Politics! Heir Compulsions! Oh My!
Chapter 14 - Light in the Shadow of the Wulf
Albus Dumbledore was feeling his age today. The past day had not gone very well at all. Harry Potter was becoming increasingly estranged and he feared what the young wizard would learn from his relatives. The rift in their relationship had now reached canyon proportions. Immediately after the will reading and dealing with a group of irate goblins, he had to portkey to Geneva to meet with a small group of wizards and witches that had supported him against Grindlewald and at least passively against Voldemort the first time. The meeting was heated and several whose support he was certain of remained noncommittal. The results were not encouraging. He cursed the fact that he was so preoccupied trying to keep the government from falling apart to devote time to keeping Harry from slipping further and further away.
To make matters worse, he was informed that Voldemort had chosen last night to raze Azkaban. Searching his mind, he recalled Severus was in the room when he announced that he would not be in the country during either the last Order meeting. It seemed terribly convenient. He had just sent Poppy to tend to young Nymphadora and received the disturbing news that both Kingsley and Alastor had fallen. They were proud, noble men and their deaths were a stinging blow to those that remained. The only bright side was learning that Sturgis was free and safe.
"Albus, what do you intend to do about Mr. Potter?"
"I am at a loss, Minerva. He chafes under any restrictions. Legally, he is an adult now. Poppy informed me that he and William were injured last night while fighting vampires and Dementors. His injuries were minor. William's were a bit more severe. Poppy tried checking with some of her friends at the hospital, but they were too busy at the time. Mr. Fletcher fell to a Dementor's kiss."
"Should I approach him? It will be another week before we can open Hogwarts early and move everyone out of Headquarters."
"Yes. Perhaps that would be best. You need to distance yourself from me in your conversations with him. I did mention to him that I would ask you to assist him in becoming an animagus. If you feel it to be your advantage, you might wish to say that you recommended it previously, but was denied. I suspect he may not wish to leave his house and come here. We will have to fight that battle when it comes."
"Why would I distance myself from you, Albus?"
"He will treat anyone and anything connected with me with suspicion for the foreseeable future. You were not at the will reading. Our discussion ended just short of a duel. His anger bled over onto Ms. Granger and Ms. Weasley. He colors them with the same brush he currently paints me with. He also seems to have become rather attached to Susan Bones, since he rescued her from Tom. What is your opinion of her?"
"Quite frankly, I don't have one. She has been an above average student. She shows flashes of promise, but otherwise she has not made an impression on me. Her marks are good."
"Harry is now aware of his End-of-Line clauses. From speaking with Peter Abbott, Susan also has a marriage clause in effect. We should observe what effect Susan has on Harry. At least some good can come of his emancipation. The additional votes coupled with Narcissa's divorce temporarily nullifying the Malfoy vote may allow us to break the stalemate and appoint an interim Minister for the rest of Cornelius's term."
"I take it that Harry is no longer interested in the youngest Weasley? I had thought the life debt would increase the attraction."
"Yes, but apparently Ms. Bones has also become indebted to Harry as well. He has a knack for acquiring life debts. It would be tempting to separate them, but she is also an adult now. I have no leverage to apply. Offering him the Prefect position would mean taking it from Mr. Weasley. He will expect me to rescind his ban on quidditch. You could appoint him captain, but that may be a slight against Ms. Bell. Peter mentioned that his daughter Hannah may hold some sway over Susan. Perhaps there is an avenue to explore there, but I doubt it. For now I think it best for you to approach him."
The two continued to sip their morning tea in silence. Each pondered how far the relationship between the Headmaster and Harry Potter has deteriorated. The transfiguration professor figured it had been inevitable from the years of neglect Harry had suffered followed by the difficulties of the last year. Delores Umbridge had made it her personal mission to replace Severus as the teacher Harry Potter was most likely to physically attack. Minerva jokingly told her superior that last fact.
"I am becoming more and more concerned about Severus' behavior. He participated in the attack on Amelia. When I questioned him about it, he simply stated that Tom was running low on capable fighters and ordered him. When coupled with the fact that Azkaban was attacked when I was out of the country, it calls his actions further in to question. Very few people knew that I was to be gone last night. I have asked Charles Vector to consider taking over as head of Slytherin house. What are your thoughts?"
"Charles would do a fine job. He is a consummate professional. I notice you have been sending him out to meet Muggleborn parents. Won't Severus be suspicious?" She asked intrigued that Dumbledore's faith in Severus Snape was failing.
"He will be suspicious, but I believe I can allay his fears. Between his responsibilities in the classroom, the Order and of course whatever Tom may have him doing, he is a very busy individual. I can offer to relieve him of added responsibilities of being Head of House."
"But won't we lose our ability to keep tabs on the students in that house?"
"Between Charles, the paintings, and the house elves, it should more than compensate for that. I have been reviewing Severus' reports on his charges. Taken individually, they appear fine. I have taken the liberty of reviewing the entire last two years as a body of work this morning and have come to the realization that he is not really telling us anything we could not already surmise. In fact he concentrates on some students and ignores others. There are several instances where he fixates on Millicent Bulstrode as a potential recruit who may already be marked. She suffered a sprained shoulder during the unfortunate events in Madame Umbridge's office at the end of last year. Poppy examined her and found no evidence of the Dark Mark. She informed me upon my return and I interviewed Ms. Bulstrode. She intends to become a healer. I asked if she would like to experience an in-depth magical core analysis used by healers for advanced diagnostics. She readily agreed. The results finally came back last week and Poppy reported that the analysis showed a rather pristine core, with very little exposure to the dark arts. Interestingly enough, the last two years make almost no mention of Theodore Nott, Adrian Pucey or Melissa Caruthers at all."
"Doubtless if you ask him directly, he will have a convenient and rational excuse for you."
"Indeed. Yet two of the three are children of known Death Eaters and the sympathies of the Caruthers family are well documented. I have asked Charles to keep them under surveillance when the term starts."
"Returning to my house, the one thing Potter showed an interest in last year was becoming an auror. If his scores do not qualify him, you could offer an alternative." Minerva offered.
"That is a possibility. Ah, here comes Harry's owl. Perhaps this is good news." Dumbledore said reaching for the letter attached to the leg of the snowy owl. Once the letter was removed, the bird hopped onto his shoulder. "I have always said that she is such a beautiful and well behaved owl." The owl stayed on his shoulder for a moment and then flew away.
As he opened the letter and began to read his expression soured. "It appears Harry is even more upset with me than I originally believed."
"Obviously Albus. You need look no further than your shoulder."
Dumbledore looked at the 'gift' the snowy owl left behind. "I see what you mean."
"Glad to have you onboard, Harry." Rufus Scrimgeour smiled.
"I do need a few favors however." Harry replied.
"First I need someone I can trust as a trainer and a bodyguard."
"Who do you have in mind?"
"I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news. She is missing and presumed dead at the moment. Perhaps someone else?"
"She's injured, but safe at the moment. Not missing, but she is in no condition to resume working at the moment."
"That is good news, but why isn't she at St. Mungo's?"
"Voldemort has frozen her in her present form. It would not be in her best interest to be scene in public until she has solved her problem."
Rufus raised an eyebrow at the young man in front of him. "Who does she look like? More importantly, if you want me to assign her to you, she will be useless as a bodyguard. Why not choose someone else?"
"She looks like a younger version of her deceased Aunt Bellatrix. To answer your second question, when I became head of the Black family, her welfare became part of my responsibility."
"Understandable. Not to offend, but without her unique talents she is only another warm body. We are short on those right now. Her dueling skills are average, but if you want her she is yours. What else?"
"Drop the age restriction on use of magic. Even the kids should have a chance to practice to defend themselves."
"That one will probably meet a bit of resistance. I don't think we can sell the Wizengamot on dropping it completely. As a counter offer, we lower it to fourteen provided the child has completed their third year? Do you really expect a second year to try and fight a Death Eater?"
"Not particularly. That said, if you eliminate it then you can pretty much reassign the majority of Madame Hopkirk's staff and budget. Simply lowering it may force her to ask for more staff and money."
"Clever. I like the way you are thinking. How about a decree suspending it for the rest of the summer with the promise of lowering it for next summer? Take most of her staff now and let her replace it next year from the intern pool."
"Sounds fair to me. What is your opinion of Dolores Umbridge?"
"Walking, breathing, bigoted scum. A symbol of everything Fudge did wrong."
"The more we talk, the more common ground we find. Sack her. Fire her. Have little kids follow her around and stone her for all I care, but get rid of her."
"She's got a lot of friends in the Ministry. As much as I hate to admit it, I don't think I can get rid of her outright. There are several open ambassadorships. I say we send her far, far away - preferably to someone whom we never expect to receive any assistance from."
"Seems wrong sending her away to safety, while we fight."
"Politics is filled with what can be termed as 'necessary evils'. It is just part of the game. Dueling is far easier. In politics you must be careful of your enemies and how you treat them. You may need them to be your allies on the next vote."
"Must be why Dumbledore is so good at it. Too bad he is fighting the war like it is a political fight." Scrimgeour openly laughed at Harry's assessment.
"Politics will age you prematurely and corrupt your values. You would do well to stay as far away as you can from it. This of course will be rather difficult for you. Do you have any idea how many votes your line carries?"
"The Potter line has six. The Blacks have three and I was told that I can claim the two Lestrange votes. Dumbledore was supposed to file the paperwork for that."
"Narcissa Malfoy will fight you on that. You may be head of the titled head of the Black family, but she has blood on her side. She will probably defeat your claim and retain those two votes."
"She was the one who advised me to claim them. Mind you this was right after I dissolved her marriage and she left the country, quite pleased with herself as I recall."
Rufus allowed himself a moment of shock. The news that Narcissa had taken herself off the political landscape was big, huge in fact. Though Lucius is now free, there would be no eligible members of that family to vote the eleven votes they possess. No doubt one of Lucius Malfoy's cousins would claim the votes, but only after they filed the paperwork. The likelihood of appointing a Minister suddenly went from a hope to a probability in less than ten seconds. Voldemort may have won a battle at Azkaban, but a victory in the Wizengamot will soften the blow.
"Does anyone else know about this?"
"Only those at the will reading. She was gone from the country within the hour. I don't think anyone sent Lucius a memo." Scrimgeour grin widened. By birth he was a half blood and he was never claimed by the Pure Blooded Carrows family, who were his closest magical cousins, not that he wanted anything to do with those Death Eaters in noblemen's clothing. His lack of a lineage had created a glass ceiling that with Harry Potter's help, he was about to shatter.
"I think that there will be a new minister by the end of the day. If all goes well, it will be me. I think we are done here Harry. I would ask that you meet me in the atrium thirty minutes before the meeting. The ushers will show you to your box. With your permission I would sit there with you?"
"Why do you want to sit with me?"
"I am a half blood with no real lineage. I have no votes of my own."
"When I return to school, what happens to my votes?"
"You can appoint a representative. Typically the professional vultures, ahem politicians will offer substantial gifts to add your votes to their block. You can easily increase your fortune or acquire some choice properties with the amount of political muscle you wield at the moment."
"Any restrictions on the individual I appoint?"
"No squibs, werewolves, vampires or other cursed individuals. I won't be able to do it, if I indeed become Minister, but I can find you someone trustworthy."
"Maybe, but I have an idea." Harry said channeling his inner-Slytherin.
Rufus Scrimgeour asked Harry to explain and after two more minutes of explanations and at least one very loud exclamation that tested the strength of the privacy charm, both wizards left the office to rejoin the group in the adjoining office collecting the personnel effects of Amelia Bones.
Harry and Susan walked into the doors of Gringotts. Emmeline apparated away, delivering the boxes and the painting of Edgar Bones back to number twelve. Harry promised Susan an update as soon as they were safe from prying eyes and ear. Harry approached the nearest goblin teller, who regarded him with a sneer.
"Good day, I wish to see Cleftskull and Scarmaker."
"I am not a Djinn, wish for something else youngling." The goblin replied dismissively sorting parchment.
"Perhaps I should clarify my request. You will tell Cleftskull and Scarmaker that Harry Potter, head of the Potter and Black families is here and will speak with them directly." Harry said flashing the two family rings he wore. Harry had tried the carrot approach. Rufus suggested the stick. In this instance Rufus was correct. The goblin shrank backwards rather noticeably and immediately scurried towards the back offices.
"A bit heavy handed there, Lord Harry Potter?" Susan said with a teasing smile. Inside she was impressed however, sometimes Harry positively radiated authority.
"Both of them are very senior goblins. Scrimgeour said I would have to be firm when dealing with the goblins. I had hoped not to get all Malfoyish, but if it's going to save us time we barely have and get things moving then I will do what needs doing."
"Oh and here I thought you were doing this to impress me?"
"If you aren't impressed with me by now, there's not much else I think I can do."
"Well you did hold the door for me on the way in, so I suppose that counts for something. It's not impressive like transfiguring a cat into a dragon, but I guess I'll lower my standards."
"Well I seem to have acquired a knack for changing Molly Weasley into an ass. Does that count?"
That hit a sore spot with Susan. She was fairly close to screaming at the woman this morning over the things she was saying to Harry. Hannah had told Susan after she had gotten out of the shower that Harry had taken Tonks into his room and was talking to the distraught woman. The people downstairs were saying that she was stuck looking like Bellatrix Lestrange. This apparently greatly upset Neville. Hannah visibly flinched when they walked by the library. Hannah said she had felt pure rage from the Gryffindor. She said she would try and calm him down after they left. Susan had a couple of choice words for her best friend upon learning that she had been interrogating her fiancÃ© this morning.
"Hmmm. I don't know about that. I think that is something she does more to herself. Do you think Tonks will be okay?"
"It's going to take a great deal of time. I got Rufus to assign her as a bodyguard and tutor for me. She is going to start training me. I am sure she'll teach you as well."
"That's great! Should I be concerned about the number of eligible young women that have been seen entering your bedroom lately?"
"Chelsea is obviously a handful and Remus would be on me about Tonks. Though Hannah did admit to her crush on me. I think Justin would understand." Harry said receiving a light smack on the arm.
"No, I definitely think he would not understand. Further, I would have to hunt my best friend down."
"Well then I guess I am stuck with you then."
"Like a permanent sticking charm I am afraid."
"Good day Mr. Potter." A goblin said interrupting their flirtations. Harry turned to see Cleftskull and a second goblin, who must be Scarmaker.
"Greetings and thank you for seeing me on such short notice."
"Have you come to sort through your financial affairs?"
"Not particularly. I would like to visit my vaults to search for something for Susan, but I would like to speak with the two of you on a delicate matter."
Both the goblins looked interested and led Harry and Susan into Cleftskull's office. They moved several stones with runes carved on them around the room and declared that the room was secure.
"Now what can Gringotts do for you today, Lord Potter." Cleftskull said. Harry noted that Scarmaker appeared to be deferring to the head of wills and inheritances.
"The Wizengamot is meeting today. I am told that when I return to school that I will need to appoint a representative to vote when I cannot."
"Yes that is your kind's way. You will be approached by several voting blocks. They will offer gifts, goods and services for the right to represent yourself and Lady Bones."
"Yes, but I am not interested in having a wizard or witch represent me."
"Your kind has laws that prevent non-magical humans or ones with various conditions from representing their families."
"I am aware, but is there a law that prevents me from having a goblin represent me?" Harry was pleasantly surprised by the stunned look on everyone else in the room.
Scarmaker recovered first. "You would do this?"
"I trust you with my money. Is it not logical to trust you with my voice?"
Cleftskull rejoined the conversation. "Such is unheard of. It has never been done before, but there are no laws preventing it. From my understanding, house elves bearing their owner's family rings have upon occasion delivered votes when their owner's were otherwise unable to come. A goblin wearing a wizard family ring would cause a considerable bit of chaos. It is audacious and for that alone I applaud you. What do you seek to accomplish by this action?"
"Do you prefer the short term or long term answer?"
"In the short term it will surprise my enemies. It will hopefully improve my standing amongst your people. These same people that were willing to shower me with gifts to curry my favor will now need to negotiate with a cunning goblin instead of a naÃ¯ve Hogwarts student. You will be able to use my votes to advance issues important to your people. In the long term, I hope to avoid yet another uprising. This war is about to escalate and whoever wins will have to deal with the goblins."
"Very clever, Lord Potter. You offer the goblin clans a voice in the wizarding government. Something our gold can only rent for a short time. I will need to confer with the elders. If we agree, whom do you wish to represent you?" Cleftskull asked.
"Not your account manager?"
"He defers to you. From what I can tell, you hold a higher position amongst your people. Besides Scarmaker, will be managing my accounts and they will increase under his direct care. By nature of your position, you are used to dealing with the arrogance of my people and will be more effective." Harry was careful not to slight Scarmaker while flattering Cleftskull.
"Very clever indeed and well thought out. Yes, my position is superior. You will receive a greater acclaim amongst the clans as a result. When do you wish an answer?"
"How soon will you know?"
"Within the hour the elders will have an answer."
"Then Susan and I will go to the vaults and return in an hour. I thank you for your time." Harry said nodding to each in turn, before turning to Susan. "Shall we?"
Harry noticed that Susan was very quiet on the way to the carts. He could tell she was practically bursting to ask him questions. He helped her into the cart and climbed in before the attendant sent the cart hurtling forward a breakneck speed. They held onto each other during the trip, partly for comfort and partly for safety. They arrived at vault number 19, the Potter family vault. Harry hopped out of the cart and waited for Susan. The goblin instructed him to press his family ring onto the seal. Harry had hoped for something impressive like a dragon guarding his vault, it seemed rather mundane.
Both Harry and Susan were amazed at the piles of gold stacked around the vault. It was easily as big as the Gryffindor common room. Along one wall were paintings all snoozing quietly, none of whom Harry recognized. Harry decided he would come back and speak with the paintings to learn about his heritage at some point. There were some other heirlooms, ornate furniture, even a pair of what could only be magic carpets and in the center a case containing jewelry. Harry led Susan over to the case.
"Harry, we don't have to do this right now?" She said in a slightly scared voice.
"Don't you want to? We have a whole hour to kill." He asked noting her trembling. His joke had failed to lighten the seriousness on her face.
"Yes. But I want it to be because you want to?"
"Susan, it's probably the one thing that I am completely fine with at the moment. I told Hannah this morning that if you had to pick someone out of her house who most resembled Helga's ideals, it would be you. I am not keen on marrying anyone and dragging her into my life, but I am required to do it. In short, I choose you. I've fought beside you and I've laughed with you. It's more than enough for me."
Susan was close to collapsing into a blubbering mess again. "If I didn't have to get married to, would you still choose me?"
"We never really spoke that much at school. Without the benefit of getting to really know you, I don't know. But I do know you now. That's what is important. If it would bring back your family, then I would gladly have this conversation with Cho, Ginny or someone else - well not Pansy. However, I stopped dealing in 'what ifs' along time ago. Here and now, you are the best girl for me. So do you want to pick out a ring?"
Sure enough, Susan was a blubbering mess for the next few minutes. Harry reasoned it was a good blubbering mess and not a bad one. He simply held her in her arms while she cried and said incoherent things into his shoulder. He must have really done something very right or very wrong. She had Cho Chang style waterworks going on now. After a couple of minutes he decided to start nuzzling her neck. She seemed to like that. Hell, he liked it too! After a couple of seconds, the crying slowed and she started kissing him back rather forcefully. A minute passed by before they moved over to a couch in the corner. Her tears had stopped and there was a hungry look in her eyes. They spent the next ten minutes with their hands and lips exploring each other in ways previously only imagined, before they stopped with robes off and clothing in complete disarray. Susan was the only one with a shirt still on, barely. His hands had simply bypassed the clothing and worked their way under them. They had stopped when Harry started tugging at her skirt and Susan whispered "Not here. Not now." There was no rejection in her eyes, simply a request for a delay and a change of venue. Harry fought to control himself. He focused on his emotional control. After straightening their garments and putting them back on in some cases. They sat for a minute.
"That was intense." Susan said still breathing heavily and fanning herself with one hand.
"You can say that again. I was starting to lose control." Harry admitted.
"Your heir compulsion might be starting to kick in already."
"After only a day? Isn't that a bit unusual?"
"Says the wizard who recently started killing Dementors. You are right though. We're probably just being a bit randy. We haven't really had much in the way of privacy."
"You said that you and Hannah researched these clauses. What do you know about it?"
"In a way its like an Imperius curse only enchanted into your ring. You'll really enjoy things like what we were just doing. You'll feel motivated to seek out a long term partner."
"Probably the nicest bit of magic I've encountered so far." He said earning him a playful smack.
"Your magic will start kicking in as well, subtle changes in your aura to make you more attractive, not that you need much help right now mind you!"
"Is it just directed at you or do I need to start watching myself around Ginny even more?"
"At first it will focus on everyone and later to a much lesser extent. It will focus on me after we ..." She trailed off blushing.
All he could say in response was "Oh"'.
"Don't worry. I'm okay with it. Believe me! I am definitely one hundred percent okay with this. They say the power of attraction is related to the power of the person under the compulsion. If I didn't stop us now, then the goblin out there was going to have some jokes to tell his coworkers. From what I read it will also start attuning us to each other's aura, making us more compatible. We'll feel more attracted to each other. Again, no complaints from me. From what I read it is like a weak love potion. At the same time, being in tune like that will reduce the efficiency of contraceptive magic and potions. Muggle methods will fail completely as your magic attempts to fulfill the compulsion by actively sabotaging them. Given your relative strength, I really need to start looking for baby accessories. My guess is I'll be pregnant before Christmas break, if not sooner. Hell if this isn't the compulsion kicking in, then you are really in trouble when it does! I personally will not be held accountable for my actions, if you start charming me like a veela."
"And you're really okay with this?" He said amazed.
She smiled at him. There was very little innocence in her eyes at the moment. "Oh yeah." To emphasize her point she licked her lips. "If we didn't have to go to the Wizengamot today, I'd recommend going back to your house, kick everyone out and practice tuning our auras until we pass out."
"Naughty, Susan - very naughty. Is that a promise or a threat? At least this somewhat explains my parent's whirlwind romance, no matter what might have started it. I guess it is comforting to know that they grew even more attracted to each other. I can't come up with any arguments against being more attracted to you. Come on we better straighten ourselves up and pick out a ring for you. If what you describe is going to happen, we should have the wedding before we leave for Hogwarts."
"What?" Susan exclaimed. She wished he would warn her, before making such declarations.
"Remember what Hermione said. Married couples get their own quarters. Otherwise, you'll be trying to break into the Gryffindor dorms all the time for my veela like charms. We'll get a lot less detentions if we are in our own bed rather than a broom closet." Harry said smiling at her. "Besides, we need more time alone - just you and me with no house full of people or goblin waiting in the cart outside. People will start to get suspicious if we have to keep coming to the bank everyday. Although there is a certain allure in trying to become members of Club One Thirty-Four." Harry said referring to the commonly known fact that there are exactly that number of broom closets at the school. A student can claim to have joined that club if they have performed certain actions in each and every one. Lavender and Seamus was the only members Harry knew, though several of the Slytherins, Ravenclaws and more than a few Hufflepuffs were also alleged members.
"Yes ravaging me amongst all your money, such a typical male fantasy. It seems like something your best mate Malfoy would think of." Susan said pulling on her robe and having to do a little dance to shake the coins loose that had become captured in the garment.
Harry had to laugh. It did seem like something that 'Ferret Boy' would find attractive. He followed her over to the case and watched as she picked through various rings. She finally chose one with a pair of small emeralds surrounding a larger ruby. She said it reminded her of his eyes and her hair. It was elegant without being gaudy. Harry made a show of placing it on her finger earning him another session, which was stopped short of returning to the couch. Before closing the case Harry managed to sneak a pair of emerald earrings into his pocket as a gift for later. They returned to the cart and the attending goblin. Harry realized they still have over twenty minutes before the two senior goblins were expecting him and asked to go to the Black vault which was number fifty-four. Inside they found more money than in the Potter vault. Some of the chests of coins had been magically reduced in size to make more room. The vault had less lighting and seemed darker than the Potter vault. There were no heirlooms, but there were several rows of paintings. All of them were vacant except for two. It contained a youthful Bellatrix Lestrange. She looked even younger than Tonks currently portrayed her. She was staring at him and Susan. The second one contained an older, but still youthful looking Narcissa, who showed no indications of life.
"Do I know you? You look a bit like someone I went to school with?" The portrait of the witch asked tilting her head to one side. Her hair was done in tiny ringlets. Bellatrix Black had been a very attractive young woman.
"Harry Potter. You're probably thinking of my father James." He replied rather tersely.
"Oh yes, Sirius's partner in crime. Why are you in the Black family vault?"
"Sirius left me the title of Lord Black."
"Cousin Sirius is dead too? If you are looking for a picture of him, his mother came down here and destroyed it before my picture was even painted. I doubt a replacement was ever made."
"Yes. You killed him." Harry glared directly into the eyes of the portrait.
"Really?" Bellatrix looked surprised, but thoughtful.
"When were you painted?"
"Just after my seventeenth birthday. It's tradition. We're supposed to come back and replace the painting with a newer one periodically, but I guess I never did. Looks like Cissy did though."
"Why are you being so polite Bellatrix?"
The painting huffed indignantly. "I was raised properly. You are Lord Black and I am your property. I take it you didn't care for the real me?"
"We tried our best to kill each other, if that answers your question. Were you a death eater when you were painted?"
"No. My induction was slated for the following June after my wedding to Rodolphus Lestrange. Were you the one to kill me then?"
"No. I did kill Rodolphus recently."
"Do I have any children?"
"No. You spent a good portion of your life in Azkaban. You got out earlier this year, but died on Azkaban yesterday. Did you want to become a Death Eater?"
"That doesn't sound like very good. To answer your question, I suppose so. My family expected it of me. My sister was to remain unmarked to protect our rights and fortune. In a sense I was expendable, but I was selected for my role because between the two of us I was the superior dueler. I considered it an honor to serve the family in any capacity."
"You were also insane." Harry said with a slight feeling of vindictiveness.
"That wasn't in my career plans. Apparently, things did not go so well? So are you here to hang one of my spare frames or are you here to destroy me?" The painting asked.
"Honestly, I didn't know you even existed. Why shouldn't I just leave you here to rot and stare at the fortune you never got to spend?"
"You can do as you wish Milord. I would prefer not to be destroyed. You obviously suffered at the hands of the real me. I am only a manifestation of her seventeen year old self. It would be nice to go somewhere other than here. I can't do that unless you take one of my spare frames with you. I am bound during my creation to protect and serve the Head of my family." Harry had hoped to feel the fire of righteous vengeance coursing through his veins. This wasn't the same Bellatrix. Hell, she wasn't even a Death Eater yet! Arguing with her or threatening her just didn't feel the same. It would be like going back in time and arguing with an eleven year old Draco Malfoy.
"I noticed your Aunt's painting drew her wand on someone I was arguing with. Can you cast spells?" Harry asked recalling the earlier argument with Molly Weasley.
"Not spells, a spell. It's a Black family secret. I guess Sirius never told you. Is she trustworthy?" The painting asked gesturing at Susan.
"In a short time she will be Lady Black, yes I trust her."
The painting took a moment and regarded her appraisingly before continuing. "Very well milord. During creation the painting is heavily enchanted. The frames are custom made by the wandmaker Ollivander. The wood of the frame also contains the same materials as our wand and its core. A single spell is chosen at the time of creation. The power to cast the spell is drawn from your ring, but only if someone is wearing it and is in the room. We are charged with protecting the Head of the Family and any he or she grants protection to. If you wish the particulars, you will need to speak with Phineas Nigellus or one of the older paintings. It should also be detailed in some of our more ancient tomes, in the event you and your finance opt to continue the tradition."
"Okay. I am curious, what spell can you cast?"
"The slug vomiting jinx." She answered proudly.
"Really, that's it. I half expect you to say Avada Kedavra?" It was actually rather disappointing.
"No milord. I don't believe very powerful spells can be endowed upon us. I heard that the Nigellus painting uses a standard cutting hex and my aunt's uses a silencer, a banisher or a stunner. You'll have to ask her. Cousin Regulus has a nasty tripping hex. We're not meant to fight, but assist you when you fight. Plus, it would be a large drain on your magic. A properly utilized slug spitting jinx, in the midst of a fight will leave your opponent defenseless, open to whatever counterstrike you plan. I chose that spell specifically for that purpose. I believe my sister chose the Confundus charm for similar reasons. Plus, when I was in school it was my preferred method of punishing those who crossed me. I am quite good at it. We always referred to it as the 'Black Home Field Advantage.' No head of the family has ever been defeated when he or she fought on one of our properties."
Despite himself, Harry was impressed. The Blacks were obviously ingenious. A quick glance at Susan confirmed that she had never heard of something like this before. Harry knew that he would need to speak with Ollivander and sit for a painting himself. Even if he died, the painting could still trigger the brother wand effect against Voldemort, providing someone time to prepare a counter attack. Hopefully, Fawkes could be persuaded to contribute a feather. He asked the painting of Bellatrix a few more questions, but the young woman in the painting kept referring him to the paintings of people who had previously been the head of the family as she had never been privy to the knowledge. Harry told the painting that as soon as he confirmed this with the other paintings that he would return for one of her frames. To his list of things to do, he added inventorying the spells the paintings at headquarters could cast and placing them accordingly.
The cart ride back to the surface was as uneventful as any 'one speed only' cart ride could be. Someday when all this was over Harry promised that he would spend an entire day having the goblins take him back and forth to his vaults just for the thrill of the ride. Harry did use the ride as an excuse to press tightly up against Susan. She didn't look nearly as thrilled, quite the contrary she looked more thrilled that the ride was over. Harry hopped out first and helped her climb out. He scored some additional 'brownie points' when he paused before releasing her left hand to run his thumb over her engagement ring and smile at her.
The two senior goblins were waiting for him as the walked away from the cart. Cleftskull smiled broadly at him leading them back to the secure office. "The elders have agreed to your proposition. They were most impressed by your reasoning. Do not mistake this for an alliance. It is merely a business arrangement that is beneficial to both parties."
"Understood. It is a start. That is all that can be expected. What do we need to do to formalize our arrangement?" Harry asked.
"You will need to summon a family ring for the lines you wish me to represent. In an emergency you can simply give me the master ring, but I should have my own copy."
"How do I do that?" Harry asked.
Susan interrupted. "I can show you." She tapped her wand on her family ring and said a common spell for duplication. "You have to use your head of family ring. It can't be forged, or at least no one has ever figured out a way to forge it yet." She took the less impressive looking family ring and offered it to Cleftskull.
"Lady Bones, I did not realize you were also joining in this transaction." Cleftskull paused and then noted Susan's engagement ring. "Ah, I see you have resolved your mutual End-of-Line clauses. I offer my congratulations and hopes for prosperity to the two of you." He accepted the ring and a moment later he received the rings Harry created for the Black and Potter line.
"You should now give me general instructions of how you would like me to vote in your stead."
Harry thought for a moment. "Vote for good business. Do what is in the best interest of preventing the so-called Dark Lord from achieving his victory. Be the voice of your people and other magical races, who are treated with contempt by my kind. Justice and prosperity for the worthy. Vengeance for the unworthy." Cleftskull smiled at the last part.
"I understand your directives Lord Potter. Do you wish to add anything Lady Bones?"
"No. I think Harry pretty much covered it. Cleftskull, you realize you are making yourself a target?"
"Yes. I am well aware of that, but the most successful business ventures always require risk."
"Please call me Harry."
"I will do so only in private. In public you must be Lord Potter. Anything less minimizes the power you are trying to exert. You will need to introduce yourselves and be recognized by the Wizengamot. You should also cast any votes today. At the end of the session the Chief Warlock will call for any remaining business, then you will activate your touchstone in your box and wait to be recognized. Once you are recognized you will state that you have appointed me as your representative for your family lines. You can then immediately yield the floor to your Lady and allow her to do the same."
"Is there a box for the Potters and the Blacks? Will Susan and I have to sit in separate boxes?" Harry asked. He was concerned about Susan being separated from him.
"No. You both should sit in the Potter box; it is the highest ranked of your bloodlines. Your votes are cast by touching your family ring to the appropriate touchstone. There are three stones. The white stone is a vote for something. The black stone is a vote against something and the amber stone is a request to be recognized by the floor to speak. You will need to touch both of your family rings and Lady Bones will need to touch hers. The Chief Warlock recognizes families by the ranking of your bloodlines. There are only five lines that are superior to the Potter line in this manner. You will be allowed to speak rather quickly. Speak clearly, be direct and show no weakness."
"In private I also ask that you call me Susan." Susan said. In truth, she wasn't sure she wanted to be on such familiar terms with a goblin. She knew it was her upbringing in the pureblooded society, but she also knew her support for Harry needed to be unconditional.
"As you wish, Susan." Cleftskull answered seeing the young woman's discomfort. "They may introduce legislation to immediately prevent future appointments of nonhumans as representatives. When you introduce me, it should be the selected representative of the Goblin Elder council. Knowing that your representative is a position and not a particular goblin should prevent me from simply being killed and you would then be unable to reappoint another goblin."
"Very shrewd." Susan observed.
"A necessity if one wants to live to a very old age. I do not intend to waste the only life I was given."
"I see and old Wulf before me. Age does take its toll on the living. So the mighty Albus Dumbledore, debases himself to see the likes of a lowly vampire such as myself."
"Greetings Darius. You look none the worse for wear. I received a rather vague note from Mr. Potter indicating that you would be here. I do recall a vow never to set foot on this soil again when you left for the mainland many years ago. What brings you back after so long?"
"My adopted clan viewed me as both expendable and an expert on the situation."
"And the others?"
"Representatives of other clans, most likely either the ambitious sort wanting to meet the Dark Lord to curry favor or the expendable type who had made an enemy of their clan leader. Your young protÃ©gÃ© dealt with all of us most effectively. I am surprised at you allowing a child no matter how capable access to the Unforgiveables." Coedus enjoyed the look of shock on 'the mighty Dumbledore's' face.
"Harry used Unforgiveables?" Dumbledore barely managed to say without stuttering.
"Quite well. He seemed well versed in the Extermination Act, pardon me the Dark Creature's Act of 1903. His killing curse was quite effective and he used two very formidable Crucios on me. It has been a long time since I have felt that one."
Coedus was thoroughly enjoying himself now. The ancient wizard in front of him looked like he was about to go catatonic.
"I must speak with him on this." Dumbledore said more to himself than to the vampire in front of him.
"I am guessing your boy wonder omitted these things from his report?" Coedus mocked. "Oh thank you, fates! I have been in dire need of some humor. If I still was able to use a wand this would be Patronus worthy!"
Dumbledore regained his composure. Harry's actions were a matter for another time. "I assume you will be filing a report with your clan. What will you recommend?"
"I will note that the three other vampires were slain and that I barely escaped. I will recommend that my clan hold the Dark Lord to the original agreement and only join him once he has conquered England."
"What will you do then?"
"Leave, go back to Italy smell the warm sea air. Find what enjoyment in the existence that fate has given me."
"Perhaps you could offer to stay and monitor the situation. I could use your assistance."
"Why in the name of the everlasting one would I want to do that? I have given the location of the meeting with the Dark Lord's followers to the Potter boy. Staying would only make me a target. I may curse my existence, but I am not ready to give it up."
"Ah, the joke keeps getting better. Your protÃ©gÃ© is moving out of your shadow. That must annoy you. I always knew what a control freak you were, Wulf. I have already provided him with the details and do not feel like repeating myself. Ask the boy. I shall be curious to see what he tells you."
"Still Darius, you must thirst for battle again, to be in the middle of the action. The auror I knew ..."
"The auror you knew is dead! The only thing I thirst for is blood! You would do well to remember that." Coedus answered with an angry edge to his voice.
"And you are quick to forget who took you in when no one else would. In your bitterness, you casually overlook all the gold I scraped together to give you when you left this country. Money I could have been using to fight the wizard you ended up serving."
"I did what I needed to survive!"
"So you did. I remember the proud warrior, but I see the survivor you have become. It suits you."
Coedus put his fist into the wall shattering plaster. "Damn you! Damn your righteousness! You don't know the hell of being a monster. Do you, Wulf? Do you know what it's like to be a monster?"
"You always wanted to be the great hero, Darius. Sometimes there is no difference between hero and monster. I have seen decisions that I have made go horribly wrong and cost good men and women their lives. I have killed and realized later that it could have been avoided. Oh yes! There is so much glory standing over graves of people who were your friends and saying kind words about them. I bask in the looks of adoration from the widowed spouses and orphaned children. The only difference between the monster you are and the one I am is that your mistake only cost your life. Mine have killed so many others. Somehow, I manage to keep surviving mine."
Both looked at each other feeling each other's rage. Coedus thought long and hard on his next words.
"What would you have me do Wulf?"
Harry shifted uncomfortably in the expensive chair. There were a total of six chairs in the box. Susan sat next to him and held his hand. Rufus Scrimgeour and Cleftskull had slipped in both unnoticed. The goblin wore a cloak pulled tightly. Rufus wore his best dress robes. He was exchanging pleasantries with William Parker, who was Director of International Affairs. Their box was situated directly on the left. The box on the right belonged to the Chesterfield family. Harry had never heard of them before, they greeted him and explained that they did not have any children attending school at this time. The next one would be their great grandson who is currently only seven. The Patriarch of the family, Robert mentioned that he had attended Hogwarts at the same time as Harry's grandfather and namesake Harold. When Harry asked if he had any interesting stories to share the old man smiled and asked if Harry still had a certain cloak. He then told Harry a story that involved several suits of armor enchanted to perform a waltz in the hallway in front of the staff lounge, including one that would attempt to partner with any female that came into the hallway. He concluded the story by mentioning that Harry should ask his Transfiguration professor about her year as Head Girl and her choice of dancing partners.
Harry was grateful for the distraction. It kept his mind from spinning out of control. He and Susan had managed a light lunch. Harry felt a nervousness that surpassed his typical quidditch jitters. Susan did her level best to calm him down. She even hinted that certain actions were well known stress relievers. That merely resulted in Harry choking on his juice. Perhaps she should have waited until he finished drinking, then again perhaps not. The laughter did lighten the mood somewhat. He resigned himself to an afternoon filled with nervous tension. Things took a strange turn only moments later.
"Hello, Harry Potter." The voice of a young woman said.
Harry looked up and identified Marietta Edgecombe. She had just witnessed his embarrassing moment while she and a slightly older young man were sitting down next to them at the ice cream parlour. It reminded him of when she and Cho had witnessed him do pretty much the same thing.
"Marietta. It's good to see you." Harry lied smoothly wiping the table in front of him with his napkin. Occulmency is very useful for other things as well. He stared at her companion. He looked familiar, but Harry could not place the face.
"I'll give you a hint," the man said offering his hand. "You would remember me, but you were too busy coughing up a snitch."
Harry thought for a second until the answer came to him. "Terry Higgs. Now I remember you." Harry shook the former Slytherin seeker's hand.
"Yes, I am already the answer to the question 'who was the first seeker to lose to Harry Potter at quidditch?' It's in the latest version of Wizarding Trivial Pursuit. Imagine my horror when I was asked that very question." Terry said chuckling. "The funny part was the rest of my team still wanted to say Malfoy."
"I would have liked a rematch."
"Me too, but ickle baby Draco came along with his father's money. I am just glad he hasn't ever been able to beat you."
"Well his broom is faster than yours, but you were the better flyer." Harry answered. Maybe it had been the difference in size at the time, but he remembered desperately trying to avoid the larger seekers physical onslaught during that match.
"I did manage to mention it to the little wanker every time I saw him during my final year, how even with his brand new broom, you flew circles around him even with that jinxed bludger after you."
Susan cleared her throat slightly. Harry shot her an apologetic look. "I'm sorry. I forgot to introduce you. Terry Higgs this is Susan Bones." Terry offered his hand again and looked at the ring on Susan's ring finger. Marietta caught it as well and leaned in closer.
"It's beautiful." Marietta said inspecting the ring. Harry noted for the first time that Marietta was wearing a much smaller diamond solitaire ring on the very same finger. "Does that mean what I think it does?" Her eyes were wide.
"Yes. I believe it does. You seem to have one as well."
"Congratulations!" Marietta seemed genuine enough in her enthusiasm. "How long have the two of you been dating?" She asked. It had only been a few months since her best friend and Harry had been dating. Knowing Cho, Marietta supposed that she would be incensed. Cho had always been very emotional.
"Long enough to know he is the one for me." Susan answered slyly. "How about you and Terry?"
"Well it's an arranged marriage, but the boy has positively grown on me." The beaming Ravenclaw answered patting Terry's arm. Harry admitted to himself that they looked very happy together.
"When's the big day?" Susan asked.
"Sometime just after graduation. How about you?"
"We're still setting a date." Susan answered evasively.
Terry and Harry looked at each other and shrugged as both the women engaged a rapid question and answer session. They talked about quidditch and about Terry's job at the publishing firm for a few minutes only to turn back to their women and listen to discussions about wedding party sizes.
Terry looked thoughtful. "It's nice to be able to talk about something other than Azkaban."
"You're right." Harry said noticing an auror patrol walking past wearing black armbands.
"Think they will finally get a new minister in office?"
"Let's hope so. Indecision and uncertainty play into Voldemort's hands." Harry said forgetting the social taboo of saying the Dark Tosser's name in public. Both Terry and Marietta shifted uncomfortably.
After about ten seconds of uncomfortable silence Harry said, "Sorry didn't mean to kill the mood. How is Cho?"
"We haven't been talking that much. She and Michael are still going out, but I don't think it is going to work." Marietta said stirring her iced tea.
"I'm sorry to hear you two aren't on good terms. Was it me?"
"Not wholly, but it was definitely part of it. I know she stood up for me in public, but still I could see that she felt I was to blame."
"Don't worry about it." Harry said looking at Susan remembering their discussion from the first night they were in number twelve together. "I have it on good authority that Cho and I were doomed as a couple. As I recall, you never really approved either."
"I tried to tell her that the two of you were not right for each other. You might have to watch out for her though. I think she is going to be Head Girl this year. It's either going to be her, Donna Wentworth from Hufflepuff or Melissa Caruthers from Slytherin. She can hold a grudge, so I'd stay out of the broom closets if I were you two."
Terry and Marietta's lunch arrived and Harry and Susan got up to leave. Marietta stopped him. "Harry, I just want to say I am sorry for what happened last year. My family was pressuring me to help the Toad." It was a brave admission from a girl who had spent the last few months as a virtual exile from the rest of the student body.
"You chose to support your family over a bunch of schoolmates you hardly knew. You thought you were doing right. I don't think you intended on doing any harm. I read that your mum was sent to Azkaban. Is she okay?"
"No one has heard. My father is at the Ministry already searching for any updates. I am trying not to think about it." Marietta said looking away.
"Hopefully you'll get some good news. Come on Susan, we should go." Harry had to admit that a week ago, if someone had told him that he would be exchanging small talk with Marietta Edgecombe while dining with his fiancÃ©e, he would have told them that they were barking mental.
He woke from his reverie, to watch Albus Dumbledore enter the hall and move down the center isle. He could feel his anger rising and realized he was squeezing Susan's hand very hard, so hard she yelped in a bit of pain. She rubbed her hand and looked at Harry, who was now staring down the Chief Warlock. Both of Harry's hands were now squeezing his armrests so hard that his knuckles were turning white.
Susan could see that Dumbledore's gaze was fixed on Harry's as he walked to his seat at the podium. She could feel the tension between the two wizards. Dumbledore stood at his dais and cast the Sonorous charm.
"I call this meeting of the Wizengamot to order. I ask the powers that be to grant us the wisdom to govern justly. New business shall be first on the agenda."
Rufus tapped Harry and Susan and gestured for them to touch their family rings to the touchstone. Even from their vantage point they could see several twinkles of light appear on the board where Dumbledore and his assistant sat.
"The chair recognizes Lord Harry Potter." Harry stood and a light similar to a muggle spotlight shined on him.
Harry stood remembering everything Rufus and Cleftskull had drilled into his head for the last twenty minutes. "I am Lord Harry Potter, blood heir of the Potter line. By my possession of the Potter family ring I claim my rights. I am the titled heir of the Black line. By my possession of the Black family ring I claim my rights. As head of the Black family I claim the Lestrange family's rights and challenge those who currently claim those rights to defend their claim." A murmur went through the hall.
"I defend those rights in the name of Lady Narcissa Malfoy. You may possess the title, but her claim is by blood."
Dumbledore interrupted. "Baron. Caruthers, your objection is noted. However, I must inform you that Narcissa Malfoy does not exist." The murmur grew to an uproar as Dumbledore shouted for silence.
"What! That is preposterous! Have you finally lost grip on your addled brain old man?" Caruthers sneered.
"No, my wits are as keen as ever. I merely state that yesterday Lord Potter in his capacity as Lord Black negated Narcissa Black's marriage to one Lucius Malfoy. The cause was breach of marital contract. I witnessed both parties' sign the paperwork, as did representatives from Gringotts. The paperwork is now on file at the Ministry as of this morning. I have taken the liberty of bringing several copies for your review. Officially, Narcissa Malfoy no longer exists. I also have the paperwork for Lord Potter's claim of the Lestrange votes and all appears to be in order. I understand this also currently suspends the Malfoy family votes until they can be claimed by blood or title under the articles which govern this body." Dumbledore said coolly as an intern was directed to take the paperwork to the Caruthers's box. The man was livid with rage. He and several people in his box and the next box flipped through the paperwork with obvious disgust on their face. With the spotlight still shining on him, Harry suppressed the urge to grin.
"While our esteemed colleague scrutinizes the paperwork, we shall move on with other recognitions."
There were two other recognitions before the spotlight shined on Susan as she stood and claimed her voting rights. There was a slight murmur that she was seated in the Potter box. Harry scanned the room and saw the eyes of Rita Skeeter upon him. She smiled a 'cat that ate the canary' grin at him. Harry merely returned her smile.
'If you think that is interesting, then you had better hold on to your seat, Ms. Skeeter.'
There was one other recognition after Susan's and then the board was empty except for the single light, which indicated Harry's recognition. Five additional minutes went by. Dumbledore drummed his fingers lightly on the podium. Finally, he spoke.
"I am sorry to cut this short Horatio, but we do need to move onward. The paperwork is on file at the Ministry and has already been accepted. Have you found anything objectionable?" In answer the man simply leered at Albus Dumbledore, but for an old man whom had fought would be world conquerors, it had no effect. "I am sorry Horatio, perhaps my age is getting to me. I did not hear your answer?"
"No, there is no objection." The man spat out each word as if it were its own sentence.
"Very well then, on to floor motions." At least twenty touchstones triggered on Dumbledore's board including Harry's. One of the twinkling lights was two positions ahead of Harry's own. They would speak first.
"The floor recognizes the Lord Sykes."
"I do not like this last second paper filing business at all. It smells of a sham. I motion for an immediate recess. I yield the floor to Baron Caruthers."
"I second this motion. It is a farce of the highest order."
Dumbledore smiled. "Unfortunately according to the articles which govern us, I cannot allow this motion. As you are well aware, if there is no sitting Minister of Magic and the Wizengamot is in session we must have at least one vote to attempt to appoint an interim Minister. My apologies Lord Sykes and Baron Caruthers, but I must strike that motion. Now let us see who is next - Lord Potter." Dumbledore said the words very slowly.
Harry stood again going over his notes in his head. "I nominate Rufus Scrimgeour to be the interim Minister of Magic. He is currently acting Director of Magical Law Enforcement and prior chief of aurors. Upon making his acquaintance, he has impressed me as someone capable of leading our country in this time of trouble. I yield the floor to Lady Bones." Harry said taking his seat.
Susan stood very nervous, "I second the nomination. My Aunt Amelia spoke highly of Mr. Scrimgeour's professionalism and dedication. In her memory I do this."
Dumbledore gave a penetrating look at Harry for a moment before returning to the board and calling on the others. Within ten minutes, there were no less than ten candidates for the post. Harry searched the crowd and found the eyes of Amos Diggory upon him. The man looked withered and tired, a far cry from the jovial man who had accompanied him and the Weasleys to the World Cup.
Upon his turn Amos stood. "I have been put forth on several occasions as a candidate. But this time I refuse the nomination and ask those who support me to back Lord Potter's nomination." The silence in the room was stunning. Two minutes later there were only three remaining candidates. Five of the six who declined the nomination asked their supporters to back Rufus Scrimgeour.
The vote was a mere formality. Rufus Scrimgeour received a full sixty percent of the vote and was appointed Interim Minister of Magic to serve out the remaining two years of Fudge's five year term. Harry turned to Rufus and shook his hand during the din of applause. Harry chanced a glance at Rita who had a second quick quotes quill in the air and was writing manually with a third.
Dumbledore's voice using the Sonorous charm again carried over the noise. There was a hint of false cheer in his tone. "Now that we have appointed an Interim Minister of Magic, we can move on to new business." There were several votes some were mostly symbolic like the motion saluting the heroism of the fallen at Azkaban. Others were trivial that truly made Harry realize that a life of politics did not suit him. He sought Rufus's advice on several minor issues. Dumbledore made the call for closing business to adjourn the meeting. This time only Harry and Susan's lights blinked. Dumbledore almost reluctantly called out 'Lord Potter' again.
Harry stood once more feeling weight of the eyes upon him. "I need to introduce my representative, who will vote in my stead whilst I am involved in other matters. My representative is a post appointed by the Goblin Elder Council. Their choice to fill that position is Cleftskull of Gringotts. I empower the Council to appoint replacements as needed until such time as I rescind their right to do so. I yield to Lady Bones."
Harry smiled as screams of objections filled the hall. The chaos was everything he had expected. It took two full minutes to quiet the crowd, before Susan could repeat the speech word for word as a room mostly full the haughty and the arrogant realized that a goblin controlled fourteen votes in their government. Immediately several made motions without even using their touchstones. Eventually Dumbledore pointed out that new motions were not allowed by procedure during closing business and adjourned the meeting. Rufus whispered his private floo address in Harry's ear and walked off to meet with his Auror protection. Harry saw Rita and Dumbledore both moving towards him as he took a moment to shake Cleftskull's hand and wish him lasting prosperity.
He turned to face the Chief Warlock. "Hello Dumbledore." He said coldly.
"We will have words Harry."
"Count on it Old Man."
Author's notes - As always, my full author's notes are up on DLP. I hope you like the voting process I put forth for the Wizengamot. It seems like it would work logically. Not a great deal of Action/Adventure in this one, but it should score well on the intrigue scale. What do you think of the 'Black Family Advantage'? I invite all you readers to try my new story, "Bungle in the Jungle: A Harry Potter Adventure." It offers a fairly novel perspective of you the reader seeing, hearing and thinking everything Harry does - and not much more. Figure out what is going on along with our hero! Happy Reading - Jim