday when the Wizengamot met for the second time that Season. “They’ll have to vote on it this time, right? You don’t think Dumbledore will force another delay, do you?”

Grey eyes followed his friend as the smaller boy paced from one end of the formal library to the other, ostensibly stretching his legs between their Latin tutor and their time with the private Magical Theory instructor. “He’ll look a right twat if he does.”

Draco smiled when the response gained him a short laugh, then continued more seriously as he thought over what his father had told them that morning before he’d left for the Ministry. “You’ve seen the papers this week, Harry, they’ve printed almost nothing except recaps of the Censure, and editorials about your first interview, and letters from readers about the safety of magical children raised outside of the home. The Prophet even included those excerpts from the Act that the paper’s Wizengamot correspondent got ahold of. Public opinion is heavily in favor of the Child Protection and Custody Act. Half the housewitches in the country are practically hysterical about it. He’ll have to let the legislation pass unless he wants to look even worse than he already does.”

The assurance proved true that evening when Lord Malfoy returned home to report that the Act had passed with an overwhelming majority of votes in its favor. “All but the old man’s more ardent supporters practically tripped over their own feet to stand and say ‘aye’ when the votes were called for,“ the older blond had relayed with a satisfied smirk.

There was some concern at the Manor that public outcry would wane once the Act was passed and the more moderate thinkers could claim that the problem had been resolved. The re-printing of ICW announcements worked rather well to keep that from happening. It was hard for the average witch or wizard to forget about the Headmaster’s involvement in what had happened to the Boy-Who-Lived when the investigation by the ICW continued and Dumbledore remained suspended from the Confederation.

“Who else do you think they’ve interviewed now?” Harry asked his friend Thursday evening when it was time to leave their sitting room and get ready for bed.

The blond shrugged slightly. “They’re bound to have talked to the goblins by now. Maybe other students or their parents?”

“You don’t think…” green eyes shifted to look out one of the large windows despite the darkness on the other side of the glass. “Do you think they would talk with Muggles? I mean, would they talk to-”

Draco swallowed hard at the unfinished question and the way Harry still wouldn’t meet his gaze. The grey orbs widened more than necessary as he suddenly spoke up with exaggerated cheer. “Hey, maybe the ICW will look into that group he led during the war. That’d be heading an illegal militia, if not advocating illegal actions, since those people did all kinds of things the Ministry and the court didn’t approve, just because the old coot told them to.”

For just a second, a hopeful, almost excited expression brightened the shorter wizard’s face. Then it dimmed once more.

“Actual charges would have to be levied by our court. And for that, we’d have to get him off the Wizengamot first,” Harry said with quiet frustration and no shortage of bitterness. “There’s no way charges like that will get through the court with him as Chief Warlock.”

Draco reached across to grab his friend’s hand, waiting until green met grey before he spoke in an equally quiet but much more confident tone. “We will. Soon enough, we will. And then he’ll answer for those things, and all the others, that he’s gotten away with all these years.”

“Decades,” the brunette corrected with a whisper. The taller boy nodded slightly in acknowledgement but the calm, confident demeanor didn’t shift and eventually Harry sighed and the conversation turned to other topics.

Conversations all over Magical Britain focused on little else but the Hogwarts Headmaster as June turned to July and a series of articles by a previously unknown investigative journalist, D. S. Upton, began filling the pages of the Daily Prophet. Harry’s personal favorite was the one that included an in depth interview with Aberforth Dumbledore and the brothers’ former neighbors in Godric’s Hollow. Needless to say, the popular opinion of him as the great defeater of Grindelwald took a sharp turn.

In the wake of what the paper called their reporter’s ‘campaign for truth and honesty’ a host of rumors began to circulate around Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. They ranged from the possibility of a formal investigation by the Aurors to a financial audit of Hogwarts, but those all came to naught, just as Lucius and Augusta had predicted the day word of the rumor had reached the Manor.

“That perfect reputation may be crumbling around him, but that manipulative goat has far too many friends in high places. They’ll stop any such thing before it even starts, if only to keep others from looking too closely at how they got to such lofty positions. Dumbledore knew what he was doing when he got them placed where they are.”

The blond aristocrat nodded in agreement to the Lady Longbottom’s words. “Unless the court orders it, there will not be an investigation of any kind. And the only way the court would do so is if blatant, inarguable evidence is shoved in their faces that Albus Dumbledore has irrefutably done something that must be investigated.”

“Which only means, of course,” broke in the soft tones of the former Black daughter, “that we must give them such evidence. Which is what we planned to do anyway, isn’t that right dear?”

Lucius nodded at his wife and led the group into the dinning room for dinner. The morning of Monday, July 1st, showed that their work had, to an extent, been done for them. At least as far as the ICW was concerned. The headline that greeted the inhabitants of Malfoy Manor over breakfast that day was in two-inch letters atop the front page.

DUMBLEDORE OFF ICW, NEW SUPREME MUGWUMP ANNOUNCED.

“They fired him,” Harry said with a wide smile, his tone almost one of disbelief. They had planned to eliminate his means to power and influence one by one, and it was inarguable that his post as Head of the International Confederation of Wizards was one of those. But to see it accomplished already and with no direct action on their parts other than what they had needed to do to chip away at his stranglehold on popular opinion in Britain? It was a little hard to believe things were going so well and his first year had ended less than a month before.

The brunette’s cheerful disbelief was echoed by his best friend, but the two adults did not seem surprised. He wondered again what the ICW representatives had talked to them about. The clear voice of the Lady Malfoy distracted him from that train of thought as she began to read excerpts aloud from the official ICW statement. The Boy-Who-Lived couldn’t stop smiling as he started to eat, listening to the carefully worded explanation of the Confederation’s decision to fire Albus Dumbledore.

Lucius seemed determined to use the reading as an exercise in interpreting the same type of wording that was often used inside the Wizengamot. The two boys would both need the skill when it came time to take their House Seats on the court, though Harry would be doing so much sooner than the blond. After picking their way through the two paragraphs it came down to three basic categories.

The first being the old man’s failure to follow school safety standards regarding the placement of a full-grown Cerberus inside the school without so much as a single ward to keep out students. The second being his violation of international banking regulations in accessing a vault with a forged document. And the third being the fact that in leaving a fifteen month old alone and unwarded on a Muggle doorstep in the middle of the night without even the legal right to have possession of the child in the first place, he had acted in direct opposition to the oaths he gave to protect all children in his care when he took the position of Headmaster.

Green eyes narrowed just a little in irritation despite his persistent smile. Those were hardly the worst of the manipulative coot’s crimes. The eldest Malfoy seemed to know exactly what his ward was thinking as he calmly spoke before buttering his scone.

“The ICW is an international legal body, they can only address actions which break international law or regulation. The punishment of crimes against British law is the jurisdiction of the Wizengamot. Of those actions which there is clear and direct evidence against him, only a few were against existing international law. And the only reason the Cerberus and your abandonment were able to be addressed is because the ICW has a department of education which oversees the major magical boarding schools, including Hogwarts. Normally they only get involved with issues or interactions between the schools, but their department also sets certain broad standards, which all the schools must meet. Including safety standards and the requirement of particular oaths and contracts by the school Heads.”

The youngest blond seemed briefly concerned as he looked back and forth between his father and his friend, but he was unable to suppress his overriding excitement at the success of a major component of their long-term plans.

“What a perfect start to the month!” Draco exclaimed, causing Harry to grin even wider. Just because it was hard to believe, and the legal restrictions hard to accept, didn’t mean it was hard to enjoy, after all.

 

Lucius allowed the boys to relish the accomplishment for the rest of the meal, but as everyone began to finish up, he met the green eyes with a once more serious mien. “As the ICW department of education allowed them to address certain school related issues, their specific mention of them also creates an opening for us to act similarly. I believe your input is called for.”

“I’m not sure I understand, sir.”

“The Hogwarts Board of Governors is entitled to temporarily suspend a sitting Headmaster if it can be proven that they have allowed or caused students injury or otherwise endangered the student population of the school. To permanently remove a Headmaster, a Wizengamot vote is required, but given the formal statement of the ICW that safety standards were not met, we have the authority to act.”

“That’s great!” Harry said enthusiastically. “But I’m not sure what you need me to do.”

“The day-to-day running of the school is the responsibility of the Headmaster or Headmistress, the oversight of the Head is handled by the Board of Governors. Both have a duty to the Founders’ Heirs and the Hogwarts Trust. You are the only Founder’s Heir, Mr. Potter. When you are Lord, your recommendation will be sought in such matters, and I believe it is only right that you are involved in this process from the beginning. You may not be able to affect the Board’s decisions directly at this time, but I would like to hear your thoughts before I meet the other Hogwarts Governors in twenty-four hours’ time.”

Large green eyes blinked several times in silence before the young wizard was able to respond. Even then, he could force out no actual words and instead just nodded. The older wizard returned the gesture and informed his ward that they should retire to his office to hold their conversation. Harry followed him out of the dining room hesitantly, glancing back at his best friend before entering the hallway. Draco smiled encouragingly but was soon out of sight.

The brunette had a strong recollection of the first time he had stood before the two grand doors as he waited for Lucius to open them. He had been terrified of whoever was behind those doors when Draco first brought him into the Manor. He had stayed scared of the intimidating wizard for some time, then merely wary of the proud man. He was neither scared nor wary of Lord Malfoy anymore. He respected his opinion and valued his council greatly. And he owed him and Lady Malfoy more than he could ever express for taking him into their home as they had. With this in mind, the Potter heir took a deep breath and stepped through the gilded doors.

As they both settled into seats, the basic arrangement and progress of a Board of Governors meeting was quickly outlined as a refresher of the lesson both young wizards had received almost a year before. Harry nodded in the appropriate places to show he remembered and understood. Then an emergency meeting was explained a little more thoroughly, along with what Lucius expected from this meeting in particular. “As such, it is a foregone conclusion that the vote for his suspension will be unanimous. The Board has tried many times over the years to accomplish it and this is by far the best opportunity we could have to be successful.”

The brunette nodded once again. “So, the only real issue that you will actually be deciding is who will become acting Headmaster during the suspension.”

“Precisely, Mr. Potter. There is, of course, the option to leave the post open as school is not currently in session, but doing so would leave us at a disadvantage.”

“Because it might make the Wizengamot think there is no one who could replace him, which could make them even less likely to remove him.”

“Indeed. It also has the potential to be harmful even if the removal occurred, as the court could then step in and appoint an interim Headmaster.”

“Who would be almost as difficult to replace as Dumbledore.”

The older wizard inclined his head in agreement and waited to see what his ward would say without his input. After all, once he turned sixteen, the boy would have to make these kinds of deductions and decisions on his own. He was not disappointed.

“So whomever is chosen should be someone who will reassure the court and be acceptable to the Board long term.”

“Yes. If we do not choose carefully, it could damage our efforts to be rid of Dumbledore or interfere with our long term goals for Hogwarts.”

“And you want my opinion on who the Board should choose?” Harry tried to make his voice sound as confident as it had when discussing the situation theoretically but knew he was unsuccessful. For all that he was objectively aware that he had been well prepared for the basic roles he would need to one day fill, he could not help but feel unsure. It had never before been as clear to him the type of influence and responsibility that he would carry as the Gryffindor heir.

Even when they had talked about the curriculum and other changes that needed to be made at Hogwarts, it had felt more like a group decision than one he was making himself. Now, here was one of the most powerful Nobles in the Wizarding world, asking for his input on a decision that would have immediate and longstanding effects. The Noble in question did not alter his expression in the slightest, merely inclined his head again, but the small wizard knew that his unease was clear to his temporary guardian. With a deep breath, Harry tried to treat the situation as another lesson, picking his way through the tangled knots of political and social wrangling that surrounded the post of Hogwarts Headmaster.

Look at it as a series of riddles, he told himself. Break it down and solve each more manageable piece separately. “In order to please the Wizengamot, the person would need to be someone that they would think more than competent to fulfill the tasks associated with the role. Which in their minds would be an existing employee of the Ministry or the school.”

Green eyes settled briefly on grey as if to make sure he hadn’t said anything inaccurate, before falling back to a spot on the marble surrounding the fireplace to his left. “Their first choice would probably be the Head or Deputy Head of the Wizarding Examinations Authority, but both are irrevocably in Dumbledore’s pocket so they aren’t a real consideration. The next most logical would be a longstanding Hogwarts staff member.”

Another glance at the blond revealed no hint of his being on the wrong track, so Harry continued talking his way through the viable options. “Of the senior faculty, only the Heads of House have performed any administrative roles within the school. The Deputy Headmistress would be the most obvious, but she is as fully under the old man’s influence as anyone can be.” The fact that she had, according to Severus, been present when he had been abandoned on the Dursleys’ doorstep and therefore could never be someone he would ever personally trust, went without saying.

“And the court members we will have to sway would never trust a Slytherin, even if Professor Snape would be willing to take on the role.” The slightest twitch of Lord Malfoy’s mouth betrayed his amusement at the idea of his friend’s reaction should he actually be asked to become Headmaster. Willing would certainly not be an adjective that could be used to describe that reaction, Harry was sure. “Which leaves Sprout and Flitwick.”

The young brunette pursed his lips as he thought through the dilemma. The only interaction he had experienced with those professors had been in their respective classes, and while he found them both competent enough in the classroom, he wasn’t sure he knew enough about them to decide whom he would rather see in charge of the school. Turning to his former tutor, he asked what the older man knew of their political leanings or thoughts on magical tradition.

“Pomona Sprout has never been one to get involved in such things, she has never seemed particularly interested in administrative tasks that do not directly effect her or Hufflepuff House.”

The observation fit quite closely to the affable witch he had seen in the classroom. Which led to another question. “Do you think she would stand up to McGonagall if she needed to? She would still be Deputy Headmistress, after all. If Sprout took over and just allowed McGonagall to do most of the work, it would be little different than putting the Gryffindor in charge. And Sprout seems so friendly and trusting that she might never see the help as an attempt to keep control.”

Lord Malfoy gave a conciliatory nod but did not say anything else, leaving the eleven-year-old to continue without comment. Taking the lack of correction as agreement, green eyes narrowed as they pictured the diminutive Charms Professor. He knew little about him other than he was half goblin and was easily amused in the classroom. The latter might indicate too easy-going of a disposition for someone that would need to keep the Transfiguration Professor from taking charge in Dumbledore’s stead. The former, however, was somewhat more promising. He recalled his recent trip to Gringotts and how helpful and informative the creatures had been. They certainly hadn’t gone too far out of their way to talk to him before, but they had provided damning information on the old fool without strictly being asked to do so.

“Is Flitwick at all involved in the Goblin Horde, or does he live entirely as a wizard?”

“He lives largely as a wizard, but he does hold a low ranking position on the Horde Council. The content of such meeting is never divulged to wizards but within the bank, Flitwick is treated with some respect and no outright disapproval.”

And he would, Harry inferred, be treated with clear disapproval if he ever sided with Wizarding law or society on topics or situations brought before the Horde Council. Which meant the Professor might be more likely to have opinions contrary to Dumbledore or others like him. According to one of the elder Malfoy’s contacts, who worked for Gringotts, it was certainly no secret inside the bank that Albus Dumbledore was not on friendly terms with the Goblin Horde. And goblins in general were never known for being easily influenced. If Flitwick was on good terms with the Horde he was likely to have more in common with the average goblin than the average wizard.

“Out of all the options, I believe Professor Flitwick could be our best chance at pacifying the Wizengamot and any less fervent of Dumbledore’s supporters without placing someone in charge that would act against the Board purely on principal.”

For the first time since they left the breakfast table, Lucius Malfoy fixed the Potter heir with an expression of approval “I am glad that you think so. Filius Flitwick would be my recommendation to the Board as well. I will do my best to make the preference clear to the remainder of the Hogwarts Governors but I do not foresee any stringent opposition to the appointment. Is there anything else that you feel the Board should consider or are there any questions you have for me on this subject?”

The young wizard was about to say no when something teased at the corner of his mind. Neither wizard said anything for several minutes as the brunette tried to determine what it was that he wanted to ask. He folded his hands in his lap almost absently, the slight discomfort drawing his attention to the still red palms, the burns having healed slowly over the weeks since his altercation with the possessed professor. “Is it possible for an interim Headmaster to fill a vacant staff position, or for the Board of Governors to do so while the Headmaster is suspended?”

“In theory, yes. But the appointment would need to be agreed upon by both the acting Head and the Board in order for it to be put into place during the suspension.”

“And would the appointment hold up after the suspension was over?”

“Again, theoretically, yes. However, if Dumbledore were to be reinstated, he would no doubt replace the new professor simply to make sure that the Board had no say in the hire.”

Harry nodded absently. “But if the suspension held and the old man were removed permanently, the new hire would probably remain, since the interim Head had helped to chose them in the first place?”

“It is most likely, yes. Did you have an opinion on an open staff position, Heir Gryffindor?”

Harry sat back in surprise at the formal address. Lord Malfoy had never called him that before. No one had. It felt decidedly strange and a little uncomfortable as it reinforced the sense of almost overwhelming responsibility from the start of the discussion. It took a few seconds before the brunette was able to reply. “Yes, I did. That is, I think, given the quality of professors who have been hired for the Defense position in the past, it would be a good idea if the post were filled now, while the Board will have a say in who is selected. If we put it off until the matter of Headmaster is settled, we will have less influence on the choice that is made.”

“I believe, Mr. Potter, that you make an excellent point. I will certainly bring the vacancy to the Board’s attention so that we can begin compiling a list of suggestions to the interim Head as soon as possible.”

Green eyes closed in relief for the space of a heartbeat before they met grey with more calm and more confidence than the young wizard had felt since the start of breakfast. He didn’t think he imagined the spark of approval and perhaps even pride that showed in the older man’s face as Harry left him to contact the rest of the Board and arrange the meeting for the next morning.

The memory of that expression, and the affectionate efforts of Excalibur, kept the brunette calm throughout the day and night. But by the time Lord Malfoy had departed for the meeting he had begun to feel uncertain once more. He wasn’t the only one to be waiting impatiently for the eldest blond’s return the day of the Board meeting. Harry, Draco, Narcissa, and even Augusta and Neville, spent the majority of that Tuesday counting the hours until the Lord’s return.

Not that the suspension of Albus Dumbledore wasn’t a foregone conclusion, it most certainly was. But the official decision as to the old fool’s replacement would impact the next day’s Wizengamot session, and plans needed to be finalized for their upcoming efforts in the court. The long awaited discussion started over tea that afternoon and lasted through dinner. When the meeting of the Board of Governors had been summarized without any surprises and the entirety of the case against Dumbledore as Headmaster picked apart and put back together again in preparation for court, the nervous air that had permeated the Manor all day finally started to dissipate. For the most part.

Harry felt as if his stomach were just as full of nerves as food when everyone gathered in the parlor for pudding and drinks. He knew perfectly well that the Board could suspend but not remove a school Head without a majority vote in the Wizengamot. It had been discussed and explained many times, and he himself had read the section in the school Charter. It was one of the only lines in Dumbledore’s version that had not been altered much from the original, a fact which was all the more frustrating.

He couldn’t disagree with the basic idea, it went along with the Founders’ intentions. Seeing it so warped and twisted and still outwardly the same somehow made the only Founders’ Heir that much more angry, as it felt like his legacy was being commandeered for another’s purpose. As if it were being mocked by the very man who was dismantling every other aspect of the Charter. The man who, by and large, stood between them and a chance to make Hogwarts all it was meant to be.

A sudden hiss in his ear brought vacant green eyes back to those around him. “Harry,” his best friend hissed again. “You all right?”

The brunette nodded just a little and flashed a thankful, if wilted, smile at the blond before resolutely turning his attention back to the discussion. It had been decided that, with his temporary custody officially settled and parchment already filed to make it permanent, the Boy-Who-Lived would be making his first appearance in the Wizengamot chambers. Only as an observer, but there all the same. The adults seemed to think that his presence would be meaningful to many and there were several plans to use it to their advantage.

His going meant that what was being said that night would be important for him to know. Entering the courtroom, even in the audience, was a daunting prospect for the young wizard who was only really comfortable in small gatherings of his closest friends. Hogwarts had been bad enough. A shudder ran through him at the thought of all the eyes that would be watching him, important eyes that would be judging him. The feel of another warm hand giving his a quick squeeze brought the Potter heir back to himself yet again, and he resolved to stay focused for the rest of the night. He started by drinking a measured sip of his tea and taking stock of where the conversation had gotten to while he was distracted.

The outspoken Regent for the House of Longbottom was making a huffing sound over her coffee, seeming to be agreeing reluctantly with something one of the others had said. As her gaze, when it rose from her cup, focused on the eldest Malfoy, Harry could only assume that he had been the one she was responding to.

“He certainly has used the forgetful and doddering old man routine to manipulate and put himself in a position of authority more than once while I’ve been on the court,” Augusta admitted.

“I believe it has been one of his favorite tactics for decades,” agreed the Lord Malfoy. “My father complained about it often. And seeing as he has been featured so heavily in the Prophet lately, I think he will assume that my being on the agenda tomorrow can only be an attempt by myself or the Board to take advantage of his battered reputation.”

“Well, Dumbledore may be underhanded and more focused on his greater good than the welfare of others, but he has never been stupid,” came the gruff response.

“As such,” cut in the younger Lady, “it sounds like we can expect the Chief Warlock to attempt a power-play tomorrow, perhaps even by preventing a vote on whatever he thinks you might be presenting to the court.”

Her husband nodded as he set down his glass of port. “Quite so. If he were sure of the exact nature of my business he would no doubt have the Head of the applicable department absent themselves from the day’s proceedings. However, as none but the Governors know of today’s Board meeting, he will most likely prevent the vote himself.”

“Meaning he will be conveniently too busy to attend.” The older witch shrugged and placed her fork on her empty dessert plate. “There are only so many ways to keep a vote from happening, and Merlin knows he has enough gerbils in the Noble Houses to relate every word and gesture that takes place while he is gone.”

“Dumbledore will no doubt think that forcing the court to wait on him will put him in a position of power and remind the Wizengamot that he is indispensible to the running of Magical Britain.” For the first time, the wizard’s grey eyes locked on Harry’s. “He will be most disappointed, will he not, Mr. Potter?”

Harry reminded himself of all the plans and strategies and contingencies that had been crafted and polished in this very room. They were not going into this confrontation unprepared. Albus Dumbledore may be powerful, for now, but he was not invincible. The young brunette took a deep breath, absently lifted Excalibur into his lap, and met the eyes of every person in the room one after another. “He will be most disappointed.”

 

Chapter Fourteen: Battle of Wits and Rules

Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, the Second-Time-Savior of the Wizarding World, the Potter heir, the Peverell heir. He could hear the whispers just clearly enough to know without doubt that he was the topic of every conversation but not well enough to determine exactly what they were saying about him. The brunette did his best to not shift nervously when taking his seat as more than half the people observing this session of the Wizengamot pointed at him with varying degrees of subtlety.

The visitor’s gallery had been full to bursting in the previous session as every Noble in Magical Britain had gone home after the court opened and talked about little else but the Censure of Albus Dumbledore. Lucius had warned him that the audience numbers would likely be just as high that day and even as green eyes tried not to look around himself any more than strictly necessary, he could confirm the blond had been correct. He could only imagine how many people would be showing up to view the court sessions over the next few weeks. He, the Malfoys, and Lady Longbottom intended to put on quite a show, after all.

Of course, the Wizarding public seemed to think his mere presence was enough of a show to keep their interest and fuel their constant gossip. Thankfully, Lucius had taken that into account and secured him a private box from which to view the session. It may not keep him out of sight, but it at least prevented anyone from touching him and with the privacy wards up they couldn’t talk to him either. There were a few other private boxes in the visitor’s gallery, but he hadn’t taken the time to try and figure out who was in them. As they were by and large reserved for only those with the highest status, he could make an educated guess anyway.

It wasn’t a huge pool of potential individuals. Unless it was a special session open to the public, the only witches or wizards allowed to observe the court were direct relatives of a Sitting Lord or Lady. Normally that meant wives and heirs, but from the volume of voices alone it was obvious that many more than that were in attendance. Thank Merlin for privacy wards, he thought. Who knew how many people would be trying to talk to him otherwise.

Even without being able to speak to him, most of the many audience members were talking about or just staring at him, and he spared a moment to hope that the session would start soon so everyone had something else to focus on. For himself, the young wizard focused as hard as he could on reviewing the many, many rules and protocols of the Wizengamot. This last summer in particular, he and Draco both had been tutored on such political minutiae of the court. Including the people who existed within it. He could remember a time when he had thought learning the Noble rankings within the court and wider Wizarding society had been overwhelming. That had been nothing compared to the in-depth review of every wizard or witch who Sat on the court and their House.

He found himself grateful for those tedious lessons as he surreptitiously watched the first few Wizengamot members filter into the courtroom below him. He quickly identified each in turn, reminding himself where they had stood in the past, and which, if any, voting bloc they were a part of. The Malfoy Bloc was easiest to name, as Lucius had possessed files on each of them. He knew from discussions with the blond Lord that a few of his bloc had started to waver when he began tailoring his political approach to their developing plans. He knew who they were and recalled how they had reacted in the pensive memory of that first session. He remembered how others had reacted as well, naming them one by one and placing them into two categories in his mind: Dumbledore’s lemmings, and those who might be open to another view.

They were playing for keeps, a long-term plan with long-term results. Which he would be a direct part of sooner than he was strictly comfortable with. The surprised and assessing glances of the filling seats were more than he was comfortable with too. The audience was bad enough but to have the court watching too is almost too much, he admitted to himself. With a deep breath, Harry concentrated on all the little tricks he had learned over the years to hide his discomfort and fear. When he reopened his eyes he knew he appeared calm and comfortable if not entirely as confident as he’d hoped.

Focusing once more he counted off all the solid members of the Malfoy Bloc, those who had wavered or left, and those who appeared almost ready to join. Even without the new additions, they held enough of the votes to greatly effect the outcome of what they all hoped would be the push they needed to free Hogwarts of the old man’s control. While a criminal case required every seat filled and at least three quarters of the vote to convict, civil cases like the one before them only needed more than half of the possible votes. The brunette couldn’t keep from mentally recalculating how many they had and how many they would have once he was old enough to assign his Proxies.

The numbers were at least partially comforting as his nerves began to spike once more. Almost all the members had taken their seats, which meant the third session of the Season would be starting soon. Almost all. There was one notable seat still unoccupied: that of the Chief Warlock. The pointed absence of Albus Dumbledore had a calming effect on the eleven-year-old. We expected this, we planned for this, Harry repeated to himself.

Three things were required, as far as attendance went, in order to vote on a civil matter. He could hear Lord Malfoy’s voice as if the lesson had occurred the day before. The presence of two members of the administrative tier is required: the Chief Warlock, and the Head of whichever department is most applicable to the case at hand. Furthermore, the presence of two thirds of each of the top three tiers of the court is also required. The absence of any one of these will prevent a vote from taking place.

We have four Ancient and Noble seats out of eight and four Ancient House seats out of ten. Harry reminded himself. Plus we control the only currently active Most Ancient and Noble seat. At least for now, Harry noted with a mental smile. There are forty sessions each year, and every member can miss thirteen of them without penalty. If he wants to play power games, we can do that. We will do that. Dumbledore may think he’ll get his way by throwing his weight around like this, but the title of Chief Warlock only comes with so much power, despite what he’s been able to get away with because of it. We can hold this whole bloody court hostage if we need to.

It was equally as difficult for him to keep from smirking at the thought as it was for him to sit still as the full court, minus its Chief Warlock, took their seats. Harry wanted to point out the way all of Dumbledore’s cronies were looking so smug and comment on how they would wipe that look off the sycophants’ faces soon enough. But there was no one there to talk to. There was no one to sit with him and tell him, even if only with a nod or a smile or a squeeze of his hand, that everything would work out just like they’d planned. Probably only one more after this, then Draco will be here, just like we planned. If he were here now he’d tell me to stop worrying so bloody much and get ready to enjoy the show, the brunette thought.

He was pulled from his internal musings as the Minister stood, and acting in the Chief Warlock’s place, called the session to order, and read off the agenda for the day. Without the Chief Warlock, only someone already on the agenda would be allowed to speak to the court as the Chief Warlock had to grant the floor to any unscheduled individual. It wasn’t a concern today, as Lord Malfoy was first on the agenda and had been since the start of the Season.

It would not be so easy to get a spot, however, now that it was clear that he would be moving against the mighty Dumbledore. The likelihood of a member of the Malfoy Bloc being ceded the floor while the old fool was Chief Warlock was very low. But that was a problem for another day, and one they had already taken into account. Even so, the Boy-Who-Lived had to swallow past his nerves to get a full breath as his mentor began to speak.

“I am here today to address an issue that is of great concern to every parent and every child in Magical Britain. It is not one which I believe many of you will be surprised. I have come before this court several times before on behalf of the Hogwarts Board of Governors. We have asked for changes to the administration of our school.” Cool grey eyes scanned over the other Nobles, and Harry was sure that they met all but the helpless lemmings who wouldn’t vote against Dumbledore even if he Avada Kedavra’d someone in front of them.

“In light of recent events this matter should not be in question any longer. Changes are needed. An investigation is needed. But most importantly, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore needs to be replaced. As of yesterday morning, the Board has suspended his rights to the title and position of Headmaster of Hogwarts. I stand here now and tell each and every one of you, this court needs to remove him permanently.”

It was hardly a surprise when Lord Karlyle Shacklebolt stood and protested, the family was known to almost worship Dumbledore, but it made Harry tense just the same. “As you have been told before, Lord Malfoy, neither you nor the Board of Governors have the right to remove a sitting Headmaster.”

The brunette forced himself to relax, to keep his body language calm and unconcerned as he had been taught by the man who responded in a perfectly even tone. “I have every right to act within my role as Head of the Board of Governors. The Board can lodge a formal Protest as we have eleven times in the past fifteen years. The Board can also, with cause, temporarily suspend a sitting Headmaster and then appeal to the court for permanent removal. That is what we are doing now, and it is fully within our rights.”

The Boy-Who-Lived tensed internally but did not let his discomfort show as the blond aristocrat continued. “This court has found Albus Dumbledore responsible for the grievous neglect and abuse of a child. This court has Censured him for those and the other crimes he committed against Magical Britain. The ICW suspended him from his role on their court and found him suspect enough to investigate themselves. The ICW then subsequently removed him from the Confederation entirely based on their investigation and the disregard they found him to have for the safety of his students.”

The courtroom was quiet, not even the fool’s staunch supporters spoke. Harry wanted to assume it was because everything that had been said was fact and could not be argued. He was hesitant to give them credit for that type of logical thinking however. Most likely, the brunette thought, they had not been prepared for exactly this situation and were feverishly trying to come up with something to say. Lucius Malfoy did not have that difficulty; he continued smoothly.

“Myself and the Board of Governors, are following letter of the law. We are attempting to address the concerns of the Board and the parents of Hogwarts students. We are asking this court to follow through with its role as the oversight of a seated Headmaster.” That smooth tone took on a hint of sarcasm. “Though I can understand why that might be difficult for you to understand. I admit to finding myself somewhat perplexed with the idea of this court satisfactorily acting as arbitrator of any difficulties the parents and Board have with the Headmaster when that Headmaster is also Chief Warlock.”

The previous sarcasm grew heavy enough that no one in the court or audience would be able to miss it. “One might indeed wonder if these two positions might be meant to not be held by the same person. After all, overseeing one’s self is somewhat contradictory.”

From Harry’s position the Lady Shafiq, who had been acting on behalf of her son since her husband’s death ten years before, looked as if she tried to say something. The tall wizard standing before the court took no notice and continued talking in a voice that needed no Sonorus to be heard in the very back of the gallery where the famous eleven-year-old was sitting.

“Indeed, the Founders must have questioned the wisdom of that type of behavior as checks and balances were insured by the Hogwarts Charter. One is the Board of Governors, with their supposed ability to lodge a formal Protest, and the right to suspend a Headmaster deemed dangerous to the school or student body. The other is this court, which can take a vote of no confidence in the Headmaster and remove him from his post.”

The young wizard could see several faces, which had been inarguably dismissive at the beginning of the session grow more neutral. “The role of oversight includes the ability to oversee hiring, to even force firing if evidence can be found that the employee is unqualified or poses a risk. Yet, these Founder-given rights have been ignored or superseded. And the only way to appeal those actions is through a court headed by the individual responsible.”

The Malfoys’ ward had braced himself for many days of what would amount to a tug of war with the Chief Warlock for power and influence over the Wizengamot. He felt a trickle of hope that they had underestimated the situation and it might be easier to convince the other Nobles than they had expected. In addition to the seven members of the administrative tier, himself included, there had been twelve Houses which had always followed and supported Dumbledore. Longbottom had, of course, seen through the old man as soon as she had learned of Harry’s situation. Two or three others who had started the season in the fool’s pocket looked less certain of his perfection. They at least looked to be considering the evidence being presented.

From what he could see without appearing to do so, the Potter heir could spot at least half a dozen members of the audience who wore either thoughtful or surprised expressions. There were probably twice as many observers who seemed to be angry at the very idea of the Headmaster or the court having done anything wrong. Every member of the Malfoy Bloc and their families that were within sight of the green pools was nodding along with the information being presented, some of them looking as outraged as Harry had felt since learning of the situation.

Mixed reactions, to be sure, but not as heavily in favor of the Chief Warlock as they had feared. Lord Albert Binns was not mixed in his views at all as he stood from his seat. “The certified copy of the Hogwarts Charter in this court’s possession states differently, Lord Malfoy.”

One blond brow arched in response. “Yes, I imagine the copy certified by our Chief Warlock says many things. All of which I am sure are an accurate representation of the thoughts of Hogwarts’ Founders, four of history’s most intelligent wizards and witches. Including, based on the actions of our very conscientious” the sneer did not show in his face, but it was clear in his voice as he drew out the word, “Headmaster, the infinitely logical decision of having our children taught at OWL and NEWT level in DADA by a Muggle Studies professor vetted so well that he remained within the school an entire year whilst possessed by a dark wizard. And let us not forget, a history curriculum based solely on goblin wars and witch burnings, without a single word about King Arthur or Camelot, or the Founders themselves.”

Lord Binns bristled at the insult to his great grandfather’s teaching and glared at the blond, though he allowed Lord Harrigan Weasley to be the one to leap to the old coot’s defense. “The Headmaster has the expertise to make those decisions, not you.”

“Of course,” drawled Lord Malfoy. “Let us review a few of the choices he has made with all of that expertise. Such as hiring and refusing to fire Professor Trelawny, a known drunk, known even by the students as she often drinks during class time, while also burning potentially hallucinogenic incense. Surely only an expert in such matters of education would be wise enough to think such a woman responsible, and so vehemently that he has refused to fire her even after three protests by the Board and over a hundred written complaints by parents.”

Harry watched many Nobles and their family members, even some of the old fool’s supporters, sit and blink silently. He smothered the snort of disgust. They probably can’t even argue with that in their own tiny little minds, the young wizard thought to himself. To even some of the most accepting of parents, the reason behind retaining Trelawny was elusive. It had defied all possible logic as far as he was concerned. He had not seen how it could possibly aid the old man’s image of a responsible and enlightened educator. It wasn’t until he had been told of the origin of the ridiculous prophecy about him that the Boy-Who-Lived understood why the Headmaster was so intent on maintaining control of the woman.

“Surely the members of this august body can agree that all those entrusted with teaching and caring for our children should be vetted for Polyjuice, curses, behavioral charms and at least possession. Yet not even the school wards, let alone most of the other staff, noticed a problem with Professor Quirrell until he attacked a student in the middle of class.”

Grey eyes narrowed as they swept the entire chamber. “Surely even your copy of the Charter says that protective wards on school property – as with every other public building in Britain, in accordance with Ministry regulations – should be updated yearly by the goblins. Yet the Headmaster has been doing it himself since Gringotts filed a formal complaint against the Headmaster’s questionable conduct with school accounts twenty years ago.”

This, of course, would be the point at which a vote was normally called for, but he knew that was impossible. Instead of letting himself be annoyed, Harry watched with dubious amusement as the legal debate devolved into a court-wide argument that wouldn’t be out of place on a primary school playground. Nearly two-dozen Lords and Ladies speculated loudly about whether the Headmaster considered himself too good for such a trivial matter as public safety. The majority of the rest proclaimed vehemently that Albus Dumbledore was the strongest, most respected wizard since the Founders themselves, and was more than qualified to maintain the school wards on his own.

By the end of the day the brunette couldn’t decide if he was disappointed to have his entertainment end or eager to escape the petty squabbles of Wizarding society’s ruling classes. Draco was strongly of the former view when he described the session to his best friend that night. The other boy was so entertained as a matter of fact, that Lady Malfoy had to return to their rooms an hour after they were to be in bed to ask them to stop laughing long enough to go to sleep

The Malfoy heir would only have to be regaled second hand with court gossip one more time as the next session proceeded exactly as Lucius and Augusta had predicted.

Having been raised for several rather unfortunate years in the Muggle world, Harry had at first been rather surprised to learn that the concept of weekdays and weekends was only applied selectively in magical society, or at least the higher reaches of it where going to work meant meeting with other Nobles or company heads, or attending court sessions. It had taken some time to adjust to over the years, but by the time he was introduced to the basic rules of the Wizengamot he was not the least bit shocked to be told that court was held on the 3rd, 7th, 9th, 13th, 18th, 21st, and 27th of each given month, regardless of what day of the week those fell on.

The numerological significance and magical power attributed to the date is seen as more important within those areas which still honor the Old Ways. The Wizengamot was established long before Saturday and Sunday gained such meaning. Lady Malfoy had explained one day when her husband had to attend court and she took over the boys’ introduction to its rules. He could now see the truth of it as he settled into his private box in the court gallery on the morning of July 7th to watch the fourth session of the Summer Season. Not a single Noble on the court, nor any of those family members arrayed in the audience, said a word about it being Sunday morning.

They said quite a lot, however, in hushed excitement when the Chief Warlock arrived with a grandfatherly smile and twinkling eyes as he apologized for his absence. He played it off as a last minute, unavoidable, bit of business at the school and acted shocked and apologetic that his absence had prevented a vote. The old man then acted quite disappointed to inform the Nobles that the Head of the Wizarding Examinations Authority – coincidentally the Ministry Head who would be required to hold a vote on the Hogwarts matter – was busy with the issue that he himself had been dealing with, and would not be able to attend the session.

Harry could fully understand the frustration with which his mentor had always spoken when they discussed court proceedings. The young boy found it aggravating to sit and watch the ridiculous display and not be able to say anything about the obvious lies. He imagined it was much worse to deal with it first hand every court Season. Instead of focusing on that, however, he did his best to look at the situation tactically. They had all talked over the situation and their expectations the night before and had agreed the old man would most likely do what he had more than once when a matter, or piece of legislation, were put before the court that he did not want. That is, he blocked a vote on the undesirable item and then had his own minion present an alternate version that he had approved. Once the alternate had been voted in, the original item was declared unnecessary as there was already a bill or law or decision in place that addressed the issue. His, of course.

If he’s preventing a vote on his own measure today, he must be concerned that the presentation last session could have won over enough people to affect this vote. Harry thought to himself. He was fairly certain of that as well, and as annoying as the old coot’s power games were, in this instance, it would only help them in the end. It was almost guaranteed that Dumbledore’s highest ranking stooge, Lord Ollivander, would try to convince enough Nobles that the old man’s bill was the better choice, and until then there would simply not be a vote on either. Preventing movement of the Board of Governors’ request for the Headmaster’s dismissal was hardly a problem for the old man. As the Chief Warlock, he was in control of the floor. This Wizengamot rule was shown quite clearly by the coot’s ever so polite refusal to allow the Lord Malfoy to speak when the session started minutes later.

The tactic was hardly a surprise to anyone in the courtroom, as it was another favorite of Dumbledore’s, though Harry couldn’t help but feel frustrated by how easily so many on the court allowed themselves to be led by the bearded fool. It wasn’t as if the elderly wizard could pretend that he hadn’t seen Lucius’ request to speak on the agenda, at least half of the court members had watched the blond ask to be put on the agenda at the end of the last session. Yet no one questioned the Chief Warlock when he twinkled his way through an insincere apology and insisted that since Lord Ollivander was already on the schedule and Lord Malfoy was not, that the latter would have to wait for the former’s matter to be settled before he had a turn to speak.

The reasoning behind this was not even slightly hidden as the older Lord launched immediately into a clearly rehearsed speech about the need to improve the magical education system in Britain by strengthening the authority of the school’s administration and the corresponding department at the Ministry. It was repeated in several different ways that education should only be controlled by those who worked in that field and as such were far more qualified to make decisions about such things than anyone else. The argument in favor of a bill that would allow the Headmaster and Head of the Wizarding Examinations Authority almost unchecked power over all aspects of Hogwarts continued for the duration of the day’s session.

Lord Malfoy did not stay behind to ask to be put on the agenda again, though the Boy-Who-Lived left too soon to observe if any of the other Nobles commented on the blatant way the blond had been ignored. By the time the fifth session of the Summer Season began, however, what little he could pick up from his private box, made Harry certain that his mentor was the focus of almost every discussion within the chamber. Or rather, his absence was the topic of discussion. As the only Lord of a Most Ancient and Noble House, the aristocrat’s absence halted any planned vote as surely as the Chief Warlock’s had.

Green eyes did not miss the clear annoyance on the old man’s face when he noted that the blond was not present. Nor did they miss the quickly hidden anger when those twinkling blue orbs landed on the Potter heir in the visitor’s gallery. Harry took as deep a breath as he could without it showing and resisted the urge to grab the hand of the boy sitting beside him. The calm presence of his best friend only ten centimeters to his right was comforting even without the warm hand in his. He was especially grateful to not be alone as the absence of the father and the presence of the son – and that son’s location – was noticed by one witch and wizard after another.

As much as he hadn’t wanted to, the brunette had arrived at the Ministry and entered the courtroom by himself, with the young blond following right before the session was to begin. Because of that, it was only now, as the Chief Warlock prepared to call the court to order, that the blond sitting with Harry Potter was widely noticed. The significance of the Malfoy heir sitting with the famous boy in a private box on the day the Lord of his House was absent, following as it did the blatant way he had been ignored in the previous session, was not lost on a single adult within the chamber. Wizengamot member, and audience member alike, recognized the symbolic alignment of the House of Malfoy with the House of Potter following the former’s polite clash with the Chief Warlock.

Every Magical inside the courtroom could sense the tension as Dumbledore tapped his wand on his podium to call the session to order. They could deduce, quite easily, that the power-play the old wizard had conducted in the two previous sessions was being answered. Was being challenged. Despite the heavy atmosphere as the Nobles discussed small matters in lieu of the educational proposals that could not be voted on without the Lord Malfoy, the session ended without a full understanding of where the challenge to the Chief Warlock’s control of the court would lead. Certainly, no one expected what would come in the weeks that followed.

Four days later, at the sixth session of the court’s Summer Season, the small brunette found himself once more inside the familiar private box, his best friend at his side for the second time. The two boys had been up rather late the night before, huddled together on Harry’s bed as the smaller wizard had fought sleep and the nightmares that he was afraid would come with it. The friends had filled the hours with speculation on how the various members of the Wizengamot would react when they realized that what had started on the first Sunday in July was not just a brief jockeying for power between a Lord and the Chief Warlock.

“Some of them, especially Lords and Ladies of the Old Families, will see what we are doing tomorrow,” Draco had whispered.

Harry had shrugged as he attempted to find a more comfortable position under the light cashmere blanket. “I don’t know. So many follow the bastard’s lead, and he will downplay the situation as long as possible. He won’t want to admit that there is a voting bloc large enough or strong enough to challenge him, let alone that the challenge has already been issued. There are plenty who admire and trust him despite recent events, and they will be just as reluctant to acknowledge the situation as he is.”

Both predictions proved correct in the light of day, as the oldest families present all took obvious note of the three members of the Ancient and Noble Houses who were pointedly absent at that day’s session. The Lords Bulstrode, Greengrass, and Nott had all readily agreed to stay home when the Head of their bloc had Floo’d them the night before, shortly before the two boys had been sent to bed. While only a portion of the current Malfoy Bloc, the three Nobles were enough of a percentage of their court tier to prevent voting even with the return of the Lord Malfoy. At the same time, Dumbledore wore a benevolent, if disappointed, expression throughout the session and the old man’s lemmings followed suit.

The young wizards were sure that even those who were being intentionally obtuse had to notice the once again tense atmosphere as Lucius Malfoy requested leave to address the court and was politely refused by the Chief Warlock. This was immediately followed by a similar request by the Lady Longbottom that was also refused on a flimsy excuse. At the first strategy session the year before, Harry had questioned whether the old manipulator would assume the Lady who had spent so many years as his ardent supporter had become a threat in the event of a voting stall.

“No matter how long someone supports him, Albus will not hesitate to change his view of them at the first sign that their allegiance has changed. If Augusta speaks on your behalf in court or speaks in favor of any legislation proposed by a Noble in opposition to him, he will immediately place her in the opposing camp and will treat her as a threat,” Severus Snape had explained over tea and scones. “If things progress as we expect, the old fool will no doubt view anyone who agrees with something Lucius says as a threat to his control of the Wizengamot. Even Lady Longbottom.”

Their Head of House was right, of course. Supporting Malfoy’s Child Protection and Custody Act had been more than enough to make Dumbledore cautious, and the Lady’s attempt to bring up the Board of Governors’ unfinished petition was swiftly prevented.

“At least now Neville can sit with us during sessions,” Draco pointed out when they returned to the Manor that afternoon.

Harry could not argue with the assumption that the House of Longbottom would be symbolically siding with the Boy-Who-Lived in response to Albus Dumbldore’s refusal to allow the Lady to speak. Nor could he deny his relief at having their friend with them when they had to sit stoically under so many judgmental gazes. Both were undeniably true. Though the brunette was quite sure, after watching his shy friend struggle with the scrutiny five days later, that Neville would not find relief in his being included in such a way. Even so, his discomfort did not stop the sandy-haired Hufflepuff from joining the boys’ new routine of dissecting the latest court session, making predictions for the next one, and ridiculing the old man and all his supporters.

The first two portions of the routine were almost as repetitive as the absence of several bloc members and the denied requests by Lord Malfoy and Lady Longbottom to address the court. The next two sessions were as unsurprising and stressful as possible, with the Ancient and Noble bloc members taking turns with those in the Ancient tier in order to allow the entirety of the bloc to witness their Chief Warlock look less ‘innocent grandfather’ and more ‘frustrated manipulator’ with every refusal to cede the floor to those intent on requesting his dismal from Hogwarts.

The last portion of their routine was far less boring. Draco, especially, was quite good at coming up with new and ever more entertaining ways to mock those who stood against them. The boys were not the only ones to partake in such forms of entertainment. The adults at the Manor, be they resident or visitor, were often heard describing Ollivander and the others in unflattering but amusing ways.

The obvious and unprecedented power-play in the closed court was meant to be private and therefore was reported an entire two sessions after it started, allowing even the Daily Prophet to try its hand at deriding certain members of the court, though they did so far more subtly than anyone else. The tug of war over influence of the Wizengamot was soon dubbed by the paper, the Sensational Stall of the Summer Season. It packed the visitor gallery ever-tighter session after session. The crowd was never so full as on what was expected to be the last day of The Stall.

The seventh session of what amounted to a Malfoy filibuster was also the first session after Harry Potter turned twelve and would therefore be formally assigning his Proxies. As Proxy assignments were automatically added to the court’s agenda and always required a full court, there was no excuse acceptable for a Noble member to be absent or the heir to be denied leave to speak. This meant that everyone knew the power-play would be forced to come to a head on the third of August, and therefore, every single Magical who had a right to observe the court made sure to do so that Saturday.

Harry took a deep breath and tugged absently at his waistcoat. He, Draco, and Neville had all been dressed with deliberate care by Narcissa herself an hour before. Each heir, in a statement of solidarity between their Houses, had been given exactly the same three-piece suit, each in different colors. Draco wore a dark grey with a lighter grey tie and kerchief while Neville had on a navy suit and a tie and kerchief in a rich blue. The brunette was outfitted in a suit of crisp black with a vibrant red tie and kerchief. Gryffindor red, of course. He may have sorted Slytherin, but both his parents had been lions and today would reveal the depth of his House’s connection to Godric himself.

While the adults already on the court had to wear the standard plum colored robes of the Wizengamot, Narcissa had left the Manor that morning in a black gown and sheer black over-robe, both liberally decorated with sparkling silver, the overall impression one of the night sky and coincidentally, the celestial obsession which the House of Black was known for. The young wizard was sure that the witch and three boys had made a very strong statement without even saying a word as the now twelve-year-old was escorted to a waiting room by a member of the court staff.

The brunette did his best to sit still and calm as he waited. They knew, from what Severus had seen and heard at the school over the last week, that Dumbledore planned to use today’s opportunity to force a vote on his school bill and just not allow anyone else to speak until after. Without doubt he then had every intention of tossing out the Board of Governor’s petition on the premise that the new bill gave him clear authority to do all the things they had complained about. And, as far as he knew, they had no access to the original Hogwarts Charter whose pre-existing rules would cancel out anything drafted by the court. Not to mention the blatant forgery of the Charter copy and his numerous, repeated, violations of his contract as Headmaster.

The old goat probably would have gotten away with it too, Harry thought as the wizard in question called the session to order and read off the agenda for the day. After all, he just needs to give Ollivander the floor as soon as I am finished and since three Most Ancient and Noble members are required to overrule the Chief Warlock or give the floor to another speaker, no one would ever expect it possible to go against him.

Harry clasped his hands behind his back as he stood and followed the clerk towards the court chamber. A rush of nerves made his hand shake briefly but he shoved them down ruthlessly as he had been taught. He and the others had been waiting patiently and strategically for this day and he wouldn’t let anyone ruin it for him. Not even himself. Green eyes met grey up in the visitor’s gallery and he took another breath. The contact was only a second long, but it was enough to remind him that he was ready for this. All the adults had agreed that he was fully prepared when he and Draco had been sent to bed the night before, and the two best friends had spent another hour rehearsing the long-winded and circular formality required of him.

Once again confident, the Boy-Who-Lived stood before the assembled Wizengamot, suppressing a smile, fully aware he was about to completely disrupt the balance of power, and more than any of them suspected. With that cheerful thought, he took one more deep breath, cast a Sonorus, and began.

“My name is Harry James Potter, heir to the Lordship of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter, and I come before you today, on this third of August, 1991, three days after my twelfth birthday, to assign my chosen Proxies for those titles that are mine by right of blood and magic.”

An air of anticipation filled the court. Even those who were unsure if they would agree with the young heir or his Proxies, were glad to see two Houses brought out of abeyance. There were quite a few, of course, that resented his being there. He was positive the old bastard was furious that his plans to keep the young heir uninformed and powerless had fallen to pieces. All of this only made him anticipate the coming minutes all the more.

“As the only son of Lord James Potter and Lady Lily Potter, grandson of Fleamont and Euphemia Potter, I assign Lord Lucius Malfoy to act in my stead as Proxy for the House of Potter.” The aristocrat in question stood from his seat and bowed his head in acceptance.

“As the only direct descendent of Iolanthe Potter, nee Peverell, granddaughter of Ignotus Peverell, the Lord Peverell – and only direct descendant of King Arthur Pendragon, son of Uther Pendragon – who died custodian of the Lordship of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell, I assign Lord Lucius Malfoy as Proxy for the House of Peverell.” The blond nodded again, but did not regain his seat.

Dumbledore stood, however, preparing to break the heavy silence in order to declare the votes allowed each House to be officially transferred in his position of Chief Warlock. Most everyone had, within days of it happening, heard the rumors surrounding Harry Potter’s wand and the symbolic link to his famous royal ancestor. Even so, since it had been so long since a Potter chose to take his Seat in the court, it was still a shock to have the connection to the House of Pendragon stated so clearly. It left them all a little disoriented. Because of that, it took a moment for the other members of the court to recognize what was happening.

Dumbledore did not suffer that delay. Blue eyes widened behind half-moon glasses, wrinkled face filling with barely suppressed anger and then promptly turning to shock, as the young heir kept talking. Harry was sure that the old man’s shock was mirrored on every face aside from his friends and their parents. Even members of the Malfoy Bloc had, in the interest of secrecy, not been told ahead of time about the additional Seats the famous boy would be claiming.

“As the adopted heir and godson of Sirius Black-” a roar of whispers swept through the chamber as they had known it would.

There had been much debate about how he should handle the shock, with Lady Longbottom in favor of him graciously allowing everyone to clamber for a while until he was given quiet in which to speak. The Lady Malfoy on the other hand, had been insistent that as an heir to four Lordships he should simply continue speaking, as he was above such pandering. Everyone will want to hear what he is saying, as soon as they realize he is still doing so, they will quiet in order to prevent missing anything, she had said. He had settled on the latter approach, and the elegant witch was proven correct. The other voices cut off abruptly, allowing Harry’s voice to once more reach every ear.

“-acknowledged heir to Arcturus Black, who died Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, I assign Lady Narcissa Malfoy nee Black as Proxy for the House of Black.” The silence that was left in the wake of that announcement was as loud as the previous whispers had been but did not drown out what he said next.

“As the only direct descendant of Hardwin Potter, eldest son of Linfred of Stinchcombe, known as The Potterer – who was the only descendant of Godric Gryffindor, the only descendant of Sir Gawain of Camelot, son of King Lot of Orkney and Morgause, daughter of Gorlos of Tintagel and Lady Igraine, and sister to King Arthur Pendragon – who died the only rightful claimant to the Lordship of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Gryffindor, I assign Lady Augusta Longbottom as Proxy for the House of Gryffindor.”

Green eyes had met those of each Proxy in turn as they stood at the announcement of their name but it was the pale blue eyes of the blond witch that he returned to at the end. He had spent much of the last week staring at her whenever they were in the same room. It had been one thing to know himself the temporary ward of Lord Malfoy, but this felt somehow different, stronger. As she was the only Black still living who was not in Azkaban, and he was the heir to the Black title, Narcissa had been deemed his closest living relative and so was named as his permanent guardian.

Having this declared legally before he so publically and inarguably placed himself in opposition to Dumbledore had been an important step in their plan. They had been able to push the parchment through with the help of Lord Malfoy’s contact. The judicious use of secrecy charms was also employed in order to prevent said contact from informing anyone about Harry’s connection to the Black title. With this in mind, they had been forced to wait until the last minute to arrange guardianship since such charms – outside of binding magical vows – only lasted up to nine days. Being so officially claimed had been a heady feeling for the young orphan and he took comfort in that feeling now as the Chief Warlock regained his feet.

The elderly wizard appeared visibly shaken from the unwelcome surprise and had to clear his throat before he declared the votes allowed the four Houses to be transferred to their assigned Proxies. He cleared it again before ceding the floor to Lord Ollivander to finish presenting his Hogwarts reform bill. Before Ollivander could even begin speaking, another voice filled the courtroom.

“As Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy and Proxy to the Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell, I move to overrule the granting of the floor to Lord Ollivander of the Ancient and Noble House of Ollivander.”

Another voice echoed his before anyone else could cut in. “As Proxy for the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black I second this motion.”

“As Proxy for the Most Ancient and Noble House of Gryffindor, I declare the motion carried and move to grant the floor to the member of our body whom first placed a matter before this court on the third of July to have precedence over he whom presented his case on the seventh of July.” The voices of the two Malfoys seconded the Lady Longbottom and everyone but the blond wizard regained their seat. Eventually. The old man, mouth agape, took a second or two longer to follow suit.

Three Most Ancient and Noble members were required to overrule the Chief Warlock, and there had not been three such Houses with Sitting members of the Wizengamot since the time of Henry Potter in the early 1900s. No one currently on the court had ever seen this rule utilized, but they recognized it and its significance immediately.

“Today, I, Lord Lucius Malfoy of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy and Proxy to the Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell, and the Ancient and Noble House of Potter, will complete my presentation on behalf of the Hogwarts Board of Governors,” the other Governors, the Lords Greengrass, Macmillan, Shafiq, Bulstrode, Abbot, and Burke, all stood, nodded to indicate they agreed and then regained their seats.

The deferential and supportive nods the other Nobles had given the acting Head of the Board of Governors had been expected. What was not, however, expected by the other members of the court, was the way the Lord paused and turned slightly to meet the green eyes of the Boy-Who-Lived. Harry, upon completing the assignment of his Proxies, had been escorted back to his private box to join his friends and fellow heirs while the Lady Malfoy had descended from the gallery to take her place on the court. The brunette had not yet taken his seat, however, but stood facing down at the Proxy to two of his Houses. Not a single eye in the large chamber missed the clear nod Harry Potter gave his Proxy, as if granting his permission for the older wizard to continue.

Lord Malfoy did not start speaking immediately, but took a moment to return the nod and pivot to face the court once more. This delay allowed many in the courtroom to make the connection between Harry declaring himself the direct descendant of Godric Gryffindor, and the Hogwarts Board. Most had only considered the shocking declaration as it affected the seats and votes on the court. The Houses of the Founders, after all, were granted seven votes each, two more than the Most Ancient and Noble Houses which in turn were allowed two more than the tier below them. Ancient House seats were given two votes each and both Lesser Nobles and the seven members of the Administrative tier were only granted one each.

This meant Harry Potter, through his Proxies, was in possession of more votes than any other person on the court. Yet, as a Founder’s Heir, the famous boy was also the only person alive with rights to the Hogwarts Trust. Technically, the Board of Governors now answered, at least in part, to Harry Potter. And if the exchange was any indication, the Head of the Board had every intention of taking his lead from the twelve-year-old. The letter of the law stated that as the Gryffindor Proxy, Lady Longbottom would act in the boy’s stead as concerned the House of Gryffindor, but she looked on without surprise or disapproval. A collective breath was taken by those within the Wizengamot chamber at the realization that Lord Malfoy, and his bloc, stood not with the famous Potter heir, but behind him.

Harry could feel hundreds of eyes boring into him from every angle, but resolutely kept his own gaze fixed on the Lord who was finally speaking once more. After several long seconds, the majority of those in the chamber turned their attention to the floor as well.


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Sunfire

I have been writing fanfic since I was twelve and after my sister forced me to read the first Harry Potter book in 2000 I have been addicted to the fandom. Despite my love of the books I have found plenty over the years to twist to my own purposes so this theme is going to be a blast. I love turning things on their head and looking at canon from a completely different direction and making it totally different without changing the core. I have been branching out in my pairings the last few years and finally have enough of my existing stuff finished to start playing around in a new ship or two.

5 Comments:

  1. Fantastic chapter. I adore the technicalities being used for good…. And to put the screws into Dumbles. Lovely chess match.

  2. Standing Ovation!
    Cries of Author! Author!
    Take that dumbles!

  3. I’m so impressed with the attention to the rules of the Wizengamot. Loved the decision to have Narcissa named proxy in her most-fitting robes, as well as her formal claiming of Harry. Also love the United front of Lucius and Augusta-what a pair!

  4. Boom. That was awesome!

  5. So excited about this chapter. Loved the ending part. I still find it funny that the Gryffindor heir is in Slytherin, lol. Wonder if it will always be a trend 😀 To bad there aren’t any other Slytherin heirs that can be put to Gryffindor. House unity! Thank you for this story, it’s great! I’m so excited for the next part.

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