Title: Judgment and Justice
Fandom: Harry Potter
Relationship(s): Arthur Weasley/Molly Weasley
Content Rating: R
Warnings: Adultery, Dark Themes, Discussion-Child Abuse, Discussion-Rape/Dubious Consent due to potions, Drug Use, Infidelity
Author Notes: The discussion of rape/dubious consent is due to potioning and nothing explicit is shown or discussed.
Word Count: 64,768
Summary: When his sons steal his flying car to rescue Harry Potter from the Dursley’s, Arthur Weasley can’t ignore the signs of abuse the boys report. His instincts as a father result in an investigation into corruption that will lead from a muggle home to the highest levels of magical government. Before it ends his world will be rocked and Arthur will find himself hanging onto his family and his faith in Magic’s Judgment and Justice.
Cover Art by sexycazzy
Arthur woke the next morning glad he was working on reports at home for a few days. Harry had finally opened up and shared details about his home life. It is one thing to suspect abuse, but to hear about it broke Arthur’s heart. Harry was a wonderful boy. And, the Dursleys were parents themselves. How could parents, any parents, mistreat a child?
Arthur was pleased that even given his description of his treatment in the muggle home, Harry had listened carefully when Geraldine had mentioned that Dudley had been taken to St. Mungo’s for a medical issue. The boy showed he had a good heart when he didn’t hesitate to inquire about young Dudley’s health. They were assured the child would recover, but few details were given and just a hint that there was something under investigation.
Later that evening, Harry inquired about visiting Dudley in the hospital. On the one hand, he didn’t want to see his cousin, and on the other, he worried about how terrified Dudley would be around magic. They had a long discussion about how the way Dudley was raised is a form of abuse as well. At first, Harry seemed to disagree, then he slowly became upset on Dudley’s behalf. It was a shame the boys had been prevented from having a relationship as close as his sons had. He wished he could guarantee Harry that everything would change, but Arthur refused to make a promise he could not keep. He supposed the lad was so starved for a family that he would be willing to forgive anything if he could just have a connection.
The children’s Hogwarts letters arrived on schedule, and he was secretly glad that he had allowed the Potter Estate to supplement the household income. It made him uncomfortable to think he couldn’t provide for his family but knew that wasn’t really the case. Things were tight, but they made due. Of course, with the extra money available, the children wouldn’t have to rely on the second-hand shops for supplies. He felt a small bit of guilt for the thought, but let it go. His children knew they were loved, and that is all that mattered.
The twins had served eight hours of their community service time. He made arrangements with Jasper Grey for them to be supervised for six more hours tomorrow. He had never seen two people more excited to serve time than those boys. He should talk to Grey about confiscating their journals when they finished. He was going to take them in today, but after the stress yesterday and then the evening where it was a struggle to get Ron to understand that he wasn’t to go nosing around Harry’s business uninvited, well perhaps a bit of fun was in order.
Over breakfast, the family discussed possible activities for the day. The suggestions ranged from a sedate picnic to a professional quidditch game. Everyone had an idea and lobbied for it fervently. Everyone that is but Harry.
Arthur leaned over while the debates raged on and asked Harry, “Anything strike your fancy?”
“I’m sure you will have fun with whatever you choose, sir.” Harry shrunk down slightly.
“I’m sure we will, but what would you like to do?”
“Yes, you, Harry. This is a family outing, after all.” Arthur realized after last night’s revelations of Harry’s home life that family outings probably didn’t include much Harry.
“I’m to go with you?”
“Of course. You’re family.”
Molly had been out of sorts all morning and suddenly put an end to the debate. “Your father and I have the final say, and we will be going on a picnic. Discussion over.”
“Now, Molly, dear. A picnic is nice, but I think something different is in order.”
“I don’t agree, Arthur. A nice, quiet picnic will be fine. The boys can bring their brooms to fly a little, and everyone can pick a book to read while we get fresh air. Everything’s settled.”
“I don’t think it’s settled at all. I asked the children for their suggestions, and I think we need to consider them.” He turned deliberately toward the eldest present. “Percy, what do you want to do today, as a family?”
Percy looked caught between an unmovable object and an irresistible force. He opened and closed his mouth a few times while his eyes darted back and forth. It was almost as if he suddenly couldn’t express his own opinion.
“It’s ok, Percy. Think on it.” Arthur took pity on him and turned toward the twins. “What about you, boys? Go crazy, if you could choose anything, what would you choose?”
The boys looked at one another then smirked, “Wally’s World,” they said in unison.
Arthur grinned, and the expression on the other children’s faces slowly matched him.
“What’s Wally’s World?” Harry asked, brow furrowed.
Ron was practically vibrating in place. “Only the most amazing place on earth. There’s magical rides and games and performers.”
Fred stepped in with more, “Some American born bloke started it. It’s rumored that he borrowed the idea from a squib family member who has something similar in the muggle world.”
“Which is unlikely. How could muggles power magical rides?” George concluded. “But, it is the most magical place on earth.”
The destination of Wally’s Wizarding Wonder World did nothing to lighten Molly’s mood, but the boys and Ginny were excited. Harry did very well on his second joint floo so Arthur was positive he would be able to handle it alone on the trip home. Just how did muggles survive without floo and apparition? It was beyond him.
He bought each of them a pass to the rides and games while Molly issued firm instructions and then cast tracking charms on each. The twins grabbed theirs and immediately took off at a run towards some of the most extraordinary corkscrew rides. Arthur couldn’t wait to try them himself. Percy was speaking to himself, calculating odds on the games they had passed on the way in. Arthur grinned as he gave the boy a knowing look. Percy had been staring at the magical stuffed jungle cat as they passed by. He had already been through this phase with Bill. Arthur had actually been relieved when Charlie listened in and informed him that there was no need to worry because Charlie was only interested in the blokes in his dorm. He supposed it was time to refresh the little wizards and witches talk with Percy. If for no other reason than to watch the expression of horror on his face.
Harry and Ron just stood nearby as Molly wouldn’t allow them out of her sight. She was already trying to pull them toward the kiddie park section when Arthur caught up with them. He shook his head and decided to nip this in the bud. While Ginny would not be old enough to ride the major attractions until she had a year of Hogwarts behind her, the boys were ready, and he did not believe they should be denied that first opportunity.
“Molly, hold up. I think Ron and Harry are old enough for the main park.” Arthur started.
“No. I disagree. They are not old enough to run through this place unsupervised. It’s just not safe, Arthur, and I won’t have it. Ginny should be allowed to have fun.”
“Yes. I agree with you completely, dear.” Arthur interrupted.
“I won’t…wait…you agree?” Molly stuttered.
“Of course, dear. I agree completely. Ginny deserves to have fun. So do the boys, but you’re right. They aren’t old enough to run around unsupervised. So here are the tickets for you and Ginny.” He kissed Ginny on the head, turned, and started walking away. “Come along, boys, keep up now. Lots to see and do. You’re sticking with me.” The boys ran to catch up to him, a giant smile on Ron’s face and a look of wonder on Harry’s.
Arthur and the boys went on a variety of rides designed to spin, fly, bounce, and flow. In the Bubble Bounce, they discovered the twins in another bubble and took great glee directing the bubble to collide with the twins and shoot them across the field. Arthur was actually a might glad for the vendor selling the stomach calming potion at the ride entrance. He was doubly thankful when they exited the ride and found Molly and Ginny waiting with Percy. Ginny was admiring the life-sized stuffed animal draped around Percy’s neck that purred with every pet. Molly had an angry face and crossed arms as she stood with one hip stuck out to the side.
“It’s about time! I can’t believe you, Arthur. Running all over this park like a schoolboy.” She reached over to grab Ron’s hand and line him up with Ginny. “I’ve had enough of this noise for today. We’ve wasted enough time.” Molly turned to leave, but Arthur stopped her.
“Molly, we’re not wasting time here. We are having fun. Spending time with our children. Relaxing.” Arthur tried to reason. “There are just over two weeks until they return to school, and all of the children will be out of the house.”
“Well, I don’t happen to find this relaxing. And, it’s not right that everyone took off and left Ginny alone. Ron and Harry should have spent the day with her, and you could have supervised the twins. Goodness knows they need the supervision.” She shook her head in a jerky negative. “Arthur, there’s no reason to create a scene here, let’s go.”
He looked at her, confused. “Molly, dear. I’m not the one creating a scene. Now I’m here to have fun with my children. If you are not feeling well, then I can certainly take Ginny. We were headed to the racing track next, and she can ride with me.” He reached out and took Ginny’s hand from Molly’s before turning left and starting to walk. “Hurry up, boys. Ginny and I are going to take you all down.”
The boys cheered and took off after him, even Percy had a smile on his face. His last glimpse over his shoulder was of Molly standing in place her face turning a deep red. He just didn’t understand her problem.
Several hours later they were at still enjoying their day while waiting for a table at the Hungry Dragon all you can eat buffet. If he didn’t know better, he would say Ron was more excited about the dinner than all of the rides at the park. Arthur looked at Molly and saw that the sour expression was back.
He just doesn’t get it. He knows Molly likes to get her way in everything. And, he usually just gives in. After all, Molly is generally right, and he often doesn’t feel like arguing a point. Come to think about it he doesn’t argue the point even when he thinks he’s right. Molly just has a way of sitting him down over a calming cup of tea, and before he knows it, he agrees with her about practically anything.
They were led to a table that expanded out from four to eight seats and quickly gave their drink orders. The waiter placed never emptying spells on the glasses and after a look at the twins and Ron activated the children’s anti-spilling wards. And like that the kids were off, Ron practically running to the food.
“Now, Ron, you can go back for more. No reason to create a mountain of food on that plate.” “Percy, show Ginny how to get the trays to circle round so she can reach the strawberries.” “Harry, you can eat whatever you want, so don’t be afraid to try anything. And don’t listen to the twins, those red peppers are hot enough to melt iron.”
Arthur effortlessly minded the kids while Molly had stalked over to dish up a plate and was back at the table already, grumbling at the food. He shook his head while dishing up a thick ham steak on his own plate. You would think she would be pleased to have a day off from cooking.
The house was finally quiet. It took forever to get everyone to sleep. Molly made it downstairs without waking anyone and then cast a ward around the fireplace so that her floo call would not be heard. “Severus, answer the floo.”
“Well, Mrs. Weasley, to what do I owe this interruption of my sleep at 3am?” Came Snape’s irritated response.
“We have a situation, and sleep can wait. Where is Albus? I’ve been trying to reach him for two days without a response.” Molly demanded.
“Contrary to popular belief, I am not our headmaster’s keeper.” Was his acerbic reply.
“I don’t have time for this. Where is he? He needs to know what is going on.” Molly insisted.
“What is causing trouble now?”
“Child services are involved with Harry Potter. They discovered some problem with his placement and have taken him out of his relatives’ custody. Arthur of all people accepted guardianship of him. He’s bound it to the Family. Albus needs to get back here and do something about this before a bond can form, or we will lose the chance to sign a betrothal agreement between Harry and Ginny. The Potter title does not allow the Duke of Gwynnham to marry where a close familial bond exists. You know this.” She lectured him.
Snape sighed, “Then I suggest you do something to prevent a familial bond from forming. Unfortunately, Albus is out of the country and will not return until just before Fall Term begins.”
“What?! Where is he? I need to contact him immediately!”
“Well shouting at me will not change the facts. Dumbledore is in a closed session with the ICW. It is their annual retreat to support unity, whatever that means. I do not know where they go, only that the location is completely unable to send or receive communications until it is over. For all we know, it’s an annual orgy.”
Molly huffed, “Don’t be crass.” She rubbed her hands across her face. “Ok. The moment he makes contact with you, let him know what’s happening. He was insistent that the boy remains with the muggles until he is an adult. That keeps him under control and in need of our guidance and support.”
“Fine, can I return to my sleep now?”
“Actually no, I’m out of calamus. I need you to send me some first thing. I’ve been out of Arthur’s potions for over a week, and he is starting to act out. I might have to be married to the man, but I refuse to have him thinking for himself around here.” Molly demanded.
Severus snorted, “that’s going to be a bit of a problem. The Japanese crop failed, and the Chinese haven’t approved export due to the current trade agreement. I’m waiting for a supply to come through customs. But it probably won’t arrive until a month after term starts. I’m already rearranging my schedule for it.”
“No. Severus, I can’t go that long without replacing the potion. What am I going to do?” Molly desperately pleaded with him for help.
“Sherips Apothecary on Knockturn Alley gets supplies in every Tuesday evening. I heard a rumor that he is getting some of the harder to find ingredients next week, but since he refuses to sell to me, I can’t confirm that.” Snape stood from the floo and as his face faded said, “I suppose I should wish you luck.”
Molly rocked back as the fire died. OK, she can do this. Just keep her temper until their shopping trip on Wednesday. After that, she’ll make sure Arthur is never without the potion again. How dare he go against her.
It was raining on Saturday as Arthur, and the twins prepared to go into the office. The boys were excited to work off their sentence, and Arthur was actually having fun spending the time with them. Molly had been so prickly this morning that he was feeling a bit guilty about having an excuse to leave. He really was sorry that the rest of the children had to spend the day with her. What had happened lately to his sweet, lovable wife?
“Percy, come over here,” Arthur called to his son. “I know you’ve been very busy this summer, and that is something I want to speak to you about before you return to Hogwarts. But for today, I would personally appreciate it if you could help the younger children get organized for school shopping. I want a detailed list from each of them with everything they will need to get through the shopping trip on Wednesday. You know how frustrated this makes your mother. Everything from socks and knickers to bags and books, mind you. And check out the attic to see what hand me downs may still be available from Bill and Charlie for repair.”
“Certainly, father. I’m confident I can get everything organized.” Percy assured him.
“And, Percy, you’re working with them, not bossing them. They’ll respond better if you try to make it fun than if you boss them around. Think of it as an exercise in team building. It’s an important management strategy.” Arthur left Percy working through that statement and decided he really needed to spend a bit more time with the boy. He was so driven he would follow anyone who fed that ambition and, well, Arthur wanted him to realize the leader he could be instead.
At the Ministry, things were quieter. He dropped the boys off in his department and his supervisor, Jasper Grey, sent him off with a message to report to Director Bone’s office. He passed by the usual weekend crew with a wave and was quickly ushered into the Director’s office proper. Within he found Geraldine, Agent DiNozzo, and Auror Gawain. “Good Morning,” he greeted everyone.
“Arthur, I’m glad you are in today.” Geraldine started. “We have a bit of a quandary that I would like to discuss with you.” She motioned him to the couch at the side of the office behind a coffee table and poured him a cup of tea before sitting next to him.
“Let us bring you up to speed regarding the Dursley situation. When I went to investigate Harry’s home life, we discovered that his cousin, Dudley Dursley is a wizard and not the muggle we believed. The Potter Will was correct. We also discovered that he had a core-bond. He has been at St Mungo’s since Wednesday night for treatment, and luckily we are assured he will make a complete recovery. We haven’t determined who placed the bond on the lad, but were able to confirm it was done with the parent’s knowledge.”
“What?!” Arthur exclaimed. “Who could do that to their own child? Do they know a core-bond could kill him?” Arthur made to stand, but Tonio restrained him with a hand on his arm on the other side.
“They haven’t confirmed it yet, but yeah, it looks like the parents knew. They hate magic and don’t care as long as their son isn’t a freak.” Tonio replied.
“Well, you can’t let them have Harry or the other boy. You just can’t.” Arthur insisted.
Geraldine agreed. “You are correct. It would be negligent to allow them to regain custody. Now, we have a secondary situation with them as they have involved a muggle barrister and law enforcement so we are working to untangle that mess so that we can question them without endangering the Statute of Secrecy. In the meantime, the healers have determined the Dursley boy can leave St Mungo’s as long as we can place him in a magical home.”
“Look, Arthur, let’s just lay it on the line here.” Tonio took over with a grin at Geraldine. “What Aunt Deeny is trying to delicately work up to is that the boy is going to heal, but will need ongoing treatment for the next year as his magic stabilizes and outbursts subside. He can’t go back in the muggle world for at least the next year, Healer Paddington would prefer two years. But the kid woke up with magic and terrified of everything. He will have daily mind healer visits until he adjusts, but they are willing to make a house call.”
“This is getting on with it, Tonino?” Geraldine complained.
He shook his head and finished, “The point is the kid needs a magical guardian, the only blood relative he has in the magical world is his cousin of whom you have custody. And, his only blood relative in the magical world is Harry-Freaking-Potter. So, ya know, the last one is going to put a target on the kid’s back for everyone who might want a hold over the Boy-Who-Lived. So, are you willing to take custody?”
Arthur looked at them. He’s had a few conversations with Harry and realized the cousin has been a bit of a bully to him. Taking him in will mean larger adjustments than the simple ones with Harry. But on the other hand, can he leave a child in need? Especially given the situation. Maybe, with the right influence, Harry and Dudley can become the family they were meant to be. And really, what’s one more boy in the house. It will be sort of like Bill and Charlie are back home with a full house. Molly shouldn’t mind that.
“Yes, I’ll do it. I assume it’s the same conditions as Harry’s guardianship?” Arthur asked.
Geraldine smiled. “Yes, of course. I will get the paperwork prepared immediately. I don’t have it with me as we only learned he was ready to be released this morning. They want to complete today’s treatment regimen first so he can leave the hospital this afternoon at 3. Will that be ok?”
“Yes, fine. Anything else I need to be aware of?” Arthur asked.
“No, Arthur,” Amelia answered. “We appreciate your patience in this matter, but from a guardian perspective, it is better that you are not unduly influenced by preliminary findings when you represent the children as guardian. Just know that our investigation into all aspects of this case is still ongoing, and we will notify you once appropriate.”
He stood. “Well then, if that is all for now then I better get back to the boys. They were hoping to serve more of their time today, but I see we need to cut things short to prepare. I will let them work until you contact me about the paperwork Geraldine. Then I think it best to go prepare a place at home for the boy.”
Arthur paused before leaving as a thought struck him. “Will he be attending Hogwarts?”
“Yes,” Geraldine confirmed. “I’ve already met with Minerva. I will have another meeting with her on Monday to confirm his enrollment and notify her of guardianship. Don’t worry about tuition, Arthur. The Paddington Educational Trust has already guaranteed his tuition. Lady Paddington will be available for his shopping trip for school supplies as she feels he will need a custom wand to handle his core issues and requested to be present.”
“Oh, we are planning the trip for Wednesday. The boys’ little friend Hermione will be on the Alley with her muggle parents for shopping, so we are making a day of it.” Arthur explained, relieved that he need not worry about the suddenly added expense.
Geraldine smiled at him again. “If we are not hip deep in interrogations, I think I would like to join you.”
“The more, the merrier,” Arthur stated as he walked out the door.
At noon Arthur and the twins were walking in the door of the Burrow, custody documents signed and guardianship oath sworn. The twins were with him to witness, and it had left them a bit subdued. He had confirmed to them that he had taken the same oath for Harry and he could see in their minds they were switching him from bratty little brother’s friend to family member. That was ok with Arthur. Even though the situation was temporary, it was still true.
He didn’t expect any problems with the Family. He rarely pulled the Patriarch card, but by tradition, it was still true that he ruled the family. He had made it clear to the twins, and he would make it clear to the rest. He had sworn on his honor by magic’s guidance to accept Dudley into this family, and it would be done.
Unfortunately, his expectations didn’t include Molly’s recent mood. “What do you mean you took a guardianship oath for a muggle-born boy? Are you insane? We can’t take another boy into this house, we are stretched as far as we can go. What would you have us do? Room him with Percy? No Arthur. It’s not fair. I can’t believe you made a decision like this without getting my permission first.” Molly ranted.
Arthur jerked back, shocked. “I was not aware I needed your permission, Molly. I am the Patriarch of this Family. The boy is one of Harry’s only living blood relatives. Where else should I have sent him? So he doesn’t understand the wizarding world, well it’s our place to show it to him. He will be attending Hogwarts with Ginny’s year, so it’s not like the children will be underfoot much longer. I honestly don’t understand where this complaint is coming from, dear.”
She visibly was trying to choke back complaints, and he was just glad she was silent for now. Percy’s eyes darted between his mother’s dark red face and his father’s frustrated one. “Father, I would be fine sharing a room with Dudley. Mine is probably the quietest in the house, and I can help him.”
Arthur smiled at his son who was showing cracks in that rigid shell, “I would really appreciate it, Percy. Why don’t we go see how we can rearrange things to give you both plenty of space. You know, you’re of an age that I think we can clear off Bill’s old desk in my office for you to use. Be best if you had ready access to the home library while prepping for your NEWTs next year.”
Percy stood tall and smiled, “I would appreciate that, Dad.”
Arthur and Harry flooed to St Mungo’s later that day to collect Dudley. Arthur and Molly had settled things during a bit of a screaming match in their bedroom that amounted to Molly throwing a tantrum and Arthur explaining yet again that he wasn’t turning away a child in need. He just didn’t understand it. Molly loved children and welcomed all the children’s friends to stay, ever since Bill brought the first one home for the summer.
She had harped on Ronald since the moment they were home to invite Harry to stay. Was even insisting they check themselves when the lad didn’t answer. And suddenly she’s changed her mind and wants to send the lad back to those muggles. Harry was so quiet and helpful, an overall pleasant lad to be around. So, why has her personality shifted so?
A group was waiting for their arrival in the Pediatric unit, and they were quickly led to a meeting room. “Arthur, Harry, may I introduce you to Healer Elizabeth Paddington and Healer Walter Hornbrew. They are the lead healers on young Dudley’s case from here on.” Geraldine introduced them.
“It is good to meet you both. Please call me Arthur.”
“Thank you, and you must call me Elizabeth, I insist. My colleague and I will be handling Dudley’s ongoing care. While my specialty is core damage, I will be acting as his primary physician for the next year as any malady could impact his healing. Once I am certain he is progressing properly, then I will step back as his primary and just handle ongoing core evaluations.” Elizabeth stated.
Healer Hornbrew immediately followed, “And please, everyone just call me Walt. The children I work with usually call me Healer Walt. I am Dudley’s mind healer, and I think we are going to all get to know one another very well. I will be meeting with Dudley once a day until he starts Hogwarts. Any problems in his adapting will be discussed with you, Arthur, and your wife. She’s not here today?”
“No, she stayed with the children. They’ve been getting a space set for Dudley to make him feel welcome. He’ll be sharing a room with my son Percy.”
“Very good. I would like to accompany you to your home as you introduce the boy to your family.” Walt said before turning to Harry, who had been quiet to this point. “So Harry, it sounds like you have had a bit of a rough ride lately as well. Nervous about having your cousin with you here?”
Harry looked around uncomfortably before glancing at Arthur for encouragement. “I don’t really understand. Dudley has never had magic. He hates magic and is a bully to anyone different.”
Walt nodded in agreement. “It is a bit hard to get but let me try to explain some things before we go see Dudley. First, they told you how his magic was bound?” Harry nodded. “Right, well, we don’t know who did that to him, but it was done while he was just a toddler. So while he can’t remember being magical, deep inside him, his magic was still straining to get out. That can affect our emotions without us even knowing it.”
He used his wand to demonstrate a kind of three-dimensional stick figure, getting stressed with a bound core. “But to make things worse, the person who bound his core placed a behavior curse on him to make him fear magic. Now I can tell you that the reason that was done was to prevent him from having any accidental magic outbursts until the bond had a chance to solidify around his core and keep it from growing. But between that fear and his parents’ attitudes, well, it started coming out as anger and hate toward things that are different.”
The stick figures disappeared, and Harry asked, “So he’s going to be different now?”
Walt shrugged his shoulders dramatically, “Eventually, but don’t expect a personality transplant immediately. That’s why I’m here. It’s my job to help him understand the changes and accept them. I’m also going to be helping him assimilate into the magical world, though you and the Weasley family will be doing a lot of that work as well. Right now he’s afraid. The compulsion is gone, but it’s how he has been conditioned to feel around magic. So I expect some outbursts.” The last directed more toward Arthur.
“Now outburst will be one thing, but I don’t expect you to let him slip back into any kind of bullying toward you, Harry. That’s also something that has been learned by the two of you that will need to stop. But I would prefer that you tell an adult if something like that happens instead of engaging. We want to keep things from getting physical.” Walt urged. He looked like he was trying to see inside Harry for a moment. “You know Harry, I think you and I should meet as well sometimes.”
Harry sat up straight. “You think something’s wrong with me?”
Walt laughed, “Mind-healing isn’t all about fixing things that are wrong. Sometimes it’s just about teaching you to see things a different way. And, sometimes, it’s about having someone to talk to about things that are happening around you. Someone who isn’t going to judge you. A lot of time, my patients just need to know someone is listening to make them feel better. Besides, I would say you’ve had a lot of changes to think about recently.”
Harry shrugged noncommittally, and Walt dropped it for now though Arthur caught his eye and nodded once over Harry’s head.
“Well then,” Geraldine broke the silence, “why don’t we take you over to meet Dudley?”
Arthur and Harry were led to the end of the ward, where the private rooms lined the way. Outside one of the doors, they could hear crashing and yelling within. Walt traded glances and then shrugged and opened the door.
“Go away! Go away! I want to go home now! Do you hear me? Dad is gonna go ballistic when he finds out what you are doing to me.” A rotund young boy stood in the middle of a storm as objects flew about the room and crashed against walls while the two nurses were ducking and seeking shelter.
The healer immediately started trying to talk the boy down. “Dudley, you need to calm down now. We talked about how when you are upset things like this can happen. Remember what I said about closing your eyes and focusing on that pinprick of light while you breathe? I know you can do it.”
Dudley spun toward the door, but his eyes skated past the healer and locked onto Harry instead. “You! It’s all your fault, isn’t it? You sent your freak friends to the house to kidnap me. Just wait ‘til we get home, and you’ll get it from Dad!” Now the objects redirected in Harry’s direction and Harry flinched back.
Arthur pulled his wand from its holster and instantly put up a barrier between Dudley and the rest of the people in the room. Then in an authoritarian voice chided, “Young man, I think we’ve had enough of that for now.” With another flick he moved the bed up behind Dudley, causing him to sit down. “Now, you are going to sit down and be quiet for a moment.” Dudley’s mouth opened and closed a few times in surprise without actually speaking.
Arthur looked around, “Right. Well, you ok there, Harry?” Harry nodded, wide-eyed. “Good.” Then he turned back toward Dudley, ignoring the remainder of the people in the room. He moved a chair over in front of the boy and sat down before holstering his wand.
“Hello, Dudley, my name is Arthur Weasley. I am going to be the temporary guardian for you and Harry until Child Services sorts out all of that custody nonsense. Now before you get upset, let’s straighten some things out. First, this isn’t really about Harry. What’s happening now is about you. Some things happened to you when you were a baby and when Madam Strumpf went to speak to your mother she discovered it. I don’t know what they told you, but what was done could have killed you. They had no choice but to bring you here for treatment as soon as possible.
“Now, until they decide if it’s safe for you to go home or see your parents, you will be staying with my family. While you are there, I expect everyone to treat each other with respect. And, this little tantrum that just happened won’t be repeated. Do you understand, young man?” Arthur finished firmly.
Dudley was staring with a shocked look on his face. After a long moment of Arthur’s returned stare, he finally said in a low voice, “Yes, sir.”
Arthur nodded then his face resumed his normal pleasant expression. “Harry, come over here and sit next to your cousin.” The barrier faded, and Harry moved up to sit on the end of the bed, just out of arms reach of Dudley. The remainder of the adults moved forward as well.
“Harry, why don’t you tell Dudley about the Burrow while I finish speaking to the adults?” Harry nodded and hesitantly started speaking to Dudley, who was looking back and forth between Harry and Arthur as Arthur motioned everyone toward the far corner of the room.
“You did very well getting control of that situation, Arthur,” Hornbrew enthused. “That’s the fastest we’ve gotten him to control his magic yet.”
Arthur snorted, “That was just a simple temper tantrum. Not the first one I’ve handled with six boys in the house.”
“Well, you handled that perfectly. Just a reminder, for a couple weeks his temper will be mercurial. But this just supports our belief that he will quickly adapt the way most children do. So hopefully conscious control will happen very soon and start suppressing outbursts.” Arthur glanced back toward the boys where Dudley was still staring at him while listening to Harry and let Hornbrew continue explaining. “I think you’ve set the proper tone of firm but kind with him.”
Geraldine agreed, “Yes, completely. He’s been a bit spoiled by his parents. I suspect to prevent accidental magic. So just stand firm while being understanding and fair. It should all work out. I really don’t think he’s a bad child at all.”
“It’s ok, boys will be boys and all of that. I have brothers myself, you know.” Arthur agreed. “Anything I need to know before we go?”
Elizabeth moved forward with a carry case. “Yes, I have a full potion regimen for him. Nutrient potions a full thirty minutes before meals for at least the next three months. We will re-evaluate at that time. Organ health potion at bedtime to adjust to the strain as his channels open. He will only need that one for the first week. And twice daily calming potions. I suspect he will be off of those before Hogwarts start of term but this is a new world for him to adjust to quickly and we want to try to minimize outbursts like earlier if possible. In fact, let’s go ahead and have him take one before you leave.”
It was another hour before they flooed home. Arthur was proud of how quickly Harry had adapted. Dudley was quite frightened by the experience, so it was just as well that Hornbrew was there to talk him through his breathing. The introductions did well enough, though he did order Ron to his room when he tried to goad the boy. That was something he was going to nip in the bud. The past was in the past as far as he was concerned and everyone better accept that and moves forward.
Eventually, dinner ended and was cleaned away, guests had left, and he was settling down to review the lists Percy had compiled for supplies as he listened to the children.
“Harry, where is the telly?”
“We don’t have tellys, they don’t work here.”
“Then what in the world do they do?”
Ron interjected, “We do things together. We play games and fly our brooms, and talk, you know, …stuff.”
“And do mmmmagic?”
“Well, not exactly. Some things are magic, and you can use them whenever you want. But doing magic yourself is against the rules. Children can get in a lot of trouble for doing magic outside of school until we’re adults.” Harry tried to explain.
Percy’s voice cut in, “Our laws are intended to protect the Statute of Secrecy. We can’t let muggles know magic exists. They might try to hurt us all if they found out. I have a history book that explains how the Statute came to be if you want to borrow it.”
“Why are you all being so nice to me?” The tone was tentative and puzzled.
“Simple. You see”
“As long as you’re”
“Here, you’re our”
The sound of a glass breaking from the kitchen was followed by an angry “reparo,” and Arthur winced.
“Be careful, that means they’ll protect you from everyone out there, but you’re also their favorite target. If you’re not careful, you will end up with Slytherin green hair. I know.” Arthur had to choke back a laugh following Ron’s warning.
“Well, Ronald, you did take their chocolate stash, to begin with. Though they should show more maturity than to seek retribution in such a juvenile manner.”
“Was he supporting”
“Us, or chastising us?”
“Do they do this all the time, Harry?”
“Yeah, it’s great.” And Arthur was relieved to hear the smile in Harry’s voice.
Tonio added hazelnut flavoring to his coffee before taking his seat at the conference table in the DMLE Tuesday afternoon. He had spent a great deal of his time the last three days following paper trails that went nowhere and observing questioning of a variety of people, guards, witnesses that really amounted to one of the most under-investigated crimes he had ever seen.
“If everyone could take a seat, I would like to get this update completed sometime today.” Director Bones chided tiredly. “Robards, what is the status on questioning the Dursley family?”
“It’s a right tangled mess, Director, but we got them in custody. The muggles retained a solicitor and involved muggle law enforcement. When Director Strumpf took custody of the boy, a file was started in the muggle world as well, per procedure with all the standard spells to control access. We’ve classified the boy as a protected witness so that they can’t publicize it. We had to play catchup to get ahead of them. I was all in for just obfuscating the hell out of everyone.” Robards reported.
“No, it’s best to use our contacts to control this. We have agreements with the muggle government for a reason.” Amelia ordered. “Have they been interrogated yet?”
Robards shuffled some pages on the table. “It was Dumbledore. He gave the boy some potion then placed the bindings on his magic. And he told them the boy would die young, but they didn’t care as long as he is ‘normal’ whatever that means. They are still demanding we not let their son become a ‘freak’ like their nephew.” He shook his head in disgust. “What I don’t understand is he did it so they would take in their nephew, but it was done almost a week before the Potters died.”
Outrage surged around the table as everyone spoke at once. Amelia finally called them to order. “I want the report and all evidence prepared. Don’t worry, I am not going to let him slip out of this.”
Tonio sighed and spoke up. “The boys are currently safe. Let’s make sure we have everything we can before we make a move on him. I’ll push through approval from the SIA for appropriate charges and to read the muggle solicitors in on Magic if they continue to cause a problem. A bit unusual, but I think it may be warranted.” Then he smirked, “We can always obfuscate them after we explain everything if they can’t handle it.”
“Very well, Kingsley, you have had a chance to interview Mr. Crouch and Minister Bagnold?”
“Yes, Director. Minister Bagnold has retired to the continent, and it took a couple days to track her down. Agent DiNozzo was a big help on that. She firmly believes Sirius Black received a trial and was sentenced to life in Azkaban. She allowed us to examine her memory of the event in a pensieve. It was good, but it’s a false memory.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Tonio replied. “Inconsistent gaps. Repeated memory scenes. And, there’s a kind of blurring of the overlap. She was also obfuscated. The residual memory is of an argument with someone that a trial was required.”
“Do we know who did it?” Amelia demanded.
“No. It’s strange, but whoever did it was able to do so without leaving a magical signature. We are investigating that aspect.” Tonio explained.
Kingsley stepped in, “She did allow us to make a copy of both the false and altered memory for evidence. She also agreed to see a specialist in memory retrieval from the SIA.” He looked to Tonio, “They are certain they will be able to retrieve the original memory but would not share the technique.” Tonio shrugged but said nothing.
“And Bartemius Crouch?” Amelia asked rigidly. Tonio could understand. She had been an auror under the man while this was taking place. Residual loyalty could be a pain.
“He also has a memory of the trial. There was a bit more care in his case. It’s almost seamless, but the scenes are too similar to Bagnold’s.” Kingsley reported.
“I don’t understand,” Micah Singleton questioned. “Wouldn’t they be similar if they were both at the trial?”
Tonio shook his head. “They would have the same content, but the scene should be from a different angle. They wouldn’t notice the same people in the same exact location in the memory. Think about it. In this room, you would look at who’s talking, but maybe you would keep glancing at Director Bones while I speak to see your boss’s reaction. I, on the other hand, might stare you down or check on Shacklebolt to make sure he agrees with me. When you compare the memories, the words will be the same, but you will see them from our different points of view. Not happening in this case.”
“Ok, I get it.” Singleton nodded understanding.
“Will he also submit to memory retrieval?” Amelia asked.
“No, he refuses to cooperate and insists that the trial occurred. He refused us any right to view his memory further and became extremely upset when we suggested we could do so in the comfort of his own home instead of at the Ministry.” Shacklebolt lifted one shoulder and a palm as if to show that he has no interest in trying to understand what the man is thinking.
“What about the Chief Warlock. Wouldn’t he have presided over the trial?” Singleton followed. He looked around at the grimaces. “Well, we’re all thinking the same thing. Dumbledore implanted those memories, right?”
Amelia took back control. “As the Chief Warlock is currently fulfilling his role as Supreme Mugwump in a closed session he cannot be contacted until the session ends. He is scheduled to return in time for the first fall session of the Wizenmagot on Monday, August 24th. We will not be able to question him until sometime following that session.”
She looked around, “On that note, I have authorized Mr. Black to have contact with the Firm representing the Black Family. As he was illegally imprisoned and never disowned by the former Lord Black, he is legally at this time the current Lord Black. They have been meeting with him and agreed to remain quiet to allow our investigation until we are ready to give him his day in court.”
Diagon Alley was bustling with back to school shoppers. Molly had taken Ginny with her to get all of those female things she would require, and frankly, Arthur was happy to not have to deal with. He was currently waiting in the bank with Harry and Dudley to meet with Mr. Stroan and Grinlok. Luckily, they were early for the appointment, so he had time to warn Dudley in advance about proper behavior around goblins.
When they were ushered to Grinlok’s office, he was pleased to see Mr. Stroan already present. “Mr. Weasley, Mr. Potter. Thank you for coming today. I apologize for lack of courtesies, but Grinlok is on a tight schedule today, and we just need a moment of his time.”
“I admit to being a might curious. Is there a problem with Harry’s account?” Arthur asked while taking the pro-offered seat with the boys.
“Not at all. Grinlok has done a marvelous job managing the accounts. No, we asked you here today because of a stipulation in the Will that became active on Monday.” He turned toward Dudley, and Arthur realized he had not introduced him.
“I would like to introduce you to Dudley Dursley. He is Harry’s cousin and my ward at present.” Arthur motioned toward Dudley and nudged him slightly.
“Pleased to make your acquaintance, sirs.” Dudley stammered out.
“Glad to meet you as well, Mr. Dursley.” Stroan turned back to Arthur. “It is actually a matter in regards to Mr. Dursley that has come to our attention. On Monday, one of the trust accounts in the Potter Estate became active. Upon investigation, it was revealed that the account was created by Lord and Lady Potter for the benefit of their nephew upon his enrollment in a magical school.”
“They left me money?” Dudley looked confused. “Why would they do that?”
Grinlok explained, “As one of the few blood relatives of Lady Potter, you are automatically protected under the House of Potter. Lady Potter hoped your magic would help her reconcile with her sister. Lord Potter saw it as a duty of his House to guarantee the magical education of all children under his magical protection.”
Dudley looked from Grinlok to Arthur and Arthur clarified, “It’s a matter of love and honor, Dudley. Even though she didn’t get along with your parents, you were an innocent baby, and she loved you the moment she met you. I knew the Potters in passing. James was full of fun, though he had an extremely strong sense of honor. But your Aunt Lily, she could light up a room. She hated bullies and injustice. But, when she loved, it was with her whole heart.”
Grinlok reached out to hand Arthur ledgers and keys. “As his guardian, Arthur here’s the key and ledger for his Educational Trust and his Minor Trust. Similar to young Harry’s here. Best you keep hold of these until you can instruct him on proper management.”
Stroan provided him with an additional voucher. “There were stipulations in the Will for Dudley’s care in the event he moved to the Wizarding World as a minor without his parents. I have already been in contact with Madam Strumpf, and I realize matters have not been decided yet. However, it is within our authority to extend the same funds for him that are given for Harry.” As Arthur started to shake his head no, “Please don’t argue. We’ve been over this before. It will only be in effect as long as they reside under your roof. It subsides while they are at Hogwarts and will transfer to their permanent guardians, whomever that may be.”
Arthur sighed, “Very well. But only because it’s for the children.”
“Just a few signatures, you know the drill, Arthur.” He signed and signed and was happy to be on his way after visiting Harry and Dudley’s vaults.
They found the children waiting with Healer Paddington, Agent DiNozzo, and the Grangers just outside the bank. He handed out some spending money to the older boys and instructed them to meet back at Flourish & Blotts in two hours. As Percy was turning to leave he mentioned, “Mother said she needed to visit the spice and tea shops. She will catch up with you.”
Arthur acknowledged his son and turned back toward the rest. “Healer Paddington, why don’t we start at Olivander’s?” Arthur motioned.
Reaching the door of the shop, they waited a few minutes for Garrick to complete a sale before they had his full attention. “Well, well, well. I’ve been waiting for you to make your appearance.” He looked to Arthur, “the last of the children in your care, I see.”
“Yes, quite. Why don’t we start with Ginny here? She’s been waiting for this for a long time.”
Tape measures shot around the girl while they watched, and Garrick smiled, “I believe I have just the thing.” He climbed to the top of a shelf about halfway back in the shop and came back with three wands. “I believe it’s unicorn hair for you. Now, what wood to match?” He opened the box and urged her to take it. Sparks shot out, and he immediately had her lower it. “Nope, too delicate. Something stronger I think. Here you are, 14 and three-quarters inches, yew with unicorn hair core.”
This time a bright glow surrounded Ginny, and she smiled. “It tickles.” Garrick smiled and boxed it up for her before turning to Dudley.
Having seen the tapes once, Dudley stood very still, only flinching a few times. Healer Paddington stepped forward. “We have a situation that requires a bit of discretion. As you can tell, the boy had some damage to his core. It is healing and expanding naturally now, but we are concerned about his use of a focus.”
“Quite so, good to be concerned. I believe it is better in this circumstance that we see about a custom wand. I’ve worked with damaged cores before, and a focus can be fickle if chosen incorrectly. I also find that non-standard wand lengths are not unusual to compensate for the fluctuations. Allow me to gather some components, and we can test.”
They stepped up to the counter, and Garrick soon returned with several slivers of test wood and three glowing orbs. “Now come along lad, nothing to hurt you here. Hold out your wand arm over the cores.”
Harry whispered loudly, “He wants to know if you’re right handed or left handed Dudley.”
“Oh,” Dudley moved closer and held out his right hand. As he passed over, one of them started vibrating, and he snatched his hand back.
“Dragon heartstring from a Chinese Fireball. A powerful core. Next, the wood.” He gestured again. This time a wood in the second row flew to his hand before he even got near it.
Garrick’s eyebrows raised. “Cedar. Not one I’ve matched with Dragon Heartstring before.” He looked at Dudley like he was really seeing him for the first time. “I envy those who you will call friend young wizard.” He put everything away. “I can have this ready before closing today.”
On Knockturn Alley, Molly had finally found Sherips Apothecary nestled between two thoroughly disreputable shops. “How can I be of service today?”
“I was told that you have access to ingredients that are sometimes difficult to find.” Molly started carefully.
“Well, many ingredients are rare, and I try to provide a service to my customers, for the appropriate recompense.”
She double checked no one was around, “I’m in need of calamus.”
“Ah, yes, the Japanese crop failure has limited the supply.”
“So, do you have it?”
“The Japanese variety, sadly no. But I do have a substitute.” He reached down and pulled out a jar of chipped calamus.
Molly haggled with him for appearance sake and then quickly paid the price for several ounces. It was outrageous, but at least she could get things back on track. As she walked out the door, she waived off the apothecary as he called out, “Just remember it’s the American variety.”
After Garrick’s, they split from Agent DiNozzo and Lady Paddington who had some shopping of their own with a promise to meet before Dudley picked up his wand. Then it was a whirlwind tour gathering all of the things seven children would need for school. He lost track of it all and was infinitely glad for the lists Percy had made. Molly rejoined him in the cauldron shop, which was just as well because he really needed her help. She gladly dove into haggling with the owner for cauldrons for the children, and Arthur was pleased to see that her demeanor had changed and she seemed to really be warming up to the shopping.
Eventually, they reached the book store and a huge crowd. The signs announcing a book signing by Gilderoy Lockhart. The twins and Agent DiNozzo were watching all the witches in the store while trading comments for which Arthur should probably be chastising them. Of course, he knew he would join in if he stayed near them. Well, nothing for it, time to enter the fray.
Twenty minutes later, Agent DiNozzo was dragging Arthur out of the store. “Get it together, Weasley, the man was trying to goad you on, and you fed into it.”
“That…that…that…Malfoy!” Arthur shook with anger. “He’s just so….so…well he just is.”
“Um, quite eloquent there, aren’t you.” He glared angrily at Tonio who held up his hands palm out in surrender. “I don’t disagree with you. I’ve heard more than once from my Uncle Clive about his problems dealing with the man in the Wizenmagot or in business. But you need to stop and think hard about this. You might get some small personal satisfaction from breaking his nose…”
Arthur swung his fist, “I’d get a damn lot of satisfaction out of it.”
“…but,” Tonio continued as if uninterrupted, “it could bring some unwelcome attention to you. We don’t need people like Malfoy looking into the guardianship situation you have with the House of Potter. Nobles get weird when it comes to the guardianship of an heir, and you know it.” Tonio finished while tapping him in the chest.
Arthur took a deep breath and reminded himself that Tonio was correct. Now is not the time to let his temper get out of hand. Another deep breath and the red was creeping out of his vision. “Ok, you’re right. Let’s get the children away from here and go to Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. I need something to cool me down.”
The evening passed nicely for Arthur. He spent time overseeing the children as they all carefully packed away their school supplies for the coming year. Percy was trying to teeter between reading all his books and pushing all the other children to start on their own. Arthur curbed that and instead directed them to pick a book a night and read the first two chapters. He was rather proud before bedtime to overhear Percy describing the Hogwarts classes in detail to Dudley. His boy was very patient with the lad and had decided to take him under his wing. Strangely Dudley seemed to respond, and Percy was loosening up. It reminded him of how Bill had matured after becoming a prefect.
It had only been a few days, but Dudley was starting to relax, and Healer Hornbrew was pleased with his short-term progress. He did warn Arthur that this could be the calm before the storm. Dudley was losing the fear of magic that had been reinforced by spell and conditioning. But he warned that without the fear to hold him back from acting, he may fall back on some of the entitlement with which he was raised. Arthur was watching to nip that in the bud. With seven children, Arthur had learned early to reinforce that his children were individuals but equal in his eyes.
Molly had spent most of the evening before and after dinner in the household potion lab. She was making up bruise balm and all the other household potions that they ran out of during the summer. She seemed happy to have the ingredients, and he supposed she did like to brew, so he left her to it when she locked everyone out of the lab and sat down to read a book.
Hours later, she was cleaning everything up, and he was straightening up before bed. “Arthur? Why don’t you join me for some tea?” Molly called from the kitchen.
Arthur smiled, “Thank you, dear, but I’m fine. Was just about to head off to bed. Have to be back to work tomorrow, you know.”
“I hoped to talk to you before you return to work. I think the Ministry may have been a bit presumptuous interfering with the muggles the way they did.”
“No, Molly. I refuse to get into this again with you. Can’t we just drop it? The boys will be out of the house in just a couple of weeks. It’s really no strain having them here. Harry’s quiet as can be, and there have only been a few outbursts from Dudley. Walt insists his sessions are going well. So just no. I refuse to talk about this any longer.” Arthur started to turn away.
“Wait, Arthur. When we married, we made an agreement that any time we disagreed, we would sit down over a calming cup of tea and discuss the matter. I believe I am at least owed that.” She turned and set down the cups on the table before setting the tea service down.
Arthur took a deep breath and turned back to the table. “You’re right. We did promise to talk things out. Let’s pour a cup and let me hear your side of this. But I warn you, I won’t be changing my mind about guardianship.”
He took a small sip of the tea after she poured. “Oh, you were able to find my blend. Lovely.”
“Of course I did dear. Maybe I should let you enjoy your first cup before we start anything upsetting.” Molly smiled.
“Thank you, dear.”
“Arthur, get up, or you’ll be late for work. Breakfast is ready.” Molly’s voice called from the doorway.
Arthur slowly sat up in bed. It felt like the air was full of fluff, and he was trying to swim through it. The colors were bright, but things were out of focus. What was he supposed to be doing again? Oh, he needed to get up. Yes, that’s it. He moved and realized his feet were on the floor. Oh, he is up. Well, that’s nice.
“Dad? Why aren’t you dressed yet? We’re running late. Mom said she’ll bundle up breakfast for you to take with you while you get dressed for work.” And George was taking off down the stairs. Or was it Fred. Oh, clothes. Molly wants him to dress. Right.
Shoes, Sox, slacks. Oh, wait, slacks first. He was checking the mirror to see everything in place when he heard Molly call out, “Arthur, you better get down here, or the boys are going to floo to the Ministry without you.”
He took the bag she handed him and kissed her goodbye on the cheek before joining the boys for the trip to the work. He almost missed his exit, but this trip he’s been making for years. The brief check-in at security and “Have a good day at work, Arthur.” Oh yes, he’s going to work.
His desk was nice, and there were so many pieces of paper to look at. Some of them were even pretty colors. He folded some of those into nice shapes. It was soothing.
“Arthur? Are you feeling ok today?” Someone asked. Is he? Molly didn’t say. He shrugged. She didn’t say he wasn’t either. “Arthur, I need you to come with me to Madam Bone’s Office now.” Yes, Madam Bones. He needs to speak to her. Molly insisted that he speak to Amelia.
Everything seemed to move, then he was in a chair. Why was he sitting in a chair? Oh, Tonio DiNozzo, why is he so close?
“We’re in Madam Bones office, Arthur and I’m just having a look at your eyes,” Tonio said.
Hmm. Did I say that out loud?
“Yes, Arthur, you did. Who potioned you, Arthur?”
Potion? No, no potions recently. Not for a few weeks. Why do they think I’m potioned?
“What’s happened to Arthur?” another voice he knows. Wait, Geraldine. That’s nice. He needs to speak to her too. Molly insisted he talk to Geraldine and Amelia. That’s right. Molly is right. She always knows best. Harry and Dudley belong with the Dursleys. We shouldn’t interfere with things we don’t understand. We are going to ruin everything if we don’t put the boys back where they belong.
“What are we going to ruin?” Tonio asked.
“We’re going to ruin everything,” Arthur answered.
“Boys, how long has your father been compromised?” Was that Amelia’s voice. They let her come in her own office, so kind of them to be considerate that way.
“…slow this morning…”
“…running late, didn’t notice…”
Oh, he hadn’t noticed the pattern on that rug before. He leaned forward for a look and hands pulled him back into the chair. But…well, that’s comfortable too.
“…No, yesterday he was fine.”
“…No different than when you were with us on the Alley, Agent DiNozzo…”
It’s lovely his boys could come to work with him today. Oh, work. He’s supposed to be working. Arthur stood up to go to work.
“Arthur, I think you should sit back down.” Ok, well sitting is nice.
“He doesn’t look too steady.” Was that Kingsley in the room? It’s like there’s a party here.
“Come on, Arthur. Can you stand up for me? Kingsley and I are going to take you to St Mungo’s to get checked out.” Arthur stood and turned around, losing his balance. Hands reached out and grabbed him.
“I don’t think I’m sick. Are you sure I need to go to St Mungo’s.” Arthur inquired.
Amelia was suddenly standing directly in front of Arthur. “You look very severe when you look at people like that, Amelia. Has anyone ever told you that it can be quite terrifying when a witch looks at a wizard that way? That was the look Mrs. Cranston had just before Old Man Cranston lost his bollocks. I’m sure.”
There were some snickers before, “Get him to St Mungo’s. I want a complete report. When, what, and for how long. Arthur, you are to cooperate with them.”
Cooperate, he can do that. “Oh, I need to speak to you, Amelia. Molly’s right.”
Hands took his. “We will speak about what Molly wanted after you get checked out. Now go with Kingsley and Micah. They will take you to St Mungo’s.”
“Get checked out, right you are Amelia.” Arthur turned toward the door and Kingsley wrapped an arm around him as he kept turning.
“Let us help you, Arthur.”
“Arthur, can you hear me? It’s time to wake up Arthur. Get that bucket just in case. That’s it, Arthur, we need you to wake up now.”
It felt like his eyelids weighed a ton. He slowly fought to open one, and the light stabbed into his brain. “No light.” He squeezed his eyes firmly shut.
“OK, Arthur, try again. We lowered the lights.”
Once more his eyes opened, and now it was tolerable, in shadow. “What happened? It’s all so muddled.”
Tonio sat down in the chair next to the bed. He looked again at the blank face. No, this is Agent DiNozzo, not Tonio. “What? Where’re my boys?”
“The twins are fine Arthur. They’re rather anxious to see you. But we need to talk first.” DiNozzo looked at him, and there was a bit of sadness in his eyes. Behind him, Amelia Bones and Kingsley Shacklebolt were standing looking grim.
“You were brought into St Mungo’s yesterday morning after you showed up to work under the influence of a strong infusion of calamus. I don’t know how much you remember, but you were quite out of it, and they performed a thorough scan and took samples for a complete analysis before starting a purge regimen. The purge lasted sixteen hours before they could finally let you sleep.” DiNozzo looked down at some notes while Arthur just stared in shock.
“According to the analysis you have been operating under the influence of calamus for years. There is no way to tell how long, but at least a decade. But, it appears sometime Wednesday evening you were given an infusion with an American calamus instead of the Asian variety usually used to control patients who have suffered mental damage. See, American calamus is too strong to use orally, it’s only used topically because of the side effects.”
“Years?” Arthur said softly. “She’s been giving it to me for years?” Why? Arthur thought before choking back a bit of a sob. She’s his wife. He would do almost anything for her. Wouldn’t he? How could she do this to him?
“Arthur, we suspect it’s Molly who has been potioning you. But we need to verify you weren’t taking anything willingly.” DiNozzo continued as if he hadn’t interrupted.
“No, I wouldn’t. Won’t even allow my children calming potions. Boys should be allowed to be boys. Oh, sweet Lady Magic, my children are ok, right? They haven’t been potioned?” Arthur asked, looking at the people in the room.
“Well, we checked out the twins, and they seem fine. They admitted that with all the experiments in their lab, they take a purging potion once a week.” They looked at each other. “We haven’t checked the other children yet. Molly thinks you had to work overnight, and we allowed the twins to stay with you to finish working off their community service.”
“I need to know if my children are ok. I don’t know what I would do if…she wouldn’t harm her own children, would she?” He lay his head back on the pillow and squeezed his eyes shut. “I’m not sure what to do. She’s my wife. I…we…, I’m not sure what I think anymore.”
“Arthur. I honestly can’t imagine what’s going through your head right now, but the calamus isn’t the only potion found in the analysis.” Arthur opened his eyes to see that DiNozzo looked ill. “You know some potions are permanent or they make a lasting imprint in your body. We found evidence of two of these. The first was a Dual Hearts potion. The second was some kind of forbidden fruits potion.”
Arthur started shaking his head, he didn’t want to hear this. “No. No more. I can’t…”
DiNozzo continued as if the interruption didn’t occur. “I am sorry but, under the authority of the ICW Special Investigations Agency, I must formally ask you, Arthur Weasley, if you did knowingly accept and ingest a potion of which a primary ingredient is powdered unicorn horn from an unborn unicorn filly?”
“NO! I couldn’t…That’s an act against Lady Magic. I…” Arthur felt sick. Just the thought of it in his body now. “Weasley men have been devout followers of the Lord and Lady of Magic for generations. I…I…I’m gonna…”
“Bucket quick! He’s gonna, ew.”
“I’m frankly impressed. Didn’t think he had anything else in there.”
“Kingsley, don’t be disgusting.”
A healer and nurse came running into the room to check him. “I believe I informed you Director Bones that I will not have my patient upset at this time. We can’t even give him a calming potion for another eight hours until the effect of the purge has settled. You will behave yourselves, or you will be ejected from my hospital. Ministry Director or not.”
Arthur stayed still on the bed, allowing his stomach to calm. His head was pounding, and he just didn’t know what to think any longer. How much of his happy life is a lie?
“What’s next?” He asked, not sure if he wanted an answer or not.
“We have to start an investigation. The horn, it’s a crime against magic to slay a unicorn. To do so to obtain potion ingredients from an unborn foal is doubly horrifying. We are not accusing her of doing that, Arthur. But using the ingredient in a potion is an international crime. We will have to question her, but at this time, it is supposition only that she was involved.”
“Who else?” Arthur demanded. “I…I need time…But first, I need to know my children are ok. She’s always been a terrific mother, but I need to know she hasn’t been potioning them as well. Can we do that?”
Amelia stepped forward, “As their Patriarch and guardian, do you Arthur Weasley give the Ministry permission to examine, analyze, and treat your children for potion, spell, or curse damage? Know that as a victim in this circumstance, we intend to search your premises to determine if any of the substances or potions involved in your case are present. I must also inform you that should any contraband be discovered that is outside the bounds of this investigation, you can be held responsible. It is your right at this time to retain a solicitor to act on your behalf. Do you wish to do so, Arthur?”
He started to shake his head no then stopped. Actually…”I would first like you to contact the Firm of Locklis, McEarlean, and Stroan. I want them present to represent me. I…Well, I’m weak as a newborn kitten, I can’t get out of this bed, so I need someone to be there while the children are treated.”
Amelia and Kingsley left while DiNozzo stayed with him. “I can’t imagine what you are thinking right now, but just know you have a lot of friends. Just try to rest and let us worry about the next steps. I’m going to go call Aunt Elizabeth. She will want to examine Dudley personally to be sure he hasn’t been given anything beyond his prescribed potions.”
Arthur turned away, and it took most of his energy to do so, but he just couldn’t look at anyone. Couldn’t see the pity. It can’t be Molly. She’s his wife. Why would she do this? No, it doesn’t make sense. She’s a wonderful loving person. Who potioned him. Calamus for years? It would have been more honest to just Imperious him. Oh, Sweet Lady Magic, what can he do? They have a magical marriage bond. It only ends in death. How could she? What part of his life is even real? Why? Why? Why?.
He felt hands shaking him while pulling him into a hug. Then realized it was he who was shaking, sobbing. “It’ll be OK, Arthur. You’re not in this alone. Just let it out now.” Tonio said while holding him.
Tonio stepped into the hallway and quietly closed the door. It took half an hour before exhaustion won out and Arthur fell into a fitful sleep. He walked down to the small private family waiting room that they had taken over once Arthur had been admitted yesterday and slipped in. A House Elf in a starched, candy stripped pillowcase with a little hat was setting out breakfast for the Weasley twins, Geraldine, himself and Micah Singleton.
“When can we”
“See Dad, Agent”
“Well boys, your father had a bit of a shock this morning, and he’s sleeping now. But I think that after you eat if you want to go sit with him, he would like to see you when he wakes up.” Tonio allowed.
He sat down at the table and started to eat himself. Geraldine had cleared most of her own plate before she spoke, “Tonino, Amelia, and Kingsley checked in before they left. They will return here with the solicitor before we take further action. I must go with them,” she glanced toward the twins who were still eating, “for obvious reasons. I assume you will be involved as well. Therefore Micah will remain here.” Micah nodded agreement when Tonio looked his way.
“It’s just suspicion for now, are you going to remove them?” Tonio asked carefully.
“I prefer not, but I have to act in the best interest of the children. Those two have their own investigations ongoing, and I have to ensure their safety first.” Geraldine replied softly.
“It feels putative towards Arthur when he’s been incredible with those kids.” Tonio shook his head.
“You’re taking Harry and”
“Dudley away?” The twins asked with stricken expressions.
Geraldine sighed, “Boys, you have to understand. Their welfare is my responsibility. There’s going to be an investigation into why your father became ill.”
George interrupted, “Why he was potioned with calamus, you mean.”
“We’ve heard the talk. It was mum, wasn’t it?” Fred looked at Tonio.
“Why do you think it was your mother, Fred?” Tonio threw back at him.
“Mum likes to get her way,” Fred explained.
“And Dad almost always lets her, even if he disagrees at first.” George expanded.
They looked at each other for a moment, “It was the calamus, wasn’t it?”
Tonio rolled his head around before popping his neck. “Yes, we think so. Your father has given us permission to search your house for it. He also wants your brothers and sister checked for potions. We will be bringing them back here. We can let you stay with your father while that is happening.”
“Behind the shelves in the kitchen pantry,” Fred stated.
“It’s where mum’s personal potions lab is. Father never tries to go in there, but we caught her coming out when we were younger.” Fred explained.
George stepped in, “She said she kept things there that children were not to be near and forbade us from entering. It’s warded.”
Geraldine exchanged a look with Tonio, “Boys, no one is asking you to inform on your mother. You understand that?”
“We choose Dad.” They both stated firmly.
A quick knock prevented a reply. Amelia, Kingsley, and two others entered the room. Upon seeing the twins, Amelia spoke up. “George, Fred, let me introduce you to Mr. Robert McEarlean and his associate Martin Kirby. They are solicitors for your father.” The boys paled slightly before nodding. “Gentlemen, Fred and George Weasley, Arthur’s sons.”
“It’s good to meet you, boys. Just wish it was under better circumstances.” McEarlean stated. “I’ve just come from your father’s room. He would like to see you now. Kirby here will be staying with you while I attend to a matter with Director Bones.”
The twins looked to the adults for barely a moment before heading for their father’s room. Introductions were completed as soon as they left.
“I have a team standing by to assist. The plan is to get the children out quietly before the search is started. No reason to alarm them. Healers Paddington, Hornbrew, and Singh are standing by to check the children once they arrive here. Any ideas on how to get them away from Molly?” Amelia asked.
Tonio and Geraldine exchanged a long look. “I can come for Dudley and Harry. Imply that I might be moving them.” Geraldine started.
“One better. I invited the twins to Paddington Manor for some flying. Extending the same to the rest of the children along with lunch. Just a chance for outdoor exercise. You imply that Harry and Dudley may be staying there, and you want them to meet the Paddingtons with their friends first.” Tonio countered.
Amelia nodded, “I will tell her I need to speak to her about Arthur after the children are gone if she hesitates to let them go.”
“I am willing to wait with your aurors Madam Bones, but as Mr. Weasley’s representative, I must insist on being present during the search of the home.” McEarlean insisted.
Amelia acknowledged his demand, “Agreed Mr. McEarlean. As long as we are clear that you are there as a witness only. I will not accept any interference.”
“Agreed, Madam Bones.” He turned to his associate. “Kirby, you will be with those children every moment. We represent both the Houses of Weasley and of Potter in this circumstance.”
“Yes, sir,” Kirby replied before heading to the examination room where the children would be delivered.
Getting the children out of the house went off without a hitch. There was a brief moment when he thought Percy might balk, but Dudley’s fear of going someplace with more wizards had Percy volunteering to teach the boy how to fly. Harry and Ron’s obvious excitement pushed them over the edge, and in no time, they were out the door with their brooms.
There was a minor hiccup when Robards appeared to help get them to St Mungo’s as the man still frightened Dudley. But it was quickly smoothed over with the explanation that they had to stop at St Mungo’s for Dudley’s exam and to pick up the twins. Unfortunately, they lost a little ground with the boys due to that lie, but Tonio just hoped they would someday understand the necessity.
He didn’t stick around once the healer’s converged as he was immediately apparating back to the Burrow for the search. And boy did Tonio time that one wrong when he appeared and a second later was slapped by one furious Molly Weasley.
“How dare you take my children like that!” Molly pulled back for another slap.
Before anyone could blink, Tonio’s wand was in his hand, and he cast, “Incarcerous.” He followed it with a silencing charm when a string of profanity was spewed at him. He looked around at the aurors who were standing by in various stages of shock and anger bloomed hard and fast. “What the hell are you doing here? In what world does a search and seizure order allow the suspect to remain armed and without an escort? If she had pulled a wand on me instead would you have backed me up or just stood there and watched as she cursed me? Well…Do any of you have anything to say for yourselves?”
“Yes, I would like to know that as well.” Amelia Bones entered from the home office. She looked carefully at her aurors who were now standing stiffly and raised an eyebrow at the silence. “This will not be allowed to happen again. We will speak of this later.” She gestured at two of them, “Spivak. Kim. You two will take Mrs. Weasley to a Ministry interrogation room. At this time she is being charged with the assault of an ICW Hit Wizard during the execution of his duties. More charges possibly to follow. She may have contact with her solicitor if she has one.”
She turned away from them, “Agent DiNozzo, is there any specific location you would like to search personally?”
Tonio glanced at Molly and smiled, “Yes, Director Bones. I would like to search the home potions lab.” She motioned him toward the room by the office, and he grinned broadly. “No, I think I’ll take the one hidden behind the pantry.” Molly’s eyes widened, and she was struggling to move as Auror Spivak slapped a portkey on her and they left.
It only took him about fifteen minutes to disable the wards before he and Amelia were carefully logging several restricted potion supplies, the calamus among them. “And we have a winner. Elixir of Calamus for 100, Alex.” Tonio said as he opened a storage cabinet to find several vials of completed potion.
Amelia looked at him strangely, “Who is Alex, and why would you be selling him a restricted potion?”
Tonio laughed, but before he could respond, there was an excited call from upstairs. “Madam Bones!” Tonio and Amelia were racing up the stairs, wands out and ready. Aurors were appearing from out of rooms to look in their direction.
They stopped outside one of the children’s bedrooms. From the lace curtains and feminine décor, it unquestionably belonged to the youngest Weasley, Ginny. The auror wasn’t one Tonio had met yet, but he was standing outside the room waiting. Everything seemed peaceful, with no outward reason for the urgent call.
Amelia looked within the room then back at her auror. “Would you like to explain?”
He swallowed hard. “I cast a standard Revelio Horribilis, and the room lit up like the sun.”
Tonio looked briefly in the room, confused before glancing back at Amelia. “Now what kind of dark object could possibly be in an eleven-year-old girl’s bedroom?”
Kingsley, who had arrived from the direction of the twins’ bedroom, spoke, “Even if she was twisted enough to be potioning her family, can’t see Molly Weasley allowing any of her children access to dark objects. She’s the first to remind everyone that the Weasleys are a ‘Light’ family.”
Mr. McEarlean, who had until now remained a quiet observer, asked, “I admit I don’t know much about the calamus potion. But, even potioned, shouldn’t Mr. Weasley have been aware of a dark object passing through the wards on his home?”
“Good question,” Tonio replied. “So either he’s compromised more than we thought, his wards are compromised, or this is one seriously twisted object that can circumvent the wards.” He looked around a moment before giving Kingsley a little grin. “Wanna see what we can find? This is gonna be fun.”
“You have a strange concept of fun, DiNozzo,” Kingsley grumbled.
They entered the room together and then Tonio cast a ward on the doorway. “No one in or out until we figure out what we have here.”
“So, how do you want to do this, DiNozzo?” Kingsley was looking around uneasily which in any other circumstance it might have been funny seeing a grown auror nervous of a little girl’s toys. But, he’s seen some pretty twisted curses on innocent-seeming objects since he joined the SIA.
“Well, the revelio was never really meant to pinpoint a specific object, just a general location. So it’s out. And, there’s a bit much here for us to eliminate everything item by item. Though, if we have to, then that’s what we’ll do. I have an idea to find it a bit quicker, but we do take a bit of a chance if it has protections on it.” Tonio said thoughtfully.
Kingsley just sighed and shook his head, “Bloody Hit Wizards!” he muttered, “just in it for the thrill.”
Tonio grinned broadly at him and winked. “You only live once Shacklebolt, so might as well live it to the max.” Tonio raised his wand and sent out a fine spray of clear liquid that he used to paint everything in the room while slowly spinning around. Once finished, he took a deep breath and cast a robust Leggero Nero. The room instantly darkened and several spots around the room glowed in shades of green. The strongest concentrations were on the school trunk, on the small desk, and the pillow on the bed.
“Well, now we’re cooking. So where do you think? Curtain number one, curtain number two, or curtain number three?”
“Curtains?” Kingsley asked, confused.
Tonio sighed, didn’t they ever get out of the magic districts? “Let’s start with the trunk.” They summoned items one by one, being careful to touch nothing. Everything seemed clean there. Next was the desk, and while there was some residue of dark magic, that was all it was. So, “Well, Bob, it looks like I’ll take curtain three.”
Kingsley turned around and looked behind them. “Are you alright, DiNozzo? Who is Bob?”
Shaking his head, Tonio levitated the pillow up and to the side. Underneath was an innocuous leather bound journal. Tonio stood still, just examining it. The green glow was definitely emanating from the book. He turned to the side and pulled a warded trunk for cursed objects out of his pouch, automatically restoring it to standard size. Just barely in his peripheral vision, he caught movement and saw Kingsley reaching for the book.
He swung his wand around, hitting Kingsley with a minor spell, shoving him to the side and out of reach of the book. “What the hell are you thinking Kingsley?”
Kingsley turned his wand on Tonio and sent out a blasting curse that he shielded just in time. For a moment they were trading spells while moving in the small space. He briefly saw Amelia trying to break through his ward on the doorway. He needed to end this quickly. A moment too late he realized Kingsley had circled around to be closer to the bed once more. Tonio dodged a piercing charm and was still behind the wardrobe when he saw Kingsley reach out toward the bed once more and shout, “Accio journal.”
In an instant, Tonio refocused and levitated the open trunk into the path of the book, forcing it to snap closed the moment the journal was within. He spun back toward Kingsley who was practically frothing at the mouth when suddenly Kingsley just dropped like a puppet.
Breathing hard, Tonio first cast a few binding charms around the trunk to reinforce it. Then he turned toward Kingsley to take his wand and cast an incarcerous before running a few diagnostics over the auror. Satisfied he was ok for now, he turned back to the room and once more cast to find dark objects. When nothing further showed in his scan, he released his wards and looked to Amelia who had calmed at the doorway when the fight ended. “Well, that was interesting.”
It was three hours later when they had finished their initial search of the Weasley home. The warded trunk, potion ingredients, and a few minor substances from the twin’s bedroom were taken to the ministry for analysis. Tonio was pretty sure the twin’s stuff was harmless fun, but due diligence meant checking it out. He had insisted that the trunk be stored behind a couple layers of protections in addition to the trunk itself until they figured out what that thing was and what it did to Shacklebolt.
They discovered that questioning Molly was out for the moment as the Prewett Family solicitors grudgingly agreed to represent her. So there wasn’t a chance until one of them decided to come talk to their client. Other than refusing to speak to them without representation, she kept demanding to be released and to speak to her husband. Well, neither of those were happening today.
So everything locked away for the moment, Tonio and Amelia returned to St Mungo’s. Kingsley had been examined, and a team specializing in curse damage had cleared all traces of tampering and left him in a healing sleep with promises he would be fine by morning.
“Can you have a report prepared for us on your findings, and what steps were taken to repair the damage?” Tonio asked the healer.
“Certainly. Do you want one for the girl as well?” He asked.
Tonio scrunched his brow, “The girl?”
“Yes, the young Weasley girl collapsed about twenty minutes before this one was brought in. We completed a similar procedure on her. She’s sleeping in the ward with the rest of her family.”
Amelia chimed in, “Yes, please include a report on her as well.”
They walked in silence to the ward that had been restricted to the Weasley Family’s use. Within Arthur was sitting in a wheelchair near his youngest son’s bed, slowly rubbing his back. The man looked exhausted, and he should probably still be in a bed himself. He saw them enter then looked sadly at the children lying in beds around the room before turning back to Ron.
Geraldine came to them and ushered them back to the hallway. “Percy and Ronald have extensive potion trace along with behavior conditioning spells. They are on their second round of purging, and the healers are expecting to need at least two more. As we know, the twins unknowingly protected themselves by voluntary weekly purging due to their potion experiments. It’s a common potion master regimen. And twins are hard to spell with behavior mods if they have a strong twin bond. Ginny had the spells, but as far as we can tell has had none of the potion, which is good because calamus can cause sterility in pre-pubescent females.”
Tonio laughed, “You memorized that from Aunt Elizabeth.”
She shook her head and continued her update, “Ginny did have some kind of curse damage.”
Amelia interrupted, “We are aware. A cursed object was discovered in her bedroom and will be examined. Until then, we prefer not to speculate.”
Geraldine nodded understanding, “Dudley was luckily free from any interference. He hasn’t been there long, and any changes probably would be noted by his healers, so we are lucky there.”
Tonio noted the exclusion, “What about Harry?”
“We’re not sure.”
“Excuse me? Aunt Deeny, what does that mean?” Tonio asked while rubbing his hand over the back of his neck.
“Mr. Potter is thankfully free of potions and free of any of the behavior modification that the Weasley children suffered. But, his health, in general, is not the best. We have been a bit busy so had not yet made an appointment for a healer to complete a full set of diagnostics. Malnutrition and some physical abuse as we were already aware from his statement.” She explained hesitantly.
“Ok, come on. I know you’re holding something back. You have that look you gave me the day you came to tell me about the custody battle between Uncle Clive and Uncle Vinny. So spill.”
“During the diagnostics for curse damage they didn’t discover the residual curse damage in the scar on his forehead that they expected. Instead, they discovered that it contains a dormant, but still very much a viable curse.” Geraldine admitted.
“What? What kind of curse is it?” Tonio demanded.
“They haven’t determined that yet. They have Harry in a warded clean room at present to remove all spell activity around him. They are keeping him in a magically induced sleep because he reacted poorly when the Weasley girl went down, though they cannot determine any connection.”
Tonio looked at Amelia, who just raised an eyebrow and then nodded agreement. “Where do they have him? I want to compare their diagnostic to what I witnessed earlier today.”
She pointed down the hall, and they walked with her. Amelia inquired as they rounded the corner, “Did Mr. McEarlean return?”
“Yes, he received a report, spoke to Arthur, then left to send a summons to Arthur’s oldest sons, William and Charlie. He is sending word through Gringotts for William, I understand he is working for them in Egypt somewhere. Family honor is important with them so they will get him here immediately. Charlie is a junior dragon handler at the Romanian preserve so I’m not certain how long until they can reach him. But Arthur is adamant that all of his children be checked.”
A team of healers was in the observation area outside the warded circle in the room. Harry was asleep on the table within. It took some fast talking and the support of Aunt Elizabeth, who was reviewing the analysis to determine if the curse was interacting with the boy’s core, but they finally allowed him to enter the ward.
He cast carefully, the way he had been trained to detect and diffuse some of the most hideous curses. His mentor had focused a lot of time on how to read the crime scene and feel the nuances of different magics and casters. It was almost a sixth sense, a gut feeling of the magical signature. But once trained, he had developed a 98% success rate at matching trace evidence. And yes, it’s faint, with some kind of protection encasing it. But, the feel of this curse is identical to that of the journal.
He has no proof at this point, but he would stake his reputation on the fact that the journal and this curse were created by the same wizard. The only problem is that everyone knows that Harry’s curse scar was created by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
Geraldine was cursing in goblin again, but by Merlin she had cause! That curse damage must have been blatantly obvious when it was first caused. But did anyone try to help the lad? No! They just threw him in that…that…pit and left it to rot into him. How dare they leave an innocent in that condition.
She was pacing a hole into the luxurious rug in the Gringott’s waiting room. The healers want time to work up a plan, but she knows that the goblins employee the best ritual curse breakers around. She is not going to allow petty bigotry or professional pride to interfere with Harry’s healing. As a ministry Director, she has the authority to make that decision and dragged Tonio along to at least give an impression of ICW approval. Anyone who wants to stop her better be prepared for war.
The goblin who had escorted them here had flushed at her language and practically ran off to deliver her request. Tonio was lounging on the bench with his feet up and a notepad in his lap. She refused to look but suspected he was writing down the curses. She never should have taught that boy goblin.
The door opened, and he quickly stood. Geraldine turned and stopped her pacing when six goblins entered. “Director Ragnok,” She bowed slightly, “Thank you for granting me time from your busy day.”
“Of course I have time for you, Geraldine, my sweet wife would cut me off at the knees if I disrespected her shield sister,” Ragnok replied, and the goblins around him laughed. “So, I’m told you are seeking ritual curse breakers. Such services do not come cheap.”
“We are willing to pay for an analysis at this time and then will discuss a cost for full services once it is determined that you are able to assist us.” She stated, not allowing him to start a negotiation at this time. “I believe an analysis is standard fee plus hours.” She finished primly.
“Analysis is still rated so, but by bundling service with the analysis, you can potentially save the cost of the analysis.” Ragnok countered.
“I think not. If service is not possible or advisable, I am out a greater fee for reserving all materials and options in advance.” She stood firm.
“Ah, but once confirmed we can help, you are answerable to our rates. Rates which can change between analysis and service. Why not lock in the rates now?” Ragnok replied.
“A pretty bit of words that will not change my decision. I stand firm. Analysis only.”
He conceded his agreement. “Analysis only.” The rest of the goblins stepped forward to stand with him. “Our team is ready at your convenience. What is it we will be examining?”
Tonio spoke at Geraldine’s motion, “We have two ‘objects’ which appear to have been cursed by the same wizard. They have the same magical signature and feel. We need to know what kind of curse it is and if it can be removed safely.”
One of the goblins spoke, “Do you have these objects with you? And do you know who cursed them, or is that something you need determined?”
“We believe we know the identity of the caster, but would like independent verification. One of the objects is a journal that is currently warded at the ministry. It briefly affected one of our aurors when we were searching for it just by being in the same room with it. The second is in a child.”
Goblin curses flew. Children were protected and sacred to them. “Who is it that you believe has cursed a child?”
Geraldine exchanged a look with Tonio, who responded, “Voldemort.”
It was an exhausted Geraldine who was still on her feet after midnight. Frankly, she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to move if she sat down. The goblins had practically stormed the ministry to examine the journal. After much negotiation with Amelia, they were allowed to return with it to the bank. While they were confident they could destroy it, they wanted to try removing it from the object first.
Clearly, they knew exactly what the thing was. It was barely twenty minutes into examining it when they lost it, and Geraldine frankly learned a whole new dialect of goblin curses. Repeated questions did not result in answers. They were sworn not to discuss this grade of magic outside their conclaves, and they would not budge.
Once the trunk was secured at the bank, they made their way swiftly to St Mungo’s to examine young Harry. They were there several hours, with Geraldine having to run constant interference with the healers. More goblins were called in, and she was only thankful the boy slept through it all.
It was finally determined that at present, it was doing him no greater harm and it would be safe to allow him to awaken. They would research and determine the best method of removal. In the meantime, a full healing regimen was prescribed to build him up so that he would be at the best health possible when it came time to remove it.
Toward the end, Ragnok himself had appeared. Instead of the negotiation for the cost of service she expected, he offered services on the honor of the horde. The child had entered the bank more than once, and no one had recognized the danger to him. Their honor demanded they handle this as they had been previously tasked with removing all knowledge of this particular spell from existence. There was talk of offering a wergild, but she refused to get into that discussion. The horde just did not offer money on a whim. Whatever this spell is, it must be beyond horrible.
Now she was just waiting to see off the Paddingtons and children. She still wasn’t satisfied that she had made the best choice, but at the moment it seemed the kindest. She remembered her conversation with Elizabeth and Tonio earlier.
“Will Arthur be able to keep the boys with everything going on?” Tonio asked.
“I’m not sure it’s advisable. I placed them with him at the promise of a stable home. That’s not something they are getting now. And frankly, Arthur needs to focus on his family.” Geraldine explained.
Tonio shook his head, and angrily threw his arms up, “Bullshit! Arthur considers those boys family. And, those boys need to know people will stand by them even during the hard times.”
Elizabeth stepped in as the voice of reason. “Look, why make a snap judgment. Arthur and the children will be able to leave in the morning. Harry, Dudley, Ginny, and the twins can leave tonight. They are welcome at Paddington Manor while everything is progressing since they haven’t released his home yet. We would love to have them. Give Arthur a chance to get his feet under him, and if you still feel you need to move Harry and Dudley, then Clive and I can take them in.”
Finally, they were coming her way, the twins herding the younger ones along as they all reluctantly left their father and brothers behind. “I will check in with everyone on Sunday. Be respectful of the Paddington’s and try to relax tomorrow. Your father and brothers will join you as soon as they’re released.” Geraldine reiterated to them and watched as they were one by one taken through the floo to Paddington Manor. The last was Tonio with a whispered instruction to get some rest herself.
Arthur didn’t know how much worse things could get. Charlie and Bill arrived this morning as Ron was wolfing down his breakfast. Good to know even a day of purging wouldn’t hold up that boy’s appetite. Percy was just pushing his around, but Arthur suspected it was more emotional than physical for him. At first Bill and Charlie resisted and it took his order as their Patriarch to make them submit to testing.
He’s just lucky that they’ve both been out of the house a little while. There were old signs of tampering, but most of it has broken down at this point. Bill voluntarily submitted to a round of cleansing since he will have to report this to his employers at the bank. Charlie didn’t see the need, and it took a while to get him to agree, but then Charlie showed the least influence.
They should both be able to leave sometime after lunch when the rest of them are released. Arthur was thankful to the Paddingtons for offering their home. It felt strange imposing on them at this time, but he recognized that until things are settled, well, they need someplace safe. He can swallow his pride for his kids.
What is he going to do? A magical marriage bond is supposed to guarantee a happy marriage. Until this week he would have been the first to testify it did. But now, how could she take everything sacred about the bond and corrupt it like this? And he’s stuck in it. It’s for life. The only way to break it is with the death of one of them. How can he face his children and allow Molly back into their lives with what he knows now?
Nope, no! He needs to know why. Arthur came out of the shower and dressed in the clothes Tonio had brought for him. He was still weak as could be, but only time would take care of that. He left the boys and spoke briefly with the healer on duty. One pepper up potion later and he was flooing to the Ministry. He had some questions and solicitor or no, Molly was going to answer them.
Amelia quickly pulled Arthur into her office when he reached the DMLE. “What are you doing here, Arthur? You should be with your children.”
He shook his head, “I need answers. I need to know why she did this. I have a right to speak to her. She’s still my wi..wife,” he choked on the word, “and I insist on speaking to her.”
She sighed, “Arthur. You know I can’t stop you, but I strongly advise you to wait until we have been able to get a statement.”
“You’ve had her a full day. I know Molly. If she hasn’t caved yet, she won’t. She’s stubborn as can be when she thinks she’s in the right.”
“OK, but I need you to wait here first. Molly’s meeting with her solicitor, and we can’t access the room until he lowers his privacy wards.” He started to follow her out the office door, and she pushed him back into the chair. “Sit.” She commanded firmly. “I will go tell Gawain to inform me the moment they are available.”
Fifteen minutes later, Mr. McEarlean entered the office behind Amelia. “If you are certain you want to do this, Arthur, then you need someone with you in there, and it can’t be one of the aurors.”
He grimaced and then nodded and held out a hand to his solicitor to shake. “Sorry, didn’t think about calling you.”
“It’s ok. Trying times and all that.” McEarlean shrugged before straightening his robe. “But remember, we are working for you. So let me do my job and protect you.”
They were led into the interrogation room where Molly and her solicitor were on one side of the table. Molly was speaking before he even passed the doorway as she started to rise.
“Arthur, where have you been? I demand you do something about this and make them let me go! They just stormed into our home and kidnapped our children. And where were you while they did this? Well?”
He stared at her a long moment from the doorway while he tried to remember why her demands and orders had seemed so cute before, then realized they never had. He didn’t answer her, just made his way to the seat across the table from her with only a brief glance at the solicitor.
“Are you just going to sit there? Why aren’t you doing something to get me out of here? I demand you do something and then make them bring the children back. Who knows what they are doing to them now.” Molly continued to rant while her solicitor attempted to calm her, and Arthur just stared, seeing so many things clearly for the first time in years.
He could tell without looking that the solicitors recognized each other. “Bob,” the other man said in greeting to McEarlean.
“Bryn,” McEarlean acknowledged. “I see Driscoll and Collins still has the Prewett Family accounts. I would have thought that debt was paid off by now.”
“I wasn’t aware Locklis, McEarlean, and Stroan were representing Mrs. Weasley on this issue.” Bryn Driscoll stated, looking at them uneasily.
McEarlean smiled in a way that didn’t reach his eyes, “We’re not.”
“What is he talking about Arthur?” Molly demanded. “Well? Arthur, do you have anything to say for yourself?”
“Why?” Arthur asked softly.
“Why were you feeding me those potions all these years, Molly?” Arthur asked in the same soft voice.
“Now is not the time to be dragging everyone into our personal business, Arthur. You know I’m right about this. If you want to discuss it, we can do so after you get these people to let me go.”
Arthur cocked his head and stared at her again, “What? Do you mean to discuss it tonight over a nice cup of tea?” And, ok maybe he was allowing a little anger in there at the end as he realized how she was slipping it to him. “That was our agreement, right? When we disagree, we will set down over a nice cup of tea and discuss things until we can come to an accord.” He shook his head as she tried to speak. “When did you decide that I shouldn’t be allowed an opinion any longer, Molly? Was it when I wanted to work for the ministry? When I wanted to start a family? When did it start?!”
“Oh, don’t be melodramatic Arthur. If I hadn’t pushed you as far as I have, you never would have tried to get anywhere in the Ministry. It’s not like you haven’t been pushing back all this time. You could have been a Director by now, but no. You’re happy being mediocre, and I’m expected to just accept living on your salary?” Her solicitor tried to stop her, and she waved him off.
“So fine, yes. I gave you a little something to make my life a little easier. Happy?” Molly sat back, crossing her arms, daring him to disagree.
“You realize Mrs. Weasley, calamus is a restricted substance. You could see jail time over this.” McEarlean warned her.
Driscoll jumped in, “Please, Bob, let’s be realistic here. Calamus is a Class III restricted substance. Maximum time would be a year in jail. But she’s not some mudblood here. Molly Weasley née Prewett is a pureblood witch, from an ancient pureblood family, married to an ancient pureblood family, with pureblood children to care for. She won’t see a day of jail.”
“Fine, Molly. You hated your life with me so much you had to change me. I could have forgiven you for that. But our children…. what in the world could you have ever gained from potioning our children?” Arthur demanded.
“Please, I never hurt a single one of them. You were out all day. You didn’t have to deal with them day after day. Mum this, mum that. Draining our resources. So I tried to make them better.” She continued, shushing her solicitor when he repeatedly tried to interrupt her.
“You tried to stop them from being the people they were meant to be, and you see no problem with this? No. I…I can’t do this anymore.” Arthur stood up, and Mr. McEarlean stood with him. “I can’t…ehem…I can’t allow you to harm us any longer. Molly, I want a divorce.”
“What!?!” She surged upward as her face turned a dark fiery red. “You can’t divorce me! We have a marriage bond!”
“I don’t care. I may be stuck with this bond for the rest of my life, but I refuse to be stuck with you.” Arthur turned to leave and stopped. “I don’t want you to get near my children again.”
“Excuse me? Those are my children. You need to get over yourself, Arthur. I am a pureblood witch. They will never grant you a divorce.” Molly stated loudly.
Arthur stood straight and squared his shoulders while lifting his chin, “You want to use pureblood privilege? Then fine. Two can play that game, Molly, dear. As a pureblood Patriarch of an ancient, pureblood house, the law says I have blood-rights to any of my children. The children are mine!”
“Oh no, you don’t, Arthur Weasley. Take the boys, see if I care. But Ginny is my daughter. Mine do you hear. There’s not a drop of your blood in her veins, and you can’t take her away from me!” She froze and covered her mouth with her hands, a horrified look on her face.
Arthur stepped back, away from the table. Eyes wide and stricken, he shook his head. He clenched his eyes shut a moment before turning to the door and leaving, never looking back.
Tonio watched as the Wizenmagot slowly filled with witches, wizard’s, and spectators. He had taken a few minutes to slowly wind his way anonymously through the crowd before the doors opened and overheard enough gossip to know that someone had spilled the beans about the divorce proceeding but had been smart enough not to give the Weasley name. There was a lot of speculation on who, and he was frankly amused by some of it.
It was the only amusement he would get on that issue. Arthur had arrived at Paddington Manor on Saturday with his boys looking like his world had ended. Charlie and Elizabeth got the kids out for some sunshine, fresh air, and flying while Uncle Clive handled it by letting Arthur get roaring drunk. When everything spilled out, well adultery within a magical marriage bond was unthinkable.
He watched as Minister Fudge was arranging his notes and preparing to lead the assembly. He just rolled his eyes as the man tried to appear all-knowing, especially since Tonio knew for a fact that they had issued the charges as sealed until the Wizenmagot was called into session. It was part of Director Bone’s tactics to ensure that Sirius Black received a fair hearing.
Just before the clock struck 9am Albus Dumbledore came rushing into the chambers and Tonio got his first in-person glimpse of the Supreme Mugwump. He was taller than Tonio had initially envisioned him. While dressed in the purple robes of the Wizenmagot, he had a grandfatherly sense about him and yet seemed to be both ancient and ageless. Looking closer, Tonio could see the glamours and realized the entire image was but an illusion.
Cornelius Fudge gave up his seat with visible reluctance but took his notes with him in a fit of pique. Before the doors closed, he saw Arthur Weasley lead his children into the room and seat them in the reserved section. All seven of them in their best robes and looking somber. Tonio had a momentary flashback to a custody hearing with himself sitting in those same seats while watching his life decided without his input. It sucked that those kids had to be here to see this. He was just glad that Harry and Dudley were at the Manor with Aunt Elizabeth.
He looked around to see all of the players take their positions and prepared to take a back seat, for now. While it was possible he would be called as a witness today, he was supposedly present to determine if future ICW involvement was needed. But truthfully that had already been decided, and he was only waiting to make his move. Until then, he would gauge the reactions of the players and assist Arthur. No matter what happened today, the man was gonna need the support.
Tonio had a long talk yesterday with Arthur. He had clued him into some of the fireworks that were sure to occur today and had offered him some options for help. He was skating a fine line between law and justice, but at the end of the day decided that he needed to be able to sleep at night. Today he would have to balance the need to punish the guilty with the need to protect the innocent.
Everyone remained standing as the doors of the Wizenmagot closed, and the Court Reporter stepped forward. A loud throbbing sound reverberated until there was silence. “Hear one, hear all. Let it be known that the Wizenmagot is called to order. This is the first session of the 1992 Fall Court. Chief Warlock Albus Perciful Wulfric Brian Dumbledore presiding. May all with business before this court find Justice.”
Tonio took his seat with everyone else. Dumbledore looked around the room with a stern yet compassionate visage that he figured the man had practiced for a couple of generations. Everything about him spoke of control and power. He was a bit of a puzzle, but Tonio loved puzzles.
Dumbledore smiled softly, “We appreciate everyone who has made time in our busy schedules to do our duty since I know so many of you have children or grandchildren to prepare for Hogwarts. We will do what we can to use our time wisely. I see that in addition to the full Wizenmagot being seated, we have a full audience. While we are always appreciative when our citizens concern themselves with the working of our government, I want to remind everyone that the rules of order will be maintained.”
He turned then to the Court Reporter who sat at the desk adjacent to Dumbledore’s with files, scrolls, transcription quill moving steadily, ritual athame, and all of the other tools and badges of his trade at the ready some of which probably hadn’t been used in a court of law for generations. “What matters are set before the court this day?”
The man, who traditionally remained nameless during proceedings, stood and picked up his parchment. “First order of business is the seating of two new members of this body.”
A man and woman stepped forward from where they had remained standing until now. Dumbledore reviewed the card handed him. “Master Joshua Stone, Lady Ariana Russmeyer. Welcome to the Wizenmagot. We welcome you amongst us. Please take your seat and add your magic so that the Wizenmagot may recognize your rights.” They each walked to the two empty seats in the room then lay their hands on the carving in their seat. A brief flash of blue acceptance was all anyone could see before they took their places.
The Court Reporter once more stood. “Our next order of business, Chief Warlock.” The doors to the Holding area opened and out came Molly Weasley with her solicitors by her side. She was led to the defendant’s table, looking pale. Dumbledore practically ripped the page out of the Reporter’s hand as he offered it to the man. Tonio watched his face flash with anger for a brief moment before calming. If he hadn’t been watching he would have missed it. Hmm, another piece for his puzzle.
The lead interrogator stood at his table while the Reporter read out the charges. “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Wizenmagot, our first case is the Ministry of Magic vs. Molly Weasley née Prewett. The charges are 69 counts of possession of a restricted substance. Interrogators are Philip Canonry and Vina Loman. Representing the defendant Bryn Driscoll and Elliot Collins.”
Tonio observed Dumbledore glancing surreptitiously towards Molly while keeping that disapproving grandfather face in place. Ms. Loman remained standing while everyone else sat down. She nodded her head first toward Dumbledore then toward the assembly. “Chief Warlock. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Wizenmagot, we find ourselves here today to pass judgment against the defendant for possession of a restricted substance. Let us be clear. This is not about determining guilt. The defendant was suspected of having the substance, the substance was found in the private potions lab owned by the defendant, and upon later questioning the defendant clearly admitted possession.
Now, I know you will hear that no one was harmed due to this. That the substance was never used outside the home, and as such, the embarrassment of these proceedings should be punishment enough. But that is just not the case. This crime is not victimless. Do not allow yourselves to be swayed by empty rhetoric. No, today is about proving that no one is above the law.” With that, she sat down.
Mr. Collins stood, “Chief Warlock,” he bowed toward Dumbledore before turning to bow to the Assembly. “Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen. Frankly, this hearing is appalling. What you see before you is a miscarriage of true justice. My client is a simple housewife. As many of our wife’s do, as my own wife does, she brews simple cures for the home. And, as a better than average brewer she brews some of the more advanced cures as well.
Did she stray a little? Yes. Did she surpass the bounds of technically legal? Yes. How many of you might have something slightly over the line of legal in your own potion chest? But she didn’t deny it. She admitted readily that it was for household use only. And instead of censoring her privately as should have been done, her good name is dragged through this court for a minor infraction. Where she will have to suffer the embarrassment,” he pointed into the seats where the Weasley family was lined up, “and her children are traumatized by being forced to witness it. I ask you, honored members, to keep this in mind when you pass your judgment.”
Philip Canonry rose, “I call Amelia Bones to the stand.”
Tonio glanced to the side as Madam Bones rose and walked up to the stand. She had a stern visage, and her expression gave nothing of their personal feelings away. The Recorder stood, “Please state your name and position for the record.”
“I am Amelia Susan Bones, Director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.” She stated before sitting down.
Canonry walked forward. “Madam Bones, please explain to this Court the events that occurred on Thursday, August 20th of this year.”
In a precise, even tone she proceeded to provide details, “Thursday morning I was interrupted during my morning briefing by one of our supervisors, Jasper Grey, to report that Mr. Arthur Weasley of the Department of the Misuse of Muggles Artifacts was behaving out of character. Mr. Weasley was brought into my office, and it was immediately apparent that the man was having a severe reaction to some kind of potion.
Two of his sons were present and when questioned confirmed that while he was acting fine the day before, he had been sluggish and unfocused as they rushed to work that morning. I ordered him taken to St Mungo’s for evaluation. The Healers determined the cause of his problem and prescribed a cleansing slash purging regimen. In the end, it took sixteen hours to purge the long term potion residue from him.”
“And on Friday, August 21st?” Canonry continued.
“On Friday morning Arthur gave full permission as Patriarch of his House to search his property for any illegal artifacts or substances. That search led to the discovery of forty-seven vials of a calamus infusion, four ounces of American Calamus, six stalks of purple milk vine, two preserved sand berries, and a vial of powdered dragon eggshell.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Tonio saw the head of the second son, Charlie Weasley, suddenly whip up, and he was glaring at his mother. Charlie had been on the fence all weekend about forgiving her, but clearly, this was going to lead to his employers investigating him to make sure he hadn’t supplied the shell. Tonio made a mental note that he needs to make sure the Romanian Preserve has their report that the vial was at least eight years old and therefore predated his employment.
“Subsequent testing of the Weasley children showed that six of the children had been given elixir of calamus over at least a nine-year period.” Bones finished.
“So, you believe she began potioning her family nine years ago?” Canonry asked.
“No.” Bones replied. “I believe her potioning goes back further than that. However, the test is not verifiable at any periods exceeding nine years.”
“Thank you, Director Bones.” Canonry returned to his seat.
Elliot Collins stood, “My client, Molly Weasley, is the hard-working mother of seven rambunctious children. Through her hard work and dedication, two of them have graduated Hogwarts with Honors and are now dedicating themselves to rewarding, respectable careers. Another is headed down that same path. But sometimes, a mother must make sacrifices to protect her children.”
Ms. Loman stood, “Chief Warlock, is Mr. Collins going to ask this witness a question, or can we move on to the next witness?”
Dumbledore gestured, and Collins nodded before asking, “Other than the potions and ingredients, was there anything else suspicious found at the Weasley Home?”
Bones’ hesitation was negligible, “Nothing else related to this case.”
“Don’t you think we should be the judge of what is related?” Collins chided her.
Bones stood firm, “No. I don’t.”
Collins glanced toward the children sitting nearby, “Was it perhaps something found in one of the children’s bedrooms?”
“I would rather not say at this time.” Bones stated, unruffled.
“Chief Warlock, how am I to defend my client if law enforcement is withholding information? I must insist she be ordered to answer my questions.”
Dumbledore looked over his glasses at Amelia and gave a disapproving tsk, “Madam Bones unless you can supply this court with a solid reason for avoiding this question, I must order you to comply.”
Bones sat up straighter and answered grudgingly, “A suspicious object was found in one of the children’s bedrooms and is currently still under investigation. We have no reason to think at this time that Molly Weasley had anything to do with the object or even knowledge of it. Therefore it is not relevant to the current case.”
“I don’t agree.” Collins stated firmly, “I think you found something in the bedroom of George and Fred Weasley. It is known to the children of Gryffindor House at Hogwarts that the Weasley twins frequently experiment with substances that are borderline illegal. Isn’t it possible that some of the items discovered in the Weasley home are items that Molly has confiscated from her children and in a fit they reported the issue to cause trouble for their mother?”
“Really? It is known the two youths are troubled and already in trouble with the law. Madam Bones, as an officer of this court, you are sworn to speak the truth within these walls.” Collins demanded. “We have it on good authority you found contraband in the boys’ room. Given that I find it unreasonable that you aren’t willing to accept that some of the items taken from Molly Weasley’s private lab were actually confiscated from her children, and she is just protecting them?”
Tonio looked over to see Arthur reassuring the twins while glaring at the defense. He had to admit that it was in extremely poor taste to try to evade punishment by attempting to throw your own children under the bus. A glance toward Dumbledore showed the man nodding his head wisely as if he firmly believed what the man was selling. Luckily, the witness didn’t agree.
Bones stared Collins down before replying, “First, while some interesting things were taken from the bedroom potions lab of Fred and George Weasley, they were not in any way illegal and amounted to harmless and very inventive joke and prank experiments. Second, the item you keep questioning was not taken from the twins’ bedroom, it was taken from the youngest child’s bedroom who is too young to realize there might be a problem with an innocuous looking object.”
Tonio saw Lucious Malfoy of all people squirm slightly in his seat at that statement, huh. “Third, the Weasley Twins have already demonstrated their desire to atone for mistakes. When their parents caught them taking a muggle vehicle for a joyride, they willingly came to the DMLE to admit their wrongdoing and were sentenced to community service, which they have enthusiastically completed.”
He turned away with a brief, “No further questions.”
“Thank you, Director Bones,” Dumbledore stated.
After she stepped down, Canonry announced, “We would now like to call Rudra Singh.”
The Recorder stood, “Please state your name and position for the record.”
“Rudra Singh, Healer at St Mungo’s.” He said before sitting.
“Healer Singh, You were the Healer in charge of the Weasley Family care?”
“Yes, I was.”
“Can you describe for the court the condition of Mr. Weasley when he was brought in for treatment?” Canonry instructed while picking up a file.
“Yes. On Thursday, the patient, Mr. Weasley, was brought into St Mungo’s. He was in a severely altered condition. A scan and diagnostic on his blood showed that he was having a severe reaction to a potion. A deep analysis revealed it was a version of Elixir of Calamus. A regimen of repeated purging was prescribed.”
“Chief Warlock, I would like to enter into evidence the written report from St Mungo’s. Please note the highlighted portion that details the test was positive for Elixir of Calamus.” The Court Reporter took the file and placed it in the box to legally enter it as evidence. Mr. Canonry continued as this was taking place, “For those of us who are not healers or potion masters, can you explain what an Elixir of Calamus is and what it does.”
“Of course, Calamus is a palm-like plant that is grown near water. It is the root of the plant that is usually chopped and dried. The dried chips are then crushed into a powder before use. The Asian calamus is the most popular variety used in the Healing Arts. Most often from Japan or China. It is frequently prescribed to patients who have experienced spell or physical damage to their brain. In the right dosage, it can help control panic attacks and anxiety.”
“Is this elixir available for anyone who might feel a little anxiety?” Mr. Canonry asked.
Healer Singh shook his head firmly, “No, definitely not. The root can be exceedingly bitter and needs something added to make it palatable. When mixed with sweet substances such as sugar or honey, it has the side effect of rendering the recipient malleable to suggestion. As such it is designated a Class III restricted substance. No reputable healer would prescribe it outside of a clinical setting because of the potential for abuse.”
“Thank you, Healer Singh.”
“So, Healer Singh.” Collins picked up a note. “It was determined that Mr. Weasley was severely affected by this elixir. So severely affected that it was noticeable to everyone around him. Is this correct?”
“Everyone noticed his behavior was off. But they had never before noticed odd behavior. Now the Ministry is implying that my client repeatedly potioned her husband over a number of years. Can you explain how she could possibly be guilty of repeated potioning if they only now noticed an issue with his behavior? Don’t you believe it much more likely that this was a one-time incident, and it is testing that could have been off?” Collins demanded.
“Actually, I can explain it.” Singh adjusted slightly on the chair as he pointed to a packet of calamus sitting upon the prosecution’s table as evidence. “I stated before that the Asian variety is usually used for treatment. That’s because it’s very mild and can be taken internally with the proper preparation. What you have there, what Mr. Weasley had imbibed is American Calamus. The plants are almost identical, but the American variety is much stronger and harder to work with. In fact, it is so much stronger that it is never safe to use orally. It is normally dispersed into an ointment for topical use only. It is difficult to estimate absorption rate for behavior control in this form, but can be helpful for severe muscle cramping.”
He looked around the room, “Mr. Weasley is fortunate that he only received one dose. Repeated dosing could have resulted in permanent damage.”
“No further questions.” While Singh was dismissed, Collins returned to his partner and their client for a quick, warded discussion. Tonio watched as Molly was shaking her head in the negative at first before eventually nodding agreement.
Canonry motioned to the side, “ I call Arth…..”
“Chief Warlock,” Collins interrupted. “My client would prefer not to drag the good name of her family through the mud any longer. She wishes to enter a plea of guilty of possession at this time and requests her rights as a pureblood witch to Summary Judgement and Sentencing by the Chief Warlock of this assembly.”
Canonry moved forward quickly, “I object. Summary Judgement, perhaps, but Sentencing should be held until the victim of this crime has the opportunity to testify in the least.”
“Chief Warlock, as we are not disputing the possession, and the charges are for possession, then I fail to see how a victim’s statement will change the fact that she is pleading guilty to possession. Let us not waste more of this court’s valuable time when it is just to provide entertainment to the masses.” Collins countered.
Dumbledore nodded wisely, “I agree.” He looked over his glasses toward the defendant, who was staring at him hopefully. “Molly, dear, for the record, are you pleading guilty to the charges?”
She nodded, “Yes, Albus…I mean, Chief Warlock. I just hope you can understand I didn’t have any of it to hurt anyone. It was just supposed to help you calm down after a stressful day. My own grandfather frequently made it for my grandmother when I was a child.”
Tonio watched the man nod sagely as if this explained everything. Yeah, good move on the part of the defense. How to Circumvent the Law 101. Technically legal, but ugly as can be.
“This court finds you guilty of 69 counts of possession of a restricted substance. But, I believe you have seen the error of your ways. I don’t believe that the best resort for rehabilitation in a case like this is incarceration of a mother of seven. Class III substances are not addictive. But to ensure that you do not stray in that direction again, I am sentencing you to nine months of community service in St Agatha’s Addiction Clinic so that you can see first hand the dangers of potion abuse. That time may take place while your children are in Hogwarts.”
People were talking all over the hall, especially in the observation gallery. It made Tonio slightly sick because she was getting off with barely a slap on the wrist. Was he the only one that noted that in saying nine months of community service, Dumbledore had not specified the number of hours. She literally could report in once a month for nine months and fulfill the damn sentence.
While documents were signed and evidence removed from the courtroom, Tonio looked over toward Arthur with his children. He was kneeling in front of them all, speaking quietly. Bill and Charlie were sitting at either end, and Geraldine was sitting beside Bill. Tonio hated the fact that the court required the children to be present to see their family fall apart. It had been no better when he was a child to watch his family fight over his custody. These kids should be someplace protected while the legal system ripped their lives to shreds. There are just some things a child should never have to witness.
As Dumbledore called the chambers to order once more, Arthur left his children to join his team of solicitors. The moment there was quiet, the Court Reporter stood, “Chief Warlock, our next order of business is a Petition of Divorce. Arthur Septimus Weasley vs. Molly Weasley née Prewett.”
There was a moment of shocked silence through the Hall, and it was clear even Dumbledore was at a loss. He gently took the paper from the Reporter as the Hall burst into noise once more. Tonio was sickened by the jackals who were discussing this like it was the entertainment of the day. Some of the voices behind him sounded almost gleeful at the breaking of a marriage. Divorce itself is not unknown in the Wizarding world, but it is exceedingly rare when a full magical marriage bond exists. From a law enforcement perspective, Tonio is aware that it is much more common for one of the parties in a bond to suffer a sudden illness or accident when marriage trouble at this level develops.
Eventually, all were silenced, though frankly, Dumbledore didn’t seem to be trying very hard. He had a sad look on his face while he shook his head in disappointment at Arthur. Tonio squinted slightly while examining the interaction. Arthur very carefully never actually looked at Dumbledore, even when the man was trying to subtlety get his attention.
Why would he…oh, ok, that makes sense. He saw Arthur lean over to speak to his solicitors, and the youngest one glanced briefly at Dumbledore before his partner deliberately pulled his attention away. Never look a skilled Legilimens in the eye. What had Aunt Deeny called him? Twinkly-eyed old goat. Yup, need to be careful. Tonio wondered if Deeny warned him or if Arthur was already aware.
Dumbledore sighed and looked sadly at those before him. “Arthur, given what happened earlier, it is understandable you would be upset. But I’m sure with a little time, everything can be forgiven. It’s…”
“Chief Warlock. I would appreciate it if you would desist from attempting to manipulate my client before the hearing can even begin.” Mr. Lawrence Locklis demanded.
“Now, Larry. I’m sure if you stopped and thought about it, you could see that it would be best if…”
“Now, Albie, I’m certain that if you would just do your job and allow us to present our petition, we could get on with our day.”
“That’s Chief Warlock, Larry.”
“That’s Mr. Locklis, Albie.”
Tonio didn’t even try to hide the grin on his face. Locklis was the only person in the room who looked older than Dumbledore, and if things kept going as they were, it would end in a schoolyard fight. The two men were staring each other down, and the twinkle was gone from Dumbledore’s eye.
Finally, Dumbledore regally nodded his head as if he was merely allowing this to continue of his own will. “Very well, Mr. Locklis. If you would like to begin.”
Locklis gave the barest possible nod to Dumbledore before giving a proper one-quarter bow to the Wizenmagot. “This day I bring before this body a sad duty. We are here on behalf of our client, Arthur Weasley to request that this court find in his favor and grant the legal divorce from this woman, Molly Weasley née Prewett. Now it will be argued today that since a magical marriage bond exists, no divorce can be completed within these halls. And my client recognizes that no matter the law, he will have to acknowledge her within the well of his Family magic for her entire life. But while that fact cannot be contested, he seeks to sever all legal rights between her, his name, his protection, his estate, and his family. He humbly asks this august body to grant him full legal separation from her and severance of all matters financial. He also seeks full custody of his children and to have her blocked from any access to them until they reach their majority at which time they can decide whether to follow the will of their Patriarch.
Mr. Weasley sets forth before this court the following as his accusations against Molly Weasley: The first being that his marriage bond did not come through natural occurrence but rather as the result of illegal potioning with a Dual Hearts potion. The second being a complete loss of trust due to the long-term potioning of both himself and his children by Elixir of Calamus. The third being the use of a forbidden fruits potion against his knowledge or will. And the fourth and final accusation being adultery.
Based on these charges, Arthur Weasley asks, no he demands, that this court grant him the legal divorce and custody of his children that he seeks.” And with that, Mr. Locklis sat down and yielded the floor.
Tonio looked toward the children and noted that Bill was holding onto Ginny while Charlie kept a hand on Ronald’s arm. He could just barely make out the twins holding hands low. But he thinks it’s Percy who he will remember the most, pale as could be with haunted eyes, not accepting comfort from anyone, but eyes glued to his father and never once looking toward his mother.
Bryn Driscoll took a moment to let the whispers fade before slowly rising, “Honored members, it has been a tense time for the Weasley Family. With legal and health issues, it is precipitous that any would agree to consider divorce at this time. The family needs time to come to terms with what has recently happened. They need time to adjust. And, they need time to heal. Bringing all of this up to public scrutiny is just inviting scandal.
My opposition here will argue that there can be no healing, but that is just not true. Fact: A magical marriage bond exists between Arthur and Molly Weasley. Fact: They have seven healthy, well-adjusted children. Fact: Molly has stumbled.
But proceedings such as this just introduce more strife. Instead of trying to tear apart the beautiful life they have built, everyone should be encouraging them to reconcile. Because let’s face it. A magical marriage bond is a gift from Lady Magic and as such is eternal. If Lady Magic wills it, we should not interfere.” Driscoll calmly returned to his seat and waited.
Locklis picked up a page and stepped forward to the Court Reporter before turning. “To start with, we introduce into evidence the entirety of the trial of the Ministry of Magic vs. Molly Weasley née Prewett.” He stared Dumbledore down until the man just nodded to the Court Reporter. The Reporter placed the page upon the rune box on his desk, and with a flash, a copy of the previous trial transcript and documents of evidence appeared in its place.
“It is acknowledged that Molly is a gifted brewer. In another lifetime she might have gone on to study for a Mastery in the subject. She pled guilty to possession of a restricted substance, but let us be clear that she did knowingly purchase that substance, process it, and brew it into the Elixir which was found in her private potions lab. Enough elixir to potion her family seven times over. This speaks to blatant, habitual abuse of her spouse.”
“I object. Chief Warlock, clearly my esteemed colleague is just trying to sensationalize this. My client pled guilty to possession only. There was no talk of abuse at any time. He is clearly reading more into this than is present.” Driscoll argued.
“Chief Warlock, I am only stating fact. She brewed the potion, she used the potion against her spouse, and evidence submitted during the trial clearly proves that she had been giving her family that potion for at least nine years. How can one call that anything but abuse?” Locklis demanded while emphasizing each point with his fist banging on the desk.
Looking down his glasses with a censoring expression, Dumbledore ordered, “Let us err on the side of caution and avoid calling this ‘abuse’ Lar…Mr. Locklis.”
Locklis threw down a file on the desk while he glared at Dumbledore. He turned and looked up toward Tonio as he picked up a different page. Tonio picked up the satchel next to him and nodded back. “Chief Warlock, the next two items are delicate as testimony to these facts can be entered into evidence in international court before a full ICW tribunal. These involve the use of a Dual Hearts Potion to stimulate the formation of a magical marriage bond and the use of a forbidden fruits potion, type undetermined on the report. Details of these potions were entered into evidence during the trial of Molly Weasley née Prewett on the full written report submitted by Healer Rudra Singh.”
“You can hardly expect me to allow my client to testify under these circumstances. You are asking her to incriminate herself. I request these charges be stricken from the record as spurious. Besides, Dual Heart Potions are not illegal. They are frequently consumed by the bride and groom during the wedding feast.”
“That is not exactly correct. It is true that the use of the Dual Hearts potion is borderline acceptable when an arranged marriage is made. After the legal marriage is completed, the bride and groom are toasted off to their wedding bed with the potion which they each take willingly to facilitate the development of a bond. It is, in essence, a glorified lust potion that will make doing their duty more pleasant. However, on November 6th, 1968, following several incidents between magical and muggles over the previous decade, the ICW ruled that the use of the potion outside the legal bonds of marriage and without full knowledge and consent of both parties would be considered an international crime.” Locklis stated with an unyielding force.
Driscoll sat back down and quickly activated the privacy runes at the table before beginning an intense conversation with his client and team. Tonio rose from his seat quietly and approached the floor of the Wizenmagot. “May it please the court I would like to approach.”
Everything stopped while eyes turned toward Tonio. He held tight to his occlumency shields while he made eye contact with the Chief Warlock. He felt that first nudge of inquiry before he slammed down his mental shields and just raised an eyebrow at the man who flinched. “Please state your name and business.”
“I am Special Agent Antonio Paddington DiNozzo of the Special Investigation Agency of the International Confederation of Wizards. I was brought in to investigate and determine if international charges should be filed in a number of cases here, this case among them.” Tonio slid his satchel from his shoulder while speaking.
“Don’t you feel it’s a bit precipitous to discuss this at this time?” Dumbledore asked. “After all, this is just a divorce proceeding.”
“Actually, I have enough evidence to take Molly Weasley into custody and am prepared to do so following this hearing.” Tonio saw Molly pale before speaking again to her solicitor. He supposed it was perfect timing to wait until the woman was behind wards that silenced her before speaking.
“But let’s be clear. While I might personally find some of her actions reprehensible, I am not actively trying to put a mother of seven behind bars. I want the suppliers of these ingredients since they are the ones making money from these crimes, they are the ones encouraging more victims.” Now he reached in and pulled out an item that his boss had shipped to him the night before. It was rarely used outside ICW court so many may have heard of it yet never seen one before.
“I have in my hands a recording projection pensieve certified for use by the ICW court. I believe you have seen such items at work as Head Mugwump?” Tonio directed toward Dumbledore who cleared his throat and nodded.
“As a duly sworn Hit Wizard of the ICW court system, it is within my authority to offer amnesty to Molly Weasley for all crimes related to the possession and use of the banned potions and ingredients in exchange for recording her testimony using veritiserum.” And now Tonio focused his full attention on Molly and her defense team.
“I need a moment to confer with my client.” Driscoll barely waited for the nod from Dumbledore before activating the privacy rune once more.
While a heated debate raged in silence at that table, Dumbledore motioned Tonio to approach his desk. “Agent DiNozzo, why have I not been informed that an investigation by SIA is ongoing in my jurisdiction?”
“Sir, it is the SIA mandate to investigate international crime no matter where it may occur. We are not required to notify or gain the approval of the local government or the ICW Council during our investigation. Since many such investigations do not result in charges, and some of the ones that do result in sanctions against the local government, it would be counterproductive to announce our intention before completing the investigation. After all, we have full authority to handle such things independently up to and including investigations into council members themselves.” Tonio kept a mask of indifference on his face while he watched Dumbledore process.
“I would like a full report on all cases you are investigating here. We can meet following this session.”
“No, Sir, we can not.”
“Young man, I am the Supreme Mugwump of the International…”
“With all due respect sir, you have no authority over me outside the strict limits of an ICW Court Session. According to our mandate, I answer to the Director of the SIA, Wilhelm Jager, only. Anything else invites corruption of the process, and I know as Supreme Mugwump you would not want the appearance of corruption.” Tonio finished with a solemn expression as he watched anger turn calculation within those eyes before evening out to twinkling once more. If he hadn’t been paying close attention, he never would have seen it.
Mr. Driscoll stood above the ward at the table without deactivating it. “We are amenable to meeting after this session to discuss recording a testimony for the SIA.”
Dumbledore nodded sagely, “I believe that would be the best option in this case so as to not disrupt the divorce proceedings more than has already occurred.”
Tonio stood firm. “This window of opportunity lasts until this session is closed. As previously stated, at that time, I will be taking your client into custody, and she will be extradited to France to be tried in international court.”
“You are abusing your authority by insisting the testimony take place here.”
“No, I am placating my sense of justice. By granting amnesty in private, Molly Weasley will not see any repercussions for her actions, and her victims will receive no closure. By doing so before this assembly, she will be forced to experience the social repercussions. And by doing so during this divorce hearing, at least Mr. Weasley will be granted such testimony as admissible in his own petition. As I said, justice.” Tonio smirked.
Driscoll sat down, and the debate at that table continued. Tonio glanced around the room, taking in the reactions. The gallery above was whispering quietly. Dumbledore was sorting through the case documents, presumably to read the copy of the healer’s report. Geraldine met his eyes and nodded. She was ready to remove any of the minor children from the seats if they became overwrought, though the law would not allow her to remove them from the Hall until custody was determined. He noted that Charlie’s arm was now wrapped around Ron’s shoulders. And Percy sat so rigidly he was worried the boy would break. He glanced back to Geraldine, and she followed his eyes before acknowledging and leaning toward Bill to whisper.
He left them to handle the children and looked toward Arthur’s seat. He had discussed this with the man and his team before making the decision. After all, Arthur was the primary victim in this. Tonio felt it only right to give him a say given the result. But Arthur could care less if she did jail time as long as his children were safe from her manipulations.
It took almost fifteen minutes for them to come to a decision. “On the condition of full amnesty from legal prosecution for any of her alleged crimes, my client will agree to testify.”
“As I stated, I am offering amnesty for all international crimes related to the healer’s report and accusations of the divorce petition,” Tonio confirmed calmly.
“No, that is not sufficient. Chief Warlock, I must insist that my client is granted full amnesty regarding any of her testimony both here and internationally. Otherwise, I must advise her to take her chances in international court.”
Dumbledore quickly agreed, “As Chief Warlock, I can grant amnesty for all crimes listed within the Ministry of Magic that are admitted during questioning.”
Amelia Bones shot to her feet in anger, “Chief Warlock, I protest your interference in my department’s ability to investigate and prosecute illegal actions.”
“Madam Bones, we must acknowledge that Agent DiNozzo is correct. We are not here to put a housewife and mother of seven in jail. For the greater good, we can forgive her indiscretions in order to prosecute the true criminals in our midst.”
Driscoll spoke before anyone had the chance to object, “In that case, my client will testify.” And there was silence once more as Tonio began laying out the objects needed for testimony.
Once she was seated, Tonio took a moment to place the twelve small runestones that would mark the limits of the projection. Amelia Bones stepped forward as his second and administered the veritiserum to Molly. After giving it a moment to take effect, he slipped the bowl-shaped pensieve cap upon her head to begin. “Please state your name for the record.”
“Molly Weasley.” She shifted slightly.
“On August 19th of this year, you purchased chipped calamus. Where did you purchase this?
“Sherips Apothecary.” She stated, her voice slightly strained as she was unable to stop herself from speaking. Around them mist formed and within it, Molly moved toward a door on Knockturn Alley. Looking at the sign above the door, it read Sherips Apothecary. The bell rang as she entered, and Milton Sherips turned toward her with a suspicious glare. It faded forward, and she was handing him money while he passed her a package of calamus. The image faded out.
“This appears to be properly calibrated.” Tonio picked up his notes. “What were the events that made you consider using a Dual Hearts potion to create a marriage bond?”
Without speaking images began to build around them. A much younger Molly straightened her Hogwarts robes before opening the door to enter an office in Hogwarts. An older man stood stiffly next to a chair, head high and unbending, eyes flashing with anger.
“Father. I’m surprised to see you here. Is mother well?”
“As well as can be expected given the disgrace you bring on our family.” Lord Prewett stated.
“Father? I don’t understand.” Molly looked nervously at the folder on the desk in front of him.
He pulled out several photos from the folder and threw them down onto the table. “I believe you do.” She looked down to see herself wrapped around a progression of young men. “All I required of you was to keep yourself pure for a proper marriage. You did not even try to hide your indiscretions like a proper witch.”
“I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding. This isn’t what it looks like.” Her eyes darted around, looking for an escape.
“No more lies. You will do your duty to the Family. I have salvaged what I can. I have signed a magical marriage contract with Lord Elmer Fawley. It will take effect upon your graduation from Hogwarts. The marriage will take place soon after.”
“But he’s old! He’s 69, his great-nephew is in my class. You can’t really mean for me to…”
“Silence! I have had enough of this. The honor of our house is at stake, and I will remind you of your place in it. The contract is signed. You will do your duty!” And with that, Lord Prewett swept out of the room, leaving Molly in shocked silence.
The ring clouded before another scene coalesced. The scene was now in a Library. Molly had several volumes stacked and spread open across two tables.
“There has to be something…anything. No one controls who I marry, contract or no. How dare father make a decision without asking me. And to someone so old. I’m running out of time.”
She heard rustling behind her and turned, but no one was there. She looked down to the book laying open on the table, certain she had closed that one. As she moved to close it, she looked down and saw a passage. ‘A magical marriage bond is a gift of Lady Magic. As such, it supersedes all existing contracts and familial bonds.’ “Yes! I’ll show you, Father.”
The image faded. Tonio looked around the room briefly before refocusing. “How did you get the potion?”
Molly Weasley was knocking on the back door of a business while looking around. “What is your problem, Girl. I have no time for childish nonsense. You can use the front door like everyone else.”
“Master Jaekle. Please, I need your help. I was told that you can brew a Dual Hearts potion.” Molly pleaded with the darkly dressed old man.
“What is this? Some trick?” He opened the door and looked both ways down the alley before closing and locking it. “That potion is practically illegal now girl. Don’t take me for a fool.”
“I can pay. Please. I need it before Beltane. I can pay double.” She pulled out a money pouch.
The man sneered at her. “Money won’t help me in prison, Girl.”
“I’ll do anything to get the potion.” She pleaded once more.
He looked her up and down before giving a slightly evil smile, “Anything?”
Tonio quickly touched one of the stones, and the image faded. He cleared his throat a moment and took a deep breath, slowly letting it out. “Moving on. Exactly when did you give the potion to Arthur Weasley?”
Her voice came out with a little anger, “It wasn’t meant for him.”
It was the night of the Beltane Festival. Earlier festivities were so proper, but once the older members and children left, the party of the night began. She spent a good half the evening stalking her prey. Torian Shafiq was twenty and dashing, and the eldest son of Lord Shafiq. He was set to inherit a vast fortune, and his father already had him going abroad to learn the management of their holdings. She would see the world in the style she most desired. Carefully she set the scene. She moved into position and spiked his drink as he looked away toward the end of the twirling dance as the music hit the high note and partners spun quickly, trying to hold on. She immediately took her own half of the potion.
Suddenly a body came spinning away from the dancers and collided with Torian. They held onto one another, turning around to keep their feet. Finally steady they froze a moment and started laughing. “Arthur! That woman must be a quarter giant the way she slung you about.”
“Possibly! But can she dance.” Arthur Weasley replied with a sweating face and broad smile while panting.
“Here. I think you could use a drink more than me, my friend.” Before she could react, Torian handed Arthur the drink, and he downed it in three gulps. She froze for a moment trying to make her feet run, but it was too late.
“Molly, love! Didn’t know you were here.”
Tonio ended the projection. “So you were actually trying to entrap the heir to a noble house,” Tonio stated, not really a question. Before she could try to respond, he moved on with his questioning. “A Forbidden Fruits Potion is a classification of potions of which one characteristic is that the harvesting of the potion ingredients is considered a crime against magic. The report submitted by Healer Singh indicated that Arthur Weasley had residue within his system of ingredients consistent with this kind of potion. Did you Molly Weasley obtain such a potion sometime between your wedding and the birth of your last child?”
She struggled to speak before choking out a tentative “No.”
He wrinkled his brow in confusion. “Did you dose your husband with a potion that can be classified as a Forbidden Fruits Potion?”
“Yes.” She answered quickly and clearly.
“Hmm. You can’t lie. You obviously obtained a potion to dose your husband….Ah. Of course. Did you obtain more than one potion?” Tonio asked.
“Yes.” She answered wearily.
“Now see, this is what I just don’t understand. Forbidden Fruits Potions have one other characteristic in common, they are all forms of fertility potions. Now the Weasley Family is known far and wide for their high fertility rates. So exactly why would you need a banned fertility potion?”
Mist streams again and an image of the now Molly Weasley stands defiantly before her father in what appears to be a personal study. The man is livid and looks like he is ready to destroy half the home.
“How dare you defy me! The contract fell to dust, and with it all business deals I had worked with Lord Fawley. You can wipe that smug grin off your face. I won’t shame the family by disinheriting you since you are married to an ancient pureblood house. But as of today, you can consider yourself cut off. You will see not a sickle from a single member of the House of Prewett.”
He looked her up and down in disgust before continuing with a sick little grin, “But rest assured, your trust fund has been rolled into a hefty dowry along with all of your mother’s estate that you are due to inherit. And that trust will be released to you…..the day a daughter born of your body marries into a noble house, as you should have done.”
Then he laughed as he stared at her stricken face, “Good Luck. I understand the Weasleys only have males.”
As it faded out, Tonio did not give the gallery time to evaluate. “What was the first potion you used, and where did you get it?”
“Master Jaekle, I’ve been reading about the Dragon’s bone potion to guarantee a healthy boy.”
“Hardly seems a problem you would have, Molly.”
“Just, isn’t there a version that could guarantee a female child?” She turned the potion master’s book around to point at the potion in question.
“I suppose a substitution of a like amount of a substance of true purity could do what you ask. But it’s a rare house that would be interested in having female children. Not worth the trouble.”
“I would think it worth the trouble. What kind of substance do you think?” She said, challenging him.
“Fine, for the right price. But I think it would take a healthy dose of something special. Let me check my supplies. Hmm, yes. We should try this. It’s horn of unicorn harvested from an unborn unicorn.”
She shivered. “Let’s do it.”
There was shock in the gallery and Tonio swallowed hard. “What was the result of the potion?”
“Arthur was sick for three days afterward, and I got pregnant….with the twins.”
“And the second potion?”
Again they are at the potion master’s shop. “I need to see Master Jaekle immediately, Severus.”
“My Master is currently out of the country gathering ingredients. I have not been told when he will return, but it should be within the month.” Severus Snape replied snidely. “I have finished my apprenticeship and am only awaiting Master Jaekle’s confirmation of my Mastery certificate. So I am certain I will be able to handle any potion you require.”
“I don’t think so.” Molly shook her head.
“Are you insane?” Snape looked around the shop before dragging Molly to the back.
“I’ve done my research. It took a few years, but this one is guaranteed to produce a daughter.”
“And guaranteed to send you to jail.”
“No, I checked. I am not allowed to purchase the ingredients, but the law says nothing about brewing or possessing the potion. I’ve already seen most of your Master’s reserve potion ingredients. So I know he already has a supply of the ingredients. It’s not like there is anything legitimate he could use them on.” Molly insisted.
“Fine. I will brew the potion. But I’m the one taking a risk since it could stop my Mastery. So I want half again as much in payment.”
“That’s ridiculous! I won’t have it.”
“Well, then you better find someone else to brew your potion.” Snape leaned back, crossing his arm.
“OK, I will get the money. Now, how soon until you can deliver?” She demanded.
“It will take six days to complete it. And it’s better if taken on the new moon.” He looked her over and smirked, “I would suggest he keep his hands off you until you are ready. This will be useless if you’re already pregnant.”
There was silence as the projection was canceled. “The witness is excused. However, I reserve the right to recall her.” Tonio removed the pensieve from her head and gave himself a moment to think while she returned to her seat. This one was actually a bit more complicated. “Chief Warlock, I would like to call Severus Snape forward to testify.”
Snape was escorted quietly to the center floor, but he stopped without approaching the chair. “I was called here today to provide expert testimony on Potion ingredients and brewing. I am not represented, and I refuse to be put in a position to incriminate myself. And, while her memory alleges I brewed the potion in question, in no way did it imply I broke the law. Therefore I see no benefit to my testifying.”
“If you have nothing to fear…”
“Do not waste your time pretending for one moment that I’m some simpering schoolboy who will fall for your charms and ignore the pitfalls. I was brought here under false pretenses, and as I have no solicitor, I will simply not follow your script.” He started to turn.
“I can have you held until my superior can arrive with a writ of discovery requiring you to give a statement.”
“You wish me to testify, I will do so on one condition. I want the same deal Mrs. Weasley received. Amnesty for testimony.”
The Hall exploded in argument from all sides, and Tonio continued to stare Snape down, neither party giving and he realized he was facing a backbone as firm and steady as his own. The tableau remained through the noise and motion around them until Dumbledore’s voice boomed across the Hall calling for silence. In the sudden silence resulting, Snape pulled his wand and pointed it at himself while stating in a firm, loud voice, “I, Severus Snape, do swear on my magic that I have never personally broken any laws national or international regarding the purchase of banned potion ingredients.” And with a flick of his wand, he summoned the pensieve from where it sat and handed it to Tonio as a challenge.
Tonio considered carefully. That the man before him was exceedingly intelligent, he had no doubt. But his gut told him that this wasn’t the one he’s after. At least not right now. If he had to guess, he would say this is one of the deadliest people in this room, but he’s playing at something. The question is what.
He took the pensieve and motioned toward the chair. “Within the scope of today’s questions, I will agree to the same conditions as granted to Mrs. Weasley.” There were some outraged voices in the Hall. “Chief Warlock, do you agree?”
Dumbledore had that calculating look for a moment before clearing and smiling, “Yes, of course.”
Snape spun to walk to the chair, his cloak snapping back with a flair. He turned and sat down with great deliberation and the air of someone who’s time is being wasted. It took but a moment for them to administer veritiserum and adjust the pensieve.
Tonio stepped back and asked his first question, “Did you brew a Formosa Filiae potion for Molly Weasley?”
Images appeared with more definition than Molly had presented. Snape with a caldron brewing and a hood to catch the neon pink liquid that vaporized before condensing back through tubing to a waiting vial.
“Did you purchase any of the banned ingredients used in that potion?”
“No.” It was spoken with such disdain as to question his ability to walk and breath at the same time. Tonio realized the man had just made a vow on his magic regarding this very subject, but needed this on the record, thank you very much.
“Who purchased these ingredients?”
“Master Jaekle.” He stared Tonio down while an image of his Potion Master appeared.
“And you were apprenticed to him for?”
“For how long?” Tonio clarified with a mixture of amusement and frustration hidden carefully behind his carefully masked emotions.
“In that three years did you personally witness him purchasing banned substances?” Tonio watched him closely.
“Do you have any knowledge as to whom he purchased such items from?” Tonio prodded.
A succession of images appeared with various witches and wizards ushered into the master’s office with packages and leaving without. The door always closed before any transaction occurred.
“Do you have any information regarding their identities?”
“Would you like to elaborate?”
Tonio tossed down the notes in a show of frustration, more because it was expected than felt. “Given that you have immunity at this time, it would be appreciated if you would actively participate and be more forthcoming with answers.”
“I have accurately answered every question you have asked,” Snape smirked.
“Good, then you will not have an issue providing a complete list of known or suspected dealers in illegal potion ingredients.” Tonio raised an eyebrow, daring him to decline.
There was a long pause before Snape finally conceded, “Of course. Perhaps a written list following these proceedings would be acceptable.” He glanced around at the audience hall before locking his eyes on Tonio as if trying to convey a message.
“Fine. I will accept a written list, as long as it’s detailed.” He agreed before picking up his notes once more.
“What happened when Molly Weasley returned for the potion?” Tonio asked.
The image came fast. Molly Weasley returning to the shop just after opening. “I have the money, is it ready?”
“Of course.” He held onto the potion until every last sickle and knute was swept into his own pouch. Finally, he offered her the bright pick vial, and she smiled broadly as she took it.
As she started to turn away, his brow furrowed and he had a look of slight concern on his face. He reached out quickly for her arm, stopping her. “You are aware of the danger of that potion?” He asked.
She looked confused. “Danger? Are you saying it won’t work?”
“Oh, it will work. You are guaranteed to get pregnant. But, it will be the last pregnancy you ever have. One guaranteed healthy child in exchange for sterility.” He warned.
She waved her hand, dismissively. “All I need is one girl. I have enough brats as it is, will be happy to avoid having any more thank you very much.”
He started laughing at her, and she flushed in anger. “What?”
“A girl? Well, the potion will guarantee a girl…as long as the father isn’t a Weasley.” He laughed some more. “There isn’t a potion that can be brewed that can circumvent the Weasley curse. Do you think you’re the first to try?”
She began ranting while waving her arms about, “Why didn’t you say something? I demand you give that money back!”
“You paid for a potion, I delivered.”
She was quiet for a moment, then talking to herself too softly to be heard before coming to some decision. “Fine. All that matters is that she’s mine. Nothing says Arthur has to be involved. Yes, that will work, I will just find someone else to father her.” She looked back at Severus, “Physical appearance? How can I make sure that she doesn’t resemble her father?”
“The potion guarantees she takes her mother’s appearance. So scamper off to find some poor fool willing for a romp in the bed. And hope he never tells Arthur.” He turned with a recognizable flare to return to the lab as he noticed her staring at him with a calculating gaze.
“Severus. Don’t be so quick to go. It seems to me that I have a perfect solution. The best way to keep a secret is to keep it to ourselves, don’t you agree?”
“Oh, no. I have no desire to serve as breeding stock.” He sneered at her.
“Oh, fiddle-faddle, grow a pair. It’s just sex. I’m not asking you to have anything to do with the child. But I am running out of time, and I must have a girl.”
He seemed to be considering, “If I agree to this, then you will owe me in the future. And when I call in the marker, you will pay no matter what is asked.”
He flicked his wand to lock the door and turn the sign to closed before leading her up to the rooms above the shop. He went to a chest and unlocked it with a touch before reaching in for a smaller chest. Inside were eight vials lined up. He picked up one and turned back.
He handed her the vial, and she looked at him, confused. “It’s polyjuice. It’s my only other condition.”
She looked down at it before questioning, “Why?”
“Let’s just say, you’re not my type.” He turned to put the chest away while she shrugged and swallowed the potions. Snape turned back to watch her new form undress and whispered, “Lily.”
Tonio quickly ended the projection and turned away from Snape’s haunted eyes. Molly was looking down at the table. Arthur looked ill and was being restrained by his solicitors. Tonio followed his gaze to the children where Bill sat with Ginny in his lap, rocking back and forth while she sobbed. It was silent, so someone had cast a silencing charm her way to give her what privacy they could. Geraldine was speaking to Bill, but he was shaking his head no.
Deciding to end this now Tonio turned back to finish. “The potion worked as expected?”
“The child should have resembled her mother, but the polyjuice interacted with it and her physical appearance is closer to Lily’s,” Snape replied subdued.
“Have you since then brewed a potion to suppress the magic of a child outside of your role as Potion Master of Hogwarts?” Tonio asked quickly. Before Snape could form an answer, the pensieve began projecting.
Snape was staring out a window with someone in the shadows behind him. “Albus, what you ask for has only one purpose, and that is to temporarily suppress a magical core so that a core binding can be placed. Even I would not stoop…”
The image cut off. “Agent DiNozzo, I think we have had enough of your spectacle. You have gotten what you came for, and I insist that we not allow this exhibition to continue.”
Dumbledore turned back to the court. “The bonds of marriage are sacred. To pretend that a legal severance could equate to an ending of the marriage is ridiculous to consider. It is the belief of this court that so long as a marriage bond endures, divorce is not possible and should not now or in the future be entertained. Since this is a hearing and not a trial I may act without a vote and as Chief Warlock I find…”
“Chief Warlock….Chief Warlock….DUMBLEDORE!” Dumbledore trailed off, and there was silence as everyone looked to where Arthur Weasley stood shouting. As if in a daze he looked around the court. Emotional hurt poured from the man. He cleared his throat and tried twice before his voice could be heard. “Chief Warlock, I demand my chance to be heard.”
“Arthur” Dumbledore started condescendingly.
Arthur spoke over him, “As the petitioner, I am granted the right to speak before your judgment is final.”
Dumbledore sighed, “Yes, Arthur, it is your right.”
Arthur moved slowly toward the center of the room. He looked at everyone there as he seemed to be gathering his thoughts. He turned toward the defense table where Molly sat and looked beyond it at each of his children, and Tonio couldn’t imagine what was going through his mind at this time. Finally, he looked at Molly, and she raised her chin. “I’m sorry.” Molly smiled slightly to hear him.
But he lifted his eyes to meet the stare of his eldest child. “I’m sorry…William.” Then his hand shot out to the side and he wandlessly accio’d the Court Athame from the Court Reporter’s desk. In one flowing move, he sliced open his palm, and before anyone could stop him spoke.
“I call upon Lady Magic to hear my plea.” Wards around the Wizenmagot Chamber activated, sealing the building and creating a blue barrier ring around where Arthur stood. “I stand before her in deference to her Majesty and seek that she Judge my plight. I ask that she see the truth and give unto her Judgment myself, my blood, and my heirs.”
He took one step to the right and spoke again, “I honor our Lord of Magic, Giver of Justice. I submit myself and my entire House to his will. I lay upon their feet my marriage bond and dedicate myself to accepting their decree. If my life is forfeit, then so shall it be.”
Tonio stared in silent horror. No one in the Hall made a sound as Arthur stood within the ritual space. To his left, he saw movement and Bill Weasley was handing his sister over to Geraldine before turning to move to the floor. No one dared touch him as Bill neared the edge of the runic circle. With only the barest hesitation, he took a deep breath before crossing the circle.
He moved to stand in front of his father, looking at him without speaking. Slowly he reached out and took the athame from his hand, blood still dripping from the blade. He set it against his palm before swiftly cutting.
Bill let the blood pool a moment before allowing it to fall into his father’s hand. Arthur let the combined blood fall and red flashed outward to merge with the blue before everything was bathed in purple light.
Bill’s voice was heard in the chamber, “I call upon the Lord and Lady Magic to hear my Patriarch’s plea. As his heir, I dedicate myself and my House to their Will. Should my patriarch’s life be forfeit, I will stand in his place to accept Judgment and Justice. So shall it be.”
A female voice seemed to both echo and whisper around the Wizenmagot. “So Shall It Be.” A form appeared within the circle. She was mother, matron, child, hag, beauty, all things feminine. Constantly morphing, never remaining the same. She was Lady Magic, and Antonio hit his knees as he saw many in the hall do the same. She moved forward with an otherworldly Grace to where Arthur and his son were bowing to her. She took his hand, and it healed before placing her fingers on his chin to slowly return him to a standing position.
She looked him over before speaking once more, “Magical marriage bonds were given as a gift. A gift to allow love to grow stronger and let what once was severed by our creator become closer to one. Even with your will subsumed, you sought to honor that gift, Arthur Weasley. You are flawed, for without flaws, how would one strive to improve? But you are an honorable, loving man who seeks peace, security, and justice for this world and your family. I see you, Arthur Weasley, and I Judge you worthy.”
She turned and moved with that same grace across the Hall. Molly was still sitting at the table in shock. Her solicitors backed away from the table. “You have corrupted the gift of the bond you were given. You had only to accept your place in this world, and you could have had all the happiness available. Not in worldly possessions or social position, but in life and family and love. You sought to twist each aspect to your own gain, even to desecrating the bond with another.”
She cocked her head to the side as she examined Molly, “When the Black Death claimed so many, the Weasley Family gave up their wealth, lands, titles, and place upon the Wizenmagot to ensure the continuation of their line. Their Lord and Patriarch stood before me that day to offer his very life that his sons might live. The Weasley Family was gifted by me with a never-ending line of sons. Yet, in your self-centered greed, you sought to circumvent this gift.”
Molly was shaking in the chair as Lady Magic looked deep into her eyes. “I Judge you, Molly Weasley, and I find you wanting.”
A male voice echoed through the chamber with a physical force that pushed everyone still standing, save Arthur and Bill, to their knees. “So Shall It Be!”
The Lord of Magic appeared with a strike of lightning in the room. He was tall and strong, His dark hair braided back in rows that seemed to fall past his shoulders. He was dressed in a full set of dragon scale armor of a red so dark to appear almost black. On his back, two swords were sheathed. And in the crook of his arm, he held a helm.
He bowed deeply to his Lady before standing. “As you Judge, so shall Justice be swift and merciful.” He turned toward Molly, and she tried to push the chair back. “You have desecrated the sacred marriage bond. Let your punishment be a warning to all present to mend their ways. The Magical Bond Of Marriage would never have existed without your manipulation. Therefore I remove it from existence. So too do I remove you from the rolls of the Weasley Family.” She jerked and clutched her chest as if in pain.
He then looked up to where the rest of the Weasley Family knelt. “The children exist by the love of their Father and the will of Lady Magic. Let there be no bond of family or magic between you.” This time Molly started to cry.
He turned now and moved to Arthur and Bill, who bowed once more. Taking Bill’s hand, he healed the cut with a glow. “As for the House of Weasley, you have paid in full for the gift you were granted. It is time for you to take upon yourself your rightful place, Lord Weasley.” The Wizenmagot moved, and a new box appeared with the ancient crest for the House of Weasley.
Arthur bowed once more to them both before starting to move toward the box but stopped and looked up to the rest of his children. He turned back to Lord and Lady Magic to ask, “Ginny?”
“You understand she is not of your blood?” Lady Magic asked.
“Yes. But she is the daughter of my heart.” Arthur pleaded.
The Lord of Magic disappeared from the floor and reappeared in front of the children. Ginny turned away, gripping Geraldine. “Fear not child, I will not visit the sins of the mother on the child.” She turned slowly toward him. “You are young, and I do not believe you understand what is happening yet.”
Molly suddenly found her voice and stood, “No. She’s my daughter. She’s all I have left, and he doesn’t have a right to her.”
Lady Magic shook her head, “And with your greed, you will condemn the child.” She looked at Arthur and said, “I am sorry.”
Lord Magic leaned forward to Ginny and said in a whisper that could be heard through the room, “Your mother places your feet upon a terrible path. One day you will have to make a choice. On that day know that you were raised in love. If you call upon me that day for help, it will be given. Hope always remains.”
Arthur slowly took his seat with Bill following behind. Both looking like they had somehow lost. As the Lord of Magic turned to rejoin his Lady, Percy spoke up, “How can you let this happen? After what she’s done, everything else they’ve all done. Why?”
He stopped and turned back to the boy, evaluating him, “Free will was granted by the Creator, and it is not within the purview of myself or my lady to remove it. We have completed the task for which we were invited this day. Just know, one day, each will be Judged by Lady Magic, but that day is not today.” And was it Tonio’s imagination or was the Lord of Magic staring at Dumbledore when he said that?
Suddenly light flashed so brightly that Tonio closed his eyes. When he reopened them, the runic circle was extinguished, and the Lord and Lady were gone.
People were in shock around the room, and it took several minutes for them to start climbing back into their chairs. Even so, the noise did not grow past a whispered buzz, as people stared at the new Lord Weasley. Tonio didn’t blame them, it wasn’t every day that one was forced to recognize that the Lord and Lady of Magic were not just bedtime stories.
Dumbledore seemed at a loss as to how to proceed. Tonio wasn’t sure himself. Finally, Dumbledore started stumbling a little, “The..um…ahem…the…the…Petition…um…for…Divorce.”
The Court Reporter stood, “Chief Warlock.” Everyone stared in his direction as he held up the Petition that was crumbling to dust in his hand.
Dumbledore stared another moment, “is granted.” He looked around a moment. “I think we need to call this session to a close.”
Tonio looked frantically across the seats toward Amelia, they couldn’t let this end. Not yet.
The Reporter looked down, flustered. “There is one more item of business, Chief Warlock.”
“Given today’s events I am certain everyone will agree that we should wait,” Dumbledore replied while trying to regain his composure.
Tonio looked around for some way to intervene before looking up at the newly minted Lord Weasley. Their eyes met, and Arthur stood.
“Chief Warlock, If I remember the rules of order correctly, I have not yet yielded the floor,” Arthur stated. Silence once more and Dumbledore reluctantly nodded.
“I want nothing more than to go to my children now, but I want them to learn to be men of honor. And honor demands we do our duty today of all days.” And with that, he sat down.
Tonio ushered Snape off the floor with a whispered warning to stay close to complete his agreement before the Court Reporter read out the next case. Two wizards known to Tonio as part of an eight-man SIA team that had arrived last night with the projection pensieve moved to escort the Potion Master to the side of the room. Two others moved in front of the two exits, while the other four took up positions near the front.
The Court Reporter stood and looked to his paper before paling and sitting down. At everyone’s expectant gaze, he stretched his neck and pushed back his shoulders before rising again, swallowing a few times. “The next item of business before this Wizenmagot is the matter of the illegal incarceration of Lord Sirius Orion Black.”
The side doors opened, and Sirius Black entered the room. Outraged shouting was heard throughout the Wizenmagot. Tonio examined the man as he swept forward with the Black Family solicitors behind him. His health had drastically improved, though he still looked a bit gaunt. But his hair and beard were impeccably groomed. The clothing was a luxurious combination of midnight black silks with silver stitching of the Black crest over his heart. Tonio could just see the outline of armor underneath, similar to the set he wore himself and was reminded that Black had received the early training of a Hit Wizard, though his incarceration had cut that training short. The only ornaments to be seen were a single stud earring which Tonio knew held a portkey to take him to a safe house and the Lordship ring of the House of Black, which showed prominently against his hand.
It was only strength of will that kept the man standing firm against the outcry. But he was playing his role well. Today was as much for him to be vindicated finally as it was to see the first step toward so many others receiving justice. Tonio was certain the few items they had found so far were not the only crimes their suspect had committed.
The team stood behind their table until the room quieted and Dumbledore spoke, “What is the meaning of this?”
Amelia Bones stepped forward, “I believe the Court Reporter should read the entire charge.”
The Reporter stood once more without looking at Dumbledore, “In the matter of the illegal incarceration of Lord Sirius Orion Black the Wizenmagot is given the case of the Ministry of Magic versus Albus Perciful Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.”
Shouting erupted once more. Amelia Bones spoke firmly, her voice magnified in the chambers to ensure she was heard above the disruption. “Albus Dumbledore, you are under arrest for the illegal incarceration of Sirius Orion Black, altering the memories of the Minister of Magic and the Director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement in regards to the imprisonment of Mr. Black, Interfering with the Department of Magical Law Enforcement in the course of their duty during the investigation into the alleged death of Peter Pettigrew and the deaths of twelve muggles.”
Dumbledore’s face became enraged, but before he could respond, Tonio’s agents moved forward to slap magical suppression cuffs onto the man and disarm him. Tonio took over from Amelia Bones, “Albus Dumbledore, you are also under arrest by the Special Investigation Agency of the International Confederation of Wizards for the torture and attempted murder of a magical child through Core Binding Ritual. This is considered an international crime against magic.”
His head shot up in surprise as he was pulled down from his seat. “No, you can’t interfere. I am the Leader of the Light, and as such, there are actions I must take for the greater good.”
Amelia stepped away to speak quietly to Cornelius Fudge on the side. The Minister for Magic was looking around with eyes wide and darting. Finally, he stood hesitantly before moving to the Chief Warlock’s desk while nodding at Amelia’s words.
“Ahem. The Case in question….” He leaned over to whisper loudly to Bones, “are you certain Black is innocent?”
She moved to take a folder from the auror at her side. As she approached the front bench, the folder grew into a box full of files and scrolls. “We have certified, and documented statements from witnesses, aurors, guards, the former Minister of Magic Millicent Bagnold, as well as a statement from Lord Black issued under veritiserum. We can positively prove that Lord Black is not just innocent of all charges, but that Albus Dumbledore knowingly and maliciously orchestrated to have Lord Black, whom he was aware was innocent, imprisoned in Azkaban for life without benefit of trial.”
“Um, well.” Fudge hesitated as Tonio saw him search the faces around for queues. He notices Fudge paid particular attention to the expression on Lord Malfoy’s face as the man teetered between glee at the downfall of Dumbledore and consternation over Black being released. It seemed to confuse Fudge over which direction to take.
From the gallery where they had retreated following the divorce proceeding, Mr. Locklis spoke up. “Minister.” Eyes turned to the man and Fudge sat up straighter before nodding to him to continue. “I am hardly the one to speak on his behalf as it would be a conflict of interest given my clients’ identities. However, it behooves me to point out that without allowing Mr. Dumbledore the opportunity to retain counsel, you invite the potential of having any decision overturned by a later court.”
“Right!” Fudge jumped at the chance to get out of the situation.
“But,” Locklis continued as if not interrupted, “it would be a disservice to Lord Black to not allow him to clear his name. Perhaps if you ordered the release of Lord Black and published all the evidence showing him innocent, with an apology from the Ministry for his suffering, that might suffice until a proper trial can convene?”
“Yes, of course. It is so ordered.” Fudge’s head nodded briskly forward and back, reminding Tonio of one of those muggle tourist dolls he had seen when traveling.
“Ahem. Lord Black, the Ministry of Magic regrets any actions that resulted in your incarceration. Even though it did not take place under my personal leadership, it is my pleasure to clean up a mess left by the prior administration. The people of Magical Britain can be happy knowing that I, Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic, am concerned about the welfare of all our people. Even those wronged before I came into office.”
“This session of the Wizenmagot is now closed.” And Fudge practically ran from the room.
It was a trying three days since the divorce for Arthur and his family. He was grateful to the Paddingtons for allowing him and the children to stay with them while things were sorted. First was the pain as Molly ripped Ginny away. Then the evening had been interrupted by the goblins who had approached him to take possession of the Weasley lands and vaults. They had held it in trust by the will of the Lord of Magic for hundreds of years and were now eager to return ownership with the title.
It was an insignificant consolation prize, in his opinion. But the Lord and Lady of Magic willed him to take it, and he had sworn to do so. In a way, he was relieved to discover he would not have to live at the Burrow with all of the memories. He, Arthur Weasley, had an unplottable island, Hapinsay, in Scotland complete with a castle.
The goblins were updating the property and adding war wards to give his family the most safety possible. They were also adding them to a secure floo network so that the property cannot be accessed directly. As a surprise for the younger children, he was having a Quidditch field and broom obstacle course installed. They all deserved a chance for some fun. Tomorrow he was taking the boys for a tour and to choose their bedrooms, even though the boys won’t get to stay there until the Winter Break.
He had quickly worked with his Gringotts accounts managers to create trust vaults for his children. He included one for Ginny’s education and gifted the Burrow to her in trust. She might not legally be his daughter any longer, but he insisted on providing her a place to live and a start in life that did not rely on Molly. Molly Prewett was cut off completely. Even the thought of her still brought intense anger. Healer Hornbrew assured him that it was a natural part of the process of grieving.
Hornbrew was working with the entire family to deal with the situation, especially with Ron and Percy. Ron, bless him, was never going to be the sharpest around. It took a pretty frank talk about biology and sex and magic for him to understand that in the eyes of magic, Ginny was no longer his sister. Arthur assured him that it was ok if he still felt like her brother.
Overall, Ron’s emotions were mercurial, and several times Arthur has broken up fights between Ron and Dudley. Ron wants a fight, and Dudley isn’t used to backing down or worrying about anyone else’s feelings. Arthur was looking forward to the start of school to redirect Ron’s energy. Academically Ron needs work, but he did have a decent head for strategy. Hogwarts was going to push him this year, Arthur had already seen to that.
And as for Percy, well there was the real well of anger in this family. Molly’s been manipulating him for years. The new Headmistress of Hogwarts, Minerva McGonnagle, had spoken to Arthur yesterday. On the healer’s recommendation, they were keeping his placement as prefect but would watch carefully for how he handled it. The only thing Arthur wanted was for him to be genuinely happy. Seems he hasn’t been in years. Healer Hornbrew insisted it would come, but they would all keep having sessions and give him the time to discover his true self.
Mixy popped into place beside him. She was one of seven house elves that had shown up on their doorstep when he took possession of the Weasley Lands. “Lady Paddington bees wanting you to return to the Hall for to meet the Lord Blackness when he’s be coming, Master.”
“Thank you, Mixy. Let Lady Paddington know I am on my way. Please verify that the boys are ready to greet our guests.” Mixy popped out, and Arthur took a deep calming breath of the garden air before heading back to the house.
“Geraldine, please be a dear and formally introduce our guest.” Elizabeth motioned in her ‘Lady Elizabeth’ persona. So much more formal than Healer Elizabeth.
“Lady Elizabeth Paddington, Lord Arthur Weasley, Lord Antonio Paddington DiNozzo, May I introduce Lord Sirius Black.” Geraldine completed the introductions.
Arthur let the pleasantries wash around him as he looked at Sirius. He had to admit, the man knew how to wear the clothes. Arthur had just accepted whatever was set out for him. But even so, there was still a little bit of wildness in his eyes that was offsetting. Given the man had spent almost a third of his life in Azkaban, it is understandable that he would need some time to adjust.
Nerves were getting to Arthur, that and the guardianship oath he had taken for Harry. Sirius wanted to meet Harry, and he knew it was step one of Sirius petitioning for custody. He understood from the will that had been the Potters’ intent, but he really thought it was too soon.
Introductions over they moved to the sitting room, Sirius looking toward the doorways. Elizabeth took pity. “The boys are gathering in the lounge. Arthur wanted a moment to speak to you first.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow at him. “Ahem, well Sirius, I just wanted to know how you planned to approach the situation before Harry is involved. Harry and his cousin are my responsibility. They are both great kids who have been through a lot, but they are only now getting to really know each other as equals.”
Sirius sighed, “James and Lily asked me to raise Harry. I’m going to do everything in my power to do that. I failed him. I let my anger get between me and my duty as godfather, and I paid the price for that. I want to make up for that time with him.”
“And Dudley?” Arthur asked.
Sirius just shook his head. “I don’t think I can, to be honest. It wouldn’t be fair to them to take them both. Harry deserves to come first with me.”
“I’m not certain how the boys will respond to being separated. I’ll admit I’m worried about how Dudley will adapt to all the changes, especially if he loses the last link to his family, no matter how dysfunctional it was.” Arthur stressed to them.
“The Dursley boy’s parents are going to prison. He hasn’t been told everything yet, but we have a hearing at the end of the week to permanently sever custody, and he will see them then. The mind Healer feels that seeing how they really feel can give him a bit of closure. Their trial is held up by the defense team that has taken them on but, since it is an international crime, they will be extradited to France next week.” Geraldine explained.
“Do I need to take Harry?” Sirius asked, and Arthur’s gut clenched.
“No, Harry’s presence is not required,” Geraldine answered without implying custody either way. “Sirius, as I previously stated I will not be changing custody of Mr. Potter today. I feel you need to take some time to get your life back in order before taking on the guardianship of a minor. Instead, let’s just relax and give yourself some time to get to know one another.”
Sirius tensed slightly, “It’s just, I’ve lost so much time.”
Elizabeth stood, and everyone quickly stood with her, “Well then let’s not waste any more.” She turned to move to the end of the room, “Leesta!” A house elf arrived. “Please have Harry come into the lounge to meet Lord Black.”
A moment later, Harry came through the door alone. He looked to each of them before settling on Sirius Black. Arthur heard a sudden intake of breath from Sirius before he whispered, “James.”
The introduction was stiff, and Harry was extremely uncomfortable. Arthur knew from last night’s discussion that for the first time in his life, Harry felt safe. He was hesitant to give it up to an unknown. After several minutes they both relaxed a little as Sirius gained ground by telling a story of how Harry’s mother and father met.
Eventually, they moved to the dining room for lunch. Arthur heard the boys arguing and sighed when he realized the problem. “My apologies. With everything that happened, Ronald’s pet was left to fend for itself for several days. Scabbers was found when the boys packed up yesterday, and Ron has been bringing him to every meal to make up for it.”
They entered the room, and Arthur prepared to instruct Ron to return the rat to his bedroom when Sirius Black suddenly knocked him out of the way and pulled his wand on Arthur’s youngest son. Arthur apparated in a moment between Ron and the man, his wand at the ready. But the stupid rat bit Ronald and jumped onto Dudley in a bid to run away. As Sirius turned his wand on Dudley, Harry pushed him from behind. In an instant, Tonio flashed to Dudley, grabbed him and returned to a spot behind Black as Arthur moved Ronald to the same location. The rat left behind on the floor as they were taken. Expecting Black to try to attack the children once more, they were surprised when he sent a curse to the rat, encasing him in a large cage of magic.
“Traitor! Murderer! How dare you get close to Harry! You have no right to breathe the same air!” Black ranted at the rat.
Arthur moved the children out of the room while Tonio approached Black. “Sirius. Explain. What are you doing?”
The cage shocked the rat, and Black turned wild eyes on Tonio, who gripped his wand but did not raise it yet. “Peter Pettigrew.” Then he laughed, and it had a tinge of the madness Tonio had first witnessed in his interrogation. “Come out, come out and seize the day, Peter. The wolf’s away so the dog might play.”
“Sirius?” Tonio asked softly. “You think this is Peter Pettigrew?”
“AN-I-MAG-US” Sirius drew the word out before sending another jolt through the cage.
Tonio looked back to make sure the children were out of the room. Then, knowing it would do no harm if they were wrong, shot the rat with an animagus reversal spell. This was immediately followed by an incarcerous as the rat transformed into a short man, who was missing an index finger on his right hand.
Black started to move in again, but this time Arthur shot him with simple Petrificus Totalis from behind. Tonio called in the aurors while Elizabeth summoned an elf who quickly left and reappeared with a calming potion which she administered to Sirius. Ten very tense minutes later, the aurors had arrived and removed Pettigrew. Arthur was one step from asking for a potion himself, knowing that man had been sleeping in his children’s beds.
Once Sirius was allowed to express his displeasure, the children were returned. Harry marched forward to stand eye to eye with Sirius who was sitting in an armchair. He pulled his cousin with him, keeping himself between Dudley and Black. “If you ever again point a wand at my family in anger, I will personally see you pay.”
Black blinked as if waking up from a dream and Arthur felt he was actually seeing Harry instead of James for the first time. Tears were coming down his face, and yet he was smiling. He could see him look from the defiant expression on Harry’s face to the look of awe on Dudley’s before Black spoke. “Sweet Lady. You are so like your father. He said the exact same thing to my mother the day I ran away from home. I’m sorry, Harry. I’m sorry to you too, Dudley. I hope one day, you can both forgive me.”
He looked around the room at everyone. “One day I hope that I can fulfill your father’s wish and give you a permanent home. One where you can be the family you were meant to be. But, that time isn’t now. I think I need some time to heal. Until then, I really hope we can learn to be friends.” He looked at Geraldine and then Arthur. “I would appreciate it if Arthur can keep custody of them until I’m ready…for both of them.”
“Of course,” Arthur confirmed with a nod and smile from Geraldine.
September first was there in a blink along with all of the manic rushing to pack and get to the train. Start of term was a blessing and a curse. Luckily with each child assigned a house elf for the packing, they made it to the train with plenty of time to spare.
Breakfast had been a bit tense. Tonio had left home before sunup and then returned with three aurors to escort them to the train station. The morning owl arrived with the Daily Prophet before he had a chance to explain, but the headline told the whole story: Dumbledore Escapes from Ministry Holding Cell. They were still investigating who let him out, but there was extra security given the day’s activity.
Arthur gave last instructions to each child as they pulled their trunks onto the train with them. Dudley was still hesitant, but a little bit of wonder had crept into his expression as the boys had described Hogwarts, the boat ride, and the sorting. He secretly had a bet on with Elizabeth. She felt Dudley would push the hat to follow Harry and the boys to Gryffindor, but Arthur has seen some glimpses of the real Dudley lurking in there. He’s not meant for the house of the brave, but he is loyal to those who earn it. So he is really looking forward to a Hufflepuff letter and that raspberry chocolate cake.
Arthur was just happy that Dumbledore and Snape had been removed from the castle. Tonio told him they would be searching the castle, top to bottom to ensure no surprises over the coming school year.
Suddenly rockets shot out of one of the train’s windows, exploding above several Slytherin students. As each exploded, a bolt of lightning shot out, the student was jerked up into the air, and a visible discharge of static electricity caused all of their hair to stand on end, their clothing along with it. They drifted down with random smaller sparks causing their hair to raise over and over.
There was one final delayed explosion, but instead of striking Draco Malfoy who had been directly below it before moving, it hit a woman instead. Arthur’s eye’s locked onto the twins in the window who went from glee to shock in a moment. He made one firm beckoning gesture toward them before turning to the woman who was slowly floating down to the ground.
“I am so sorry ma’am. Rest assured, I’ll see to it my boys are punished for this.” The boys came running to stand beside him with matching apologetic expressions.
She stood dazed for a moment before another random spark hit her dark, chestnut hair. Then she burst into laughter. “That…was…fabulous!” Another spark jolted her.
“I..um…I sincerely apologize for my sons.” Arthur started.
She shook her head and looked at the boys with a big open grin. “The only apology I’ll accept is an explanation for how you made that happen.”
Arthur looked back and forth confused but her contagious laugh infecting him as well. “I’m sure they would be happy to do so.”
“Please, my grandfather will LOVE it.” She looked at them. “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m Persephone Petersen-Zonko.”
“the granddaughter of”
“…our hero!” the twins finished together.
The train whistle blew, and Arthur ordered his sons back to the train. As the train started moving away from the station, he looked back at Persephone. “Honestly, I feel like I should do something more to apologize.”
She smiled at him and blushed slightly before saying, “Well, you could always buy me lunch.”