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Chapter 40

Charlus was once more back in the Wizengamot chamber, the Changs and Delacours sitting next to him while Miss Twist did what she was being paid to do: tear down Dumbledore's reputation and get him convicted for the crimes he had committed.

"Warlock Dumbledore, how many hostages were put at the bottom of the black lake for the second task of the Triwizard Tournament?" Miss Twist had rolled together the last three charges of endangering the hostages, or attempting to in Miss Granger's case, into one narrative to prevent repeating everything three times.

"Originally there were to be three, however Mr. Potter's inclusion meant we had to up it to four," Dumbledore answered simply and honestly. Everyone knew the truth here, so the question was more about establishing the fact for the transcript than actually looking for information.

"And can you tell me the ages of all of the hostages please." Miss Twist asked.

"Well, Miss Alicia Spinnet is seventeen, Miss Chang is sixteen, Miss Delacour is eight, and while I'm not sure I believe Warlock Potter is in his late 80s or 90s, depending on how you count his time caught up in a time storm."

"And how old is Miss Granger?" Miss Twist asked.

"Miss Granger was never used as a hostage," Dumbledore said.

"And that's not the question I asked. How old is Miss Granger," Miss Twist insisted.

"It's not relevant." Dumbledore insisted back.

"Considering I have sworn statements here from Warlock Charlus Potter, Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Professor McGonagall that you intended to put Miss Granger at the bottom of the lake to act as Mr. Potter's hostage, and it was only Mr. Potter realising that fact at the last minute when you sent for Miss Granger the night before the task that saved her from being put in the lake. That is the base for the charge of attempted violation of a magical guardian's rights and responsibilities. It is incredibly relevant and I insist you answer my question."

"The girl was never a hostage because her magical guardian forbade it, so your charge is ridiculous." Dumbledore still refused to answer.

"If you won't tell the Wizengamot, I will. The girl is fifteen. Fifteen years old, and you attempted to put her at the bottom of a lake in the hands of merpeople, without once contacting her parents or talking to her magical guardian beforehand. Just because she was in the company of her magical guardian when the messenger you sent to collect her found her, and he put a stop to your idiotic idea in her case, has no bearing on the fact that you actually tried to do it."

"I think a better question is what was a fifteen-year-old witch doing in the personal chambers of a male professor so late in the evening?" Dumbledore accused.

Charlus went to jump up and challenge Dumbledore to a duel right there for bringing his charge's reputation into disrepute. Fortunately for everyone, Sebastian Delacour and Yufei Chang each put their hands on his shoulders and pulled him back down into his seat.

Miss Twist bristled at the vile accusation Dumbledore had just made and knew she needed to squash it fast. Here and now fast. There were members of the press here because of who the accused was. If such a story was to appear in the papers, it would take months to fix the reputations of both of them. She had to come up with a strategy quickly, but luckily after a moment she knew exactly what she was going to do.

"Warlock Potter. Can you please describe for everyone here the events of that evening for us?" She asked, trying to implicitly ask Charlus to just follow her lead without saying anything.

Charlus took a deep breath to center himself and nodded before he stood up and began to tell everyone what happened. "It was the night before the second task. My grandson Harry was understandably nervous. The tasks were designed with of-age students in mind, and Harry had already worked out from the clue each champion was given that the next task was going to be retrieving something for the Black Lake.

"To help deal with his nerves, Harry brought his girlfriend Hermione Granger and his best friend Ronald Weasley, the two who had been helping him prepare the most, to my rooms so that we could go over his preparations one more time. There was a lot of talking over the things Harry had prepared, we drank some hot chocolate, and pretty much tried to reassure Harry that we all had faith in him. Then Minevra – sorry, Professor McGonagall - arrived, looking to ask me if I happened to know where Miss Granger was because the headmaster needed to see her. Harry worked out that meant the headmaster intended to put his girlfriend into the lake and he had a few less-than-respectful words to say about that."

Charlus was going to continue, but Miss Twist stopped him. "So in answer to the accusation of a few moments ago, would you agree that, while in your rooms with your grandson, your magical ward, and a friend of your grandson, you were in fact acting as a responsible adult, and that you were supervising them and helping a family member deal with some stress brought about by Albus Dumbledore not having sufficient safety protocols in place to prevent Mr. Potter from being entered into the Triwizard Tournament?"

"I would," Charlus answered.

"I would like to draw the Wizengamot's attention to the signed statements I mentioned earlier. Each one corroborates what Warlock Potter just said, that they were going over last minute checks for the second task. There is no question of inappropriate behaviour anywhere but with Dumbledore's handling of the tournament. His accusation is nothing more than an attempt to discredit his main accuser and to disrail this hearing. I would also personally like to add that I feel it's utterly disgusting that Warlock Dumbledore would try to drag a perfectly respectable young woman's reputation through the mud just to try and save his own worthless ass."

There was a little upset over her last sentence, and Miss Twist was fined ten Galleons for breaking decorum. But she considered it worth it, especially as if it worked then it was billable.

One of the seat-holding warlocks then stood up, indicating he had a question, and Fudge gave him leave to ask it. "Forgive me if I'm wrong, but as Warlock Potter is a professor, isn't he barred from helping a student prepare for a Triwizard task?"

Charlus stood up to answer before Dumbledore could use this as an opening to try and cast more aspersions. "You are correct, as a professor I am limited in what help I can give my grandson in regards to tournament preparations. However, Harry had his two friends for that job. Where I am not limited is that I can tell my grandson, and not so coincidentally my favourite student, that I had my full confidence and unwavering faith that he would do amazingly. The tournament rules and contract are very specific in their requirements, probably because the professors still need to teach them their regular lessons. We cannot give any magical instruction beyond that which we normally would in regards to our classes. Encouragement is fine and not covered under any of the restrictions. Also, I assume every other champion received encouragement from their families. Should my grandson be further handicapped in this bloody tournament? He already has to deal with having had less education. Do you wish to rob my boy of a few kind words?"

The edge in Charlus's voice had the few people who had been nodding with the questioner sinking back into their seats and trying to make themselves as small and unnoticeable as possible. The one who had asked the question couldn't do that as Charlus was looking right at him. "I withdraw my question," the man said before sitting down, doing everything he could to look like he wasn't intimidated by Charlus.

"So getting back to the topic, Warlock Dumbledore," Miss Twist said, getting the proceedings back on track. "You called an underage girl to your office with every intention of putting her at the bottom of the lake without any intention of asking her parents or her magical guardian."

"I was going to ask Charlus after I found out if the girl was open to the idea," Dumbledore said. "It seemed pointless to do so without asking if the girl was willing first."

"For one moment let's pretend I believe you. If what you are saying is true, what was your backup plan if Charlus had refused? You didn't exactly have a lot of time at that point. It was, what, fourteen or fifteen hours until the start of the task?"

"I would have asked his grandfather." Dumbledore said, looking innocent as he spoke.

"Oh, then why was your first thought when confronted to switch to Mr. Ronald Weasley, another underage student. I have even more sworn statements here, one from Professor McGonagall and one from Warlock Potter that, while Warlock Potter was standing right in front of you, you didn't even consider Warlock Potter as a candidate until after he yelled at you to stop trying to put kids at the bottom of a lake. And I would also like to point out that Hogwarts is in the North of Scotland and the Weasley home is in the extreme south of England. It would have taken an owl more than a day to make the round trip. The task would have been over before you got a reply. What was your plan, to chuck the kid in the lake and hope you received a permission form you could check in the records after? Or did you plan, as I suspect, not to bother with the permission forms?" Miss Twist was hoping that her line about owls wouldn't be called out. It would have been easy for the headmaster to Floo to the Burrow and get the permission form in under 30 minutes if he had been inclined, but with the pattern with the other hostages she was sure he didn't intend to bother.

"Not bothering with parental permission would definitely follow how you dealt with Miss Cho Chang's inclusion in the task. Warlock Chang, if you could stand up and tell us the story your daughter gave, please?" Miss Twist wanted to quickly move on and establish a pattern before someone spotted her omission of the floo network.

Yufei Chang stood up, straightened the stole on his formal robes, and began to address the Wizengamot. "Honoured warlocks, I got this information directly from my sixteen year old daughter. The night before the second task of the Triwizard Tournament, my daughter Cho was helping her boyfriend, Cedric Diggory, with his final preparations for the task until just before curfew. When she returned to her common room, as she is a Ravenclaw and the Diggory boy is a Hufflepuff so they couldn't use the common rooms, she found her Head of House waiting for her with a message that the headmaster needed to see her. Professor Flitwick gave her a pass to be out after curfew and the current password to the headmaster's office, and let her get on with it.

"My daughter, curious as to what the headmaster could want, hurried to see him. Once in his office, the headmaster told her that, in order for Cedric to compete in the second task, they needed someone close to him to act as a hostage. He then explained to her that if Cedric had no hostage to rescue, he would forfeit the second task and be in breach of the binding magical contract he made with the Goblet of Fire." Warlock Chang was incredibly angry as he finished recounting what his daughter had told him.

"That man manipulated my underage daughter so that she believed she had no choice but to agree or else it would be her fault that her boyfriend at best became nothing more than a squib. He coerced her compliance, strong-arming her into giving permission that, due to her age, was invalid from the start. The worst part is, if his plans had gone as he intended and the Bulgarian boy hadn't been seriously hurt, then nobody would have cared enough about all this to do anything. It's only because we have such a stark reminder of how close she came to getting hurt that we aren't just continuing with the status quo and leaving this man in charge of all of our children." Warlock Chang looked ready to duel Dumbledore right there in front of everyone.

"Warlock Chang, can you please tell us if Dumbledore explained exactly what being a hostage would mean for your daughter?" Miss Twist asked.

"He told her that she would be put in an enchanted sleep and she would wake up after she was rescued. That's all, he didn't tell her any details but that," he answered, still glaring at Dumbledore as he spoke.

"Esteemed warlocks, there is a principle in our law that is commonly called informed consent. At its core the idea is simple, you have to have a reasonable opportunity to understand something before you can consent to something. For example, if you sign a loan agreement, the contract has to contain how much interest you will be charged. That gives the person signing the contract a fair opportunity to read it before they sign. My understanding of how Warlock Dumbledore handled the situation is that he kept any opportunity of understanding the risks away from Miss Chang. So in addition to being underage, we have a second legal principle for why her consent to be part of this task is not legally valid. This is the exact same problem as what happened with the Delacour girl. Madame Delacour, can you please tell us the story of what happened from your point of view?" Miss Twist asked.

Apolline Delacour nodded, stood, and started speaking. She had her allure suppressed, but she still had the attention of almost every man in the room. "It started with our family being invited to watch the second task of the Triwizard Tournament. Given that our daughter as a champion was bound to the ceremonies of the tournament, we hadn't seen her since the last day of August, the Yule ball preventing her from returning home for Christmas. Because it had been so long, we jumped at the opportunity to see Fleur and the three of us – my daughter Gabrielle, my husband Sebastian and myself – all made our arrangements to travel.

When we arrived it was just as you would expect, we spent a little time with Fleur but she was mostly busy preparing for the task, so we did a little sightseeing of the lovely little village by the school. The day before the second task we, that is to say my husband and I, were approached by the headmaster of Hogwarts. He told us that a main component of the second task was that the champions had to rescue someone they cared about. Their first choice for Fleur, her date for the Yule Ball, had fallen flat. Apparently our daughter and this boy didn't click romantically and had quickly drifted apart, and our daughter didn't care about him any more than any other random student.

"So, he asked if our daughter Gabrielle could stand in as hostage; as Fleur's sister it was a given that she cared deeply for her. My husband and I were apprehensive, we said it didn't sound safe. How could it be safe, as they had already used dragons in the first task? When we asked Dumbledore that very question, he assured us that the hostages would be in a safe room while their champions faced the trials of the task and the danger would have passed before Gabrielle was retrieved. He also pointed out that our Fleur was under a magically binding contract and that she could lose her magic if she was unable to complete the task for any reason. Veela are mostly human, but we are more tightly bound to our magic and we can't live without it. Dumbledore also assured us that the hostages would be under guard to make sure that if anything unexpected happened, there were fully qualified people there to deal with it and keep them safe."

"What did Dumbledore tell you about the guards?" Miss Twist asked.

"Nothing specific, but he gave the impression that they would be witches or wizards. If he had told me the truth, I would never have given my permission for my little girl to be involved in that travesty." Madame Delacour said, unconsciously scratching her arms as she was so angry that her magic was building up in them ready to start shouting feathers.

"And what was the truth?"

"The idiot gave my daughter to the merpeople!" She spat out the word "merpeople" like it was something disgusting.

"Can you please explain why that is important?"

"It's important because they hate us. The merpeople have been trying to destroy all the Veela for almost three thousand years. Our people both come from the Mediterranean, we used to live together, some even say we have a common ancestor because the Veela allure is so similar to the siren's song. The merpeople even used to transform like we do. We transform from a human form to an avian hybrid form, and they used to have a human form along with their aquatic forms. But for some reason the merpeople lost their human forms, and they blame the Veela.

"I honestly don't know if the Veela of the time had anything to do with it. As it was around three thousand years ago, no one knows for sure what happened. The only facts that are known are that the merpeople have hated my kind and have done everything in their power to kill us whenever they have the opportunity. In fact, I truly believe the only reason she was still alive when Mr. Potter arrived at the merpeople village is because they intended to use her as bait so that her sister wouldn't retreat when they tried to kill her. Dumbledore almost cost me my daughters by deceiving me about the dangers and placing my little girl into the hands of her would-be murderers."

"Thank you, Madame Delacour," Miss Twist said.

This time Dumbledore chose to ask some questions. "Madame Delacour, you said in your statement that you knew the first task involved dragons. Correct?" Madam Delacour nodded that she had. "You also said that I told you that your younger daughter would have guards protecting her. Is this correct?" Again Madame Delacour answered that it was. "Is it not responsible to conclude that you were informed of the possibility of there being some danger? After all you don't need a guard to protect you if you are perfectly safe."

"There is a difference between a reasonable risk with qualified guards on standby to intervene if something went wrong, because at the moment we couldn't think of a better way to keep our eldest daughter from running afoul of a badly constructed magical contract, and putting our daughter in the hands of monsters who want to genocide my entire people. Putting Gabrielle in the hands of merpeople is something we never would have agreed to, and you must have known that as it's why you hid the truth from us." Madame Delacour looked like she was considering seeing just how well Dumbledore's beard would burn, and she looked calm compared to her husband who looked like he was pondering something much darker.

The arguments continued back and forth for another few hours, but Miss Twist had clearly established the pattern of how Dumbledore had failed each of the underage hostages and attempted it with Hermione. If it had just been one case or another, there was almost no chance Dumbledore would face any consequences, but together was a different story.

Dumbledore had tried to say he didn't know that the tensions between the merpeople and Veela were so grave, and that he had believed the merpeople in the Black Lake would have honoured the agreements in place for the tournament. Miss Twist had countered that if it was true he knew about the tensions, then it was criminally negligent to include the lake at all, knowing that Beauxbatons was known for accepting Veela students and that there was a fair chance one may have become the champion.

Eventually the Wizengamot found Dumbledore guilty on two of the three charges. Dumbledore had enough allies in the Wizengamot that, because Charlus had intervened and Hermione wasn't put in the lake, then it was no harm, no foul. That's not to say her case wasn't important, it had been a major factor in establishing the pattern for the other two.

With determining guilt or innocence over, it was time to turn to the matter of sentencing. Dumbledore had been found guilty of interfering with wills, neglecting his responsibility as Harry's magical guardian in various ways, endangering all the students in a school because of the trolls and Cerberus in the '91-'92 school year, and directly violating parental rights of two underage witches by using them as hostages without appropriate parental permission.

Now the real fighting would begin, as the whole Wizengamot debated what exactly the punishment would be. Of course, there were some who immediately called for the harshest punishments for Dumbledore. Fines that would bankrupt the man, removing him from all his political positions, and removing him from Hogwarts. Those calls obviously came from the darker elements of the Wizengamot like Warlock Nott, with whom Dumbledore had often butted heads. It was only the fact that it had been a civil trial that stopped them from calling for life in Azkaban. The other side was led by Warlock Doge, Dumbledore's not so secret partner, and were for Dumbledore to pay each victim one hundred Galleons and call it a day. The final judgement would be somewhere between those two extremes, though some in the centre like Warlock Greengrass were adamant that Dumbledore would at least have to lose any position at Hogwarts and be barred from working any jobs where he would have a duty of care over under age witches and wizards.

-ϟϟϟ-

With the sentencing, the trial had run a few hours late. The Wizengamot had decided to spend the extra time rather than coming back again for another day, so when Charlus Floo'ed back to Potter Manor he found a crowd of people anxiously waiting for news. Not just Sirius and the teens, but Hermione's parents and about half the clan of Weasleys were all there.

"Dumbledore has lost his position as headmaster." Charlus said, getting a cheer from a number of the teens. That was what everyone really wanted to know, so he got it out of the way. With that, he had Harry go make tea for everyone. If he was going to explain everything in detail he wanted a drink to help keep his throat from drying out. Hermione and Ron went with Harry to help him make and carry enough tea for twelve people. While they were doing that, Charlus took the opportunity to go and change out of his formal Wizengamot robes. When he returned, the trio were back and there was a cup of tea waiting for him

Charlus settled into a chair and started to explain everything. "In the end, Dumbledore has been found guilty of four charges: blocking James and Lily's will, abandoning his responsibilities when he was Harry's magical guardian, endangering the whole school with all the things he did with the philosopher's stone in Harry's first year, and putting the Chang and Delacour girls in the lake without consulting their parents."

The only ones who were at all surprised about the philosopher's stone were the Weasley twins and their sister. Charlus had already spoken to both of Hermione's and Ron's parents about everything Harry had told him. Dan Granger was the first to ask a question. "You said he was convicted of putting the other girls in the lake. Does that mean he got away with trying to put Hermione down there?"

Charlus nodded. "Unfortunately, yes. As Hermione was never actually put in the lake, Dumbledore was able to sway the vote enough so that he wasn't convicted of that crime. However, I'm sure that without Hermione's case it would have been harder to establish the pattern for the other two."

Emma nodded and said, "Once is happenstance, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a pattern."

"In response, the Wizengamot has decided that Dumbledore is no longer to be considered fit to hold a job where he has any responsibility for the safety and well-being of a minor. As such, he has lost his job as headmaster. There is currently a team looking into how the contract of the Triwizard Tournament will affect that. Whichever way it pans out, if Dumbledore has any role until the end of the tournament, it will just be rubber stamping the decisions of the new head," Charlus explained.

"Do we know who the new head is going to be?" asked Mr. Weasley.

"It's not a matter for the Wizengamot, so it will take a little time, but I had a conversation with somebody today and I think I have convinced him to throw his hat in the ring." Charlus decided to be a little cagey and not reveal who he was going to push forward. The trick was going to be to get the governors to go along with it. "In addition to not being allowed to work with kids any more, the Wizengamot has fined Dumbledore ten thousand Galleons."

There was a few whistles from the Weasleys. The older Grangers weren't used to doing the converting in their heads, so Dan asked for the number in pounds. Hermione answered before Harry, the only other person in the room used to thinking in both currencies, could finish getting the maths straight in his head. "Forty-eight thousand pounds, give or take a few hundred, depending on how the Galleon is doing against the pound at the moment."

"That's not pocket change," Emma nodded in satisfaction. "What will happen to that money now?"

"Normally it would go directly to the victims, but as the victims include every student who was at Hogwarts in the '91-'92 school year, Mr. Chang proposed, and all of us parents and guardians agreed, that the gold was best donated to the school rather than spreading out around so many people. When that was proposed to the Wizengamot, they agreed. Beauxbatons will get some because of what happened with Gabrielle, but the majority of it will go straight to Hogwarts."

Everyone seemed to think that was probably the best way to handle this. After all, giving hundreds of people a few Galleons each would be more work for very little individual benefit, whereas Hogwarts would be able to invest it in something that would aid students for years to come. Also, Charlus hoped that being responsible for such a massive donation to the school will give him some goodwill with the governors for his plan to get his choice for headmaster into position.

A/N
due to inflation, it is now two comments = one energy drink.