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Stitch in Time - Chapter 36
The day after the trial, Harry and Hermione (much to the annoyance of the Aurors who were watching them) were swamped at breakfast with students wanting to hear what had happened. The trial did involve an international sports celebrity, after all, and the news about it wouldn't break until the Prophet was delivered. Krum was too surly for anyone to feel comfortable asking him, so they all wanted Harry and Hermione to tell them. They might have told everyone to bugger off, but one of the people wanting the news was Ron.
Even if it would only get them their answer half an hour earlier than just waiting for the paper Hermione gave in and explained what had happened. While Hermione was recapping, Harry was worrying about the special section of the Wizengamot that would be starting in a few hours. He didn't need to be a seer to know that someone was going to propose either killing him or locking him away to keep him from being used in Voldemort's restoration ritual. Harry would be lying if he said he wasn't nervous.
Even Charlus was nervous. He had pulled Harry into his room before they had left the suite this morning and ordered Harry to keep his invisibility cloak on him today. The fact that Charlus had taken Harry away from his Auror protection was more than enough to tell Harry not only how nervous his grandfather was but that they may not be able to trust the Aurors. If the Ministry ordered Harry detained, then it was the Aurors who would be given the job to do it. Harry had also grabbed the Marauders' Map, as with that and his cloak he could probably hide in Hogwarts for a week or more without anyone finding him.
Harry shook himself out of his worries and got back to listening to Hermione as he ate his bowl of porridge that he had chopped up an apple in and then sweetened with honey. He was probably just being paranoid, but it was hard not to jump to the worst possible conclusion when the warlocks had immediately called for a special session right after learning that Harry was in some way a key component in resurrecting the country's boogeyman. He tuned back in to listen to how the students were taking the tale of what happened yesterday. The fact that Crouch had been under the Imperius Curse yesterday, yet admitted to crimes so terrible that he had earned himself a life sentence in Azkaban anyway, captivated the students who were listening,
Luckily for the two of them, the mail arrived, freeing Hermione from recapping yesterday's trial and providing Harry with a distraction as a parcel was dropped in his lap by three large eagle owls. He checked the label to make sure it was for him, and noticed it also had the logo of the company who had sent it. A huge grin spread over his face; they were finally here.
"Hermione, Ron, we need to get out of here for a few minutes," he told his friends in a low voice.
"Harry, mate, I haven't finished my breakfast yet," Ron complained.
"Trust me, I'm sure you'll love this more than breakfast," Harry insisted.
"That, Harry, is blasphemy," Ron said in mock seriousness.
Harry just laughed. "Come on mate, trust me. And it's Sunday, you can always grab a second breakfast."
Hermione was already standing at this point, waiting for the two boys to get up. When Harry stood Ron followed, but he wrapped the last of his sausage and bacon between a slice of toast and started to eat it as they walked. Harry led them to an empty classroom. The two Aurors with them insisted on checking the room first, but it was clear of anything that you wouldn't expect to be in a classroom. The two Aurors then stationed themselves outside the door where they could stop anyone from getting in. Also from leaving, Harry thought, his paranoia reminding him that it was still around.
"Okay Harry, what was so important that you had to interrupt breakfast?" Ron asked.
"Really Ron, is your stomach the only thing you care about?" Hermione asked, exasperated by their ginger friend.
"Nope, there is also chess, Quidditch, and which of the single ladies in this school is the hottest," Ron said without hesitating.
"Yeah, Ron needs to know which girls he doesn't have the guts to ask out," Harry quipped at Ron's expense, causing both his friends to laugh. "Seriously though, I think you guys will love this." Harry said as he laid out his package on what used to be a professor's desk. He unwrapped the package and pulled out not just one but three large coats. Each one was made of a dark leather that shone in the light coming through the window. One had a periwinkle blue lining, one had maroon, and the third was a dark bottle green. Harry slid the green lined one towards himself and pushed the periwinkle towards Hermione and the maroon towards Ron, saying, "Thanks for helping me prepare for the tasks, guys. I had the Horntail's hide turned into these coats for us."
He unfurled his coat to reveal that it went from his neck to around his mid calf, completely covering everything along the way apart from his hand. This was intentional, dragon leather was naturally magic resistant, and a lot of hexes, jinxes, and even a few low-power curses were completely useless against dragonhide. This cut of coat meant that most of the body of whoever was wearing it was covered. it wasn't enchanted like Auror robes or anything like that, but at the same time Auror robes didn't look as cool.
Harry slipped his on to see how it fit. The charms on the coat immediately pulled on some of the seams, making it fit him perfectly. He wished he had a mirror to check how it looked, but then noticed that Ron and Hermione were still looking at their coats.
"Well, aren't you going to try them on?" Harry asked.
"Harry, how much did this cost you? This is a lot of dragon hide," Ron was obviously embarrassed.
"Nothing," Harry shrugged. "I traded the rest of the hide and a contract to sign any certificate of authenticity he needed for whatever he made from the hide, for the coats. It didn't cost me a knut. Apparently he thinks he can sell dragonhide items made from a dragon slain in single combat by a celebrity for a premium. I was able to negotiate three coats instead of one."
Ron visibly relaxed and tried on his coat, his instantly resizing to fit him as well. Harry thought the coats were tighter fitting than robes, but looked similar enough to open front-style robes that they easily fit in the magical world. In addition, the coats were similar enough to mundane long coats that no one would look twice if they walked down any non magical street in the UK wearing them. Well, maybe if they did it in the middle of the summer, after all leather tends to be heavy and doesn't have a reputation for keeping you cool, though these coats did have charms on them to keep whomever was wearing them at a comfortable temperature. It wasn't strong enough to go anywhere too exotic, but within Britain they would likely be fine.
Hermione was still looking at her coat, but unlike Ron she was closely examining hers and running her hands over the smooth leather. "Hermione, you should try it on," Harry insisted.
Hermione did just that. Her coat was a little different from Harry and Ron's; because it was a women's coat it was cut a little differently, the waist tapered in and the lower half flaring a little. Yet it was still clearly like the ones Harry and Ron were wearing. The cut of the coat did a lot to show that Hermione had a figure, something that the school robes did a lot to hide. Harry thought Hermione looked both dangerous and absolutely stunning in the new coat.
"It's a pity we don't have a mirror in here." Hermione said as she looked down trying to get an idea of how she looked in the coat. She was so busy doing that she hadn't noticed that Harry was just standing there staring at her.
"Hermione, you don't need a mirror, you just need to see the way Harry is looking at you," Ron joked.
Hermione looked up to see Harry and noticed that he was looking at her so intently. She blushed at his behaviour, but she wasn't the shy type and decided that Harry needed a proper thanking. She walked up to him, grabbed ahold of the opening of his new coat, and pulled him into a heated kiss that only stopped when Ron coughed loud enough to remind them that he was still there. When the two broke apart he said, "Don't expect me to thank you the same way mate." And the three of them laughed.
Charlus took his seat in the Wizengamot and waited. While there were definitely important topics that needed to be discussed here today, he was also afraid of the possibility that it would descend into a mob mentality. It would be all too easy for a group like this to decide to sacrifice Harry's magic, if not his life, to prevent Voldemort from returning. And sacrificing Harry's magic would be exactly what they would be doing if they put Harry in some type of protective custody. If Harry couldn't participate in the final task, he would breach a magical contract.
Dumbledore brought the meeting to order, and immediately a number of warlocks signalled that they wanted to be heard. Dumbledore gave the floor to Warlock Ogden, who was a rather fair-minded member from what Charlus remembered. He mostly brought bills to the chamber in regard to commerce and trade, most of which would benefit businesses like his family distillery.
"My fellow warlocks, after the revelations yesterday I say we need to prepare to deal with the threat before You-Know-Who can start another war. A war that this country cannot afford, as we had barely recovered from the war of Grindelwald when You-Know-Who started his reign of terror. Businesses were stretched to the absolute limit. Another war could see long standing staples of the Wizarding World disappear forever.
"We need to provide the powers and the funding that the Auror force needs so that they can root out these subversive elements of our society. We also need to buy them the time they need to investigate and act. Harry Potter is not only one of the most famous people in our world, but You-Know-Who also seems to believe that the poor boy is the key to his restoration. I recommend that Mr Potter be taken into protective custody where it is impossible for him to be kidnapped, until this matter is either dealt with or You-Know-Who has returned, at which point keeping the boy locked away would be like closing the barn door after the hippogriff has flown off."
Charlus immediately added his name to the crowd who wanted to speak, but Warlock Nott was given the floor next. "My fellow warlocks, let's not get carried away here. Let's consider what the esteemed Warlock Ogden just proposed, shall we? We should take an innocent teenager and lock him away even though he has committed no crime, a boy who is beloved by the witches and wizards on the street. I for one won't be agreeing to that because I'm sure any of us who vote to do that will be lynched the moment we dare to step foot in public." Warlock Nott then sat back down.
Charlus was surprised at first, he was well aware that Nott was one of Voldemort's supporters. He would have thought that Nott would be in favour of isolating Harry. Then Charlus realised that it wasn't any concern for Harry that had him speaking against this proposal, Nott wanted Harry out in the open because he wanted Voldemort's return, and to facilitate that they wanted Harry vulnerable.
Charlus was struck by a brief moment of indecision. Was he doing the right thing if those were the people who agreed with him? He quickly thought over everything again and realised that he was already doing the right thing. If they threw him away it was going to cost Harry his magic, but it would only delay the return of You-Know-Who. Once You-Know-Who was back he was going to target Harry, if for no other reason than plain old spite. No, if Harry was going to have a chance to survive this, he needed his magic and people backing him up.
Charlus didn't wait to be called, he just stood up and glared at the Chief Warlock, practically daring Dumbledore to give the floor to another warlock. Dumbledore seemed to notice and gave Charlus the floor next.
"My fellow warlocks, I must protest this ridiculous line of discussion. Firstly, this body has no legal right to order the detainment of any citizen if they haven't been accused of a crime. Secondly, it is impossible for Harry to be kept out of the Triwizard Tournament without him breaking a magical contract, which while he is young enough that he would probably survive the shock, that's not guaranteed. It is guaranteed, however, to significantly shorten his life. Most Muggles only live until their eighties, seventy years less than the average wizard. To do such a thing to a boy who has done nothing to warrant it is immoral to a degree that I would argue that anyone behind such a thing would deserve a few decades as a guest of the Dementors.
"Thirdly. Harry is the last Heir to the House of Potter. If you vote for this, I will be well within my right as the Warlock of the House of Potter to declare blood feud on you for line assault, and trust me I would be more than happy to do so." Charlus stared right at Ogden as he spoke, making it clear that he was more than willing to destroy the man if it meant protecting his family, before continuing.
"What the hell is wrong with you people? We haven't even tried to find a different solution, yet we're ready to jump to sacrificing the magic and future of an innocent teenager already? Are you sadistic, stupid, or insane? Because those are the only three options I can see for jumping to such an extremely disgusting solution before even trying for another option." As Charlus continued his impromptu speech, more than a few people around the room started to look ashamed. "Now, let's move on from this ridiculous disgrace of a discussion and focus on what's important: working out a way to prevent a war." With that, Charlus sat back down in his seat and waited to see what would happen.
The proposal to detain Harry was quickly dropped and no one who had nodded along with Ogden dared to look Charlus in the eye.
While the Wizengamot meeting was happening, Sirius was at Potter Manor talking with the Delacours and Miss Anne Twist. The Delacours wanted justice for what had happened to their youngest daughter, and Charlus had asked Sirius to help them. The Delacours were currently staying in the manor where they could conveniently meet with law witches and wizards from Britain, as they wanted a British law firm rather than a French one due to familiarity with the local laws. They had originally intended to stay at a hotel while they worked out who they wanted to hire, but Sirius was feeling a little lonely in the manor all by himself and didn't think it was a good strategy for the Delacours to waste their gold on a hotel room in case they needed it for legal or solicitor fees. Plus, Sirius had to admit that Apolline Delacour, as a Veela, was very easy on the eyes. He was just glad he had only caught himself staring a few times.
"So Miss Twist, Sirius here has recommended your firm to us," Sebastian Delacour said to the woman sitting across the table from him.
"We have had the Potter family as clients for some time now, and I believe they are quite happy with our work. If I may, what exactly are you looking to achieve? If, after I understand what you need, I think my firm is a good fit for you I will make our offer, and if I think you'll be better off with another firm I will do my best to recommend whomever I believe is most suitable for you."
"You would recommend a different law firm?" Apolline asked, surprise in her voice.
"If it's in your interest, yes. Quite frankly, we are not hurting for clients enough that we need to trick people into signing with us. I would much rather point you to another firm that could help you and leave you with a positive impression of us, so that if we would ever be a better fit for you in the future then you won't have any problems coming to us. Not to mention how much damage to our reputation a disgruntled former client can do if we misrepresent ourselves and our chances of victory," Miss Twist explained.
The Delacours nodded their understanding and Sebastian started to explain. "It all started with our daughter being chosen for the Triwizard Tournament. The whole family was invited to come and watch the second task, a free trip to see the legendary Hogwarts, the school of magic that inspired the creation of places like Beauxbatons. So we came.
"Once we were here Dumbledore approached us and informed us that they needed Gabrielle to be in the task. They wanted someone for Fleur to rescue. We were told that Gabrielle would be completely safe and it was implied to us that our little girl would just be waiting in a room for Fleur to collect her after having gotten past a number of obstacles. However, our daughter was potioned and put at the bottom of a Scottish lake in the custody of merpeople."
"Our Veela daughter, a being of air and fire, was put at the bottom of a Scottish lake in the middle of February in the custody of a race of people Veela have been at war with for centuries. That is a total breach of the trust we put in them. It was only through the actions of young Mister Potter that our daughter is even alive right now, there is no way those watery basterds would have let either of my daughters leave that lake alive if they were given the opportunity." Sebastian was obviously trying to keep his temper in check at this point.
"So who is it you hold responsible?" Miss Twist asked calmly as she wrote a bunch of notes on a mundane writing pad using a fountain pen rather than a quill.
"Bagman and Dumbledore. Bagman was the Ministry member who had the final say on the tasks, and Dumbledore was the go-between for the tournament officials and the merpeople." The way she said merpeople it was obvious that Apolline was forcing herself to remain civil. Whether it was because of the long war or because of the attack on her children Sirius couldn't tell.
Sebastian also added, "Don't forget that Dumbledore was the one who lied to us and said that our daughter would be perfectly safe."
Miss Twist made a few more notes, then looked Sebastian right in the eye as she asked, "Okay, now an important question. Are you looking to make as much gold as you can from this, or are you looking to make those two hurt as much as you can?"
Sebastian's eyes held the gaze of the law witch and said, his voice as cold as ice. "My family is comfortable enough already. What I want is justice. I want them to pay for making my little girl suffer and don't care how it's done as long as it's legal."
"Good, I think we can help you. You definitely have a case and it's one we are well equipped to handle. The one question now is gold." She started to explain the options to the Delacours, and Sirius excused himself from the room to go and make a pot of tea. After all, going after Dumbledore was a joint venture, my enemy's foe is my ally and all that. The Delacours' financial business, though, was absolutely none of his business.
He did check on their little girl as he went past, as she was in the game room on her own. But when he poked his head around the door, she was still curled up on one of the chairs reading a French translation of one of the Adventures of Harry Potter books, so he left her to it. How anyone could risk a little girl like that he didn't know, but he did know that anyone who could had absolutely no business working at a school.
When Dumbledore and Charlus arrived back at the school, it was through the Floo in the headmaster's office. Despite the clashes the two had been having recently, they were civil enough to share a Floo. They also ended up leaving the office together, not out of any sort of camaraderie or a wish for the other's company, but because they both had the same motivation and destination. It was almost time for dinner, and the two old men were hungry.
They were walking down one of the castle's many corridors heading towards the grand staircase when Professor McGonagall came rushing up to them. Charlus, seeing that it was something important, sped up his pace and as soon as he was close enough he asked, "Minerva what's wrong?"
"Charlus, it's Harry. We can't find him." She was obviously Agitated. "The Aurors responsible for watching him told me a few hours ago that they had lost track of him."
"What about Ron and Hermione?" Charlus asked, not panicking just yet.
"They are in the library and say they have no idea where Mr. Potter is," Minerva answered.
Charlus wanted more. "How are they behaving? Are they acting worried?"
"Ah no, they are just studying." The Transfiguration professor answered, and then she paused and rubbed her temples. "And if Mr. Potter was missing and they didn't know what was happening, then they would be getting into all kinds of trouble trying to find him. So they know either where he is or what he's up to. I'll have all three of them in detention for a week for this."
"Maybe it's worth hearing them out first this time, Minerva. Tell me, do you know what was debated in the Wizengamot today?" Dumbledore said as she caught up to them.
"Not really. I heard someone saying it was something to do with You-Know-Who coming back and putting Mr. Potter's name in the tournament. Which, after what was in the paper this morning, makes sense."
"That's pretty accurate. However, one of the solutions proposed was to lock away my grandson so he couldn't take part in the Triwizard Tournament. Harry was there yesterday when the idea was first proposed. My guess is he is hiding from the Aurors because they would be the ones who would arrest him if the Wizengamot ordered." Charlus gave the headmaster a significant look then said, "He is probably hiding somewhere close by until he hears the results of the session." He was careful not to mention the cloak to Minerva as he had no idea how much she knew about it.
The Transfiguration professor, though, seemed to know plenty because she swore to herself then said, "I bet he was right there in the library with them under that bloody cloak of his." She then turned around and started to storm off towards the library before she paused, turned back to them, and asked in an annoyed tone, "I assume the Wizengamot took their head out of their arse long enough to realise that imprisoning Mr. Potter was a stupid idea?"
"Indeed they did, though I would credit it more to Charlus here pointing out some rather unhealthy consequences for any members who voted to basically strip young Mr. Potter of his magic," Dumbledore said with a knowing smile.
Her question answered, the Head of Gryffindor started to march back to the library. Charlus decided it was a good idea to follow, while Dumbledore decided that his presence wasn't needed and that he would do far more good in the Great Hall monitoring the rest of the students, and of course eating his own dinner. A few minutes later, Minerva stormed into the library with Charlus trailing behind her. Charlus was actually a little amused at his grandson's antics this time, especially if Minerva was right and Harry was actually just sitting there with his friends in the library.
"Okay, where is Potter?" Professor McGonagall said as she stormed up to Ron and Hermione.
"We don't know Professor," Ron said immediately.
Charlus walked around the stack of books and gave the two teens a small wave as he looked closely at the Scene in front of him. Ron and Hermione were sitting on opposite sides of the rather long table with their homework spread between them. Charlus didn't bother casting the Homenum Revelio charm, it was useless against the cloak. Instead, first he looked at all the chairs around the table, seeing that none of them were out enough from the table for someone to be sitting on one of them. Then Charlus looked at all the homework stuff again. One of the books looked like it had just casually been left open on the table, but if Charlus was right then he knew exactly where Harry was.
Charlus walked up to the table and said, "Good news Harry, you're not going to be carted off so you can stop hiding now." And he reached over the table, grabbed something invisible, and pulled it away, revealing his grandson lying on the table right where he could read the open book.
"Evening grandfather," Harry said with a smirk. "So the Wizengamot didn't vote to lock me up in a tower somewhere until some beautiful princess came to save me?"
Ron, Hermione, and Charlus all laughed at the absurdity of that mental image and Harry took the opportunity to swing down off the table and stand up. "No Harry, they are going to continue with your bodyguards for now and they want to try and put something in place for the third task so that they can track you and follow you if they need to."
"Seems reasonable. So, it's about time for dinner, who's hungry?" Harry asked, hoping that Professor McGonagall would let his disappearance go. However, hope and reality don't line up as often as people would like, so it wasn't surprising when the Head of Gryffindor put her hand on his shoulder and said, "Not so fast Mr Potter." It looked like it was time to pay the piper.
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