Don't look back in Anger

Can some angry words change everything?


10. The Wizengamot

Cornelius sat in the Wizengamot chair reserved for the Minister of Magic, wondering how much longer he would get to keep it. The seat next to him was empty and Cornelius was sorrier than he could say about that fact. Had Dolores been sitting there, he would have gladly wrapped his hands around that pudgy neck of hers and strangled the stupid witch. What in the name of Merlin was going on in that sick thing Dolores called a mind when she thought killing Harry Potter would possibly help their position.

His thoughts returned at once to the current proceedings, drawn there by something unexpected he just heard mentioned - could he possibly save himself here?

The prison governor was finishing giving evidence to the Wizengamot when he found himself being interrupted by the Minister of Magic.

"Did you say Dolores Umbridge left with you-know-who and his death eaters?"

"Yes, Minister, and she carried the dark mark. The sleeve o' her robe was torn, leavin' it clearly visible."

Cornelius felt the first surge of hope run through him. He could sell the entire incident as a plot by you-know-who to get at the boy-who-lived, with the Dark Lord's loyal servant, Dolores Umbridge, manipulating the situation to see Harry killed. Once more Cornelius glanced over to the other empty Wizengamot seat, this one really had him worried. With his good friend Lucius in the chamber, Cornelius just might be able to pull his great escape off. Without his support though, his survival as Minister of Magic would be at best a coin toss. Where was Lucius?

As the prison governor left the chamber, Amelia Bones took to the floor. She was well aware Fudge was trying to keep the facts of this situation quiet, or at least put his own spin on them. Voldemort emptying Azkaban at dawn blew that option right out the water, and forced this emergency Wizengamot meeting. Amelia intended that everything else would be dragged into the open here, and Fudge's part in this entire fiasco should see him kicked out the ministry - if not heading for a cell while charges were brought against him.

"We've just heard how the Dark Lord himself led the attack on Azkaban in the early hours of this morning. What you may not know was that he had a busy night. The Dark Lord also led the attack on my home. Only having a portkey made by Chief Warlock Dumbledore got my niece and I out of a situation that would have otherwise seen the Bones family wiped out by these scum."

Amelia needed a drink of water to steady herself after saying that, only she knew just how close the Bones family had been to that terrible outcome. Had the death eaters gotten their hands on her, Amelia wasn't certain Susan would have used the portkey to leave their home. It was time though for the fightback to start, and there was no time like the present.

"Earlier on in the evening there was a death eater attack on St Mungo's, their target being the kissed body of Harry Potter. The Chief Warlock and I were visiting the hospital and responded to the attack. Eight death eaters were being held back by the two aurors I'd placed there on protection detail. Only one of the eight death eaters escaped - and not without leaving a piece of themselves behind."

Amelia had them hanging off her every word, and she was only getting started. "The muggle home of Miss Granger, Mister Potter's girlfriend, was then attacked and burned to the ground. Thankfully Miss Granger is a very intelligent witch and anticipated this action. Her family were nowhere near their home - rather they remain safe at an undisclosed location. The Weasley home was also targeted and destroyed. Arthur Weasley not only managed to get his family out of their burning home unharmed, he captured one of the attacking death eaters who broke into his home too. Since the remaining seven death eaters who attacked St Mungo's aren't fit to face trial at the moment - two of them are actually dead - we will try the death eater Arthur captured here today."

Hearing that two death eaters had perished in the attack almost started a riot about 'excessive force' being used, this action was only avoided by the shock of a restrained Peter Pettigrew coming through the floor in the accused's chair. This was also the signal for Amelia's aurors to flood into the chamber.

Fudge was on his feet and demanding to be heard. "Madam Bones, what is the meaning of this?"

She was more than ready for this interruption however, and in no mood to take shit from anyone - nothing was going to stop her today. "You used a ministerial decree to throw a fourteen year old wizard in Azkaban, and also to prevent me carrying out my duties - investigating the murder of two wizards should have been handled by the D.M.L.E. Today nothing is going to stop me doing the job I was appointed to do. Justice will be carried out in this chamber, and it will be seen to be done by all present. You were informed a year ago this wizard was very much alive, and a death eater - you didn't believe Harry Potter then. You chose not to believe Mister Potter again when he told you Voldemort had returned, aided by his loyal death eater, Peter Pettigrew. Does anyone here doubt that fact now?"

This was greeted with utter silence, since they were effectively staring straight at the proof. "Today there will be no cover-up. This chamber will hear the truth, then we will decide where our country goes from there."

Truth serum was administered to the prisoner, allowing Amelia to quickly establish beyond doubt this was indeed Peter Pettigrew. She then led him through the night the Potters were murdered, and how he faked his own death mere days later.

Turning to the chamber, Amelia left no room for errors by painting the complete picture to the entire Wizengamot. "The reason this discrepancy wasn't picked up at Sirius Black's trial is very simple, Black never received one. Using emergency powers from the last war, Sirius Black was simply sent to Azkaban for the rest of his life. The head of the Black family currently has a death sentence hanging over his head, issued by Minister Fudge. After hearing the evidence here today, that's an order I'm immediately rescinding. We can only hope to get Lord Black inside this chamber to formally apologise for the wrongs the ministry has visited upon him. Since he is Harry Potter's godfather, I doubt an apology will be anywhere near enough."

The stunned silence this produced allowed Amelia to lead Pettigrew through Voldemort's plans for Harry Potter, especially how he had the lad entered in the tournament. Peter admitting he killed Cedric Diggory effectively cooked Fudge's goose. When he began naming fellow death eaters who had responded to his master's summons that night in the graveyard, Fudge was carved up and served on a silver salver. The first name to come out of Pettigrew's mouth was Lucius Malfoy.

As Pettigrew began naming death eaters who were actually inside the chamber, the aurors were quick to respond. Since Amelia had seen Harry's memory when he visited her, and already knew these names from his letter, teams of her aurors had been allocated their targets before entering the chamber. These individuals were stunned and restrained as Pettigrew named them.

There was a break in the proceedings as Peter emitted an ear-piercing scream of pain. His silver hand had been frantically flexing and trying to escape, Peter's arm being securely fastened to the heavy chair easily prevented this. The metallic hand however had just very painfully ripped itself off Pettigrew's arm. Using its fingers like some demented but determined five-legged silver spider, the now unattached appendage quickly scrambled its way up Peter's chest before locking those powerful fingers on his throat. Pettigrew's screams were instantly silenced by those metal fingers closing off his airway.

The prisoner's blood was spurting out of his ravaged arm, there were also pieces of Pettigrew's flesh still attached to the silver hand that was now choking the life out of him. This gory and macabre sight froze everyone in the chamber - well, not quite everyone.

Tomas Avery had noticed the placing of the aurors, including the pair who were standing next to him. That rat, Pettigrew, might not have said his name yet but he couldn't see a little thing like that stopping Bones today. Everyone knew Fudge was finished and they had hoped to get their own person elected today. With Malfoy going missing, the Dark Lord had trusted him with that task. Even a fool could see that wouldn't be happening now - and he was no fool.

There was no way he was leaving this chamber under his own power today, meaning he would be stuck in some cell while waiting on his master to rescue him. Since their master didn't reward failure, Avery decided it would be to his advantage to offer their master some incentive to rescue him quickly. His wand was in his experienced hand as the killing curse flew true and straight - straight for Amelia Bones.

An artificial hand ripping itself off the arm it had been attached to and then attacking its former owner was such an unbelievable event, even someone as battle-savvy as Amelia froze for a few seconds. Seeing that green curse come towards her left Amelia thinking these were her last ever few seconds too. Thankfully there was someone in the chamber who was even more experienced than her in dealing with strange and dangerous situations like they now found themselves in.

The table that held all the old tomes containing laws, minutes of previous meetings and other records supposedly vital to the running of the country had never been put to such good use. The wand of Albus Dumbledore had them zooming across the chamber, just in time to intercept the curse that would have ended Amelia's life. While the blasted pieces of parchment gently fluttered down on the chamber like confetti, the enraged aurors took out the remaining as yet unnamed targets before anyone else tried to kill their boss.

As order was once more brought to the chamber, sadly there was nothing that could be done for Pettigrew. The hand proved resistant to all magic cast at it, only dissolving into a puddle of inert metal after Peter was dead.

A grateful Amelia nodded to Dumbledore in thanks before turning her attention to the rest of the chamber. Indicating the stunned members, including the one who had just tried to murder her, Amelia used the shedload of adrenaline that event had dumped into her system to verbally blast the rest of her fellow members.

"Here is a perfect example of what we have become, and also what we are facing." As proof of her last comment, Peter's dead body visually portrayed Amelia's point better than any words she could have used.

"Unless the country wakes up and meets this threat head-on, how many of us will die at the hands of this madman and his rabid followers? Throwing the bravest young wizard it has ever been my pleasure to meet into Azkaban for telling the truth is not the way to win this civil war. Make no mistake, that's what our country is facing here. Since I clearly don't think our current Minister of Magic is up to this challenge, I propose a vote of no confidence in Cornelius Fudge."

Now that this proposal was out in the open, fellow members couldn't wait to put their names to that. The unconscious and bound members who had been sitting amongst them mere moments ago were now lying on the floor awaiting trial - this certainly helped with their decision.

Since Fudge couldn't vote on this motion, the result was unanimous. As he stood to leave, Amelia had some final words for the now former minister.

"Cornelius, if I thought you in any way deliberately colluded with the Death Eaters, you wouldn't be walking out of here. You're a weak little man who let Malfoy's wealth go to your head and fuel your incompetence. He, like the rest of the trash lying here, will face ministerial justice. Discovering the exact extent of your involvement with these criminals might see you back with us sooner than you think."

Cornelius Fudge left the chamber, now hoping it was for the last time. He would be sitting in a different chair if he were to return. Fudge was now a beaten and broken man, his reputation left in ruins.

Catching her breath, Amelia then pushed on with the next part of their plan. "In our hour of need, our country needs a strong leader - one not afraid to stand against the forces of evil that would see everything we hold dear torn down or shrouded in darkness. I nominate Albus Dumbledore to be our next Minister of Magic..."

All eyes turned to the old wizard, causing him to stand and address the chamber. Sweeping his hand through the air saw all the blasted pieces of parchment gently swirl around the chamber and begin to reform themselves into the books Avery's curse had torn apart. The table also repaired itself and was soon back in position, ready to receive the tomes it usually held. While appearing calm and composed, Albus was seething on the inside. Knowing who was watching this, and what he must ask of them later, Avery's actions had just taken away any choice Albus had on how to deal with this matter. He was still Albus Dumbledore though, and easily capable of turning the current situation to his advantage - however distasteful that conclusion might be to him. As the last repaired tome floated back into its previous position, Albus was ready to address the chamber.

"These witches and wizards have no regard for our laws, lives, or our customs - only their sick leader's wishes are to be obeyed. A very bright young witch, one certainly not associated with the death eaters, recently rather forcefully pointed out to me that we won't win this fight by following rules our opponents at best ignore - or at worse use against us. Thomas Avery tried his very best to murder Madam Bones inside the very heart of our government, safe in the knowledge we would incarcerate him for his master to soon free - that state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. While I'm sure Miss Granger will be delighted to hear our laws literally saved Madam Bones today, those same laws have to be able to adapt to deal with this problem. Fixing our country will be nowhere near as easy as repairing those books - it will require hard choices being made by all of us. If my country needs me though, I will of course serve."

Since what Albus had just done was a feat of magic beyond almost all of them, they took his comment that repairing their country would be much harder to heart. When Augusta Longbottom became the first to seconded Amelia's proposal, the result was never in any doubt. By another unanimous vote, Albus Dumbledore became the new Minister of Magic.

As he took the seat Albus always swore he never wanted, it was time to start acting ministerial. "My first task as Minister of Magic should be to appoint a replacement Head of the Wizengamot, I am going to propose that position be temporarily held by Madam Bones. My reason for this is simple, we just had a practical demonstration that standing in the Death Eaters' way will see a killing curse heading in your direction. Since Madam Bones already holds that distinction, due to her being head of the D.M.L.E., it would save anyone else being placed in that same deadly position."

That his first suggestion as Minister of Magic wasn't well received pleased Albus no end. There were members clamouring for the position to be filled, claiming not to do so would be cowardly in the extreme. In the space of ten minutes, an enraged and outspoken Augusta Longbottom was duly elected Chief Witch. After hearing that those who had destroyed her family were once more free, Augusta was a witch who really wanted to see justice brought to their country.

The newly elected Minister of Magic once more took control and directed proceedings in the direction he and Amelia had earlier discussed. "Before we deal with the accused members currently lying on the floor, there is some previous business I think we should tidy up first. I call Lord Sirius Orion Black to this chamber."

This resulted in a moment of confusion before Sirius entered the chamber.

"Lord Black has been monitoring today's session from an adjacent room, including witnessing the fate of his former friend." As Dumbledore spoke, the chair Peter's body was still chained to once more slipped into the floor. Order had been restored and six new chairs arrived for the accused Wizengamot members to be restrained in. Albus then spoke to Sirius directly.

"Lord Black, we have all heard evidence here today that proves you were sent to Azkaban unjustly. On behalf of the Ministry of Magic, I would like to offer a formal apology. Know that you will leave this chamber today a free wizard, with no stain on your character. Madam Bones will be heading up an investigation to discover how this travesty of justice was allowed to happen, compensation for the wrongs visited upon your person will form part of her duties during that investigation."

There were cries of 'hear, hear' from some members as this move proved popular inside the chamber. It was now time for Albus to deviate somewhat from their earlier agreed upon plans.

"I would now like to call Lord Black's godson to this chamber, another wizard who this ministry has wronged - Mister Harry James Potter."

This left the Wizengamot members staring at their new Minister and wondering if they had made a mistake, he was clearly not playing with a full deck. Amelia and Sirius meanwhile knew Dumbledore was crazy - crazy like a fox.

Harry entered the chamber to total silence, a silence that was never going to last. It broke rather like a dam, that first trickle of noise soon becoming a raging torrent. Albus let it continue for a few minutes, knowing he needed to let the initial surge pass. It was now time to restore order though.

"Fellow members, the young wizard who stands before us has also been harmed by this Ministry, something we need to put right today. The former occupant of this chair encumbered this chamber with quite a unique problem. Due to his involvement in the Tri-wizard Tournament, former Minister Fudge abused his authority to declare Harry an of age wizard - a decision that is magically irreversible and sees him take on the mantle of being the Head of the Potter family. Being of age was then used as an excuse to place Mister Potter in Azkaban, something else that will fall under Madam Bones' investigation's remit. We all heard Pettigrew admit to murdering Cedric Diggory. I, and a few of my staff witnessed Barty Crouch Junior confess to murdering his father - before former Minister Fudge had the escaped convict kissed by a dementor."

His attention then turned to Harry. "Mister Potter, I would like to offer you a formal apology from your ministry. Like your godfather, you will leave this chamber today a free wizard with no stain on your character."

It was Augusta who asked the question they all wanted to know the answer to, her shock showing as her decorum slipped. "But Albus, we all heard the prison governor say Harry had been kissed - they had to chase a dementor out of his cell. How is this possible?"

With a wry smile, Albus gave the chamber the answer that had been agreed upon. "Chief Witch, fellow Wizengamot members, it was almost fourteen years ago the same young wizard survived a killing curse from Lord Voldemort - banishing the Dark Lord in the process. We didn't know how he survived then, rather the country just rejoiced that he did. I for one certainly expressed that emotion when discovering Harry had cheated death - again."

While the chamber digested and accepted that view - just be happy Harry Potter was still with them - Albus' eyes were in full twinkle mode as the next phase of his scheme was put into operation.

"Mister Potter, considering what has already happened here today, would you consent to sharing your memory of Tom Riddle's return with the chamber? It would help clarify the minds of members who will soon be trying these accused death eaters."

When phrased like that, Harry couldn't really refuse. Albus wasn't finished though - not by a long shot. "I think we should invite the rest of your friends into the chamber too, this is something I would wish for as many people as possible to see."

Now addressing the rest of the chamber, Albus brought them up to speed. "It should be obvious by now I had some prior knowledge of events before beginning today's session. Knowing that the country thinking the boy-who-lived had perished at the hands of the ministry would do irreparable harm in our fight against the dark forces currently lined against us, Mister Potter and his party arrived in Hogwarts this morning to try and prevent that happening. They have been watching today's session from an adjacent room. Make no mistake, Mister Potter easily had the means to remove himself and his friends from this country, a country that had thrown both him and his godfather into Azkaban. Since we thought Mister Potter was as good as dead, no one would even be looking for him. I for one will be eternally grateful this intrinsically moral young wizard didn't choose that option, and instead gave us this opportunity to show our appreciation for that loyalty."

The Grangers, Lovegoods and Remus were now shown to seats inside the chamber, Dan and Emma had already been supplied with robes to save them standing out as muggles. After Harry placed the memory in the viewing pensieve, both he and Sirius then sat with their friends. Hermione and Luna knew exactly what was coming and would be helping their families through something that would be incredibly difficult for them to watch.

As Madam Bones started the memory, Hermione was immediately called into action. Harry had started the memory at the final stage of the third task. Seeing an acromantula attack Harry had Emma shrieking and covering her eyes with her hands.

"Mum, you need to remember Harry is fine - and sitting right next to you!"

As Emma uncovered her eyes, one arm went around her daughter while the other ensnared Harry. He had lived this, Emma only had to watch it - she would try to be strong for the young couple. Dan was sitting between Hermione and Luna, wanting to cover his own eyes. Luna had no comfort to offer at the moment.

"There's a lot worse to come." Xeno was sitting on the other side of his daughter, he slipped his hand into hers. Luna gratefully clasped her father's hand as the memory ran its terrible course.

Pettigrew's almost casual murder of Cedric drew gasps and growls inside the chamber. If the death eater wasn't already dead then the Members of the Wizengamot would certainly have voted for that to be his fate - his part in the ritual to resurrect the Dark Lord only hardened the opinions of those watching.

Voldemort calling his followers to him instantly explained how Amelia had known exactly who to target inside the chamber. The Dark Lord's taunting and then torturing of Harry meant that, amongst their group, only the three teens didn't have tears in their eyes. Cedric's ghost asking Harry to take his body back to his parents had most of the chamber joining them in having to wipe moisture from their cheeks.

Emma was in bits, clinging to Harry and Hermione as if letting either of them go might change the outcome of the memory. Sirius and Remus were sitting on Harry's other side. When they had seen the ghosts of those Voldemort had killed start to leave his wand, both had known what was eventually coming. It didn't help though, neither was prepared for James and Lily appearing - offering encouragement to their son in his fight against Voldemort. Emma had Harry pretty well wrapped up, Sirius still managed to find his godson's right arm and clung to that while the fat tears rolled unchecked down his cheeks.

The memory ended with a battered, bruised and bloody Harry lying on the grass at Hogwarts. He had one arm tightly wrapped around a dead Cedric Diggory while his other hand clasped Albus Dumbledore's wrist. Harry whispered his warning. "He's back, Voldemort."

In the shocked silence that had descended over the chamber, Harry's whispered warning was clearly heard. That this same young wizard who clearly risked his life to bring his friend's body home was arrested for supposedly murdering that same friend by the head of their ministry was a shame that would be hard to purge.

They had all run the full gamut of emotions while watching that memory, horror, rage, relief and even joy - joy that this young wizard had emerged triumphant from a situation very few others would have survived. Surviving a dementors kiss now didn't seem such a big deal after witnessing that memory.

Joy was the emotion that won in the end as one of the members stood and began applauding Harry's efforts and achievement. It soon became a standing ovation as the entire chamber was now on its feet, clapping and cheering. An embarrassed Harry had to endure even Emma standing and clapping, Hermione made up for it by squeezing past her mother to offer him comfort the best way she knew how - she kissed her boyfriend's embarrassment away. This increased the cheering inside the chamber but neither teen was complaining or caring.

Albus again let the chamber go, knowing exactly what was fuelling this outburst. They arrived in this chamber today thinking Voldemort had all but won the civil war now raging in their country. Harry Potter being alive gave them hope, watching Harry stand up to Voldemort and his followers increased that hope exponentially. Their saviour was not only alive, he was clearly up to the job of saving them again. Having Harry leave the country would see most of that hope leave with him, Albus couldn't allow that to happen. After Fudge however, the new Minister of Magic would need to take an entirely different approach to the problem.

Harry Potter would have to be enticed to stay in Britain, rather than coerced. Looking at the group around the lad, Albus also understood this was a package deal. All of those sitting there would need to have their very genuine fears appeased, making his task much more difficult - but not impossible.

As the applause began to fade, Albus judged this as the correct time to begin the next phase of his scheme to keep Harry in the country. "Earlier in this session, Madam Bones called Mister Potter the bravest young wizard she'd ever met - and that was before she watched this memory with us. Is there anyone here who doubts her claim now?"

There was no answer to that question, how could you answer negatively to that? "As well as facing Voldemort down in front of his own followers that night, by attending today's Wizengamot session, Mister Potter has dealt the dark forces a massive blow. The Ministry has already had to apologise to Mister Potter and his godfather for their mistreatment, I think it's now time to show Mister Potter our appreciation for everything he has done for us. For outstanding bravery, in the face of overwhelming odds, I nominate Harry James Potter to be awarded an Order of Merlin, First Class."

The reaction this time was almost organic in nature as approval after approval built into a thunderous wave of noise that rolled over the chamber to engulf their visitors. Albus was smiling again as a delighted Miss Granger attempted to hug the life out of her boyfriend while Sirius and Remus clapped him on the back in congratulations. The Lovegoods were busy explaining to the Granger parents exactly what this meant before those four also got in on the act. Any doubts Albus had about Miss Lovegood's claim of Harry being one of her best friends vanished as they hugged each other in celebration, with a beaming Miss Granger looking on.

If Albus was honest with himself, Harry deserved this award after battling Tom and the basilisk back in his second year. A child couldn't be awarded an Order of Merlin though, so that would legally have changed Harry's status then. At that particular time, Harry Potter being considered an adult would have been a disaster for the light side. Since that idiot Fudge had already changed Harry's status, Albus lost nothing here - and hopefully made some gains. It was now time for phase two.

Albus asked for quiet and eventually received it. "It has been publicly documented that Mister Potter intended to leave Britain. In my role as Headmaster of Hogwarts, I currently have legally completed forms from all three teens sitting there, withdrawing them from Hogwarts to enrol in Beauxbaton - and who could blame them?"

It was obvious from the stares now coming from the members of the Wizengamot that a few of them certainly would like to, Albus provided a timely reminder. "Mister Potter was forced to compete in a ministry sponsored tournament by a ministry official. In the fist task he had to face a Hungarian Horntail - with all his peers as an audience. In the second, one of his best friends was held hostage beneath the Black Lake. While all this was taking place, both he and his now girlfriend, Miss Granger, were being publicly vilified in our country's best selling newspaper. I hardly need remind you what happened at the last task, we all just witnessed most of that for ourselves. What we didn't see was a still injured Harry being dragged out of a Hogwarts infirmary bed and then flung into a ministry cell. Add to that then being transported to Azkaban, tortured by an unforgivable curse before dementors were allowed into his cell - all at the hands of the Ministry of Magic..."

Dumbledore's comments left them feeling sick, all except the visitors. Alarm bells had started ringing there, but that was before the new Minister of Magic just painted a very accurate and effective picture of exactly why they wanted to leave the country. Now they were more puzzled than worried - puzzled to exactly where Dumbledore was taking this. The entire chamber didn't have long to wait until they found out.

"To have any chance of convincing these youngsters to stay in our country, we have to demonstrate that this is a far different Ministry than the one they are used to dealing with. A Ministry that's not afraid to meet this evil that's trying to overthrow our country head on. Last night I witnessed two brave aurors ready to lay down their lives while protecting the hospital room that held Mister Potter - that's as it should be. We should not expect mere children to fight our battles for us, rather have the guts to stare evil unflinchingly in the eye and say we're coming to get you. This chamber elected me to lead and that is the direction I intend to lead us. It starts here, it stars now, it starts with the members we suspect of being death eaters who are sitting right in front of us. We have to deal with this problem once and for all, otherwise we will be condemning our country's children to a dark and dismal future."

As Hermione sat and watched, the power and charisma seemed to radiate off the new Minister of Magic. She was reminded of something Harry said needed to happen, Dumbledore's army was now on the march - and the new Minister clearly had his eye on recruiting them for the cause. To be honest, Hermione agreed with every word Dumbledore had said so far. She knew there would be a pitch coming in their direction later, glances from Harry and Luna confirmed they understood that too. She wasn't too worried though, any pitch would have to satisfy the concerns of the five adults determined to protect them. Convincing her mum, dad, Sirius, Remus and Xeno would be some ask.

Thomas Avery awoke to discover he was chained to a suspect chair in the Wizengamot chamber, his sleeve had also been cut away to reveal his dark mark. Glancing along the line of chairs, it was clear Bones had gotten all of them. The shock for Avery was Dumbledore sitting in the minister's chair - how the hell had that happened?

Amelia wasted no time with this one. The entire chamber had seen Avery attempt to murder her with an unforgivable killing curse - he was going down and would be used as an example to the other five. "Thomas Avery, your dark mark and your actions make you an enemy of this country. Have you anything to say in your defence?"

"Enjoy your power while you can, Bones. Our master has marked you for death, no one has ever survived for long after that..."

"Excuse me, but you're talking absolute rubbish!"

Avery's head was not the only one that whipped around at that. Funnily enough, those other heads all belonged to people now chained to their new seats inside the chamber. The chains may be severely restricting his movement but Avery still spotted the speaker out of the corner of his eye. "Potter! It can't be..."

"Why can't it be, because your master wants me dead? He's had a few chances at me now, you even witnessed the last one, and I'm still here. I have no intention of granting his wishes."

While all six death eaters were shocked at this development, Amelia was sure she now saw some fear mixed in there too. It was time to amplify that fear. "Thomas Avery, by your own words you admit to being a death eater - and end forever the lie you were under the imperius curse during the last conflict. Your actions here today demonstrate a total disregard for our laws and any life - other than your own. I propose we find him guilty and waste no more time with this one."

"You're still a dead witch, Bones, so let's get on with this farce."

The smirk never left Avery's face, even when the chamber found him guilty - there really was no other verdict possible. Albus Dumbledore then had the Death Eater's smirk crumbling like puff pastry.

"Thomas Avery, you have been found guilty of some very serious crimes. Since incarceration isn't really a viable option for captured Death Eaters, and you so clearly demonstrated that you are a cold blooded killer, we are left with only one possible decision. Tonight at midnight, you shall be taken into the death chamber and passed through the veil. Until that time you will be held in solitary confinement, that should give you one final opportunity to repent about those you have murdered in the name of your Dark Lord."

Avery was so shocked at that sentence, he couldn't speak. it was only when his chair began to sink into the floor he began arguing for his life. "You can't do this to me... I'm a pureblood... I'm a member of the Wizengamot... I demand you release me..." The floor closed over Thomas Avery but the effect his sentence had on the other five accused was far from over. Their courage and confidence sank into the floor with Avery, they were now terrified and began shouting over each other as they pleaded for their lives.

With their air of invincibility now crushed, Amelia could begin the trial in ernest. Four silencing charms and a dose of veritaserum later and the chamber began hearing the real horrors these death eaters perpetrated. Rape, torture, murder, arson - it all came out in gory detail. As did the names of every death eater each prisoner knew.

One by one they were sentenced to the veil. The last two pleaded for their livesthe instant their silencing charms were lifted to begin their questioning. Names, gold, family members - anything and everything was offered as payment to escape this punishment. In each case veritaserum was administered and in every case the veil was more than justified as their punishment. As the last convicted death eater was lowered into the ground, the Chief Witch brought to an end one of the most traumatic sessions in the history of the Wizengamot.

As expected, Dumbledore asked to see the group in the Minister's Office. Hermione immediately countered by asking if Madams Bones and Longbottom could attend too, Dumbledore agreeing at once lessened a good deal of the tension amongst those invited.


The Minister's Office was every bit as large as the Headmaster's, though nowhere near as quirky. Albus' wand soon provided seats for everyone. There was also tea and coffee provided before Albus got directly to the reason he had invited everyone here.

"What you witnessed today was nothing more than act one. Amelia will now be setting her department to arrest those names we collected today, they too will face a trial where truth serum will be used..."

Emma's teacup was rattling off her teeth as she tried to get that precious liquid into her body. Listening to the atrocities those people had carried out shocked and revolted her. She had never been an advocate of the death penalty but Emma thought each and every one of them deserved to lose their lives for the horrendous crimes they had committed.

It was Xeno who chipped in with a question for Dumbledore. "We now know they're holed up in Malfoy Manor, why don't you go after them there?"

Amelia actually answered him, seeing that the others were interested in this point too. "Malfoy Manor is bristling with wards, Lucius didn't skimp with that. The manor itself is also sturdily built, and very defendable. Add in the new recruits from Azkaban and the dementors, we would be left fighting a pitched battle on their turf that we could possibly lose. If we lost, Britain would probably fall to the Dark Lord soon after. We need to knock out his support structure, letting witches and wizards know what awaits captured death eaters should certainly restrict his recruitment efforts too. We're going after Voldemort a piece at a time..."

Remembering the horcruxes, the group now understood they had to be dealt with first.

Albus then zeroed in on his main targets. Harry staying in Britain would only happen if Hermione was there too, and that would only be achieved by convincing her parents. "Mister and Mrs Granger, you won't be aware of just how momentous what happened in the chamber was today..."

Xeno was quick to confirm what the new Minister of Magic just said. "Even at the height of the last war, most of the Wizengamot were too afraid of Voldemort to do anything about the problem."

Nodding his gratitude, Albus continued his pitch. "As I'm sure Harry has told you, Voldemort would go after your daughter to get at him. I remember an eleven year old Harry who jumped onto the back of a twelve foot mountain troll to try and protect your daughter, and they've only gotten closer since that Halloween. I heard you mention false identities and living in a different country, that is an option that could work. Bear in mind though, you would probably have to deal with people on the edge of our society to get the proper documents, back stories and all the other such things that go along with that option."

All could clearly see the sadness in Dumbledore's demeanour as he continued. "These are the type of people though that the death eaters commonly deal with. A large reward offered for people fitting your description could see that information getting into the wrong hands. Harry's parents tried to hide, and chose who they thought was a close friend to trust with their secret too. We heard the truth of how that ended today. Death Eaters don't give warnings - if they find you then it's over."

Dan wasn't cowed by this in the slightest and, after hearing the questioning of those death eaters, more determined than ever to protect his family. There treatment of muggles and 'mudbloods' as mere things, subhumans to be used however they decreed, had sickened Dan. Only knowing that all witches and wizards weren't like that stopped him immediately dragging his family out of Britain. "I'm assuming from all this, you are about to make us a better offer - let's hear it."

Albus actually smiled at that. "My offer is to specifically keep these three safe, while at the same time continuing our fight to make the country a safer place for everyone. Sirius here has a house that only those he tells the address to can find, I don't even know what city it's in. I could even arrange an auror protection detail to offer around the clock guards..."

He had to stop and answer the stares from Amelia and Augusta at that offer. "There is currently a ministerial protection detail awaiting their new assignment, because that is something this Minister won't need. It could be put to far better use protecting these three. Answer me this, what is Harry Potter staying in Britain worth in terms of the country's morale? Twenty aurors? Fifty aurors? Personally, I don't think we could overestimate the effect..."

Neither Amelia or Augusta argued with that. Having Harry Potter alive but still leaving Britain would seriously dent morale - and whatever positive momentum today's Wizengamot session had just generated.

Harry then asked the obvious question. "Why would I want to stay in Britain?"

"Because we intend to make Britain the country where you, Hermione, Luna and your families will be the safest. Harry, as you discovered with Cornelius, a Minister of Magic has practically unlimited control over his subjects. I will give you my promise here and in front of witnesses that I won't use those powers to force you to stay. What I will do is use those powers to achieve something we all want, to keep everyone in this room as safe as possible. All I'm asking for is some time, and that hopefully we can use today as a beginning to taking the first steps toward building a trust between us again."

Something was nagging at Sirius so he came right out and asked. "Albus, exactly what are you after from Harry?"

"Initially, that he doesn't rush out of Britain in the next day or so. Given time, I hope to show that these three really will be safer here than attempting to be Bruce, Sheila and Matilda in Australia. In the coming weeks, I would hope Harry likes what we're trying to do enough to publicly give our efforts his backing. Ultimately, I would like these three to be on the express to a different Hogwarts come September. I realise we are a long way from that at the moment, September is also a long way away too. At any time, any or all of you have the right to say no and leave Britain. I will of course try and persuade you otherwise, I again reiterate my promise I won't intervene to stop you leaving."

As this offer was being evaluated by each of the group, Albus had one last thing to say. "Harry, on a personal note, I would like to congratulate you on your award. Every single person in that chamber, including me, thought you deserved it." Albus had his hand out to Harry and there was no hesitation in the young wizard's acceptance. That handshake singled another small step forward in rebuilding their relationship - but it was a massive boost to Albus' confidence that he had chosen the correct way to handle this situation. Avery's actions had forced his tough stance on the Death Eaters, That didn't mean he wasn't going to milk the situation for everything he could get out of it.

Albus wasn't being flippant when saying the Minister of Magic held many powers. He could easily think of at least half a dozen ways to force either Harry or Hermione to stay in Britain. To do so though would mean he had already lost. For the best part of a century, Albus Dumbledore had fought a continual battle with himself not to abuse his great power. While occasionally the lines might have become a bit blurred, Albus didn't think he'd ever crossed all the way over. There was no disguising that ordering Harry Potter's conscription into the auror department tore that fine line apart - even although it was within his power as Minister to do so. That was one of the reasons he had always turned the job down in the past.

Hearing Hermione talk about the Black library and Luna mention trips to Diagon Alley gave Albus even more hope he could pull this off. He did want to insert a slight note of caution though.

"Harry, while I know you are delighted at spending the summer with your girlfriend - rather than the Dursleys, I hope I don't have to remind you about taking the necessary precautions?"

Seeing her father about to verbally blast Dumbledore, a red-faced Hermione was forced to intervene. "Dad, the Minister means precautions against Death Eater attacks..."

After the last twenty four hours he'd just had, Sirius could do with a right good laugh. Watching all three Grangers and his godson blushing bright red was a good enough excuse to let go. Remus clearly thought so too and soon others were joining in.

Even although the joke was partly on him, Albus laughed along too. That they hadn't stormed out of his new office yet, but were instead laughing, was cause enough to celebrate - never mind laugh.

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