A Good Deliverance: Draco Malfoy QS and the Case of the Queen Against Dolores Umbridge
Pairings: Draco Malfoy/Asteria Greengrass & Harry Potter/Ginny Weasley... for now (as the evening foreshadows fall upon those who wish to read this as pre-slash); Dean Thomas/Seamus Finnigan; Pansy Nott (née Parkinson)/Theo Nott; Rolf Scamander/Luna Scamander (née Lovegood); Ron Weasley/Hermione Granger (Mrs Ron Weasley) and other canonical Weasley pairings; minor pairings of no moment.
Word Count: 30,800
Genre(s): Thriller/Legal Drama
Canon: Epilogue Compliant
Summary: After a period in opposition, the old post-War Shacklebolt ministry returns to power, and faces its first crisis: the trial of the recaptured Dolores Umbridge, run to earth at last in Appalachia. In a politically precarious period, the Cabinet agree a politically perilous project: briefing Draco Malfoy to prosecute, with Harry Potter as the most important witness for the Crown.
Warnings: Aberforth's goats; alcohol use; American old-time, bluegrass, and shaped-note music; American Southerners (mountain and upcountry) not presented as uniformly evil, backward, stupid, and hateful; amphibians; anarcho-libertarianism; Anglicanism; Appalachian culture; attorneys (American; barristers and solicitors (UK); Serjeants (Wizarding) (UK)) (see snakes); the Venerable Bede; Cambridge (see Fenland Poly); capital punishment; the Carter Family; Cherokee culture (Eastern Band); clubland; comedy of manners; courtroom drama; cream teas; cricket; cultural appropriation on the part of a villain; the Deathly Hallows; Dissenting Protestantism; feigned epigraphs; feigned Wizarding governments and states; Fenland Poly (see Cambridge. Or, better, don't); folkways, lore, and myths, Anglo-Saxon; folkways, lore, and myths, Appalachian; folkways, lore, and myths, Black American; folkways, lore, and myths, British; folkways, lore, and myths, Celtic; folkways, lore, and myths, Cherokee (Eastern Band); folkways, lore, and myths, Irish; folkways, lore, and myths, Scots; folkways, lore, and myths, Ulster; herpetology (see snakes); intemperate language by characters who really must know better; Jack tales; law and legal proceedings; Peter Mandelson (see snakes); ministerial skulduggery; Muggle and next-generation original characters; past character death (referenced); political compromises; politics (see snakes); puns (awful); quotations from most of the corpus of English literature; ramps (allium tricoccum); renascent blood-purists; rural accents; snakes (see herpetology: damned right I warn for snakes, which I dislike almost as passionately as I do Peter Mandelson); social consciousness; spycraft; statecraft; tea; tobacco use; whisky, untaxed and home-distilled.
One further note to overseas readers may not be amiss.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
'A Good Deliverance': Part One: Wayfaring Stranger
Yet there seeps in, a little, sometimes, to that ordered and somewhat arid world of law and chancery, of wigs and gowns and dinners and laboured wit, the sharp, acrid reek of mortality -- of reality -- as if the stones exhaled it.
-- Simon Oldroyd, Diagon: a psychogeography of Wizarding London
At this remove of time, no one can say what congeries of incompetence, petty corruption, and laziness acted to allow Dolores Umbridge to escape the immediate consequences of her crimes in the first few months after the end of the Great Rebellion. It embarrassed the ministry of the day: yet, trying her, then and there, might have embarrassed the new ministry far worse. Although her trial, when it did come, was soon forgotten in the cataclysm that followed, it can at the least be asserted with confidence that justice, however delayed, was finally done, and more fully than it might otherwise have been done had it been more swiftly done.
-- Sir Anthony Caistor, The Calm Before
It had been some years, now, since these Members of the Moot had sat together in the Cabinet Room at 12 Upping Street. Little had changed. The treble-columns yet framed Canaletto's canvas depicting a scene long-hidden from Muggles and which they think destroyed: the Savoy Palace and the swan-upping upon the gilded waters of London River, Old Father Thames, at its foot: the ceremony that gave its name to Upping Street, and to the ministerial residence at Number Twelve. Above the Floo and fireplace yet hung the only portrait in the room: Artemisia Lufkin dominated the chamber now as in life. Beneath her unwavering gaze and occasional look of impatient disapproval sat the Minster's chair, the only chair at the Cabinet table with arms; ranged 'round the table were a score of similar -- but armless -- chairs, all carved mahogany, as augustly and uncompromisingly ugly, heavy, and graceless as the Albert Memorial. The massy table -- returned to the then-Minister, Mr Leach, by his Muggle counterpart, Ernie Macmillan's Squib great-uncle: the PM had never liked sitting at a table that Gladstone had 'borrowed' from that ass, Spavin -- reflected upon its satiny mirror-polished top the seven silver-gilt chandeliers that floated weightlessly above. It was a scene long familiar to many now gathered there, and sorely missed during their period in Opposition; to the others, to whom this was all yet very new, it was thrilling in its newness.
HM Principal Secretary of State for Magical Affairs, First Lord of the Tally, Minister for Magic, the Right Honourable Kingsley Shacklebolt OM, sat down, and the others sank gratefully into their several seats in order of seniority. With the Cabinet there sat -- at table or at a remove as their offices dictated -- others as well: for the revolution in affairs that had recalled Kingsley's party to power had had its emergencies with it. The Wizarding government does not run to COBR meetings as such, but this was the next thing to one.
There they were, then, the young -- no longer quite so young -- Witches and Wizards who had won the war of Riddle's Rebellion and then, perhaps more arduously, reformed their world, and Moot and Ministry with it. There were Elders of the Moot there -- hereditaries, now, with the Restoration settlement, the peers of their hidden nation -- and ornaments of the elected Moot; members of Cabinet and members of the Magical Privy Council. The Chief Witch -- Leader of the Moot and Lady President of the Council -- sat very still, alert and keen, haloed by her still-untameable hair (a trifle grey now in certain unkind lights, although her fond and indulgent husband was resolutely blind to any such signs) and more handsome in her maturity even than she had been when young: one yet felt that Hermione was glamoured into the mere semblance of what was, to Muggles, her earliest middle-age, still and forever the scholar avid for knowledge and forcing herself to stay still although bursting with questions. Her father-in-law was present, affable and self-effacing, hiding his sharp intelligence beneath a cloak of diffidence; no one there was fool enough not to know the true measure of the Lord Privy Spell, Enchantellor of the Duchy of Normandy and Leader of the Hereditaries. Next Arthur sat the quiet, formidable Chancellor of the Tally, Tony Goldstein, and discreetly behind him, at his elbow, was the Head of the Sibylline Service, the Cabinet Secretary, Ernie Macmillan, still at once as doughty as he was innocently pompous. The Lord Enchantellor was present, of course, his piercing intelligence instinct in all he did: not for nothing had Sir Stewart Ackerley been sorted Ravenclaw, all those years before, and all trace of the nervous and uncertain eleven-year-old was burnt away by years of war and longer years of the discipline of the law.
Justin Finch-Fletchley, the Foreign Secretary, languid, diplomatic, charming, and redoubtable beneath it all, sat easily in his chair, three parts Balfour to one part Eden: the creation of the Foreign Office from the pre-War, traditional chaos and muddle had been not only his doing, but an act of creation in his own image. Beside him sat, fidgeting, the nervy, taut figure of Percy Weasley, the Moot-Secretary to the Tally: that is to say, the Chief Whip. His brother Ron, over time Auror and 'Q' to the Aurors -- for the shop founded by Gred and Forge had soon become the Ministry's source of any number of interesting and useful inventions, mostly warlike -- was present, as Secretary for War, and at Ron's side was fearless little Dennis Creevey, the Secretary at War. That noted Arithmancer from a family of Simplers and Potioneers who were at home in the Muggle and Magical worlds alike, Terry Boot, was present also, as Paymaster-General. George Weasley and Padma Patil, respectively President and Vice-President of the Board of Trade, were smiling at a private just.
Smiling with them was Dean Thomas, ostensibly a Senior Advisor to the Tally and Deputy Governor of Gringotts, and in fact the new 'M', the Chief Unspeakable; and next him, with a look of devilment in his eye, was his predecessor as 'M', nowadays the Irish Secretary, Seamus Finnigan.
If these secret and unspoken qualifications -- not voiced even in Cabinet -- justified the presence of Dean and Seamus, it was wholly for his common, solid sense and personal merit, his fund of slow-grown and rooted wisdom, that the Owl-Master General and President of the Board of Husbandry, Neville Longbottom, was summoned to this curious meeting of what was very nearly a War Cabinet. The same was true of the President of the Board of Education, Headmaster Flitwick; whilst it was no denigration of their own, quite sufficient, merits, to note that Morag Macdougal and Roger Davies were there largely ex officio, as the Scottish and Welsh Secretaries, respectively.
Naturally, the Gnome Office -- a bye-name that could no longer be avoided and which had effectively become official over the years -- could not be left out, and Bill Weasley sprawled in his chair, watchful and even in crisis faintly amused. That the issue before the Cabinet was a legal one was evident in the presence of the Lord Invocate and Attorney General, Sir Theo Nott; the Director of Public Denunciations, Laura Madley; and the senior civil judge, Rose Zeller, the Mistress of the Scrolls: all of them sat attentively yet reposed, judicious, grave.
Yet that the issue was greater and graver still was evident in the presence of the last participant, whose attendance in itself constituted aid to the civil power: the Commander in Chief, Home Forces, Vice-Chief of the Magical General Staff, prime mover in that separation of policing and military force that had been the most lasting legacy of the first Shacklebolt Ministry many years before: Field-Auror Marshal, prospective CMGS, palpably powerful, Harry Potter sat across from Kingsley and Hermione, as still and as steely and as solemn as they.
Kingsley's voice spilled into the silence like oil into a still pond. 'Stewart; Theo. I must begin by announcing a reshuffle, as I discussed privately with you both. You see,' said Kingsley to the Cabinet at large, 'of the two, Theo has more direct experience sitting, and there are further sufficient reasons that will commend themselves to you in a moment. Stewart and Theo will be exchanging posts, effective immediately. This is not, I should note, the beginning of a great game of General Owls: no reshuffle is on the cards. However, we are soon to be dealing with what is almost certain to be a State Trial, before the Moot as whole, and in any event the most significant trial since the immediate aftermath of the Rebellion. Harry? Do explain to our colleagues why this is, there's a good lad: it's your latest coup, after all.'
'Hardly mine, Minister: the credit must go to the Royal Corps of Aurors as a body. What the Minister wishes me to convey is simply this: we have recaptured Dolores Umbridge.'
There was quite two minutes of silence before the Cabinet erupted, variously, in celebration, triumph, warning, and lawyerly alarm over what they should do with her now that they had captured her.
Wigged and gowned in the Muggle Old Bailey, a noted silk was in full rhetorical flight. 'The case put by the Crown! Can you conceive, can you credit, the depraved imagination that interprets these facts by that sordid theory and forms so unspeakable a narrative, members of the jury? Can you imagine anything more horrible? For I cannot --'
'Can you not?'
'M'lud, I most assuredly can't.'
'Yes. Yes, you do, rather. For myself, even without regard to what I have seen at the Bar and upon the Bench, I can imagine quite twenty things more horrible than the case the Crown has put forward. I should be obliged, Mr Tiernan-Ogg, if you would cease canting, and confine yourself to the facts of this case.'
'M'lud! I must protest --'
'No, Mr Tiernan-Ogg, what you must do is to try your case. Do get on with it.'
The Declaration of Bredon
ELIZABETH, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, Scotland, and Magical Ireland, Lady of the Isles, Duke of Lancaster and Normandy, Lady of Mann, Empress-Magical of Wizarding and Princely India and of Her other Realms and Territories beyond the seas, Defender of the Faith, &c, to all our loving magical subjects, of what race, status, magic, degree, or quality soever, GREETING.
If the general distraction and confusion which is spread over the whole kingdom doth not awaken all peoples-magical to a desire and longing that those wounds, which have so many years together been kept bleeding, may be bound up, all We can say will be to no purpose. However, after this long silence We have thought it Our duty to declare how much We desire to contribute thereunto, and that, as We can never give over the hope in good time to defend the right and ameliorate the sufferings of Our Wizarding and Muggle subjects alike, which God and Nature hath made Our bounden duty, so We do make it our daily suit to the Divine Providence that He will, in compassion to Us and Our subjects, after so long misery and sufferings, remit and put Us into a quiet and peaceable possession of the Light, with as little blood and damage to Our people as is possible. Nor do We desire more to enjoy what is Ours, than that all Our subjects may enjoy what by law is theirs, by a full and entire administration of justice throughout the land, and by extending Our mercy where it is wanted and deserved.
And to the end that the fear of punishment may not engage any, conscious to themselves of what is passed, to a perseverance in guilt for the future, by opposing the quiet and happiness of their country in the restoration both of Crown and people to their just, ancient and fundamental rights, We do by these presents declare, that We do grant a free and general pardon, which We are ready upon demand to pass under Our Great Seal Magical, to all Our subjects, of what race, status, magic, degree, or quality soever, who within forty days after the publishing hereof shall lay hold upon this Our grace and favour, and shall by any public act declare their doing so, and that they return to the loyalty and obedience of good subjects (excepting only such persons as shall hereafter be excepted by the Wizengamot). Those only excepted, let all Our loving subjects, how faulty soever, rely upon the word of a Queen, solemnly given by this present Declaration, that no crime whatsoever committed against Us before the publication of this shall ever rise in judgement or be brought in question against any of them, to the least endamagement of them either in their lives, liberties or estates, or (as far forth as lies in Our power) so much as to the prejudice of their reputations by any reproach or term of distinction from the rest of Our best magical subjects, We desiring and ordaining that henceforward all notes of discord, separation, and difference of parties be utterly abolished among all Our subjects, Wizarding and Muggle alike, whom We invite and conjure to a perfect union among themselves, under Our protection, for the resettlement of Our just rights and theirs in a free Moot, by which, upon the word of a Queen, we will be advised.
And because the passion and uncharitableness of the times have produced several opinions of faction, by which magical beings and Muggles are engaged in parties and animosities against each other, which, when they shall hereafter unite in a freedom of conversation, will be composed and better understood, We do declare a liberty to tender consciences, and that no man shall be disquieted or called in question for differences of opinion in matters of faction which do not disturb the peace of the kingdom; and that We shall be ready to consent to such an act of the Moot as, upon mature deliberation, shall be offered to Us, for the full granting that indulgence.
And because, in the continued distractions of so many years and so many and great revolutions, many losses of estates have been made, for which reparations are most justly due, We are likewise willing that all such reparations, and all things relating to such damages, shall be determined in the Moot, which can best provide for the just satisfaction of all magical beings who are concerned.
And We do further declare, that We will be ready to consent to any act or acts of the Wizengamot to the purposes aforesaid, and for the full satisfaction of all arrears due to those serving under the command of the late lamented ALBUS DUMBLEDORE, of the Right Honourable KINGSLEY SHACKLEBOLT, Our Minister for Magic, and of Our right trusty and well-beloved HARRY POTTER, and that they shall be received into Our service upon as good pay and conditions as they now enjoy.
GIVEN under Our Sign Manual and Privy Signet-Magical, at Our Court-Magical in Eyre at Bredon-Hill, in the Octave of Roodmas, in the six-and-fortieth year of Our reign.
Despicable as its aims, object, and results were, there was technical genius in the way in which Potter and his allies orchestrated the Malfoy acquittals -- just as there was in how they stitched up the 'restoration' settlement of power.
-- Robert Jefferies, SWL, The corruptions of power: towards a radical magico-legal system
There were three men -- impeccably dressed men, in bespoke suits, and possessed of alarmingly unobtrusive manners -- waiting for one Gerald Patrick Francis Michael Tiernan-Ogg QC just outside the robing room. (Old Mr Clearwater, who had often had what he drily called the inestimable privilege of supplying both Mr Tiernan-Ogg and Mr Sharpe-Quillet with briefs, and who knew what they ran to in refreshers, was wont to refer to this as the robbing room: it was generally conceded that Old Mr Clearwater was a Character.) It had been a hard-fought battle, but he'd had his win, although opposed by his fellow silk, old friend, and most dangerous foe, Mr Geoffrey Laurence Miles Sharpe-Quillet QC. Even the buoyancy of victory earned against the odds was not altogether proof against the sinking feeling that washed over Mr Tiernan-Ogg at the sight of this polite ambush. Everything about the three signified that they were men-from-the-Ministry: the dangerous question was, Which?
Narcissa Malfoy -- still finding her way in her sad new role as a widow -- was in her gardens, where she often went for refuge and for solace, despite the reflections and wistful memories the scene always prompted in her. As so often before, she was reflecting, amidst and prompted by the roses that had been one of Lucius' few innocent pleasures, upon what had nonetheless been -- for all the sad after years, for all Lucius's subsequent death, a man diminished and defeated -- the undeserved good fortune that had befallen all three of the Malfoys, just after the War. The legal system of the day had not yet been -- or, rather, had but sketchily been -- reformed: it certainly hadn't been remade to what it was now. Her hopes had then been centred solely upon Draco; of her own probable fate, and Lucius', she had had little hope. Trial in those first months after the defeat of Tom Riddle had yet been before the Wizengamot, as a court of judicature. When they had been summonsed, all together, to appear at a hearing, she had anticipated that it would be effectively their trial, and that that trial would be short and their sentences long.
How wrong she had been.
Amos Diggory -- a man aged beyond his time by loss -- had presided, and was quite evidently unhappy with the entirety of the proceedings. She had felt Lucius tremble when he had realised that their hearing -- a term they had been, mentally, placing in inverted commas since they'd had the news -- was not only to be presided over by Diggory, but that the Ministry's case was to be managed by Arthur Weasley, himself yet in deep mourning. It had seemed an ill omen, and no accident, that their fate was so largely in the hands of two men who had lost their sons to the Malfoys' late master.
The first shock had been to realise that the hearing was truly a hearing; the second, that -- although everyone in the courtroom seemed to stumble over the forms -- any prosecution was to be brought, were one brought, as the case of the Queen against the Malfoys. Evidently, the terms of the Declaration of Bredon were to be taken seriously:
...We do grant a free and general pardon, which We are ready upon demand to pass under Our Great Seal Magical, to all Our subjects, of what race, status, magic, degree, or quality soever, who within forty days after the publishing hereof shall lay hold upon this Our grace and favour, and shall by any public act declare their doing so, and that they return to the loyalty and obedience of good subjects (excepting only such persons as shall hereafter be excepted by the Wizengamot).
Amos Diggory had invoked that clause, reading it out slowly and with some distaste. 'It is,' he'd gone on, resentment in his every word, 'my understanding that the Ministry wish Lucius Malfoy; Mrs Malfoy, Narcissa Black as was; and Draco Malfoy, to be included in this...general pardon. It is of course the right and privilege of this Moot to except them from pardon, and if the Moot so decides, the Malfoys would then be subject to prosecution. I will call upon Mr Weasley to state just why the Ministry are actually suggesting that these three ought not to be next seen here as the accused in The Min- -- oh, very well, The Queen versus Lucius Malfoy, Narcissa Malfoy, and Draco Malfoy. Arthur?'
'An application has been made -- timely -- for the inclusion of the Malfoys in the General Pardon.' Narcissa had been careful not to react: she knew damned well she, nor Lucius, nor yet Draco, had made application. There'd seemed to be no point. 'The Ministry favour its being granted. The M- -- ah: the Crown -- do not wish to prosecute --'
'Yes, yes, but why? More to the point, Why in Merlin's name not?' This question had been asked, with no small degree of anger, by Tiberius Ogden.
Arthur had coughed, diffidently. 'May I call a witness?'
'Oh, very well, get on with it.'
'Call Harry Potter.'
Draco had audibly gasped; Narcissa had just managed not to do the same. Beside her, she had sensed Lucius stiffening.
Whoever had had the managing of the matter, had been clever to the point of genius. (Narcissa then as now had suspected that the Granger girl had been involved somehow, in which she had been and was quite right.) Harry had come into the courtroom, limping ever so slightly. He and Ron Weasley had been commissioned on the field by Kingsley Shacklebolt hours after the Battle of Hogwarts, whisked away immediately to have an audience of the Queen (as everyone knew), and gazetted so soon as the presses could print. Nor had the new Minister delayed in handing out the necessary gongs. Potter had been awarded the Boudicca Cross; appointed OM (1st Class) in the military list; sworn immediately, at his absurdly young age, of the re-established Magical Privy Council (sweet are the uses of a Restoration); and now adorned his throat and breast with a forest of oak-leaves and a heraldry of crosses and crowns: the sober, Oxonian blue of the BC (at that date, he had not achieved the unprecedented honour of a bar to it); the scarlet and Oxford blue, edged in white, of the OM; the flame-coloured, barry ribbon of the Order of the Phoenix; the rose-coloured and white-striped ribbon of Dumbledore's Army and the Hogwarts Resistance; the cornflower striped with gold awarded those who fought at the Battle of the Department of Mysteries; the crimson and green, divided by a black stripe edged in gold and white, with the white lightning bolt down the centre, for the Battle of Hogwarts Tower; the sky-blue with its white diagonals for Aerial Operations over Surrey; the deep, leafy green, with gold stripes, for Wilderness Operations against Death Eaters; the red, blue, green, and yellow for the Defence of Hogwarts; the white ribbon, striped in red with a broken red and blue centre stripe, of the Victory Medal, with the gold oak-leaf clasp showing he'd been Mentioned in Despatches; and perhaps most importantly in this political setting, the scarlet, with its centre-stripe of white dimidiated in bronze, of a Magical Privy Counsellor and the purple with its two white centre stripes of a Hereditary Member of the Moot. Narcissa had been able to see them in detail, for Potter had been brought in in No. 1 dress uniform, the most-decorated Ancient -- one-pipper, subaltern -- in Auror history.
In the profound silence, Arthur had asked Harry to state his name, which he had done: 'Ancient Harry Potter, Staff College, Royal Corps of Aurors.' Narcissa had hardly dared breathe.
'Yes. Are you apprised of the purpose of today's session?'
'Are you apprised of the Ministry's position regarding the inclusion of the Malfoys in the general pardon?'
'Is that position based in part on what you have represented to your superiors?'
'I believe it to be.'
'Please tell the Moot what you have told the Minister.'
Harry had looked only at the Moot, never so much as acknowledging the presence of the Malfoys. 'Certainly. In May 1997 I was tasked by Albus Dumbledore with the final steps in the defeat of Tom Riddle. I did so. The --'
'What were those steps?' This, from an impatient Griselda Marchbanks.
'I am not at liberty to say. They are covered by the Magical Secrets Act. They were however indispensably necessary and extremely dangerous. I could not have succeeded without assistance.'
Arthur had resumed shepherding the witness. 'What assistance had you?'
'Again, I am not able to say. Those instrumental in my achieving the result include the elf, Kreacher; the late free elf Dobby; the elf Winky; members of the Order of the Phoenix; in particular, Severus Snape; Ancient Ron Weasley, Royal Corps of Aurors; Alastor Moody, now deceased; our current Minister; Miss Hermione Granger; Mrs Lucius Malfoy -- Narcissa Malfoy; Professor and Mrs Lupin, also amongst the fallen; and Draco Malfoy.'
The courtroom had fallen deathly silent.
Arthur's question had been quiet enough, yet had sounded in that silence like thunder. 'As to the Malfoys, what can you tell us?'
'In March of this year, the Malfoys evaded questioning by Bellatrix Lestrange and others and refused to identify me when Ancient Weasley, Miss Granger, and I were captured by the forces of Tom Riddle. On May Day and on 2 May, Draco Malfoy refused to aid in or to allow Death Eaters to recapture me and my team at Hogwarts as we completed our final preparations for Riddle's defeat. On the latter date, Narcissa Malfoy assisted me in Riddle's destruction, persuading Riddle that I was dead when she knew me to be alive and allowing me to pretend to be dead until I was able to surprise and defeat Riddle.
'Previously, in May or June 1996, Mrs Malfoy had worked with Severus Snape, the chief agent gathering intelligence on Riddle and his insurgents, on a matter of great importance, the details of which I must not divulge.
'On 25 August 1994, when as the Moot will recall there was a Death Eater demonstration at the Quidditch World Cup, Draco Malfoy assisted Miss Granger in evading the Death Eaters, warning her of their approach and advising her to hide. Over the years, Mr Draco Malfoy has conveyed to me considerable useful intelligence regarding improper influence in the prior Ministry, the return -- then still being denied by the ministry of the day -- of Tom Riddle, the location of caches of Dark objects, risks to my godfather as a member of the Order of the Phoenix, and the loyalties of Dolores Umbridge.'
Stamford Jorkins had leant forward, as if interested despite himself. 'I notice you have little to say about Mr Malfoy -- Mr Lucius Malfoy, I mean.'
Harry had answered with a wholly flat affect. 'A year ago, I shouldn't have had much to say about Professor Snape's role. I dealt directly with Draco Malfoy and, upon the vital occasion, with Mrs Malfoy. What Albus Dumbledore may have been working on, I really couldn't -- and mustn't -- say; he was in any event notorious for secretiveness, and isolating one agent from another, and quite right, too: the Headmaster was the most brilliant spy¬-master in magical history. I can say this: Lucius Malfoy was present in March and sided with Mrs Malfoy and Draco Malfoy in denying my identity to Bellatrix Lestrange, and his actions in the final battle were those of a father and husband concerned only to save his wife and son from his by then, it is clear, former master. More than that I really cannot say.'
Narcissa had been as still and as shocked as had been the Moot and the onlookers. It had taken no Legilimency at all to know that Draco, beside her, was wondering at the changes in Potter: and it had come to her in that moment that just as this new Harry, so heartrendingly reminiscent of his father and of their mutual cousin Sirius -- cousin to James and to Harry as to her and to Draco, when one reflected upon it -- that just as this new Harry, so heartrendingly reminiscent of his father and of his godfather Sirius in their own youth as subalterns of Aurors, was the Harry who ought always to have been had not evil, tragedy, and war intervened, a Harry now free of the parasitic influence of the Dark Lord and suddenly formidable: so also, she had realised, was Draco, the war now over and the peril removed, more himself, the lad he ought by rights to have been, passionate and careless, his tongue too quick and his heart ever on his sleeve, thin of skin and acid of wit and altogether reckless with the Black recklessness she had passed on to him: Sirius' recklessness, and Andy's, and even poor, mad, damned Bella's. And this was dangerous: for although in peace, if they were to be unexpectedly delivered to enjoy it, it would do Draco no harm to cease to compartmentalise his emotions and to live more freely, just now they all of them wanted all the control and Occlumency that her mad sister Bella had taught Draco in so harsh a school.
Something of this same realisation had been visible in the pained and quizzical eyes of poor Amos Diggory as he had bent his gaze upon Harry. His voice had been almost pleading. 'Harry.... Harry, lad -- I mean, Ancient Potter --'
'Good Lord, sir, you of all people have the right to my Christian name.'
'Yes, well, thank you.' It had been clear to everyone there that both men were thinking of the hateful waste of Cedric's having been murdered: so long ago, in feeling and in the heart, yet so recently as mere time measures. 'Even so.... Ancient Potter. I'll grant you that Draco Malfoy may not have been as black as he's painted -- painted himself, by all accounts. And Narcissa Malfoy...well, if you say she assisted you....'
'She was indispensable, at the risk of her own life.'
Diggory had nodded, almost as if he were no longer concerned with Draco or Narcissa. 'But -- Lucius Malfoy, Harry! Really, I don't know what to say.'
Harry had been crisp: indeed, Snape-like in his evident fastidious distaste. 'I hold no brief for the man. He's a pitiable excuse for a Wizard, a disgrace to the magical community, petty, jumped-up, truckling, a toady to those possessed of a scintilla more power than he and an utter sh- -- an utter beast to those over whom he has had the least power, power I trust he shall never again enjoy over nay creature, from elf to Member of the Moot. Personally, I despise him; personally, he's despicable. Were I the Minister -- which, thank God, I'm not -- I'd as soon see him spend his remaining days in the deepest hole in Azkaban, and eternity in six feet of earth in the prison yard.
'Nevertheless, I find that I must support the application -- and if I may, I should like it understood that did I not choose to support it, Kingsley nor Merlin himself could move me. This is a matter in which I cannot be ordered, and -- you may have heard: Tom Riddle found it to his cost -- I am rather known as being a trifle stubborn. In fact, this is my doing today, to which Kingsley acceded only with reluctance, and not contrariwise. It wasn't my first intention to say so, but I must make this clear, I see, in the interest of justice: not only did I urge the Ministry to include the Malfoys in the general pardon, and not the other way 'round, it was I -- not the Minister, not the Ministry, not Andromeda Tonks -- it was I who filed the application that they be so included.'
At this revelation, there had been an audible gasp. Had anyone save Harry had known this, it had been Kingsley alone. Even Arthur Weasley had turned and stared at Harry in shock and no little dismay.
Before anyone had been able to voice the common question, Harry had answered it. 'I am commissioned by Her Majusty in the Royal Corps of Aurors.' His voice had been proud: proudest, it seemed, of the newly bestowed royal title of the Corps. 'I am sworn of the Magical Privy Council. As an Auror, I have sworn to defend Her Majusty, her heirs and successors in person, crown, magic, and dignity, against all enemies. As one of Her Majusty's Privy Council, I have sworn to be a true and faithful servant unto the Queen's Majusty: sworn to my uttermost to bear faith and allegiance unto the Queen's Majusty, to assist and defend the Crown, and all things to do as a faithful and true servant ought to do to Her Majusty.
'And therefore I made this application for mercy and pardon, and urge it on this Moot. What Lucius Malfoy did in the first rebellion has already been pardoned. That pardon was, as every person in this chamber knows, obtained by bribery and perjury. Yet if we begin disinterring those old bones -- well, a Squib member of the Churchills of Ottery said, in similar circumstances, "if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find we have lost the future": which brings us squarely to the late rebellion. Lucius Malfoy attempted to dissuade Tom Riddle from attacking Hogwarts. He acted as I have previously described as to earlier occasions. Of course he didn't give a tuppeny damn about the fate of Wizardom, his sole concern was for his wife and son, but the effect was as I have described. And let me if I may make one last thing as clear as a Slughorn potion. If the Moot grant this pardon, it extends only to past offences.'
One might have heard a wand drop. Beside her, Narcissa had heard Lucius's breathing stop for an interminable moment,
'If Lucius Malfoy profits from this lesson, so much the better for him and for Wizardkind. And if he does not, and reverts to type...I hope only that it falls to me and to Ancient Weasley to catch him at it.'
Narcissa, so long careful to hide her emotions, had shivered at that. No one had noted it. The Moot had been too stunned for noting such things. Hating the exigency, loathing Kingsley -- and the Malfoys -- for putting them in this position, a trifle displeased even with the hero of the hour, they had said nothing more, and had voted, resenting every moment of it, precisely as they had been forced to do: voting to include the Malfoys in the general pardon at Harry's adamant and invincible insistence.
But that had been years ago, now: the first buds of roses that shook suddenly in the breeze that had sprung up were today's, and caught Narcissa's attention back to the here and now. Narcissa, reproving herself for dwelling on old memories, sighed. In these intervening decades since that unprecedented hearing, she had seen something of Harry Potter, who was, after all, her great-nephew's godfather, and only on occasions of high drama and excruciating tension had she seen him as he had been on that -- as she now knew, carefully rehearsed -- day. His style, which had set the style and tone for the new post-War generation, had remained demotic, although in a fashion increasingly appropriate to his class and station, the class and station that, as a Potter, he had been born to but had not known as a child. (Narcissa admitted, ruefully, that she and Andy were at one with Molly Weasley and that agèd tartan Tartar, Minerva McGonagall, in their wish to hex Petunia Dursley, née Evans, and her ghastly husband, as near to their deaths as made no matter: Potter was annoyingly insinuating, really, and had an appalling talent for inspiring maternal instincts.) Poor Lucius had gone in fear of Potter to his dying day, obsessed with giving Harry no reason to come after him for the least infraction (and, Narcissa admitted, if only to herself, Lucius had been remarkably the better of it as a result); and, fearing Potter, had consoled himself with the reflection that the lad would never become too dangerous so long as he refused to embrace the fullest panoply of pureblood pomp. Narcissa had known better. So also had Draco.
Immediately after the Moot's decision to pardon the Malfoys, Draco had given way to a truly impressive, indeed masterful, bate. It had been a strop that had lasted for months -- indeed, it had seemed, at the time, to have spanned a term of years: to have outlasted even Ted Heath's sulks, in fact -- and Narcissa had not been altogether certain it should ever end. Harry's strictures -- perfectly true, Narcissa privately conceded, so far as they went -- on Lucius' character and conduct, had been precisely the sort of thing that was calculated to rankle Draco, and so they had done. But of course it had been the extension of charity to them by Potter that had festered the more poisonously in Draco's mind: that, and the commendably, unbearably Slytherin fashion in which Potter had compassed his ends. Draco's puerile and highly vocal, not to say incessant, whinging had in the end steeled Narcissa to do as she had already contemplated, and send Draco away for his own good and the betterment of his education. She had gone straight to Potter beforehand -- which she was not fool enough to admit even when taxed with the suspicion -- and made the necessary arrangements; she had then put her still remarkably neat foot rather firmly down. On Draco's throat, as it happened.
He had raged, going up like Fiendfyre. She had been impermeable and relentless ice, glacial. Naturally she had prevailed. And so off to the Muggles Draco had gone, to read Law -- at Cambridge, inevitably, as there were too many knowing persons at Oxford, as anyone might have suspected had they but thought upon it. He had been prepared for the rigours of Churchill or the ton of Trinity, but, in applying with his carefully-concocted Muggle paper identity, he had been taken immediately under the capacious (and well-informed, and indeed Potter-and-Shacklebolt-nobbled) wing of that admirable judge, Sir Richard May, who happened to be visiting his old university and college 'by chance' that day and took charge of shepherding Draco about; and so had Draco found himself at Selwyn, leafy, musical, stolidly, stodgily Victorian Selwyn.
It had been the making of him.
Harry also, like Narcissa, had been moved to reminiscence on this day, even as his compeers in Cabinet yet wrangled over what to do with Madam Umbridge now that they had her. It had been part of Tom Riddle's twisted dream -- as it is the plan and method and fondest hope of every tyrant and aspirant to tyranny -- to break and remould the Wizarding world by removing and reshaping its memory.
In this he had failed, as he had failed in all else.
The Aurors, and what may be termed their institutional memory, had suffered from the decades of war and insurrection: the loss of Mad-Eye Moody's hoarded wisdom was but the most piercing instance of that loss. Yet it was true as well that the three centuries of the secrecy regime itself had all but gelded the Aurors, misusing a force once covered in glory: using it as a constabulary, and a poor, underfunded, undertrained, and politically compromised constabulary at that.
Returning from an inspection of the Isles Aurors (for whom competitive Divination was a fixture of the Regimental Sports Day -- the havers rashly and commonly talked regarding Second Sight being no havers at all -- and who, therefore, anticipating his coming for rather longer than it had been officially been made known to them, had been blandly perfect before his inspecting eye), Harry reflected upon how this loss of the traditions had been redressed. He would be always proud to have had a hand -- rather more of a hand than he credited himself with -- in the foremost achievement of Kingsley's first ministry, that separated the Aurors, as a Force, a soldiery, from the DMLE, and made them respectively an honest Army and a true police. The 'elms', now, the 'Emilys' -- so named in Knockturn cant, by backformation and for Madam Bones' memory, respectively, she having always urged just such courses, vainly, upon Lufkin and Fudge and Scrimgeour to her last heroic breath -- had found themselves trained anew in the policemanly arts by a surprising number of old Witches and Wizards who had once worn that tunic, and by Squibs and by cunning-folk who, dissenters from that same thrice-damned secrecy regime, had made their way in the Muggle world, attaining considerable authority in policing roles: old men and a few sprightly women of an age to qualify as OAPs, who had long laboured at the Met, in county constabularies, with Special Branch, or with the Services as Crushers, Redcaps, and Snowdrops, from the sergeants' mess to at least one retired Provost Marshal (Germany) and O/C 1st Regt RMP.
And so it had been for the Aurors also, restored at last to their position and role as HM Forces (Wizarding): a training cadre of Squibs and non-juring Cunning Folk, and some truly ancient old Aurors who had retired before ever Gellert Grindelwald had been expelled from Durmstrang as a downy-cheeked schoolboy.
The Aurors were now trusted and respected, and trusted and respected as a soldiery, not a bastardised constabulary: and those ancient old soldiers with Wizarding connexions, and still more those ancient old Aurors long retired, had been indispensable in creating anew an Auror Corps deserving of that trust and respect. Even when the respect had been grudging: Harry could well recall a port-fed, demi-glazed Diagon grocer who'd barracked a young fellow on the Knight Bus for clumsiness, only to lose control of bowels and bladder when he'd felt the light pressure of the Elder Wand between his eyes, and seen beyond it Harry Potter's emotionless face, and heard Harry Potter's emotionless explanation of why precisely the young man was a trifle cack-handed and unsteady in these days, having been invalided out after receiving certain specified wounds incurred in certain specified actions at Edirne when the lad was a Dukesman of the Norroys, which certain specified actions the grocer might read for himself if he liked in the despatches in which the lad had been mentioned and in the citation that was gazetted for all to read with eternal gratitude what time the lad was awarded the GGC by an eternally grateful Sovereign.
It had been a long slog: almost two decades of it. So long had it been since the regiments had been proper regiments rather than a jumped-up police force -- and, Harry reminded himself yet once more, not infrequently something unpleasantly akin to a secret and political police at that -- that Harry and his peers of the young intake had been keenly aware that they were all too likely the makers of new traditions with every blunder. Yet -- thanks to the longevity of Wizards -- there had been, and Kingsley had seen to it that they had been recalled to duty, those old, old men, brought back briefly to act as Training Officers and Serjeant-Instructors and Broom-Masters and in all things mentors and passers-on of the old and sacred ways: men who swore in barracks Arabic or slung the crab-bat of the dusty Indian cantonments, who peppered their wisdom with remembered cautionary follies and larded the Regulations with ancient exceptions and old Spanish practises that a young one-pipper might do well to have in mind; men who had learnt gutter-German on the Rhine and estaminet-French in Flanders, or who had seen the impi charge, played tag with Brother Boer, and relieved the Legations in Peking.
And these old men -- old men forget, yet they remembered, with advantages -- these old men had known in turn, had served beside or under or commanded, men older still, now at rest in country churchyards or beneath shifting sands or resting known but to God in some corner of a foreign field: old, old men, who, when young, had faced the Cossacks on fields ranging from the Crimea to the Khanate of Khiva, in wars seen and unseen, Muggle and magical, and bashed Boney and his marshals from Torres Vedras to Quatre Bras, and taken Assaye under a young scion of the Weasleys: the Squib branch that had written the name 'Wesley' at first and 'Wellesley' after; men who had -- but the tale can never be told in full, for it has no end and its beginnings are lost in the mists of time before time. For those old men, now dead, had in their turn taken up the traditions and learnt the trade from men older still, and they from men so long dead that their names are hardly remembered, and the shorthand of their knowledge is worked in gleaming letters on the colours, where the battle honours are recorded.
Those threads upon the colours, that give the names of battles, had stretched very far, light as gossamer, fine as silk thread, and stronger than cables of steel. The Muggle regiments of the British Army have a lengthy history of glory; those of the Royal Corps of Aurors, one lengthier far, for all that they were misused and abused, amalgamated and emasculated, and turned into plods, for three inglorious centuries. Harry's old regiment, the Wessexes, had been at Camlann and Over Wallop, and the most sacred day in its calendar was Badon Day, only Ethandun Day being nearly as revered in the regiment. The Scots -- whom young Jamie might well join in a shockingly few years (Hogwarts already, and Al to start next year, and Lily two years after that, and where did the time go, where were his happy babies of but yesterday?) -- the dour, thrawn, canny Scots had faced the French Wizards at Quatre Bras, the English mages at Bannockburn -- and the Roman sorcerers at Mons Graupius; their battle honours run to the Deil's Stanes and Monte Agned. The Welsh yet wear their robes ripped and rent behind on Badon Day: 'the enemy never sees the backs of my men, save when he strikes foully from behind'; the Southerns mount a special guard on the anniversary of the battle of Derguentid (Crayford); the Norroys yearly celebrate the battle of the Cells of Berwyn, and the toasts in their Mess remember Urien Rheged and Coel the Old.
And from these threads that stretch back centuries, blazoning the battle honours upon the colours, had old men with long memories and eager one-pippers fresh from the Battle of Hogwarts woven anew the ravelled traditions of the Royal Corps of Aurors, stronger in warp and woof than ever before.
Harry's hand closed upon the buff-jacketed file he had re-read for the eight-and-twentieth time. The peace that he and his Aurors preserved, the ordered law and liberty that were guarded and upheld by the DMLE, would be as naught were there no law to uphold, no courts to hear the case between the Crown and the accused. And the legal system of the Wizarding world, on the May morning when that world woke to the realisation that Tom Riddle was gone forever and his evil frustrated, had been in a state if anything more parlous than those in which policing and the Forces had found themselves.
And the remedy had been the same. Theo Nott had never been inclined to join the Death Eaters -- then again, Theo was one of life's non-joiners. He was a lone wolf, aloof and solitary by nature, reserving all his warmth for the twin passions of his life, Muggle cricket and his family. He had rather defiantly married Pansy Parkinson-as-was soon after the War, and subtly challenged Harry by inviting Ginny and Harry not merely to attend the wedding but also to be actual members of the wedding party. Harry had as blandly accepted, and made certain that Pansy recognised that he had long since forgiven her for the Unfortunate Incident in Hogwarts Great Hall. And Theo, that unclubbable and solitary character, had accepted quite calmly that his father was beyond saving after the War (Harry rather suspected that Theo might have taxed the elder Nott with crimes not known to the Ministry and of which Theo had been the victim, had he chosen). Whatever was the way of it, Theo had certainly thereupon communicated with a senior connexion of theirs, the head of the Squib branch of the Devon Notts; and Sir John Nott, once Defence Secretary consule Mrs T, had at once descended upon them all, formidably to take charge of Theo and of the Nott family's interests in the Wizarding world; and Theo, responding with that warmth and loyalty he reserved for his family alone, had become rather a third son to John Nott, and repaid Sir John with all the love and loyalty that Theo had so long hidden from the broader world.
And it was from that happenstance that the rest had followed. Theo had been rather taken by, and rather taken up by, Norman St John-Stevas and Geoffrey Howe, and from them he had learnt much, not least that his best way forward -- and most Slytherin -- was in the law. (Sir John Major, for his part, had looked after Theo's cricketing enthusiasms, and put him up for eventual membership of the MCC.)
It was all in the file. Squib solicitors and barristers, friends of John Nott from Tory cabinets, aged men of law who had kept their heads down, Clearwaters and Sharpe-Quillets and Tiernan-Oggs who had devilled away at the law in both worlds for decades, stood to with a will in the first flush of victory, and remade the Wizarding legal world as a centrepiece of the Restoration. The Europeanised, civil-law, profoundly un-British system that had prevailed during the grim centuries of the secrecy regime was dismantled, and common law and common liberty now sat enthroned in the seat of Justice. And in that blissful dawn, prodded though he had had to have been by Narcissa, Draco had at the last caught the flame that Theo had fanned, and joined his fellow Old Slytherin in going up to read Law.
It was all in the file. A coolly vindicated Nott and a humbled Draco, shoved together at Selwyn, sharing Staircase H, Cripps Court, Nott the more familiar with Muggle life and ways and Draco learning the benefit of letting someone else have the lead. Then sharing a staircase the year after -- B, Old Court -- in less unfortunate architecture, and arguing day and night, as young men at university will, about everything from real ale to the purpose of the law. And then the last dash to the finish line, Theo living out of college, married now, and Draco in headlong pursuit of the Double-Maîtrise and every prize on offer: Theo already mapping his course for the bench, and Draco -- the file was silent, but Harry knew Draco's mind quite as well as did Theo -- for glory at the bar, and highly remunerative glory at that. The Double-Maîtrise as it existed in those days resulted in Draco's taking four years to finish, to Theo's three; this in turn persisted throughout their careers, Theo a year ahead and plodding to plan, Draco holding back to put on speed at the last, all through the year at Domdaniel for the equivalent Wizarding degree, the pupillage and the dinners eaten and all the arcane rituals of inn and qualification.
What was not in the file was perhaps the most important point of all. Aster Greengrass and Draco Malfoy had made, rather surprisingly, a love-match. He had been beginning already to show that he could be a high-flier, unshackled from the chains of his family's reputation, even as Theo progressed with dignity towards the bench that everyone knew awaited him. Even the Ministry were beginning to brief Malfoy, who had shown that the qualities that had been most deplorable in him at school, including a cutting wit and a gift for stinging mimicry, were priceless assets to a barrister, and a criminal specialist by preference at that.
And then Aster, his Stella, had had the first of her miscarriages. Draco had felt himself sufficiently established that they could begin a family in the very year that Harry and Ginny had begun their own -- indeed, had the child been born, the infant Malfoy should have been a fortnight younger than was Jamie. The Malfoys had been fortunate indeed to have succeeded with Scorpius: after his birth, Aster had tried once more, miscarried, and been sternly warned by every Healer at Mungo's that another attempt would kill her.
Draco had nearly broken; his rapprochement with Harry had almost wholly broken with it. Until this series of sore misfortunes, in the intervening years, Draco had become less hostile towards Harry, and indeed all of Harry's family and acquaintance. They had attained to civility at least; and to more than that in one regard, for Harry and Draco had found themselves curiously allied in doing their well-meant best to spoil Teddy Lupin to intolerability, until an exasperated Aunt Andy (as both of them, curiously, had come to call Andromeda) actually warded them out and forbad them the house until they got their heads sorted, damn it all. (Andromeda was even now, and evermore, the Andy Black of old, when all was said and done.) Narcissa had remarked that it was, on the whole, fortunate that Teddy was only partly a Black, and that the tincture of Tonks and Lupin blood in him made him an on the whole equable child who soon recovered from his cousin's and godfather's attempts to spoil him utterly out of their own misplaced guilt. (Narcissa also remained discernibly, at the end of the day, the frightfully plain-spoken Cissy Black of old.)
It had become clear to Harry at that point that Draco, as much as he, was consumed with paternal impulses. He had even understood the renewed chill, the renewed resentment, between them when Jamie was born whilst the Malfoys struggled. And it had been no surprise to him that, with Scorpius's birth and the dread danger to Aster from it and after, Draco had thrown over his ambitions wholly and reconstituted himself a doting, stay-at-home, it's-not-as-if-we-want-the-money father and husband (which, frankly, drove Asteria unavailingly spare).
But Scorpius, like Al, would be going to Hogwarts next year. And Harry knew from his own observation, as much as from Ginny (who was on anomalously good terms with Aster, largely due to the startlingly close friendship that prevailed between Al and Scorpius, and had done from their first infant meeting) and Aunt Andy and Cissy, that the Malfoy ménage was cracking under the strain. Draco and Aster blamed themselves, the both of them, for the physical problems that made further children impossible, even with magic. They almost certainly resented, however slightly, Draco's choice to give up his career and be underfoot night and day at home (Harry well knew that if ever he had attempted so mad a proceeding, Ginny should have hexed him out of the house in a week's time): Aster unable to escape Draco's hovering or to have a moment's peace, Draco feeling himself trapped at home, his career slipping ever more irrevocably away. Draco and Aster still loved each other fiercely -- perhaps too much so: they had never settled -- but they had wholly forgotten how to live together in a household that would, quite soon, cease to revolve about Scorpius (who, Al confided, quite credibly, was insanely eager to get away from his parents' well-intended doting and go off to school. Even for Scorpius, being made much of, and as a means to an end at that, almost impersonally, had come at last to pall).
Yes, Harry reflected, putting the buff-jacketed file finally aside, unlikely as it was that Malfoy would ever forgive him for this latest scheme, and rusty though Malfoy may have become in long absence from wig and gown, it was to everyone's benefit, even Malfoy's, that Draco Malfoy, Queen's Serjeant at Magical Law, be instructed in the case brought by the Crown against Dolores Umbridge.
In any case, in Harry's simple creed, the needs of the Crown and of the loyal subjects of the realm must take precedence of people's private griefs and private wishes.
The men-from-the-Ministry who had caught up to Mr Tiernan-Ogg and Mr Sharpe-Quillet both in the barristers' robing rooms had wasted no time in clarifying which and whose Ministry they represented. The two grave, keen-faced men of law had carefully evinced no surprise at hearing that the archetypal civil servants who had called upon them were from the Ministry of Magic: both were, after all, themselves Wizards, serjeants in the Wizarding system as well as barristers, indeed Queen's Counsel, in the Muggle. But not even they could remain imperturbable at the news these ornaments of the Sibylline Service had brought.
'Umbridge, you say? Banged up down the nick? At last? Really. Well, well,' said Mr Sharpe-Quillet QC. 'This will rather set the kneazle amongst the post-owls, I should think.'
And, 'I take it that the Ministry are instructing us for the Crown?' Mr Tiernan-Ogg QC was blandly expectant.
'Not at all,' said the senior of Ernie Macmillan's Bright Young Ministry Lads. 'We rather had the both of you in mind to defend.'
It was not in Mr Sharpe-Quillet's nature to resile even from the interest of the most unsympathetic client; yet he could not help but ask, 'Good God, who is the Ministry instructing for the Crown?'
The answer, airily given, did what generations of Red Judges, lunatic juries returning wholly inexplicable verdicts, and the maddest and most antic of their professional brethren, had never done, and reduced both silks to utter, stunned silence.
Draco increasingly begrudged any time spent away from his son, so soon to leave them for Hogwarts; yet such were the stresses in his marriage that he also, and contradictorily, dined increasingly often at his club, in town, even at the cost of hours with his son, amidst his Brothers Wodewose. This had its disadvantages even aside from its taking him away from Scorpius for hours on end: not least the need to be polite to Potter if Potter were there: for generations of gallant, dashing Potters had been privately and unexpectedly witty in that witty assembly whilst as many generations of Malfoys had been resolutely blackballed from membership, and Draco was resentfully aware that his own admittance, for all his subsequent success and indeed affectionate acceptance at the club, had depended utterly in the first instance upon Potter's good offices. That he nowadays resorted to dining at his club more and more often -- no longer merely out of delight that he had been admitted where his father had been barred (it may seem odd that a bohemian club whose members were indifferently Muggles, Squibs, and Wizards had been something to the membership of which Lucius Malfoy had aspired, until one recalls that amongst the Muggles were several peers and a royal duke: Lucius' snobbery, toadying, and tuft-hunting had been impartial and consistent) --was a measure of how bitterly unhappy his marriage was becoming.
That evening, he found himself at table with Derwent Shimpling; old Edmund Ramsbury, a Country Member from Draco's own Wiltshire, who had died a few years before after a long life as a provincial solicitor and who, like Binns, had seen in that event no reason to end the habit of decades, and yet quietly and genially haunted the club; the devastatingly handsome young actor, Adam Rumper, with his absurdly sexy little red line of tightly-curled beard that followed the classic line of his jaw, and his perfect body -- one of the other theatrical members had teased him, saying, 'It's still the eponymous rump, lad, that sees you cast, sadly heterosexual though you be', to which Adam, laughing, had responded, 'Well, yes, I am, but it doesn't show from the front' --; a Squib Tory MP; the Recorder -- in Muggle terms, nowadays, the Honorary Recorder -- of Upper Flagley; the Dreary Lane theatrical impresario, he of the teasing reference to Rumper's remarkable arse, Sir Septimus Piddinghoe; and Dean Thomas, with paint on his dress robes, who'd a chit from Seamus to dine out tonight (a sad thing, Draco reflected, when the poofs had sounder marriages than he and Aster had managed). Adam Rumper was well away in an anecdote regarding the December visit of his American cousins, telling it with all the thespian power at his command -- 'well, of course, in America, Hanukkah competes with Crimbo, and the Yanks go mad for that, so, naturally, they were expecting festivities here to be well over the top, only time in my life I've been made to feel gelt guilt' -- when bloody Potter slipped in and took his pew on Draco's left. When Adam paused with his exquisite timing upon a more than commonly clever bon mot, Potter murmured, 'Hoped I should run you to earth; see me after the pudding, will you?', to which Draco could only nod a helpless and resentful acquiescence: which turned to alarm when Potter added, 'Bring the brandy, you'll want it.'
Down the nick -- in fact, in the most thoroughly warded cell in the Ministry's command -- Dolores Umbridge sat, and brooded, her pop-eyes idly watching for flies to supplement her diet, her coldblooded mind meditating upon the vengeance she should surely take when, as should surely happen, she should have been at last freed and acquitted. Mongrels, filth, inhuman hybrids...that filthy little Potter and his blood-traitor woman and their spawn...oh, yes, she would be even with the pack of them when this minor difficulty was past....
In the end, it is not character, but rather landscape, that is destiny.
-- Professor Sir Bennet Bowra, A Pensieve Geography: the influence of landscape
History and herstory are not ourstory but theirstory, an endless narrative of othering and alienation culminating in the self-congratulating erasure of any dissenting voices. Wherever there is privilege there is oppression. And there is privilege, there is oppression, wherever the hand of Wizardkind has set foot. The rich and the powerful, the feudal lord and the capitalist, the pureblood and the half-blood, never lose. What are called revolutions by one against the other are not revolutions, they are Virginia reels: change partners and dance. What are called free states are, by being states, not free: they exist to deny the state of freedom to the disprivileged. At the intersection of class and magical power and blood and gender is not freedom, but states; there is no more ironic intersection of place and privilege than the cruelly misnamed Frankland.
-- Norm Zandel, Ourstory: a disprivileged history from the voiceless
History is, naturally, simply a sort of joint biography, an account of men -- Wizards, Squibs, and Muggles alike -- in action. It is true that men are not their actions; neither, however, are they their class, or their blood, or their magical status. The story of their actions, moreover, is quite as much the story of their passions as of their reason; and of all the consequences of their actions, it is the unintended consequences that last longest and work most profoundly upon events. Neither the treaties that erected what was perhaps optimistically called the Peace of Westphalia, nor the International Statute of Secrecy, intended, or indeed contemplated, the Frankland; yet its existence was implicit on their structures.
-- Sir Maurice Goldsmith, Invisible Supremacies: essays on Wizarding history, 1666 -- 1933 (adapted from the Porteous Lectures, University of Domdaniel, 1946 -- 1957)
The passions that would give rise by century's end to the Secrecy Regime -- and to the non-jurors' secession from British Wizardom, to live among the non-magical populace as Cunning Folk -- were already present [in 1602]. These attitudes, transplanted across the wide Atlantic and clad in homespun, would persist, in the 'don't-tread-on-me' standpoint of American Wizards. A reasonable skill in Divination ought to have sufficed to foresee the separation and even such events as the creation of the Frank-land.
-- Irving Feldstein, British Wizardkind on the eve of colonization
The Whig -- Jacobite Blood Struggle, as an extension of yet another feud within the ruling house, itself caused horrific political upheaval in the Moot, and it was in effect a Rump Wizengamot that sat from 1692 until 1807, when, with the death of Henry 9th and 1st of the House of Stuart, a number of secular members accepted George 4th ('and 1st') as his tanist and were reconciled to the Hanoverian Succession. (It has been said that this factor alone, with or without the absence of the clerical estate, was what left the American Wizards independent whether they wished to be or not. As is well known, the Statute of Secrecy, by its mere existence, long stifled the rationalisation of Wizarding borders and governments, which even now do not comport with Muggle bounds and political reality on the ground.)
It was, however, the Statute of Secrecy as such that occasioned the removal of the Lords Spiritual from the Moot, just as it was the Statute of Secrecy that led to the closing of Domdaniel (although its organisational continuity was preserved by the self-perpetuation of the Fellows of Paracelsus as a body corporate) and very nearly put paid to Hogwarts School as well. The clergy, to a Wizard, refused to accept the Statute of Secrecy, on the grounds that it amounted to a capitulation to the 'pureblood' extremist faction and was, moreover, an unconscionable abandonment of mutual discourse, aid, and charity as regarded our Muggle neighbours. As a body, they left the Moot, and, as a body, the rump of the Moot declared them as having been deprived of membership in perpetuity.
It came as a shock to even the most historically-learned Wizards and Witches when, hard upon the Great Victory and the putting down of Riddle's Rebellion, and immediately upon the new constitutional settlement's being adopted, the Great Ledger was seen to update itself and summonsing owls were magically despatched with writs of summons to Wizards whose very existence was largely unknown to the Wizarding World, or to Wizards who were, if they were known, accounted as being of little importance. The shock was redoubled when, at the next sitting, some 102 Wizards appeared at the bar of the Moot in response, and revealed themselves as the long-absent Lords Spiritual of the main religious bodies of Great Britain and Ireland, ranging from the Bishop of Salisbury (and Wizarding Archbishop of Wessex and Primate of All Britain) to the Chief Rabbi. In addition to those who were Muggle clergy, the Wizarding clerics and prelates included Wizards who passed amongst Muggles as farm labourers, physicians, gardeners, dons, solicitors, a Tory MP, writers, journalists, Writers to the Signet, barristers, farmers, fishermen, gentlemen of leisure -- amazingly, a few yet remain in the Muggle world -- trades union leaders, Naval officers, Army officers, one retired member of the England cricket side and official of the MCC, shopkeepers, bankers, butchers, a LibDem MEP, two Other Ranks, a dispensing chemist, a thatcher, a plumber, and several hereditary peers. All had, in keeping with the traditions of the Cunning Men, lived and made their way amongst and amidst the Muggles, aiding them on the sly and helping to protect them from the worst of the past half-century's Wizarding disasters and upheavals.
-- Gervase MW Wemyss, The Diricawl History of Wizarding Britain, vol. 194, Et ego in Arcadia: professionalism, order, and challenge, 2009 -- 2010
Draco had never cared to take instruction, let alone orders, from anyone, and from Potter least of all. He found himself nevertheless obliged to the man for what was becoming evidently good advice: this was going to want a good deal of brandy to get through.
He had been dimly aware of the Frankland, he supposed, since his first tuition in his father's study. To Lucius, the loss of the American possessions had been a story of how one must never trust anyone, whatever their blood status, who did not support blood supremacy at all costs; and Lucius had, Draco vaguely recalled, used the mountaineers -- in his telling, brutish, savage, less than animal, beneath even the Muggles amongst whom they squalidly and incontinently lived -- to point the moral and adorn the tale.
He had learnt rather more, after, at university -- the anomalous character of Wizarding state relations and their incongruence with the orderly system of Westphalian sovereignty had been rather a hobbyhorse, not to say a King Charles' Head, for one of his tutors in Law -- and, out of idle interest, in subsequent reading. He had once, in fact, discussed the matter -- it had impinged in passing upon the issues in a trial -- with Granger-as-was, who had been, as might have been expected, encyclopædic upon the topic.
Frankland -- 'the Frankland', commonly -- was an anomaly within the larger American anomaly. Like its Muggle counterpart, the abortive 'State of Franklin', it had been born of the fissiparous tendency in American politics, an early instance of Appalachian contrariness and post-revolutionary secessionism; unlike its Muggle counterpart and namesake, it had survived, an imperium in imperio, in but not of the Wizarding American confederation. The very terrain had conspired to make it so: it had not been the iron in the mountains, acting upon the equipment of the Muggle surveyors of colonial times, whether in the Royal Colonial Boundary Survey 1665 or the Dividing Line Survey, nor in after years before the Missouri Compromise, that was responsible for the odd deviations of the demarcation between Virginia and North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee. Wild magic permeated the lands: magic as old as, older than, the Cherokee and the Shawnee who dwelt there, and of whom a surprising number yet remained, hidden from the Muggles and having evaded dispossession and the Trail of Tears. And spreading outwards from the points at which Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee touched and where Tennessee embraced Kentucky and old Virginia, the Wizarding population had taken to the mountain fastnesses and there built them an abiding place: the Frankland, the free land, Unplottable and sheltered.
And it had been there that the most avidly-sought fugitive from Wizarding justice now alive had been taken and captured at last.
'Umbridge,' said Draco. 'Dolorous Bloody Umbridge. Much as it pains me to say it, you, Potter, have put up a damned good show. Very well-played, Potter, very well-played indeed.'
'Thank you,' said Potter, with an ominous cheer. 'I'm greatly obliged. Mind, that was the simple part: we must now, after all, try the ghastly bitch.'
Draco sipped his brandy, carelessly. 'Yes, God help the poor bugger who gets lumbered with that.'
'Quite so.' Potter was determinedly and disturbingly amused. 'Stewart should be stopping here shortly to speak to that -- Laura's job, really, as Director of Public Denunciations, but obviously that's not really possible tonight -- Ackerley and that quiet bugger whose name I can never recall, the Tally Solicitor -- I say, Malfoy? That's rather good brandy you're choking on.'
'P- ! You -- Potter! I am not going to be instructed in the defence of that mad cow Dolly Umbridge!'
'Of course you're not. Here -- use my handkerchief, it's quite clean.' Of malice aforethought, Draco later concluded, Potter waited until Draco essayed a restorative sip of brandy before going on. 'No, we're briefing you to prosecute her.'
When Stewart Ackerley and the Tally Solicitor -- another Ravenclaw, naturally: Marcus Belby, who had aspired to be the Tally Devil but had dutifully accepted that he would be shunted into the hard graft instead -- arrived, Malfoy, revived by a swift Anapneo and impatiently dispensing with the solicitous assistance of a house-elf, was busily shouting at Harry.
'And I'll not believe it until I hear it from one of the --'
'Law Officers of the Crown?' Ackerley's interruption was as studiedly bland as it was pat. 'Do sit down and cease posturing, Malfoy, with your colouring in particular it gives you a regrettable look of your late father's idiot albino peafowl.' One of things that Sir Stewart Ackerley had most enjoyed since leaving Hogwarts was the opportunity that his eminence and precedence afforded him for taking it out of the people who'd been shits to him at school. 'Lamentably, the DPD cannot be here for this --'
'Yes, and why not, I might believe it from Madley.' There was good reason, Ackerley reflected, just why it was and remained that Malfoy was so satisfying to make pay for his schoolboy faults.
Harry merely raised an eyebrow. 'Malfoy! It's Tuesday night. You know we don't allow women at the club save on Thursday guest nights.' Ackerley contemplated, with pleasure and with a fellow-craftsman's admiration, the effortlessness of Harry's superior wrong-footing of the little ferret.
Luna Lovegood -- Scamander, now, of course, and mother of the most alarming twins since Gred and Forge -- was, Harry always thought, the most fearless person he knew, bar, perhaps, Hagrid, bless him. Even Den Creevey -- to whom Gabrielle Delacour had forthrightly and unexpectedly proposed marriage three years to the day after Colin's funeral, in accordance with the Veela maxim that none but the brave deserve the fair -- was no match for Luna. Veela are powerfully attracted to the utterly fearless, wherefore Gabrielle had accepted Den's proposal: it was generally admitted that Our Wee Den didn't know the meaning of the word fear, although, as several of his old masters and a sometimes tart Hermione had been known to observe, there was no assurance that he could reliably spell it, either. Yet even fearless little Den Creevey could be cast down by unexpected resistance or daunted by social disapproval. It was unlikely that Luna had ever, actually, noticed when confronted with pushback or subjected to tutting or the cold shoulder, but, had she done, she would serenely have taken not a blind bit of notice. Harry well knew that he, at least, for all his oft-cited, not to say oft-gazetted, gallantry and courage, was quite the mouse when confronted by rudeness and disdain: deep inside the Victor Over Voldemort and all that balls, was, he knew, always the small child who had been mentally scarred by the Dursleys long ago. And for all the wonders of his world and the interest of Hagrid's tuition in his schooldays, Harry, as he would be the first to admit, remained allergic to some of the more dangerous beasts and beings who shared that magical world with him. Even now, his boggart was Fear Itself, in the shape of a Dementor: or, as more mature reflection had taught him (and he suspected that Remus, long ago, had known this, and had wisely held his tongue), his greatest fear was that others might see him afraid or know that he feared.
It had not been all plain sailing since the defeat of Tom Riddle. There had been scattered Death Eaters to bring to justice, and Greyback to eliminate. Once, shortly after attaining to his captaincy, Harry had invaded Picardy single-handedly, from a rowboat, with the deniable acquiescence of the French Ministry, to capture a rising necromancer with unpleasant ambitions.
Yet for sheer moral courage and utter unconcern with danger, he'd back Luna against all comers. He had been present once, on a wild night on the moors, in a bothy, when something too large to be allowed and too fleet to be so large, bipedal but assuredly not human, had, passing, paused for an interminable moment and snuffed at their scent (Luna had been seconded to assist him in tracking whatever was eating fell-walkers in the area). Luna's only discernible reaction had been a mild interest in discovering a new and fascinating beast. It had been a display of moral courage that Harry had known then, and confirmed since, he could never match -- and mightn't wish to do, as a healthy respect for danger tended to determine whether an Auror lived to retirement or not.
When the message had come, then, from Luna and Rolf, doing fieldwork in North America, Harry had wasted no time in responding: when Luna expressed, not alarm, of course, but mild concern, it behoved one to attend to her.
In Mr Sharpe-Quillet's chambers in Serjeants' Inn (Outer Temple) -- when the Muggle portion of the Inn had dissolved, the Wizarding Serjeants had made the place Unplottable -- Mr Sharpe-Quillet and Mr Tiernan-Ogg were appreciatively sipping a very good port indeed and toasting themselves at the hearth. Already they had begun to block out the defence of Dolores Umbridge. They yielded to no one in their joint detestation of the woman and her crimes; yet it was quite properly a point of professional pride, as well as their plain duty, that they should give her the best defence and fairest trial that could be managed.
At the club, the tumult and the shouting had died, largely, away, if only because Draco had run out of abuse to hurl, and the captains and the kings, or at any rate the late Lord Enchantellor and now Attorney General and Lord Invocate, with his Tally Solicitor, had departed.
Draco was clearly outraged and resentful yet. He was equally clearly resigned to being briefed in the prosecution of Dolores Umbridge. Not even the unhappy fact that this meant closeting himself with Potter would change that.
'I suppose,' said Draco, as nastily as he could manage, which was very nastily indeed, 'that you will now recount your gallant capture of that ghastly Witch, in highly-coloured detail.'
Harry simply laughed at him -- indulgently, the cheeky bugger. 'Not at all. You'll be coming along for the show: I expect Kreacher and Winky to turn up with my Pensieve, oh, just about --' pop! -- 'well, now, actually. Thank you, Winky; Kreacher. That will be all.'
So this, Draco reflected, is the Frankland.
They stood in memory and yet outside the memory in a declivity in the mountains, as if in a shallow bowl. All about them, hills and mountains, richly timbered in heavy forest, rose and swelled. The air was unimaginably clear, and utterly still, so that the smoke from the chimney of a cabin at the far side of the hollow rose straight into the illimitable sky without wavering. The forests rang with birdsong and appeared to exhale a pure breath. In other lights than that of a late Springtide day, the wood and the laurel understory -- '"laurel hells", they're called', Harry murmured, although they seemed rather paradisal than hellish -- had seemed enamelled in a thousand greens and a myriad of blues; today, as the mountains sighed into the still air, they were attenuated by mist: a wash painting by Wang Wei.
They followed Harry-of-the-memory down an earthen lane, its russet dust fine as meal, towards a nearer cabin, set amidst ploughed fields and a flourishing orchard, within an assart of the wood. Sawn, hollow logs stood beneath the trees, makeshift beehives, and the air was murmurous with bee-song and birdsong. But the songs were not those of British birds, and in the arable the corn was alien.
A black and tan coonhound wagged a lazy tail, once, as Harry approached the cabin in the shade of which the dog dozed. Two streaks of forked lightning, the only fiery things beneath the warm sun in the somnolent landscape, burst from within, resolving themselves, as they barrelled towards Harry, into the nut-brown, flaxen-haired twins Lorcan and Lysander. 'Uncle Harry! Uncle Harry! You came!'
'Of course I did, you ruddy little terrors. Where are your parents, God help them?'
'Mum's in the orchard, pegging out the laundry, and P'pa's gone in to the village, did you know that they call everything here a town, Uncle Harry, even when it's hardly a hamlet, that's where P'pa is, though, they've the oddest shops, Uncle Harry, they call them stores for some reason, they sell everything, and Mum says --'
'Mum says you two want to leave Harry alone for two minutes.' Luna smiled impartially at the three of them, as maternal towards Harry as towards the twins. 'Hullo, Harry. If you're not too grand now to give a hand with what our neighbours -- fascinating people, really -- call the "warshin'"? Thank you, dear: we can chat whilst we work. Lorcan and Lysander have work to do in the garden, don't you, dears? Yes, I thought so: off you go, then.'
'Hullo, Luna. I came as quickly as I might.' He looked about for laundry to hand to Luna.
'Don't touch that, Harry.' He had put out his hand towards what seemed a tattered length of black crape. 'That's not laundry -- you might have a chat with it when we're done -- that's a newly-recorded magical species, the Black Mountain Rag-Snake. You have, I trust, re-learnt your Parseltongue? Oh, really, Harry, all that Tommy Riddle Taradiddle gave you was the innate knowledge, it's a language like any other, even Ronald was able to master one phrase, and if Dumbledore could learn Mermish, well....' Harry was not really attending, as he was goggling at the Black Mountain Rag-Snake. It was shockingly like a ravelled length of crape, even now: until it coiled itself and raised its head, two eyes as emerald as his own looking back at him with cool consideration.
Luna smiled, delightedly. 'There, it wants to make friends. Such an interesting creature, really. It looks like nothing dangerous, you see, perhaps a shed snakeskin: technically, it's in a perpetual state of moult; and then when its prey incautiously noses it -- well! Rolf estimates that but one drop of its venom could poison an erumpent, quite fatally. It likes mice: I don't suppose you happen to have any? Pity. Well, the two of you can make a better acquaintance later, I imagine. Now. Hand me that tea-towel, and I'll tell you why I owled you. One moment -- Lorcan! Lysander! Don't forget the early radishes! (Rolf and I are dining in the village in the next, ah, "settle-ment" tonight, and I do dress for that, earrings and all, I make certain you won't mind looking after the twins tonight.)'
From their Pensieve perspective, Draco poked Harry in the ribs, quite sharply. 'She has your measure, Potter.'
'But I was telling you about why I sent an owl. The shopkeeper in the hamlet -- Mr Tanner, who keeps what is called the general merchandise, which always sounds to me like a quartermaster of Aurors, doesn't it -- is the local king, you see. Quite a delightful man.'
'I'm sorry, the local what?'
'King, dear. Well, under-king, naturally. The Frankland is an Anglo-American condominium as to external affairs, rather like Andorra is to France and Spain -- I found the most curious magical goat species in Andorra, you know: Aberforth was most interested -- and of course no one here would set up as a head of state: the Frankland, internally, is really a loose confederation of the settle-ments, and fundamentally anarcho-capitalist, or agoristic. But minimal government is not quite the same thing as no government, of course, and one must call the local councillor something, after all. "King" is quite as good as any other term for it, and traditional, and "sub-regulus" is rather a difficult word. It's an elected position, of course, in each settle-ment --'
'Why in buggery,' hissed Draco, quite impressively for a sentence with so few sibilants in it, 'does she keep saying "settlement" in that peculiar way, and with that odd twang in her speech?'
'It's the Frankland way,' said Harry, casually. 'As late as the 1940s, it was the Muggle way in the area, by all accounts, as well. Very archaic dialect preserved there, I'm told.'
'-- although as it's unpaid and in fact the king must pay for most things out of his own pocket, one does want to have some means to stand for the post. Well, then, Mr Tanner, the king there in Chesterton Settle-ment --'
'Near Notting Hill, perhaps,' said Draco, irrepressibly.
'-- is the grandson of Old Daddy Odom, as he's known, Mr Grimble Odom, quite an important landowner in the region, who lives at Shelf Hill; Mr Tanner and his cousin, Waylon Smythe, are Mr Odom's grandsons, you see, and so of course they hear a good deal of news from all 'round the autarchy through Mr Odom. Now, here in the Frankland -- hand me another peg, dear, please -- they're quite indifferent to whether one is a Muggle, a Squib, or a Witch or Wizard, naturally. But of course no one wishes to have Dark Wizards coming in and upsetting things, and when a Franklander says that there's a "witch gang" in his settle-ment, that's what's afoot, you see.'
'You and Rolf and the terrors seem to have been accepted in the Frankland in a markedly short time.'
'Oh, delightful people, very welcoming. There was a little doubt at first, because most of our fieldwork here is in magical herpetology: there's a sect, it seems, that's not terribly popular...well, be that as it may, of course dear Rolf is nominally C of E so far as he's anything, and we Lovegoods have been Friends for many generations, so once we turned up a time or two at the Union Church -- the Protestant establishment, or, rather, disestablishment, it's a Dissenting chapel for all denominations -- they were really quite friendly, you know. And it helps that I know a little herbology, and the Nine Herbs Charm, Mr Odom was quite impressed, really, so.... In any event, the Franklanders include us in their doings and, with our travels in the field, I suppose us to be quite as well informed as anyone in the Frankland. It was Mr Odom who made sure of that, and it was he who saw to it that Waylon Smythe and King Tanner gave us the office, you know, when there were first rumours about dark influences up on Hogpen Branch, in Toadfrog Holler. (That means "Hollow", you know, and a branch is a stream -- what they also call a "creek", or "crick", which seems odd, really, as these are not tidal streams or brackish at all.)'
Luna levitated the now-empty basket in which she'd had the wet 'warshing' and dried it with a swift, megligent charm.
'I think -- there, that's the "warsh" sorted -- I think it helped that we're British, of course, people felt we'd a right to know, as the woman there's doubt about is said to be herself an Englishwitch, and of a sadly recognisable description by all accounts.'
'In fact, not to put too fine a point upon it, Umbridge.'
'So one gathers, dear. So of course I thought of you immediately.'
'I'm thankful you chose not to take her on yourself, not that she'd have had a chance had you done.'
'Dear Harry! I must confess the thought did occur to me, but it really wouldn't do: here in the Frankland, they're the least bit touchy about anyone's assuming too much authority, even the kings, you know. Now, tomorrow, what you want to do is --'
'Firstly, I rather think I'd best have a word with your Mr Tanner, and Waylon Smythe, and Mr Grimble Odom.'
'Well, of course, if you like, you'll find Mr Tanner and Mr Smythe in the hamlet, if you feel it necessary, but you needn't worry about Mr Odom. If you set forth for Toadfrog Holler, you're certain to meet him on the road, one forever does, you know. And tomorrow is Wednesday, at that.'
Harry's raised eyebrow was a sufficiently eloquent comment.
Draco, for his part, looked at the current iteration of Potter with a wild surmise.
The scene dissolved to what was, by all appearances, the next morning, at perhaps nine of the clock. Fronting upon a single, straggling, unpaved lane amidst a huddle of similar buildings was a ramshackle wooden structure, with a veranda, blazoned above with a pitted and rusty tin sign reading, 'JD TANNER: GEN'L MERCHDSE'; in the shade of the veranda, a tall, well-fleshed man, in a dingy frockcoat of antiquated cut, stood, luxuriating in a large cheroot.
'Hidee, stranger,' said the man as Harry approached the shop.
'Hullo. I want a Mr Tanner, if I may?'
The man put his thumbs under his braces, causing his coat to open and reveal a bright, brass badge inscribed, "King", and said, 'I reckon you done found him, then. King Tanner, at your service.'
'Ah. Excellent. Harry Potter, Royal Corps of Aurors. I understand you may have one of our fugitives in your midst?'
'Not our midst, neighbour. Hit be the one I 'spect you got in mind, she's in the next settle-ment, clear over the county line west o' here. Bedad, I don't know as she's your fugitive or a fugitive 'tall, but, 'thout speakin' for the king yonder, I reckon as she ain't our'n anyhow, and ain't nobody in the Frankland'll complain, you take her off our hands. But we best step on over to the smithy and see what Cousin Waylon knows, he done spoke with Grandfather last, I know.'
Waylon Smythe -- by now, in the Pensieve, even Draco was beginning, uneasily, to twig ('Tanner? Really? Why not use "Thunor" and be done with it?') -- had had, in the event, little to add. A bearded man, sinewy rather than obviously muscled, he stood before his smithy beneath a spreading chestnut tree, and that smithy, as Draco had uneasily realised at once, was in shape and form, if not in material fabric, disturbingly like a certain West Berkshire (now Oxon) Neolithic long barrow of famous memory.
'Well, Big-Daddy he heard it f'om the king yonder -- you'll meet him, I reckon, Taran Hooper, he's the wheelwright in that settle-ment, over to Tyrone District -- this little fat granny-woman with mottle-skin, voice like honeysuckle and wears pink fitten to knock your eyes out your haid, come into the settle-ment f'om nobody knows where, nobody knowed when. Took over an old 'bandoned place up in the hills, what the folks as lived there'd been run off back when we was having all that trouble with giants and sech-like, I allus did say as it was plumb damn-fool, plantin' them a bean-tree, axin' for trouble, I'd say -- you don't mind giants, do ye, Harry?'
'Some of my best friends are Giants, or half-Giant.'
'Be damned. Well, you look to be a right lucky feller all way 'round, small though ye be.'
Draco sniggered. Harry punched him in the arm.
'Yessir, right lucky. S'prised they didn't name ye Jack. Well, we ain't troubled with giants much now anyhow, these days. But this-here woman,bless, she kept herse'f to herse'f just at first, no problem. Seems she's making trouble now, though. Ary damn cow in the settle-ment done dried up, bee-swarms leavin', toads and sairpents and ever' varmint in creation overrunnin' the district; and word is now, she's a-fixin' to set her up a witch-gang. Don't lack but one last woman to the number. Be a shame, let her go on thataway, so should ye do us a turn, why, hit'd purely be a blessin', hit shore-God would.'
With that amount of information Harry had had to be content; and the memory now playing out was of his walking up a narrow, rutted, and twisting lane, claustrophobically lined with thick and overarching trees, slogging westwards to Tyrone District. The earthen lane was ruddy in the light and blue in the deep shade of the mixed forest, banked with moss, fenced and hedged with understory beneath oak and the untouched American chestnut of the Frankland, beneath hickory and maple, birch and pine descended from the high slopes, massy tulip-poplar and he- and she-balsam that had made their way to the lower elevations from their mountain homes: the 'Shady Grove' of Appalachian balladry.
Harry turned another blind corner upon the serpentine way. A tall, elderly man with a long grey beard stood patiently in the midst of the lane, leaning upon a great staff of mountain-ash wood. Over his rusty broadcloth he wore a homespun 'duster' of butternut-colour; his hat's brim shaded the upper part of his face like a visor, yet Harry caught the piercing glint of an eye from that dark shadow. Two crows called from the wood on either side of the lane.
'Hullo. You seem to know my name --'
'Oh, I knowed ye when I saw ye. Grimble Odom: I reckon ye've heared of me.'
'Recently, yes. And perhaps not recently?'
'You're whip-smart clever, son, and I reckon lucky with it, which don't hurt none. Seen ye coming from up on Shelf Hill, reckoned I was obliged to 'knowledge a fellow wanderer.'
'Indeed. And I imagine Huggins and Munnings were looking out for me as well?'
'Yes, sir, you're the clever one. Better'n owls for some things, they be, and y'ain't missed a trick guessin' how they're called these days here in the Frankland. Now, I reckon as I could tell ye what you're doin' of, or fixin' to try and do. But I'd as soon hear it from ye, as ye'd tell it.'
'And I should be glad to tell it, were I quite certain of you yet -- with respect. It can be -- shall we say, unlucky? -- to speak too freely on the road.'
The old man laughed. 'I see ye make your own luck, and that's a good thing to have and do. Been a right smart of time since a body quoted the Hávamál back at me. You oughten to have been named Jack. But I reckon as the Wolf tricked your mama and daddy into naming you after a jazz trumpeter, sort of thing he'd ha' done, too. Well, then, you tell me: who am I, and on a Wednesday at that?'
'My dear sir! "Grimbold" or "Grimwald" or "Grimmauld" -- any "Grim"-compound name, really -- would be quite enough, wouldn't it, even absent "Odom" -- or Huginn and Muninn. Absit omen, of course.'
'It would at that, clever lad. Go on.'
'I suppose you've been here for some time?'
'You been a-talkin' with your great-everhowmany grandpa Crockern of Dartmoor, I suspicion. And that danged little cove-god, that huldery swart-elf in Sussex, I don't doubt. That Puck, rattle-tongued little thing what he is. Now I ain't as old as all that: don't ye be a-thinkin' I turnt up here a-viking in Newfoundland and drifted on down South on the skraelings' trails. But I reckon I'm not so young, neither, and, the way as how I favour my pappy and grandpappy and his pappy, well, folks do get to thinkin' me mortal old. I'm a connexion o' your'n, too, just as much as Old Crockern is. My second boy Baeldaeg, Handsome Baldur, started the line what included Cerdic and the Wessexes, and you Potterses and Godricsons branched off that. There's your riddle, son -- and I don't mean Tommy.'
'Much wild hunting here?'
'Well, now! I ain't had so pert a riddle-match in a racoon's age. Ye know the answers, clear as well-water in a dippin'-gourd, so why don't ye go on and speak out, now. I ain't your enemy, son, and a man can git to be a mite over-cautious as well as he can careless. Or -- if ye've ary worry about t'other, well, I ain't 'xactly human, any more'n Old Crockern of the Moors, but I ain't harmful either, and I been at ever' camp-meetin', revival, and churchifyin' since afore the Frankland was the Frankland: ye can trust my Christen word.'
'Always useful to hear -- Mr..."Odom", if you prefer.'
'Only you, Potter,' said Draco with grudging awe. 'Only you could manage to get imbrangled with Odin, or Woden, or Wotan if you like Wagner, in the mountains of Southern Appalachia.'
'I did say he was lucky.' They spun round. The Pensieve scene was paused; Woden himself, or Mr Grimble Odom, stood behind them, smiling. 'Come, come,' said he, smiling: and his speech was English speech. 'You'd not expect, surely, that a Pensieve could trammel me, anymore than it could Old Crockern, say.'
Draco visibly pulled himself together. 'If I accept that, then you are clearly capable of being present and apprehensible here. In which event, I should advise you that I may wish you to give evidence against Madam Umbridge, for the Crown.'
Mr Odom chuckled. 'Now there speaks a sober man of law. I really don't think it necessary. No, I think it shan't be wanted. I've a few words of advice for you, Mr Draco Malfoy: that is all my office here. "To a false friend the footpath is crooked, though his house be on the highway. To a sure friend there is a short cut, though he live a long way off"; and, "A fool's wisdom wanes with his waxing pride, and he sinks from sense to conceit"; and, again, "A witch's welcome is never safe; the wise man will not trust it"; and, lastly, dear boy, "A wise man may grant the fool a fool's wishes; A foolish wish oft brings a greedy fool low": that should do to be going on with.' And with that, he vanished.
Draco was silent. It was Harry who spoke, murmuring slyly, 'It's been some time since anyone last quoted the Hávamál to me.'
The memory resumed and they turned their attention to it.
'Well, then, we know as who we are. If you ain't still a-lookin' at me side-gogglin', I purpose to walk a pace and a pech and a peck with you, up 'til everwhen we git to the settle-ment, and hit may be I can do ye a good turn on the way.' So saying, Mr Odom stood aside to let Harry pass, and fell in beside him, his strides easy for an old man, and leaning not at all upon his staff. Above them, two crows circled, keeping pace. 'Tell me, Harry Potter. Just how in tarnation d'ye purpose to take that woman? First off, they ain't but one o' ye, and second, it's your own doin', I hear tell, as separated the Aurors into an army and the MLE into the sheriffs.'
'So it was. On the other hand -- hullo, what's this?' They had rounded another bend in the crazily winding road, and reached a small ford over a rivulet. Just upstream, on an outcrop of rock over which the crystal waters slid smoothly, a small, bent, aged woman, darkly Celtic, all in faded green beneath a yellow poke-bonnet bleached by a thousand suns nearly to white, was engaged in a rather despairing bit of laundering, watched impassively by a salamander of monstrous size and unprecedented ugliness. The laundered article in question was a voluminous shift in a telling and filthy hue of pink, and there were bloodstains upon it that seemed impervious to water, pounding, and what was clearly a highly caustic lye soap.
'Er. Hullo. Is there any way we can be of assistance?' Harry was, after all, British: it was impossible for him not to make the polite offer.
The old woman looked up, her eyes keen, if sad, in her weathered face. Even the poke-bonnet she wore had not spared her from the reflections of the sun upon the shallow water, and she was well on her way to what was clearly not her first sunburn.
'Law! Ye gave me a start. Hidee, Mr Odom. And I reckon as ye be Harry Potter.'
'I'm afraid you've the advantage of me --'
'Oh, I knowed ye soon as I seen ye. I don't reckon as ye can he'p, but it was right kind o' ye to arsk. I don't figger as these-here bloodstains'll ever come out. But, there, at least hit ain't Auror uniforms, nor MLE tunics, and the way they's set, these stains, I reckon ya'll be in England 'fore there's ary drop spilt.'
'I reckon as how,' said Mr Odom, clearly indicating agreement. 'We'll leave ye at it, Ban.'
The little old woman nodded. 'Hit's a sore trial, but, there, hit's a livin'.'
Harry kept silent as they crossed the ford and began the ascent as the lane wound up the opposite bank.
'I suppose,' said he at last, musingly, 'that the most popular jig in the district is "The Irish Washerwoman"?'
Mr Odom barked out a great laugh, startling the crows. 'Well, it damn sure ain't "Pretty Saro", I reckon. Caught on to that, did ye? And Tyrone District's prett' nigh pure Ulster at that.'
'The People of the Hills, in fact?'
'Son, you done spent too damn much time with Ol' Slughorn, years since-t the War. Gettin' dry-witty and perfesser-like, your old age. But, sha. I ain't hard-ly got room to talk, some'd say, me bein' --'
'-- but a "Poor, Wayfaring Stranger"?'
Mr Odom started to bridle at this, and then caught himself and laughed. 'Tom Riddle,' said he, consideringly, 'didn't stand a cut-dog's chance with ye, did he.' He thought a moment, and went on: 'Which brings me back-'round to it, what in tarnation, ye don't mind my axin', are ye planning to do with old Granny Umbridge, all by your lonesome? Fiddle "The Hangman's Reel" at her and hope fer the best?'
Harry was considering his answer when they found themselves turning suddenly out of the wood and the leaf-dapple into the bright sunlit glade in which the road began to straighten and the first buildings of a hamlet appeared. 'Dalbeath Town,' said Mr Odom. 'Bryant County, Tyrone District, the Frankland. Hit don't look like much.'
'Damn, old man.' The voice was deep and rich, and came from within a shady cabin to their right. 'And are ye still -- hangin' about?'
'Not so much lately. My hangin' days are long since gone,' said Mr Odom, with a queer smile. He turned to Harry, and gestured towards the yawning cabin door. 'Taran Hooper, in his kingdom, master o' everwhat he surveys. 'Bout the right king for the place, at that.'
Laughing, a tall, broad-shouldered man, in his sixties by the look of him, emerged, squinting in the sun. His hair that had once been red was now white, and was braided in a long queue that hung to his waist; his face, clean-shaven, was that of a Flavian emperor in bronze; and he wore a checked shirt and denim overalls, his feet in heavy brogans. 'Way you carry on, Dad Odom, ye're like to be hang't soon enough --.'
He stopped abruptly and stared at Harry. 'You.'
'Hullo. My name is Potter, Harry Potter --'
‘Oh, I knowed ye when I laid eyes on ye,' said Taran Hooper, his voice subdued, his eyes distant. ‘Harry … Potter. The power of Nûñ'yunu'wï in 'bout the size of the Yûñwï Tsunsdi', i-God! Old Daddy Odom -- hey! This-a-here is one of Those Who Live Anywhere, he is one of the Nûñnë'hï ye've brung us. And he is Father Kana'tï, the Lucky Hunter, who speaks with Sint Holo and slays Uktena! By damn, come on up to the house, and we'll smoke to it.'
Within five minutes, King Hooper had made them welcome in his parlour, and the three were companionably enjoying their pipes in peace: ‘More'n the welcome ye generally give me,' observed Mr Odom.
‘Hell,' said Mr Hooper. ‘Weren't that both sides the fam'ly knowed better'n to git the thunder-folk slanchwise with a man, doubt as I'd have ye in the house, Dad Odom. But Harry Potter, now: that's a guest a man don't have ever'day. Ye've come about that damn bullfrog woman, I suspect.'
‘Yes. Yes, I have, actually.'
‘Well, you stay -- have ye had any supper? Well, just y' stay here then tonight, and more'n welcome to set at my table. Ain't but what we'd have ourselves, but what it is ye're right welcome to -- my daughter Bridgit and her husband, Kermit McQuill, allus come over, and she ain't too shabby in the kitchen: takes after her mama, I reckon. Old Uncle Pen might drop by, too, bring his fiddle and play a spell. And tomorry, I'll take ye to a place -- Old Dad Odom's Shelf Hill ain't a patch on it -- up onto the balds, place we call “where the wolves den”, and y'can take a look-see down into the holler and see the bullfrog witch and figger how to go and take her up. Sooner the better. That one's a real U`tlûñ'tä, a Nûñ'yunu'wï; sooner she hangs, the better. Speakin' of which, we oughten to find somewheres for your men to put up for the night, they'll be right welcome anywhere.'
‘Damn fool ain't brought none,' said Mr Odom. ‘Reckon as he thinks he can take her singleton. Still ain't got ary a notion as to just how in the Sam Hill he's intendin' fer to do it. Hope to hell he has -- and do ye, Harry?'
Mr Hooper was looking at him with dismayed incredulity; Mr Odom, with challenge. ‘Well,' smiled Harry, ‘as I am amongst friends…. It's true that there are jurisdictional issues --'
‘Sha,' said Mr Hooper. ‘Ain't a borned soul in the Frankland what'll raise Cain abouten that. What beats me is you thinking you can do this on your own hand.'
Harry smiled. After years of being the object of inane adulation, it was refreshing to be amongst people who did not consider him the Boy Who Lived and Vanquisher of Voldemort, the perfect and omnipotent hero. 'Give the tobacco jar a shove in this direction, would you, and listen and attend, o best beloved, and I shall tell you the tale of the Deathly Hallows of Britain. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin....'
As the memory passed over the tale that Draco knew too well already, he looked at Harry with exasperation. 'Kipling and "Listen with Mother", Potter? Really, there's a cruelness in you I always suspected: baiting the poor benighted Americans? Shocking bad form.'
Mr Odom, who, it seemed, for all his rustic courtesy, never removed his hat even withindoors, glared at Harry with his one glinting eye beneath his hat's brim. 'D'ye mean to tell me, true, ye've got the Wand of Destiny in your poke, with the Cloak wrapt 'round hit and the Ring to your finger?'
'Well, I'm afraid that no matter what I try to do to divest myself, the Ring does turn up whole and unmarred on my hand when wanted, and the Elder Wand -- well, it's a mind of its own, you know, even as magical items go, and however often I replace it in Albus' tomb, I find it in my hand when it senses it's wanted.'
Mr Hooper looked solemnly at Harry. 'Don't that beat all,' said he. 'I tell ye what. The Cherokee side of me says it ain't a good idea; but the Irish and the English in me says that's a tale as deserves a drink iffen ever there was one. Bide a moment and I'll step round to Old Man Branch's place. Ol' Bear, he do commonly have whisky in.'
‘So, Potter. Having enlisted Odin, Thor, Weyland Smith, Tuireann, the Tuatha Dé, and the Red Indians --'
‘The Eastern Band of Cherokee, Malfoy, don't be a berk.'
‘I really cannot be expected to -- oh, very well, Potter, I shall be polite towards the colonials and the cheerful savages, do put the wand away.'
Harry's hand, voice, and wand were all ominously steady, too outraged even to shake with fury. ‘You know, I do try to believe you've changed since the War, and you persist in forcing me to doubt that judgement, you appalling, racist little shit.'
Draco opened his mouth, shut it with a snap, and turned away, silent and cold. He at least was trembling, not with fear, but rather with his own fury at the knowledge that his pride would not allow him to apologise.
Brief images flickered past: a dinner of remarkable magnificence -- ‘ain't but just what we'd have ourselves' -- fried chops and gammon and something called ‘spoonbread', greens and bread made of maize, a stew of sorts called simply ‘soup beans', garlicky wild onions, called ramps, of remarkable potency, great scones that the Americans called as ‘biscuits', with lashings of butter and honey, and through it all, talk and laughter and fiddle-music long into the night, as if in Wales, in the Land of Songs, a noson lawen; and more and deeper talk, some of which was of moment and much of which was of tales and legends all compound.
Snatches of the serious conversation were well worth attending to in Pensieve memory. The women had cleared away the trenchers and ‘redd up' the kitchen for the early hours, for Harry proposed to set out before dawn, and there would be for the guest an equally heroic breakfast. Now, rather to Harry's embarrassment, many of the women had retired to put the children to bed, whilst others sat up with the men, the fiddle put away and pipes lit, in the firelight that cast distorted shadows upon the roughness of the cabin walls, silhouetting the wagging of beards in a hall now more grave than merry. The men of Tyrone District were gathered: English and Irish, Ulster Scots and Hielan'-men, Germans whom the folk called ‘Dutchers', Frenchmen and Norsemen by blood, and all with some admixture also of the Principal People, followers of the Right Way. And others also had come by night: Mr Odom's grandsons and their kin, Waylon and the Smythes, JD Tanner and his kith, sons of thunder all, as Preacher Rowe who had joined them with his blessings and prayers called them.
‘I'm very much in favour of limited government,' said Harry. ‘I've seen what comes of not having it. And yet -- how ever do you in the Frankland deal with crime?'
‘Well, now,' said Mr Odom, ‘the settle-ments look after that, mostly. Ain't a settle-ment here ain't got a constable or a sheriff. And Judge Haye, that solemn old owl of a damn Scotchman, he do ride the circuit as he's needed. Hell, we got lawyers: like buzzards' -- by which he meant vultures -- ‘ain't nobody likes the scutters but they got them a role to play just like ever'body else. But -- situation like this 'un? That's fer the settle-ment, and since this be King Hooper's settle-ment I reckon he'll tell ye how they do here.'
Mr Hooper spat into the fire and took up his pipe again for a long, meditative moment. ‘Well-sir, I reckon as it's like this-a-way.'
‘Pray attend, Malfoy,' said Potter. ‘This will be important to you.'
‘What we do, is, we have us a council, as many people as we can git. And take it from there, I reckon.'
‘A council. A sort of general moot.'
‘Well, ye could call it that, I reckon. And I'd call this a council, wouldn't ye?'
‘Excellent. Thank you. I take it that it's -- the sense of the meeting, shall we say? -- that you gentlemen will observe the … um, lady … in question, and if she were, say, to be in breach of the Frankland's laws, and were also, let us say, determined to be a British subject answerable to the Ministry of Magic, I should be happy to arrange her detention pending extradition, and take charge of her until the MLE arrive.'
‘I reckon it's the neatest solution we got, and thank ye kindly.'
Malfoy had not turned back to face Potter, but he had clearly attended to the memory. ‘Yes, I imagine that Tiernan-Ogg and Sharpy are quite likely to try that on as an issue, and I imagine that I can defend that handling of the matter.' His voice was cold and formal. ‘Thank you. That was not wholly ill-done.'
The memory passed to the next morning, in the cold grey hours before the dawn.
Breakfast had been fit for heroes at a harvest home. Harry -- who had, after all, cheeked even Snape in his youth -- had asked Mr Odom, slyly, ‘What? No mead?': to which Mr Odom had replied, in like vein, ‘That's for afterwards -- should ye die. You hear any sopranners a-bellerin' out “ho-jo-to-ho”, you know y' done made a bobble and got your damn self killt.'
‘You've acquired a certain smattering of sophistication along the way, Potter.'
Harry recognised the olive branch. ‘Yes, well, thank you. When one no longer lives in a cupboard with a parasitic Dark Lord leeching one, it's remarkable how one may improve oneself.'
Draco would not admit it, but he knew in his heart that his obsession with Potter had never really ended, and he was rather uncomfortably too-well-informed of how Potter had, like the young Churchill in India, remedied his academic and intellectual deficiencies by a rigorous course of auto-didacticism. It seemed to have stood the bugger in good stead: Draco reminded himself, sternly, that it were foolish and dangerous, in these more mature days, to underestimate the speccy sod. There was, after all, a long list, with Tom Riddle's name at its head (and Lucius Malfoy's not so far behind), of those who had done so, and suffered the consequences.
The Franklanders stood ready: Mr Odom and his people; and the riflemen who followed King Hooper. ‘Bear' Branch -- ‘call him that on account of he ain't got no leafs': Mr Branch made a ‘right smart' of whisky in the settle-ment but was vocally opposed to tobacco in all its forms -- broad-shouldered, bearded, slab-sided, hale for all his sixty winters; Webb and Cobb and Lobb, with lanterns and brands of wood, spidery long-limbed fellows who were the best at making fire with flint and steel; ‘Lucky Jack' Wolfe, keen-eyed and calculating, tall as a ‘chimbly', a cabin chimney of the Frankland architecture; Old Crow Mauch, from a family half-Cherokee and half-Dutcher, who'd cheated death as many times as had Harry by all accounts; Preacher Rowe (‘just call me “Buck”, Brother Potter, everybody does'); Rosses and Campells and Bryants and all the manhood of the District. Mr Hooper had put on war-paint for the occasion; others had blacked their faces with soot and grease: ‘I don't need none,' had said Waylon Smythe, laughing, for his father's people were part-Cherokee and part-Black, just as were the Cobbs. ‘Remember, now,' had said Mr Hooper, ‘this-here's a huntin' party, not a war party' (and Harry had murmured quietly to Mr Odom: ‘Modus Nodens, perhaps?'). It was time. Their shadows, as they left the hearth-fire's gleam, and the cabin door shut softly behind them, fell away and merged into the darkness before dawn.
Draco realised, with a start for which he silently reproved himself, that he was becoming caught up in the scene, for all that he knew in broad outline how it must necessarily have ended.
It was false dawn now, and the dawn chorus of the Frankland, so different to English birdsong, was just at its beginning. Harry and the Franklanders were moving into position on the slopes of a ‘bald', a mountain that extended beyond the treeline in its topmost elevations. This was, surely, the wolf-den place of which Mr Hooper had spoken, and it overlooked the declivity in which the headwaters of Hogpen Branch arose, and the crazy, decaying cabin that blighted the landscape of Toadfrog Holler.
There was a rustling in the brush. Quick as lightning and silent as a mountain panther, ‘Bear' Branch reached into the laurels and seized the small animal, a feral cat, black as night, with eyes like coals. It tried to bite and scratch, and began to yowl; he despatched it with a great hunting knife lest it alarm the stranger whom they hunted. As the body of the cat fell to the earth, it transformed into the figure of a woman in her sixties, one whom they had but lately left at the cabin, where her ‘biscuits' had been acclaimed the best. She had retained even now the vestiges of remarkable good looks, until, as they watched in horror, her dead face seemed to set into lines of supernatural malignity.
It was Mrs Branch.
Her husband -- now her slayer and her widower -- stood stock-still. His face was stern, even as his eyes brimmed. Around him, the other men shifted uncomfortably, embarrassed by his grief and their own. ‘Hit don't make no never-mind,' said he. ‘She was a good woman and a good wife, once I got her to quit usin' the tobaccy. Smoked like a chimbly, she did, when we first married, 'd took up 'at ol' pipe when she weren't but a child…. But she was a good woman and a good wife, 'til she must ha' got mixed up in the witch-gang that's startin'. And if she done … well, ye can't suffer a Dark witch t' live, that's Holy Writ --' and suddenly his voice broke ‘-- ah, God A'mighty, and now I'll never see her more on that further shore, ah, God --.'
Preacher Rowe and the king, and Mr Odom as well, stepped over to where Mr Branch stood and shook with his whispered grief; but Harry remained standing over the body, silent, his right hand describing the most minute of motions.
‘Good God, Potter,' said Draco, shocked to his core. ‘If this is how you treat the Aurors under your command, you want to be cashiered.'
Harry looked at him sharply, and as suddenly smiled. ‘You've just redeemed yourself. Watch.'
‘-- a Christian buryin', Brother Branch, I do promise ye. What druv her we'll not never know, but I'm sure as she never wanted to join to any witch-gang, she could ha' he'ped it.'
Harry turned towards them at last. ‘I'm quite certain, Mr Branch, that Mrs Branch will deserve the fullest rites when she dies -- which I imagine shan't be any time soon.' As he spoke, the simulacrum of the dead dissolved under a breath of wind, into a mound of ground maize meal. ‘It appears Madam Umbridge has learnt a few new spells in her travels. Not very pleasant ones, I'm afraid. Shall we go on, gentlemen?'
Draco's indrawn breath was loud in the silence.
The men squared their shoulders, grimly. ‘That damn liver-eater, that old Spear-Finger,' said Mr Branch, his voice tight with anger. ‘Yes, sir, I should say we shall go on.'
On they went indeed, moving in grim silence: Grim's silence, when all was said and done, with Mr Odom making one of the party. They were settled in, watchful and alert, when, as day broke over the eastern rim of the mountains that ringed the hollow, a squat woman, clad all in pink, emerged from the cabin, and tripped delicately down to Hogpen Branch in a parody of genteel manners.
‘Oh, God, Potter, I did not want the sight of that.'
Potter smirked. Clearly, if he must remember this, he was determined that Draco should be forced to have seen it also.
She had done off her clothes of English cut and was bathing in the stream, her mottled skin ghastly in the sun spilling down the morning slopes. Faintly, they could hear her singing, in a voice of tarnished silver, and casting with a short stub of wand. They could just make out what she chanted, although to Harry the words were strange: Ge'i, ge'i, hwï'lahï'; Ge'i, ge'i, hwï'lahï'. And as she cast and chanted, a seething, spawning, slimy mass of frogs and toads emerged from the waters, and began descending furiously downstream, loathsome in the light of dawn.
‘That's a Bear Song. “Downstream, downstream must you go”: she's poisoning the waters all ever-through the District, and her a white woman singing -- that -- t' boot.' Mr Hooper was deeply shocked, and as deeply outraged, every inch the king. ‘I seen enough. We're taking her in for a judgin'.'
As the woman emerged, dripping with malign satisfaction, and began to do on her clothes, Harry noticed that her garments seemed oddly rigid when she had donned them. Mr Odom noticed also, and nodded towards Mr Hooper. ‘She's charmed a stone dress.'
‘Right, then,' said Harry, and drew the Elder Wand.
Mr Sharpe-Quillet and Mr Tiernan-Ogg were quite pleased with themselves. The next morning would see several applications put forward by them on behalf of the accused: it had been a very clever and productive evening.
‘Poor old Malfoy,' said Mr Sharpe-Quillet, comfortably. ‘Not the worst pupil I ever had. And I think you were his pupil-master for -- what was it? I taught him everything he knows about crime.'
‘Oh, I took him on for his international law, in his third sixth, although after Caen and Paris and Brussels there was little enough bar the purely practical left to l'arn him.'
‘Yes, he's quite clever, really. Still, I don't know that we can't the two of us together get a win agin him.'
‘Really, Gerry? And you his pupil-master on the criminal side.'
‘My dear Geoffrey! I taught him everything he knows, not everything I know.'
They laughed, again comfortably.
The capture of Dolores Umbridge, Draco reflected the next morning, had been swift. Potter's memory had not dwelt on the incident, as Potter had clearly concluded that it was of no interest to the prosecution. He might well be right in that; but Draco was determined that he should review the entirety of the memories before the trial should begin. He refused to dwell upon the curious way in which he felt -- well, almost bereft -- that he was to be watching them the second time without Potter's presence beside him.
It was a new day. He had told Aster and Scorpius, in confidence, of his new task (and set such charms that even Scorpius in innocent prattling would keep the confidence: Draco still tended to think of Scorpius as being rising six, rather than rising eleven): they had been suitably impressed, and encouraging. Now he was newly arrived at the Ministry, where the Director of Public Denunciations had set aside rooms and a staff for him.
She was awaiting him in his new rooms, as it transpired.
Laura Madley had left school a Hufflepuff, meaning, to Draco, a person of no significance, another indistinguishable face and a nonentity (although, had he bothered to look her out, he should have found that she had acted quite creditably in the final defeat of Tom Riddle). She had returned to their world, and even Draco's rather aloof ken, after her training in law in both worlds, Muggle and magical, a rising star: at once formidably learned, and blossomed into a long-legged, innocently sexy English rose, fit to cause envy in Veela, and fatally capable of inspiring sheer amatory obsession in the unwary.
Hufflepuff loyalty being rather more than is commonly thought, and Hufflepuffs reserving that loyalty to causes and principles rather than to people, it oughtn't to have been a surprise that Madley, with more acuteness than a Ravenclaw, less carelessness than a Gryffindor, and less compunction than a Slytherin, had proceeded to use all her wiles, forensic and physical alike, to seduce juries, lure witnesses, and cause the crustiest of judges to swoon and dote. Wherefore she was DPD at an early age, to be sure.
Her greeting was always abrupt, and, as always, voiced so seductively that no one ever complained of the abruptness. ‘And did darling Harry satisfy you, then? Good. Be in Courtroom Ten in a quarter hour, there's an application filed on behalf of Madam Gruesome. Potter's task and mine are done: it's your pigeon, now, all of it, and I wish you joy of it.'
Many another man of law -- even another Queen's Serjeant (Magical) -- would have been daunted. Not Draco Malfoy: this was his chance to shine, and the spotlight was precisely where he believed it ought always to be as a matter of right: on him. As the DPD watched him from the corridor, striding self-assuredly and self-importantly towards the courtrooms, she smiled a smile at once rueful and savagely exultant. There were at bottom three classes of Wizards (and Witches, for that matter) in the Ministry, the Moot, and the Courts. The mass of them simply basked in her wiles, too busily basking to realise them to be wiles. The second lot -- Malfoy particularly -- prided themselves on being clever, and preened themselves on seeing through those wiles, and counted themselves her friends because, they thought, she had admitted them to the joke they saw her play on the more susceptible and less discerning. And then there were the very few -- Arthur, Kingsley, Harry, Hermione, and one or two others -- who realised, and in most instances deprecated, precisely what two techniques she was using on the other two classes. She had been disappointed when Kingsley and Hermione had expressed a disapproving, almost parental concern at the lengths she clearly felt she must go to, to reach her aims: demeaning lengths, unworthy of her, employing the tactics of a rent-girl rather than those of a Law Officer of the Crown, it was rather suggested. She had been impressed when Harry and Arthur had made clear that they understood fully her resort to such loathly expedients, much against her preference. ‘After all,' had said Arthur, ‘it's hardly a difference in degree, let alone in kind, to what those of us who stand for office do every day in a democracy' -- which had deflated that dishily photogenic politician Kingsley Shacklebolt, rather. And it had been Harry who'd noted, ‘I doubt Madley likes it -- do you, Laura. Well, I don't care for a number of things I must do, either. But what does one's dignity or attitude or comfort matter when HM Government is to be carried on, damn it all. Sort of thing's simply not on as a means to personal preferment and place and advancement, but for the sake of the law? You, Madley, would have made a damned fine Auror, and I'd have been proud to command you.' Harry had seen furthest: for Laura Madley, who had seen at first hand in her youth the consequences of lawlessness, regarded the law as an Unspeakable regarded intelligence work and as Harry regarded defending the realm, as something above all considerations of personal comfort and dignity. And like an Auror and an Unspeakable both at once, she would give battle and engage in any legitimate ruse de guerre in that service. She was an Old Hufflepuff: only principles could command her loyalty.
She was a kindly person at heart. She knew that Harry had made decisions, at the sharp end, that haunted his sleep, even as she had done. Being a kindly person, she hoped, without much confidence, that Malfoy would never face such a choice.
As they sauntered towards Courtroom Ten, Mr Tiernan-Ogg whispered to Mr Sharpe-Quillet, ‘A trifle stiff and sore this morning?' To which Mr Sharpe-Quillet replied, in an undertone, ‘One cannot fault the port, Geoffrey. The fact is, we are getting too old for quite that level of sexual athleticism': for Mr Sharpe-Quillet and Mr Tiernan-Ogg were not merely rivals, members of the same set of chambers, and old friends, but a settled couple of some four decades' standing.
As he strode briskly towards Courtroom Ten, Draco Malfoy recalled to himself another courtroom and another proceeding.
The Frankland's tiny and acidulated Circuit Judge, His Honour Mr Gibby Haye, who rather resembled a rustic and American Flitwick, might have been truly described by Mr Odom as a ‘solemn old owl of a damn Scotchman', but it was soon enough clear that he was also, as Draco readily recognised, as infernally facetious as any of HM judges.
The Frankland men, King Hooper, Mr Odom, and Potter -- and old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and All, it seemed -- had arrived at the closest thing the Frankland had to a capital, the twin towns, separated by the River Grinnel (or Grinnel River, in the Frankland speech), of Hart Hall and Lodge Town, in Finnsburgh District. The government building, which stood empty ninety-nine days in a hundred, was a vast, open, cruck-roofed wooden barn of a place, seven-sided in shape, half Heorot and half Cherokee council-house, and was used for everything from town meetings to elections to court proceedings.
‘Hell with the formalities,' said Judge Haye, ‘we're in session. Ma'am? You want t' state your name for the record?'
Dolores Umbridge -- and it was unquestionably she -- stood mute of malice.
‘Ma'am, you got to state your name.'
There was no response.
‘All right, we'll do it your way. Somebody fetch a gourd of truth-drench.' This was the local counterpart to Veritaserum, which included, in addition to the usual components, a dollop of white whisky from two jars, in one of which wild plums, in the other, ramps, had long marinated, infusing the liquor.
Umbridge had resisted, briefly, but it hadn't been the least bit of use.
‘Reckon that'll do her. All right, now. State your name.'
‘Dolores Umbridge … Grand Sorceress.'
Harry's snort had echoed through the hall.
‘I'm guessin',' said Judge Haye with wondrous dryness, ‘that ain't recognised by ary gov'ment. Are ye a Franklander?'
‘No.' Even under the influence of Frankland truth-drench, Umbridge was discernibly disdainful.
‘Citizen of the United States, then?'
‘Ary sort of American 'tall?'
‘I'd imagine as that sentiment's reciprocated. But, well, where in tarnation are y'from?'
‘I am the late Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic.'
‘Allrighty-then.' The judge nodded. ‘The People o' the Frankland versus Dolores Umbridge, a British subject, we'll put it down as. Now. King Hooper, I hear tell as it was in your District this-all happened. You're the sub-regulus, you get off to that side and choose your regulators. Preacher Rowe? Woman here ain't got no clan nor kin nor neighbours. Falls to you, as moderator of the free churches. Huddle up over there in that corner yonder and git your moderators together. Ye've got ten minutes.'
‘Judge, a minute here, if ye would.'
‘Court recognises Mr Odom.'
‘There's a gentlemen here from the British Ministry. Ye've established that-there woman's identity. Now, I hear tell they's been lookin' for her, so….'
‘Just a blame minute, now, Mr Odom. First we got to see if we got ary thing to hold her on. Then I'll take up any extry-dition.'
‘We're ready, Judge.' Mr Hooper was grave and resolute.
‘Moderators are ready, Y' Honour,' said Preacher Rowe, quite as gravely.
‘Well, then, let's git down to it. Miz Umb'idge, this here is a hearin' to see is there probable cause to hold ye for trial. The Regulator'll speak on up now: what's your reasons for the Frankland cause?'
‘-- had not at that time been relieved in post as Senior Undersecretary, even if it were maintained that she had not properly been appointed to the -- regrettable, to be sure -- Muggle-Born Registration Commission. Moreover -- I do not seek to conceal the unfortunate fact -- when she (I admit the fact) fled Ministry custody, she had been charged and was detained, and had she then been tried, she had been tried in this form. Accordingly, I put it to you, my Lords and Ladies Commissioners, she is entitled as of right to be tried now, as she should have been tried then, by the Moot sitting as a High Court of Judicature, both because that is the procedure that had been in place at the time of her initial detention and because, at that time, she possessed that right ex officio as Senior Undersecretary, still in post, to the Office of the Minister.'
The members of the Moot who were gathered in Courtroom Ten, having in commission the powers to determine the form of trial to be given the accused, shifted uneasily in their seats. Owen Cauldwell, who had lost the wager and been forced to preside, looked to Malfoy, who had been listening with an air of bored negligence to Old Sharpy.
‘Mr Malfoy, we realise the Crown has been served with this application only this morning. If you wish us to rise for an hour or two --'
‘Oh, no, Lord Commissioner. The Crown agrees the application.' Wayne Hopkins, another lord commissioner, made a strangled noise. Draco moved swiftly. ‘This is not a thing to be done in a corner, but in the full light of day. It is manifestly important, not only that justice be done, but that it be seen -- manifestly -- to have been done.'
‘A laudable sentiment, Mr Malfoy.' Kevin Whitby could be acerb when wanted, Old Hufflepuff though he was: Laura Madley had had no compunction in stacking the commission. ‘You seem remarkably confident, I must say, of being able to prevail under any book of rules.'
‘My Lord Commissioner, the previous system was unfortunately rather -- Continental. It will not have escaped the notice of the Commission, although it may have been forgotten by my former pupil-masters, that I happen to have studied in Paris and Caen as well as in both systems in the Three Kingdoms, and managed with some pains to snatch away a Double-Maîtrise. So….'
Mr Tiernan-Ogg, with a rueful smile, shook his head at his old pupil, with the admiration of one clever bugger for another who had managed a coup.
‘I think we shall rise to consider the matter,' said Cauldwell, swiftly. ‘Lest the application be now withdrawn, eh, Mr Sharpe-Quillet?'
Mr Sharpe-Quillet rose and bowed. ‘M'lud. I could not withdraw it if I wished, having taken instruction in writing from the lady whom I represent.'
‘Very foresighted of you,' said Whitby, as the Commissioners rose to file out.
The Commissioners were arguing over the application made, as was their duty. So, as word spread, were the rest of the Ministry, whether it were their duty or no.
Harry was in his offices, with his brother- and sister-in-law all but pacing his carpet in turns, privatim et seriatim, and a coolly detached Dean Thomas sprawled elegantly in a chair, watching with amusement.
‘Mate!' Age had not taught Ron patience; marriage and fatherhood had done. ‘You trust Malfoy, Kingsley trusts Malfoy -- yes, all right. I don't, actually, distrust him. But let me tell you, the Great British Wizarding Public still don't trust the Ferret, and I can tell you just what they'll say. That letting Malfoy prosecute Umbridge is the same as nobbling the case for the Crown. That letting Malfoy assent to every trick Sharpy and the Land of Youth try on is not only midsummer madness, it's a plain showing that he's still on her side -- remember the Inquisitorial Squad? Because every other bugger in magical Britain does, or will do. They'll say --'
Hermione had been interrupting Ron for quite two-thirds of her life, and saw no reason to leave off now. ‘Honestly, Harry, they'll say this ministry blundered so thoroughly that it can be explained only by corruption or incompetence, and that the other lot could have done no worse -- because I know and you know that if That Witch is tried before the Moot, there will be those, even now, who sympathise with her, or even perhaps believe on principle that following orders is a valid defence in law --'
‘Yes,' said Dean, quietly and with relish. ‘And they'll lose their seats to public outrage … as well as identify themselves for much more intensive investigation by my lot.'
Hermione stopped and stared. Few cared to be examined too closely by the Unspeakables.
‘There are factions in the Moot and in the Ministry, even now,' said Harry, crisply, ‘that, or who, supported the instructing of Malfoy for the Crown precisely in hopes that he would blunder -- or be nobbled, or show himself a secret ally to the old and evil courses. I know better, and I know he'll get his conviction, no matter how or where or when or under what law we try the mad cow. And Dean and I, and Kingsley, I may add, are rather looking forrard to what he puts up, quite without intending to, as a stalking-horse.'
Ron was quite white beneath his freckles. ‘If -- no: when -- when he finds out, he'll never forgive you.' Even Ron recognised that Malfoy had been used quite enough over the years, by every faction in the land.
Harry sighed, with a real and profound sadness. ‘Yes, I know. It's really very unfortunate. But it cannot be helped. My private duty yields to my public responsibility, which is the defence of the realm. No doubt this will put paid forever to any thaw between us; and I can but hope that it does not cause Al to lose his friendship with the Malfoy lad -- why you refused to send your sprogs to the same prepper I really cannot comprehend, if you truly no longer distrust Malfoy. Nevertheless, it is, Ron, as your Squib connexion once put it, when serving as the Muggle PM: “the King's government must be carried on”.'
To that, there was nothing to say in rejoinder. Laura Madley and Harry were remarkably alike, at the end of the day.
The Crown not having opposed the applications made on behalf of Dolores Umbridge, the Commissioners, rather against their better judgement, had had no grounds to deny them. The trial of Dolores Umbridge would take place before the Moot; under the rules and the law as these had existed at the time of her offences and the charge; and in a month's time. The Commissioners were minded to wash their hands of the matter as quickly as might be, feeling that it had been a poor day's work. Unlike Draco, they had not had the benefit of ‘Mr Odom's' advice: A wise man may grant the fool a fool's wishes; A foolish wish oft brings a greedy fool low.
Draco hoped only that this trial would be possessed of the same rough good sense displayed by the Franklanders.
‘A Good Deliverance': Part Two: The hangman's reel
Of Law there can be no less acknowledged than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world. All things in heaven and earth do her homage, -- the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power.
-- Revd Richard Hooker, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie
The Frankland character has from the beginning been the American character, titrated. The songs of their hills and the stories of their hearth-fires are songs and tales of doubt, of regret, and of the transitory nature of human life. When the Wildwood Flower woke from her dreaming, her idol was clay; Barbara Allen coldly revenged her sisterhood for such slights. For the Franklander as for the Viking of old in the Danelaw, life is but the brief interlude of the swallow flying through the high-raftered hall, warm and dry for a moment, flying out of storm and into storm and snow again: the Franklander is a poor, wayfaring stranger, and although enjoined to keep on the sunny side, even now possesses no assurance of felicity. The Scotch-Irish in minor, Myxolydian mode joined their mournful voice to the sad songs of the native Cherokee in the Frankland, and the chorus was swelled further by the sorrowful spiritual of the Negro [sic]: even their hopes of Heaven are plaintive and uncertain, seeking without hope to know will the circle be indeed unbroken.
Behrenfach finds in the American, Muggle frontier -- and peculiarly incarnate in the Texian of 1836 and the Texas Ranger after, that apotheotic avatar of the Muggle frontier -- the recognition that a wild country needs law and order, and that order must precede law. The Franklanders, fatalists to a man, worship fortune, wherefore the ‘luck' tales of that folk, and believe that obscure and occult laws govern all things, without order, in a realm of chaos and old night.
-- Ambrose DeNoto, ed., The Journals of the Keppel and Hart Expedition into the Frankland (Annotated): portions of DeNoto's infamous ‘Long Footnote' from the 1946 edition
It is of course peculiarly the British genius to affect a pragmatism that almost suffices to mask their overwhelming sentimentality -- and they make a great parade of it, uncaring of any charges of hypocrisy that ‘the lesser nations' may lay upon them. The donning of the armour of pragmatism over the soft underbelly of sentiment explains their character, their commercial instincts, their reverence for contract, and their common law: on this hangs all their law -- and their profits.
-- Margaret Wertmann, The Haunted Palace: a portrait of Wizardom before the wars
It had not, in the event, been until a fortnight before the trial was to commence that the final procedural decisions had been agreed: and this despite Malfoy's agreeing most of the requests and applications put forward on behalf of the accused. (In fact, ever since the first application had rebounded upon the prisoner's interests, her counsel had displayed a marked tendency to withdraw applications if the Crown appeared to be indulgently in accord with them: which was precisely what Malfoy had intended. Those cunning folk use any means to achieve their ends.)
Draco had slept well the night before. After all, only he and Potter were possessed of Potter's full memory of the events in the Frankland: the Fool in the deck, or, rather, up the sleeve of his robes.
‘Thank ye, Moderators.' Judge Haye had ritually shifted his ‘chew' and ceremoniously spat. ‘ Miz Umb'idge, this here Court finds that there's reasonable cause t' hold ye for trial, on charges of, firstly, malefic appropriation of the magical culture of a Recognised Tribe; secondly, of venefice; and thirdly, necromancy. On account of how these all be capital crimes and as you're a furriner, y'ain't going t' be bailed. Squire Counce Mon-roe and ever-who he picks'll prosecute for the People. I'm appointing ye the best counsel as I can: John Ross Campbell; Welcome Windham; Fairfax Rando'ph; Jackson Littlebear; and Judge Porter Fellowes, what sat here 'fore I was appointed. Now, I hear tell how the British Ministry wants ye, and I do find that pursuant to treaty they got them a right to ye. Colonel Potter?' Potter had not corrected the judge, although his Auror rank was that of Field-Auror Marshal. ‘Just ye make sairtain ye tell them folks back in England as we 'spect the same courtesy back, and when ye're done with her, we'll be a-waitin' with these-here capital charges, to put her on trial. And good luck t' ye, Miz Umb'idge, on account of how, looks to me as you're a-goin' t' need ever' drop of it.' He banged his gavel, which startled Harry, who was unfamiliar with the action. ‘We're adjourned.'
The trial of Dolores Umbridge was had at the Old Donjon, the Central Criminal Court, in Courtroom Number One. There was omen enough in that, in the courts built upon the ancient site of execution. The courtroom had been expanded to its fullest magical capacity; the public galleries, charmed so as to be able to hear and see with perfect clarity, and remain unseen and unheard by the Moot and those engaged in the trial. Levitated high above it all, in fullest state, sat Theo Nott, gowned and ermined and in the full-bottomed wig of the Lord Enchantellor sitting as Lord High Steward-Magical. Nott looked, Draco reflected, more than ever like a mournful crane that had got its head under some sacking.
For his own part, Draco reflected with some satisfaction, the gown and full-bottomed wig of a Serjeant, and a QS at that, looked well upon his own lean and elegant form. The Moot, as a body, judges of fact in their own right, a sort of super-jury, were by contrast a rather plebeian sight for all the richness of their plum-coloured robes and chains of office.
MLE officers, preceded by an Usher of the Wand and flanked on this occasion by Life Aurors in dress uniform, brought in the accused, who struggled as she was directed towards the chair in the dock where she was to sit. She did not look particularly dangerous: not like poor, mad Aunt Bella had, Draco mused. The sound of the chains and gyves as they shackled her magically to the chair was the same, however, and as ominous in the stillness.
The Lord Enchantellor's words were measured and solemn, awful in their gravity. ‘Members of the Wizengamot. You are charged here this day as a body -- excepting only the Lords Spiritual, who may not sit in a matter of blood -- to truly and justly try the issue between the Crown and the prisoner Dolores Jane Umbridge. Upon your magic, you shall truly and faithfully judge, and shall now so swear an Unbreakable Vow.' Although some half-dozen or so of the Moot appeared to be affronted -- or alarmed -- by this development, this was done.
Sir Theo turned next to the accused. ‘Prisoner in the dock. You stand charged that, in the Years of Our Lord 1995 through 1998, being the 44th and subsequent years of the reign of Her Majesty, Elizabeth the Second, of the United Kingdom Queen, you did, unlawfully, and feloniously, of malice aforethought, compass or imagine the death of our dread sovereign lord the Queen then reigning and of her eldest son and heir; that you did levy war against the Sovereign in her realm, or be adherent to her enemies in her realm, giving to them aid and comfort in the realm, or elsewhere; that you did with others act to slay judicial officers and ministers of the Crown being in their places, doing their offices; that you did in concert with others endeavour to deprive or hinder him who was next in succession to the crown from succeeding after the decease of Her Majesty to the imperial crown-magical of this realm and the dominions and territories thereunto belonging; that you did engage in activities directed towards the overthrowing or influencing, by force or violence, of Her Majesty's magical government in the United Kingdom; that you did engage in and commit and compass the use of violence for political ends, for the purpose of putting the subjects of the Crown or any section thereof in fear; that you did commit acts of genocide, incitement to murder, and incitement of hatred based upon blood and descent; that you did violate the laws of combat-magical; all from motives of hatred based upon blood and descent.
‘You stand further charged that on these dates, you accepted, whilst in the employment of the Ministry of Magic, a bribe and thing of value, being a golden locket, to influence you in the performance of your duties; that you obtained the said thing of value by fraud; that you displayed the said thing of value and asserted a right of ownership therein fraudulently; that you obtained and displayed a material magical object from the effects of a fallen Retired List Auror; and that you, upon being charged with these offences, did escape from Ministry custody.
‘You have entered to these charges of offence, a plea other than one of guilty.' In fact, Dolores Umbridge had pled privilege and justification: the Nurmengard Defence. ‘You have elected to put yourself upon your country, and so you shall be tried; and God send you a good deliverance.'
‘Mr Malfoy. The Crown case, if you please: proceed.'
Maths and artistic ability go oft together, runs the maxim, and so it seems to be. It was certainly true that Dean Thomas's ability to see and to recall and to limn a scene or a face even weeks after his observations, had helped make him a formidable Unspeakable (and Chief Unspeakable, nowadays), even as he went his daily round in the guise of a Senior Advisor to the Tally and Deputy Governor of Gringotts. More pertinently still, artists are granted freedoms that lesser mortals are never given, to wander and to watch. Dean was not of course in any sense an official artist recording the proceedings for posterity; but as he sat with his fellow Members of the Moot, no one thought twice about his quick portrait sketches: was he not, after all, in addition to his politico-financial eminence, the most fashionable Wizarding portrait-painter in the Three Kingdoms?
That he was recording the Members who seemed most inclined to support Dolores Umbridge and her views was not remarked.
‘M'lud; members hereditary and elected of the Moot. I have the responsibility and honour of putting to the case for the Crown. It is quite simple, and rather undramatic when baldly stated.' Draco was deliberate, and deliberately Knut-plain: he would leave the Sickle-coloured, not to say lurid, scenes to the defence. His voice was pitched conversationally, as who would not sway by passion, but would rather command assent by reason. ‘The Crown's case is that Dolores Umbridge was not herself, formally, a Death Eater, nor an open supporter of Tom Riddle before he took effective control of the Ministry. She had not, as we shall show you, I think, even the poor excuse of political obsession or of passion for a cause, even so foul a cause, as well I know it to have been. What Dolores Umbridge believed, and for all one can say yet believes, was that Wizards and Witches are a superior race of beings to Muggles, or indeed Squibs, and that Wizards and Witches of altogether magical descent are in turn different to and a superior race to those Wizards and Witches who are not, and particularly to those Wizards and Witches born to Muggle parents.
‘Very well. It is -- now -- a free country, as they say; or to put it in less modish terms, we are not concerned with what our fellow subjects may secretly think or feel. Actions, however, have consequences.
‘And, the Crown would submit, Dolores Umbridge acted upon her beliefs. As she was a civil servant in this Ministry and, as a collaborator of high rank, under Tom Riddle's usurping Ministry, her actions had grave consequences indeed.
‘Dolores Umbridge wished that Wizards and Witches govern Muggles and Squibs. No: more than that: that Wizards and Witches own them, as if they were cattle, dumb beasts of the field. She wished that what were then the last vestiges of an attenuated, lip-service loyalty to the Crown be cast away, precisely because the Sovereign was a Squib, of a Squib family; she had not even the romantic loyalty to be a Jacobite, wishing merely that Wizards and Witches cast off all those allegiances now so happily restored. She wished that Squibs and Muggles, including Her Majesty the Queen, HRH the Prince of Wales, and all the Royal Family, not only cease to govern themselves -- and in the case of the Sovereign and then the Heir Apparent, rule over us as well -- but be reduced to slavery and servitude.
‘And because Dolores Umbridge was a senior civil servant in the Ministry of Magic, consule Fudge, consule Scrimgeour, and in the quisling ministry that openly served Tom Riddle, she was able to conspire with others to make her, and their, wishes to have the force of law.
‘In so doing, the Crown will demonstrate, the prisoner intended the deposition, enslavement, and death of the Sovereign and the Heir Apparent; the prisoner adhered to the enemies of the Crown in this realm; the prisoner attacked, in concert with others and in the service of a usurper and insurgent, the ministers of the Crown; and the prisoner was instrumental in a campaign of political terror, oppression, genocide, mass murder, and incitement to these crimes.
‘You will also hear how the prisoner accepted a bribe whilst in de facto ministerial employment; and stole the personal effects, being a magical artefact, of the fallen Alastor Moody, and used the same for purposes of terror and oppression.
‘Not content with mere -- did I say, “mere”? It is grave enough in all conscience -- not content even with Muggle-baiting, then, the prisoner, the Crown would show, was instrumental in attempts to enslave and to slay Muggles simply for being Muggles, from Her Majesty to the village postmistress. She committed, in short, treason and sought to compass genocide. To these charges, the Crown shall call ample witness: Percival Weasley; Arthur Weasley; Pius Thicknesse; Hermione Granger, Mrs Ron Weasley; Mary Cattermole; Andromeda Tonks; Horace Slughorn; and Harry Potter.' Draco paused artfully on that name of power, and went on. ‘Taxed with these crimes upon the defeat of Tom Riddle, she fled from justice. She must now face the justice she has long evaded. This is the case for the Crown.'
It was common remark of Mr Tiernan-Ogg's that a life in the law would be an enjoyable and diverting one were it not for the sods one was forced to represent. His point would be proven amply over the three excruciating days of the trial.
There are few British precedents, Muggle or magical, for such a trial as that that Dolores Umbridge had been allowed. Only she of all those gathered there could have -- and did -- complain that she was granted too little latitude. Perhaps only the impeachment of Warren Hastings and the trial, although not strictly such, of Queen Caroline could furnish examples to rank with the case of R v. Umbridge.
As judges of the facts in their own right, the Members of the Wizengamot were allowed to frustrate all hopes of an orderly procedure with questions and footling objections -- the sources and tenor of which were duly noted and docketed by Dean, by Ron, and by Unspeakables, Aurors, and the MLE, discreetly sown broadcast throughout the Donjon, from the Moot benches to the public galleries. It was in response to a question put immediately after Draco's opening speech for the Crown, that Mr Tiernan-Ogg was privileged in effect to open his own batting with an answering speech, ostensibly to the point raised regarding the plea made by the prisoner.
‘M'lud, members of the Moot, I shall speak to that, if I may. His lordship has alluded, with delicacy and impartiality, to the plea entered by the Witch whom I, with m' learned friend, Mr Sharpe-Quillet, represent. M' learned friend Mr Malfoy, for the Crown, has quite justly and properly passed over the matter. In fact, it is the contention of the accused that she acted at all times in obedience to lawful, or apparently lawful, authority -- for who amongst us, who amongst all of us not justly now in Azkaban Gaol, truly realised that the then minister, Mr Thicknesse, through no fault of his own, was the Imperius-ed puppet of a dark lord? I see that m' learned friend, Mr Malfoy, is preparing a languid and elegant retort, that what is called the “Nurmengard Defence” is no defence in law. His lordship will, of course, at the proper time, instruct us in the law; yet I do not consider that I trespass upon his lordship's province in adverting this Moot to a principle hallowed by history. When the sad result of Bosworth Field was made known to the English people and to British Wizardom, this moot, followed some years after by its Muggle counterpart, was swift to lay down the principle that no subject should be attainted of treason for serving the then-recognised government of the realm. Were the rule that the Crown now proposes to be made of universal application, I submit, the distinguished witnesses whom m' learned friend Mr Malfoy intends to call would themselves be subject to it, from the Lord Privy Spell to the gallant Auror to whom we owe our freedoms but who was, at the time, designated “Undesirable Number One” --'
‘Mr Tiernan-Ogg.' Theo was dry at his best; as the Lord Enchantellor sitting as Lord High Steward-Magical, he was positively arid.
‘We really cannot have this, you know.'
‘As your lordship pleases.'
Aridity seemed at first to be the order of the day. Percy Weasley was a very dry witness, but one whose testimony was important to the careful delineation of the daily workings of the Ministry, under Fudge, under Scrimgeour, and under, ostensibly, Thicknesse -- in fact, under Voldemort. Mr Sharpe-Quillet was quite tart with him, in calculated fashion that stopped just short of engendering any sympathy for the witness: he had taken up the very broad hint given by Mr Tiernan-Ogg, that if service in the ministries of those days was discreditable in the prisoner, it was discreditable in the witnesses for the prosecution as well. However, Percy's penitence -- and penance, consisting of his gallantry at the Battle of Hogwarts -- was too well known for this to cause much damage.
Arthur Weasley, of course, wanted very different and very deferential handling. He was by now perhaps the best-loved, as he was one of the most respected, figures in British Wizardom; and the defence left him strictly alone.
By the end of the first day, the Crown had established only the basic facts that everyone well knew to begin with: that Dolores Umbridge held extreme views; that she had been a senior civil servant; that she had used her position to give effect to her prejudices; and that she had done so under Fudge, under Scrimgeour, and as a quite happy collaborator under Voldemort's usurpation. Mr Sharpe-Quillet and Mr Tiernan-Ogg had not hit any of Draco's bowling, but neither had Draco taken a single wicket by the time stumps were pulled.
Mr Sharpe-Quillet and Mr Tiernan-Ogg were entitled to be quite satisfied by the first day's events. The prisoner had a different view. She had stewed, she had been forcibly restrained by her barristers from audibly protesting (their charms had been discreet, but had not gone wholly unnoticed by the sharper eyes in the courtroom -- Draco's well to the fore), and she had burned with self-righteous indignation that these scum, fools, blood-traitors, filthy half- and Mudbloods, had dared question her actions.
She was on the verge of eruption.
The second day was a masterpiece of indirection.
‘Call Mundungus Fletcher!' The courtroom was seized with curiosity and confusion: a confusion that only increased when the small, neat, greying, well-dressed and very well-scrubbed figure stood in the witness box and took the oath with perfect composure and in educated accents. The very transcript as reported afterwards yet reverberates with the shock.
MUNDUNGUS FLETCHER: In 1997 -- I am now authorised to state -- I was, and had for some years been, the Chief Unspeakable. [Sensation in Court.] I was under deep cover as a petty thief and Knockturn old lag. I had removed, in that character and as a precaution against an inheritance claim by his family members, certain objects from Sirius Black's residence at Grimmauld Place. These I had secreted in the crypt of St Grimwald's church nearby. It had been my intention to have these examined in my Department, which intention was frustrated by events. Had I done so, I should not of course have used them to buy my freedom of movement when taken before the prisoner, who was then acting as Senior Undersecretary and Head of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission. The charge against me was possession of valuable magical objects with intent to -- yes, in a word, pilfering and fencing: several words, actually. At the time, being ignorant of their nature, I considered these objects as being of less value than my freedom of movement and ability to carry out my duties and the functions of my Department.
Yes, I can identify that exhibit. [The exhibit was put in.] It is an accurate depiction of a locket of some antiquity, with upon its cover a serpent in the shape of an “S”; it was amongst the Grimmauld Place trinkets with which I bribed the prisoner to release me.
Cross-examined. No, of my own knowledge I do not know the precise characteristics and properties of the locket. It has since been destroyed. Naturally, I cannot speak to that: the identity or identities of my successor or successors, as of anything having to do with my Department, are not --.
THE LORD ENCHANTELLOR: Mr Sharpe-Quillet, we really cannot have this.
MR SHARPE-QUILLET: I withdraw the question, m'lud.
MUNDUNGUS FLETCHER: At that time, yes, I was engaged in operations against the rebellion. You are aware that my Department is chartered so as to have a great deal of operational independence, against precisely such eventualities. As Chief Unspeakable, I enjoyed a right of direct access to the Muggle Prime Minister; to members of both Privy Councils, of whom I made one by right of my office; and to the Sovereign. No, I am not prepared to state whether and when I exercised that right.
THE LORD ENCHANTELLOR: Mr Sharpe-Quillet --.
MUNDUNGUS FLETCHER: As a Magical Privy Counsellor I had an independent right and indeed duty to act against even the Ministry when it fell into evil courses. If further authority were wanted, I should note that I worked in conjunction with Albus Dumbledore until his death, during which period he had been reinstated to and until his death held the office of Chief Warlock. Yes, if you wish to know: I am in fact what was called a half-blood: most Chief Unspeakables have been, as the ability to move between both communities is a considerable asset in the job.
‘Call Mary Cattermole': a sympathetic but not very concise witness, whose testimony with reference to the Muggle-Born Registration Commission was certainly horrifying, but marred, as it seemed, by Mr Malfoy's curious concentration upon the minor incident of the prisoner's having worn and displayed, and boasted of the Selwyn connexions purportedly evidenced by, the locket to which Mundungus Fletcher had testified.
‘Call Horace Slughorn!' There was an audible groan from several members who had little tolerance for the prosy sycophancy of the cultivated old parasite.
HORACE SLUGHORN: I am now Albion Principal King of Arms, the chief Wizarding herald of the Three Kingdoms. I have upon request researched the genealogy of the prisoner, which pedigree I have brought. [The exhibit was put in.] The prisoner is not related in any way to the Selwyn family -- save of course in the sense that we are all of us related in a very large way, yes. No, she is not related in any meaningful sense to the Peverell family, or the Gaunts. [Bored confusion in Court.] Insofar as it means anything, there are lacunæ in the family's recorded history that might mean anything; I don't know that those who care about such things should necessarily consider her a pureblood, no.
The defence let this pass without much examination.
‘Call Ron Weasley!' Now the courtroom became attentive once more.
RON WEASLEY: In addition to my involvement with the development of devices for commercial sale, I serve as Q to the Royal Corps of Aurors; it is a brigadier-legate appointment, equivalent to the Muggle brigadier, air commodore, or commodore RN. Yes, in July and August of 1997, I witnessed, first, the death in combat, on 27 July, against the insurgents, of Alastor Moody, and, after, on 5 August, I subsequently determined, in the Ministry building, that his artificial eye was in the possession of the prisoner. She was using it to monitor any activities inimical to the aims of Tom Riddle and the ministry of the day, and to terrorise staff and members of the magical public, yes. Yes, I observed the propaganda being promulgated at the prisoner's direction.
Cross-examined: Of my own knowledge? I do not know how Mad-Eye's -- I'm sorry, Alastor Moody's -- effects came into the prisoner's possession. I don't know of my own knowledge what assertions the prisoner made with reference to the locket. No: I never heard the prisoner explicitly declare an allegiance to Tom Riddle. No, I never heard the prisoner explicitly express desire, intention, or plan to depose the Sovereign or to assassinate any member of the Royal Family.
Re-examined: Yes: it was the prisoner's purpose and express intention firstly to imprison or kill all non-pureblood Witches and Wizards, and then to start in on the Muggle population, enslaving or executing them. Yes, that necessarily included the Royal Family and the Muggle government.
Cross-examined: To my knowledge, the prisoner did not use an explicit form of words indicating a specific intention to deprive HM of the crown or to compass the death of the Sovereign or the Heir Apparent.
‘Call Dr Hermione Granger, Mrs Ron Weasley!': a very damaging witness. The eagerness of all in the courtroom increased yet further.
HERMIONE GRANGER (WEASLEY): On 5 August 1997, I accompanied my now-husband and Harry Potter into the Ministry, disguised. It was at that time under the effective control of Tom Riddle, yes. I encountered there Mrs Cattermole, who was being brought before the Muggle-Born Registration Commission, over which the prisoner was then presiding. The prisoner was on that day in close association with known Death Eaters whose affiliation was known to the whole of British Wizardom. She was in very close association with Yaxley, for one. Disguised as Mafalda Hopkirk, I attended the prisoner as she presided over a hearing -- if one can call it that -- of the Commission. She maintained that all non-pureblood Witches and Wizards had somehow ‘stolen' their magic from purebloods. No, I don't know that she believed that rubbish, I rather suspect she cannot have done, as I am reasonably certain that her own blood status, as if it mattered, was not all that she wished it to be thought. I make that conclusion from a pertinent fact, yes. In fact, at the said hearings, she boasted of her connexions and blood status, maintaining that it was what was called ‘pure', and bolstered that claim by displaying the locket a representation of which has been put in evidence, which she had taken from Mundungus Fletcher as a bribe, as I now know and had learnt shortly before -- on the first or second of that month. On 5 August, the prisoner openly boasted of the locket and asserted that it had come to her through Selwyn family connexions.
Yes, I am aware of the prior history and ownership of the locket. It was never a Selwyn possession at all. It had descended to the Gaunt family, through the Peverells, from Salazar Slytherin, whose it was. It had been sold by Merope Gaunt to Caractacus Burke, from whom Hephzibah Smith thereafter purchased it. It was stolen from her, along with a cup belonging to Helga Hufflepuff, by Tom Riddle, who then murdered Madam Smith. From a hiding place in which it had been secreted by Tom Riddle, Regulus Black retrieved it in order that Riddle could not access its powers; it was left by him at 12 Grimmauld Place, whence Mr Fletcher abstracted it.
Cross-examined: The prisoner did not express in my hearing a specific intention to do harm to the Sovereign or her right. To the other point, my qualifications to pronounce upon the history of the Slytherin locket derive from my academic researches -- if you should want a list of my publications, I have a scroll with me --
[Interruption from a Member: ‘At all times, no doubt'; the Lord Enchantellor silenced the unruly member.]
HERMIONE GRANGER (WEASLEY): -- and from the period of my secondment, when at the DMLE, to the Department of Mysteries.
MR SHARPE-QUILLET: M'lud, I should like to know, if I may, if the Crown does or does not intend to call two witnesses, at any point, who can testify to any treasonable utterance by my client.
THE LORD ENCHANTELLOR: You must wait and see, Mr Sharpe-Quillet. It is to you to make such observations upon the Crown case as you see proper when that case is concluded, and not beforehand.
HERMIONE GRANGER (WEASLEY) (re-examined): Whilst I was attending upon the prisoner at the Commission proceedings, Harry Potter was elsewhere in the Ministry, as was Ron Weasley. You must ask Harry what he saw. Yes, the Yaxley to whom I referred was the known and open Death Eater Loxias Yaxley; it is impossible that the prisoner should not have known with whom she was consorting.
The seemingly pedestrian fashion -- with its inexplicable concentration upon the less perilous charges relating to the locket and the bribe -- in which it appeared that Draco Malfoy was putting the case for the Crown, had lulled even such wary old hands as Mr Sharpe-Quillet and Mr Tiernan-Ogg into expecting that the next witness would be the former minister, Pius Thicknesse, doubtless to once more emphasise that the accused was in Yaxley's good graces.
Instead, a thrill ran through them all. ‘Call Harry Potter!'
When Harry Potter, a new Ancient of Aurors then, had testified at the hearings to determine should the Malfoys be prosecuted, his appearance had been brilliantly managed. He had attended upon the Moot in No. 1 dress uniform, his breast blazing with riband and cross.
Today, Harry Potter, his yet-unruly hair lightly touched at the temples with the faintest pencilling of silver, Field-Auror Marshal and hereditary member of the Moot, no longer the young subaltern fresh from victory against all odds, strode in lithely. As he entered, he casually stripped off his robes as a Member of the Wizengamot, whose peers now sat in judgement of the accused; they made a heavy clink as an usher took them, for upon them were his medals in miniature. Another usher handed him an over-robe, bespoke, from Boyle Row's finest tailors, which he donned over his bespoke Savile Row suiting: the perfect living symbol of the Restoration settlement, a power in both worlds. As he strode purposefully into the witness box, gave his oath, and with military precision kissed the Book, no one in the Old Donjon could fail to see upon his unadorned robe the ghosts of his unworn decorations: the OM, the BC with Bar -- the only Bar ever awarded to a BC in Wizarding history -- and all the rest, with decades of newer awards and campaigns swelling the tally.
Mr Tiernan-Ogg and Mr Sharpe-Quillet, recognising a masterstroke and not realising that Harry had in this overruled Draco's initial insistence that he appear in full and overawing uniform, looked towards Malfoy with the respect of two great artists for a third, and girded their loins for battle. In the profound silence, the prisoner made one horrible, feral noise, and subsided.
FIELD-AUROR MARSHAL HARRY POTTER: I am Harry Potter. I am Field-Auror Marshal in command of Home Forces, the Royal Corps of Aurors, and am gazetted to take up appointment as Chief of the Magical General Staff effective Monday fortnight. I am familiar with the identity of, and recognise here today, the prisoner at the bar, as Dolores Jane Umbridge.
I first encountered the prisoner when she was serving as Senior Undersecretary to the Fudge ministry. I was charged with violation of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery -- this was in 1995 -- in that I had summoned my Patronus to drive off Dementors then engaged in attacking me and my Muggle first cousin. The prisoner later admitted, during her time at Hogwarts, in June 1996, that she had been personally responsible for ordering that attack upon me and my cousin. [Sensation in Court.] The admission was public, and there are numerous witnesses who may testify to it. I thereafter came into conflict with her during her period on staff at Hogwarts. My refusal to accede to her insistence that Tom Riddle was dead caused her to impose upon me the writing of lines -- with a blood quill. [Unparalleled sensation.]
On 5 August 1997 --
MR TIERNAN-OGG: M'lud! I really must protest the introduction of these matters not relevant to the charges --
MR DRACO MALFOY (for the Crown): M'lud, the Crown is concerned to establish that the witness cannot have been mistaken as to the identity --
THE LORD ENCHANTELLOR: I believe that to be established, Mr Malfoy. Let us henceforward confine ourselves to the charges as such. Field-Auror Marshal Potter?
FIELD-AUROR MARSHAL HARRY POTTER: As your lordship wishes, of course. On 5 August 1997, I effected, with Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, entry into the Ministry building, in disguise. Whilst the prisoner was absent, conducting Commission hearings in conjunction with Loxias Yaxley, whose identity she clearly knew, I conducted a search of her effects and offices. I then and there recognised the magical artificial eye of Alastor Moody, recalled by the Chief Warlock from the Retired List and in active service against the insurgents until killed in action by Death Eaters under the personal command of Tom Riddle on 27 July 1997. This object was affixed to the door of the prisoner's private office and was openly displayed so as to terrorise others.
The prisoner was at that time engaged in managing the propaganda efforts of the occupied ministry directed by Tom Riddle, calling himself Lord Voldemort. [Unease in Court.] She was further presiding over the Commission to which previous testimony has referred. Her tasks and duties had as their sole discernible object -- very well. I may say without speculation that, in my subsequent presence during the latter part of the Commission proceedings of that day, the prisoner openly displayed the Slytherin locket and asserted that it was a Selwyn family possession that had passed to her. I recognise the locket, having been present when Ron Weasley destroyed it. I am further familiar with it as having been a possession of my distant connexions -- yes, through the Peverells.
A MEMBER: What a-Merlin was so important about Slytherin's old tat?
THE LORD ENCHANTELLOR: That is an improper question, and dangerous: you must not ask that.
FIELD-AUROR MARSHAL HARRY POTTER: Its importance was that its destruction was instrumental in the defeat of Tom Riddle. More than that I cannot and must not say.
I am further familiar with the escape of the prisoner from Ministry custody shortly after the Restoration, and was present in North America when she was recaptured by the local equivalent to the MLE. Having satisfied myself as to her identity, I supervised her extradition to this country, upon the agreement of the overseas authorities that they would defer their own prosecution of her on capital charges until after this trial should have been had. [Further sensation.]
MR TIERNAN-OGG: Really, m'lud! I must protest --
THE LORD ENCHANTELLOR: As Mr Malfoy is rising to point out, it is relevant to the charge of escape. I shall allow the answer to stand.
FIELD-AUROR MARSHAL HARRY POTTER: Yes, I'm sorry, I thought I had stated the fact: the magical eye of Alastor Moody had been removed from his corpse and was in the possession of the prisoner. It yet functioned as it had done when it was a prosthetic for Auror-Commander Moody while he yet lived.
It was upon that note that the Lord Enchantellor had risen to end the day's sitting. It had been a difficult day for Mr Sharpe-Quillet and Mr Tiernan-Ogg, but by no means irretrievable. The question of identity, raised anew and sharpened by the entry of Harry, Ron, and Hermione to the Voldemort-controlled ministry so many years ago, offered some scope: if, hubristically, Voldemort had not thought to protect the place from the entry of Polyjuiced schoolchildren, it could as well be insinuated that the person who had made those damaging admissions was not proven to be the accused. And Mr Tiernan-Ogg had prepared any number of stiff questions for the Hero of the Age, as was his duty, relished or no.
Unfortunately, their client, maddened by the presence in the witness box against her of her greatest enemy, had given them written instructions which they were in duty bound to follow; and if she persisted in demanding to testify, it behoved them to walk very warily indeed in the cross-examination of the witnesses for the Crown.
Worse, however, was in preparation for them: a trap, well-meant by those still secretly in sympathy with Dolores Umbridge and all that she represented, that they could not evade.
The third and, as it transpired, final day of the trial of Dolores Umbridge began with a further Sensation in Court and ended in spectacle. Before the echoes of the usher's ‘Be upstanding!' had died away, an Opposition backbencher rose, and moved a fatal motion: that the case be stopped as to all charges save those relating to Mad-Eye's magical eye and the Slytherin locket.
THE LORD ENCHANTELLOR: Mr Malfoy? Mr Tiernan-Ogg, Mr Sharpe-Quillet?
MR TIERNAN-OGG: We shall want to take instruction, m'lud.
Harry Potter, the witness in the box once more, preserved a look of sublime indifference; yet something passed between him and Malfoy.
MR DRACO MALFOY (for the Crown): Today being Wednesday, m'lud…. [Confusion in Court.] If the Moot wish to decide those charges now, the Crown will not oppose the application; however, I cannot of course withdraw or cease to put the case as to the charges of treason and the rest.
There was a lengthy silence.
THE LORD ENCHANTELLOR: Mr Tiernan-Ogg?
MR TIERNAN-OGG: M'lud, if the other charges were to be withdrawn, we should disserve the interest of the accused to persist in defending the lesser charges preferred against her.
The silence resumed. At last, the Lord Enchantellor pronounced.
THE LORD ENCHANTELLOR: As this proceeding is of an unusual nature, I must take counsel of the Moot. Are the Moot prepared to return a verdict -- please do not indicate what verdict that might be -- on the charges relating to the locket, the manner in which it was acquired and displayed, and to the effects of Auror-Comander Moody, the manner in which acquired and how displayed?
A MAJORITY OF THE MOOT: Aye.
THE LORD ENCHANTELLOR: I am constrained to hold as follows. I shall take under consideration, avizandum, the question of whether to stop the proceedings on the remaining charges; it is however clearly the sense of the Moot that the charges relative to the locket and the Moody artefact should now be resolved. Do hon. Members wish to confer? No. Very well.
Within five minutes, from Abbot to Zeller, the Moot had voted and returned its verdict, the allies of Dolores Umbridge voting to acquit or to convict, indifferently, in the expectation that the remaining charges could then be stopped; the Government benches voting to convict, yet dreading that the case would then be stopped as to the serious charges against the accused.
THE LORD ENCHANTELLOR: Very well. Prisoner at the Bar, you have placed yourself upon your country and as to these charges have been found guilty. With this verdict I concur upon the evidence taken. Mr Malfoy, what punishment does the Crown seek in these matters?
MR DRACO MALFOY (for the Crown): M'lud. The prisoner has chosen to be tried under the laws subsisting at the time of her offences, for which she has now been convicted. The evidence is clear that the magical eye formerly belonging to Alastor Moody, displayed in her possession, continued to function, had been taken from his dead body, and had been used by him as a prosthetic, incorporated within the fabric of his body in life. The evidence is also clear that the Slytherin locket was obtained by the prisoner as a bribe, from a non-pureblood, whilst the prisoner was tasked under the then-subsisting law with eradicating non-purebloods; and that she claimed, using it as a proof, to be descended of a pureblood family to which she was not in fact connected.
[Utter silence in Court.]
MR DRACO MALFOY (for the Crown): M'lud, I would advert your lordship to the penalties involved. The prisoner stands convicted under the law, unchanged for centuries and yet upon the statute-scrolls during the period of the Riddle usurpation, of necromancy as to the prosthetic of the deceased Auror-Commander Moody: a capital crime not susceptible of extenuation, mitigation, or conviction upon an alternate offence. [Sensation in Court.] And under the laws in effect at the time of the offence, under which the prisoner has insisted upon being tried, she stands convicted of making a false claim to blood status, for which the penalty was then likewise death. The Crown therefore proposes the only possible sentence. [Unprecedented sensation in Court, the prisoner having to be forcibly restrained.]
Mr Tiernan-Ogg and Mr Sharpe-Quillet looked at their former pupil with the hatred that is the final reward of victory (Draco observed later that it was the first time either of them had looked at him quite so hungrily without its being sexually speculative in nature).
THE LORD ENCHANTELLOR (donning a black cap): I am constrained to find that Mr Malfoy has put the matter correctly in law, and there is nothing that can in fact be said as to why sentence should not be passed as described; I must therefore dispense with the customary formality of asking the prisoner if there is any reason why I should not proceed at once to pronounce sentence. Dolores Jane Umbridge, prisoner at the Bar, you have been found guilty of two capital offences. I am seized moreover of the directives of the government of the Frankland, against whom you have also offended and from whose laws you were extradited. I have no more to say, but the next thing I have to do, is to give the sentence, the judgement, which truly I do with as unwilling a heart as you do receive it. You, prisoner at the bar, know and hear: the judgement of the Court is this, and the Court doth award in accordance with the older form of law under which you have chosen to be tried, that you be led back to the place from whence you came, and from thence, on Monday next, to be drawn upon a hurdle to a place of execution, and there you shall be hanged by the neck, and being alive shall be cut down, and given over to the Centaurs whom you have long since offended to be slain by arrows; your body thereafter to be delivered to the Frankland and its people and government, to be disposed of at their pleasure; and may the Lord God Almighty, of his infinite goodness, have mercy on your soul.
Draco did not make it to the robing room -- and what promised to be a difficult exchange of the customary courtesies with his learned friends and late opponents -- before he was mobbed by Ron and Hermione, an amused, if slightly anxious, Potter a few steps behind him. He basked in Potter's quiet congratulations on a truly Slytherin and cunning victory; but his pleasure was to be brief. It was somehow apt that it was Weasley's first attempt at complimenting his old enemy that shattered and spoilt the victory, and turned all to ash.
‘Brilliant! Dead brilliant, Malfoy! When Harry and the Big Beasts insisted on briefing you, I wondered a bit, but that was a blinder you played there!'
‘Thank you, Weasley --'
‘Absolutely perfect! Flushed the sympathisers and silenced --'
‘RON!' Hermione was too late.
Draco had gone very pale. ‘And here I had thought that, perhaps, at last, I had been allowed something on my merit -- no, thank you, I quite understand the politics of it. So terribly glad to have been able to be an adequate pawn, Potter. Now, if I may, I really must be going.'
Harry was never one to shirk the moral responsibility of command. ‘Malfoy --'
‘You had what you wanted of me, Potter. Don't be greedy. And -- Potter? Sod off, you contemptible, soul-destroying, self-righteous shit.'
The Ministry's hand was heavy upon the seditious and the blood-purists in the succeeding months. It was not as heavy as Draco's heart: least of all upon that long-dreaded day, a day made the bitterer by the necessity of feigning an excitement and joy to match his son's own, when Scorpius was to board the Hogwarts Express for the first time.
Through the steam -- he would not admit to any fatherly tears -- Draco caught a glimpse of Potter and his vixen wife and their spawn. He forced himself to nod, with all the coldness and distaste at a Malfoy's command.
Harry saw the nod, the coldness, and the disdain, where he had until late hoped to see a thaw for their sons' sakes. A regrettable state of affairs: yet the realm had been defended, as it was his plain duty to do; and if the price of peace and the bringing of Dolores Umbridge to judgement was the final loss of any hopes of effecting conciliation with Malfoy, it was a small enough price to pay, however dear. The Express began to move. It picked up speed, and was gone, carrying towards the unimaginable future a new generation that should know peace and security.
All, it seemed, was well.