Kinda slow chapter. Mostly dialogue. Harry has a few gusts over, the Dursleys go to court, and Dudley tells his story,
At ten AM, on the second, Harry apparated to Buckingham Palace. This time, he wore the uniform he’d assigned everybody else. He was met with the same security as before, but instead of the intense screening to which he’d been subject the first time, he was simply asked to disarm his lightsaber and surrender his wand. He did so. Amelia Bones arrived a few minutes later and underwent the same process.
“Hello, Harry. I see you’ve been asked to appear as well. Have you any idea why we’ve been summoned?” She asked.
“Not a clue, I’m afraid.”
They were escorted by the Queen’s guard, to the throne room, where Elizabeth the second waited. She immediately dismissed her retainers except for now-Lieutenant Colonel Bowman, who nodded politely and showed them that he held their weapons.
After providing a tea, he retired to the double doors and pretended to have no interest in their conversation.
Queen Elizabeth immediately got to business.
“Lord Gryffindor, Madam Bones, the night before last, there was an attack by Voldemort’s Death Eaters on a special operations group training camp in Herefordshire. Fourteen of our Special Forces men were killed by that madman’s people. We have no idea why he chose that particular target, but fourty-one of his terrorists also died. Lord Potter, You told us that you were able to feel and use the force. Aren’t you able to detect such things?”
“Your Majesty, I am still very much a novice in the use of the force. I have discovered that the force will warn me of certain things that are immediately critical. I can also occasionally see a little bit into the future…usually a couple of minutes or hours, but I’m assuming that, unlike the attempt to kidnap Ollivander, this raid wasn’t an immediate danger to me or to my students, I felt no warning. I am sorry.”
The queen wasn’t happy, but she seemed to accept that. After all, no one could be in more than one place at a time. She turned to Amelia.
“Madam Bones? Can you tell us why there was no intervention from the magical branch of our government?”
“Your majesty…” Amelia replied, unsure of the proper response. “I really don’t know how to answer that.” She took a slow breath to order her thoughts. “During he last blood-purity war, Voldemort’s troops specialized in the use of four spells. We call them, the ‘three unforgivables’ as they will earn the caster an immediate and permanent sentence in Azkaban prison. They are the Imperius, which enables the caster to take control of the victim completely. The Cruciatus, which causes untold agony throughout the body, and Avada Kedavra, the killing curse, which is self-explanatory. They use those spells in their attacks, and the spell, Morsmordre, which casts the dark mark into the sky. We have magical alerts for that spell, because it is uniquely of the Death Eaters. Nobody else uses it. Unfortunately, or in this case, fortunately, none of them survived long enough to cast it.”
“Hold on a tic.” Harry interrupted. Amelia looked at him.
“You set the alert to the casting of the dark mark?”
“If I’m not mistaken, the mark is usually cast after the damage has been done. Why would you set the alert to something that is cast just before the Death Eaters get away?
“I agree with you, Harry. It is stupid and a complete waste of time. Unfortunately, that decision was made by the Wizengamot.”
“Let me guess…” Harry snarked. “At the time the Wizengamot was under the leadership of Albus Dumbledore.”
“Just so.” Bones replied.
“Now why doesn’t that surprise me? He’s always so willing to sacrifice the innocent in order to redeem the guilty!” He spat the last bitterly.
“Unfortunately we had little choice. With Dumbledore championing the selection and every wealthy Death Eater supporting it, along with the level of corruption in the Wizengamot at the time, it was a done deal.”
“Well that’s going to change. I’ll speak to Augusta, Andromeda and Carolyn, and ask them to get together and write an airtight law to change the warning to either the Cruciatus or the Avada Kedavra. That way the Aurors can catch the Deez actually committing the crime. With Dumbledore out of the picture, they can force it through.”
“Lord Potter?” The Queen spoke again. Harry flushed.
“I beg your pardon, your Majesty. I got carried away by an archaic and completely ineffective legal system designed and perpetuated to keep a small faction in control…don’t look at me like that Amelia, you know it’s true.” Harry said in a single breath.
“Amelia sighed. “I do. Your majesty, we are working very hard to reform the government and its workers, but it s a daunting task at best. Some of the laws we are trying to change, have been on the books, as it were, for many centuries. Just to find the references and the reason for the laws in the first place is a hideously difficult task.”
“We would suggest you focus first on the more recent laws and when you have settled them, go back further in time. That way you can use the renewed laws to build a foundation for the next reforms. We can lend you researchers if you wish.”
“I’d appreciate that, but I’m not certain that your researches would be of much help. I don’t even know if they can enter the archives.”
Harry snickered and the Queen smiled gently. “Lord, Gryffindor. Would you care to explain?”
“Thank you, Majesty.” He faced Amelia directly.
“Amelia, what element of our society has no difficulty in crossing the boundaries between the magical and non-magical worlds?”
“I’m not certain I understand the question.” She admitted. “The mugglebornes, I suppose.”
“OK, let’s try this. Which part of the wizarding society is looked down upon because of lack of magical ability?”
Suddenly her eyes popped open. “You’ve got squibs working for you!”
“We do.” The queen replied. “And we would suggest another name be found to describe those of ancient families who are unable to perform magic. ‘Squib’, is like ‘Muggle’. Both have been twisted from their original meanings into pejoratives.”
Amelia had the decency to blush. Queen Elizabeth went on.
“We have several hundred ‘squibs’ working for the government just now, and many of them are well familiar with archival duties. Since they are able to pass into the magical world, though they are not particularly comfortable there, they would be the perfect researchers for reforming your laws.”
“I see your point.” Inwardly Amelia was dancing. Here, she had a resource she’d completely overlooked! With the queen’s researchers, they could cut years off the process!
Though the queen was far from mollified, she understood better than most; that in war people died. So far she’d lost only fourteen of her troops, and no civilians. While a personal tragedy for the families of those soldiers, given the scope and the potential of the war they were fighting, casualties thus far had been very light.
Harry made a suggestion that she agreed with wholly.
“Majesty, I’d ask you not to pass this off as 'an accident during a training exercise'. The Yanks do that all the time, and that kind of explanation is both insulting and degrading to the men who’ve died and to the cause for which they died. These men’s families deserve to know the truth.”
“Harry…” Amelia chided. “We must uphold the Statute of Secrecy.”
“Yes, we must, but we can tell the truth, and still protect the statute. Instead of a ‘training accident’, tell the families, and the news if necessary, that these soldiers died in a battle against psychotic terrorists. Let them know their fathers, brothers and sons eliminated fourty one of the terrorists. That’s the bare truth. There’s no need to tell anyone exactly who these terrorists were. Most people don’t want to know, anyway. They just want to know that their son’s or their father’s sacrifice, was for some real purpose…not a ‘training accident’.”
The queen sipped her tea, looking pensive for a moment, then she spoke.
“We agree. Far too many of our families have been left bereft because of the secrecy of our operations, both magical and non. We shall arrange for the families to be told the bare truth. More, we shall ask our military commanders to carry on this tradition whenever a soldier dies, if at all possible.”
“I thank you, Majesty.” Harry bowed deeply.
“Lord Potter?” She asked. “Have you an estimated completion date?”
“The twenty second of June. Either he’ll be dead, or we both will.”
With that the Queen dismissed them to their own tasks. Her staff would get in touch with Bones soon, for the assignment of the researchers.
Both bowed and departed.
Outside the doors, Bowman handed over their weapons. “Ach, I’ve always wanted t’ see one o’ these in real life.”
Harry grinned. “Well not here. Can you come down to where we came in? It’s shielded against any real threat. I could probably cut through it, but…Waitaminute! I have a better idea! I can invite you to watch the training. You’ll get your fill of lightsabers there. When are you off duty? ”
“I really can’t tell you that, sah. Security, you know.”
“Hmmm. Well, I suppose I can file a request with Mister Major to let you go for a day. Madam Bones, can a muggle use a portkey?”
“Yes, anyone can.”
“OK, as the head of three ancient and noble lines, yadda yadda yadda, I am empowered to create portkeys. Since Colonel Bowman already knows of the magical world, it’s not a violation of the secrecy acts.”
“Well yes, that’s true.”
“Then I’ll send an invitation to Mister Major, asking him to release Colonel Bowman and any others whom he deems necessary, for the day. I’ll send him the portkey and when the day is over, we’ll send them back. Howzzat?”
“That sounds reasonable, but I’d suggest you keep the numbers down. Say, no more than five.”
“Works for me. Colonel?”
“OK, I’ll post the invitation tomorrow. Bring your sweats, you can train with us.”
Bowman grinned. 'Bring your sweats', indeed! He was going to enjoy showing these kids a thing or two about real soldiers!
Bones grinned. She knew Bowman had no clue as to what he was letting himself in for.
Harry grinned, he was going to have some fun!
Harry returned to the castle in a cheerful mood.
7th November: Potter Castle:
“Good morning, people!” Harry called out as his Students filtered into the room.
“Today I have a real treat for you!” Suddenly wary eyes, searched his face.
Harry laughed out loud! “We have a few guests arriving today. Muggles from the Queen’s staff. They’ve asked to observe our training. At least one intends to participate.
The students smiles grew shark-like.
The group of soldiers whirled to a halt, and immediately fell on their faces. Harry had taken the precaution of a dry exercise mat in the landing area. As they scrambled to their feet, they found themselves facing a tall, well-built man with the air of service about him.
“Good morning Gentlemen. Welcome to Potter Castle. My name is Mackenzie Granger, formerly of Her Majesty’s Special Air Service. Here, I am an assistant trainer in both physical fitness and lightsaber handling.”
The guests all introduced themselves. Aubrey started out. “Sir, Kenneth Aubrey MI-5”
“Leftenent Colonel Malcolm Bowman, 1st Scots!”
“Major, Dwight Shultz, 1st Para.”
“Captain, Randy Rogers, don’t even say it! Special Boat Service.”
“Captain, Mark Hamlin, Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, 3rd Commando.”
“Well, we all have similar backgrounds. I’m going to tell you that this is something you’ve only imagined. We have sixty-three students here all under the age of eighteen, training to destroy the most dangerous terrorist organization in Britain, if not the world. Lord Potter has been fighting this nut-job since he was an infant. He’s defeated him or escaped him, five times out of five.”
“Not much of a terrorist if a child can defeat him.” Shultz opined.
“You’ll see.” Mackenzie grinned.
“The first thing we’ve planned is a little run. Anyone game?”
All five were, including surprisingly, Aubrey, who at sixty was by far the oldest one there.
“This is a five kilometer nature run. The average man can run it in eighteen minutes. The average SAS man can do it in around twelve. Let’s see how well you can do.”
Ten minutes later, the six of them were gathered at the beginning of the nature trail. Harry was waiting with a group of his own. Hermione, Ginny, Dean, Luna, Susan, Hannah, Orla, Colin and Dennis, Stewart, Morag and Kenneth. Behind them were the entire group of students, all standing at parade rest. Each was dressed in their Jedi uniform.
Harry introduced himself and his students.
“This is my first group.” He called off their names. “Each of them has run this trail in record time. The rest of my people have run this trail in only a few minutes more. We will be running against you. I suggest you warm up.”
Shultz, Rogers and Hamlin snickered. They were after all, in nearly perfect physical shape, and more than used to running. Kenneth Aubrey was suspicious, and Bowman had seen at least a few of the things Harry could do, so he also remained quiet. Each began to stretch muscles for running. The students did the same thing.
“Alright. Ready?” Harry asked. When they all nodded their readiness, he shouted: “Go!” and took off.
The first group dashed after him. The rest began their run at a more sedate pace, knowing that these young idiots would tire themselves out before a mile had been crossed. Mackenzie ran along with the older men more as a matter of camaraderie than need. He kept up a commentary as they ran, pushing the pace faster with every step. Soon he was the only one talking as the professionals focused their energy on their running.
They were rather surprised to find none of the students lying on the ground unconscious or moaning in pain. They were more surprised to find said students waiting at the finish line, sweaty but otherwise fresh.
“First group!” Harry bawled. “Again!” He and the dozen students he’d had in front, all raced off. Dobby had conjured a large screen and the Special Forces men saw exactly what the students were doing. They also saw the readouts at the bottom of the screen showing each student’s time. Since they had just been over the trail they were familiar with the terrain, and saw that their effort, no matter how good, was barely a crawl to these kids!
Again, Harry led the pack from the tree-line. Each of the adults there was absolutely astonished at how fast he was running.
He arrived and let out a breath, but otherwise wasn’t winded at all. Hermione arrived with him and the rest of the group followed within seconds.
“Time!” He called, as he crossed the finish line. A strange little creature appeared and called out: “Eight minutes and seventeen seconds!” before vanishing again.
Each of the invited guests gaped. That was better than Olympic time! And they’d watched it!
“Now, Harry announced. “We’ll have a little lightsaber demonstration. Hermione?”
Luna stepped up. “Since Both Hermione and I are equally qualified in Shii-Cho, we tossed a coin. She won.”
Hermione smiled and stepped into a white chalk ring on the grass about fourty feet across. The remaining students gathered in a large half-circle about twenty feet from the ring.
“Begin!” He said. Hermione instantly became a whirl of flashing light, as she spun, slashed and danced her way through the entire sequence of Shii-Cho. Then she did it again, left-handed.
Applause greeted her as she finished. Blushing, she stepped from the ring. Harry took her place.
Harry called out: “Mack?”
Mackenzie kissed his daughter’s forehead and stepped into the ring. She smiled sweetly and stood there, as if she hadn’t just done a dance that would have exhausted any gymnast.
Hermione took up the narration. “Just now, Harry and dad are ensuring their weapons are set and locked into non-lethal settings. An accident with a lightsaber is far more damaging than with a steel blade.”
The check and double check Harry insisted on done, they faced off.
“This combat will be Shii-Cho only. Though Dad has twenty years experience with a Katana, he’s not as advanced as Harry is, when it comes to lightsabers, and so they’ve agreed to limit it there.” She turned and called out: “Begin!”
None of the Special Forces men had ever seen anything so brutally fast before. Blades crashed and crackled with energy as they struck and rebounded, skittered and slid across each other. Both men called on the force and the force responded. Blades moved as fast as thought and within a minute Mackenzie’s blade went flying.
“Point, Harry!” Hermione called as he ‘called’ the weapon to her. She handed it to her father, and they began again.
Again, Mackenzie’s blade few across the circle. This time Hermione caught it in mid air and returned it to her father without touching it. “Point, Harry!”
Harry lost the third round, but the combat lasted three times as long.
Hermione announced the point to her father as she handed Harry the weapon and a kiss.
She announced: “If Harry wins this round he wins, if dad wins they go one more time.”
Harry won. They bowed and he handed the lightsaber to Mackenzie, and turned to his audience.
“Mackenzie is qualified in Shii-Cho, and is well into Makashi. Tonks, Remus, Hermione, Luna, Neville and Susan are all qualified in Shii-Cho and are studying Makashi. Tonks and Remus will be advancing to Soresu within the month, Hermione and Luna within two and Neville and Susan within three. I am qualified in Shii-Cho, Makashi, Soresu and Ataru, and am studying Shien."
Harry paused for dramatic effect. “My next opponent is as well qualified as I am. Dobby!”
The strange little creature appeared in a brown robe. None of the Special Forces men had ever seen a house-elf before and so, were understandably surprised.
Dobby dropped his robe and handed Harry his miniature lightsaber. Harry handed his over and both checked and double-checked the power-settings.
When she called: “Begin!” The spec-ops guys rethought their previous doubts. The battle between Harry and Mackenzie had been brutally fast. This one was blindingly so. Dobby was all over the place, jumping, spinning, feinting, dodging, and lashing out, as he and Harry sparred. Hermione’s commentary went on. “This combat incorporates aspects of Shii-Cho, Makashi, Soresu and Ataru. So far, Dobby is the only one who can match Harry on an equal basis. That’s not to say none of us has touched him, but he is the most qualified man we have.”
The battle was over, with Harry both disarmed and flying across the white chalk line.
“As you can see, both Harry and Dobby are using the force in ways other than bladework. Dobby has just used a force-push, or in this case, I’d call it a force-shove, to toss Harry out of the ring.”
Dobby calmly called Harry’s lightsaber to him and waited.
In a move that none of the visitors were sure they’d survive, Harry leapt into the air, somersaulted over the elf and snatched his lightsaber with the force. It came to him in mid air, flashing to light as it touched his hand. Dobby instantly braced his weapon overhead anticipating Harry’s downward slash. The little elf hadn’t been idle, thought and was already swinging. As soon as Harry landed, he tumbled into a roll with his blade held horizontally over his head. Dobby’s blade rebounded, and Harry whirled to face Dobby once more, sweeping his lightsaber as he did. An inverted vertical parré and Harry struck again.
Thirty lightning fast exchanges and Harry was disarmed once more. He called the blade back to him before it touched the ground, and they were at it again.
This time Harry won, but it was a near thing. Effectively, he cheated. He summoned Dobby’s boots while wielding his blade. Dobby, unseated, slipped under Harry who literally snatched the weapon from his hand.
Dobby took the deciding round and demonstrated that it was not a good idea to hack off a house-elf. His advantage has always been speed and his small stature. He used that advantage. Had his blade been at combat power, Harry would have been handless.
Hermione reported the same with a scowl. “Had that lightsaber been at full power, Harry wouldn’t be able to make me happy in bed any more. As it is, I’m going to have some well thought out words with a certain elf!”
Dobby actually paled. Mackenzie groaned and the Special Forces men all laughed.
Harry stood up, favouring his right hand.
“She’s right. This is why I’m so insistent on the safety checks. A lightsaber blade at full power can slice through granite in a second. Dobby?”
Dobby adjusted his lightsaber to combat power and tossed a piece of stone up in the air. A swift slash and the men stared as the two smoking halves thumped to the ground.
Harry announced: “After lunch, we’ll be running the Grinder, so eat lightly.”
Lunch was a festive affair with conversation and conviviality. The food was hot, delicious, high in protein and low in mass. All the Special Forces men understood how important it was to eat carefully before heavy exercise and from what they’d seen already, this afternoon was going to be even worse!
Bowman was intrigued as he saw the girls Hermione and Luna wrap Harry’s right wrist in their own and close their eyes. Seconds latter, they released him. He smiled and they blushed. He could see from his vantage that the ugly red burn on Potter’s wrist had vanished.
Discussions followed as Harry escorted them through the castle, showing them the various training areas and equipment. Groups of students demonstrated the various exercises, from bladework to the use of the force to do things like thread ropes through loops and tie knots without touching them.
He showed them the facilities, from the gym and hand to hand combat training area, to the pool and sauna’s. He also showed them the common area and the attached dormitories, loos and showers.
Outside, he showed them the running track, and the lake out behind the castle. They’d already seen the nature trail, and would be introduced to the Grinder in a short while.
They were all impressed. The facility was as efficient as any military unit. The students all seemed to be dedicated and very highly motivated. Each could see this young man was a natural leader.
Reentering the castle, Aubrey noticed the six large metal cylinders. Inside one, was an apparently sleeping, teenage boy.
“What is that? He asked, gesturing at the entire bank of cylinders
“That’s the discipline system.” Harry replied. “Ernie couldn’t keep his hands to himself, so now, he’s in stasis, until he’s released. Don’t worry, he’ll be fine. He won’t age, and his body is in perfect hibernation.
“How long will he be in there?”
“Until this is over. Either next June, or in five thousand years.”
“That’s how long the power supply is good for. I was joking, though. I have promised the Queen that by the end of June, either Voldemort will be dead, or we both will.”
Aubrey was stunned at the grim determination in Harry’s voice. He’d known field operatives like him. They usually ended up very successful…or very dead.
After Lunch, they met up at the entrance to the Grinder. Kenneth Aubrey summed up their thinking in five words. “Good God! What is that!?!”
Harry and Mackenzie snickered. The rest of the Jedi students laughed out loud!
“Gentlemen, welcome to the obstacle course, somewhat less-than affectionately known as ‘the Grinder’. It’s one point nine miles in length, covers every major muscle group and more than a few minor ones. Each of us runs this three times a week, with an average time of thirty minutes. My best time is twenty-one minutes eleven seconds. By next May, I’ll expect to shave five minutes off that mark.”
All five men looked at the course with more than a little trepidation.
“Are you ready?” Harry called out.
A resounding but well disciplined: “Yeah!” echoed from the trees.
Looking at the combined Special Forces men, Harry grinned and yelled: “GO!”
They each sweated and worked themselves hard, to surmount the course.
Shultz, Rogers and Hamlin, all came in within seconds of each other, about two-thirds down the line. Bowman ran with Mackenzie and Aubrey came in dead last. As usual, Harry and Hermione had set the pace, and when they were finished, they had backtracked to Aubrey’s position to offer encouragement. Aubrey was in excellent shape for a sixty year old, but he was sixty. As it was, he decided he wasn’t going to participate in any more of these ‘exercises’. He would still run and work-out, but this kind of suicide was for the young. His time was fourty two minutes and thirty-nine seconds.
A sweating and worn Shultz asked Bowman: “So, what do you think, Sah?”
“I thought I was in decent shape…” Bowman replied. “But I just got my arse handed to me by a bunch of teenagers.” Embarrassed laughter followed.
They adjourned to the showers before supper, where the Special Forces men saw the kids they’d been playing with. All were astounded. Six-packs were the order of the day, and none of the Jedi students seemed to have an ounce of unnecessary fat anywhere on them!
By the time they were showered their sweats and undergarments had been cleaned and returned.
They again sat in the large dining hall, to a repast of roast turkey and mash, with or without gravy, as they chose, lightly steamed veggies, bread rolls and butter, and juices, water or ciders on the side. Desert proved to be a simple sorbet. Each noted, that the portions were exactly what they needed. No more, no less. When Captain Rogers, pointed this out, a tall, solidly built student with sandy brown hair, seated next to him said: “Harry doesn’t starve us, but he believes we should eat to live, not live to eat. Most wizards, are woefully out of shape, and fat is the norm. When we started here, I was eating twice what I do now. He told us that we would be on a special diet to slim us down and build us up. It worked. The elves here, know how much each of us should have…it’s their own kind of magic, y’know, so they make the portions what we need but not more.”
At seven that evening, Harry bade the visiting muggles good-bye, and after telling them how to balance themselves on landing, triggered the portkey.
He smiled. All in all, it had been a very good day.
In London, each of them sat at a desk and began to fill out their reports for the PM and later, the Queen.
12th November, 7:30 AM, London:
Carolyn sighed in frustration. She’d arrived at the Dursley’s flat to escort them to court. There she saw Vernon standing before a mirror and whirling, with his finger pointing at the couch. She sighed in frustration. She just knew Vernon was going to try to play ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’ in court, or worse, that yank, ‘Perry Mason’ that she’d seen on the Beeb, and at this point, that was the absolute worst thing he could do. The cases against them were airtight, even the insurance fraud case…and she knew they weren’t guilty of that, and the opposing barristers had already agreed to the plea bargains. If Vernon tried to pretend he knew what was going on in a courtroom, he’d end up in prison and there would be nothing Carolyn could to do about it! She palmed her wand, and cast a quick Confundus charm on both Vernon and Petunia. When they were unfocused, she placed several behavioral compulsions on each of them to cooperate, answer truthfully and not try anything stupid. She added another for Vernon to keep his temper and accept his fate. When she was done, she pocketed her wand.
Dudley spoke quietly: “Are you going to do the same thing to me?” Carolyn started. She hadn’t seen him sitting there.
“No. That’s only so your parents, don’t try to do anything stupid in court…mostly your father. Everything has been worked out between the Crown, Harry and myself, but your father can ball it all up if he tries to play barrister. What I’ve done, is place compulsions on him so he won’t be tempted to do so.”
Dudley nodded. He’d seen what his father was doing and understood what it meant. He’d also watched the Beeb.
“So far, you’ve proved to be trustworthy. Your plea bargain has also been made. All they want to know, is why. In fact, they are intending to use your family as an example to illustrate severe child abuse, and it’s effects. Oh by the way, your cases will be heard in the Special Circumstances Court system. It’s a branch of the Crown’s Court system that is aware of the magical world. Don’t worry. I’ll be there with you. Of course, if you do anything stupid, I will take action, but really I don’t think I’ll have to. You know what you’ve done. You know that it was wrong, and from your school reports, I’d say you were honestly trying to make up for it. Am I wrong?”
“No.” Dudley shook his head. “I did it. It was stupid and cowardly and just plain wrong, but I did it. Professor Jenkins tells us we have to take responsibility for our actions. I suppose this is as good a place to start as any.”
“That’s what I wanted to hear, Dudley.” Carolyn gave him a warm smile. “Let’s see if you can keep it up.”
Dudley gave her a nervous smile before leaving their flat.
In the car park they climbed into her Land Rover, and began the trip to Guildford. Turning out of London, she opted for the A-246 instead of the better-known A-25. They spent most of the time in quiet contemplation.
12th November, Guildford Crown Court, Guildford Surrey. 8:30 AM.
Carolyn took Vernon and Petunia to a waiting area. Dudley’s hearing would be first, and theirs was scheduled to take place some hours later. She arranged for the matron to keep an eye on them and provide them tea and some sandwiches and the like, as well as a visit to the loo when called for.
Done that, she escorted a nervous Dudley down the hall to his own hearing.
Dudley entered the office, to find a severe looking man seated at a desk.
“Hello mister Dursley. My name is Judge Sterling. Please raise your right hand.” Dudley stood there in confusion, but when Carolyn cleared her throat, he jerked his attention back to the present. He flushed in embarrassment and raised his hand. “Sorry Sir.”
“Do you solemnly swear by almighty God that you shall tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
“Have a seat. Miss Chapman would you like to remain?”
“Yes, M’Lord. Due to my client’s unfamiliarity with the court system in general, I think it would be in his best interest to do so.”
“As you wish.”
He turned to Dudley and opened a file on the desk.
“Mister Dursley, You are a very fortunate person to have such a patron as Lord Gryffindor.
You’ve been implicated in a number of crimes, nearly three hundred all told, ranging from vandalism to robbery, done a lot of damage and hurt quite a few people. There is more than sufficient evidence here, to send you to a youth offender’s facility until you are twenty-five…and possibly to prison from there.”
“I understand sir.”
“We could jail you, but honestly, from what the headmaster and teachers at your schools tell me, both Stonewall High and Smeltings by the way, that would be a waste of jail space. According to the people at Smeltings, at the beginning of first term, last year, you’d decided to turn yourself around on your own, and according to your teachers and Miss Gentry at Stonewall, you’re a dedicated student with a genuine desire to improve yourself. Is that true?”
“Why?” The question was ambiguous, but Dudley knew exactly what Sterling was asking.
“Harry saved my life. They were coming for us. I didn’t even know what they were. Hell, I couldn’t even see them, but they were there, freezing the soul out of me, and he cast that spell and he drove them away and he didn’t have to. He could’ve run, but he stayed. He got into trouble for it but he did it anyway. A couple days later, I felt…different than usual about him. I could hear my dad ranting about how it was all the freak’s fault…erm, sorry. That’s what we all used to call Harry. ‘The freak’.”
Sterling nodded, making notes. “Go on.”
“Ummm, anyways I thought my dad was wrong. I told him I did, and he said he didn’t raise me to be a ponce, and when he wanted to hear my opinion, he’d tell me what it was going to be. I started to think of all the things that had happened over the years, and I realized something. Harry wasn’t responsible for them. Yeah, he did some freaky stuff. But that’s just him. I mean, it’s his nature, like. Y’know?”
Again Sterling nodded. To the side, Carolyn was smiling proudly.
“Well when I went back to Smeltings, I stopped into the counselor’s office and we had a long chat. He told me that I was a right proper git, and if I ever wanted to succeed in life, I’d have to learn to deal with people like people. I asked him how and he told me he would see me a couple times a week, and then took me to see Coach Arnoldsen. He told Coach to get me in shape…for real, this time. Arnoldsen took me to the dietitian and we worked out a whole diet and exercise programme. It was hard as hell to stick to the diet, but I had a few people there to keep me focused. By the time the year was over, I was feeling better ‘bout myself. I’d lost thirty kilos, and I could run three miles without nearly dying. And I was in the upper third of my class in academics.”
Dudley paused and then added: “I think it was Harry saving my life that started that all out.”
“It might well have been.” Sterling nodded again. He shuffled the pages on his desk and said: “All right. Let’s get the legal part done and then we can continue this conversation."
Dudley nodded and Sterling went on.
"The plea bargain brokered by Miss Chapman and Lord Gryffindor, has dealt with the charges against you. They feel, and I agree, that a great many of those crimes were fostered as a part of your upbringing, and though you are aware of right and wrong, you’ve been so inculcated by your parents attitudes, that you saw the activity as normal. This is not unusual in abusive households. Lord Gryffindor has also indicated the specific involvement of one Albus Dumbledore as a major source of their attitudes. While I hate to return an abuse victim to their abusers, and make no mistake, Mister Dursley, you were no less abused than your cousin, we feel it is the best place for you.
You will be remanded into your parent’s custody, under Miss Chapman’s very close supervision, or that of her assigns, until you reach the age of majority, at which time your case will be reevaluated. Do you understand?”
“What’s been agreed upon is six thousand hours of community service, at the rate of three hours per day after school, during term, six hours per day on weekends and during your Christmas, Easter and summer holidays. That’s about three and a half years. Will you agree to that?”
“Yes sir. I deserve it…and more.”
“You’ll have to contact your probation officer on a weekly basis. Through the telephone should be sufficient, unless he or she orders your personal appearance. Will you agree to that?”
“You will be restricted to your home, school and the public library, and your place of service until you reach eighteen years. Will you accept that?”
“You are to have no contact with the following people: Piers Polkiss, Dennis Attenberry, Gordon Macklin and Malcolm Rithin as they are also being investigated for various crimes. In addition, you will not drink or otherwise consume or ingest any alcohol, tobacco or marihuana, or any kind of illicit narcotics. Will you agree to that?”
“Good. You are also to attend biweekly counseling sessions, with a psychiatric counselor who will help you to deal with both your anger issues and your lifestyle, though I’m proud to say, you’ve made great inroads into changing your habits on your own.”
“Yessir, but who’s going to pay for that? Counselors don’t come cheap.”
“While normally that would be your parent’s responsibility, I am aware of their financial situation and I understand they won’t have any kind of moneys to spend on such things. Since they will be convicted they are also ineligible for the dole. As it is, Lord Gryffindor has offered to pay for your counseling and any other sundries you may require. His only caveat is that you never tell your parents. Is that acceptable?”
“Yessir.” Dudley was gobsmacked. Even after all Harry had done for them, even after all the horrid things they’d done to him, he was still willing to help them. Dudley couldn’t help it. He felt a real tear; trace its way down his cheek.
“Very well. First, I want you, and Miss Chapman to sign this contract. Miss Chapman or her assigns will be supervising your time. Now, despite your age, this is a legal and binding document. In it, are clearly outlined penalties for failing to complete the assigned community service, or maintaining communications with your probation officer, including the possibility of jail time. Your headmasters are both good judges of character and both have appeared before this court on your behalf…as did Lord Gryffindor. They all say, and based on what I’ve seen, I agree, that you aren’t as far along as we first thought. What do you think?”
“I don’t know why he did that.” Dudley spoke softly. “He doesn’t owe us anything. Not after the way we’ve treated him. He’d be justified to chuck us all and let us rot, but he didn’t.”
“Well discuss that in a minute. For now, let’s sign this and get it out of the way."
Dudley picked up the contract and began to read it carefully, which brought raised eyebrows from both Chapman and Justice Sterling.
Feeling their eyes him, he looked up and flushed. “Ummm…my dad says never sign any thing until you’ve read it through.”
“Well, he gave you a piece of good advise there. Do you understand what you’re reading?”
“Read. I’m finished. And yes, I understand it.”
“Have you any questions?”
“Very well.” Sterling held out a beautiful rosewood fountain pen with a gold nib.
Dudley took the pen and signed his name on the form. It immediately copied itself several times, one of which settled in front of him, one went to Carolyn and one to Sterling. The last copy vanished in a flash of light.
“Wow!” Was all Dudley could say.
“Now let’s talk about Harry Potter.” Sterling placed his pen on a pad of yellow paper and spoke. “Twelve November, nine twelve AM, Discussion between Jason Sterling, Judge for the Crown’s Court, and Dudley Malcolm Dursley, in re: Harry James Potter.” To Dudley’s amazement the pen copied everything the man had said.
“Tell me about your first memories of Harry.”
“Ummm. I was about two, I guess. Mum was always angry and Dad was always talking about overbearing, meddling old men.
He was sleeping in my room but I…I was a berk. I used to hit him ‘cause mum would smile when I did, and sometimes she’d give me biscuits if I made a mark.
After a while, mum got tired of his crying and chucked him into the boot cupboard under the stairs. We couldn’t really hear him then. That became his room and I got my room to myself. I even got the spare room to put all my busted junk in…and Harry lived in the cupboard.”
“When was the first time Harry did any accidental magic?”
“According to mum, he did it straight off. The first day, she’d told me. She’d hit him whenever he did, but he didn’t stop. I remember when I was about three, he was watching me play with my toys. He wasn’t allowed to play with my toys and he had none of his own. I was being a right mean bastard about it too. I was holding up the toys and showing him that I could play with then and not him. I could see he was crying but I didn’t care. Mum brought me milk and biscuits, and when he asked for some too, she kicked him. I guess that must have set him off, cause everything in the room melted or exploded. Dad caught the last of it as he came home from work and he just grabbed Harry by the scruff and hauled him up the stairs.
I could hear the belt against his skin and his screams…he just… His screams were just awful. Mum just held me tight and covered up my ears. After a while, dad dragged him down the stairs by his arm, he was covered in blood, and he just threw him into the cupboard, and locked the door.
I remember him saying he’d beat the freakishness out of the little bastard.”
Dudley sipped the glass of water Sterling had poured for him.
“That’s when it started. From then on they beat him all the time, and had him doing chores all around the house. I’m not talking about picking up and dusting, I’m talking about the kind of things you’d have to pay a service for. Cooking, dishes, laundry, cleaning everything in sight, tending the gardens, painting, replacing the carpet, shingling the roof, that sort of thing. He was eight when he built the greenhouse.
Problem was, nothing he did was ever good enough for dad. He kept calling him a freak…hitting him. We all did. Hell, I don’t think Harry knew his name until he started primary.
He’d run off occasionally but someone would always bring him back, and then dad would beat him, when he was three and a half, or so, dad busted his arm. The next day, it was healed again. I thought it was a dream…until dad busted it again. A week later, his arm was whole again. Dad said: “Third time’s the charm” and was about to break it again, but mum told him to lay off, or the freaks would come and get us. If there’s anything dad’s afraid of…it’s the freaks….erm, magical types.”
“I understand. Did anything else happen?”
“Yeah. You know the sex-ed classes in Primary? Mum wanted to opt me out. She told me that Dad would tell me what I needed to know. At Smeltings, it didn’t matter. There, the class is compulsory. That’s when I understood what Dad had done.”
“What do you mean?” Sterling asked. Unfortunately he understood all too well what Dudley meant.
“One night, when I was six or so, I heard dad come in late. I think he’d been drinking. He was muttering about something or other, I heard him in his bedroom snarling at mum. and then he was stomping down the stairs. He said: “If she won’t give me what I want, I’ll get it elsewhere.” I heard him yelling at Harry to get his lazy arse out of bed and get out to the shed.
I can see the shed from my bedroom window. Dad had Harry in an arm lock and was dragging him toward the shed. He threw Harry inside, and shut the door….”
Dudley had to stop to gather himself. He drank the entire glass of water, and looked like he wanted to throw it back up. His voice trembled as he spoke.
“And then I could hear Harry crying for Dad to stop. I didn’t know what he was doing then. I do now! But not then.” Dudley had to stop, and breathe deeply for a minute or so. Sterling glanced at Carolyn and she nodded her head. He scowled in anger, but hid it well, and he then waited for Dudley to compose himself.
A few minutes later, he left the shed, pulling up his zip. I didn’t see Harry until the next morning, when he was cooking breakfast. He was walking like it hurt, and he looked like he wanted to die. He cut his wrists that day. He was six!”
“Did your parents take him to the hospital?”
“No. The day after he was all healed up, not even a mark, and he acted like nothing had happened. I didn’t know what happened. I suppose the wizards did something.”
“Dad and mum would praise me or give me stuff whenever I hurt Harry, so I hurt him a lot. God I wish I hadn’t! When I met Piers and Dennis, I was just entering primary. We invented a game we called ‘Harry Hunting’. We thought it was great fun. Harry…not so much.” Replied Dudley, in self-disgust.
“And what is Harry hunting?”
“We’d hunt Harry like the old African big game hunters on the telly. Half of us would try to flush him and the others would be there to catch him.”
“We’d beat him raw.” Was Dudley’s whispered reply. “We did that for years.
When Harry went to that Hogberts place, dad said we had to lay off him, or someone like that huge bloke would give me another tail. Dad, would still hit him on occasion, and me ‘n the gang would hunt him from time to time, but for the most part, we just made his life at home, miserable…"
Dudley paused again.
"…and then he saved my life.”
Carolyn nodded and Sterling prompted: “All right, talk to me about that night. What happened?”
“Well, I’d been hanging around with Piers and the gang, roughing up a kid for his tuck money. We’d just broken up to go home when Harry caught up to me in the underpass. I could see he was right hacked off, so I decided to poke a bit of fun at him. Thing is, he wasn’t having any…until I made a few comments about some kid named Cedric. I said he was Harry’s boyfriend.”
“Cedric?” Sterling asked.
“Diggory.” Carolyn interjected. “Fellow Triwizard champion. He was murdered by Peter Pettigrew, the night Voldemort was reincarnated. Harry was standing next to him.”
Dudley paled. He’d never known that. Harry had watched his friend murdered? He wanted to sick up!
“Dudley?” Sterling asked gently. “Are you all right?”
“Harry had been crying in the nights before that.” Dudley was almost weeping. “I heard him pleading for someone not to kill Cedric. I didn’t understand it was real, but I…I was making fun of him for the nightmares. Oh God! I am such an arse!”
“A lesson, I’d think.” Sterling noted Dudley’s remorse. He’d seen actors before, but this kid had some potential. He’d see what he could do to foster that potential.
“And then it got all cold, I could see ice on the tunnel walls. He tried to get me to run, held up his wand and I thought he was gonna use it on me. I punched him and he lost it, but then every thing went dark. I musta ran into a wall, cause my jaw hurt, and then I felt like I wanted to just curl up and die…like there was nothing left to live for. All the crappy things I’d done came back to me. I couldn’t escape them. It was like they were happening to me. He yelled for me to run but I just couldn’t, and then I was on my back and I could feel something…pulling on me, like it was trying to suck the air out of me. I couldn’t see any thing but I just knew I was gonna die.”
“I want to backtrack for a minute.” Sterling was interested in something Dudley had said. “You said you struck your jaw?”
“Yes sir. My filling came out. Is it important?”
“I think it is. Do you recall what happened when it came out?”
“I swallowed it.” Dudley was embarrassed. Sterling smiled thinly.
“Very well. Go on.”
A moment passed before Dudley spoke again. “Harry saved me, you know. He did that patroney thing and they left. I was pretty out of it by then but I know Mrs. Figg was there. Harry told us she was a squid. Kind of odd thing to call someone, actually. Anyway Harry and Mrs. Figg got me home, as soon as dad saw me; he tried to throw Harry out. Then an owl came through the window and dropped a letter. Dad doesn’t like owls, ‘specially owls with letters. He told Harry to grab his stuff and get out. Another owl with another letter got there and it started yelling, and mum said he had to stay."
They had been talking for over two hours, when, at eleven thirty, Carolyn cleared her throat.
“Miss Chapman?” Sterling acknowledged her.
“M’Lord, I’m needed in court. Do you need me for anything?”
“No. We’re almost done here. I’ll have Mister Dursley ready to leave when you are.”
“Thank you, Sir. Your leave then.”
“Good day.” He dismissed her. Carolyn left the room and Sterling turned back to Dudley.
12th November, Guildford Crown Court, Guildford Surrey.
Petunia and Vernon entered the courtroom, to find a distinctly hostile looking woman seated on the bench. On the left side of the courtroom, were three men in expensive suits and on the right an empty table with three water glasses and a pitcher of water.
As soon as the Dursleys were seated, Carolyn called out: “M’Lady?”
“I request a moment of your time before this case is settled.”
“Very well, Please approach the bench.”
At the bench, Carolyn asked the judge to erect a privacy ward. When she had done so, she began.
“M'Lady, I have placed several compulsions on my clients. One to ensure their cooperation, one to ensure they answer truthfully, one to prevent their trying anything stupid, and one to help Mister Dursley keep his temper and accept the court’s ruling.”
“And you’re certain that was necessary? I normally don’t like having those I try under compulsions.”
“Ma’am, when I went to pick them up, I found Dursley practicing his ‘courtroom whirl-and-point’.”
“Oh God! Rumpole?”
“More like Perry Mason.”
“Then all I can do is thank you. If the case weren’t so well made, I wouldn’t allow it, but as it is, I can accept it. They are aware of the case against them are they not?”
“Of course. I presented the charges and their plea-bargains and let them know that they stood to a very long time in prison should they not agree. I’m simply trying to prevent any last minute histrionics.”
“Very well then.”
Judge Stewart began. “This is not a trial. It is a hearing to determine if I approve the plea-bargain worked out between the Crown’s Prosecution Service, the Department of Internal Revenue and Taxation, The Bank of England, Barclays Bank, and Grunnings LLC, and your barrister, Miss Chapman.
Mister Dursley, you are charged with such foul crimes, that I was at first unwilling to even consider making a deal. It was in fact, your victim, Lord Gryffindor, who convinced me otherwise. He told me that imprisoning you would serve no purpose. Should you be placed in any correctional facility in Britain, you’d end up dead of an ‘accident’ before the month was done. Prisoners don’t like child abusers. They like rapists even less. That would be no lesson, and you definitely need to be taught a lesson.”
Madam Dursley, you are in my eye, even more guilty than your husband. You were given the custody of a child…wanted or not…he was given into your care, and instead of raising him as a child should be, as any normal person would do, you imprisoned him. You deprived him of any positive emotional contact, refused him the basic amenities of life here in Britain, forced him into labour wholly unsuitable to his age, starved him, beat him and allowed your husband to beat and molest him. Were it up to me, I would see you hanged.”
The last words echoed throughout the courtroom.
“However, it is not up to me. I have been requested by both Lord Gryffindor, and Her Majesty, the Queen, to approve the plea bargain that has been brokered by your solicitor. You should count yourself very fortunate!”
Stewart sipped from her water glass, then opened the file before her. It wasn’t necessary. She was already well familiar with the contents.
“Vernon and Petunia Dursley, you are each hereby sentenced to house arrest for the next thirty years. Vernon Dursley, you may go to work, home, and to your place of community service, but nowhere else. Petunia Dursley, you will be allowed to go to the grocers, your home and your place of community service. You will each be wearing an electronic tracking device at all times.
You will complete thirty thousand hours of community service each, at the rate of three hours per day during the week, eight hours per day on weekends and any holidays you are allowed. Since you both hold our less-fortunate citizens in such utter contempt, I have decided you will be working directly with them. You will be serving soup, in the shelters, cleaning dishes, and beds, roadsides, and parks.
Vernon Dursley, your illegal accounts have been seized, and the necessary unpaid taxes and penalties for undeclared income, have been paid from the moneys you have stolen, and the remainder has been returned to Mister Joshua Grunning. Mister Grunning has arranged to garnish your wages in the amount of two hundred pounds per month until the rest of what you have stolen has been returned.
You are both prohibited from drinking or otherwise ingesting any alcoholic beverage, tobacco marihuana or other narcotics, unless prescribed by a competent physician.
You will both attend anger management sessions, bi-weekly, until I am assured you have overcome those issues. Since you won’t be able to afford such counseling and as convicted felons, you are ineligible for any public assistance, Lord Gryffindor has volunteered to pay for that counseling.”
Even under the compulsions, Carolyn could see Vernon coming to a boil.
“Here, you have a choice…a choice you never gave your nephew, and it is your only choice. Your choice is, quite simply: ‘Take it, or leave it’.”
“If you refuse, I will be most happy to open trial proceedings that will end in your permanent incarceration in the worst prison I can find! I understand Britain is on good terms with Turkey!”
“Will you accept these terms, or will you refuse? Quite honestly, I’d prefer you refuse.”
Carolyn winced. She’d have to hope the compulsions she’d cast, held under the countering influence of the judge.
Vernon and petunia agreed to abide by their sentence, and were fitted with the ankle bracelets they’d wear for the next thirty years. Judge Stewart was disappointed.
When Carolyn had returned the three of them to their flat, Vernon turned on her and bellowed: “You did that freaky stuff on us!”
“Of course I did, you bloody jackass!” Carolyn hollered back. “If I hadn’t, you’d be in jail now, awaiting trial on a dozen capital crimes! That judge wanted you to refuse! She would have loved nothing better than to see you publicly tried and sent to prison…where you would have been killed within a bloody month, by - the - way!”
As stubborn and opinionated as Vernon was, he also had a very strong self-preservation instinct. He knew what those lowlifes in prisons thought of decent, hardworking people like him. He also knew they’d take his ‘entertainment’ the wrong way and this Chapman bint was right. They’d beat him to death in short order! He could take a couple, but prisons were chock-full of that kind of scum.
Dudley actually laughed as he heard his father bellowing at Carolyn. He knew it was going to take a lot of time, but he thought his father would…eventually…come ‘round. If not, well, he could do a few more years here before he bailed.
Four hundred miles to the north, Argus Filch was having a bad day. It appeared one of those putrescent students, had used a sticking charm on all his mops! This one refused to come free.
He grunted and swore as he tugged against the stubborn mop.
Behind him Severus Snape approached the Squib. He silently watched, sneering at the misanthropic old man with sadistic pleasure as Filch struggle with the mop. Anyone with even the slightest trace of usable magic could overcome such a simple prank. He was deep into his thoughts when the epoxy glue holding the mop down, finally came free. Filch grunted in surprise as he flew backwards. He hit the wall and knew no more. Snape’s eyes popped wide in agony as the broomstick impacted his groin. Like most men, he folded with an inarticulate squeak.
Peeves found them there a moment later, and zoomed around them, cackling and pelting them with old chewing gum he’d found under several classrooms worth of desks.
Dobby took picture after picture with Judith’s Nikon, before vanishing quietly.
Draco Malfoy found them a short time later. He’d heard Peeves’ laughter, and hoping to find a first or second year he could torment, decided to investigate. When he saw his head of house, lying on the floor and clutching his groin, he couldn’t stifle his first snicker. Fortunately for his continued school existence, Snape didn’t hear it.
He yelled: “Peeves, if you don’t clear off, I’ll call the Bloody Baron!”
Peeves paled. Chucking the remaining handful of dried gum at Draco, he fled the corridor.
Draco levitated the suffering head of Slytherin house to the hospital wing. Being a squib, Filch was beneath his notice.
A/N: In book sux, episode two, it struck me as particularly stupid to target the taboo on the last thing the Death Eaters did before they vanished into the woodwork. They caught a few, but honestly, anyone stupid enough to stick around a crime scene, deserved to be caught.
Aubrey actually made a decent time, for a two mile obstacle course, especially for a sixty year old British male who’d been out of the active fieldwork for a while. Kenneth Aubrey is from Craig Thomas’ ‘Firefox’.
The British oath differed from the American one in that it began with the pledge to God, rather than ending that way. Also, in Britain, the Crown Court system tries the serious crimes, and Judges are addressed as ‘My Lord’ or ‘My Lady’ and referred to, as “Your Lordship/Ladyship”.
‘Rumpole of the Bailey’ was a fictional British solicitor very much like ‘Perry Mason’, who would defend the lowlifes in his charge, against all comers…but with fewer theatrics. His battle cry was: “Never plead guilty!”
Perry Mason was also popular in Britain.
I made the decision to redeem Dudley, because he showed honest remorse in canon. It wasn’t much, but it was there. Neither Vernon nor Petunia even bothered.
In Britain the age or responsibility, or the age at which a minor can be charged with an adult crime, is ten years old. In Scotland it’s eight.
Some people have commented that I am letting the Dursleys off easily. I am not! Harry intervened with the normal procedures to ensure they stayed under his control. Had they opted for trial, two things would have happened. First; they’d be waiting for years, and second; the newspapers would be filled with it. This would give Dumbledore ammunition to use against Harry, and the Dursleys would have time to work out a decent defense. While Carolyn is their solicitor, she is working for Harry, not them.
As it is, they are in prison…a prison of their own making, for at least twenty years. Vernon will have to remain in his dead-end job, until he dies. Petunia will be the center of gossip for the same length of time. Every single individual in their community will know what they’ve done. They will have no money, no status and no social position. With the exception of utilities and food, (of a healthier type, actually) they will have to pay nearly every penny they have to Harry, and literally every nice thing they have will be at his behest.
For them, that would be a far worse punishment than mere death.
As for Judge Stewart’s threat, you don’t want to be in a Turkish prison! See ‘Midnight Express’. It is terrifying and quite accurate.