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Chapter 39

The Wizengamot took a break for lunch, and as Charlus sat in a muggle pub a little up the street from the visitors' entrance to the Ministry, he was only a little surprised to see Warlock Greengrass walk in. After all, the pub was one on the mundane side of things. He was less surprised when, after ordering his meal from the bar, Warlock Greengrass took a seat opposite him.

"Warlock Potter," Greengrass nodded at him.

"Please, Warlock Greengrass, call me Charlus, especially here." Formalities said that they had to greet each other by their title until given leave to do otherwise.

"And please call me Castor. I need to ask you a question." Castor sounded stiff and formal.

Charlus could guess what question was coming. "Ask away, but be aware that if it's too closely related to the trial I won't be able to say anything." He didn't think it had anything to do with the trial, but he had to say that just in case.

"Did your grandson know that the money he donated to the blood curse research foundation would aid my family? Or more specifically, did he do it to gain my favour for this trial" The man tried to sound like he wasn't accusing Charles, but he wasn't completely successful. Although in fairness it was rather difficult to phrase 'Are you trying to buy my vote' in any way that wasn't accusatory.

"You can relax; as far as I'm aware Harry had no idea your family even has a curse, let alone asking for your family to have preferential treatment. There is no attempt to buy your vote here. Honestly I think our case has enough evidence that all I ask is that you vote for the truth."

"You think I wouldn't?" Castor sounded a little offended by the suggestion.

"Honestly I don't know. You joined the Wizengamot after I got caught in that damned time storm. So I don't really know you all that well, you wouldn't be the first or last Wizengamot member to vote strategically against one issue to get support on a different one," Charlus said just as the barman brought over Castor's lunch and set it in front of the man.

Castor conceded to Charlus's point. "I have had to do that a few times, it's the only way to get some things passed. But we are talking about a tax tweak here or a budget increase there, not criminal child abuse claims. That man is in charge of my daughters' school, if you show he is abusive to any students I will have him out of that school, even if I have to spend the rest of my life in Azkaban for using unforgivable curses to do it. I will protect my daughters."

Charlus smiled, he knew he was right about this man when he looked into him. He lifted his drink to the man and simply said, "here here." After that the two sat together eating their lunches and talking about an upcoming bill that was proposed by Warlock Hallow that would result in a full audit of Ministry spending over the last ten years.

-ϟϟϟ-

Once everyone was back from lunch, the trial resumed. Miss Twist was once more centre stage and she pulled out a trump card no one was expecting. "Warlocks of the Wizengamot, the next charge is that Dumbledore put the lives of every single student in Hogwarts School at risk multiple times in the 1991 - 92 school year. To do this, the prosecution would like to call their first witness professor Minerva McGonagall."

McGonagall, as much to Charlus's surprise as everyone else, was soon led into the chamber. Charlus hadn't planned in involving the professor at all, he had even intentionally set her up to a red herring. His work wouldn't go to waste, in fact he was more sure than ever now that Dumbledore would believe that Minerva was who he wanted to take over as head teacher. Still, he couldn't help but worry that Dumbledore, really focusing on her, would have come up with counters to anything she could testify to.

"Professor McGonagall, can you please recount for us the unusual events of the 91 - 92 school year."

"It started around mid-July when Headmaster Dumbledore approached me to say he was going to be using the third floor to secure something. I had some trepidation about that, I thought he had found an artefact in the castle that couldn't be removed that needed to be secured, but I accepted Albus's assurance that he had the matter well in hand.

"About a week later, Dumbledore asked me to enchant an obstacle that would deter students who were trying to get where the artefact was being stored. I did as he asked, spending the next few weeks building an enormous wizarding chess set. I thought watching a few chess places smashed into pieces would deter any students from trying to proceed towards whatever artefact was being kept away from the students. A few of the other professors added protections as well: professors Snape, Quirrell, Flitwick, Sprout, and Hagrid.

"That was it for a while, the students came back and Dumbledore gave a warning to the students that part of the castle was dangerous and off-limits, and we went on with everything like a regular school year. That is to say, a bunch of students got up to mischief that had all the professors ready to pull our hair out." That last line got a chuckle from everyone in the room as they remembered the mischief from their own years in the school.

"Then Halloween came. To understand this, you need to know that Quirrell's protection for the artefact was a mountain troll. That troll was placed in a room where the doorways were too small for it to leave, and to get to the school it would have had to get past my chess set and a few other professors' protections, so I believed it was perfectly safe and it wouldn't get out into the castle. So when during the Halloween feast Quirrell came bursting into the Great Hall screaming about a troll in the dungeon, I was afraid something had gone terribly wrong. Albus quickly sent all the students back to their common rooms.

"I and the other Professors immediately started looking for the troll. Eventually, we found the troll already unconscious. Two students, Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley, who had gone to retrieve a third student from the bathroom who didn't know about the troll, had encountered it well away from the dungeons, and in a move born of desperation had levitated the trolls own club and dropped it on its head.

"Once the students were checked over and found to be unhurt, they were sent back to their common room and we Professors set about dealing with the troll. It was then that we noticed that this troll we were dealing with wasn't the one that was guarding the mysterious artefact. That should have been impossible, there are a lot of wards on the castle and many of them have to do with keeping away magical creatures. It's a necessity because we are so close to the Forbidden Forest. One of the wards is an anti-troll ward, and any troll approaching the perimeter of the school is given a bunch of mental compulsions to go back where they came from. This ward was of course lowered to allow Quirrell to bring in his security troll. Dumbledore, however, failed to put it back up once the troll was in place. This allowed the other troll in and put every student and staff member at risk.

"After that, a little investigation revealed that someone had intentionally let the troll in to cause a distraction so that they could try and steal the mysterious artefact that was being guarded. This being the case, we started to demand answers from the headmaster, and after a lot of prodding he revealed that he was hiding the Philosopher's Stone for his old friend and mentor Nicholas Flamel. Worse yet, he was hiding it in the school because an as-yet-unknown dark wizard was trying to steal it.

"We Professors went happy but there wasn't really much we could do about it. We gave the headmaster our formal letters of protest. But if we did any more than that, then it would have just advertised there was something happening and made even more trouble for the students. Then it turned out the dark wizard was Professor Quirrell, who was voluntarily acting as a host for a disembodied spirit of You-Know-Who. This was revealed when Dumbledore left the castle and he tried to steal the stone. Unfortunately it was the students who were the ones to stop him, not any of the professors; how any of them didn't die I don't know." The professor finally finished giving her recollection of the events.

During this time, Miss Twist had been taking notes and now it was time for her to ask any questions she may have had. "Professor McGonagall, you said that originally that you thought the artefact in question was something tied to the school, why did you think that?"

"There have been a number of artefacts found over the years linked to school. Some of them are well known and relatively harmless, for example the Sorting Hat and the Book of Names. Others are more dangerous in the wrong circumstances, for example the gargoyle that guards the entrance to the headmaster's office that will attack anyone trying to break in, or the suits of armour that will try to attack anyone that invades the school.

"We once found a stone cauldron that vanished any potion poured into it. It was a relic from before there was a reliable wand spell for that and was intended for disposal of any failed potions made by students. Unfortunately, according to the cauldron, potions included anyone with a potion in their system. We eventually destroyed it because it was dangerous to have in a school where more than half the students have a potion or two in their system at any one time. I just assumed something like that was found and that Dumbledore, one of the most accomplished wizards of our time, was working on studying and dismantling it."

"Very well," Miss Twist said as she marked off something from her notes. "Next question. Why did Dumbledore send the students back to their common rooms? You had just been told a troll was in the dungeon. Two of the House common rooms are in the dungeons. Wouldn't it have made more sense to keep all the students in the easily defended Great Hall, with half of the professors to protect them and for the other half going to subdue the troll?"

Professor McGonagall winced as she realised the truth of the question. "In hindsight that should have been how we proceeded given the information we had. But I should also point out that had we done that then Miss Granger, the student who was in the bathroom, would most likely have died."

"Are you sure about that? If the students hadn't been immediately cut off from the professors, they could have told you that Miss Granger was in the bathroom and it could have been the professors that retrieved her."

Dumbledore stood up and spoke up. "I protest. Professor McGonagall is knowledgeable in a great many things, but how things may have played out if different choices were made is pure speculation."

Fudge thought about it for a few moments but then decided that Dumbledore was indeed correct In his protest. It was pure speculation and didn't meet the standard of evidence. He quickly instructed the Wizengamot to disregard the question and for Miss Twist to move on.

"My last question is, you said Dumbledore left the school and that's when the attempt on the stone was made. Why would the headmaster of the school suddenly up and leave? I believe that the events were around the same time as the end-of-year exams, was it not? Isn't that an important time for the headmaster to be at the school?"

Professor McGonagall nodded as the question was asked then said, "True, but Professor Dumbledore is also the Chief Warlock and the Supreme Mugwump. It isn't uncommon for him to leave the castle to go take care of his other responsibilities. On that particular occasion, I believe he got a letter from the Ministry. He handed off some patchment work to me and left."

Miss Twist smiled. "So Dumbledore prioritises his other commitments over the school?"

"I didn't say that. It depends which role has the most urgent need," Professor McGonagall said.

"But by having two other such responsible positions, doesn't that mean that the school has to lose out at least some of the time?" Miss Twist pressed.

"Well I can't say he is always able to give the school his full attention, so I can't really disagree with that statement," Professor McGonagall said.

Miss Twist finished her questioning, and now Dumbledore had his opportunity to ask any questions he had for the deputy headmistress. "Professor McGonagall, in all the years we have worked together, we have come to know each other quite well, yes?"

"Yes," the Scotswoman agreed.

"During that time, have you ever seriously questioned my decisions before Charlus Potter's miraculous return to us?" Dumbledore looked calm, like he didn't have a care in the world as he spoke.

"Well no. But hind-" She started but Dumbledore cut her off.

"So you were quite happy with how things were going until one misguided and over protective guardian started stirring up trouble for their ward."

"That's not what I…"

"Come now, your views on these topics have suddenly flipped completely after only a few conversations with Warlock Potter. Is it not true that, while I did take frequent trips away from the school, you and I both agreed that it was brilliant on-the-job training for you, so that you would be ready to take over the position once I am no longer fit to hold it?"

"That's true, but recent events-"

"My, Minerva, I didn't realise you were quite so wishy-washy. Next you'll be telling me you want to switch to teaching divination." There were a few titters from people around them. While many of the people here were finished with Hogwarts before McGonagall started to teach, there were more than a few who were familiar with the woman, and her stance on Divination wasn't exactly a secret. Dumbledore finished his questions and returned to his seat.

Charlus sighed. Dumbledore's questions had little to do with the case and were mostly about hurting Minerva's reputation. Charlus had never intended to have Minerva take the role as Head of the school, in part because of how close she had been with Dumbledore. He had even set Dumbledore up to believe he was going to support Minerva. That, however, didn't mean he enjoyed watching Dumbledore tear her down like that. The woman was a brilliant professor and she would be a great headmistress someday, she deserved better from Dumbledore.

The arguments for this charge continued for another hour, going back and forth. Miss Twist questioned the sanity of having a full grown Cerberus in the castle behind a door that had no magical protections on it to stop it being opened by a first year with the Unlocking Charm. Dumbledore argued that it was for Hagrid. The groundskeeper couldn't legally use a wand for a more complex unlocking charm, so a simple lock and key in a magically reinforced door was the best option.

"What about a magical lock with a magical key? Did you not employ such a simple defence later in your elaborate trap?" Miss Twist asked, hoping to catch Dumbledore off guard by suddenly calling it a trap. Unfortunately, the man hadn't fallen for it.

"I don't know what you mean by a trap."

"What I mean is that either your defences were incompetent by design, or they were a trap. Let's look at what it took to get past them all. The first one needed only a first-year charm and any type of music, the second a plant identified in first-year Herbology and a first-year charm. Third was essentially a game of Quidditch, fourth a game of chess, sixth a logic puzzle. These aren't defences to stop anyone, they are delaying tactics. Obviously meant to keep the thief busy until you could turn up and deal with them yourself. However, you were far too cavalier and also brought dangerous creatures into a castle full of kids. Not only that, you locked said creatures in rooms completely on their own, practically guaranteeing that they would try to escape, and the only way they could have gone is into the school. The only reason you didn't have any students die was luck. Pure and simple." By the time Miss Twist finished her speech, she was practically ranting at Dumbledore for what he had done.

Soon it was time to vote. Dumbledore may have tried to defend himself on this one, but it wasn't happening. He had lost a lot of the warlocks when they had heard about the troll roaming the halls of the school, the Cerberus had just fixed their opinion on the matter. Over two-thirds of the Wizengamot voted to find Dumbledore guilty of child endangerment. Whatever else happened now, his days as headmaster were done.

There wasn't enough time for them to start on the next charge so Fudge called it for the day, telling everyone they would be meeting back there the next day to continue. While Charlus was chatting with Miss Twist, the Delacours and the Changs, all of them rather happy with the trial so far, Director Bones of the D.M.L.E. came and asked if, before he left, he could meet her in her office for a discussion. Curious, Charlus made his way up to her office as soon as he could.

-ϟϟϟ-

As soon as he arrived back at Potter Manor, Charlus was bombarded with questions about what had happened. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were all rather disappointed to learn that the trial wasn't over yet and that it was only on pause until the next day. Sirius had expected as much, as he had far more experience with Ministry trials from his time as an Auror. Though admittedly, his experience with civil trials like this one was more as an Auror guard than giving evidence in a case on which he had worked.

Charlus explained what had happened so far though, and they were all happy to hear that Dumbledore had already been found guilty of some of the changes. They were a little disappointed that no decision had been made on how to punish Dumbledore yet, but Charlus explained that all of that wouldn't happen until there was a verdict on all of the charges. "That way, they only need to go through one sentencing hearing instead of multiple ones. Though given that one of the charges that he has already been found guilty of was endangering the lives of the Hogwarts students, I seriously doubt that he will be able to continue on as the headmaster."

"What about the Triwizard Tournament, isn't Dumbledore bound to be the headmaster until it's over?" Hermione asked.

"I doubt it, but it depends on how the contract is worded. The contract probably requires action of whoever holds the possession of headmaster. However, if it requires Dumbledore specifically, then he can still lose his position as Headmaster and just become an overseer for the tournament. If on the off chance the contract requires Dumbledore to be the headmaster, then they will just have the new head act as an overseer who needs to approve everything until the tournament ends. Whatever way it has to be done, Dumbledore won't be the one making decisions any more, and he would have as little contact with the students as would be feasible." Charlus explained.

The teens all had more questions, but Charlus was more interested in what they had been doing for the day. Ron was actually rather excited by what they had done, so he explained. "It was brilliant. Sirius gave us some actual auror training. He had us practising real battlefield tactics rather than duelling, mostly working on being outnumbered. First it was all of us against Sirius. That was amazing, but was apparently all about teaching us teamwork. But then we all took turns being the one on our own. Harry is becoming a demon with his wand. Even with Sirius's help it took us ten minutes at the end to take him down, and even then Harry had me and Hermione tagged with multiple prank spells before we could stop him."

Hermione nodded along with Ron's praise of Harry's skills. "Harry's training is really paying off. I just wish it wasn't something Harry had to learn." She took Harry's hand off the table and held it.

"Yeah," agreed Harry. "The practice is kind of fun, but the idea that I will probably need all this training is a lot to take in."

Charlus was just trying to work out what words of comfort to offer his grandson, however Hermione got there first. The bushy-haired girl wrapped her arm around him pulling him into a side hug and offering him wordless encouragement.

This gave Charlus both a warm feeling, knowing that Harry could inspire such feelings in the people who cared about him and it gave him enough time to come up with a few words. "Harry…it's not fair that you have to go through this. It's hard and it's scary, but trust me we are working on everything we can to help you. After the trial today I spoke with Director Bones. She and a few others are working hard to find ways to help you. From what we know of what He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named wants to accomplish, he will need to take you away from the school, and the magic he needs you for won't be quick. Director Bones has already tasked the Unspeakables with coming up with a way that they can track you wherever you go. There will be a full three squads of Aurors on standby, ready to follow you and do whatever it takes to bring you home."

Harry was surprised at just how much planning was going on that he had no clue about. The Unspeakables were supposed to work on top secret magic projects, yet they were being tasked with coming up with ways to find him if he was kidnapped? And a squad of Aurors was seven people, so they were planning on having twenty-one highly trained dark wizard fighters just on standby to save him? Harry didn't even realise that Britain had so many Aurors. Aurors weren't the regular law enforcement officers, they were the highly trained fighters who specialised in fighting and catching dark wizards.

But as he thought about it, it wasn't just for him was it? Sure, Grandfather Charlus's main focus was doing all he could to make sure Harry got through all of this in one piece. But everyone else? They wanted to stop Voldemort, not specifically for him but because the whole country would be thrown into another war if he was ever able to return. Everyone was trying to protect someone, but it was someone important to them. That was a surprisingly comfortable thought. The idea that all this was being done for him was a lot, but the realisation that this was for every one kept him from feeling like there was an extreme weight on his shoulders.

Eventually six o'clock rolled around, and both Ron and Hermione had to go back to their homes, Ron flooing and Hermione being Side-Alonged by Sirius. When he and his grandfather were alone, Harry asked. "Do you really think I can do this?"

"Harry, you are amazing. I don't think you realise just how strong you are. You have already faced things that would make full Aurors quit rather than face what you went on to defeat. I have seen you during your training and I watched you during the tasks. Trust me when I say, I don't think anyone has what this will take more than you. Remember, we aren't looking for a miracle, just for you to hold things together until the rescue party arrives." Charlus then decided to take a leaf out of Hermione's book and pulled his grandson into a hug. "Trust me. You've got this kiddo."

A/N

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