A Sixth Year Story: Voldemort's Return brings in the International Confederation and a team from the North American Wizarding Confederation to take control. In this chapter, the International conf...
Monday, July 1, 1996
When Cornelius Fudge had left Hogwarts, back long before Grindelwald was considered a direct threat to Britain, back when Tom Riddle Jr. had barely been out of nappies, he had hoped for a good, long career with the British Ministry of Magic. He had felt, from the beginning, he could become a Department Head. He had not thought, he had barely hoped, that he might become the Minister of Magic.
Well, he had achieved that rank. A number of officials had had to first be discredited in the scandals of the 1980s, but he had stepped into power in 1990.
It had felt good.
It had been a lie.
Fudge now realized he had been used. Used by people like Lucius Malfoy. He had not done his job well, because he had been blinded by his own ambition, belief in his own value, and the information people like Lucius Malfoy had fed him.
And he would be known as the Minister who had allowed the most evil, and perhaps most magically powerful, Dark Wizard in several centuries stage a comeback on his watch. People still shook their heads at the various European ministers who had failed to stop Grindelwald, the most dangerous dark wizard of all time, from starting a series of wars that had staggered both the magical and Muggle worlds. They still shook their heads at the two British ministers who had failed to see Voldemort's rise coming in the 1960s and 1970s.
Fudge was determined that they wouldn't shake their head at his failures. That they instead remembered that, after being caught by surprise, he had helped lead the successful fight against that so-called Dark Lord.
That meant he had to stay in office.
That meant he had to unlearn all the little lies Lucius Malfoy had put in his head, all the doubts about Dumbledore's motives and Harry Potter's mental state.
Most of all, it meant he had to survive the next meeting.
Ministers of Magic are not elected, nor are they selected by any Muggle government. Instead, ministers were forced out and appointed by a combination of public opinion, opinion within the Ministry, the International, and groups like the Warlocks. Some segments, like the International and Warlocks, had more power to dismiss a minister than to appoint. Likewise, opinion within the Ministry had more say in new appointments. The so-called Wizengamot was powerful in both areas.
And today's meeting had all these elements. If he could survive today, he could rally public opinion.
If he could survive today.
There was a knock on the door. Fudge looked up and saw a very worn Percy Weasley. Percy had been considered a true high flier until the incident of a few weeks before. In some senses, his career was as much on the line as Fudge's, and both men knew it.
"What information do you have?"
"Madam Umbridge is still being totally uncooperative," Percy stated in a strained voice. "In spite of her confession of total responsibility in front of the students, she claims you ordered her to set the dementors on Potter, and to drive him out of Hogwarts if possible. I managed to get signed statements from Granger, Lovegood, and Longbottom." He hesitated, but pressed on. "My father managed to get a statement from my sister and youngest brother. Potter hasn't responded. Should . . . someone visit him?"
"No, not unless we need him for a trial. Damn Dolores! She never knew when to stop!" Fudge sighed. If he was going to be forced out, he would at least make certain she didn't pull him down to her level! Perhaps he deserved to be remembered as incompetent, but he was NOT going to be remembered as Dark. "What else?"
"I managed to partially identify the six representatives of the International and the three from the warlocks." The two teams had come together the week before, and were investigating the whole mess.
"Four of them are from the North American Confederation, one from the Latin American Confederation, one from Brazil, one from the Bantu, one from the Greater Indian Confederation, and one from the Australio-Oceanic Shamans."
"Hell!" The North American Confederation was the largest, richest, and most powerful Ministry of all, looking down on the muddle of conflicting authorities in Europe with disdain, if not contempt. As far as Fudge was concerned, the groups currently running the North American policy were powerful, self-assured pricks. Except on the issue of Dark Magic, the Latin American, Brazilian, and Bantu groups were often very easy going -- and of course they might see this as a Dark Magic issue rather than as the political problem Fudge saw it as. Indian officials tended to be aloof yet helpful. The Shamans were powerful and self-righteous.
This wasn't going to be easy. "No names?"
"No, sir. The Brazilian, North American, and Indian witches are of course from the International."
"Who else is going to be at the meeting?" Fudge asked eagerly.
Percy's voice shook a little. "Bones, Diggory, Weasley, Dumbledore, Snape, Lupin, yourself, and myself."
'Diggory and Bones, two people who really ARE after my job now,' Fudge thought.
"One North American wizard went to Hogwarts, and also talked with my brother and sister," Percy said. "I think he talked to Granger as well. Someone certainly did. Other than that, I can't find out anything."
"Very well, Percy," Fudge said standing. "Let's see if we can save our careers."
It was clear that none of the British group was at their ease, not even Dumbledore. It was clear that several of them wanted to know why Snape and Lupin were there (including Snape and Lupin). It was also clear no one was going to ask any of the nine strangers sitting with them. Six of the people looked . . . average in some respects, or at least typical for who they were. They were middle aged or just a bit older, probably between 60 and 90 years old. They looked intelligent and competent. The Australian shaman even looked wise. The three North American wizards, however, would have stood out in any crowd, and yet also seemed to blend in. They were young -- even accounting for how slowly many wizards seem to age, they couldn't be older than their mid-30s to early 40s. That meant they were very powerful, in both magical and political terms. They were large -- tall muscular men, who looked like they could snap a normal man in half without using magic. And they looked both intelligent and dangerous. Yet at the same time, their features were hard to describe or remember, and although they looked very different in some ways, they almost seemed interchangeable except for their ages and hair color.
The oldest of the three was sitting at the head of the table. "Mister Weasley the Younger," he said in a deep bass voice, "I believe you have collected some statements?"
Percy handed them over to the man, who glanced through them quickly, and then handed them around the table. After a few minutes, he addressed the group. "These support the idea that Umbridge was acting on her own last summer, when she tried to have Potter Kissed. Does anyone believe the Minister needs to answer for this action at this time?"
No one said anything.
"We have caucused this morning, and we have reached unanimous agreement on nearly all points, much to all our surprise."
Fudge winced. That was unusual, as commissions rarely acted this fast or this decisively.
"First of all, let me say that we are very disappointed in all of you." That brought all eight heads snapping up in surprise. "Except for some minor law enforcement requests, you have all tried to contain this problem in Britain. No aid was requested from the International. No aid was requested from other European ministries. Would you care to comment, Minister Fudge or Madam Bones, on why aid was not requested in tracking down this Voldemort" (Bones, Diggory, and the two Weasleys winced, while Snape glared) "in Albania from the late 1980s to the early 1990s?"
"Crouch fought against it," Bones answered smoothly. "I couldn't directly ask for aid without his, or the Minister's, approval."
"And how often did you indirectly ask for aid?"
Bones said nothing.
"In fact, we were repeatedly told that Voldemort was dead. Not disembodied. Would you care to comment on that, Mister Dumbledore?"
"I repeatedly reported his disembodiment to the Ministry," Dumbledore stated calmly.
"But you stand near the top of the Warlocks, and nearly as high in the International. Why were there no reports to us?"
"You will find I made that report in November, 1981," Dumbledore replied. "I did not reiterate that fact in writing, but whenever asked, which was perhaps a mere three times, I made the same reply. No one at the International made any investigation, as far as I know, nor did they take on any action on this issue when the Balkan ministries, including Albania's, fell into turmoil in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Sections of the Balkans were under International receivership for a time, and nothing was done. I made a full report in June, 1995, which again was not acted upon. Why didn't I take more action before last year? I believe prophecy must be fulfilled."
The large man looked at Dumbledore. "You refused to share any intelligence. You made your statements in the form of opinion. Yes, you finally made a fuller statement on June Twenty-second, 1995. By then, Voldemort was ensconced in Britain, where it is usually much more difficult to interfere."
Another of the North American wizards now spoke up. "Since 1945, there have been nine Class-One Dark Wizards, and twelve Class-One Dark Conspiracies world-wide, including Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Eight of the Dark Wizards have been stopped and executed, ten of the movements destroyed. All was done either by the International, or by the International and the relevant local Ministries working together. While we haven't destroyed the Dark Song Movement in Brazil, the Caribbean, and West Africa, it is at least being contained. The only failure has been the British failure to contain Voldemort and his conspiracy. And you have failed because you tried to do it alone."
"In addition, the International and many of the national and tribal ministries have warned you Europeans for decades about the use of dementors at your prison," the Bantu wizard said, taking up the complaint. "We have always said they were unstable. But no, you Europeans always think you know best. Now, these evil creatures have multiplied because of the feasts you have provided them and have allied themselves with this Dark Wizard. So, our first move is to take control of Azkaban. The International will be guarding Azkaban, and the European ministries will be charged for it in full."
Fudge winced as the wizard handed him a proclamation to sign. The fact that dementors didn't have to be paid was one reason they had been used. The fact that few people had to be directly involved had made the prison fairly inexpensive to run. Still, Fudge had little choice but to sign it or resign, so he signed it. The wizard left the room to set the take-over into motion.
The Indian witch now spoke to Diggory, Weasley, and Bones. "We are also unanimous that the British Ministry must be put into receivership." All the British Ministry people and Snape winced. The day-to-day British Ministry functions would be run by a member of the Ministry, but a group from the International would be directing policy. "Do one of you want the job?" All three department heads shook their heads. Whoever had the job would be dead-ended when it was over. The rest of the Ministry would never forgive the person.
"Well, Minister Fudge, it looks like you will be keeping your job, as Caretaker Minister." Fudge grimaced, but said nothing. It would end his career, but at least he could partially make up for the errors of the past.
"There will be an eleven person Council. Minister Fudge, you three, and Mister Dumbledore will represent the British community and Ministry. I am Parvati Das, and I am of the Council."
The Native Australian spoke. "You may call me Johnson the Dreamwalker. I am of the Council."
The North American witch spoke next. "I am Marie Turgot. I am of the Council." Her accent gave her away as French Canadian.
The middle of the three North American wizard took his turn. "I'm Henry Dorff. I am of the Council."
The oldest of the three North American wizards was next. "I am Tudor Myrddin, master warlock and Head of the Council." That also caused a bit of apprehension. A master warlock out-ranked Dumbledore, and was a dangerous and powerful individual. By announcing they were members of the Council, they had in fact called the Governing Council into effect. "Mister Anadi will also be on the Council, and will be overseeing Azkaban. Mister Dorff will be overseeing Hogsmeade and Hogwarts, Ms Turgot Diagon Alley."
The youngest then spoke up. "I am Tobias Jones. My job is to investigate Harry Potter and see to the problem of Voldemort."
"Do you think it will be easy?" Snape said with a trade-mark sneer.
"No," Jones answered.
Myrddin then spoke. "Mister Diggory, you are removed from your current position. You are now the head of the Department of Magical Relations, or whatever it is you call inter-Ministry affairs."
"Department of International Magical Cooperation," Percy corrected automatically. He flushed at the glare he received.
"Whatever. Mister Weasley the Elder, you are the Liaison Officer between the Ministry, the International, and the Council, with the same Departmental rank as Madam Bones and Mister Diggory. Minister Fudge, Mister Diggory, Madam Das, Madam Turgot, and young Mister Weasley, you may go. Mister Weasley the Younger, please see that blocks of satisfactory offices are made available."
In a few moments, Myrddin, Dorff, Jones, Johnson, Dumbledore, Weasley, Snape, and Lupin were alone. Myrddin collected his thoughts, and then spoke.
"Let me summerize the chain of events as we see them. Please do not comment until I am finished. There was a prophecy concerning young Potter. To either subvert or fulfill this prophecy, Voldemort killed the Potters and tried to kill young Harry. Perhaps because Lily Potter had died invoking ancient blood magic, Harry was saved and Voldemort disembodied. After the disembodiment of Voldemort, his Death Eaters were still active. Therefore Dumbledore here placed young Harry under the care of his Muggle relatives, where he would be hidden, and perhaps safe from magical harm, until he left for Hogwarts, but where he would suffer extreme emotional abuse and at times near-starvation."
Dumbledore looked very uncomfortable, while Lupin and Weasley gave him very dirty looks. Snape looked confused.
"Because you didn't think this Prophecy fulfilled," he went on, addressing Dumbledore, "you filed a minimal amount of information with the Ministry, the warlocks, and the International, and seem to have left young Harry to his fate. In Harry's First year, you allowed him to face a partially re-embodied Voldemort, which resulted in severe injuries to Mister Potter and to a Mister Ron Weasley."
"In the summer between Potter's First and Second years, he was imprisoned in his bedroom and half-starved, until rescued by three of the Weasley boys. During his Second year, you were confronted by an old mystery, and here at least you were handicapped by the machinations of Lucius Malfoy, both directly and through his influence on the Ministry and on the Board of Governors. These would have prevented you from going directly to the International, but as best we can ascertain, you never tried any back-channels, either. At least four students were nearly killed by a basilisk, and all were petrified. Mister Potter and Mister Ron Weasley were nearly killed gathering information, and Ms Ginny Weasley and Mister Potter were nearly killed by the youthful avatar of Tom Riddle, later known as Voldemort, which was destroyed by Potter."
"In his Third year, we have the mysterious circumstances of Sirius Black." Myrddin turned on Snape. "I understand you tried to have him Kissed under false pretenses. SILENCE!" he commanded when Snape tried to defend himself. "This is such a convoluted affair, I wouldn't have believed it in a work of fiction."
"Now, the activities at the Quidditch World Championship should have brought us all in, but Fudge and Crouch fought us, and the Chief of the Wizard Courts here didn't supply us with any further cause for intervening. After the Third Task, Mister Potter reported the resurrection of Voldemort, using ancient blood magic. You," Myrddin directed his attention directly on Dumbledore, "sent a full report of Potter's claim, but no commentary on why he should be believed. Dolores Umbridge submitted a report, which we now know to be false, claiming that you had acknowledged Mister Potter was under severe stress, and that his claims were therefore not to be taken seriously."
He stopped and glared at Dumbledore. "Warlock! I ask thee. Did thee make such a statement?"
"That Mister Potter was under severe stress, yes, sir; that his claims were anything other than totally true? No, sir. I maintained from the beginning that Harry was, and is, truthful and sane."
"Good. Now, last year, you and your staff were under direct attack by Umbridge, and by extension Fudge. That no doubt limited your options, and explains why you had Potter taught Occlumency by an unlicenced and incompetent practitioner."
"Now see here!" Snape yelled as he stood. Then his eyes grew wide and he sat down, stunned.
"Johnson has been inside Snape's mind since near the beginning of the meeting," Myrddin explained.
"Mister Snape does have very powerful Occlumency shields against direct attack," Johnson said softly. "However, any skilled, subtle approach gains easy access. Looking over the data of our interviews with young Mister Weasley and Miss Granger, I would say that Mister Snape was compromised by Voldemort long ago. He has been used as an unwitting source of information for at least the last year. His attempt to prevent Voldemort from gaining the Philosopher's Stone back in 1992 would have exposed him then, assuming he had not been discovered back in the early 1980s."
Johnson turned to Snape. "Your crude teaching methods merely opened Potter up to easier access. Mister Potter should easily learn Occlumency, considering his ability to overthrow the Imperius curse." He turned to Myrddin. "It might be best if I taught the boy."
Myrddin nodded to Johnson respectfully. "Johnson is one of the most skilled teachers of Occlumency there is," he then explained.
"Mister Johnson," Remus started.
"Just Johnson," he interrupted. "My true name is not to be revealed, and Johnson is sufficient." He paused. "I am sometimes called Master J, if you prefer."
"Fine, Master J then," Remus went on. "Harry is hurt. Is learning how to hide his emotions a good idea right now?"
"Yes," Johnson declared, "for he shall also learn what his emotions are. I have taught many troubled adolescents."
Myrddin turned to Snape. "Thank you for your attendance, Mister Snape. Please find young Mister Weasley. Mister Dorff will need to speak to you later this morning, and Weasley will know where to have you wait."
A tight-lipped Snape stood and silently left the conference room. Dorff and Johnson then stood at both ends of the room and made a double circuit of the room, checking for listening charms and other such problems. Finding no problems, they recast the privacy spells.
"Now, Mister Dumbledore, you will tell us the Prophecy. Then, we shall start to decide how to destroy Voldemort, and yes, help young Mister Potter."