Chapter 34 – Wizengamot
. . .
"I'm sorry," Hermione said while on the verge of tears. "I thought I had it all figured out," the distraught witch told Harry. The wizard in question sat next to the woman who was his best friend, a look of confusion upon his features upon hearing her words. "It doesn't look like my plan will work now, Harry."
The group, for it couldn't be called anything other than that, was in a private conference room within the Ministry of Magic. Earlier that morning, when Harry had made ready to leave Westfield and go to the Wizengamot session, everyone in the house had declared their intentions of going with him. Except for Andi who had remained conspicuously absent. In the end, Harry had consented, leaving Teddy and Anna with Winky. Much to Anna's displeasure.
The appearance of Harry Potter within the Ministry of Magic had caused a more significant commotion than any of them had assumed it would. It hadn't been even a year yet since the young man had defeated Voldemort. Harry's presence generated more attention than if the Queen herself had stepped into the Ministry of Magic. Those in the atrium paused as whispers of the Boy-Who-Lived swept through the early morning crowd of Ministry workers.
Harry, thinking rather quickly, had commandeered a vacant meeting room for their group. It was as much to give them some privacy as it was to limit the disturbance Harry's presence was causing. It was shortly after they had entered the room and closed the door that a very remorse Hermione had approached Harry and taken the seat next to him.
"That's alright," Harry replied, attempting to console the emotional witch. "We'll proceed with our plan then," Harry stated with a look towards Daniel Wright. The solicitor had been awaiting their arrival in the atrium and had joined Harry's group. "It will be alright Hermione," Harry said in what he hoped was a reassuring tone as he pulled the witch into a hug. The young man really had no clue if things would turn out in his favor or not but what choice did he have at this point but to hope that they would.
"I think it is our best course of action to proceed as we discussed Mister Potter," Daniel Wright agreed."We just need to keep them focused on what Greengrass did rather than on what you did. That and the fact that your magic accepted your marriage to Missus Lovegood."
"I'm sorry I let you down," Hermione spoke into Harry's shoulder. "I thought for certain that Andi would be willing to do it if it were to save you, Harry."
"What was it she would need to do?" Harry asked, a bit curious at this point. Granted he had told Hermione that he trusted her, but that didn't keep him from wondering all the same.
"It doesn't really matter now," Daphne cut in, "as it isn't going to work now it appears."
"It looks like you were right after all," Hermione said, pulling away from Harry's arms and standing to face Daphne. The young woman's emotions were in shambles. The fact that she had not been able to save Harry causing her much grief and heartache.
"I take little satisfaction from that fact," Daphne told her as she stepped to Hermione and began to dab at the older girl's wet cheeks with a handkerchief she had pulled from her handbag. "It would have been nice if it had," she added with a wistful smile. "Difficult, I'm sure, but nice all the same."
"So, what is the plan now, Harry?" Tracey inquired, trying her best not to show just how nervous she was and failing.
"Well, the fact that Greengrass basically tricked Lord Potter into his marriage with Lady Black should give us a fairly strong case of attempted line theft. As Lord Potter is the head of aNoble and Ancient House that is no small matter," Daniel Wright answered."Should the Wizengamot rule against Greengrass it will be him that will be seeing the inside of a cell at Azkaban and not Lord Potter."
"Lord Potter?" Tracey commented with an arched brow. It was the first she had ever heard of Harry being addressed in such a manner.
"Yes," Harry confirmed."Apparently there is a reason the Black family is called the Noble and Ancient House of Black. At some point in the past, they were given a title and lands and made a member of the Peerage. I am what you would call a Hereditary Peer, thanks to Sirius" explained Harry. "I hold the Scottish Peerage title of Earl."
"So, then you have lands as well?" Luna asked, her Ravenclaw curiosity getting the better of her. Luna knew that Harry would hate having the title at all. It's not like he doesn't have enough of them already. The Chosen One, the Boy-Who-Lived, Vanquisher of Voldemort, she mused. Still, one never knew when being a member of the Peerage might come in handy, she reasoned.
"I suppose so," Harry said, glancing over at Daniel Wright and arching a brow in question.
"I will look into it, Lord Potter," the solicitor replied to the unasked question. "His Lordship is Harry James Potter, 17th Earl of Ross to be precise," Daniel added with a grin at Harry's obvious discomfort with the title. "Lady Black would actually be the 19th Countess of Ross."
"Your Grace," Tracey curtsied with excessive formality to Daphne, her eyes alight with mirth.
"Yes, yes, carry on wench," Daphne replied in a haughty tone as she made a shewing gesture. There were amused chuckles about the room bringing a bit of much-needed laughter as most were on edge knowing what awaited Harry. Much like Luna, the former Slytherin's mind kicked into overdrive with the sudden realization that she was married to royalty. Her thoughts were cut short though as they all heard the door to the room open.
"Well everyone certainly seems to be in a good mood at least," Astoria said as she stepped into the room leading Draco by the hand. "I hope we made it in time for the war council?" The two newlyweds were dressed in formal robes which fit the occasion with their new family crest embroidered over the left breast.
"What are you doing here?" Tracey asked. "I thought you two would be making like bunnies or something."
"Yes, well," stammered the embarrassed witch, her cheeks turning a rather bright red, "after that we thought we would be needed here. "We can always go back to the island afterward," Astoria added with a suggestive look towards Draco.
The former Slytherin wizard took it all in stride, willing to do whatever Astoria wished at this point. Not that I don't owe Potter a debt but the island was so much more fun, he thought. "Tactful as always, Davis," Draco drawled as he slipped an arm around Astoria and pulled her to his side.
"I'm sure we can use the moral support," Daphne was quick to cut in with before Tracey and Draco could square off. "There's been a slight change of plans it seems."
Astoria took a quick look around the room. "Andi," was all she said upon realizing that the older witch was absent. Admittedly she was not surprised to discover that Andi had balked at marrying Harry.
"I guess I shouldn't really blame her," Hermione offered. "I mean she was already married once. I'm sure she loved her husband and would find it difficult to marry again."
"You wanted Andi to marry me?" Harry asked in disbelief at the realization.
"Among others," Luna provided helpfully as she stepped to Harry's side and slipped her arm within his. "Not that it matters now. Perhaps it would be best if we headed to the courtroom so that we can get seats up front?" the witch suggested, leading Harry toward the doors. As they stepped out into the busy hallway, they nearly ran into another group of people.
"Harry?" exclaimed the somewhat surprised voice of Neville Longbottom. The Longbottom of Longbottom was dressed in expensive ceremonial robes and was accompanied by two witches, one on either side. Neville had filled out over the summer and now was what many women referred to as ruggedly handsome.
"Neville? How are you, mate?" Harry asked, shaking hands with the wizard. "Ladies," Harry added with a nod to the two women with the former Gryffindor. Susan just smiled back while Hanna got somewhat of an awed look on her face upon seeing Harry. It wasn't every day you got to stand face to face with the savior of the Wizarding world after all.
"Fine," Neville replied, shaking Harry's hand. The two exchanged pleasantries concerning their holidays. The witches with Harry were pleased to note that Harry played it off as if his holidays had been nothing special. "Come to see me take my seat, have you?" Neville finally inquired.
"Of course," Harry quickly stated before anyone could say anything else. It was better if everyone else didn't realize that Harry was there for reasons of his own the wizard figured. At least not just yet. Neville claiming his family seat on the Wizengamot was as good a cover as any for his presence there that day. "You know everyone here," Harry added, providing introductions for those in his group regardless.
The former Gryffindor arched a questioning brow upon being introduced to Daphne and Tracey as both were from Slytherin. Receiving a small shrug from Harry, the man decided that it wasn't really his place to ask. "You know Susan Bones as she works for you," Neville said with a grin. "The is Hanna Abbot, my intended," Neville said in a tone as if he still didn't believe it himself.
"Intended?" Harry parroted back in surprise. "Congratulations to you both! When did this happen?"
"I ask myself that as well," Augusta Longbottom said as she approached the group. "Nice of you to make it, Mister Potter," Madam Longbottom added as she came to stand beside her grandson. "I am glad that some of Neville's friends could be present for this."
"Wouldn't miss it for the world," Harry managed to get out, wondering if he had overlooked an invitation in the post or something. With everything that had been going on of late Harry had been somewhat remiss in handling his own personal mail. "I doubt we'd all be here if it weren't for Neville here," Harry said, making the man blush and the grandmother beam proudly. "Couldn't have defeated Voldemort without him!"
Augusta, hearing Harry words, felt her chest swell with pride. She dearly missed her Frank but knew that Neville's parent would be very proud of their son and the part he had played in the downfall of the Dark Lord. The fact that Harry had always been very vocal concerning the part her Neville and the others had played only served to reinforce her belief in the Potter boy. Seeing Hanna smiling up at Neville with a hint of hero worship in her eyes led the aged witch to think that maybe Neville had done alright for himself.
"I believe we are nearly ready, Neville," Augusta stated turning to address her grandson. "They are expecting us in courtroom three I believe. The actual ceremony of Vestment will not take place until the end of the session. They want you to have to sit through a session before they give you the seat. Why don't you sit with your friends till it is time?"
"Yes, Gran," Neville replied, happy to have others to sit with through what he expected to be a rather long and tedious Wizengamot session.
As a group, they all made their way to the designated courtroom. The large group entered courtroom three, drawing many stares from the few Wizengamot members who were already there. Harry noted that Lucius Malfoy was already seated on the far side of the courtroom with Gerald Greengrass beside him. Malfoy senior wore a blank expression. However, Gerald appeared to be none too pleased to see Harry there.
"Bloody hell! What is Potter doing here?" Gerald Greengrass snarled. The wizard's eyes followed the young man and his entourage as they seated themselves near the doors. It didn't take long for him to spy the Longbottom heir or to see his own daughters and Tracey Davis, who was never far from Daphne. "What is your son doing sitting with him?" Gerald demanded shooting Lucius a suspicious look on seeing the Malfoy boy seated next to Astoria.
"He's not my son," Lucius replied calmly. "I disowned him several days ago."
"What!" Gerald exclaimed in disbelief.
"For Merlin's sake! Draco has been nothing but a disappointment his entire life. I really should have dropped him from the family a long time ago but was rather busy at the time. I will not have him being responsible for the Malfoy name when I am gone. Besides, I can always make another heir," Lucius pointed out. "Some of us have better luck making sons than daughters," he added with a small condescending smile.
"But he was your tie to the Black Family," Gerald pointed out, confused by the man's actions and choosing to ignore the jab about sons. It went without saying that Lucius had been rather busy supporting Voldemort. Gerald couldn't help but wonder what the Dark Lord would have thought concerning Lucius disowning his only heir.
"Please," Lucius scoffed,"we both know that you were not about to let me get my hands on the Black gold, Greengrass." Seeing the shocked look on the other wizard's face, Lucius continued. "It matters not. I already told you that gold I have aplenty. What I really wanted was the share in the Greengrass business. As the Black gold will go to further that business, I will still make out rather handsomely in the end."
"Does Draco know? Do you think he is why Potter is here today of all days?" Gerald asked, stalling for time to think over what Lucius had said. He had to admit that it made a bit of sense. No one ever claimed that Lucius Malfoy was ever stupid. The man had an uncanny ability to save his own arse when many others would not have been able to. The fact that Lucius had managed to figure out the double-cross actually slightly impressed Gerald. Still, the former Head of the Greengrass family did not get where he was in life by trusting blindly.
"I would believe so or more precisely I would think it was your youngest daughter which weaseled the information out of him," Lucius drawled. "You know how young men are. They see a pair of spread legs and can't help but think with the wrong head. Women have all sorts of ways to make men talk in the middle of the night after all."
"Astoria would never do that!" Gerald bristled at the implication that his daughter had slept with the former Malfoy heir just to gain information. The wizard chose to overlook the fact that he had expected Daphne to do that very same thing to the Potter boy in order to gain control of the Black gold. "I raised my daughters to be better than that!"
"Really?" Lucius asked with a knowing smirk. "If I were you, I would have her purity checked before you entered into any future marriage contract negotiations. I could be wrong, but she did appear to be walking a little stiffly when they entered. She hasn't released Draco's arm since they arrived either," he pointed out.
Gerald looked over toward the group seated by the main doors and had to admit that it did appear as though Astoria was hanging on Draco's arm in a less than ladylike manner. "Potter being here changes nothing," the angry wizard finally spat.
"I agree," Lucius concurred in a bored tone. "Potter broke the law and should have to pay for his crime."
"Exactly!" Gerald agreed.
"And if you should once again become the Head of the Greengrass family while filling your vault with the Black gold all the better, right?" Lucius asked rhetorically.
"And you have the votes?" Greengrass pressed.
"I received all the proper paperwork from your solicitor concerning our arrangement," Lucius stated,"so you have all the votes."
The two wizards sat back as the remainder of the Wizengamot filed in and found their seats. The last to enter was the Minister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt with the Chief Warlock, Amos Diggory beside him. Amos had been appointed by Shacklebolt shortly after the war. Kingsley had felt it would give the wizard something to do as Amos was still heartbroken over what had happened to Cedric.
The next hour was filled with issues that had carried over from the previous year including a rather interesting patent suit between the Cleansweep Broom Company and Joseph Spudmore, the inventor of the Firebolt. Cleansweep alleged that Spudmore had used several proprietary spell formulas when crafting his Firebolt broom and were requesting to see the arithmancy that went into the spells. Spudmore offered to compare them if Cleansweep provided their spell arithmancy. As neither wished to divulge the bases of their product's spells the case remained at a stalemate and was finally passed over for the next session.
"Is there any new business?" Kingsley finally asked. Gerald made to rise but was beaten apparently by someone else. "The Wizengamot acknowledges Harry Potter. Might I just say that it is a pleasure to see that you are taking an interest in your government Mister Potter. If you're not careful I may just have to find a job for you," Kingsley said, eliciting a round of good-natured chuckles across the room. "You have the floor Mister Potter." The Minister said with a warm smile.
"Thank you, Minister," Harry said as he stepped to the front of the room. "While I am certain that working for you and Ministry would be very exciting, I think I've had my share of excitement for a while. Besides, if I were a Ministry employee, who knows, someone may just try and get me elected," Harry added, causing a fair bit more laughter.
The young wizard finally turned to address the Wizengamot. "Chief Warlock, honorable witches, and wizards, it is indeed a pleasure to be able to stand before such an august group of individuals. Let me first say that I, like so many others, greatly appreciate all that you do for our world." Harry gave a small bow to them before he continued.
"While you may know me as Harry Potter, the Vanquisher of Voldemort," Harry opened with, pleased to hear only a few gasps among those assembled there upon hearing the Dark Lord's name."I must ask that you forget that for today as I must address you not as a hero but rather as a Head of House. As you may know, I am Lord Harry Potter of the Noble and Ancient House of Black. I stand before you today seeking not reparation but rather something much more valuable, justice!"
Harry's words sent a wave of whispers and murmurings around the room. Many there were Heads of their own respective houses and so couldn't help but speculate on what had brought their hero before them this day. His words also made sure that he now held their undivided attention. "I know you are all probably asking yourself what could have happened. I will tell you for I am appalled that someone would commit such heinous crimes. Slavery! Forced servitude for life!" Harry exclaimed rather loudly. His words eliciting gasps of disbelief and rumblings of outrage. "I know not what else to call it."
"Those are grave crimes, Mister Potter," Amos Diggory said after banging his gavel down and restoring a measure of order. "I hope you have some proof," the Chief Warlock said, eyeing the younger wizard darkly. Amos had never forgiven Harry for what had happened to his son, Cedric. The heartbroken father held a grudge, feeling that Harry should have been able to save Cedric. He could not get over the fact that his son had been killed merely because he was a spare.
"I do Chief Warlock," Harry replied, thrusting up his left hand and allowing the Black Head of House ring to appear. "No doubt you have all read the article in the Prophet, penned by one of their less than talented writers, informing the Wizarding world that I have recently wed. It was a marriage which Lady Black nor I had agreed to at the time. It was only through deceit and trickery of that man," Harry spun dramatically and leveled an accusing finger directly at Gerald Greengrass, "that his unsuspecting daughter and I were trapped!"
Gerald Greengrass sat in his seat while every eye in the courtroom stared at him in disbelief and whispers of possible line theft ran through the assembly. Allowing his gaze to sweep the room Gerald noted in some faces that he saw grudging respect for having accomplished something many of them hadn't even thought of, and fewer still would have even dared to try.
The brat has outplayed me, Gerald realized. I may have underestimated him just slightly. His plans for dramatically revealing that the boy was married twice over were dashed for the moment it appeared. Though the battle is far from lost. Gerald knew there would come a time when that tidbit of information could be used to his benefit. The accused wizard rose to address the gathered elite of Britain's Wizarding world.
"Witches, Wizards, Chief Warlock, Minister," Gerald opened with as he stepped from his seat and strode to the bottom floor to face his accuser. "I think perhaps Mister Potter is mistaken. Quite understandable for one so young and inexperienced in such matters. I, who am without a male heir, have been merely looking out for the best interests of my eldest daughter, Daphne. What parent wouldn't want the very best for their child after all? I am certain none here can disagree that our Hero is anything but the best our world has to offer."
"Perhaps this is a matter we should defer till the next Wizengamot session in a month's time?" the Minister suggested over the murmurings running through those assembled.
"I would prefer to have this matter settled now," Gerald was quick to voice. "Such a slanderous statement, should it reach the public, will no doubt have a negative impact on the Greengrass family name and businesses. It could possibly cost me thousands of galleons before I can clear my name of any wrongdoing." It also wouldn't do for Daphne to reach her maturity if the matter was delayed until the next meeting of the Wizengamot.
"Not really your concern that, though is it?" Harry asked, "As the Greengrass business is no longer yours but rather mine." The young wizard didn't like how Greengrass was attempting to make him appear immature and too young to know what he was speaking of. A quick glance in Daphne's direction showed that outrage on her face at her father saying it was all for her best interests.
"True though that may be," Gerald conceded in a low enough tone so that only Harry could hear him,"by the time this is all said and done they, and so much more, will be, Mister Potter. My apologies, Lord Potter," Gerald hastily corrected with a smirk before Harry could point out the proper manner to address him.
"Minister," Amos voiced,"Mister Greengrass does have a valid point. The Greengrass name is well respected, and the financial impact could be quite severe should this get out. It would not do to have such an outstanding member of our world disgraced in such a manner. Something I am certain Mister Potter would not wish to happen if he fully understood what he was doing. As Mister Greengrass is willing to refute the allegations against him perhaps it would be best if we proceed?"
Minister Shacklebolt could do little but look at Harry and ask, "Are you prepared to proceed Lord Potter?" Seeing the wizard in question give a sharp nod the Minister turned to address Gerald Greengrass. "Mister Greengrass, are you prepared to defend yourself here and now as well or would you like some time to prepare your defense?"
"I believe it will be in everyone's best interest to proceed, Minister," Gerald replied, certain that this would be a walk in the park. "I'm sure everyone has better things to do with their time so let us get this over with as quickly as possible."
The Minister gave a brief nod toward the Chief Warlock to proceed. Normally the Chief Warlock presided over the Wizengamot and ran the sessions. Occasionally the Minister would take control, such as Fudge had done for Harry's trial, but those were rare occasions."Mister P…, excuse me, Lord Potter, I assume you have proof to present to this body concerning your allegations against Mister Greengrass?"
"Yes, Chief Warlock," Harry acknowledged. "Though I shall need assistance from those who are with me to present it," he added with a gesture towards those in his group who were seated in the front rows. "I'm passingly decent at defeating Dark Lords, but pants at presenting logical facts, as my dear friend Miss Granger has been quick to inform me of on numerous occasions," he stated, drawing some laughter from those seated in the room. The witch in question blushed upon hearing the unexpected admission.
"Yes, yes. Whatever it takes, Lord Potter," Amos replied with a gesture to indicate the man should get on with it and stop wasting their time.
"This is my solicitor, Daniel Wright," Harry said, gesturing towards the man in question who stood as he was introduced. "He will be handling my case."
"Members of the Wizengamot," Mister Wright opened with. "If you will indulge me a few moments of your time I feel it is important to provide you with a clear picture of what has transpired. To do this I must provide you with some rather unsettling history," he said addressing those gathered as Harry and Gerald both returned to their seats.
"In the mid-1300's there was a sickness which ran rampant through the muggle world. The Bubonic Plague spread wiping out entire towns and cities. It is estimated that between 70 to 200 million muggles died around the world. Nearly 60 percent of their world's population."
"So, a lot of muggles died," stated a member of the Wizengamot. "What's your point? Are we suppose to care about what happened hundreds of years ago?"
"Actually, yes," Daniel replied to the question. "For you see, not long before they were hit by the plague, our world was as well. In the early 1300's our world, not just Britain mind you, but the whole of the Wizarding world was afflicted by a similar sickness. Nearly three-quarters of our population perished," he informed them.
"Unless this plague you spoke of is returning I fail to see the relevance Mister Wright," Amos said.
"I am coming to that Chief Warlock," Daniel said, turning to gesture toward Hermione. The young witch, clutching her beaded purse, stood and made her way towards the waiting solicitor. "Though I am certain she needs no introduction, this is Miss Hermione Granger. She has been working as my research assistance on this matter." While not technically accurate he felt it would lend credence to Hermione's testimony if she were thought of as such.
As if by magic a tabled appeared before the pair. "As one might expect, given the immense loss of life," Daniel started with as Hermione withdrew several books from the small beaded purse and set them on the table which had appeared. "Those that survived would become somewhat reclusive. Small magical villages or coven homesteads did not look favorable upon outsiders." Daniel gave a slight nod toward the waiting witch.
"This made finding a spouse rather difficult," Hermione said, dropping into her lecture mode to overcome her nerves at addressing the Wizengamot directly. "It would have been rather imperative to procreate and increase the magical population once again yet these small isolated communities, fearing the spread of disease, did not welcome outsiders. There are documented reports," Hermione continued as she gestured towards the first three books she had removed from her purse,"where witches and wizards had been killed just for approaching these isolated groups."
"Times were vastly different in those days. While the Ministry has worked to guide our world since the early 1700's, before that time the Wizards' Council held sway," Hermione stated, drawing forth a huge tome from her tiny purse and setting it upon the table."There were laws enacted to both protect the surviving settlements as well as those wishing to find a spouse to start a family with." Hermione paused to pull out another tome. Some of those sitting with Harry, Astoria especially, recognize the book, having seen it once before at Westfield.
"I would like to read one such law to you," Hermione said before proceeding. "The intend'd shalt traveleth to whence those gents cameth bringing with those folk not pestilence n'r beshrew n'r aught oth'r than the robes upon their backeth. Thou shalt liveth in thy husband's lodging of residence and w'rk the landeth as that gent doth seeth fiteth f'r a p'riod of nay less than three synodic phases. If 't be true hath found the mistress w'rthy that gent may purchaseth all yond is of value from h'r family, presenting the intend'd h'r wand to his jointress to completeth the agreement hon'rably. Shouldst the jointress beest unfit 'r unable to beareth offspring within the turning of the seasons then the husband needeth but breaketh h'r wand to dissolve the agreement and sendeth h'r backeth to h'r family f'rev'r sham'd and suitable only f'r the s'rvitude to the church."
"Thank you, Miss Granger," Daniel said once the witch had finished. "Allow me to translate for everyone. A family could present their daughter to a perspective wizard. The witch would then have to go live and work there without her wand or magic for three lunar cycles. Should the wizard decide to wed, he would then purchase the witch's wand from her family. The deal was considered complete when the wizard presented the witch with her wand."
"And if he never presented her with her wand?" Augusta Longbottom asked causing the solicitor to look in Hermione's direction.
"That part was not included in the book," Hermione replied. The young witch assumed that either the family would come and collect the rejected prospective bride or that the woman would leave on her own.
Augusta gave a brief nod, more than a little angry at just how poorly women had been treated back in that era. Witches these days had just as many rights as wizards did, which she was very thankful for. "Can you clarify the last part about breaking her wand?"
"If the witch was unable to bear the wizard a son within the first year he was then allowed to snap her wand and send her back to her family," Hermione answered. "Her family was then to send her to the church for the remainder of her days."
"Yes, yes," Amos cut in."That is a wonderful little bit of history but what does it have to do with what happened to Mister Potter?" he asked, clearly agitated that the proceedings were taking so long.
"I was just getting to that, Chief Warlock," Daniel Wright quickly cut in. "Laws these days are written in a manner to provide protection to all regardless of their station in life. Not so back in our ancestor's days, I'm afraid. Nowhere in that law does it say that the wizard has to be willing to accept the prospective bride. Only that the family has to offer her," Daniel stated. It went without saying that the witch didn't even have to be willing. "It is believed that the wizard accepts the new bride when he purchases the wand of the offered witch and accepts the marriage when he presents her with said wand," the solicitor explained.
"Are you telling us that the witch is sold for the cost of her wand and then is expected to give birth to a son or have her wand snapped and magic lost?" Augusta asked only to see Daniel give a nod of agreement. "That is just barbaric!" the venerable witch exclaimed.
"And a still valid law, Madam Longbottom," Daniel Wright replied to the sound of many gasps of disbelief about the room. "Lord Potter happened to have a chanced encounter with the then Daphne Greengrass on the streets of muggle London. Seeing that the woman was stranded, he graciously offered her to stay at his home. Upon discovering that she was without her wand, Lord Potter wrote to her father, Gerald Greengrass, requesting it be returned."
"Gerald Greengrass was able to put Lord Potter off for the better part of four months," Daniel continued with. "It seems he was too busy to return home from the continent to see that his own daughter's wand was returned so that she could protect herself should the need arise. During this time Lord Potter sheltered her providing Daphne with protection and seeing to her needs. Eventually, Lord Potter was able to purchase the wand, which he presented to her within a wand holster which was to be her Yule present."
While Daniel was speaking Hermione had withdrawn Daphne's wand as well as the salamander wand holster and laid them both on the table as evidence. "Needless to say, Lord Potter and Lady Black were both a bit baffled when a ring appeared on Daphne's finger after her first use of the wand," Daniel said. "Neither fully realized just what had happened at the time as you can well imagine. It would be several weeks before we could piece it all together."
"My client, Lord Potter, feels terrible for what has happened to Daphne. It is for her sake that he has brought this matter before this august body. Lord Potter does not feel that it is right that Daphne should be used as a pawn in her father's political games, to be bartered and sold off as mere property to further Gerald Greengrass's nefarious schemes," Daniel stated for his closing remarks.
"While Lord Potter highly doubts there is a way out of the marriage, he feels that the perpetrator of such a heinous crime as selling his own underage daughter into a life of servitude in a marriage she did not desire should not go unpunished. The fact that Lord Potter was also ensnared in the plans of Gerald Greengrass is a lesser matter in his Lordship's eyes. Thank you for your time," Daniel concluded with before leading Hermione back to her seat and taking his own.
"Lord Potter, it sounds as though you are accusing Mister Greengrass of more than just trickery," Augusta Longbottom spoke up. "If what you say is indeed true he could very well be charged with attempted line theft."
Harry stood and once again stepped to the center of the floor. "Madam Longbottom, it is not for me to say what wrongs Mister Greengrass has committed but rather for this body to decide. Mister Wright did speak with me concerning line theft though so I am somewhat familiar with it. It is true that any son born of Daphne and myself would inherit the Black family as well as be the grandson of Gerald Greengrass.
However, as I am currently the Head of the Greengrass family, I am not certain that such a charge is warranted. Granted I was not the Head of the family at the time these events occurred. I am by no means a student of the law so I will have to defer to the Wizengamot to decide such weighty matters and will, of course, bow to your judgment."
Seeing as there appeared to be no further questions Amos turned to Gerald. "Mister Greengrass the floor is now yours to respond to the accusations brought against you."
"Members of the Wizengamot," Gerald said once he had reached the center of the floor,"my apologies that this matter has been forced upon you here today. In an effort to give my Daphne a chance at happiness I entered into a marriage contract with Lord Potter. I maintain that I have done nothing to warrant these allegations as I have broken no laws in doing so. Many of this body have either been a part of or negotiated in, married contracts in the past."
"A marriage contract would imply a mutual agreement between two parties," Daniel Wright stated. All the witches in Harry group were nodding their agreement to the solicitor's words.
"Did not Lord Potter meet the requirements of the contract?" Gerald countered with.
"I was unaware that there was even a contract in existence, Sir," Harry replied evenly.
"So, ignorance of the law is an acceptable excuse now is it?" Gerald asked with a small sneer. "Or perhaps because you are The-Boy-Who-Lived we're to overlook the law and assume it doesn't apply to you?"
"The laws apply to me just as they do to everyone else," Harry snarled, angry at the implications that because he was famous, he would assume that the laws didn't apply to him.
"We shall see," Gerald stated with a feral grin. Turning away from Harry the man addressed the assembly once again as he reached into his pocket and withdrew a rolled parchment from his robes, holding it up for all to see. "I have here an official document from Gringotts stating that Lord Potter is married not only to my Daphne but also to one Luna Lovegood!" the man exclaimed.
Gasps and cries of disbelief were scattered about the room upon hearing Gerald's words. The former head of the Greengrass family walked over and present the document to the Chief Warlock who paused in the banging of his gavel to accept the parchment and read it over. Once Amos finished he passed the report over to the Minister for Shacklebolt to read.
"This appears to be authentic," Kingsley declared once a semblance of order had been restored."Lord Potter, do you deny this?"
Harry stood before he replied,"I do not, Minister."
"Care to explain how this happened?" Shacklebolt asked. The man had known Harry for several years now, having worked with the then boy during the war. He knew just often trouble seemed to find Harry and could but hope that there was a reasonable explanation for the second marriage otherwise his hands were tied. Kingsley was not about to pull a Fudge and ignore the law.
"Well, being somewhat famous," Harry said, "I thought I only had witches to worry about. It seems it is the fathers of those witches I really needed to fear." The man's attempt at humor elicited a few good-humored chuckles about the room."Xeno Lovegood, just before his death, made me his heir and extracted avow from me. I was to provide for Luna, giving her a place at my hearth, protection, a share of my family's bounty and lastly to provide for Luna, a family." Murmuring started as the members of the Wizengamot exchanged whispers concerning this revelation.
"As Luna was underage I took her in, providing for her everything as I had promised," Harry continued with. "I was the head of her house now, and I truly wanted the best for her. After some thought, we both had arrived at the same conclusion that to provide her with a family would mean having a child. I loved Luna and decided that before proceeding I would ask her to be my wife. It seemed the proper thing to do." Around the room, many heads were nodding in agreement, though the majority of them were witches.
"As good as your intentions may have been, Lord Potter, your actions were against the law," Amos Diggory was quick to point out.
"If I may, Chief Warlock?" Daniel Wright enquired, stepping forward. Upon receiving a nod from Amos, the solicitor continued. "We are all wizards and witches who use magic. This very ministry was established to govern just how that magic is used yet it doesn't govern the magic itself. If it did then such things as the Unforgivables would cease to work because they were declared unlawful."
"My client, Lord Potter, is indeed married twice. He has admitted to this openly before you. Both marriages have been consummated and are binding because magic accepted them. We rely on magic for a great many things in our lives, least of not which is to ensure that our contracts and agreements are properly adhered to. Magic accepted both marriages to Daphne Greengrass and to Luna Lovegood. Is it our place to say that the magic is wrong in this case?" Daniel asked.
It went without saying that should they come to the conclusion that magic was indeed wrong this time that they could then open up the possibility that someone wishing to get out of an agreement or a vow could claim that the magic was once again incorrect. The results of such a decision could be disastrous for their world. Magic was in almost every aspect of their lives and if it was wrong in this case then what else might it be wrong in? What other marriage contracts, business agreements or even Heads of House positions could be contested on such grounds.
A rather old wizard named Tiberius Ogden spoke up. "Magic is but a tool. Like a great many things in life, it can be deceived or fooled can it not?"
"This document from Gringotts states that Lord Potter married Daphne Annabelle Greengrass on the evening of the 25th of December and then married Luna Constance Lovegood on the morning of the 26th of December. It was stated that it was some time before it was discovered just what had happened between Lord Potter and Lady Black," Amos said. "Lord Potter, did you know you were married to Lady Black when you proposed to the Lovegood girl?"
"Those present thought it most likely," Harry grudgingly admitted.
"Were you then certain?" Amos pressed.
"I wasn't certain of anything at that time, Chief Warlock. Lady Black let me know of her displeasure at the turn of events though," Harry replied, one hand coming up to absently rub his eye where he had been punched. Daphne for her part hung her head to hide the redness of her face at that moment.
"So one could conclude, as you did not know yourself, that your magic as well was unaware that you were married and hence accepted the second joining," Gerald stated rather loudly to be heard over the whispers spreading around the room.
"Would that not then also indicate that my client was unaware that he was breaking any law?" Daniel quickly asked.
"Ignorance is not an excuse," Amos was just as quick to point out. The wizard felt that the Potter brat was getting what he deserved for allowing his Cedric to die in that graveyard all those years ago. "I know not what the penalty for breaking the law is but I shall see it fully enforced. It is important that we show that not even a celebrity is above the law after all. In these trying times, the Ministry must be shown as being fair and just with everyone regardless of their station."
"I think you will find that the penalty is ten years in Azkaban," Gerald provided with a smile.
"A…are you certain?" Amos enquired, suddenly less sure of seeing the Potter boy held accountable. It was one thing to see Potter fined a large sum of galleons and quite another to sentence the Wizarding world's hero to Azkaban for a decade.
"It is, Chief Warlock," Hermione spoke up, pulling a large law book from her handbag and handing it to Daniel Wright who in turn presented it to the Chief Warlock after opening it to the correct page.
"Before that sentence is carried out though, I demand reparation. It is my lovely daughter who has been ill-treated and misused. It will be near impossible to find her an appropriate suiter now that her purity has been soiled," Gerald exclaimed. "My family honor has been besmirched! I demand satisfaction!"
"What would you us do?" Amos enquired.
"We have yet to determine if my client is even at fault here," Daniel Wright objected strenuously. The Westfield contingent was entirely in agreement with the man's words.
"He openly admitted to being married to both witches," Gerald was quick to point out. "The law is very clear on polygamy, Sir, as I am certain you well know."
"What are your demands, Mister Greengrass," Amos asked once again.
"As Lord Potter will soon be in Azkaban he will be unfit to run the Greengrass business. I would like to have the Greengrass Head of House stripped and returned to me. It was given as a wedding gift after all, and I see no reason why he should retain it considering his betrayal of my daughter!" Gerald said.
"Fine, you can have it," Harry replied to the shock of everyone.
"What?" Gerald asked in disbelief.
"I, Harry James Potter, abdicate the Greengrass Head of House and all it entitles to Gerald Greengrass," Harry intoned only to have the Greengrass Head of House ring disappear from his right hand and appear on Gerald's finger.
The new head of the Greengrass family looked down at his hand feeling the familiar weight of the house ring there once again. A slow smile spread across Gerald's face as he realized he had actually won. /I beat him!/The wizard's head shot up, and his eyes landed on Daphne and Astoria. "Daughters, as your head of house, father and legal guardian, as you are both yet underage, you are to come here and sit beside me at once!"
Daphne smiled at her father. "I am no longer a member of the House of Greengrass and therefore cannot be your daughter. I was cast out of the Greengrass family some time ago. I am now solely of the Black family through my marriage to Lord Potter. Hence you have no control over me or say in anything I may do, Sir."
"While I was not cast out," Astoria spoke up once Daphne had finished. "I was fortunate enough to be wed to Draco here just a few days ago. So sorry you and mother couldn't attend. The binding ceremony was very touching. We were assured that it was unbreakable. So, it does seem that you have no say in what I do now as well, Father."
"I think you will find that your daughters are not the only thing that House Greengrass is missing," Harry said. "Not two days hence House Greengrass sold all their business holdings and properties, including Greengrass Manor, to the House of Black. What was the price again?" Harry asked, turning to look at Daniel Wright.
"Two knuts, as I recall, Lord Potter," the solicitor replied.
"Yes, yes, that's right," Harry agreed with a slow nod as if just recalling the fact for himself."Fear not though Greengrass, House Black was kind enough to sell House Greengrass a new residence located at Number 12 Grimmauld Place in Islington, London. What was the agreed upon price?" Harry asked, turning to Daniel Wright once more.
"The contents of the Greengrass vaults, Lord Potter," the solicitor provided with a straight face.
"That's right," Harry agreed, once again appear to have just remembered the fact. "While Grimmauld Place is certainly a step up from Azkaban, I will at least find comfort for the next ten years knowing that everything you had is firmly out of your reach, Sir! Do not fret though, for I did not leave you completely broke. I believe you will find the two knuts still in your vault, though I doubt that will be enough to cover the monthly vault fees the Goblins charge."
Gerald Greengrass could scarcely believe his ears. In a matter of moments, he had gone from having it all to losing everything he had ever worked for in his life. Gerald had even apparently lost his daughters due being outmaneuvered by the Potter boy. I am sure Daphne played no small part in this, he thought. As much as he hated to admit it, he was just a touch proud of his oldest daughter for her manipulations. Left with no other choice Gerald turned to his last and only hope. "Do something!" he demanded.
"After careful consideration, I believe it is in the best interest of my House that we terminate our mutual relationship at this point," Malfoy replied calmly. "It just isn't good business sense to be associated with you Gerald," he added with a knowing smirk. "I did warn you after all. Potter is not one to be messed with. Some wizards lead a charmed life it would seem."
Harry took a moment to step over to his witches, passing Daphne his wand. "Be sure to take care of everyone," he told Daphne and Luna. "I'll be back before you know it," Harry added with a lopsided smile before turning around and stepping forward."Chief Warlock, Minister, members of the Wizengamot, I am ready to go to Azkaban," he said, holding out his hands before him, wrists together and facing upwards.
At a reluctant gesture from Kingsley, two Aurors stepped forward to take Harry into custody. Suddenly the courtroom door flew open slamming rather loudly into the walls and drawing everyone attention toward them. "Unhand that wizard this instant!" demanded a commanding voice.
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