A/N: Does anyone happen to know if there is a way to post from your phone? I hit a bit of a hurdle last week when I went to post, as I didn't have normal computer access. If there's not, I'll just remember to give you all a heads up next time I travel that the post may be late.
Thank you for the reviews, and as a general reminder, there is an instagram for this fic if you want to see inspo pics, understand the family tree, or get an alert when new chapters are up!
January 19, 1982
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Scotland
It was just after lunch on a particularly frigid Tuesday morning that Albus Dumbledore stared out his window and wondered if he had been cursed.
Breakfast had been troubling: the owl post brought word that Minister Bagnold had stepped out of line (again) and allowed the DMLE to push through a trial date for Sirius Black without Wizengamot approval. As if Albus having to learn that he'd been overruled through Rita Skeeter's ever insulting vernacular hadn't been enough, the Prophet had included a public opinion poll regarding Sirius's guilt.
The results were evenly distributed, with only the slightest lean (2%) towards 'guilty'.
Albus had then had to spend the the morning dedicatedly avoiding Fillius Flitwick, who had been brandishing at least 80 pages of instructions from Minerva's sick bed- the junior deputy seemed to have concluded that it was the Headmaster's responsibility to step in for ill staff, and Albus was quite sure the pressure would drive him batty. It had been decades since he had taught classes, let alone advanced classes using someone else's lesson plans. It had been even longer since he had delved into anything vaguely resembling an administrative duty.
Albus was fairly certain that being Headmaster meant he'd approved a budget for someone else to handle all of the chaos. Unfortunately, that someone else was still in St. Mungo's and would be for at least a few more weeks, according to her Healers- whatever case of dragonpox Minerva had somehow contracted, they were apparently hanging on for dear life.
Still, it was not the newspaper or the stack of transfiguration essays in need of grading, or even the Annual Art Audit (during which Filch outlined in far too many words which paintings would need to be restored in order to be kept on display) that had Dumbledore perching in his office window wondering about curses. Instead, it was the odd path his mind kept taking every time he tried to quiet it.
The mental reel had started weeks ago, originally with only a few vague wisps of memory. A flash of words here, the imprint of laughter or a touch there. Always off putting, and always leaving Albus with an odd sort of queasy feeling that he normally associated with Minerva's longer lectures.
The memories grew more structured every day. Faces danced behind his closed eyes, and conversations were repeated in his restless dreams. Fawkes took to sleeping by his head to keep away the worst of the memories, but the lightest ones remained.
Albus wasn't sure why it was the lightest of the memories that hurt his heart the most.
His first waking episode had occurred as he combed through one of Minerva's letters looking for Harry Potter's location. One second, he was trying to determine the best way to keep the child away from Sirius Black, the next-
Gellert was cutting an apple into thin slivers, passing one across the desk as he asked how Albus thought the world could find peace.
Aberforth, mouth set in a sullen scowl, was watching his older brother leave for his Transfiguration mastery.
Newt, fierce and exhausted, was showing Albus that Gellert no longer represented the Greater Good of everyone- just himself.
Gellert's eyes, bright and shining, as Albus approached him for their final dance.
Minerva, young and full of promise, was asking how to make the world a better place.
Bagnold, fierce scowl across her face, was demanding to know if he could stop the whole wizarding world from going up in flames at Tom's pleasure.
Fawkes, a blaze of fire in the night sky, swooping down to Albus' shoulder as he brought the Order of Phoenix to life.
Severus Snape, on his knees begging for his childhood love's life.
Little Harry Potter, on the front step of-
The memories changed. Some days he thought about his sister, and the socks she had knitted him for Christmas every year, and was tempted to join Aberforth in his pub for a drink or two. Other days he thought about the young men and women- children, really- who he had led through not one but two wars. The faces that had disappeared forever, the faces that had seen too much. Been pushed too far.
Theseus Scamander, shoulders firm and wand held high.
Vinda Rosier, proclaiming her intent to fight for the good of the world.
Gideon and Fabian Prewett fighting back to back, pure joy on their identical faces.
Alice Longbottom pouring over a book on advanced healing in the firelight.
Remus Lupin leaving for the werewolf camps, willing to embrace his most detested features if it meant saving his friends.
Sirius Black, swearing he had the perfect plan to save the Potter family-
Never in his life had Albus Dumbledore been so overcome by his own conscience. Such rumination and guilt were the pastime of a weaker, less powerful man- of a man less dedicated to his cause. Albus had been aware of his cause since he was 11 years old: guiding the Wizarding World for its Greater Good.
Never before had he been so close to faltering in his course.
It definitely had to be a curse. Merlin, let it just be a curse.
"Fawkes, my dear friend, if you would be so kind?"
The phoenix trilled from his perch before soaring over, a bit unsteady on wings still fresh from his last burning day. Dropping heavily onto the Headmaster's shoulder, Fawkes regarded him with one serious, beady eye before he finally began to sing.
The music, so beautiful as to be considered a wonder of the world, brought tears to Fawkes' own eyes as well as Albus'. The longer the phoenix sang, the faster both of their tears flowed, Albus' clouding his twinkling eyes and Fawkes' dropping onto Albus' head.
There is no magical or muggle remedy so pure or light as phoenix tears- had Albus Dumbledore been infected with any dark curse, Fawkes would have been able to remove it painlessly in a matter of moments.
Unfortunately for Albus Dumbledore, old family magic is not innately dark, nor is it even a curse. Old family magic is simply raw, and it lives with a will of its own. Had, in fact, lived within his chest for months now, judging Albus and his intent for the family it had been born from, and was now beginning to react to what it considered obvious (albeit unintentional) illwill for two of its members.
So Fawkes cried, and cried, and cried, but the Black family magic that Albus had released upon himself did not shrivel as any dark curse would have. Instead, it grew.
But Albus did not know this. His heart felt lighter when Fawkes finished, and his head was certainly more clear, and the idea of a dark curse floated right away in the face of the Important Work He Had To Do that day. He cheerfully taught the seventh years about finding their animagus form, filed paperwork for Fillius, and wrote Minerva a short note wishing her well. He even read Filch's entire report on the castle's paintings, and approved an overlarge budget to begin restoration immediately.
There was not a single twinge of conscience for the remainder of the day, not a single memory behind his eyes.
But when he tucked himself into bed and returned to the idea of securing little Harry Potter and the future of the wizarding world, the dreams resumed that same night.
January 19, 1982
Daily Prophet Special Edition
Breaking News! Breaking News!
Trial For Sirius Black Set: One Month Till We Know The Truth
Article by Rita Skeeter
Dear readers, it has been nearly three months since the unlawful arrest of Sirius Black by the previous administration. Since then, new Department Head Amelia Bones has worked her team to the bone trying to right what could go down in British Wizarding History as the most catastrophic perversion of our justice system since the Great Hat Riots of 1822 (assuming, that is, that Hogwarts ever gets around to teaching about something aside from Goblin Wars).
Now, after months of stalling by the Wizengamot, Minister Bagnold has declared that enough is enough. In an unprecedented move from the Minister's cabinet, a trial date has been set without full Wizengamot approval. Sirius Black will be tried in front of a full court on February 1st.
But what could have possibly spurred Bagnold, known for her preference for tradition and her sometimes questionable attempts to avoid toe stepping, into action?
Worry not, dear readers- I have investigated this for you. A confidential informant working in the Ministry of Magic- name protected because, as my most devoted readers know, the best sources are the safest ones- had this to say: "Government's going to owe Black an awful lot of money if it turns out he's innocent. Not to mention how stupid they'll look for keeping him locked up for months and months before they even gave him access to a lawyer. Bagnold has to get ahead of it or it is going to cost her her entire career."
Regardless of the career implications involved, an 'awful lot of money' does indeed feel like a superb reason for our Minster to have taken charge- after all, it's our tax money that will be used for reparations, for public relations to attempt to save face, and for surface level 'improvements' to the justice system following this possible blunder. With that much money being moved around, the national budget will be in absolute shambles. And dear reader, you know what that means.
Limited financial assistance for Hogwarts students.
Cancellation of programs for free potions for witches and wizards in need.
Reduction of budget by St. Mungo's.
Cancellation of publicly funded holidays and festivals, including those intended to 'charge' our national wards.
Fewer open Ministry positions, and no raises for current employees- even possible salary cuts!
When I reached out to Minister Bagnold this morning for confirmation of the trial date, she was kind enough to accept my Floo despite her rather bathrobe heavy appearance. She had this to say: "I wasn't elected to bankrupt the country, Miss Skeeter- in fact, I have done everything in my power to create a budget surplus, not that the blasted Wizengamot can keep their sticky fingers out of it. So yes, I set the trial date for the 1st. Now would you please kindly avoid flooing before 6 in the morning ever again?"
The stage for the trial of the century is set. Now we are left with only more questions, which will hopefully be answered in only a few short weeks. Why was the Wizengamot stalling in the first place? What has Madam Bones' team uncovered? Will this trial unlock the Potter will? Could it mean the recovery of young Harry Potter? What actually happened to the Potter family in October? And, most importantly for our pockets: Is Sirius Black actually guilty?
Dear readers, all that remains is to cast your initial vote on the page below. Simply touch your wand to the photo of Sirius Black and say 'yes' or 'no', and the chart will automatically update throughout the day as votes are cast.
IS SIRIUS BLACK GUILTY?
Last updated at 1:43pm