Chapter Four – It Gets Better
"The past needs to be remembered. If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going."
― Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight: A Story Of Discworld
The day after he had met with Jean-Claude Harry headed to the bank at the Roanoke colony; he wanted to pick up the pensives and some of the other things that were stored inside his vaults. Before he could leave the bank he was shown into Orac's office, the goblin was sitting behind his desk a wicked smirk on his face.
"Ah Mr. Black, good, the thieves in England are to be taken to court tomorrow, the trial date has been moved up, whatever they are sentenced to they also have the punishment that we will apply to them, they will never be permitted to enter a Gringotts bank again or have an account with us and because they have tried to access an account that they were not permitted to we have taken two thirds of everything in their vaults," Harry was told briskly. "You get a half of that and we keep the rest, any questions?"
Harry thought about it for a second before nodding. "Yes, is there a way that I can get the memory of their court session?"
Orac blinked and then grinned. "We can send one of our human employees and extract the memory afterward, for… lets say five galleons,"
"Three," Harry offered back and the black eyes gleamed.
"Four and six sickles,"
"Done," he was satisfied with that, it was probably an over charge but he wanted to see it, see them punished for something at last.
Harry left the bank and wandered around for a while, looking at the different things, he liked the Roanoke Colony, it was an entire island dedicated to magical races, all of the magical races. Goblins and wizards, Veela and Fey, changlings and various half-breeds and non-humans all worked and were treated equally, no one blinked at the differences. The island made him happy; it showed him that he was right for leaving England.
He had lunch at one of the cafés and then flooed home.
Harry looked around his library and sighed. He was bored.
Really bored. The quiet was nice and all but he needed something to do. He summoned a notebook and wrote a list of things he enjoyed in it.
He looked at the list and winced, it was sad, he was nearly 20 and he had almost no hobbies or interests that could be turned into a career. He paused and considered fourth one, he liked cooking and he was good at it. Maybe he could open a café or something.
With that thought Harry got to his feet and headed up the stairs and into his office, he turned on his laptop and pulled up a search page (god bless google), he typed in the words 'St Louis, cooking classes, food safe'. Harry watched as the window filled with information, he opened a few tabs and started reading the information. He traced a finger over one paragraph and after a seconds hesitation pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialled the number at the bottom of the screen.
It rang several times before a bored female voice picked up. "St Louis community college,"
"Hi, I was looking for Food Safe courses and I found that you have one starting in about a month, a night class? I'd like to apply for it." He heard a thoughtful hum on the other end of the phone and after several seconds she spoke up.
"Right, there are still five spots open, applications close the day after next and the cost for the three week course is $350, this includes the cost of the ingredients and the time of your instructors," She rattled off, obviously reading from the screen. "Would you like to fill out the application in person or do you want to do this over the phone?"
"Uh, the phone please," He quickly ran through the questions she gave him and not even ten minutes later was enrolled in the course.
"Right, the course starts on the 14th of July, at seven pm in building D, room 31. You need to bring a pen and paper with you and ID, any questions?"
"No, thankyou," Harry told her and she hung up the phone. Harry headed back down the stairs carrying his laptop, Harry marked the date for the course on the calendar he had in his kitchen and then headed back to his lounge room, he did a bit of browsing before he headed outside and started planning his garden. He wanted to start a vegetable garden and a potions garden and needed to pick the best spots for them. "Maybe a greenhouse?" he murmured to himself.
That night as he was cooking dinner for himself and singing along to the song 'Let Me Go' by Christian Kane, his phone rang startling Harry who jumped, reached for his wand and burnt his hand on the wok. "Motherfucker!" he cursed and answered the phone. "Hello, Luka speaking," He said as he headed to the sink and stuck his hand under the cold water.
"Ah, Monsieur Black, this is Jean-Claude,"
Fuck it all again. "Master of the City, what can I do for you?" He asked as he watched the water run over his hand.
"I was wondering when we could meet to finish our discussion," the vampire said calmly. "I regret my servant's aggression towards you and it has been decided that she will not be at the meeting between us, although she will be listening via a telephone, is that acceptable?"
Harry turned of the water and dried his hand off, thinking it over. "Yes, that's an acceptable compromise, when do you want to meet?"
"Perhaps tomorrow? Shall we say… eight pm?" Harry bit back a sigh, he'd rather they left him alone.
"Sure, where am I meeting you?"
"Hmm, shall we say Guilty Pleasures?"
"What's that?" Harry questioned with a frown.
"It is one of the businesses I own, it is a strip club," Harry choked on his spit and coughed for several seconds. "I take it you've never been," there was amusement in his beautiful voice.
"I'm sorry but we need to change venues,"
"I'm nineteen; I won't be twenty-one for nearly fourteen months and the law here in America says I can't enter a… strip club,"
There was silence for a long moment before Jean-Claude spoke again. "Ah, well perhaps meeting at the Circus will be best," He said and there was a note of something that Harry couldn't describe in his voice. "I will have someone waiting at the employee entrance for you,"
"I'll be there, have a good night," Harry told him and hung up, he rescued his dinner and served up a plate for himself and poured a glass of apple juice before he headed into the lounge room, turned on the TV and pulled up an episode of NCIS.
Harry spent the rest of the night watching TV and playing on the internet before he went to bed at eleven.
The next day Harry headed into St Louis and checked out the garden centres, he ended up buying several different types of fruit trees, many different punnets of seedlings and so many different packets of seeds he wasn't sure of the final count. He got packets of soil and some sleepers to make raised garden beds, Harry drove back to his home and emptied his car. He then flicked through the magical directory he had picked up earlier that month and found the floo address for a less mundane garden centre, Harry on the advice of the herbologist ordered two greenhouses with protections and placed an order for the plants he wanted and was recommended to be picked up after the greenhouses are set up. While he was there he stopped at the warding companies and got a quote for adjusting the wards.
Once he was back home it didn't take more than an hour to plant the trees, he used magic to dig the holes and levitate them into place. He left the rest for later, he could wait, he had time.
The rest of his day was spent bumming around the house and swimming in the indoor pool that was attached to the house, he liked swimming. Liked the water and the way it felt.
By the time six-thirty pm rolled around Harry was showered, dressed in his black slacks, a sapphire blue shirt and a black jacket, it wasn't a suit but it was almost business casual and he liked wearing good quality clothes, not to mention that Harry looked good in it. He's got his watch on, his necklace and his Black Family ring, his shoes are shiny black leather and his hair is styled with a spell, so it's more artfully tussled then rats nest. Harry grabbed the folder that contained the information about the wards and headed to his car.
Harry arrived at the employee parking lot with ten minutes to spare, he locked the car, activated the anti-theft wards on the car and started for the door that he'd been led through earlier. He knocked on it firmly and a man opened it, looking down at Harry with a frown.
"Hi, I have a meeting with your Master," He said and the shifter nodded, Harry followed him down the tunnels and halls until he was led into the same luxurious room as before.
Jean-Claude and the rest of the people who were at the previous meeting were artfully arraigned around the room, the base for a speaker phone on the table in the middle of the room.
The vampire Master stood as Harry entered the room and smiled, not flashing fangs, he reached out a hand for Harry to shake and Harry switched the folder to his other hand and gripped the vampires. "Ah, Monsieur Black, welcome back,"
Harry smiled wirily at that but polite forms had to be observed. "Master of the City, thankyou for having me back and removing the object of my apprehension," Harry could play those games too, as long as he wasn't rude about it there was no action that could be taken against him. There was an angry huff from the wolf king but no other noise or action came from the others in the room.
"Please take a seat," Jean-Claude waved a hand to an empty arm chair and Harry sat, relaxing into the seat, unless he actually attacked the vampire or any of his court, there was no where else in the city he was safer except his home, he was a guest of the Master of the City, Jean-Claude had to protect him unless he wanted to look weak.
They made polite small talk for several minutes before getting to the matter of the wards. "Have you had time to consult your… warders? About adjusting them?" He asked and Harry passed over the folder.
"This contains the information I got from the companies," Harry said politely and watched as Jean-Claude read through the information.
He finished it and passed it to Richard Zeeman who flicked through the information. "So adjusting the wards is possible," Richard said and Harry nodded. "And the cost of it is… 1589 galleons? What the hell is a galleon?" He asked and Harry's lips quirked in amusement at the frustration in the lycanthrope's voice.
"It's the currency my people use, fifteen galleons equals a hundred dollars," They blinked at him and Harry sighed. "It's $10,593 dollars," He told them. "That's the set up cost, use of my land will cost you five hundred each full moon and any other time you need it,"
Several of the shifters spluttered angrily. "You can't expect us to pay that much!" Said Richard forcefully and Harry shrugged.
"Take it or leave it," Harry told him. "It doesn't matter to me either way and quite frankly it's far easier for me if you decide not to pay," He said casually. "Not to mention that it's my land, I don't even have to offer its use," He shrugged again. "Think it over, you've got twenty-four days before the next full moon, your Master has my card, call me when you decide but I will need at minimum a week to tee up the warding companies,"
Jean-Claude looked over his wolves and stood to shake Harry's hand. "Very well Monsieur Black, we'll contact you with the decision soon," He said looking faintly pleased with how angry Richard was. Harry left torn between bemusement and annoyance, on the way home he couldn't stop shaking his head; Why were all the 'responsible' adults so petty and stupid?
Harry let himself through the gate and into his house with a sigh, tossing his keys onto the table beside the door. He headed up stairs with a sigh, when Harry headed into his office he noticed both of his post-boxes pulsing with glowing light. He opened the Potter one first and waited to open the Black one, pulling out a letter from the bank along with a small package; he tore open the envelope and pulled out a letter.
As per our agreement we sent one of our human employees to the trial and have sent you the memory of it. Our employee also managed to get several other memories that I believe you will want to see, we have included these along with the already paid for original memory and have charged you an extra three galleons for this service.
Enjoy watching a measure of your revenge,
He eagerly torn into the package and found four vials labelled 1, 2, and 3, Harry grinned and tipped the first one into his mostly empty pensive and was soon sucked into it.
Harry found himself seated next to a man in his thirties who was very carefully watching the crowd and the proceedings, they were in courtroom ten and Harry could see the whole of the Wizengamot waiting in the reserved seats. Dumbledore was sitting among them looking disappointed behind his grandfatherly façade but it didn't seem to be affecting many people. Soon the woman sitting in the most elaborate seat stood up and banged on the gavel in front of her and the room quietened down instantly.
"This session of the Wizengamot is in session, I, Amelia Bones, Chief Witch declare it so," She looked around at the room with a stern look. "I will tolerate no interruptions, if you have a question for any of the defendants raise your hand, otherwise I will have you escorted out and your vote discounted. Is that understood?" she asked and Harry couldn't help but notice how sour Dumbles looked and laughed.
There were several other people charged with crimes varying from charming muggle items to one man who was charged with assault and then it was the start of the trials that Harry was waiting to see. First up was Ron and he was escorted into the room obviously wearing the same robes he'd been in when he was detained by the goblins, he was forced into the chair in the centre of the room and like those before him, the chains wrapped around him and held him tight.
"Ronald Bilius Weasley, charged with attempted theft from a Gringotts Vault," The court scribe told the room.
"How do you plead?" Madam Bones asked and Ron looked around somewhat frantically, relaxing slightly when he spotted Dumbledore.
"Not Guilty," He said, throat bobbing nervously.
"Hmm, Gringotts Representative Mitchell, present your alligations," She ordered and a man in his late forties stood up and cleared his throat.
"Thankyou Chief Witch," He said with a deep nod to the woman. "Honoured members of the Wizengamot, it is my sad duty to inform you of the crime perpetrated against Gringotts and Harry Potter the account holder in question. Ronald Weasley entered Gringotts with the intent to steal and not just to steal from a stranger but this man attempted to steal from Harry Potter. The only reason that we were able to detain him was because Mr Potter was concerned about theft and so he created a secret question that had to be answered before anything could be removed from his vaults, Mr Dumbledore during his time as Mr Potter's magical guardian added many people to the access list of the Potter Vaults, over two million galleons was stolen by Mr Dumbledore and his associates from Mr Potter, who has changed the access of his accounts." He told the room a commanding tone of voice. "Weasley has broken the Gringotts treaty of 1894, his actions while not only criminal are despicable, he tried to steal from our saviour and this time we managed to catch the thieves before they could steal more money that doesn't belong to them, I urge you to make sure that this man cannot do this again, because next time? What's to stop him from stealing from you or your families?"
Harry could tell that that last question got to them, he couldn't stop grinning, this was awesome. Madam Bones looked at Weasley with contempt. "Ronald Weasley, what do you have to say in your defence?" she asked him.
Weasley was looking around in panic, his eyes catching on his father and older brothers and then on Dumbledore before he looked at the Chief Witch. "I – I didn't know I wasn't on the list anymore," he protested feebly.
"Does anyone have anything to say either for or against his defence?" She asked the room and Dumbledore stood up, Harry snorted quietly, it wasn't raising his hand but it was close, he didn't speak until Madam Bones nodded to him. "Yes, Mr Dumbledore?" there was a dark kind of amusement behind her eyes.
"Thankyou Chief Witch," He looked around at the members of the Wizengamot with a sad grandfatherly look. "Honoured Members of the Wizengamot, I must ask you to show mercy to this young man. Yes what he did was wrong but he is little but a boy, do not ruin his life with a harsh punishment. Find some other way that he can atone for his wrongs, please," A tall beautiful older woman raised her hand and at Madam Bones' nod stood up.
"Dowager Mercuri, you wish to address the court?"
"Yes thankyou Chief Witch," She said with a nod to the other woman. "We have just heard from Mr Dumbledore about how this young man is 'little but a boy' and not to 'ruin his life with a harsh punishment' and while this sentiment is laudable I must remind you that the defendant is twenty years old. He is not a child. And his own actions have brought this on himself. He is a thief, he didn't deny it. And more than being a thief Mr Weasley tried to steal from Gringotts and in doing so he has broken a treaty, if we don't act with a harsh enough sentence Gringotts will be well within their right to refuse any of us access to our vaults and let's not forget about the last time they audited their accounts…" She trailed off and then continued. "Can we afford to not act?"
After about another half an hour of debate it finally a sentence was decided. "Ronald Bilius Weasley, I hereby sentence you to eighteen months in Azkaban with no early release available, after you leave Azkaban you will be on probation for three years, during which you will complete eight thousand hours of community service." She declared and banged her gavel. "Next case,"
"Hermione Jane Granger and Ginevra Molly Weasley, charged with attempted theft of a Gringotts vault, they have decided to face the charges together as they were arrested together,"
"Very well, how do you plead?"
"Not Guilty," Said both girls said and Harry sneered at them.
Amelia regarded the coldly. "Gringotts Representative Mitchell?"
"My earlier statement stands, Chief Witch, but I wish to add that Ginevra Weasley attempted to pull her wand against one of the guards at Gringotts, had she managed to draw her wand she would have been executed. Gringotts is insisting that she be given a harsher punishment then the other three."
"Do you have anything to say in your defence?" Asked Madam Bones and Hermione looked panicked but when she saw Dumbledore she looked hopeful and kept her mouth shut. "Does anyone have anything to say either for or against the accused?" No one said anything and she nodded silenced the audience and they deliberated for a sentence for several minutes before they came to a decision. "Hermione Jane Granger, I hereby sentence you to eighteen months in Azkaban with no early release available, after you leave Azkaban you will be on probation for three years, during which you will complete eight thousand hours of community service." She banged the gavel and looked at Ginny who looked terrified. "Ginevra Molly Weasley, you are hereby sentenced to Azkaban for three years without the possibility of early release, once you leave Azkaban you will be on parol for five years, during which you will need to complete twenty thousand hours of appointed community service," Amelia said and banged her gavel again. "Next case,"
"Molly Agnes Weasley nee Prewitt, charged with attempted theft of a Gringotts vault," Madam Bones looked at the court scribe in askance.
"Another one?" She demanded and he nodded, she sighed as Mrs Weasley was dragged in struggling the whole way, her mouth moving but no sound coming out. Amelia looked at the two aurors with a raised eyebrow. "You silenced her?"
"She's very loud and her voice is…" He looked at his partner and she added in a dry voice "Strident," to the comment.
"Ah, well unsilence her," She waited for them to do so. "Molly Agnes Weasley, how do you plead to the chargers laid against you?"
"Not guilty! And I cannot believe that Harry would allow this to happen! We're practically his family," She said in her usual loud forcefulness.
"Mr Potter wrote a letter to the Daily Prophet asking for us to punish you, your children and Miss Granger for attempting to steal from him, obviously you are not his 'family'." Amelia Bones said dryly. Harry snickered with happy maliciousness at the look on Mrs Weasley's face and almost bounced in his seat as he watched them work out her punishment. "Molly Agnes Weasley, you are here by sentenced to six years imprisonment in Azkaban, after your release you will be on parol for four years and will need to serve thirty-five thousand hours of community service." She paused and then continued. "The reasoning behind the harshness of your sentencing is this – because of the way you raised your two youngest children, you allowed them to become criminals. Neither of them see that they did anything wrong by stealing or attempting to steal, and not just pocket change either! We are just glad that your other five children have turned out so well, obviously Arthur spent more time raising them then the two that took after you," She banged the gavel and Harry watched full out cackling as Mrs Weasley was lead away screaming and cursing.
Harry looked around at the rest of the Weasley family to see how they were taking all this, Arthur looked tired and drawn, Bill and Charlie looked angry and bitter, Percy sitting a little away from them just looked like he wanted to be anywhere else and the twins were looking quietly righteous.
The memory faded out then and Harry found himself back in his office, Harry sat back and thought about what he's seen after a couple of minutes he opened the next vial and tipped it into the basin and allowed himself to get sucked inside the new memory.
He found himself outside the Wizengamot chambers where several people were talking, the general sentiment was that Harry had done the right thing in having charges laid against the Weasleys. The memory finished and Harry poured the third into the pensive with a smile, he found himself in a pub. Harry looked around and took an empty seat where the Weasley twins were sitting and nursing drinks.
After about a minute Fred spoke quietly to his twin. "What do you think?" He asked and George sighed.
"I can't believe we're related to them," He said bitterly. "At least Percy has always been a rule abiding prat, we know what to expect from him… but those two and mum?"
"Yeah, and Dad's just – useless and Bill and Charlie are so…! I kinda hate them," Fred said pushing a hand through his messy hair.
George snorted in dark amusement. "Bones was right, they should have stopped with us,"
"Maybe we should look at leaving the family?" Fred said, voice quiet and George hesitated but nodded.
"It's not like any of them would miss us, hell Percy is the only one we speak to these days and it's not like we'll miss him too much," George took a drink and continued. "Zonko's still wants to buy the shop, if we sell to them we'd have enough to start over somewhere," He suggested and Fred nodded.
"I wonder if Harry would take us in?" He mused and George shrugged.
"If he did we'd have to swear an oath or something,"
"That'd be fair, can't expect our Harry not to protect himself," They finished their drinks and stood. "Come on, we've got stuff to do,"
The memory faded out and Harry sat back in his seat, mind racing. He liked the twins, he'd always liked the twins and they were trustworthy and honourable, he'd have to come up with an oath for them to take so that he could sound them out… it would be nice to have some people who knew him here.
Harry hummed absently as he made his way down to the kitchen and made himself a mug of hot chocolate, he had to think about it.
(A.N. - - - - Sorry about the delay everyone but real life gets in the way as you all know… I'm apologising for this chapter – I'm not happy with it and basically I just wanted to get this chapter over with… Question – the twins are coming to St Louis but should anyone else?)