Chapter 3: At the Ministry
For the first time in his life, Harry Potter felt happy to have Vernon Dursley for Uncle. Sure, Uncle Vernon was just interested in having someone to take him away but at least there was a new hope for Sirius. While Harry was reading criminal laws, Vernon was reading laws concerning wizarding children.
"Vernon, are you really getting involved with the boy's freakishness?" Petunia angrily asked.
"It'll be worth it when the boy leaves us." Vernon grunted in reply. "Then we can pretend magic isn't real like we did before the old meddling coot left the boy with us."
"Uncle Vernon, I found something!" Harry exclaimed. "Any wizard or witch who believes the evidence held as grounds to declare anyone guilty of any wizarding law-breaking shouldn't be enough to warrant a conviction may request an appeal."
"Not so fast, boy." Uncle Vernon replied. "Your lot has a law stating no underage wizards may request anything from the Ministry without permission from their magical guardians."
"No problem, Uncle Vernon." Harry replied. "I'll send Sirius an owl asking him to sign me a permission to appeal his case."
"What?" Petunia asked in shock. "He's a wanted fugitive and yet he retains his status as your magical guardian?"
"He was never properly convicted, Aunt Petunia." Harry explained.
"The law is quite clear on that, boy." Uncle Vernon stated. "A written permission's authenticity may be challenged unless it's goblin-certified, whatever that means."
"I'll ask Sirius when I ask him for the permission." Harry replied.
After Harry sent a letter via owl to Sirius, Harry received letters from Ron and Hermione.
I'm surprised your Uncle decided to help you consider what you usually say about him. Or at least I was until I remembered Sirius intends to take you in. As for your questions, I've read a guide of wizarding professions and I've found nothing similar to the muggle world's solicitors and barristers. I'll read all I know about wizarding law to help Sirius. I remember reading something about requesting for an appeal but we're underage. I suggested Ron to ask his Dad to do so.
Then Harry read Ron's letter.
I've tried to ask my parents to request for an appeal but Dad is afraid of losing his job and Mum believes Snape was right about Sirius confounding us. Percy is already of age but he just started working at the Ministry. Sorry, mate.
As the days passed, Harry and his friends exchanged more letters. Harry told them the details of Sirius Black's trial-less conviction. Hermione was outraged someone could have been forced to spend years in Azkaban without a trial and decided to research all accused Death Eaters sent to Azkaban. Eventually, Harry got Sirius' reply. It was an envelope containing a letter and another envelope.
Rather than just allowing you to request an appeal for me, I'm granting you permission to emancipate yourself. To have my permission goblin-certified, you need to take it to Gringotts so a Goblin will analyze it. To erase any doubts, I've place some drops of my blood at the permission. Don't open the other envelope until you take it to the Goblins.
Sirius "Padfoot" Black
Harry then took a Knight Bus to the Leaky Cauldron, where he walked from until he reached Gringotts. There, Harry approached the same teller booth Harry and Hagrid approached back when Harry was eleven years old. "May I help you?" A goblin asked.
Harry then produced the envelope. "I need you to verify the authenticity of the letter inside this envelope."
"Well, Mr. Potter, usually, we'd charge five Galleons but, for such an important customer as yourself, we'll do it for one Galleon." The goblin answered with a sneer. Harry then handed the envelope and pulled a Galleon from his pockets. The goblin was shocked (even if they don't show it) as he read the letter. "Mr. Potter, I know our kind doesn't take sides in any human conflict but I must ask: why would you accept anything from the man who betrayed your parents to their killer?"
"He didn't betray them." Harry explained. "Peter Pettigrew betrayed my parents and framed Sirius. I need my emancipation to be allowed to call for an appeal."
The goblin then caused the letter to glow. The letter then gained a new symbol. "This is the goblin certificate of authenticity. The letter is valid. All you have to do is raise your wand and say 'I, Harry James Potter, with authorization from my magical guardian Sirius Orion Black, declare myself a legal adult under British Wizarding Law. So mote it be!'."
Harry did as instructed and then glowed for three seconds. After that, the goblin gave Harry a copy of the letter. "The original must stay here for safety purposes. You can have this goblin-certified copy and show it to anyone who challenges your emancipation. Now, Mr. Potter, do you still have your vault key?" Harry tried to reach for it but couldn't find it. "Don't bother trying, Mr. Potter. Now you're an adult under Wizarding Law, all the contents of your trust fund vault were transferred to the Potter Family's main vault. Mr. Potter, I know you must be eager to clear your godfather's name, but I insist you first take a look at the main vault and check the records."
Not believing Sirius Black's whereabouts could be found in the meantime, Harry agreed and then Griphook was called to escort Harry into another ride in a Gringotts cart. This time, they went even deeper than the first one. At some point they crossed a waterfall. "What was that, Griphook?" Harry asked.
"That was the thief's downfall, Mr. Potter." Griphook explained. "Had you been a magically disguised imposter, it'd have revealed your true looks. It's a standard procedure for anyone going to visit the deeper vaults."
As they left the cart, the spotted a dragon. "This dragon is partially blind, Mr. Potter, and is even more ferocious because of that. But we have the means to control it. He knows what to expect when we bring the clankers." Griphook then pulled what Harry believed to be clankers and made noises that scared the dragon away.
They then arrived at the main Potter Vault. "Uh, I don't have a key to this vault." Harry stated.
"This vault does not require any, Mr. Potter." Griphook explained. "I'll just press the palm of any of my hands into the door and it'll open." As the door opened, Harry was surprised that vault had enough gold to make the previous one pale in comparison.
As Harry entered the vault, he noticed Griphook didn't. "I can't enter a vault without the owner's permission, Mr. Potter."
"Must that permission be written?" Harry asked.
"No, Mr. Potter. All you need to do is mention the permission-giving while inside Gringotts and goblin magic will recognize it."
"In that case, Griphook, I give you permission to enter this vault. So mote it be!"
"You didn't have to mention the last part but thank you, Mr. Potter." Griphook replied as he entered. "Now I'm here, I may tell you about the most important and vital parts of your inheritance. Mr. Potter, would you please pick up that box over there?"
Harry did as asked and Griphook opened the box. It contained three rings. "The one in the middle is the Potter Family ring, Mr. Potter. As the last Potter heir, you may wear it and become Lord Potter, gaining a vote at the Wizengamot." The only reason Harry understood that was his research to help on Sirius Black's case. "And yes, you'd be able to use that vote in the appeal case." Griphook stated, understanding what Harry was concerned about. "The ring came back here after your Grandfather's demise. Your father was supposed to wear it but he was in hiding at the time. The ring in the left is reserved for Lady Potter. Once you get married or engaged, you must give your partner that ring so even the most arrogant pureblood will know they can't harm her without insulting your family. The other ring is a proxy ring. Any adult wizard or witch you give this ring will be allowed to represent the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter during any Wizengamot session you miss or you decide to let the proxy represent either way. Oh, and your godfather might be unaware of this since he was in Azkaban when his Grandfather Arcturus Black passed away, Sirius Black became the new Head of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. Since there's no proviso from either your godfather or his Grandfather regarding who gets to be his proxy, his next of kin is entitled to the post. Since he had no wife or children of his own, your status as his godson qualifies you. Because you were underage without any wizard or witch raising you, the Black seat remained unrepresented ever since Arcturus Black's death."
"I'll gladly act as a proxy for my godfather until he is free to take upon his role as head of his family or decides to name another proxy." Harry replied.
"In that case, Lord Potter, we must inform the goblin in charge of the Black accounts so he'll give you the Black proxy ring." Griphook replied.
Harry then received said ring. "Thank you. Does anyone here know a safer and faster way than the Knight Bus to reach the Ministry Headquarters?"
"We can make a portkey to the front of the building, Lord Potter." Griphook stated. "We can't make a portkey to get you inside the building because it'd be a violation of a treaty between wizards and goblins."
"What's a portkey?" Harry asked, much to the annoyance of the goblins.
"A portkey, Lord Potter, is anything enchanted to take its holder from a place to another." Griphook explained. "They can be either touch-activated, voice-activated or time-activated. We can make it work only once or for as many times as you activate it. Are you interested?"
Harry thought before answering. "I'll want a voice-activated portkey to the Ministry that only works once."
"That'll be ten Galleons, Lord Potter." Griphook explained. "If I may be frank, Lord Potter, I suggest you buy new robes for your Wizengamot meetings. Many wizards there make a big deal out of this."
After paying for the portkey, which happened to be the very same receipt for acquiring it, Harry took on the advice and went back to Madam Malkin's. After buying robes for Wizengamot meetings, Harry took the portkey to the Ministry building. As he prepared himself to enter, he remembered his Uncle Vernon learned from Aunt Petunia that all wizards and witches visiting the Ministry must present their wands as proof of identity. He then entered and, as expected, a receptionist asked him to show his wand. To say she was shocked was an understatement. "L-Lord Potter?"
"Exactly. I am here to see the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. She's expecting me." Harry answered as he showed Amelia Bones' letter. The receptionist then directed Harry to Amelia's office.
Amelia Bones didn't know what to make of the new development. Not much time after she sent Harry that reply regarding his godfather's case, she was informed by Gringotts that Sirius Black, the most notorious Death Eater to be ever known, signed a goblin-certified document authorizing Harry to become an emancipated minor and Harry accepted it. She was wondering what the Potter Family's betrayer could hope to gain by convincing their son to emancipate himself. She then saw her secretary entering her office. "I'm sorry to interrupt, Madam, but Lord Harry Potter is here to see you."
"It better not be a joke." She admonished. Harry then entered. "Good afternoon, Lord Potter, how may I help you?"
"I'd like to request an appeal for my godfather Sirius Orion Black, Madam Bones." Harry replied with a formal tone.
"Lord Potter, why would you want so?" A confused Amelia Bones asked. "In fact, why would you act as a proxy for the man who betrayed your parents to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?"
"Sirius Black is innocent." Harry answered. "Peter Pettigrew framed him."
"No, Lord Potter." Amelia replied. "Minister Fudge informed me Black confounded you."
"Fudge was only quick to believe that to avoid admitting an innocent man stayed years in Azkaban without even a trial." Harry replied. "Keeping appearances was his justification to send Hagrid to Azkaban during the chamber incident."
"Fudge won't allow you, Ms. Granger or lycanthrope Lupin to claim to have seen Peter Pettigrew alive." Amelia Bones stated. She already started to understand why Harry could believe Black might have been innocent.
"I know." Harry stated. "That's why I'm requesting an appeal instead of a trial. I want it officially stated the evidence originally gathered against Lord Sirius Orion Black shouldn't have been considered enough to warrant conviction for any crime."
Amelia Bones was shocked at this but soon regained her formal way. "Lord Potter, although I fail to see how you expect to convince anyone of that, it's within your rights to try, so I'll add it to the topics to be discussed at the next Wizengamot meeting." She then produced a file. "This contains the time of the next meeting and a list of the other topics to be discussed at the meeting. It self updates to inform about new topics. The other Lords and Ladies will soon be informed."
"Thank you, Madam Bones."
After Harry left, we returned to the Dursleys for a last time to gather his stuff and say goodbye. "Well, Uncle, thank you for helping me."
"Anything to get rid of you, boy." Vernon grunted. "What do I tell the freaks if they come asking for you?"
"Sirius Black inherited his family's home and I'm living there until I get a place of my own." Harry explained and then turned his attention to Dudley. "Good luck with your diet, Dudley. Your parents have been forcing me into it for the whole time I lived with you."
"Are you treating me like a freak, Dad?" Dudley sobbed. Harry laughed while he left.
One week later, the Wizengamot meeting took place. "Before we start, I need to inform two new changes within this august body." Amelia Bones announced. "Lord Harry James Potter, with permission from his magical guardian, became a legal adult and claimed his lordship and the Potter Family's seat." The others started murmuring about this.
"He can't do that!" Dolores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister, exclaimed. "Sirius Black betrayed the Potters."
Albus Dumbledore, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, stood up. "Lords and Ladies of the Wizengamot, Sirius Black has never been officially confirmed guilty of treason in any trial nor has he renounced his right to plead his case in a trial. Because of that and the fact no other wizard or witch became Harry Potter's magical guardian, Sirius Black remained his magical guardian and his authorization to Harry Potter's emancipation is legit."
"For the second change, as the next of kin to the current Lord Black, Lord Potter will act in this meeting as a proxy for him." Amelia announced.
"I protest!" Lucius Malfoy exclaimed. "Lord Black has no wife and children and his brother is no longer among us, which makes my wife, as his cousin, his next of kin."
"Overruled." Amelia replied. "Lord Potter is Lord Black's godson and this is closer than any cousin."
Malfoy frowned but made no further protests.
"Lords and Ladies of the Wizengamot, given the priority of Lord Potter's request, I move to make it the first topic to be discussed at this meeting." Amelia proposed. "All in favor raise your wands." Most people in the Wizengamot seemed to want to end that as soon as possible. "You may lower your wands now. Now all against, please raise your wands." Only Dolores Umbridge and Bartemius Crouch voted against it. "It's official: Sirius Black's appeal will be the first topic of the day. Lord Potter, you may start arguing your case."
"Thank you, Madam Bones." Harry replied. "In the first place, I'd like to call the attention of everyone to the fact the only reason everyone believes my godfather betrayed my parents to You-Know-Who (Harry decided it was no time to shock the Wizengamot with the mention of 'Voldemort') is the unproven assumption he was their Secret-Keeper."
"It was not unproven, Lord Potter." Fudge replied. "Albus Dumbledore provided testimony confirming it."
"His testimony might confirm my parents intended to ask Sirius Black to be their Secret-Keeper but, being about a conversation held with them before they asked him to, that testimony doesn't tell us if he agreed or not." Harry argued and all Lords and Ladies seemed to have seen Harry's point.
Fudge was nervous. "Well, several witnesses heard Peter Pettigrew shouting that Black was the Secret-Keeper."
"How can anyone be sure Peter Pettigrew wasn't mistaken?" Harry asked. "Or that he wasn't lying?" He then noticed everyone staring at him. "Like Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew also was one my father saw as a friend."
"Lord Potter, it's quite known Sirius Black murdered Peter Pettigrew and several muggles with a Blasting Hex." Fudge stated. "All was left of Peter Pettigrew was a finger."
"There's no solid evidence stating who cast which spell, Minister." Harry replied. "Sirius Black might have just deflected a spell Peter Pettigrew tried to kill him with. Or Peter Pettigrew might have caused the explosion and left that finger to fake his death."
Everyone in the Wizengamot (except for Dumbledore) looked at Harry like he grew another head. (And he didn't know enough about magic to be sure it was impossible) "Lord Potter, shouldn't the Priori Incantatum be enough proof of who cast the Blasting Hex?" Lady Augusta Longbottom asked.
"There's no mention of a Priori Incantaum in the reports, Madam." Harry replied, wondering what a Priori Incantatum was.
Furious, she stared at Bartemius Crouch, who headed the Department of Magical Law Enforcement back in the day. "There were no doubts about Black being guilty." Crouch pleaded.
"The Aurors who arrested Sirius Black should have performed the Priori Incantatum on his wand and Pettigrew's or explained why it wasn't possible." Augusta angrily replied, unknowingly giving Harry an idea of what the Priori Incantatum was. "It's no wonder there are people doubting Sirius Black's guilt and able to put a good case convincing me to give him the benefit of doubt."
"Lady Longbottom, Lord Potter is only defending Black because the murderer bewitched him into thinking he saw Pettigrew alive." Fudge pleaded.
"Alleged Pettigrew sightings have nothing to do with the validity of the points made by Lord Potter even if they're somehow the reason he decided to make such points in the first place." Augusta Longbottom counter-argued. "And who cast the diagnosis spell to confirm Lord Potter was magically-induced into believing Peter Pettigrew was alive?"
"Potions Master Severus Snape did it, Lady Longbottom." Fudge answered.
"Snape?" She asked in outrage. "Everyone knows he's a Death Eater who only avoided Azkaban because Albus Dumbledore confirmed he turned on them and spied for us! Not to mention he hated Sirius Black even before this! He might have lied!"
Harry was furious now. Dumbledore could have told Fudge that. Fudge was quite nervous now. "Is there anything anyone has to say about this topic?" As nobody said anything, Fudge then called for votes. "All who believe the evidence presented against Sirius Black shouldn't have been considered enough to confirm he was the Potters' Secret-Keeper raise your wands." While most did, Fudge still called for votes against. "Now all who believe the evidence presented against Sirius Black shouldn't have been declared enough to confirm he caused the blast that was reported as the cause of death of Peter Pettigrew and several muggles raise your wands." Fudge got a similar result this time. "Now all who believe the evidence against Sirius Black shouldn't be considered enough to confirm Peter Pettigrew died raise your wands." It was a considerably smaller difference but it also passed. "It's official. Sirius Black is hereby declared innocent of all crimes he's been charged with in 1981 and Peter Pettigrew didn't die in the explosion that took place in the First day of November, 1981. Compensation will be deposited at Sirius Black's Gringotts vault. According to the law, any wizard who's not given any signs of life for the last seven years is officially declared dead. As such, I move to declare Peter Pettigrew died in the First day of November, 1988."
"Witnesses saw Peter Pettigrew alive the day Buckbeak was to be executed." Harry replied. "I was one of them."
Not wanting to face another voting humiliation, Fudge agreed to declare Peter Pettigrew alive and wanted for questioning. "Now, for the next topic, a proposed Educational Decree allowing the Ministry of Magic to appoint teachers for any teaching post at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry the Headmaster is unable to provide a candidate for."
Augusta Longbottom, who drafted the law, argued the alleged curse on the Defense Against the Dark Arts post drove Dumbledore so out of options he hired a werewolf to teach during last year (which Harry didn't consider a good argument) and the werewolf's predecessor was a useless braggart who only got the job for applying when nobody else other than Snape dared to (which Harry recognized as a good point). The law passed as the votes for it outnumbered the votes against by one vote. Harry's vote counted for two as he voted in name of both the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter and the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. As that meeting ended, Fudge was sweating stunners and glad nobody called for a vote of no confidence.
As Harry was now going home, Dumbledore stopped him. "Harry, my, boy, what was that?" Dumbledore asked with a reproving sound.
"Well, Headmaster, when I told Uncle Vernon about Sirius Black being innocent, he made me realize that you not being able to do anything about the case didn't mean nobody else could." Harry explained.
"Lord Potter, I'm glad it all ended well but, I think you should have consulted me before." Dumbledore stated.
"And I think I should have been informed about a lordship being part of my inheritance back when I was informed about the Wizarding World, Headmaster." Harry coldly replied.
"You already had too much to worry about with Voldemort trying to kill you, Harry." Dumbledore replied. "And why didn't you mention his name?"
"It was not time to shock people." Harry explained. "And why wasn't Sirius allowed a trial before?"
"Harry, I admit I shouldn't have condoned Bartemius Crouch's decision but I was so sure Sirius was guilty and would be able to bribe his way out of Azkaban." Dumbledore explained.
"And why couldn't you do anything for Sirius back when he was locked up at the tower?" Harry explained. "You're influential. And what was that about Snape being a Death Eater? Whatever a Death Eater is."
"Death Eaters are how Voldemort's followers are called, Harry, and Severus Snape was a Death Eater until he became a spy for the light."
"You could persuade the Wizarding World into pardoning a confirmed Death Eater but couldn't persuade the Minister into allowing Sirius a trial?" Harry asked. "I'm starting to believe Uncle Vernon was right about you not wanting to help Sirius so I'd stay isolated from the Wizarding World during summer."
"What?" Dumbledore asked in shock.
"This experience made me see things under another perspective, Headmaster." Harry simply replied.
Please review. Sorry this chapter became longer than usual.