Scion of Gryffindor
29 - Wizengamot Meeting
Harry / Tonks ship
Harry turned as he was walking through the hallway on the fifth floor of the ministry. "Neville! Hi, mate. How's everything?" Harry saw movement over Neville's shoulder and looked over to see Professor McGonagall and Draco Malfoy walk up.
"Lord-Baron Potter," McGonagall greeted him. "I was just escorting Barons Malfoy and Longbottom to the meeting."
"Lady McGonagall," Harry said with a smile. "I'm heading that way myself." He waved an arm. "Please, lead the way. I don't know where I'm going, so I'd appreciate the guidance."
She nodded agreeably and led the three silent young men through two hallways and then a set of double doors.
Harry was moderately impressed with the room on the other side of the doors. Tiered, ornate seating moved up from a central spot. It reminded Harry vaguely of a muggle cinema he'd seen pictures of, if somewhat smaller and more ornate. At a desk in front of the door and at the front of the room, Albus Dumbledore smiled over at the arriving foursome. "Minerva! I was unaware you were planning on attending this meeting."
Her eyes shifted to Harry for a moment. "Lord-Baron Potter mentioned that one of the items on the agenda would be of personal interest."
Dumbledore looked momentarily confused.
"Minister," Harry let some sarcasm creep into his words at the title, "Fudge has promised to introduce legislation at this meeting."
"Ah, is that what Cornelius wished to speak with us about this afternoon? I had wondered." He shifted his attention to the other two. "Baron Malfoy and Baron Longbottom. Welcome."
"Headmaster," Neville said with a little bow.
"Lord Dumbledore," Draco greeted him correctly but with a noticeable lack of warmth.
Dumbledore ignored the tone of Malfoy's greeting. "Please, take any seats you wish. We shall be starting shortly." He turned to greet the next person coming through the door.
Draco walked off without a word, taking a seat in a relatively empty area. McGonagall headed immediately toward a group of witches that appeared to be about her age. Harry looked around at the few dozen faces in the room, recognizing Elder McComb from his day in court in late August. He nodded to her politely and continued scanning the room until he came across Marcus Abbott. Harry immediately headed toward a seat close to him and was unsurprised when Neville followed close behind.
"Harry, Neville," Marcus greeted them with a smile.
"Mr. Abbott," Harry said taking the older man's hand.
"Mr. Abbott," Neville repeated, smiling nervously.
Abbott shook his head at Harry. "I insist that you call me Marcus." He turned to Neville and smiled. "Neville, how many times have I asked you to call me by my first name? If you're dating Hannah, it's only reasonable."
Harry laughed as he took a seat. "Neville? I didn't realize you'd been dating her all that long."
Neville, flushing fiercely, dropped into the next seat. Coincidentally on the other side away from Marcus.
Marcus was grinning. "Since summer before last, actually. They've tried to keep it low-key, but after the Equinox Ball . . ." He trailed off with a shrug.
"Good on you, mate," Harry said with a smile at Neville. He turned to Marcus. "He's a good bloke. A real asset in the D.A. and at the ministry fight in June."
All humor fled from Abbott's face. "I'd heard rumors, Lord-Baron, but I'm afraid the full details haven't been released. Are you saying that Baron Longbottom was one of the students there?"
Harry nodded and spoke quietly. "I wasn't aware it was still being kept quiet. Yes, Neville was there. He made a good showing for himself, too. Fought even after getting wounded and took a Cruciatus Curse from Lestrange."
"Harry," Neville quietly asked his friend to stop without actually saying the words.
"Neville, if the story isn't out there, it SHOULD be. If everyone learns that six school kids fought a dozen deez to a standstill, then maybe more would fight back. If everyone would stand up to them, you KNOW that the deez would fold up."
"Six of you stopped a dozen of them?" Marcus asked with a very impressed look.
"Yes, sir," Harry said firmly.
"With what Harry taught us," Neville added, trying to throw more of the spotlight back on his friend.
"Well . . ."
Abbott laughed. "I never quite believed Hannah when she said how much you dislike the spotlight, Harry."
Harry looked very sour. "I don't go looking for all the attention, sir."
"The Prophet, Witch Weekly, and all the others are concerned with selling issues." He shrugged. "Stories about you sell." He got a thoughtful look. "However, you DO deserve some sort of recognition for what you did."
"No, I don't. I just did what had to be done."
Surprising Harry, Neville laughed along with Marcus. "Proving you DO deserve the recognition," Marcus observed.
Harry just shook his head.
A thumping sound came from the front, and everyone turned forward to see Dumbledore rapping a large, wooden object upon the table. "Lords, Ladies, Barons, Baronesses, and guests, I call this, the seven hundred and fifty-third meeting of the British Wizengamot to order. Be advised that all magic is tracked in this room and duels are not permitted to be issued during the course of our meeting. Only those wearing a signet ring or carrying one by proxy are permitted to vote." All of this was said calmly, but the bored expressions of everyone told Harry that this was just the rote opening of the meetings.
Dumbledore shuffled some of the parchment on the table before he pulled one out and said, "Our first item of business today is the assignment of Mr. Mercini to the post of Ambassador to the Magical Ministry of Italy. Does anyone wish to make testimony for or against?"
A middle-aged witch stood and made her way to the floor.
"He's an honest man from an honest family of ambassadors," Marcus said quietly. "Nothing interesting will happen with this vote. He's going to win easily."
Neville nodded agreement as the witch stood in front of the desk and started droning about what a fine job she was sure Mercini would do.
"Merlin, she's as bad as Binns," Harry whispered.
Marcus laughed quietly. "The assignments are always the boring part of these meetings."
Indeed the vast majority of the attendees weren't even paying attention. One even looked like he was settling down for a nap.
"So what DOES happen at these meetings?" Harry whispered to Marcus.
"Ambassador assignments like these and then the legislation part, usually after lunch. During that, we can nullify any of the laws that Fudge has written in the past year - those Ministerial Decrees you occasionally see in the Prophet. If we don't nullify a Decree, it becomes official law after a year. Or we can pass any laws ourselves, though we don't do that much."
"But those Decrees are enforced immediately, right?"
"So what happens if some Decree is inhumane and needs to be nullified before the next Wizengamot meeting?"
"An emergency meeting can be called with the signatures of thirty voters. I think the last time that happened was during You-Know-Who's uprising before you were born."
The three were silent for a few minutes, listening to the witch drone on about Mercini.
"Are you allowed to tell me about this fight in June?" Marcus asked eventually.
Harry looked at Neville for permission. Neville frowned for a moment before he shrugged, so Harry told the story, omitting the prophecy and the fact that Harry had originally gone in order to rescue someone who didn't need rescuing. As he was speaking, Harry briefly wondered how his friends would react to his telling the story to Mr. Abbott. He carefully didn't name the other four in an effort to protect them.
At the end of Harry's story, Abbott sat back and thought for a bit. "You left more than a few things out of that, but I don't blame you. Well done, both of you."
"Thank you, sir."
Harry settled back in his chair and observed the proceedings. Abbott was right, the assignments were quite boring, but they had to be done.
A half-dozen votes - and three hours - later, Dumbledore rapped on the table. "We will take a half-hour lunch break and then move on to new business."
A piece of paper appeared, floating in front of Harry. He blinked but realized what was going on as he heard Marcus order his lunch. After Harry had read the menu and ordered his sandwich, it arrived on top of a small table that also magically appeared.
"Wizengamot members do get some nice perks," Harry observed.
Abbott shrugged. "Maybe, but mostly it's just boring meetings two days a year." Lunch conversation centered around Hogwarts and the differences between Marcus and Harry's school years. Neville was mostly quiet, only adding his opinion when one of the other two directly asked him.
When the last plate had been cleared, Dumbledore again rapped the table. "Minister Fudge wishes to speak with us in a half-hour. Does anyone wish to challenge any of the recent Ministerial Decrees?"
Harry frowned. He was tempted to speak against the Werewolf Restrictions, but they DID serve one useful function. The either forced the Fenrir Greybacks of the country to come in or make them live under an effective death sentence. It was cruel to the neutral and good werewolves, but Harry couldn't see a way of trying to curb the bad lycanthropes otherwise.
While Harry was thinking, Dumbledore was looking around the silent room. "No? Then does anyone have any new business they wish to present before Minister Fudge speaks with us?"
Marcus Abbott stood, and Dumbledore indicated he could speak. Unlike most of the previous speakers, Marcus stayed where he was, his voice carrying easily. "Witches and wizards, greetings. For those who don't know me, I'm Baron Marcus Abbott. Originally, I didn't intend to bring any business forward, but I was just told a story that I think this body needs to act upon."
"Oh, bloody hell," Harry muttered. Neville's expression mirrored his own.
Abbott didn't change expression even though he'd heard Harry's words. "We've all heard the rumors of a fight in the ministry of magic in June. We know eleven Death Eaters were arrested. What we haven't been told is who they were fighting. According to the story I just heard from Lord-Baron Potter, it was six STUDENTS, including two of our own Wizengamot members, who fought an even dozen Death Eaters to a standstill. After a long, running fight, both sides of the conflict received reinforcements, culminating in a duel between Chief Warlock Dumbledore and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."
A rumbling started in the room as many voices began whispering with their neighbors. Dumbledore sat at his table and simply twinkled.
Abbott continued, "Therefore, I would like to propose the British Wizengamot award the six students in question the Order of the Griffon." Finished, Marcus took his seat again. He carefully did not look in Harry's direction.
More excited chattering broke out.
One of the other wizards stood and spoke. "Far be it from me to question the honesty of Lord-Baron Potter, but perhaps we should conduct an investigation as to the facts of the matter before awarding anyone with anything."
As he sat down, Dumbledore stood. "I agree, Baron Parkinson, that this body should get all the facts before making any awards. However, as Baron Abbott has stated, I was a personal witness to many of the events in question. Lord-Baron Potter, Baron Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Ginevra Weasley, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger did indeed fight a battle in June. The eleven accused Death Eaters plus Bellatrix Lestrange were fought to a virtual standstill until I and some comrades, including a few active aurors, were able to come to their aid. Unfortunately, in the resulting confusion Mrs. Lestrange and Voldemort both escaped."
Parkinson shuddered, as did nearly everyone else. "That may be, Dumbledore, but we need an independent -" he said stubbornly.
"As such," Dumbledore went on smoothly, "I would like to propose that the Wizengamot vote on provisionally awarding these six named individuals the Order of the Griffon, the provision naturally being confirmation of their standing up to the tyranny of Voldemort." He beamed up at Harry.
Harry, meanwhile, was glaring at his former headmaster. He was caught in a box, and he knew it. Any attempts to downplay his part could easily be explained by his well-known aversion to public attention. McGonagall and Neville would testify to that innocently enough at Dumbledore's urging. Most anything else he could do - like insisting that the adults get this award, too - would result in public exposure of the Order of the Phoenix. Much as he disagreed with Dumbledore personally, he didn't want to endanger the other Order members. He wished that Dumbledore hadn't named the other students, though. He hadn't told Abbott the other four names in an effort to spare them the infamy; as much of a media circus his own life was, he didn't wish that on his friends. As for the Death Eaters, he wasn't worried about them becoming more of a target; Bellatrix would've seen them all, and with Wormtail viewing a pensieve memory of hers, all of them were likely known to Voldemort.
Not realizing that she was helping to trap her former student, McGonagall stood and said, "I second the motion by Baron Abbott."
The vote was taken quickly. Harry, Neville, Parkinson, and Malfoy all voted against. Harry was perversely thankful to Malfoy for this. With everyone else voting for giving the awards, the motion quickly passed.
Rules be damned, Harry was seriously considering casting Ginny's patented Bat Bogey Hex at a certain meddlesome headmaster. Even knowing Harry's aversion to the public spotlight, he STILL did that in an attempt to turn Harry into even more of a symbol than he already was.
Fortunately for him, Fudge chose that moment to enter the room. He pompously strode into the room and planted himself in front of Dumbledore's desk. The guards that entered with him stood at the doors.
"Cornelius," Dumbledore greeted him cheerfully. "We just finished with a piece of business, so the floor is yours."
"Thank you, Chief Warlock. As you're all no doubt aware, in the interests of public safety, I recently signed a Ministerial Decree regarding lycanthropes. The Daily Prophet called them the Werewolf Restrictions, I believe. Upon further review and with some truly excellent advice from Lord-Baron Potter, I would like to present some legislation for your review." He handed a sheet of parchment over to Dumbledore and then folded his arms across his chest, trying to look important.
Adjusting his spectacles, Dumbledore read aloud, "While Ministerial Decree 1874 remains in effect and so long as they purchase Wolfsbane Potion from the ministry of magic, no lycanthrope shall be required to inform their employer, if any, of their condition. Further, they may not be fired for missing work the day before or day after the full moon due to the check-in requirement with the ministry."
Harry clamped down on his emotions. THIS is Fudge's idea of increased rights for werewolves? After doing a quick calming mental exercise, he stood. "Minister Fudge, I am heartened that you listened to my concerns for the rights of the individuals suffering from this awful curse. However, I would wish to add a few items to this proposed law."
A flicker of doubt showed up in Fudge's eyes. "I am listening, Lord-Baron."
"Thank you. One of my major concerns is for the werewolves themselves. I would like to remind you that the day before a full moon, they are irritable and short tempered. The day after, they are exhausted and in a great deal of pain. This is when they have access to the Wolfsbane Potion, which, as I'm sure you're aware, is quite expensive. Without this potion, I understand the side effects are even worse. What I would suggest is that a ministry employee, one of the aurors perhaps or even the person the werewolves should be checking in with anyway, be assigned the task of going to each werewolf before and after the full moon instead of forcing the werewolf to check in with the ministry. I'm sure that with a list of names and previously agreed locations, this job isn't insurmountable for one auror to accomplish."
Fudge's eyes narrowed. "I'm afraid that pulling an auror from their assigned duties would be a waste of resources, Lord-Baron."
Surprisingly, one of the auror guards that had followed Fudge spoke up. "I would be willing to volunteer some of my free time those two days a month, Minister." He looked up from the glaring Minister of Magic and gazed at Harry. "My brother was recently bitten by a werewolf, Mr. Potter. On his behalf, I thank you for what you're trying to do."
Harry smiled. "One of my best friends is a werewolf. He also was the best defense professor I've had in five years." He glanced at Dumbledore's smile and Fudge's frown before turning back to the auror. "After seeing the hell he goes through every month . . . Well, I'm just trying to help him as well as all the others."
He turned his full attention back to the Minister of Magic. "That's the first one taken care of. Second, I mentioned how expensive Wolfsbane Potion is. Your law would require them to buy it from the ministry. However, one of the provisions of Sirius Black's Last Will and Testament provides for Severus Snape, arguably one of the leading potion brewers in the country, to produce enough Wolfsbane Potion for every werewolf who asks at no cost to them. So, I would like to amend your law to include not only those who buy Wolfsbane from the ministry but also those who choose to accept the free potion that will be distributed via this avenue."
Fudge chewed on his cheek for a moment. "We will have to send an observer to check that Mr. Snape is brewing the Wolfsbane correctly for the first few months. In the interest of public safety, you understand."
"Of course," Harry agreed. It might be amusing to hear how Snape reacted to the ministry watching over his shoulder as he brewed it, after all. "Lastly, your version states that they are not required to tell their employer that they're a werewolf. I agree with this. However, I would like to extend it to preventing an employer from firing a werewolf simply because they have the lycanthropic curse."
Fudge frowned for a few moments. "I have no objection to your proposed amendments," he eventually said.
"What do you hope to accomplish, Potter?" an anonymous voice asked.
"I hope to give the werewolves a chance to be productive, law-abiding citizens. If they have no other recourse, I'm worried that many of them will turn to Voldemort."
Fudge shuddered, as did almost everyone else in the room. Harry was gratified to note that Neville was not one of them.
"Yes, well your goal is laudable," Fudge said grudgingly.
Satisfied, Harry took his seat. He didn't bother trying for an amendment along the lines of "you can't NOT hire them because they're werewolves." Such an amendment was completely unenforceable. The werewolf registry was public, and an employer could give any reason at all for not hiring someone.
Various Wizengamot members quibbled over the wording of the new law for nearly an hour before it was called for a vote. Parkinson voted no. Malfoy, surprising everyone except Harry, abstained. Everyone else voted yes. Harry felt that most of the votes were as much due to sympathy for the werewolves as any other reason, but he'd take the votes no matter the reasoning.
"Is there any other business?" Dumbledore asked. When nobody spoke, he said, "The seven hundred and fifty-third meeting of the British Wizengamot is hereby adjourned." Most of the attendees stretched before slowly moving toward the door.
Harry bid a polite farewell to Mr. Abbott after promising to attend his Yule Ball. Harry quickly followed Neville and caught up with him at the same time he was approaching the waiting McGonagall and Malfoy. "Baron Malfoy."
Draco turned. "Lord-Baron Potter?"
Most everyone in earshot, including McGonagall, turned to watch in concern. Draco was one of only two not to vote for both items that affected Harry. Though personal duel challenges were forbidden during meetings, historically more than one duel had been called before everyone was out of the room.
Surprising them all, Harry smiled and said, "Thank you."
Though his mouth did not show it, Draco's eyes smiled a little. "You're most welcome. Good day." They nodded politely to each other before Draco followed the bemused deputy headmistress out of the chamber.
Fighting the flow of people, the young auror who'd spoken earlier came toward Harry. Once in front of him, he stuck his hand out, which Harry immediately took. "Mr. Potter, I'm Chris Drake. I'd like to thank you again for what you've done. I know that Rob will appreciate it." His face closed down. "Honestly, though, I don't know how much good it will really do. He'll still have an awful time finding work."
Harry nodded. "I know. Remus has had a lot of trouble finding employment in the past."
"I just wish . . ." Drake frowned as he trailed off. "Well, I just wish."
"Me, too. If you can think of something I can do to help, please let me know."
Drake nodded. "I will. Incidentally, there are more aurors and other ministry personnel like me. Sympathetic to the werewolves, I mean. I'll quietly spread the word, and we'll offer you help and ideas if we can."
Harry nodded back. "Remus and I appreciate it. Well, nice meeting you, Auror Drake. Have a good day."
Bunny of Werewolf Law problem from Finbar.