Title: The Holmes Factor, Parts 1-7
Fandom: Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes (BBC)
Relationship(s): James Potter/Lily Evans, Tim Holmes/Wanda Evans, Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, Dumbledore/Grindelwald
Content Rating: T
Warnings: Dark Themes; Discussion-Sexual Abuse (Non-Graphic, Blink and you’ll miss it); Discussion-Other Trigger Topics (Mental Health)
Author Notes: My thanks to Fashi0n for all the amazing art on short notice.
Word Count: 46,700
Summary: Petunia Dursley might not want her nephew to live with her, but she did care about what might happen to him, and she had other resources. That made all the difference. When Harry Potter is left at her doorstep, Petunia calls her cousin, Wanda Evans Holmes. In doing so, she changed the course of more than one future, throwing Albus Dumbledore’s plans awry with the Holmes Factor.
Part 1: In which Petunia Dursley isn’t as unintelligent or unloving as she could have been
November 2, 1981:
Petunia Dursley read the letter in the basket from which she’d picked up her nephew.
Her sister was dead, her nephew was traumatized, her son was screaming at the top of his lungs at the intruder, and her husband was ranting about orphanages.
Petunia raised her eyes from the note. “Of course he can’t stay here, Vernon,” she said practically, and folded the letter in front of her. “But he can’t go to an orphanage either.” She didn’t say that neither they nor an orphanage would have the resources to raise Harry to his birthright, nor to manage his magic, nor his trauma. Vernon wasn’t bright enough to pick up on the subtext, however. “It’s not safe.”
Vernon paused his ranting, looked at his wife, and picked up his screaming son, who quit the racket once tucked up in his father’s arms. “Well, then, what?”
“I think,” Petunia said slowly, “I shall see if our cousins will be willing to help.”
“Oh, yes,” Petunia said. “I think I shall see.” She cuddled her too-calm nephew and made for the phone. “I’m calling Tim and Wanda.”
Tim and Wanda Holmes had their hands full. Their three children had clearly inherited their mother’s genius, thought it displayed in different ways. Mycroft, at seven, had an eidetic memory and the head for strategy that rivaled a general’s, while Eurus, at 5, was clearly a violin prodigy, despite displaying worryingly sociopathic traits. William, the youngest at 3, already read chapter books and solved complex math problems in his head.
Without Tim’s gentle practicality, Wanda thought she’d have gone off the deep-end by now.
Petunia’s call, therefore, did not come at a good time.
“Why, if I may ask, are you not able to take Harry?” Wanda asked icily. “You have one child to my three, and plenty of room.”
Petunia lowered her voice. “I am also married to someone who prefers things ordinary to the extreme. You know that I prefer ordinary, too, but I genuinely worry that the boy will not thrive here.”
“Do you mean to say he is a sort of genius, too, Petunia?” Wanda asked skeptically. Her cousin Lily had been brilliant in her own way, but hadn’t applied herself to any of the usual schools.
Petunia hesitated, then firmed her voice. “What do you know of magic, Wanda?”
Wanda sat back. For those who knew where to look, it was not difficult to spot the signs of magic around England. All it once, it clicked. “Lily.”
“Yes,” Petunia sighed, relieved that she didn’t have to say much more. “Lily was a witch. She trained at an exclusive school in Scotland, and she married a wizard. I’m quite certain that Harry’s inherited her skill. More than that, Wanda, he’s traumatized. He needs attention, and gentleness. I can’t give him that here. Vernon would never let me treat him like a son, and Wanda, he has Lily’s eyes.” Petunia choked on a sob. “I just can’t.”
Wanda closed her eyes. A small boom came from the direction of William’s bedroom, followed by a young girl’s cackle. Mycroft wandered through the kitchen to snatch a cake from the tray she’d just pulled out of the cupboard, a copy of A Brief History of Time in his left hand. Tim wouldn’t be home from work for another hour yet, but …
“When shall we come and get him?”
Timothy Holmes, who held a minor position in the British government (in much the same way his eldest son would upon his ascension to adulthood), listened to his wife explain the situation over the phone. Tim was nearly ready to leave the office for the day, having been putting out metaphorical fires from the magical world’s celebrations of Voldemort’s defeat since the small hours of the morning.
“You’re saying, dear, that Petunia’s asked us to take custody of Harry Potter?” He asked calmly, switching off his lamp as prelude to picking up his briefcase.
“Yes,” Wanda said, absently cutting up an apple to place in front of William and Eurus, who were scuffling over the milk. “He is my cousin, once removed. And Petunia thinks, if I’m reading her rightly, that he won’t be safe in her household with her husband.”
“Ah,” Tim said, looking out of his office and nodding to his administrative assistant. “That won’t do at all. Shall I go and get him from Surrey on my way home?”
“Please, dear. I know it’s a bit out of your way,” Wanda fretted.
“You ready the guest room, darling,” Tim said. “I’ll bring our boy home.”
He hung up his phone, then turned his lamp back on, and dug into his bottom drawer for legal foolscap. It took him a few minutes, but in the end, Tim had a legal document, ready for Petunia to sign, transferring custody of Harry Potter to Tim and Wanda Holmes.
He’d file it in the morning with all appropriate parties, including the Ministry of Magic, under seal, and arrange for a magical guardian to be assigned.
He did wonder, however, what had become of Sirius Black.
Tim shrugged, and went out, nodding again to his assistant as he left for the waiting car. “A detour today, James,” Tim said to his driver, who looked at Tim on the mirror. “Sir?”
“Number 4, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey,” Tim said. “We’re picking up an infant passenger to bring to my home permanently.”
“I see, Sir. Do we need to stop for anything else?”
“No, James,” Tim smiled. “We shall pick up my orphaned cousin, and then we shall bring him home where he belongs.”
“Very good, Sir.”
Tim’s arrival on Privet Drive met no particular difficulty. His car was sedate, his uniformed driver not unusual. He met a bit of resistance as he crossed what seemed to be a ward line (reading intent, he assumed), but it was as nothing when he focused on his intention to keep Harry safe.
Petunia had obviously been watching for him, because she met him at the door.
“Come in, and thank you, Tim,” Petunia said. She led him to where Harry was dozing on the sofa. “All he had with him was this letter, this blanket, and the clothes on his back. I’m not even sure he has anything else.”
Tim frowned. He’d heard about the explosion at Harry’s home, but certainly someone would have gone to see about getting Harry’s things. “Has he seen a doctor?”
“I didn’t take him today, but I would take him soonest,” Petunia said. “See that cut on his forehead? I’m not certain it’s going to heal well.”
Tim’s frown deepened. “I see.” He set his folder of legal papers on the nearby table and gently leaned over Harry to pick him up. Sleepy green eyes slitted open. “Harry, dear, you’re going to come with me and Auntie Wanda.”
His small voice asked, “Mama?”
“I’m sorry, dear boy, but your Mama won’t be there,” Tim said softly.
Harry’s lower lip trembled. “Want Mama.”
“I know,” Tim cuddled him. “Come now. Auntie Wanda and all your cousins want to see you.”
“‘K.” Harry sighed and drifted back off. Tim held him securely in his left arm and reached for the bag Petunia held out to him with his right.
“Thank you, Petunia. We’ll be off, then.” Tim said.
Petunia touched her hand to Harry’s face. “Be well, Harry.” A soft glow left her hand and enveloped her nephew. Petunia looked up, startled. “But I don’t have magic!”
“Apparently,” Tim said gently, “you have enough.” He looked down at Harry. “Not everyone has enough magic to train, Petunia. But most of us have a little. It’s actually quite normal.”
Petunia drew back, the longing in her face apparent for a single moment before it was ruthlessly suppressed. “I’ll just get the door for you.”
“Thanks,” Tim said, then added. “Also, I nearly forgot. I have papers for you to sign transferring guardianship. They’re just there, in that folder. I’ve flagged the right spots.”
Petunia nodded stiffly, opened the folder, took a pen from a nearby drawer, and signed in all the flagged spaces before shuffling the papers together back into the folder. “I’ll walk you out.”
James had the back door of the car open, and an emergency car seat installed, ready for Harry, when Tim made his way out. Tim strapped the sleeping Harry into the seat, then sat next to him as James started the car. Petunia handed Tim the folder through the window, shook her head, tried to say something, but stopped. She lifted a hand, then walked back to front door.
“Any other stops, sir?” James asked.
“None, thank you, James,” Tim said. “Just back home.”
Wanda met the car, her three children trailing after her like ducklings. “And this is Harry,” she said, unstrapping him from the seat. Harry woke up and blinked at her. “Hello, Harry. I’m Auntie Wanda.” She turned around and showed him to her brood. “And these are your cousins: Mycroft, Eurus, and William.”
William Sherlock Scott Holmes pursed his lips. “He’s awfully small, mummy.”
“He’s awfully young, Wills,” Wanda said, “and he’s just lost his mummy and daddy. I’m sure we can all take good care of him instead.”
Eurus blinked. “Why would we do that?”
“Because it’s the right thing to do, for family,” Wanda said firmly. “And because I’m sure we’ll love him.”
Mycroft hummed. “I’ll see about looking through my books, Mummy. I think there was something about surviving traumatic events in early childhood, probably in the lower case on the left-hand side.”
“That would be kind, Mycroft,” Wanda allowed, as behind her, Tim thanked James, picking up his briefcase and umbrella.
Wanda looked down at the sweet baby in her arms, and promised, “We’ll take good care of you, Harry.”
Part 2: In which a number of people are dissuaded from questionable courses of action
The evening with Harry and his cousins had gone rather smoothly, Tim thought, for a given value of smooth.
His little geniuses were fascinated with the lad, who looked increasingly interested in the world around him as his cousins did their level best to get some sort of response from the quiet, traumatized baby. By bedtime, Wills’ antics had gotten a giggle out of Harry, and that made Wills puff up with pride.
With Mycroft’s help, Wanda turned the guest room into a nursery rather quickly, and when it came time to settle everyone down, Harry went into the new cot with a minimum of fuss, one of the children’s discarded plushies tucked firmly under his arm.
Tim helped Wanda settle the others down for the night, then followed her into their room, down the hall from Harry’s.
“I’ll be filing for legal guardianship in the morning,” Tim told her. “I don’t wish to stir up trouble where it’s unwarranted, but I can’t think that settling Harry with Petunia was done legally. I know, because James and I discussed it, that Sirius Black is Harry’s godfather. I can’t imagine what might have happened.”
“With magic involved, it’s hard to tell,” Wanda said, turning down their bed and plugging in the baby monitor on top of her end-table. “I had no idea Lily was magic.”
“Ah, well, I must confess, dear, that I’ve known for some time,” Tim said sheepishly. “My position requires me to know, and James is from one of the oldest wizarding families. I believe our young ward is now titled, actually. I shall have to look into that.”
Wanda turned and raised a brow. “I see. Another need-to-know, is it?”
Wanda rolled her eyes. “Well, here’s me needing to know. And you telling me because I need to know, I expect. Magic.” She shook her head. “At least tell me you know where to find tutors for a magical genius.”
Tim pursed his lips as pulled on his pajamas. (One couldn’t sleep nude with young geniuses in the house, for fear of fire or mad experiments taking over the place, leading to evacuations in the dead of night.) “I believe I know who to ask, at any rate,” he said calmly.
“Good,” Wanda said. “That reminds me; Mycroft’s tutor says he’s more than ready for advanced study in, well, just about everything. We should discuss schools with him; I’m sure he has ideas.”
Tim chuckled softly. “I’m more than certain he does. Will it be Harrow, or Eton?”
“I think Harrow is the front runner,” Wanda allowed as she got into bed. “Something about better academics?”
“I suppose he knows a way around the age rule? He’ll be 8 in just a few weeks’ time,” Tim observed. “That’s five years too young for most.”
“I trust he has a plan he’ll share with us,” Wanda said, unconcerned. She turned out the bedside light and turned to her husband, who obligingly opened his arms to let her rest her head on his lightly muscled chest. “Are we doing the right thing, Tim?”
He kissed the top of her head. “I believe we are.”
Wanda drew a deep breath, then blew it out. “Well, then.”
The morning rolled around with its usual explosions and madness. Wills proudly buttered his own toast (Wanda overlooked the gobs of jam and general stickiness) while Eurus scowled at the mess and Mycroft calmly talked to Harry about the general routine of the household.
“Of course, Harry, I go to my tutor’s this morning, as does Eurus, but Wills will be keeping you company with Mummy,” Mycroft informed him calmly, buttering a piece of toast and cutting it into small pieces for Harry’s little fingers while Wanda bustled around pouring milk. “But we shall all be back for a late lunch before music lessons this afternoon. I wonder what instrument you might like to play?”
Harry’s little brow furrowed. “‘Sik?”
“Yes, Harry, music,” Mycroft said patiently, and hummed a bit of a Brahms waltz. “Do you like music?”
Harry nodded. “Mama sings.”
“I see,” Mycroft said sagely. “We shall have to sing to you, too. Do you have a favorite song?”
“Sleepy song,” Harry said. “Sleep, my child, sleep.”
“This one?” Mycroft asked. “Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee, all through the night …” he sang a bit.
“Yes!” Harry clapped. “Mama’s song!”
Tim came in, kissed his wife, and looked upon his brood. “I will be leaving for work now. Try not to burn the house down, loves,” he admonished.
“Boring!” Wills shouted.
Eurus rolled her eyes. “Of course not, Daddy. Where would we sleep if we didn’t have a house?”
“Excellent points, dear ones,” Tim said calmly, and smiled at them all. “Come, Mycroft, I’ll drop you by Mr. Lake’s on the way out of town.”
“Certainly, Father,” Mycroft said, standing up and tweaking Harry’s nose slightly. “Have a good day, Harry! Mummy!”
“Are we invisible, then?” Eurus asked with a frown.
Wills pursed his lips. “Must be. Let’s make a mess and see who notices.”
Wanda added a rasher of bacon to Wills’ plate. “I do see you, Wills dear, and I will most definitely notice a mess.”
“OK, Mummy,” Wills said, but glanced at Eurus anyway, who smirked at him.
“Mischief everywhere,” Wanda muttered, then sat next to Harry in Mycroft’s space. “You’ll not cause me trouble today, will you darling boy?”
“Nope!” Harry said firmly. Then he giggled.
“Comedians,” she said. “Surrounded by comedians.”
On Tim’s way to work, he stopped at the main government center and filed Harry’s guardianship. One copy stayed with him; another was filed with Family Services, and the third he set to file with the Ministry of Magic, under his Queen’s Seal.
When he got to his office, he directed his assistant, a rather stout young magical named John Turner, to locate Sirius Black. Turner looked at him a bit oddly at the request.
“Sir, Sirius Black is in custody,” Turner informed him. “It’s all over the Prophet.”
Tim raised an eyebrow. “Interesting. What are the charges?”
Turner’s own brow furrowed. “It’s said he betrayed the Potters to their deaths.”
“So he’s been charged with conspiracy to murder?” Tim asked for clarification.
“Ah, the article didn’t say he’d been charged with anything specific. Just that he’d been found at the scene of that explosion yesterday, muttering about it all being his fault,” Turner turned to his locked cabinet, tapped the lock discreetly, then pulled out the day’s Prophet. He skimmed the front page. “It says they trotted him straight off to Azkaban.”
“No charges? No trial date set?”
“None that I can see here, Sir. Shall I inquire?”
“Do so.” Tim cocked his head to the side, thinking. “Also, I’d like to see the site of this gas explosion.”
“Of course, Sir. I’ll have the car brought ‘round.”
Tim wrote a note to his counterpart in the Ministry of Magic, asking for clarification on the investigation into the Potter murders and requesting a meeting, while Turner queried the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and called for the car. Both notes went into the pneumatic tubes set up to go directly from Tim’s office to the MOM departments designated for them.
Tim strolled out to the car to greet James, then slid into the back. “We’re headed to the site of the ‘gas explosion’ in London yesterday, James.”
“Of course, sir.”
James, an excellent driver, had Tim at the site in under ten minutes. Tim watched from the car for a moment as street workers engaged their machinery to clear out the rubble. “I’ll be getting out, James. Stay nearby, please.”
“Yes, of course, sir.”
Tim nodded, almost absently, then stepped out of the vehicle and got closer to the site. The gas main had been miraculously spared significant damage. (Tim smirked internally.) However, the wreckage failed to conceal the signs of a blasting curse. He looked further, then beckoned the foreman over to speak with him.
“Anything of interest found?” Tim looked piercingly at the man.
“Lot of mess and wreck for a gas explosion,” the foreman noted. “I’d do the secret handshake, guv, but I’m a bit of a mess. The DMLE was out last night and found several bodies, and one finger that belonged to a bloke named Pettigrew. Nothing else. We’re trying to set the street to rights the regular way to avoid suspicion.”
Tim hummed. “Squib?”
“Muggleborn. I assign myself the obvious ones,” the foreman acknowledged.
“My thanks. Your name?”
“Mr. Smith, I appreciate your information. Should you unearth anything else, please contact me, directly.” Tim handed him a card. “The whole thing’s a bit dodgy.”
“True enough,” Smith acknowledged. “Oi, Thompson, stop with the engine revving before I stop it for you!”
With a wave, Tim retreated to the car, thinking.
“Where to next, Sir?” James asked.
“Back to the office, I think,” Tim said. “I’m waiting on information.”
“Of course, sir.”
As he sat down at his desk, Tim saw he had a reply from the Ministry of Magic. He broke the seal, then pursed his lips at the response from a lower-level employee of the DMLE, which was clearly written in a hurry and used dismissive language indicative of the pure blood attitude toward Muggle relations.
“Hmmm.” Tim reached for his red telephone. By law, this needed the Queen’s intervention, because it looked as though Sirius Black was to be trotted off to Azkaban with no charges and no trial. That was against the British legal code, to which the Ministry of Magic had agreed at the time of the separation.
But only the Queen could overrule the MOM if such abuses were uncovered.
The voice on the other end of the red telephone asked him to wait while the Queen was fetched from the back garden, where she’d retreated with her dogs after her morning of paperwork. Tim affirmed his compliance, pulling another sheet of foolscap toward himself for making notes.
“Yes, Sir Holmes?”
“Your Majesty, thank you for taking my call during your rest,” Tim said formally. “I apologize for the necessity, but you are needed to mitigate a breach of justice.”
“As you know, ma’am, by charter, our magical citizens must adhere to the British legal code with regard to trials and convictions. We have long been concerned about the Ministry of Magic’s use of a magical prison and its guards, which might be seen as cruel and unusual punishment, but such a ruling has yet to be made, and convincing arguments have been made before you and your predecessors for their continued use. However, at this time, it appears that a man has been thrown into that prison without charges or trial, and there appears to be no movement either to charge the man or to bring him to trial. The man is a peer in the magical realm, and the legal and magical godparent of the baby who is being touted as the defeater of the magical terrorist known as Voldemort.”
“Young Harry Potter? I’ve been briefed on that situation.”
“Yes, Ma’am. What you might not yet know is that Harry Potter is my wife’s cousin, once-removed, and we have assumed his care.”
“I see, Sir Holmes. And the man imprisoned?”
“Sirius Black, heir to the Earl of Blackmoor, best friend to James Potter, and Harry’s legal magical guardian. Without a trial or conviction, his magical guardianship cannot be removed. And his magical oaths as a godparent make it extremely unlikely that he’s guilty of betraying the Potters, of which he is accused.”
“By my order, then, the Ministry of Magic has 24 hours to either release Sirius Black or charge him, and if charged, another 72 hours to bring him to trial with the use of Veritaserum to confirm his guilt or innocence. As I order it, so mote it be.” The Queen cleared her throat, and a piece of parchment flashed in front of Tim, affixed with her magical Seal. (Its companion appeared in front of the head of the DMLE and the Minister of Magic, causing much consternation.)
“Sir Holmes, as you know, magic runs through the British royal line, though we often opt for private tutors rather than formal attendance at Hogwarts. It appears as though young Mr. Potter is in need of extra care, and we are certainly grateful to him and his family for the end of the terrorists’ plot in Britain. Would it be beneficial for us to acknowledge Mr. Potter as the Queen’s Ward? You would have his daily care, but We would provide for his education, training, and magical guardianship. Of course, should Mr. Black be found innocent, our magical guardianship would be secondary.”
“Your Majesty, my young cousin would benefit greatly from such a move, and we would be grateful for it,” Tim said formally, faintly surprised.
“May I have his full name, please?”
“Harry James Potter,” Tim said. “He may be titled, but I have not yet had the opportunity to check.”
“I see,” the Queen paused. “By my order, then, Harry James Potter, son of Lily and James Potter, shall be under the Queen’s protection. He shall receive the best of care in both the magical and Muggle realms. At age 15, he shall receive all titles due him through magical or Muggle means. In the event of the death or incarceration of his magical godparent, the Queen will assume that responsibility. As I order it, so mote it be.”
A proclamation sealed by the Queen’s magical seal popped in front of Tim. (It also popped into Harry’s files at the Ministry of Magic, there to be ignored until someone bothered to check.)
“I am humbled by your order, Your Majesty.”
“He is the same age as our Wills, Sir Holmes. I would be remiss if I did not offer all the help I could for a young lad with such an immense burden.”
“Thank you on his behalf, Your Majesty.”
Albus Dumbledore was not having a good day.
His attempt to access the Potter accounts at Gringotts, first thing this morning, went astray. His assertion that he held the magical guardianship of Harry Potter was flatly denied.
How on earth was he to pay for Harry’s upkeep? How was it that his magical guardianship wasn’t automatic when he placed Harry in Petunia’s care? She was a Muggle!
With Sirius Black’s arrest, there should have been no disputing Dumbledore’s authority over the matter of Harry Potter.
When he said as much, to the goblin in charge of the Potter accounts, all he got was a nasty, “The Potter heir is none of your business.”
Not even a “Good day!”
Dumbledore made his way over to the Leaky Cauldron for a pick-me-up and a think.
Under what conditions would his guardianship be denied?
- Another magical guardian had higher authority than he.
- A magical relative had custody of Harry Potter.
But neither of those conditions held true.
Unless they did?
Dumbledore pondered for a moment. Petunia Dursley appeared to be a Muggle, true. But what if she was magical, and simply didn’t have enough magic to train at Hogwarts? He knew she didn’t receive a Hogwarts letter, but it was certainly possible that she was something like a Squib, rather than a true Muggle.
The other condition shouldn’t be true. In the event that a magical child had no living magical parent or godparent, the law held that the Headmaster of Hogwarts would stand as the child’s magical guardian.
Sirius Black was Harry Potter’s godfather, but surely his arrest would negate that clause?
Dumbledore finished off his Butterbeer and stood up. Time to head to the Ministry, and look up some matters of family law.
He wandered down to the employee entrance of the Ministry, liking the ridiculousness of flushing himself down the toilet to arrive in the Floo. He emerged from the flames, shook himself off, and meandered toward the lifts to seek out the law library. Or that was his intention, but he was interrupted by a shout from his good friend, Millicent Bagnold, who, as the current Minister, looked harried. She also should not have been wandering about the Atrium at this time of day, and thus Dumbledore could be forgiven for the raised eyebrow he returned to her.
“I was just on my way to see you,” she said hurriedly. “Can you meet?”
“Lead the way,” he said promptly, and followed her back over to the lift that would take them to her office.
They seated themselves, then Millicent drew a deep breath. “We have to take Sirius Black out of Azkaban.”
Dumbledore raised both eyebrows as he looked at Millicent, shocked. “I beg your pardon?”
“Orders from the Queen, Albus,” Bagnold said curtly. “We must release or charge Sirius Black within 24 hours, and if we charge him, we must hold his trial within 72 hours. We are ordered to use Veritaserum to confirm or deny his guilt.”
“But, his guilt is clear!”
“Apparently, the Queen doesn’t think so. And by charter, we must obey the Queen in matters of justice or face removal of our charter,” Bagnold said sourly. “I’ve ordered the DMLE to charge him with murder and accessory to murder.”
Dumbledore thought the lack of trial was the likely reason for his own inability to access the Potter accounts and settle the matter of Harry’s magical guardianship. He reigned in his own temper at the oversight. “Well, at the Queen’s order then. I’ll call the trial for two days from now, 10 a.m., in the large chambers. I’ll procure the Veritaserum myself.”
“I believe we’re required to use the Queen’s Veritaserum,” Bagnold muttered. “And I’ll need to formally respond to her order with the date and time of the trial. That means a Queen’s representative, too.”
Dumbledore’s lip curled. As fond as he was of improving relationships with the Muggle world, at least publicly, he was less fond of their interference in magical affairs. “Right.”
“Where did you place the Potter boy?” Bagnold asked, curiously.
“For his own safety, Millie, I cannot tell you,” Dumbledore said smoothly.
“It’s likely to come up at trial,” Bagnold pointed out. “Black will want to know where he is.”
“And for Harry’s own safety, I will never allow Black to know where he is,” Dumbledore twirled his wand through his fingers. “It’s entirely too dangerous for anyone to know where Harry is at the moment.”
“True enough,” Bagnold said. “As you wish, Albus. As you wish.”
Somberly, Dumbledore left her office, and headed back to Hogwarts, there to contemplate the events of the day. Several things unsettled him.
- The Queen had gotten involved in Sirius Black’s case. Why? How on earth did she know that he’d been arrested and incarcerated without trial?
- The goblins failed to allow Dumbledore access to the Potter vaults. Period.
- He’d checked; because the Queen had ordered the trial of Black, Queen’s Veritaserum must be used. It would be provided in person by a representative of the Queen at the Wizengamot. That meant no tampering. Queen’s Veritaserum also carried extra strength; the truth WOULD come out at Black’s trial.
- That Black would have a trial suggested someone thought he could be innocent.
Dumbledore took a slice of sponge cake with lemon curd to eat with his after dinner tea. Contrary to popular thought, Dumbledore had not cast the Fidelius spell for the Potters; Lily Potter had. He’d been informed that Sirius Black was the Secret Keeper, but what if that had been a ruse?
Further to that line of thought, Dumbledore realized, if Harry Potter was indeed Black’s godchild, it was possible that Black was unable to betray Harry. It all depended upon the ritual used to confirm Black’s status as godparent. Dumbledore had been under the impression that Black was godparent in name only, but what if the Potters had completed the formal godparent ritual? In that case …
Dumbledore sipped slowly. Measures would need to be taken.
Part 3: In which someone begins to investigate the pleasures and pitfalls of genius
Wanda was beginning to believe there was something seriously wrong with Eurus’s ability to empathize.
All small children must be taught to have empathy, true, Wanda thought. Careful lessons in thinking out how others would feel or think, considering all the ramifications of an action before taking said action, and choosing the course that would cause the least harm, should be employed early and often.
Despite Wanda’s concerted efforts, however, Eurus often appeared to weigh all choices, then take the most direct action to get what she wanted, regardless of pain caused.
“Eurus,” Wanda prompted, “please share your blocks with Wills.”
“Mummy, I’m building a tower,” Eurus replied firmly. “If I share with Wills I won’t be able to finish it.”
“But you will make him happy,” Wanda pointed out calmly.
“Why does that matter?”
Wanda bit her lip. “Because it’s important to help the people around you be well and happy.”
“But I won’t get my tower done, Mummy,” Eurus said again.
“It’s OK, Mummy,” William interjected. “I’ll just go play with something else.”
“Very well, Wills,” Wanda said slowly. “Will you please check to see if Harry’s up from his nap as well?”
Eurus’ attitude—Why does the happiness of others matter to me?—isn’t uncommon for small children, but Wanda was beginning to wonder if empathy was simply a skill Eurus would not be able to pick up.
All they could do was try.
All children were down for the night. All doors were locked, all windows closed and latched, all lights were out.
Wanda stretched out next to Tim and quietly related her fears about Eurus.
“I think, dear, we’re going to need to have her evaluated,” she said. “She asks good questions about why she should care about particular actions, such as taking Harry in or sharing her blocks, but she doesn’t seem to understand the answers well. I’m afraid that beyond a lack of empathy, we’re seeing a problem in general with processing emotion and compassion.”
Tim sighed deeply. “I’ll see about a referral tomorrow. My concern, if that’s the case, is that she’s quite smart enough to talk around a psychiatrist.”
“Assuming she knows what she’s being evaluated for,” Wanda pointed out, arching one brow.
“Are you suggesting something?” Tim asked.
“We don’t tell her what she’s being evaluated for,” Wanda said. “I know we’ve agreed to not lie to the children, so that we can demonstrate truth as a value, but in this case, we need to.”
“It would not be entirely a lie to say her genius is being evaluated,” Tim mused.
“Especially if we prepped her with an intelligence quotient test beforehand,” Wanda observed.
“I’ll make some calls and set it up tomorrow.”
Wanda checked the monitor again, then settled back. “Let’s get a good night’s sleep, if we can.”
“Always a sound plan, dear.”
Tim spent part of his Wednesday morning setting up an evaluation of Eurus with a trusted psychiatrist and educator. It would take place on Friday.
He spent the other part of his morning preparing for the trial of Sirius Black, now formally set for Thursday at 10 a.m. This included procuring Veritaserum from the Queen’s Potioneer, a pale wizard whose age was indeterminate. Tim suspected the man to be practically immortal, as he’d looked this way as long as anyone could remember. A few discreet inquiries suggested the man was actually the legendary Nicolas Flamel, but as he’d never introduced himself as anything other than the Queen’s Potioneer, Tim suspected the man wanted to keep his name confidential.
The Queen and her father both trusted the man, so it would have to do.
Their brief meeting yielded one vial of Queen’s Veritaserum and no additional wizarding insight.
Tim tucked the vial into his own briefcase, then locked it. He would serve as the Queen’s representative during the trial proceedings, and Turner would be his escort and backup.
He turned his attention to other matters for the afternoon.
Wanda, on the other hand, spent her Wednesday shuffling children to and fro.
Mycroft needed to be at Mr. Lake’s for the morning, but planned to join them all for lessons at Thomas Music Studio after lunch. Eurus had lessons with her tutor, Gemma Poppins, at home, while Wills and Harry spent the morning in the nursery with Wanda, who worked with Wills on his numbers while setting Harry to work on simple shape and color puzzles.
After lunch (a simple ploughman’s for the young ones at home), Wanda shook out Wills’ old pram and settled Harry into it. She directed Eurus and Wills to hold on to either side of it, and together, they walked downtown. Mycroft and Mr. Lake met them at the door to the Music Studio, and Mr. Lake parted from them with a tip of his hat to Wanda and Eurus, who looked at him blankly.
Wanda shook her head, smiled at Mr. Lake in thanks, and ushered her brood into the Studio.
Michael Thomas had been warned of the new addition to their ranks, and he happily greeted all of the children.
“Mycroft, you will be in room five today, with Ms. Hanel. We’ve agreed that you’re ready to move up a level and start the cello,” Mr. Thomas told the young boy. “You’ve made excellent progress.”
“I’m pleased you think so, Mr. Thomas,” Mycroft said, smiling. “I’ll just go back, shall I?”
“Yes; you’ll find a practice instrument in the room already for you to inspect,” Mr. Thomas said. “And you, young Eurus, will continue to be in room 2 with Ms. French, and Wills will be in room 1 with Ms. Higgins. Off you go.”
Wills whooped as he ran to room 1, and Eurus rolled his eyes as she made her way to room 2.
“You, young Harry, will stay with Auntie Wanda, but we will see what music you might be suited for. Come along!” Mr. Thomas led the way to his primary studio space, where a selection of child-sized instruments were lined up on a table. Wanda looked on with approval as Mr. Thomas knelt to Harry’s level. “Do you like music, Harry?”
Harry nodded importantly. “Mama sing!”
Mr. Thomas glanced up to Wanda to confirm what he’d heard, and said, “How wonderful! Do you like to sing?”
“Yep!” Harry said proudly, then began to hum a recognizable line from “Twinkle, Twinkle.”
“Goodness, you’ve got excellent pitch,” Mr. Thomas praised. “Do you like to make music with toys, too?”
Harry stopped, mid-hum, and bit his lower lip. “Bang on stuff?”
“Why not?” Mr. Thomas picked up a triangle and its hammer, and showed it to Harry. “I could bang on this and make music.” He demonstrated, and Harry’s eyes grew big and wide. “Want to try?”
Harry made grabby hands at the triangle and Mr. Thomas passed it over. He listened as Harry banged happily, giggling at the sounds. He experimented with hitting the different sides and Mr. Thomas let him before guiding him into a rhythm. “Try this, Harry,” Mr. Thomas said, holding up a metronome, “listen and try to bang at the same time.”
Harry did his best, but he was a little off.
“Very well done,” Mr. Thomas praised. “I think you have quite an aptitude for music, young man.”
Harry beamed happily. Wanda smiled, too. An aptitude for rhythm and music often meant an aptitude for maths, too.
“Mrs. Holmes, I think we could start Harry with the triangle and basic music theory without a problem,” Mr. Thomas said. “We’d want you along, of course, until he’s three, but it looks as though he’d enjoy it.”
“I think so, too,” Wanda said. “Harry told Mycroft his mother sang to him regularly, and I know that Lily had a beautiful voice. I’m hopeful that Harry might have inherited her talent.”
“Well, no harm in exposing him to the lot of instruments, here, and letting him enjoy the music.” Mr. Thomas looked to his schedule. “I could actually handle his lessons myself on Wednesdays at the usual time, at least for the moment. We could revisit as needed.”
Wanda nodded. “I believe that will be acceptable. Thank you for tucking us in.”
As they wrapped up their lessons, her other children appeared at Mr. Thomas door to listen while Harry kept up on his triangle.
Mycroft leaned forward to whisper in his mum’s ear. “I think he likes it, Mummy.”
Wanda smiled back. “I think so, too.”
After a filling dinner of roast chicken, Wanda and Tim tucked all the children into bed and relaxed again in their room, listening to the sound of Harry breathing over the monitor.
“Trial’s tomorrow, then?” Wanda asked softly.
“Yes, at 10 a.m. I’ll be going in person,” Tim answered, rubbing a hand down her back.
“What will happen to Harry?”
“As far as I can tell, Wanda, his placement here is permanent,” Tim said. “The Queen herself validated our legal guardianship and directed me to take over his care. If Black is found innocent tomorrow, his role remains magical guardian, and I imagine we’ll need to work with him as Harry grows to introduce him to his magic. I also believe that Black will want as much contact with Harry as he’s allowed. There will be much to work out.”
A quiet moment stretched out between them before Wanda whispered, “I want Harry to stay with us.”
“No worries, love,” Tim said, and he brushed a kiss over her hair where it lay practically under his chin.
Part 4: In which there is a trial
November 5, 1981:
Courtroom Ten was packed.
Tim kept a firm grip on his suitcase as he took his place at the bar in space allotted for the Queen’s Representative. Despite the charm he’d had placed, years ago, to allow him to see what wizards did, being in the heart of the Ministry of Magic itself left him feeling intrinsically uneasy.
It didn’t help his nerves to see the shadow in a corner that appeared to be a Dementor.
Still. Tim gave no sign of his unease, and maintained his placid expression as Albus etc. Dumbledore called the court to order and directed the Aurors to bring in Sirius Black.
Black looked a bit worse for wear, Tim thought. Though dressed in the formal robes of his house, the House of Black, the man himself looked milk-pale, except for the deep-looking bruises under his eyes and at his neck. Tim frowned.
Dumbledore looked to the place where Tim stood, and announced, “With us today we have the Queen’s Representative, Sir Timothy Holmes. The Queen herself ordered Black’s trial, despite our assurances of his guilt.”— At that, Black looked up sharply—“And, per procedure, the Queen’s Representative must present the order before we proceed.”
Tim stood, straightened the formal robes kept for this specific function of his office, and opened his briefcase, retrieving the Queen’s order.
“Yes, well, it came to Her Majesty’s attention that Mr. Black had been sent to Azkaban with no trial date set,” Tim said calmly. “As the right to a trial is a fundamental right under British law, to which the Ministry of Magic is subject under charter, she ordered that a trial be given to Mr. Black. Additionally, Her Majesty expressed concerns about the humanitarian conditions of the prison itself, and this body may be held to account for those as well, should this trial show a need for further discussion.”
Dumbledore nodded acknowledgement, then raised his voice. “Members of the Wizengamot, the Queen has ordered that this trial be held. Thus I call upon Senior Auror Amelia Bones to prosecute the Ministry’s case against Mr. Black.” Amelia Bones stood and moved to the front bar. “Mr. Black, have you a representative to act in your defense?”
“No, Headmaster,” Black said hoarsely.
“Point of order, Chief Dumbledore?” Tim asked politely.
“Yes, Sir Holmes?”
“I believe you need to recuse yourself from adjudicating these proceedings on the grounds that you have now or have had a close relationship with the defendant,” Tim said.
Dumbledore looked flummoxed. He’d never been questioned on the point. “I was his Headmaster at school.”
“And, as it appears through the investigation my office has conducted, also his commander in something called the Order of the Phoenix, to which you recruited him directly?”
Tim continued. “And as our investigation also shows, you had what you believed to be was direct knowledge of Mr. Black’s role in the deaths of the Potters, and that knowledge is what, in part, led to Mr. Black’s incarceration without trial. As a matter of procedure, you cannot be allowed to preside over this trial.”
Dumbledore cleared his throat. “I hadn’t considered those points, I admit.” He smoothed down his beard. “I’m not at all certain you’ll find an impartial judge for this matter, Sir Holmes.”
“Ah, I see your point,” Tim smiled placidly. “Fortunately, I anticipated this, and I do have a list of impartial judges, vetted by the Queen and with knowledge of magic, from which you may choose a replacement. They await only my call.”
Auror Bones asked, “May I see this list?”
“Of course,” Tim said. “I have copies for both you and Mr. Dumbledore.” He passed over a copy to Ms. Bones and another to the Auror-on-Duty to hand to Dumbledore, who read it over.
“I don’t know any of these people,” Dumbledore mumbled.
“Nor I,” Bones said. “And you say they know about magic?”
“Yes,” Tim said. “Certain of our judiciary are read in to the existence of magic to handle crime that crosses over into the non-magical world.”
“I see,” Dumbledore said, stroking his beard. He’d have no control over how this trial went if he gave up his seat, and he wondered if he could stall.
A Lord stood up from his place in the gallery, and waited for acknowledgement.
“Lord Black?” Dumbledore acknowledged.
Sirius Black’s eyes snapped up as Lord Black, who was also known as the Earl of Blackmoor and Sirius’ grandfather, Arcturus, spoke. “I believe it prudent, in the interests of meeting the Queen’s demands, that this trial be as impartial as is possible. With that understood, perhaps I may suggest we choose a judge at random? Say, the third name on the list?”
“Have you seen this list, Lord Black?” Dumbledore had to ask.
The Earl drew his wand, placing it over his heart, to say, “I, Lord Arcturus Horatio Black, Earl of Blackmoor, swear that I have not seen this list of impartial judges as distributed by the Queen’s Representative. So mote it be.” He intoned, “Lumos,” and his wand lit up.
Auror Bones nodded brusquely. “I agree with Lord Black. Choose a name at random. It matters not to me.”
Dumbledore sighed deeply. “Having no other recourse—“ aside from blatant misuse of power, he thought, not without a bit of self-recrimination, “I hereby recuse myself as the judge of these proceedings, and ask that an impartial judge from this list be chosen at random by being pulled from a standard, non-magical hat.”
Tim nodded. “The Queen accepts your recusal.” He then produced his own hat. “Can someone assist in slicing this paper into different pieces?”
The Auror-on-Duty cast a charm to slice the paper, and several names were scattered into Tim’s hat like so much confetti.
“Auror Bones?” Tim asked. “Will you do the honors?”
She nodded, and pulled a piece of paper from the hat.
“The Right Honorable Elizabeth Jane Marsh,” Tim read out loud. “A moment then, while we fetch her.”
The crowd murmured among themselves as Tim sent John Turner out to collect Judge Marsh. Dumbledore waited at the front. Less than ten minutes later (and Tim took note that Sirius Black looked even more pale, if that was possible, in the interim), a petite older woman, her bright red hair silvering at the temples, appeared in full judicial robes and attire. She entered the Wizengamot in Turner’s wake, ascending to the bench that Dumbledore had vacated and waving his gavel off with a faint smile. “I’ve my own,” she said, her voice low and soothing as she produced her gavel from somewhere within her robes.
Tim stood, “Your honor, the Queen thanks you for your service, and reminds you of your judicial oath to be impartial, fair, and honest in her name.”
“Thank you, Sir Holmes. Ladies and gentlemen of the Wizengamot, I thank you for your attendance here today. When I was asked by the Queen to potentially serve as your judge, I took the time to review Wizengamot judicial procedure for criminal trials, and I am prepared. First, I see that we have a prosecuting Auror and the Queen’s representative in the dock. We need someone to serve as Mr. Black’s defender. Mr. Black, have you someone to defend you?”
Sirius looked to the crowd, seeing a sea of unfriendly faces, and said, quietly, “No, ma’am.”
Lord Black stood again, and Judge Marsh looked up. “And you are?”
“Lord Arcturus Black, ma’am. I am Sirius’ grandfather, and I am willing to act as his defender,” he said.
Sirius’ mouth dropped open, but he closed it abruptly.
“Very well, Lord Black, if your grandson has no objections?”
Sirius shook his head no.
“Then take your place.”
Lord Black made his way down to the bar to stand next to Auror Bones.
“I’ve reviewed the facts of the case as presented by Sir Holmes’ investigating team, and I believe much of this can be settled through the testimony of Sirius Black with the use of the Queen’s Veritaserum,” Judge Marsh said. “But first, Auror Bones, please present the case for the Ministry.”
Bones nodded. “Your honor, on the night of October 31, 1981, Aurors were called to the residence of James and Lily Potter of Godric’s Hollow. Upon arrival, Aurors saw that the home had been partially destroyed, and the bodies of James and Lily were found in the home, dead. Their son, Harry, was missing. Upon investigation, Aurors determined that someone had entered their home, killed James with a Killing Curse, proceeded to the second floor to cast the Killing Curse at Lily, and taken Harry. We later discovered that their home had been hidden under a Fidelius Charm prior to the incident. We also discovered that Harry had been taken by Rubeus Hagrid, at the behest of Albus Dumbledore, for his safety.
“On the scene, we found a wand identified as belonging to the wizard known as Voldemort, as well as the remains of his clothing. We determined that Voldemort had somehow found the home through its Secret Keeper, killed James and Lily, and when he turned on Harry, was killed himself. Later that night, or I should rather say, early the next morning, we were called to the site of an explosion. Witnesses said they heard Sirius Black confronting Peter Pettigrew, who loudly exclaimed that Sirius had been their Secret Keeper. Black dueled Pettigrew, and the explosion was attributed to that duel. Pettigrew appears to have been killed, but all we’ve found of his remains so far is one of his fingers. Witnesses also said they heard Black saying, ‘It’s all my fault.’
“Black was arrested on scene. Albus Dumbledore informed Aurors that he had personal knowledge that Black had been the Potters’ Secret Keeper, and thus it could only have been Black who informed Voldemort of the Potters’ location. It seemed logical, therefore, to send Black to Azkaban.”
“Without a trial?” Judge Marsh clarified.
“Yes, ma’am. It seemed obvious and unnecessary,” Bones said firmly (even as she internally sighed over the breach of procedure).
Judge Marsh nodded. “Lord Black?”
“Your honor will appreciate that I have not had time to consult with my grandson, but I can attest to a few things.” Arcturus smiled, and it was not a nice smile. “First, my grandson and James Potter were the best of friends, good enough for Sirius to turn his back on his parents and move in with the Potters. I find it hard to fathom that Sirius could have turned him in.
“Second, my grandson is a known prankster. I find it entirely likely that he had some scheme in place that backfired, resulting in the Potters’ deaths and his subsequent feelings of guilt leading to an ill-advised, emotional statement at the scene of the explosion.
“Third, the Ministry had no business trusting the word of one man to send a man to Azkaban without a trial. I find it suspect that my grandson’s fate was left in the hands of a man who immediately took custody of the Potter heir. We do not know, in fact, where young Lord Potter is at the moment. That kidnapping should be investigated.
“And fourth, I was present when my grandson swore a stringent magical Godfather’s Oath to protect Harry Potter from all harm. I do not believe his oath would have allowed him to betray the Potters, even if he were so inclined.
“In closing, I believe my grandson to be, perhaps, guilty of bad judgement, but to be innocent of these charges.”
The Wizengamot broke out in whispers. Tim distinctly heard “Godfather!” And “always up for a prank” and “kidnapping—Dumbledore?”
Judge Marsh merely nodded, and turned one of the pages in front of her. “Auror Bones, can you provide witnesses?”
“We have the Aurors on scene, and we have one Ministry worker who responded to the duel site,” Bones said. “He can attest to Black’s confession on scene.”
Marsh looked up. “A statement made under duress cannot be used under British law, Auror Bones.”
Bones flushed. “Yes, ma’am. We also have Albus Dumbledore and his knowledge of the Fidelius Charm and Secret Keeper.”
“The same Albus Dumbledore who attempted to preside over this trial?” Marsh asked, and fresh whispers broke out.
“I see,” Marsh looked over another piece of paper. “Mr. Sirius Black, are you willing to be questioned under the Queen’s Veritaserum?”
“Yes, Your Honor,” Sirius said quietly.
“By the Queen’s rules, only her representative may question you while you are under its influence. Questions raised by the prosecuting Auror or your defender may be directed to the representative for presentation. Are we clear?” Marsh looked over her wire glasses at the people in question.
“Yes, ma’am.” Bones and Black both chorused. Tim nodded, and brought the vial out of his briefcase.
The Auror on Duty escorted Tim to where Sirius Black sat, bound in chains to the stone chair of judgement in the center of the chamber. Tim asked him to open up, and Black opened his mouth for the three drops he needed.
Tim stepped back slightly. “Please state your full name and any appropriate titles, Mr. Black.”
“Sirius Orion Black, Heir of Blackmoor, Regent to the Duke of Gryffindor, Godfather to Lord Harry James Potter.”
The Wizengamot erupted. Dumbledore paled, but let no outward sign of his internal cursing appear. Heir Blackmoor? Regent? No wonder his attempts to claim the Potter vaults for Harry’s care met resistance.
Arcturus Black leaned forward, smiling darkly. (Somewhere in the stands, Lucius Malfoy snarled.)
Tim paused. “Who is the Duke of Gryffindor?”
“Lord Harry James Potter.”
More rustling and whispers. Judge Marsh banged her gavel once, for order, and the crowd settled. Tim raised an eyebrow at the Judge, but at her nod, continued his questioning. He decided to get right to it.
“Did you kill James and Lily Potter?”
“No.” A single tear fell from Sirius’ right eye.
“Did you arrange for James and Lily Potter to be killed?”
“No.” A second tear fell.
“Do you know who did?”
“Who arranged for James and Lily Potter to be killed?”
“Peter Pettigrew and Albus Dumbledore.”
Bedlam. Judge Marsh banged her gavel sharply and ordered, “Auror, please secure Mr. Dumbledore while we continue this questioning.”
The Auror-on-Duty nodded, taking magic suppressing cuffs from somewhere within his robes and approaching Dumbledore, who sat, motionless, and astonished.
“Sir?” The Auror motioned for Dumbledore to stand and turn around. Numbly, he complied, and the cuffs were settled over his wrists. A second Auror emerged from the door to the right of the chamber and took a stand near Sirius Black as the Auror on Duty.
Tim thought through the line of questioning. “How do you know who was responsible for the deaths of Lily and James Potter?”
Sirius continued to cry, silent tears dripping down his cheeks as he told the story in an emotionless monotone.
“A year ago, Dumbledore came to James and Lily and told them a prophecy had been spoken that identified the person who could finally vanquish Voldemort. He told them it could refer to either Harry, or Neville Longbottom. He said it would be best if they went into hiding. He suggested a Fidelius Charm, which would hide them completely. Only the Secret Keeper would know of their whereabouts and be able to give that information to someone who asked. Dumbledore suggested me to be the Secret Keeper.
“James said he told Dumbledore that it was a bad idea to paint a target on my back because everyone knew I was their best friend, and the most likely candidate to be Secret Keeper. He suggested our trusted friend, Peter Pettigrew, be Secret Keeper instead.
“Dumbledore disagreed. He insisted it should be me. They all argued. Finally, Lily told him she would cast the charm, and he needed to leave. He did so. Lily cast the charm, and Peter became Secret Keeper. Peter could only divulge the Secret if asked. Voldemort must have asked, and Peter told him of his own free will, or the charm failed.” Sirius stopped.
Tim asked, gently, “Do you blame Albus Dumbledore for Lily and James’ deaths?”
Sirius nodded. “The Fidelius was his suggestion.”
More bedlam. Judge Marsh sighed as she banged her gavel. “Aurors, continue to keep Mr. Dumbledore secure. We’ll need his testimony under the Queen’s Veritaserum as well.”
The Auror holding on to Dumbledore nodded, and Dumbledore’s eyes glittered.
Tim allowed himself a deep breath, before he continued. “What happened on the night of October 31, 1981?”
Sirius blinked tears out of his eyes. “I felt the secondary ward line that I’d placed at the house in Godric’s Hollow signal an intruder, and I apparated to it. The house was smoking, Harry was screaming. I ran inside. I saw James’ body on the floor. He had no wand. I headed up to the second floor, shouting for Lily. I got to the bedroom in time to see Severus Snape disapparate from Harry’s bedroom. Lily was dead. A pile of smoking robes sat on the floor by the door, Voldemort’s wand nearby.
“I went to Harry, and picked him up. He cuddled into my neck, sniffling, and I tried to soothe him. He was bleeding from the forehead. I tried to cast an Episkey, to heal him, but the magic didn’t work. I knew something was wrong. I heard Rubeus Hagrid yell downstairs, and I went down to meet him. Hagrid said Dumbledore had realized James and Lily were compromised and sent Hagrid to help. Hagrid suggested taking Harry to Hogwarts to have his forehead healed by Madam Pomfrey.
“I handed Harry over, and told Hagrid I’d meet him there later because I had a rat to track down.”
Tim paused, waiting to see if more would be forthcoming. “What did you mean by a ‘rat’?”
Sirius smiled darkly, and it amused Tim to see that it was the same smile his grandfather, Arcturus, was sporting. “Peter Pettigrew was an Animagus. His form was a rat. We all became Animagi at Hogwarts, under the noses of our professors. We went unregistered as a security measure.”
“An Animagus?” Tim asked.
“A wizard who can turn into an animal.”
Amelia Bones leaned forward, catching Tim’s attention. “With your permission, Judge Marsh? Animagi who don’t register within a year of attaining a form may be fined a thousand galleons or face imprisonment in Azkaban for a period of up to a year. Black may be confessing to a crime here.”
Lord Black also leaned forward. “If I may? My grandson’s Animagus form is registered with the International Confederation of Wizards, under seal. This may be checked.” He paused. “He may also not know that I registered him to prevent this scenario.”
Judge Marsh nodded, and looked to the Auror-on-Duty. “Please have one of your peers check that status and report back to the court. Mr. Black is not on trial for his Animagus status at this time, but the information could prevent the need for an additional trial.”
Tim looked at the judge. “If I may continue?”
Tim nodded, and directed another question to Sirius. “How did you track Pettigrew down?”
“I transformed and sniffed him out. I found him, and I lost my temper utterly. (The crowd, well aware of the famous Black temper, nodded sagely and whispered amongst themselves.) I confronted him, but the sneaky rat cut off his own finger and sent a Bombarda into a nearby gas line. It exploded. Peter transformed and disappeared down into the sewer with the other rats.”
More bedlam, a riot of noise that Judge Marsh had to stand up to silence. “Order!” She banged her gavel. “I will have order in this court!”
Tim stood back. “The Queen has no further questions.”
Judge Marsh nodded. “Auror Bones?”
Bones looked constipated. Clearly, they had been in error about Black. She opted not to ask about his Animagus form, as a courtesy. “None, Your Honor.”
“Just one or two, Your Honor. While my grandson is not on trial for the kidnapping of Harry Potter, I do think it’s an opportunity to see his intentions toward the lad, when he is found, and testimony given under Queen’s Veritaserum, given once, need not be given again.”
Judge Marsh took a moment to think. “I’ll allow it.”
Arcturus looked to Tim. “Please ask him about Harry, his role in Harry’s life, and his plans for the future.”
Tim, who very much wanted to know the answers to these questions for his own benefit, nodded, and turned to Sirius. “You are named Harry’s godfather and magical guardian. What are your feelings toward Harry?”
Sirius smiled softly. “He’s my pup. I love him.”
“And your plans for his future?”
“To help him become the best man he can be. To help him learn his role in our world. To tell him about his parents and teach him how to prank. To hold him when he’s scared and dry his tears when he is sad. To love him unconditionally.”
Tim turned to raise an eyebrow at Arcturus, who nodded. “I believe that will do, thank you.”
Tim nodded in return and looked to Judge Marsh, who glanced down at the paperwork in front of her, and then looked up. “I believe that will be all for Mr. Black. Please release him from the dais and escort him to a regular seat, Auror.”
Tim helped the slightly out-of-it Sirius Black, too. The Queen’s Veritaserum would gradually leave his system, but it would take at least an hour before it was gone completely. Tim preferred to have Sirius nearby in those circumstances.
When Sirius was settled, Judge Marsh looked over her glasses at the crowd.
“At this time, I would like to hear from Albus Dumbledore,” she said. “Also, I will want to hear from Severus Snape, as Mr. Black’s testimony places him at the scene.” She looked to the Auror on Duty. “While we listen to Mr. Dumbledore’s testimony, I should like for Mr. Snape to be found, if he is not present at this time.” The man nodded, and stepped to the doorway where his colleague waited for instruction.
Judge Marsh looked back to the court. “Mr. Dumbledore, if you please?”
Whispers broke out as the Auror who’d kept his wand and hands on Albus Dumbledore steered him forward to sit on the accused’s chair. As he seated Dumbledore, the Auror also tapped the top of the chair with his wand, and chains bound the man to the chair for the duration of his questioning.
“Certainly, this is unnecessary?” Dumbledore tried to say.
Judge Marsh simply raised an eyebrow. “Mr. Dumbledore, your name has come up several times today, and we mean to see what your precise role in these events is. Sir Holmes, if you would?”
Tim calmly moved forward while Dumbledore protested. The Auror on Duty finally tapped Dumbledore’s jaw with his wand and it opened involuntarily. Tim placed the three drops and stood back.
Dumbledore’s glittering eyes dulled, and his face slackened. Judge Marsh took note of the changes, and said, “Mr. Holmes, I’m sure the Queen has questions. Please proceed, and I’ll allow the Prosecutor and Defender time for theirs at the end.”
Tim inclined his head and stepped back a bit. “Please state your full name and any appropriate titles, Mr. Dumbledore.”
Dumbledore appeared to fight the potion for a moment before bursting out with, “Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore Grindelwald.” (The crowd broke out in astonished whispers.) Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. Head of the International Confederation of Wizards.”
Tim eyed the man askance. “How are you a Grindelwald?” (Unknowingly asking the very question all the wizards and witches in attendance wanted to know.)
“I married Gellert when I was 20. I took his name. We never divorced.”
If Judge Marsh thought she had faced a riotous chamber before, she didn’t know the half of what a crowd of excited and belligerent magical humans could do. It took several minutes of banging her gavel, a squadron of Aurors, and silencing spells from a half a dozen different wands to bring the proceedings back to order.
“I think, Your Honor, that we can be assured the potion is working perfectly,” Tim said dryly.
“I believe so, Sir Holmes,” Judge Marsh said calmly. “Proceed.”
“How are you able to hold all three of the roles assigned to you without conflict of interest?”
“Very, very carefully.” Dumbledore replied. “Also, my oaths aren’t valid because I used a name other than my actual, legal name.”
Lord Black facepalmed.
Auror Bones looked stone-faced.
Tim just looked resigned. “Were you aware that Peter Pettigrew was the Secret Keeper for James and Lily Potter?”
“Why did you tell the Aurors that Sirius Black had been the Secret Keeper?”
“I believed that to be true. I told the Potters to use Black as their Secret Keeper, and I had no reason to think they wouldn’t do as I wished.”
“But you did know that the Potters had discussed using Peter Pettigrew?”
“Leaving some doubt?”
“Why did you not push for a trial for Sirius Black, given that you knew there was some doubt as to his guilt?”
“I wanted Black out of the way so that I could ensure the prophecy child was raised properly.”
“And what way is that?”
“He needs to be so humbled, and place so little value on his own life, that when the time is right, he will let himself be killed by Voldemort for the greater good.”
“And what circumstances will lead to this perceived outcome?”
“He has been placed with Muggles who I am certain will abuse him, leading to poor self-esteem and a need to be validated by the magical world.”
Judge Marsh wondered if she could have silencing spells placed on her regular courtroom. She could see the angry bellows from her place on the bench, but she couldn’t hear them, so she nodded to Tim to proceed.
“Under whose authority did you place Harry James Potter?”
“Only my own.”
“To be clear, you sent an innocent man to Azkaban for the sole purpose of getting him out of the way so that you could ensure his godson was abused?”
“Yes. It is the only way to eliminate Voldemort.”
Tim stood back, eyebrow raised, to look at Judge Marsh. “Your Honor,” he began, “while the Queen concedes we have the information about the guilt or innocence of Mr. Black, it appears through questioning that this witness has more concealed of relevance to the security of Great Britain. Under the precedent brought forward by Lord Black regarding Veritaserum testimony, may I proceed?”
Judge Marsh sat back in thought, then looked to Auror Bones. “Auror Bones, would it be beneficial for security to continue this line of questioning with Mr. Dumbledore here and now?”
Feeling tired, Auror Bones rubbed her eye under the monocle, then looked up. “Given that we believed we had eliminated Voldemort, or rather, that young Harry Potter had already completed that task, thus fulfilling any prophecy that might have been directed toward the young man, I think we must discover what Mr. Dumbledore has hidden from the public in his efforts to keep certain things private.”
Judge Marsh idly tapped her gavel, thinking, then looked up again. “Lord Black, have you an opinion?”
Arcturus sighed. “Your Honor, this matter is for the trial of Sirius Black, not the machinations of Albus Dumbledore. While it is true that his testimony could be used in a future trial, should one be necessary, I think we must consider the fairness to Mr. Dumbledore, who was not aware that his questioning might cover this ground. While I, too, would be greatly interested to know what he is thinking with regard to the late Dark Lord, it is not a matter for this trial.”
Judge Marsh nodded. “Agreed.” She looked up, marveling again at the silencing charms as it was clear many disagreed with her. “In the interest of fairness, a principle of which I am bound to hold, I will discard any further questioning on the matter of Voldemort. However,” and she looked to Auror Bones, “I hereby order Mr. Dumbledore into custody for any charges deemed appropriate by the Ministry, and I ask the Queen’s Representative to verify with Mr. Dumbledore the whereabouts of one Harry James Potter.”
Tim nodded once, sharply, and turned back to Dumbledore. “Mr. Dumbledore, with whom is Harry James Potter?”
“To my knowledge, he is with his Muggle aunt, Petunia Dursley.”
Tim turned back to the judge. “Your Honor, given quite valid reasons to protect the lad, I’d suggest we not discuss his precise location in open court.”
“Ah, quite right, Sir Holmes,” Judge Marsh agreed. “That’s quite enough information to find him, I’m certain, as it will likely be necessary. Aurors, please detain Mr. Dumbledore and remove him from the courtroom for his safety while he recovers.”
The Auror-on-Duty and his partner helped Dumbledore up from the stone chair, suppression cuffs and all, and handed him off to a pair waiting at the door to escort the erstwhile Headmaster to holding.
Judge Marsh turned a few pages in the file in front of her, then sat back. “I don’t believe we need any further testimony as to the innocence of Sirius Black. We have established, in fact, that Peter Pettigrew was the Secret Keeper of the Fidelius Charm cast by Lily Potter; that Albus Dumbledore believed the Secret Keeper to be Sirius Black, but had reason to doubt that this was so; that Dumbledore’s information, given to the Aurors, led to Black’s arrest, and that Dumbledore’s refusal to bring the man to trial was motivated by self-interest. I am curious about the implications of Severus Snape being present, but as he is not in court, nor does he appear to be easily found, I find it unnecessary to speak with him at this time. I look to the DMLE, and Auror Bones, to find and question Severus Snape with regard to his role in these events.
“It is my judgment, therefore, that the charges against Sirius Black be dropped.” She banged her gavel sharply, and stood.
The full Wizengamot stood with her. Aurors stepped forward and released Sirius from his cuffs, before directing him to stand at the dock with his Grandfather. Still under the influence, Sirius stood somewhat shakily next to his Patriarch while Tim shuffled his papers together and set them in his briefcase.
Judge Marsh remained standing as she had nowhere to go until the court was cleared, which took some time as the silencing charms were released and the assembly moved slowly out the back doors of the room.
Bones quietly informed Tim that she would handle the questioning and investigation into Dumbledore’s actions personally, and asked, “Should we have need of an impartial judge, may we call upon the Queen?”
Tim raised a placid eyebrow. “Of course. I’m certain she would be glad to assist. All of Her Majesty’s subjects, magical and non-magical, fall under her purview.”
Bones nodded once, and headed back toward holding and her offices, there to start her inquiry.
Sirius drew a shaky breath. “Harry’s with Petunia? We’ll need to get him straightaway.”
Lord Black raised an eyebrow of his own. “You’re not in any condition to take care of a toddler at the moment, Sirius, though I agree that Petunia must be investigated, at the very least.”
Tim cleared his throat. “Harry’s placement has already been decided by the Queen. She has named him her ward, and herself as his secondary magical guardian in the event you were found guilty, Mr. Black. As it happens, despite what Dumbledore thought he knew, Harry is not now living with Petunia Dursley, but with other, more welcoming relatives of his.”
“May I see him, do you think?” Sirius asked.
Tim smiled. “I believe that can be arranged, though I do warn you, my wife has been mothering him most ardently.”
Arcturus chuckled. “I see. And how are you related to the Potter heir, Sir Holmes?”
“Tim, please,” Tim looked around. “I think this is a discussion best left for more private quarters.”
“Indeed,” Arcturus looked around as well. “May I invite you to lunch at Blackmoor Castle, then?”
Tim signaled John Turner. “Yes, I think that would do. Do you know my assistant, John Turner?”
Sirius looked at John with puzzled eyes, which quickly cleared. “Ravenclaw, Muggleborn, three years above me?”
“You were always quick, Sirius,” Turner said calmly. “Indeed. I work for Sir Holmes as a liaison of sort to the magical world. You needed me, sir?”
“Please inform the office that I shall be out for lunch. Also, please inform Mrs. Holmes of my whereabouts and of the outcome of today’s trial. She’ll be worrying.”
“Of course, sir.”
Part 5: In which an accord is reached
Blackmoor Castle stood high on a rocky craig overlooking even more rocks on the southern coast of Wales. Tim shook out his umbrella against the cold drizzle that awaited them at the castle gates, to which Lord Black had ably apparated him.
Sirius appeared silently next to Tim in his next breath, and Tim obligingly tilted his umbrella to shelter the younger man as Lord Black laid a palm on the side door, next to the gate, and adjusted the wards to allow a Muggle entrance.
“Apologies for the delay,” Lord Black said quietly. “My ancestors were not kind to Muggles in the least, and I’m afraid I’ve allowed their measures to stand. It will take a moment for things to be completely safe for you.”
“Of course,” Tim said politely. Sirius said nothing, but looked hideous, the bruises and pale skin standing out even more in the rain. Tim noted that the young man was shaking slightly.
Lord Black noticed, too, as he lifted his hand away from what Tim could now see was an obsidian stone. It glowed briefly, then fell quiet.
“Minx,” Lord Black said quietly. A small creature appeared, dressed in what appeared to be a black cotton towel, affixed toga style at the shoulder with a pin bearing the House crest of Blackmoor. It had pale greenish skin, floppy ears, and big eyes, and Tim noted that it appeared to be nervous.
“Sir be wanting Minx?”
Lord Black nodded. “Please see that Sirius gets a hot bath and a change of clothes. We’ll be dining in the Sun Room in thirty minutes. Do ring for a healer if he needs one, please.”
“Yes, sir,” Minx said, nodding vigorously. “Come now, Young Master. Minx takes care of you.”
Sirius shuddered once, violently, then held out his hand to the little creature, and they disappeared.
“A house elf,” Lord Black explained. “One of three on staff here who take care of the home and its occupants. She’s a valued member of my household.”
“I see,” Tim said, mentally taking note as he followed Lord Black through the gate and into a courtyard that appeared dry and clean, despite the damp rain. He thought it an interesting bit of magic, as he shook out his umbrella and returned it to its collapsed state.
“Your John Turner will be joining us as secretary for our meeting shortly, I assume,” Lord Black said, leading the way toward the family entrance to the Castle. “I gave him our coordinates and added permission to the wards for his entrance.”
“Thank you,” Tim said. “He has been quite invaluable to me, particularly of late.”
“Yes, I imagine so,” Lord Black looked at Tim, his sharp eyes assessing the man. “You are not at all impressed by magic?”
Tim smiled wryly. “There’s no need. Much of what can be done with magic can be achieved by other means. It’s a complication, but one that can be worked with and around.”
“Hmmm.” Lord Black opened the heavy door to foyer and gestured for Tim to step inside. “And yet you have magic yourself.”
“Not enough to be trained,” Tim allowed. “I believe you’d consider me a Squib, actually.”
“Your parents were wizards?” Lord Black asked, leading the way to the aforementioned Sun Room.
Tim shrugged. “If they were, they weren’t practicing.”
“Curious,” Lord Black said, then said no more as they entered an inviting room faced with glass, warmed by the sun on three sides. One corner contained a cozy pair of wicker armchairs, dressed in blue and flanked by ottomans. A glass-topped dining table in the center of the room was set for four, its matching wicker dining chairs neatly tucked around it.
“We’ll eat when Sirius and John turn up,” Arcturus said. “Can I get you a drink?”
“Tea, please,” Tim said.
A tea set popped into place on the small table in the cozy corner, and Tim took a seat there while Lord Black poured.
An awkward silence fell.
Tim took a sip from his perfectly prepared tea, then broke the silence with the query uppermost in his mind. “Why did you choose to defend your grandson today? From all accounts, the pair of you have been estranged for some time.”
Arcturus took his own sip of tea. “I should have that conversation with Sirius before I do so with one who is nearly a complete stranger. But I suppose the short answer is that I never considered him estranged from me. From his parents, yes; my son and his wife are idiots who think just saying that he’s disowned means he’s disowned. But frankly, I made him my heir in ritual at Harry’s welcome. If the Queen hadn’t gotten involved, I would have taken steps to secure his release as soon as it was possible.”
Tim hummed thoughtfully, sipping his tea, then asked, “Was Mr. Dumbledore aware that Sirius is your heir?”
Arcturus smiled darkly. “Not until today.”
The men sipped their tea, which Tim acknowledged was quite good.
“I imagine much of our discussion must wait until Sirius arrives,” Arcturus said, “but I am curious as to how this matter came to the attention of the Queen.”
Tim nodded, finished his sip, and set his cup down. “I brought it to her attention, of course.”
“And you have her ear?” Arcturus asked with a raised eyebrow. “I’ve made some assumptions about what the role of ‘Queen’s representative’ entails, but I’m curious to hear what your role actually is.”
Tim smiled wryly. “Actually, my job is a bit more complex than that.” He thought for a moment. “My role in Her Majesty’s government is to ensure that the whole of it runs smoothly. I am not a public face; I am the man behind the curtain. In that role, I am required to know all that it is possible to know about the machinations of both our worlds. It’s frankly serendipitous that I am also Harry’s cousin by marriage. My mother-in-law was sister to Lily Evans’ mother.”
“So Lady Potter was herself quite connected socially? At least, in the Muggle world?”
“No, not really. As I said, my role is quite behind the scenes, as it were, and as it is, my family has nearly always been behind the scenes,” Tim said. “My wife’s family—Lily’s family—however, turned out many famous thinkers and scholars, including my own wife, who is something of a maths prodigy. She’s chosen to raise our children instead of work in academia at this time, but a place has been held for her at Oxford. When she’s ready for it.”
“Fascinating,” Arcturus said. “And she is happy to care for Harry as well?”
“She insisted, after her discussion with Petunia,” Tim acknowledged. “He fits right in with our brood. And, of course, he’s well hidden in the Holmes household. Our lot are quite brilliant and we’re all considered eccentrics, so none of our neighbors batted an eye when another child made his appearance.”
“Hiding in plain sight,” Arcturus murmured.
The men both rose as Sirius came into the Sun Room, looking much better. While still pale, the deep bruising at his neck was gone, and he appeared to be much steadier on his feet. John Turner followed him in, looking a bit harassed, but ready to attend to whatever matters Tim needed him. Arcturus gestured to the glass table, now laden with lunch, and said, “Please, be seated. We’ll eat and talk.”
Tim inwardly marveled at the silent appearance of the luncheon spread, but otherwise gave no sign that he was impressed with the magic it must have taken to do so. It seemed impolitic.
Lunch was simple by noble standards, but delicious. The elves had prepared a squash soup with creme fraiche, and light yeast rolls with Irish butter for a first course, and the men fell to with a will. Tim waited until the soup plates had been cleared before he bridged the gap between himself and Sirius.
“I’m imagining you’d like to know where Harry is, how he is, what he’s up to, and all of that?” Tim asked, aiming for friendly.
Sirius nodded as the second course, a simple roast chicken and vegetables, appeared silently on their plates. “I’ve been trying not to dwell on it, knowing I’ll get answers, but I’ve never been very patient and the Dementors have almost certainly scrambled my brain a bit,” he admitted. “Minx did give me basic healing potions, Grandfather—“ he looked over at Arcturus—“but I’ll need an actual Healer, I think, to address the underlying issues. Including the possibility of infertility.”
Arcturus closed his eyes. “I’d forgotten.”
“Infertility?” Tim inquired.
“Continual exposure to Dementors and the conditions at Azkaban can render its prisoners sterile,” Sirius said shortly. “I’m hopeful that as I was only there for three days, I’ll be unaffected.”
“And if not, my lad, we’ll address it,” Arcturus assured him.
“The Queen is certainly unaware of that side effect,” Tim said quietly, and John Turner flipped open his notebook to write that down.
The Blacks exchanged glances. “Why would she be?” Arcturus asked.
“As I said in court, gentlemen, the Queen has been concerned about unsafe and inhumane conditions at Azkaban for some time. She’s held hearings on the subject more than once, but has been convinced each time that there is no better method for subduing the magic of those captured and guilty of magical crimes. It’s one reason I got her involved in your case, Heir Black,” Tim said. “I knew that you are Harry’s magical godfather, and when John made me aware that you’d been sent to Azkaban, I made inquiries as to the circumstances. When the DMLE brushed me aside, I discovered that you’d been sent straight to Azkaban without a trial. It was my duty to bring the matter up to the Queen, and I would have done so even without the connection through Harry.”
Sirius drew a deep breath. “No one else raised an objection?”
“I had plans to,” Arcturus assured him. “It came to a head much more quickly with the Queen’s involvement, however.”
“And clearly, Dumbledore didn’t,” Sirius said bitterly.
“No,” Tim affirmed. “I’m not yet certain what his plan was, but it is obvious he meant for you to stay in Azkaban, and he meant to seek control of Harry by any means. I have been informed by Gringotts that Mr. Dumbledore attempted to get control of the Potter vaults as well.”
“He wants money to fund his Order of the Phoenix,” Sirius said dully. “He’d been talking to Prongs about it.”
“Prongs?” Tim asked.
“James Potter,” Sirius explained. “His Animagus form was a stag. We called him Prongs.”
“I see,” Tim said. “And what is the purpose of this order?”
“To act against Voldemort,” Sirius said quietly. “Although, I suppose that as old Voldie is dead, there’s no need for the Order of the Phoenix.”
“One can only hope,” Arcturus affirmed.
Tim took another bite of chicken, and John made another note.
“Well, what now?” Sirius asked, sounding a bit lost.
Tim swallowed and set down his fork. “We need to discuss arrangements for Harry,” he said. “The Queen has appointed my wife and I to be his guardians, and that has been filed. We are looking for the Potter will to be executed, but I do believe that Wanda and I were listed as potential guardians for Harry in that document. That said, Sirius, we have no desire to keep Harry from you. In fact, it would be to his benefit if you could step in as his magical guardian and teach him all he needs to know about the magical world.”
“I can do that,” Sirius said, taking a deep, shaky breath. “I would like to see him soon, if I may.”
Tim nodded. “If you’d like, we can arrange for you to see him tomorrow. If you’re ready. I’d thought about today, but I think it prudent for you to see that healer first.”
Sirius nodded. “With Grandfather’s approval, I’ll be staying here, behind the Black wards.”
Arcturus briefly looked surprised. “Of course, Sirius. As my heir, Blackmoor Castle is your home, as well.”
“And safe from those who would do us the most harm,” Sirius affirmed. “With your permission, too, Grandfather, I’ll check the ward scheme and make sure we’re as safe as we can be. I will not allow further harm to come to Harry.”
Something occurred to Tim, then.
“Sirius, would your Healer be willing to also examine Harry?” Tim asked. “He has a scar on his forehead that looks painful. I think it may be where a spell struck, and it’s not healing as it should.”
All three magical leaned forward with expressions of concern, but Sirius was the first to say, “Of course. When can he be here tomorrow?”
John looked to the notebook, then nodded to Tim. “You’re required to be with Mrs. Holmes and young Eurus at 10 a.m., sir. Mycroft will be at his tutor’s.”
“We’ve forgotten Wills again, haven’t we?” Tim asked resignedly.
John looked mildly amused. “I think you could take him with you, but I don’t think Wills is quite necessary to Eurus’ appointment.”
“Well, and here is where I suppose I must impose,” Tim said, to Sirius’ amusement. “Would you mind if my family and I brought Harry and my youngest son Wills here to stay for the morning? If we come by at 9, there would be time for you to meet all of us before my wife and I take our daughter to her appointment. Our Mycroft has tutoring beginning at 8:30, so you would miss him, but you’d see the rest. And, if all goes well, I’d be grateful if you could keep both Wills and Harry for the remainder of the morning.”
“How old is young Wills?” Arcturus asked.
“He’s 3 going on 30,” Tim admitted. “Quite good with maths and science, reading already, and more than a bit observant. He’s a handful. But he loves being a big brother to Harry.”
Sirius grinned. “I like him already. Certainly.”
“If I may?” John interjected.
“Yes?” Sirius said.
“Keep any of your potions equipment and ingredients locked up as tight as you can,” John said. “The lad has been known to make things explode when he’s bored.”
Arcturus started laughing, a deep, booming laugh that made Sirius eye him askance.
Arcturus wiped his eyes a bit, trying to contain himself. “Just sounds like he’s already kin to you, Sirius.” He started laughing again.
Tim smiled, and marveled as his plate disappeared and an enormous chocolate pudding appeared.
Part 6: In which great man falls from a pedestal
Albus Dumbledore mourned as his carefully wrought plans tumbled around him like so much a house of cards. Careless, he railed against himself, not to confirm Sirius Black’s status as Harry’s godfather. Careless, to assume that Lily would have prevented the blood ritual that allowed him to take those stringent oaths.
And now, much of the good he’d been attempting to shepherd would be lost. As would the wizarding world, if young Harry did not step up to defeat Voldemort when the time was right.
He sat, shackled in the magic-suppressing cuffs, contained in a small interrogation room in the DMLE, totally alone, the Queen’s Veritaserum still strumming through him. He estimated another twenty minutes or so before he stopped feeling compelled to share the absolute truth as he knew it.
Unfortunately, Dumbledore thought, he knew quite a bit of truth. And had, upon this occasion, stumbled over this biggest flaw: too much confidence in himself and his reputation, and not enough trust in others.
He still didn’t know how the entire matter had come to the Queen’s attention, and that, too, revealed a flaw in his planning.
The door to the conference room opened, revealing Amelia Bones, who sat down across from Dumbledore and set up a dicta-quill and parchment.
“Interview with Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, November 4, 1981, regarding the events surrounding the deaths of the Earl of Gryffindor and his lady wife, the Countess Lily Potter. This interview has been ordered by an impartial judge during a Queen’s trial, and Mr. Dumbledore has been dosed with the Queen’s Veritaserum. Mr. Dumbledore, anything you say in this interview could be used in further legal proceedings, per that order. Your only right in this interview is the right to remain silent on these matters. Do you understand this right as it’s given?”
“I do,” Dumbledore said quietly. “But I must also point out that this version of the Queen’s Veritaserum compels me to speak, or I would have avoided saying anything in open court as well.”
“Noted for the record,” Ms. Bones said, not unsympathetically. “I will do my best to stick to the matter at hand in my questioning.”
“Mr. Dumbledore, what do you know about the wizard known as Voldemort?”
“I know that he was born in an orphanage in 1926 to Merope Gaunt. She named him Tom Marvolo Riddle, after his father, a man whom I have identified as a Muggle who lived in Little Hangleton with his noble parents. Tom had difficulties in the orphanage, was never adopted, and seemed to bully the others, possibly with magic.
“I met him at 11 to discuss his attendance at Hogwarts, and found that he regularly stole from his fellows. I impressed upon him the need to set aside those ways while he was at school. He seemed to take that advice to heart, ending up as Head Boy in his seventh year. Afterwards, he did not take the Ministry positions that opened up for him. Instead, he began working at Borgin & Burkes. I am still unraveling where he went and what he did after that.
“As you know, he emerged under his new name several years ago, with a new pure blood agenda. He is smart, dangerous, and formidable. I do not believe that he is entirely gone.”
Ms. Bones waited a moment, but Dumbledore appeared to be finished with the question. She asked, “Why do you believe that Voldemort is not entirely gone?”
“There was a prophecy told to me that suggested only one person could truly defeat him. It’s in the Hall of Prophecies. It suggests that only one person has the power to defeat him. I also know that he was researching ways to gain immortality while he was at school. If he found a way, he will be back, in one way or another.”
“Did the prophecy name the one who could defeat him?”
“Not by name. Evidence suggests it could be either Harry Potter or Neville Longbottom.”
Ms. Bones raised her eyebrows. “Pause interview.” She stepped to the hallway, and spoke quickly with the Auror outside the door. “Inform the Longbottoms that their son may still be in danger. Locking down their wards and remaining wary wouldn’t go amiss. Please tell them I will be there to see them personally later today.”
The Auror nodded, and called for another Auror to take his place as he left.
Ms. Bones stepped back in. “Interview begin. Mr. Dumbledore, if Harry Potter is the one named to defeat Voldemort, could the prophecy have already come to pass?”
“I hope so,” Dumbledore said calmly. “But the orb still glowed when I checked it, which suggests it has not. Which also suggests that Voldemort is not gone, and the prophecy is in play.”
Ms. Bones rubbed her eyes. “Right. Do you know where we could start looking for Voldemort?”
Dumbledore could feel the potion’s grip easing up, but he still felt compelled. “I’m not certain at this time. You could start with the homes of his followers. Malfoy, Rosier, Lestrange, Crabbe, Goyle, Nott. Any of them have the means to help their disembodied Dark Lord.”
“Thank you for those names, Mr. Dumbledore.” She drew a deep breath, and asked what she knew to be a very broad question, one that might not be answerable: “Is there anything else you know that could help the DMLE in its search for Voldemort and his followers?”
Dumbledore remained silent. He knew a great many things, had studied a great many more, and nearly all his knowledge would be somehow valuable. However, that could not be easily expressed, and he didn’t need to fight the potion to remain silent.
“I think, perhaps, that question was too broad,” Ms. Bones mentioned.
“I do know a great many things that could be beneficial to the department, if one includes all the knowledge I have gained through my various masteries.” Dumbledore smiled weakly. “I wouldn’t know where to begin.”
Ms. Bones nodded briskly. “What knowledge specific to Voldemort do you still have that could be used to find him?”
“He learned a great deal in Albania,” Dumbledore said. “Should you not find his spirit with his followers, I expect we’ll see a trail of bodies that leads to Albania. Also, if he chose the method I suspect he did to remain ‘alive’, then he has left behind pieces of himself that can be destroyed to hasten his end. I have barely begun that research. There has been much to do.”
“Thank you. Interview end.” Ms. Bones stood up. “Mr. Dumbledore, you will likely be charged with kidnapping, given your court testimony. Your reputation aside, you had no legal authority to determine Harry Potter’s guardianship. You may also be charged with oath-breaking, and the ICW will be reviewing every law and action taken by the Wizengamot while under your authority. It goes without saying that the ICW and Wizengamot will be reviewing your statuses, and you will likely be sacked from those bodies, unless you choose to resign first. Should you need to, you may send for your solicitor. Auror Daniels will step into the room at this time to ensure your safety as the Queen’s Veritaserum wears off completely, and he will assist you in making contact with your solicitor before escorting you to holding.”
Then seethed, inwardly, as Ms. Bones left and Auror Daniels stepped in, silently.
A special edition of The Daily Prophet distributed that afternoon proclaimed Sirius Black’s innocence and Albus Dumbledore’s role in his temporary incarceration. It also offered the stunning news that Dumbledore had kidnapped Harry Potter, whose whereabouts remained unknown to the public at large.
Minerva McGonagall lost her temper. The Transfiguration classroom took a hit, but the house elves were able to manage the damage before the formidable woman put herself back together and reached for a quill. She wrote a letter to Sirius Black, posted it, and poured herself a whiskey.
Frank and Alice Longbottom, who had been assured of Harry’s safety by Dumbledore himself, did as bid by Amelia Bones and locked down their wards while the DMLE started its search for known followers of Voldemort based on the list of names given them during Dumbledore’s interview. The Lestranges, accompanied by Barty Crouch, Jr., were caught at the gates of Longbottom Manor, arrested, and investigated for suspicion of terrorism.
Severus Snape disappeared.
Molly Weasley, hands full with four of her seven children under the age of five, barely gave the matter a thought, except to question the Headmaster’s judgment for the first time in her life.
Little ripples, it seems, spun through the Wizarding World.
At the end of the day, Wanda and Tim settled into bed, having seen the children put to bed, to discuss the matter.
“Are you quite certain, dear, that Mr. Black will be able to handle Wills?” Wanda asked anxiously. “I know he’ll be fine with Harry—and Harry is quite excited to see his ‘Paddy’—but Wills is another story.”
Tim smiled, unperturbed. “Can you think of a better test of their suitability? And actually, I do think they can handle Wills. Lord Black seemed to think a child prone to making things explode would suit Sirius quite well.”
“Hmmm,” Wanda hummed, noncommittal. “If you’re sure he’ll be safe.”
“I’m sure he’ll be well cared for,” Tim affirmed, “though you must agree that Wills’ safety often depends on Wills himself. He’s quite capable for a three-year-old.”
“True,” Wanda conceded. “And he’ll be four in just two months.”
“Where has the time gone?” Tim asked rhetorically. “Next you’ll be telling me that Eurus will be turning six shortly.”
Laughing, Wanda kissed his cheek. “As you say, dear. And you were quite right about Mycroft, by the way. It’s Harrow over Eaton, and early admission as a day student. They believe he can complete the curriculum for his GCSEs within a year, and from there, we’ll see.”
Tim nodded thoughtfully. “I’ll speak with him this weekend about his career options. I dislike the pace at which he’s acquiring his education. It leaves him too little time to socialize, and learn social behaviors, which he will need to function in many career paths. It might be too late, at any rate, with that phenomenal memory of his. He could quite literally do anything.”
“Including public service?” Wanda asked archly.
He couldn’t deny it. A part of him thought his eldest son would do very well in his position, should he choose it. But he only hummed, and asked, “Is Eurus ready for her evaluation tomorrow?”
“As she can be,” Wanda said. “She believes she’s going for more advanced intelligence quotient testing. I completed the initial questionnaires based on my observations of her behavior and forwarded them along to the psychiatrist already.”
“You do think she’s leaning toward sociopathy, don’t you?” Tim asked quietly.
“I do,” Wanda said, heavily. “Her lack of affect or remorse, inability to empathize, and her detachment from all of us have all been highlighted since Harry arrived. She accepts my explanations about why he’s here, but she seems perplexed by our actions. Coupled with her genius, I’m afraid we have a child who could be very dangerous.”
Tim pressed his lips together, and firmed his jaw, before speaking. “Are you aware of any treatment for sociopathy that could help?”
“I plan to ask the expert tomorrow,” Wanda said, “and to make other inquiries. I found nothing in our quick stop at the library today. I suspect I shall have to send away for the correct books and articles.”
Tim nodded once, sharply. “Well, we’ll get the psychiatrist’s opinion tomorrow, and we’ll do our research. Perhaps, if she doesn’t feel empathy, it can be taught in another way.”
“We can hope,” Wanda said. “And we do have a few geniuses to help us think about it.”
Part 7: In which a young girl’s future is changed
November 6, 1981
With John Turner’s help, Tim, Wanda, Eurus, Wills, and Harry arrived at the gates of Blackmoor Castle via Portkey promptly at 9 a.m. on Friday.
Harry clapped his hands in glee at the landing, while Wanda and Eurus looked distinctly green. Wills pursed his lips on landing with barely a bump, and looked around, eagerly taking in the new experience and their new surroundings.
Tim simply shook out his umbrella, and laid a hand on the gate to get the attention of the house elves. Minx blinked into existence near him, and led them all to the side door and through to the house.
Sirius and Arcturus met them at the door, and Arcturus guided them into a small receiving room of some kind just off the foyer. “Welcome, welcome,” he said eagerly. “And I see we have several young visitors at this time.”
Tim smiled. “We do. May I introduce my wife, Wanda Holmes; my daughter, Eurus; my son, Wills; and my ward, Harry Potter, whom I believe you know.”
Indeed, Harry was already curled up like a monkey on Sirius’ hip.
“Wanda, Eurus, Wills, this is Mr. Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather, and Lord Arcturus Black, Sirius’ grandfather. This is Lord Black’s castle, Blackmoor.”
“A pleasure to meet you both,” Wanda said graciously. Arcturus took her hand, kissing the knuckles, before turning to Eurus, who said, “Pleased to meet you.” She, too, was treated to a kiss of her knuckles, before Arcturus turned to Wills, who put his hands behind his back.
“Nice to meet you,” Wills said. “But I really don’t like any kind of kissing.”
“That’s just fine,” Arcturus said solemnly. “Would a hand shake do?”
Wills thought about it, then nodded abruptly, and stuck out his hand for a formal shake.
Sirius waved from his position as a climbing gym for Harry. “Nice to meet all of you.”
Wills studied Sirius for a moment. “Do you like playing?”
“I do,” Sirius said.
“Do you have anything interesting like that thingy that brought us here to play with?”
“I have many interesting things here,” Sirius allowed. “As does Grandfather.”
Wills pursed his lips. “Fine, then. I’ll stay. Someone has to keep an eye on Harry.”
Eurus quirked an eyebrow. “He looks perfectly cared for, Wills,” she said.
Wills shook his head vigorously. “He needs an extra set of eyes, ‘rus. Trust me.”
“Fine, then,” Eurus said, rolling her own eyes.
Tim raised an eyebrow to his wife, who merely sighed. Turning back to the pair, Tim asked, “Were you able to secure a Healer?”
“Yes,” Arcturus said. “She’ll be here presently. May I offer a drink?”
“Tea, please,” Tim asked, and smiled as a full service popped up on a side table.
Wills’ eyes went big and round, and he immediately began investigating the table itself. Eurus remained silent, but Tim could see the wheels turning in her big brain.
Tim had the sudden thought that bringing Eurus here before her appointment might have been a mistake.
Minx popped in and informed everyone that Healer Banks had arrived, and Arcturus nodded. “Please see her into this room, and we’ll scatter as needed.”
With a nod and a pop, Minx blinked out, and Eurus looked to her mother. “Mummy, is magic real?”
“It is,” Wanda affirmed, “though it’s rarely spoken about in public.”
Eurus gave a slow nod. “Interesting.”
Tim watched his daughter realign and resort her world in seconds, before she asked, “Do I have magic?”
Wanda and Tim looked at each other, before Tim replied, gently, “Not that we’ve seen, dear.”
“Is there some sort of test for it?”
Sirius and Arcturus looked at each other, and Arcturus raised a hand. A plain white ball fell into it, and he handed it to Eurus. “Hold it, concentrate, and think, ‘Lumos.’”
Eurus did as instructed, and the ball gave a faint glow.
“That was the test, and it looks as though you passed,” Arcturus said quietly. “A glow like that indicates a bit of magic. Not a lot, and perhaps you won’t be able to train at a magic school, but enough to reveal a kind of special talent at some point.”
“Can I try?” Wills asked.
Eurus handed him the ball, and Wills screwed up his face with concentration. The ball glowed even more brightly.
“Ah, and a young wizard,” Arcturus said, impressed. “You did say your parents weren’t practicing magicals, yes?”
“Not that I ever saw,” Tim said quietly. He took the ball from Wills, and it dimmed. He thought, ‘Lumos,” and it gave a faint glow, such as what Eurus had. “See, just enough.”
Harry cried, “Mine!” Then he summoned the ball to his hands and it lit up, bright as the sun.
“And a burgeoning magus,” Arcturus said, satisfied. “Well done, all of you.”
Wanda fought the urge to run, screaming, and instead, took a deep breath. “It appears it’s quite lucky we’ve made your acquaintances, sirs.”
“Please, call me Sirius,” Sirius jumped in.
Arcturus added, “And I’m Arcturus in private, of course.”
Healer Banks, a cheerful-looking woman with a kind face and light-blond hair, stepped into the room. “Good morning, all,” she said. “I’m Healer Banks, and I hear that I have a young patient this morning.”
Sirius pried Harry off his hip and held him out, listening to him giggle. “This is your young miscreant,” he said with a smile of his own. “Shall we adjourn to the study for privacy? Mrs. Holmes, I assume you’re coming along?”
“I am,” Wanda said. “And please, call me Wanda.”
Harry had a piece of Voldemort’s magical essence in his head.
“Well, isn’t that fascinating?” Healer Banks said. “I don’t believe I’ve seen that before.”
“Can it be healed?” Sirius asked anxiously, as Wanda helped hold Harry’s hands away from the still-raw scar on his forehead.
“I should think there’s a way,” Healer Banks acknowledged. “It’s unlikely to be obvious, because as far as I know, this is the first time anyone’s survived a Killing Curse. I suspect that the curse rebounded, broke off some part of the caster’s magical essence and embedded it at the site of impact.” She ran another diagnostic. “It’s not possessing him at all. It looks contained by someone else’s magic.”
“Someone else’s magic?” Sirius asked.
Healer Banks gently drew her wand over the lightning-shaped mark. “Sowilo,” she murmured. “Sun, or Victory.”
“Is it possible to know whose magic encases the soul piece?” Sirius asked.
“If their magical signature is on file,” Healer Banks acknowledged, carefully healing the skin. “Or if you suspect you know who’s magic it is, and you have a something of theirs that would contain their magical signature, we could compare it.”
Sirius rested a hand on Harry’s head. “I think it might be his mother’s.”
Wanda raised an eyebrow. “What makes you say that?”
“She was working on a ritual to protect Harry,” Sirius said softly. “Something like a ward that would be embedded in his very skin. She was worried sick over the prophecy and its implications for her son.”
“Mama!” Harry cried.
“Yes, baby,” Sirius said softly. “Mama wanted to keep you safe.”
“Do you know what ritual?” Healer Banks asked. “I can only imagine its applications should you identify it.”
Sirius shook his head negatively. “Lily was a genius at runes and arithmancy,” he said. “I’m no slouch, but I’m not even certain I know what language she was using to build the runic array in his room.”
“Whatever she did, it worked,” Healer Banks murmured. “I shall have to do some research. But it looks as though the ward enacted, and while it couldn’t prevent damage wholesale, it did contain it, and the part of self that the caster sent along with it. In theory, we should be able to remove it from Harry’s head and dispel it.”
“Whatever it takes,” Sirius murmured.
Wanda agreed. “It can’t be healthy to have that there.”
“Not long-term, no,” Healer Banks allowed. “It certainly provides a clear connection to its caster, and that’s not a healthy state of things at all. With your permission, I’ll bring these diagnostics to a colleague in the Department of Mysteries who specializes in such rituals and see what we can turn up by way of a ritual to remove it. I suspect it will have to be a ritual, as it was a ritual that encased it. And, of course, we do not want the original curse to finish its deadly work.”
Wanda paled. “No, of course not.”
Healer Banks stepped back. “He’s a healthy little guy, otherwise.”
“Good to know,” Wanda said, picking Harry up to set on her hip. “Anything I should know about raising young magicals, from a health perspective? Apparently, I have two more in the adjoining room.”
Healer Banks laughed. “If you’d like, I can run a quick diagnostic on each. Something like a magical physical. You’ll find that most young magicals need more calories than the average non-magical, and you’ll also find that many have more energy than you’ll know quite what to do with. They should also be inoculated for magical diseases, such as Dragon Pox, as soon as is possible. Harry, here, has already had his.”
Wanda nodded decisively. “Come, Harry. Let’s get Wills and Eurus for their turns.”
They went out to the adjoining room to find Eurus in something of a stare-off with Minx. Tim seemed unconcerned, so Wanda ignored it and looked to Wills. “Wills, dear, we’re going to let the Healer do a bit of a magic scan on you to see how you’re progressing. You, too, Eurus.”
Eurus didn’t blink. “Yes, Mummy.”
Healer Banks raised an eyebrow, but she brought Wills into the study for his quick scan. “All normal, Mrs. Holmes. A few more calories would be good, and, of course, he needs the magical inoculations, which I don’t have with me. You should take care of those as soon as possible.”
Wills skipped back out to the other room, and Wanda followed. She passed Harry to Sirius, and then gestured to Eurus, who looked up without blinking. “Yes, Mummy?”
“Time for your scan, love,” Wanda said.
Eurus blinked, and looked back at Minx. “Until we meet again, Minx.”
“Of course, Miss,” Minx said, and popped out.
Healer Banks led the way back to the study. The scan she took of Eurus made her frown, and recast. A soft glow settled over her head.
“Well, that’s not good,” she said softly.
“What is it?” Wanda asked, concerned.
“There’s an old blood curse active in Eurus,” Healer Banks said. She flicked her wand and a swatch of paper popped out of it, lined with runes. “A very old curse. It looks like a family curse. I haven’t seen one of these in several years, and it was on an old pure-blood family.”
“What does it do?” Wanda asked.
“It inhibits the growth of a magical core, and in some cases, that can lead to physical and emotional problems, such as a lack of emotional affect and empathy or selective mutism,” Healer Banks said, and cast again. “Have you noticed anything like that?”
Wanda bit her lip. “I think that’s a conversation best had among the adults.”
Healer Banks looked up sharply. “I see. This kind of curse is passed down through family lines. May I cast on you?”
“Yes, of course,” Wanda said. She waited as Healer Banks cast.
“Nothing,” she said, looking at her scan. “Shall we ask for your husband to come in?”
“Please,” Wanda said, and looked down at her watch. “We have an appointment shortly, as well.”
“This won’t take more than a minute,” Healer Banks said quickly, and went to the door herself. “Mr. Holmes?”
Tim unfolded himself from the settee, where he’d been quietly talking with Arcturus while watching Sirius play an intriguing came of magical catch with Wills and Harry. “Yes?”
“May I cast a diagnostic on you? We’ve come across something rather unsettling that can only be passed down through a family,” Healer Banks said.
“Of course,” Tim said, and joined his wife and daughter in the study.
Banks cast, and Tim’s head started to glow.
“Interesting,” Healer Banks said. “You have the curse, but it’s inactive. Well. For a measure of it. It’s inhibited the growth of your magical core, which means, of course, that it’s atrophied. You won’t be able to recover any magic. But you don’t appear to be suffering from general ill effects from it. No mutism, no mental health problems?”
Tim, unperturbed, said, “No. Well, I occasionally have suffered from depression, but that’s been well controlled for quite some time.”
“In the magical world, depression often is a sign that something is wrong with a magical core,” Healer Banks explained. “In this case, you have a blood curse that is now inactive, as it’s done its work of inhibiting your core and keeping you from gaining the magical abilities that should have been yours by birthright.”
Tim narrowed his eyes. “How are such things possible?”
“They’re really not, not anymore,” Healer Banks said. “The casting of such has been banned internationally since before Grindelwald’s war. It was a favored tactic of some to get some of the old families off the political scene. A cure was found in the 1950s, and those who were known to be affected were treated. However, such is the nature of the curse that many affected by it passed into the non-magical world before a treatment can be rendered. We occasionally see it, or something similar, in new students at Hogwarts that appear to be Muggleborn. But for treatment to be effective, patients must be seen before age 11, when most get their wands. Core growth can still occur before age 17, but after that point, it will atrophy from disuse.”
Tim thought about that. “So it’s likely that my parents or grandparents were cursed?”
“It’s possible that it goes even further back,” Healer Banks said.
“Both of my parents were non-practicing magicals,” Tim said. “I assumed they didn’t want to be a part of the magical world, for their own reasons. I was a late baby, and an only child. They’re both deceased. They died within days of each other just after Wanda and I married.”
“Well, the good news, is that this kind of blood curse can now be treated,” Healer Banks said. “It’s a course of potions best taken over several weeks, but we’ve had good results for young children.”
Wanda looked at Tim, who looked at Eurus. “Eurus, would you like Healer Banks to help release your magic?”
Eurus looked thoughtful. “Will it make me better?”
“Better at what, darling?” Wanda asked quietly.
“I know there’s something wrong with me, Mummy,” Eurus said. “I remember loving Wills and playing with Wills and now I don’t feel very much at all for him.”
Healer Banks knelt to look Eurus right in the eyes. “This will help, Miss Eurus. You should feel much better. You should be able to feel when the potions are done, and if you can’t, you’ll tell me, and I will personally research ways to help you.”
Eurus looked at Healer Banks for a long minute, then at her parents, who tried their best to look supportive. “Then I will.”
Wanda nodded. “Right, then. We still will need to make our appointment at 10, Eurus. So say goodbye. We’ll arrange to see Healer Banks next week and begin treatment.”
“Okay, Mummy,” Eurus said quietly.
Wanda escorted Eurus to the receiving room while Tim stayed back, to ask a last question. “Would this course of treatment do anything for me?”
“I’m afraid not, Mr. Holmes,” Healer Banks said kindly. “But if you have any other relatives, particularly young relatives, you should have them brought in for a diagnostic soonest. And it might not go amiss to research your own history. If we can isolate the originator of the curse, it could help focus the potions regimen a bit more.”
Tim thought about that. “Are there particularly well known casters?”
“A few,” Healer Banks said. “Some have been lost to time, and some, of course, will never be known. We do have records going back to Grindelwald war of three particular British casters. Has your family name always been Holmes?”
“To my knowledge, yes,” Tim said slowly. “A Holmes has always been in service to the Crown.”
“Ah,” Healer Banks said. “And thus, we have motive. Do you know if your grandparents were similarly affected?”
“I don’t, no,” Tim admitted. “I shall have to do some research, and perhaps look at the family records.”
Healer Banks nodded. “In your research, keep an eye out for the names Dumbledore, Fletcher, or Figg. Those are our documented offenders.”
Tim really thought he’d reached the limit on his surprises for the week, but gamely asked, “Dumbledore as in the current Headmaster of Hogwarts?”
“Yes,” Banks said. “His father spent the last years of his life in Azkaban for crimes against non-magicals and magicals alike, though it’s not well known. At least two blood curses have been attributed to Brian Dumbledore. The other two casters are less well known.”
Tim thanked her, arranged for their appointment at her St. Mungo’s office the following week, and followed them out to the receiving room, where he checked his watch. “We just have time to leave now, loves. Eurus, come with Mummy and me. Wills, you and Harry be good for Sirius and Lord Black, please.”
Wills waved him off while Harry giggled madly, and Sirius conjured another ball of light as he said, “We’re under control. See you later. We’ll have luncheon ready at noon.”
Tim nodded, held a hand out to his wife and daughter, and touched the Portkey John Turner had made him. It would take them to a blind spot in his office in London, from whence his driver, James, would take the trio to the psychiatrist.
As they disappeared, Sirius turned to his young charges. “Who wants to go flying?”
The specialist looked grave.
“It is as you suspected, madam,” he informed Wanda in a private consultation after his evaluation. Tim took Eurus across the street for a soft drink while he left the diagnostic details to his more than capable wife.
“I believe you are correct in thinking that Eurus suffers from sociopathy,” the doctor, whose name Wanda kept forgetting, for some odd reason, informed her.
“What can be done?” Wanda asked.
“At this point, there’s very little that can be done,” the specialist said. “Sociopathy diagnoses in children are rare; we don’t often find that parents are particularly attuned to their children in a way where the possibility even occurs. Additionally, the lack of empathy makes treatment extraordinarily difficult. There have been some trials in the states involving teens that look promising. The premise is that if empathy can’t be felt, then perhaps it can be learned. It’s called cognitive empathy therapy, but as I said, it’s very new, involves older teens, and is very much experimental. The teens are confined to an institution already to minimize the damage they can do.”
Wanda absorbed all this, then asked, “Where might I find the papers and reports on this condition and its potential treatments?”
The man rifled through his desk and came up with a three-inch thick binder. “Your husband indicated you’d want as much research as you could. I had these copied for you.”
Wanda accepted the binder with thanks. “Would therapy of any other kind be useful?”
“No,” the specialist said. “We’ve found child sociopaths to be exceptionally good at manipulating their private therapists. And of course, the more brilliant the child, the more able to manipulate and plan.” He drew a deep breath. “Honestly, with a child of Eurus’ genius, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend institutionalization. But I am also reluctant to go that route given her age. I’ve included in your packet the contact information for the lead researcher on cognitive empathy therapy. If there’s any hope to be found for helping Eurus become a productive member of society, it’ll be there.”
Wanda thanked him, a bit dazed, and made her way across the street to meet Tim and Eurus, who was enjoying a fizzy drink.
“So I’m wrong, then, aren’t I?” Eurus said, without looking up.
“It does appear that way, love,” Wanda said softly. “But we have things we can do to help you feel right again. We’ll start with Healer Banks and her potions regimen, and I have information from a doctor who specializes in helping young people learn how to act, even if they can’t feel. Perhaps, with both, we can help you feel right again.”
“I know it doesn’t mean much to you at this point,” Tim added, “but we do love you, very much, and we want you to be able to feel love, belonging, and all those wonderful things, in return. We’ll do everything we can to help.”
Eurus looked at them, not blinking. “Mycroft will be unhappy.”
Wanda tipped her head to the side. “What?”
“He said with my level of sociopathy you’d have to put me in an institution sooner rather than later, that it would be easiest for everyone,” Eurus said. “Will you put me away, Mummy?”
Tim looked at his wife. He was more than overdue for a conversation with his eldest genius. “Not unless it becomes absolutely necessary for your safety and the safety of those around you,” Tim said firmly, to Wanda’s nod of agreement. “Mycroft might be a genius, but he is still only a boy, and he doesn’t know everything. Please listen to Mummy and Daddy on this. I will be talking to Mycroft.”
Eurus nodded, and sipped her drink.
Luncheon with the Blacks offered no small degree of hilarity.
Somehow, Wills’ hair had turned orange.
By the sheer number of giggles Harry broke into whenever he got a glimpse of it, Wanda thought she had a good idea about who was responsible for the new sartorial choice.
“Hmmm,” she mused directly to Wills. “I do think that color suits you, dear.”
Wills rolled his eyes. “It’s just play, Mummy. Sirius says he can change it back when I like.”
“Very well, then,” Wanda said, indulgently. “Did the pair of you enjoy your morning?”
“We fly!” Harry yelled excitedly.
“Pardon me?” Wanda said, raising an eyebrow at Sirius, who looked a little guilty.
“Training brooms, I promise,” he said quickly. “No more than a foot off the ground and I was there the whole time.”
“Training brooms?” Wanda repeated. “Explain.”
Sirius glanced at his grandfather, who looked equally flummoxed for a moment, before clearing his throat. “I suspect this is one of those things we simply assumed you knew about. My apologies. In the magical world, we can use specially handcrafted brooms for transportation. They fly. Some are quite fast and specialized for sports; others are meant for leisure riding. The ones we used today are for small children learning how to fly. Very safe, indeed.”
Wanda narrowed her gaze at the gentlemen, who both had the wisdom to look abashed, before she said, clearly, “Any activity that a non-magical mother might consider a safety risk must be cleared with me before it is practiced with my children. Are we clear, gentlemen?”
“Yes, ma’am.” “Yes, Madam Holmes.”
Wanda nodded, firmly. “Wills will push that boundary as far as you will let him, and I suspect Harry might be the same. If I am to trust you with their care, you will need to educate yourself, posthaste, on non-magical child-rearing. I will lend you some books.”
Arcturus and Sirius exchanged glances again, and Sirius nodded as Arcturus cleared his throat. “I truly apologize, Madam Holmes. In the magical world, cushioning charms and other magic make such activities low-risk, if well-supervised, and any injuries can be easily and quickly healed and forgotten. It simply didn’t occur to me that you might have objections.”
Wanda took that in, accepted it, and countered, “If that’s the case, how do you teach your children about responsibility and consequences?”
“Ah,” Arcturus said. “That can be challenging. And of course, the magical world has a series of dangers that many non-magicals would have difficulty imagining. Such as enchanted objects that might ensnare the senses, and any number of magical creatures that might do harm that cannot be easily repaired. But I do take your point, Madam.”
Tim said nothing, but quirked a brow in the pair’s direction. They understood that to mean Wanda spoke for the both of them, and said nothing more on the subject, which was hastily changed to uses for color charms.
Eurus pursed her lips. “So you can change anything you’d like to a different color?”
“Yes, of course,” Sirius said. “I can make Wills’ hair any color he’d like.”
“Try blue,” Wills urged, and Sirius obligingly swished his wand. Eurus hummed in satisfaction.
“Could you do stripes?” She asked. “Only I saw someone with pink and white striped hair and I liked it.”
“Where was that, darling?” Wanda asked.
“Oh, over in the park by the music studio,” Eurus said. “There was some kind of concert. His hair stood straight up!”
Sirius, who’d spent a fair amount of time clubbing in the Muggle world, smirked and gave Eurus a pink-and-white striped Mohawk, before conjuring a mirror for her to see.
“That’s just it!” Eurus said. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Sirius said. “Though you will need to ask your mother if you can keep it. It will wear off, and your hair will return to its natural state, within about six hours.”
“Six hours a good amount of time to enjoy that hairstyle, love,” Wanda said. “It’s otherwise not truly appropriate for your age.”
Eurus nodded, accepting the information, but her eyes slid sideways to Wills, who smirked at her from under his own blue curls.
Wanda had never even heard of the subject called Divination, but she could easily predict that her children were about to embark on a campaign of mischief.
Still, the morning had offered enough revelations, including hope for the future, that Wanda decided to let them have their bit of fun. She simply turned a weather eye on her children, and said, “No magic of any kind in public where any kind of non-magical can see. That’s now rule one. Clear?”
Wills and Eurus knew that tone, and Harry looked up at her, with a furrowed brow. She’d sounded like his Mummy.
“Yes, Mummy,” Wills and Eurus chorused, but a look at their eyes told Wanda they meant it.
Harry looked solemnly at Auntie Wanda. “‘Kay.”
She kissed his sweet little face. “Good boy, Harry. And thank you, my loves.”
They finished off luncheon with slices of cake and fruit, and at its conclusion, Wanda could see both Harry and Wills fading. “I think it’s time for a nap, my lads,” Wanda said. “Let’s be off to home, then.”
“Paddy?” Harry asked sleepily.
“Right here, Harry,” Sirius said, offering him a kiss on the forehead.
“Whenever Auntie Wanda wishes,” Sirius said solemnly.
Wanda smiled gently. “You’re welcome whenever you’d like, Sirius. And I think the morning’s work was a successful trial, don’t you? I should like to incorporate you into our regular tutoring schedule for Harry and Wills, if you don’t mind, and of course, we’ll set up a regular visiting schedule. You are, after all, Harry’s magical guardian and his godfather.”
Tim looked up from where he was helping Eurus find her hat. “Ah, yes. Wills and Eurus will need a magical guardian as well.”
“For students who come from the non magical world, their Head of House at Hogwarts becomes their magical guardian when they enter school,” Sirius explained. “Up until that point, it’s really a matter of assigning a guardian, should it become an issue. I’d be glad to stand for both Wills and Eurus, if you’d like.”
Wanda looked to Tim. “We should have Mycroft tested as well.”
“Ah, yes,” Tim looked to Arcturus. “Our oldest is a prodigy with an eidetic memory. He’s quite advanced intellectually for his age, and is currently with his tutor. May be we bring him by sometime next week?”
Arcturus nodded. “Of course.”
Mycroft was not in the least impressed with his parents’ sojourn. This might have had something to do with the lecture soundly delivered upon him after dinner, which Tim delivered ensconced in his own home study with his eldest.
“Frankly, Mycroft, it’s abusive in the extreme to tell a six-year-old, regardless of her intellect or level of affect, that her parents will be giving her away because of something wrong with her,” Tim said calmly and sternly. “I am deeply disappointed in you, and I’m considering disallowing your early admission to Harrow.”
Mycroft visibly winced. “But, what I said wasn’t a lie!”
“It most certainly was not a truth,” Tim said. “We’ve reassured her that she will not be institutionalized if there’s anything else that can be done, and we’ve taken steps today that will, we hope, keep that from happening.”
Mycroft opened his mouth, closed it, then carefully asked, “What steps?”
Tim looked at his eldest sternly. “Had you bothered to research the matter thoroughly, which I am assured you did not, you would know that there are experimental therapies that have had good results in the States. Furthermore, the fact is that not enough research has been done on her illness to make a defacto statement such as the one you delivered upon your sister a truth, by any stretch. You will not have any input into the placement of your siblings. Period. Am I clear?”
Mycroft bit his lower lip. “I thought I knew best.”
“Mycroft, you are not quite eight years old. While eminently capable for an eight-year-old, and intellectually well beyond your years, socially and empathetically you are, in fact, eight. And that means, by any definition, that you do not know best on those matters,” Tim explained. “Should you begin to believe that you do know best, I expect you to run your conclusions past me or past your mother. We are both capable, socially intelligent beings whose job it is, in fact, to help you learn these skills.”
“I understand, Father,” Mycroft said, quietly. “But Harrow?”
“Let us have a frank discussion, son,” Tim said, and gestured for Mycroft to sit on the sofa near his desk, rising himself to sit next to him and signaling the end of the lecture portion of the program. “I am concerned, frankly, by your lack of social skills. While I recognize you can only gain those by being social, for which school might, indeed, be the solution, I am concerned that you place too much emphasis on the intellectual over the practical, and too much emphasis on pragmatism over compassion. These are not terrible traits, in the main, but I worry that your later life and career will suffer without attention to proper social development. Entering school ahead of your peers in age will make proper social development challenging, if not outright impossible.”
Mycroft thought about that. “I see your point, Father, and I bow to your wisdom on that subject. But I really want to go to Harrow.”
Tim regarded his son a moment. “How about a compromise?”
“What kind of compromise?” Mycroft asked.
“I will allow you to attend Harrow as a day student, but you will take two years to complete your course rather than one. In your free time, you will work in service to the community,” Tim proposed. “You may choose, with your mother’s help, one or two community organizations with which to be involved, to help and support with your unique skill set.”
Mycroft’s brows drew together, a certain sign of deep thought. “To what end?”
“To build social skills and develop empathy for the average person,” Tim said easily. “If you follow this course of action, I will support your proposed next steps, and if your social skills are up to par as I expect them to be, I will allow you to apprentice with me during the summers in the Queen’s service.”
The brows went up. “Really?”
“Really,” Tim allowed. “A Holmes has always served the British Royal Family. We’ve talked about this. I want you to have time to determine that is indeed the course you wish to follow, as well, but I think an apprenticeship would give you that time. And you absolutely need better social skills to make a career of service.”
Mycroft sat up straight. “I would like to try, Father.”
“Then let it be as I have said,” Tim decreed, loftily, earning a half-smile from his son. “And Mycroft, I want you to go with us to the Blacks’ next time, to see if you have any magic to train. I’ve seen no sign of it, but your siblings have some, and I’d like to factor that into your plans if it exists. Lord Black tells me that your sort of memory can be a magical gift.”
“How fascinating,” Mycroft said. “I look forward to finding out.”
Children settled, Tim and Wanda relaxed into their own bed.
“Busy day,” Wanda commented.
Tim agreed with a grunt, his eyes covered by one forearm across the face.
Wanda settled in next to him, and lay her head on his chest. “All will be well, won’t it, Tim?”
He moved his arms to put them around her. “Of course it will, darling. Of course it will.”