31st May, 1998
It was Sunday, and once again, Harry had been invited at the Burrow for lunch. He was confused about it, until Hermione told him that Charlie mentioned they ought to make it a regular thing for the time being since both Molly and George had been in a better mood since last Sunday.
While Harry was happy about being invited, his conversation with Hermione the previous week was still at the forefront of his mind. Hermione had moved out of the Burrow and come to live at Grimmauld Place the same night that Harry had offered. While she'd told Ron that it was because there were spare rooms there, she'd confided in Harry that she was trying to put some distance before she mustered up the courage to open up to Ron about her feelings. Harry had no idea how Ron was feeling about the whole thing, but he'd given Hermione her space to figure things out.
His own feelings about Ginny were equally conflicted. She had greeted him with a kiss once again, and while it made him feel warm and wanted, he did wonder if there was more to them than a physical attraction. Something tangible, something that would keep them together for the rest of their lives.
Harry could feel his own melancholic thoughts building, so after lunch, he volunteered to put Teddy down for a nap while everyone else sat in the living room chatting. He had been rocking Teddy to sleep in Ron's old room when the door creaked open.
He was expecting it to be Ginny or Hermione, but to his surprise, it was Fleur.
"Is he asleep?" asked Fleur, in a low voice.
"Yeah," whispered Harry.
Fleur entered the room and sat down on the edge of Ron's bed to look at Teddy. "He is so precious," she said.
Harry smiled, and then thought back to what Fleur had said last week. "Fleur," he said. "Can I ask you something?"
She looked at him in confusion. "Of course," she nodded.
"Why don't you want to go back to Gringotts?" he asked.
Fleur raised her eyebrows and then smiled a little. "Did you know why I went to Gringotts in the first place?" she asked. Without waiting for him to answer, she continued. "When I saw Bill, I knew wanted to marry him. I found out he was a curse breaker with Gringotts, so I took the job to be close to him."
"You don't want that anymore?" asked Harry.
Fleur was startled, and then she started laughing. "Ah," she said. "You think Bill and I are having marriage problems?"
Harry went red. "Sorry," he said.
"No, don't be," said Fleur. "I think it's natural to assume that people who got married in the middle of a war won't survive once peace returns. But don't worry, Bill and I are fine."
"Really?" asked Harry, relieved.
Fleur nodded, with an understanding smile. "While it's true a lot of relationships fall apart once war ends, that's not the case for everyone. My reasons for leaving Gringotts are stupid, really," she said.
"Was it because of Griphook?" asked Harry, remembering she'd hated his presence at the Shell Cottage.
"Close," she said. "Well, Griphook was only a part of it. Goblins are not friendly to witches and wizards to begin with, but they are worse to someone like me whom they consider an abomination for having mixed ancestry."
Harry felt like an idiot for not realising it sooner. "Fleur, I am so sorry," he said.
She waved it away. "Don't worry about it, Harry," she said. "I bore through it because I wanted to be close to Bill, and then later because I can't choose to hold a grudge during wartime. But now that we have peace, and Bill and I are together, I don't wish to return to Gringotts."
"That's understandable," said Harry. "Sorry for prying."
"I don't mind," she shrugged. "Although, I was very surprised you thought that Bill and I were having problems."
"Yeah, I might have been projecting a little," he admitted.
Instead of being shocked, Fleur nodded in understanding. "Like I said, not all relationships survive in peacetime," she said. "Think carefully when deciding to choose the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, Harry."
"Thanks, Fleur," he said.
"I mean it," she said, firmly. "All those silly myths about Veela mates, but none of them really realise that we all have instincts that draw us to people that are compatible to us. Our magic has a tendency to guide us towards people who will become ideal partners to bond with and bear children with."
"Really?" asked Harry.
"Of course," said Fleur. "It's why something as devastating as a war has a way to shake things up. But you see, couples who get together now during peacetime will form stronger connections because the war changed everyone to such an extent that you might not be the person you were when you entered it. Even if you were, the person whom you love might now be different." She smiled as she looked at a sleeping Teddy. "We will see more children being born starting next year, and they will really bring in a brand new era. I know it may seem impossible right now, Harry, but you have to think about the kind of person you want beside you in the coming era of peace. It isn't a decision to be made lightly."
Harry was silent as he considered her words. "Thank you, Fleur," he said, finally. "I will think about what you said."
"Good," she nodded, with a small smile. "And don't worry about me, I'll find a job."
"Are there other jobs for curse breakers?" asked Harry.
"Oh, I wasn't a curse breaker, Harry," said Fleur. "I worked as a financial consultant."
"What's that?" asked Harry.
"Well, I had a list of clients that I handled. I looked after their investments, kept track of their ventures, drew up plans for them, you see. Things like that," she explained.
Harry looked at her in surprise. "You analysed business plans?" he asked.
"Well, I analysed the financial aspect of them, yes," she said. "We had someone else who was a business consultant, but I made the financial decisions."
"Fleur," said Harry, smiling a little. "I think I might have a job you are interested in."
1st June, 1998
"Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the very first post-war gathering of the Wizengamot," began Kingsley, sweeping his gaze over the court. "We are a day away from one month anniversary of the death of You-Know-Who, and though we emerged victorious, the price we paid was in no way insubstantial."
There was silence at his proclamation, but many people bowed their heads in acknowledgement.
"It will take us time to rebuild, but I wish for you to join me in taking this first step," said Kingsley. "The Wizengamot is the cornerstone of our governing system. Without it, we cannot hold trials or pass laws. Therefore, our first order of business today is to reorganise the fifty seats of the Wizengamot. Are there any objections?"
No one raised a wand, so Kingsley nodded once. "Per tradition, we shall address the permanent seats first," he said. "Followed by the remainder twenty two seats."
"Minister Shacklebolt, point of order."
"Yes, Elder Fawley," said Kingsley, looking at the older man.
Elder Fawley stood up. "We have a great many empty seats, among the permanent and non-permanent numbers. How are we counting if we have enough votes to pass a nomination?"
"Ah, I understand your apprehension, Elder Fawley," said Kingsley. "While it is tradition to begin with the permanent seats, it is also a way around the issue in this instance. We will put together the permanent twenty eight seats first, and they will then vote on the non-permanent twenty two seats. As for the permanent seats themselves, the current permanent seats have the right to object a nomination and if there are enough objections, it shall be tabled and a vote shall be held once the rest of the seats are taken care of. Does that seem satisfactory?"
Elder Fawley nodded and sat back down.
"Well then," said Kingsley. "Permanent seat number 1: Abbott. Currently held by Elder Robert Abbott. Any objections?" None of the wands were raised and Kingsley nodded. "Acknowledged. Permanent seat number 2: Avery."
Bianca Avery stood up. "Bianca Avery, holding the seat for the current heir, Marshall Avery, who is not of age as of yet," she said.
"Any objections?" asked Kingsley. No one in the permanent seats did, but there were mutterings from the non-permanent seats as hostile gazes were directed at Bianca. "Silence!"
"Minister," said Elder Abercrombie, from the non-permanent seat. "This is an outrage! Families of Death Eaters should have no rights to…"
"Point of order, Elder Abercrombie," said Elder Fawley as he stood up. "Young Mr. Avery's father is merely incarcerated on charges of being a suspected Death Eater. Until he is tried, he is innocent, I may remind you. And even if he is found guilty, the Avery family has held a permanent seat on the Wizengamot all these years and sins of one man will not disgrace the whole house." He sat back down.
"Ladies and gentlemen, to save us time, let me reiterate," said Kingsley. "This will come up concerning many of the permanent seats, but the laws about the permanent seats are iron clad and we must follow them. Now, I ask again, are there objections to Madam Avery's claims." There was silence, and Kingsley nodded. "Acknowledged. Permanent seat number 3: Black."
Harry stood up, and there were murmurings which immediately had Kingsley calling for silence.
"Mr. Potter?" asked Kingsley.
"I received the title of the Black family through my late godfather, Sirius Black," he said. "However, I will not be taking this seat. I make a nomination for Andromeda Tonks, formerly Andromeda Black, to hold the seat."
"Is Ms. Tonks here?" asked Kingsley.
The courtroom doors opened and Andromeda walked in. "I accept the nomination put forth by Mr. Potter," she stated, clearly.
Elder Macmillan stood up. "Pardon me, Madam Tonks, but I was given to understand you no longer have an heir," he said.
Andromeda's face hardened but she nodded. "Yes, my daughter perished during the Battle of Hogwarts," she said. "However, she did not die childless. I will be holding the seat for my grandson, Edward Lupin, until he is of age."
"Silence!" called Kingsley as people began murmuring loudly. "Any objections to Madam Tonks? None? Then, it is acknowledged! Please take the seat, Madam Tonks."
Andromeda gave a short bow and made her way over to the permanent seat of the Black family.
"Permanent seat number 4: Bulstrode," called Kingsley. Millicent too, was sworn in without objections. "Permanent seat number 5: Burke."
This one drew a lot more contempt, especially with the younger Burke still being a man in his late twenties and a suspected Death Eater. Still, after Kingsley's firm words, there were no protests as he was sworn in.
"Permanent seat number 6: Carrow."
Flora Carrow was sworn in without objections, just like Millicent.
"Permanent seat number 7: Crouch," said Kingsley. "Since it is a-Mr. Potter?" he asked, when Harry stood up.
"Pardon me, Minister, but I have a letter here from Gringotts," he said, banishing it towards Kingsley who took it and examined it.
"Ah, I see," he said, and then enlarged the letter so everyone could read the words on it. "The Crouch family's closest relative is the Black family, which makes Mr. Potter the head. Silence, silence!" He called as the buzzing got louder.
"I will not be taking this seat either, Minister," said Harry, raising his voice to be heard over the commotion. "As head of the Black family, I wish to submit my formal request to acknowledge the legitimacy of the marriage of Cedrella Black to Septimus Weasley. Cedrella was a sister to Charis Black, who then married into the Crouch family and became Charis Crouch."
Elder Fawley stood up. "Am I to understand, Mr. Potter, that you are handing the seat over to the Weasley family?" he asked.
Harry looked at him, but he sounded perfectly neutral and not prejudiced in any way. "Yes, Elder Fawley," he said.
"I support Mr. Potter's request," he said, clearly.
It was nodded along by many of the other permanent seats, as well as non-permanent seats.
"Silence, please!" called Kingsley. "Mr. Potter, by accepting your request, both the Crouch and Weasley seats will be presented to the Weasley family."
"And the Prewett seat as well!" said Elder Shafiq, firmly. "The Weasleys have long since been denied their rightful place and I say we should not stand for this."
"Three seats held by one family is preposterous!" claimed Elder Abercrombie and Elder Zeller, but surprisingly, there were no protests from the likes of Lucius Malfoy and others. Little did they know that Harry had them strictly under his thumb and they were not allowed to protest one bit.
With a resounding positive, the Weasleys were granted the Crouch, Prewett and Weasley seats, with Arthur Weasley, Charlie Weasley and Percy Weasley sitting on them, and Bill Weasley being named the heir to Arthur's seat.
Elder Fawley's seat was acknowledged without issue, and for the Flint seat, Marcus' younger brother Mitchell was named the heir with their mother holding the seat.
When he got to the next name, Kingsley frowned. "Permanent seat number 10: Gaunt."
There was dead silence in the courtroom. The news of Voldemort's true heritage had broken only days after the Battle of Hogwarts, so everyone knew who the last Gaunt member had been.
Harry stood up. "Minister Shacklebolt," he said, over the deafening silence. "This is the seat I will be taking over."
"Any objections?" asked Kingsley, his voice catching just a bit. The silence continued, and he nodded. "Acknowledged, Elder Potter."
"Thank you, Minister," said Harry firmly, and sat back down.
Kingsley cleared his throat before proceeding. "Permanent seat number 11: Greengrass."
Daphne's appointment went smoothly, but the seat right after was the Lestrange seat.
Harry stood up once again, and it was then that people started to understand what had happened. The smarter ones realised quickly how Harry had control of so many seats, and there were mixed feelings about it. While some like Fawley, Ollivander, Longbottom, Shafiq and even Slughorn were happy that Harry was the one in charge, many of the non-permanent members like Abercrombie, Zeller and Thompson who had all enjoyed long terms in the non-permanent seats and had been hoping for this to be a chance for them to seize power realised quickly that their hopes were being destroyed before their very eyes. Without a strong leader, the Wizengamot would have been divided, but the new leader had come in the form of the wizarding world's Saviour. Among the permanent members Macmillan did not look happy in the slightest.
"He cannot hold two seats!" Elder Thompson still tried.
"I am not," said Harry, looking at him sternly. "The Lestrange line is all but gone, however, I found a distant relative." He picked up the paperwork and sent it towards Kingsley who examined it and then enlarged it so that the rest of the court could see it.
"Ah, I see," said Elder Ollivander. "Newt Scamander's grandson, is he?"
"Yes," said Harry. "I nominate Rolf Scamander to be voted into the Lestrange seat."
"Any objections?" asked Kingsley.
When none of the permanent seats protested, Kingsley acknowledged the vote and Rolf took his seat.
The Longbottom and Macmillan seats were taken up without issue. Augusta Longbottom handed the seat over to Neville, though the Macmillan seat was still held by Ernie's father.
"Permanent seat number 15: Malfoy."
Lucius Malfoy stood up and gave a curt bow. "Any objections?" asked Kingsley. All eyes automatically went to Harry, but he didn't move a muscle. "Acknowledged," declared Kingsley, and Lucius sat back down.
Theodore Nott was sworn in, in much the same way. Elder Ollivander was acknowledged instantly. Parkinson, Rosier, Rowle and Selwyn seats were quickly acknowledged as well, when they saw Harry didn't object to any of them.
"Permanent seat number 23: Shacklebolt." Kingsley smiled wryly. "As per precedent, I acknowledge that I will be granted three votes. Any objections?" There were none, so he was sworn in.
Shafiq and Slughorn seats were sworn in without issue as well, the Travers seat drew glares but no protests, and finally Zinnia Yaxley was sworn in at Harry's nomination.
"That is all for the permanent seats," said Kingsley. "Now to the non-permanent seats. We shall follow the existing seats, and if there are ones without viable heirs, we shall open nominations. This time, the seats will be decided by votes, not objections. Non-permanent seat number 1: Abercrombie."
Elder Abercrombie stood up. Harry raised his wand, and nearly all of the permanent seats followed suit.
"Acknowledged," said Kingsley, as Abercrombie looked astonished that Harry had actively voted to keep him in.
What he didn't know was that Harry and Daphne had discussed the issue at length. Abercrombie was the head of the neutral to light factions in the non-permanent seats. While he was still known to be quite a power hungry bastard, he had served on the Wizengamot for a long time. Overthrowing him and his faction would have been a piece of cake, but he was a popular public figure and to have Harry Potter support him would win them favours from those who weren't quite in Abercrombie's faction but admired him. It was also a matter of keeping your enemies closer and in sight.
The next three non-permanent seats were Bode, Brown and Corner, all three of which Harry supported, so they were voted in.
"Non-permanent seat number 5: Crabbe," said Kingsley. "The current heir is in Azkaban awaiting trial. Since it is a non-permanent seat, it is an automatic forfeit without an heir or proxy. Does anyone wish to issue a nomination?"
Harry stood up and there was palpable tension in the air. He had given it a lot of thought, and then the answer had been so simple.
"I nominate Hermione Granger," he said.
It was almost comical how everyone relaxed, as if they had expected him to claim yet one more seat. Still, Hermione Granger was a war heroine and one of the brightest witches of her age. They also knew she was one of Harry Potter's best friends. While he wasn't claiming a seat for himself or one of his puppets, he was essentially lining the Wizengamot with numbers in his favour.
Hermione entered the courtroom, having agreed to it after Harry had explained his plan to her.
"We will now hold the vote," said Kingsley.
Harry could have laughed out of sheer joy as Lucius Malfoy, Pansy Parkinson, and wives and children of Death Eaters who had sneered at Mudbloods raised their wand to vote in Hermione Granger into the Wizengamot. He wished he wasn't in public because he wanted to do a stupid dance in that very moment as Hermione took the seat that was formerly held by the Crabbe family.
Kingsley called for silence before continuing. "Non-permanent seat number 6: Dolohov."
The heir had only recently turned 17, but he was voted in at Harry's behest. Same with Goyle, as Gregory took the seat.
The next two were the Hopkins and Jones seats that were considered light and very amicable, so Harry voted them in.
The Jugson seat was granted to the matriarch since the son was not of age. The Macdougal seat was voted in with a very popular vote, and Harry remembered Daphne telling him they were an old family that was rather extensive and well-known for advocating business and development.
Macnair and Mulciber were voted in with some reluctance, and Harry could see Abercrombie starting to sweat as he was no doubt counting the numbers and the votes. It wasn't surprising though as some of these nominations did not receive votes from those like Longbottom, Ollivander, or even Rolf Scamander, and Harry could appreciate that they did not just wish to follow him blindly and had their own principles as well. He did not begrudge them that.
Orpington was an older family that was a staunch supporter of Abercrombie, but Harry voted them in as well. He and Daphne suspected that Orpington was the real brains behind Abercrombie's faction, but they didn't know enough to prove it just yet. They needed him in their sights. The current Orpington seat was held by Eugene Orpington, a thin black-haired man with beady amber eyes and a permanently curled lip. He accepted his votes with a courteous bow before sitting down.
"Non-permanent seat number 15: Potter," said Kingsley and then paused.
Harry stood up. "Minister, I am well aware that holding two seats goes against Wizengamot principles," he said, and it was laughable because everyone in the courtroom was well aware that he held a whole bunch of seats indirectly. "However, I request to hold onto my family's seat until my firstborn can sit on it."
"I second Elder Potter's request."
Harry raised his eyebrows when he saw Eugene Orpington, of all people, second him.
"It will grant him three votes, same as the Minister, so it is technically not against the rules," said Elder Orpington.
"Very well," said Kingsley. "Let's hold the vote."
Overwhelmingly, Harry was voted into his family's seat and he bowed before sitting down.
The last seven seats of Rookwood, Sayre, Steward, Thompson, Warbeck, Wright and Zeller were also voted in. Once all fifty seats were confirmed, they were all sworn in formally and new seats were given the gold Wizengamot pin and the plum robes that were to be worn for all official business.
"Thank you for your cooperation, ladies and gentlemen," said Kingsley. "Before we end the session for today, there are some matters that require an urgent decision. Firstly, there is my own appointment to the Minister's position, which was made rather hastily. I put my own position to the Wizengamot for consideration."
Harry stood up. "I vote to uphold Minister Shacklebolt's appointment to the position of Minister of Magic," he said, and sat back down.
A lot of people looked relieved, because they had honestly believed he would have asked to be given that job himself. Harry wanted to roll his eyes, but as Kingsley was voted in by an almost full majority, he couldn't help but be glad. He didn't want to be the Minister in the slightest, and felt like sighing as he was once again reminded how very Voldemort-like this maneuver had been.
"Thank you," said Kingsley, as his appointment was made permanent. "The next thing that needs our attention is we need to set a date for trials of alleged Death Eaters in Azkaban at the moment."
"Minister," said Elder Fawley. "I propose we wait until September to begin trials." He looked at the rest of the Wizengamot. "Many Hogwarts students will be taking their OWLs and NEWTs here at the Ministry this month, and honestly, I wish to spend time with my grandchildren as well. We have all had a harrowing year, so I say we wait until the children go back to Hogwarts to turn our attention back to this."
Harry felt his lips twitch into a smile at the older man's tenacity. "Seconded," he said, and just like that it was voted in.
"Excellent," said Kingsley. "Our next matter for today is the position of the Chief Warlock. Elder Abercrombie has held the position since Albus Dumbledore's dismissal by Minister Fudge."
It was good that Daphne had told him about this beforehand, because Harry was sure his carefully kept facade wouldn't have held up otherwise, and he would have glared or sneered at Abercrombie just purely on principle. He was still very conflicted about Dumbledore these days, having learned he had raised Harry as a lamb to slaughter, no matter if there was still a chance of survival. It didn't excuse a miserable life and losing so many people around him for the greater good. At the same time, he couldn't fault Dumbledore either. Voldemort needed to be stopped, and Dumbledore had done all he could to do that. A large part of him had forgiven him back in limbo, but feelings were never that straightforward, after all.
Still, he could see Abercrombie look towards him fearfully as if he would challenge him for it. Fortunately, when Abercrombie's position as the Chief Warlock was put to the floor, Harry raised his wand in acceptance, a lead that was followed by a massive majority. Abercrombie looked relieved as he accepted the position once again.
"The final matter for today will be proposed by Elder Abbott," said Kingsley.
Elder Abbott stood up. "I call for the permanent disbandment of the Muggleborn Registration Commission," he said, his voice grave.
"Seconded," said Harry, immediately.
Kingsley nodded. "The activities of the Commission have been put on freeze since my appointment but we will now take a formal vote for the disbandment," he said. "All in favour."
Almost every wand was raised in acceptance, albeit Harry knew that if he didn't hold the votes that he did, a lot of them wouldn't have been so cooperative. He could practically feel the loathing being directed at him, but he only smirked in satisfaction as the motion was passed.
"That brings us to the end of today's session," said Kingsley. "Thank you very much for your cooperation, ladies and gentlemen."
"That could have gone so much worse," Harry murmured to Daphne, who was in the seat next to him since the Gaunt and Greengrass seats came right after one another.
"Yeah," she agreed, as they glanced around.
Everyone was slowly filtering out of the courtroom, with more than a few fearful looks being thrown towards Harry.
"We should get going," said Daphne, getting to her feet. "What time did you invite Fleur Weasley to the office?"
"Three," he said, glancing at the time. It was just after 12.30. "You hungry?"
Daphne raised an eyebrow at him. "Don't you have an appointment with Tracey and Ben?" she asked.
Harry grimaced but nodded. "Yeah," he said. "I promised to give a statement about today's events," he said. "I was hoping to at least eat some lunch before then."
"I'll have something waiting for you at the office," said Daphne, with a bright smile. "See you."
Harry smiled as she left quickly, no doubt to go right back to the office and start working. He had already told Hermione to return to Grimmauld Place without him, and as he hurried towards the exit, he dodged the waiting mass of reporters and followed Tracey, who escorted him away until they could disapparate.
Arriving back in Diagon Alley, Harry smiled at Tracey gratefully. "Any chance we can do this after I've eaten lunch?" he asked, as they went towards the nondescript building that was used by the Daily Prophet reporters for conducting interviews.
"Sorry, Potter," grinned Tracey, leading him into a small, neatly furnished room inside the building where a man in his early twenties with long brown hair in a ponytail was waiting. "Ben, sorry to keep you waiting," said Tracey. "Ben, this is Harry Potter. Potter, this is Benedict Almeidus."
"It's a pleasure, Mr. Potter," said Ben, holding out his hand.
"And for me as well, Mr. Almeidus," said Harry, shaking his hand firmly.
"Please, make yourself at home," said Ben, offering him a seat.
"Remember, we are just talking about the Wizengamot today," said Tracey.
"Understood, Tracey," said Ben, with a small smile. "Shall we get started?"
"Do all reporters like complicated questions?"
Daphne looked up when Harry walked into her office and just made himself at home. "Hello, Daphne," she said, sarcasm dripping from her tone. "Sorry for barging into your office when you are working so hard for me, and were even nice enough to have lunch waiting like you promised."
Harry smiled. "What's for lunch?" he asked.
She rolled her eyes. "Sandwich and pumpkin juice from the Leaky," she said, returning her attention to what she was doing.
Harry took the brown paper bag on the desk and unpacked his lunch. "We really need better restaurants here," he said. "Some fast food, maybe like pizza or burgers or something too."
Daphne set her quill down and shook her head at him. "How'd it go with Ben?" she asked.
Harry took a large bite of the turkey sandwich. "Tracey gave him a transcript of today's session, so he basically just went through the whole thing and asked me questions about all of it," he said, waiting until he had swallowed to answer her. "I don't know how positive we'll be able to spin this one. Half the people in that courtroom looked like I might as well have been Voldemort."
To his surprise, Daphne smirked. "Have faith in Tracey," she said. "Besides, didn't you wonder why the Dark Lord never got rid of people like Abercrombie or Orpington? It's not like they're some great purebloods. They were just cunning enough to not kick up a fuss when the Dark Lord took over. People like them know there's a pecking order in place, and the reason why they have survived so far is because they know not to go against an enemy that's bigger than them."
"How does that make me different than Voldemort then?" asked Harry.
"Really?" asked Daphne, raising her eyebrows in disbelief.
"No, I don't mean the supremacy or the murder thing," he clarified. "Voldemort employed the same tactics though. He could have been the Minister, Chief Warlock, hell the King of England if he wanted. But he put his puppets in place while he remained in the shadows."
"That's because it's the prerogative of a ruler," said Daphne, seriously. "The Dark Lord was one of the most brilliant wizards in the world, and you know that's the truth. The reason he gained so many supporters was through fear and intimidation, true, but that only came later. When he got started, he was a poor half blood orphan who only had his own brains and charisma to rely on, didn't he? But he gained power, and that power drew others to him. If he hadn't been a twisted, murdering psychopath, he very well would have been a great leader of Britain. Being similar to him in some ways isn't automatically awful, Harry. You are as powerful as he is, but what will set you apart from him is what you do with that power bestowed upon you."
It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
Dumbledore's words echoed in his ears, and Harry smiled slowly. "You're right," he said. "Sorry for getting all worked up over nothing."
"Don't mention it," she said, picking up her quill again. "It's good to be self-aware, but you could do with having a bit more of an ego, you know."
Harry couldn't help but chuckle at her bluntness. "My ego is only reserved for my Quidditch skills, unfortunately," he said.
"Then think of it in Quidditch terms," said Daphne. "When you have a player on the other team who is clearly a standout, everyone focuses on that player, right? The commentators comment on their actions, the spectators follow their every move, the opposing team's Beaters aim for that player, and so on, right?"
"Yeah," said Harry, not expecting a Quidditch analogy from Daphne, of all people.
"But you see, while everyone's focusing on the standout, the rest of the team escapes scrutiny," she smirked. "The standout works as a decoy and by the time everyone realises that they should have been looking at the rest of the pitch as well, the match is over."
"You think I should be a decoy?" he asked, and then chuckled. "That's brilliant."
"They will be busy looking at you, and in the meantime, we will be changing the shape of Britain's society like scoring one goal at a time," she said, with a very Slytherin grin. "So, use that Quidditch ego of yours, Harry. And lighten up, for Merlin's sake."
Fleur Weasley wasn't sure what she was expecting when Harry had told her to come to the Verdant offices in Diagon Alley. She knew that they were title and estate attorneys, though she had never dealt personally with the firm.
When she got there, an older witch led her to a small meeting room and made her some tea.
"Thank you," said Fleur, accepting the cup with a polite smile.
The witch smiled at her and left, though only a moment later, Harry entered the meeting room with a blonde witch in tow. Fleur's eyebrows shot up a little, but she hid her smile in her cup of tea before standing up.
"Thank you for coming, Mrs. Weasley," said the blonde woman, and Fleur was surprised at her perfect French. There was no trace of an accent in her voice, and she seemed to have spoken with the fluency of a native. "I'm Daphne Greengrass, Mr. Potter's attorney."
Fleur shook her hand, still a little surprised. "Please call me Fleur," she said.
"Of course, Fleur," said Daphne. "Please sit."
"Could you switch to English?" asked Harry, and Fleur was amused when Daphne rolled her eyes at him.
"Fine," she said, speaking English. "It's not often I get to speak French, you know."
"Your French is very good," said Fleur.
"My mother was French, so my sister and I got lessons," said Daphne.
Fleur smiled warmly, though she noted the past tense when she spoke of her mother.
"Fleur," said Harry, his tone a little serious. "This may sound strange but would you sign a confidentiality agreement before we discuss why we're here?"
Though she was surprised, Fleur kept her expression neutral. "I will," she said, and saw him sigh in relief.
Daphne handed over the agreement to her, and Fleur read through it calmly, noting it was a standard confidentiality clause that she had seen frequently in her line of work. She held her hand out for a blood quill and signed it after making sure there was nothing out of the ordinary on it. Once she had returned the document to Daphne, Harry took a deep breath and started explaining his meeting at Gringotts.
Fleur had already suspected something of the sort, particularly after the three Wizengamot seats that he'd handed over to the Weasleys. She and Bill had talked about it later at home too, and she had gotten the impression that Bill had known more than he let on, but understood that it was likely because of his confidentiality oaths to Gringotts that he hadn't elaborated.
"Restoring Diagon Alley is very ambitious," she said, when Harry paused for breath.
"We know, which is why we want to have the best people working on it," he said, seriously.
Fleur nodded, knowing that it certainly sounded more interesting than going back to Gringotts. She and Bill were planning on starting a family in the next two years, so a job like this where she only had one client to focus on was actually ideal.
"Here's a formal offer for your consideration," said Daphne, handing her a contract.
Fleur read through it, her eyebrows climbing higher and higher when she saw the pay and incentives. Generous, was putting it mildly. "It's a very good offer," she said, finally. "I admit I'm well-versed in the financial aspect, but I cannot take on responsibility for assessing business plans."
"That's fine," said Daphne. "We are looking for someone to cover that area as well, so it won't all fall to you."
"Then if that's the case, I think I'll take the job," she said.
"Really?" asked Harry. "Thank you, Fleur."
Fleur smiled and nodded at him. "You have very ambitious plans, but you seem to be working hard towards it, so I'll do what I can to help," she said.
"Do you feel comfortable handling the finances of the Collective as well?" asked Daphne.
"Yes, though I think we'll need more than just me if expansion goes well," said Fleur.
"But for now, having you join us is helpful," said Harry.
Fleur grinned and read through the contract once more before signing it. "When do you wish for me to start?" she asked, handing the signed contract to Daphne.
"Whenever you can, really," said Daphne. "The Diagon Restoration Program is still a while away until we hire someone to handle the business side of things but I could use a hand in sorting through all of Harry's finances. It's not my strong suit to begin with, and it's more complicated than usual."
Fleur nodded understandingly. "I will start tomorrow," she said.
Harry grinned at her brightly. "Thank you."
Fleur took her leave after that, promising to be at work around nine in the morning. Harry helped Daphne set up one of the empty rooms as an office for Fleur to use. As an afterthought, they added a second desk as well so whoever they hired to manage the business side of things for the Diagon Restoration project could use it.
"I should get home before Teddy goes to bed," said Harry, realising it was almost six. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Yeah, alright," said Daphne. "Don't forget to read the Evening Prophet."
"I won't," Harry promised, before walking out and disapparating to Grimmauld Place.
He spent the next hour or so entertaining Teddy with coloured bubbles from his wand, before putting him to bed. Andromeda was grateful for the help, and retired to bed early as well. As Harry was going back downstairs, he passed by Hermione's room and found the door ajar.
"Hey," he said, knocking lightly.
Hermione, who was sitting on the bed with piles of books around her, looked up and smiled. "Oh, hi, Harry," she said. "Come in."
"Did you get back here alright?" he asked, remembering how many reporters there had been outside the Wizengamot.
"Yeah," she said. "I cast a disillusionment charm before stepping out."
"Wish I'd thought of that," he muttered, leaning against the doorway.
"No, it was very dramatic with Davis leading you away," grinned Hermione. "It looked very official."
Harry made a face at her, which made her laugh. "So, guess who I hired today? Fleur," he said.
"That's clever," nodded Hermione.
"Really? I thought you weren't her biggest fan," said Harry.
Hermione shot him a look of pure annoyance. "You're joking, right? I was a horrible bitch to her because I was jealous that Ron got all dopey-eyed around her, but she and Bill took us in and looked after us at Shell Cottage," she said. "Not to mention, Ginny and Molly were no saints either in the summer before our sixth year, but Fleur put up with it for Bill's sake. I know it seems like she was unaffected but I could tell it bothered her a great deal. Fleur's a wonderful person, and if she hadn't already forgiven me, I would go apologise again."
Harry smiled, not having known that Hermione and Fleur had reconciled to such a degree. "So, what are you up to?" he asked, nodding at the books near her.
"Oh, I'm just deciding what to keep and what to take to Hogwarts," she said, and then paused. "Are you sure you don't mind me living here?"
"Hermione, I said it was fine," he said. "Besides, this house is bloody massive."
"Yeah," she said. "So, have you started studying for your NEWTs?" Harry shook his head, grinning. "Harry! They start in two weeks," Hermione pointed out.
"I know," he said. "Hopefully, I'll have more time now. It's just been so busy with the Wizengamot and everything."
"Oh, speaking of which," said Hermione, rummaging around. "Here, the Evening Prophet came while you were putting Teddy to bed."
Harry took the copy from her and took a deep breath before looking at it.
THE FIRST OFFICIAL POST-WAR SESSION OF WIZENGAMOT
All Fifty Seats reaffirmed
Kingsley Shacklebolt to continue as Minister for Magic (See page 5)
Elder Hermann Abercrombie appointed Chief Warlock again (See page 6)
The Muggleborn Registration Commission permanently disbanded! (see page 8)
An exclusive with Harry Potter (See page 3)
by Benedict Almeidus
On June 1st, 1998, the first official session of Wizengamot was called by Acting Minister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, following the end of the war against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named at the hands of the wizarding world's Saviour, Harry James Potter (see page 9 for details of the Battle of Hogwarts). The existing surviving members of the Wizengamot as well as several younger heirs, including Mr. Potter, received summons. In an unorthodox move, yet without deviating from precedent, Acting Minister Shacklebolt ordered the permanent seats to be voted in via right of refusal, and the non-permanent seats voted by majority votes made by the permanent members (For a full description of permanent and non-permanent seats, see page 12).
The depleted numbers were apparent as nearly all the occupants of the permanent seats had to be voted in this session. In a surprising move, most of the permanent seats remained unchanged. Even those seats previously held by alleged Death Eaters, have been voted to be kept in the respective families. (For a full list, see page 12).
"I feel the decision to keep the permanent seats as they are to be a prudent one," says Elder Archibald Fawley. "Those that are tried and found guilty by law will be punished, but we are not in practice of punishing the ones who have committed no crime. The permanent seats have been a part of the Wizengamot for a long time, and it ought to continue."
The Chief Warlock, Elder Matthias Abercrombie, had similar views though he did express his apprehension. "The last thing we need right now is to be divided," he says. "However, if all the members, permanent or otherwise, are willing to set aside prejudices and grudges, the Wizengamot will be able to do much good for the wizarding world."
The sentiment seems to be prevalent among many of the other long-serving members of the Wizengamot. Of course, one of the biggest shocks came in the form of the Saviour of the wizarding world, Mr. Harry Potter, inheriting several seats after his defeat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
However, in the end, he only took over the permanent Gaunt seat and is holding onto the non-permanent Potter seat until he bears an heir.
"It is not my intention to defy Wizengamot protocol or traditions," he says. "I have the utmost respect for them, and I am honoured to be a part of it." (For more, see the exclusive on page three)
While there may be some apprehension about so many seats being inherited by the same person, Mr. Potter assuaged everyone's worries by making nominations to ensure that he would have no control over the votes.
"Elder Potter does indeed have quite a presence, but he mitigated as much power as he could, and it won't be remiss to say that he seems to hold fairness and justice in high regard with this move," comments Minister Kingsley Shacklebolt.
"Indeed, Elder Potter was highly respectful and deferred to the Wizengamot's rules and traditions," agrees Elder Fawley.
With the Wizengamot reinstated, the Ministry seems to be getting a handle on fixing itself back up. Their decision to postpone the trials for alleged Death Eaters until after summer has drawn some criticism, but mostly everyone seems to agree that it can wait until things have calmed down.
"For now," says Minister Shacklebolt. "We need to heal."
EXCLUSIVE: HARRY POTTER WEIGHS IN ON NEW WIZENGAMOT
by Benedict Almeidus
iIn a rare opportunity, I got a chance to sit down with the Saviour of the wizarding world himself, Mr. Harry Potter, after today's first post-war session of the Wizengamot. This is the very first time Mr. Potter will be speaking to the press since the Battle of Hogwarts and the end of the war against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
When I started by thanking him for his part in saving all of us and the wizarding world from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Mr. Potter modestly replied that he had only done his part for the wizarding world.
"Voldemort killed my parents. He destroyed many more families than just my own. He was a monster, and what I did was for the sake of people in our world who no longer have to live in fear of a madman trying to destroy them," he says, quite grimly. "Many people laid down their lives in this fight, and if it hadn't been for them, I would not have been able to do what I did."
Indeed, the talk of the fallen seems to bring a truly sad look upon his face. And yet, there is a determination in him, and when prompted about the reason for it, he was surprisingly forthright about sharing.
"It's over now," he says, smiling a little. "We can finally rebuild our world back to how it was. When I entered the wizarding world at 11, it was the most wondrous place I had ever seen in my life. Voldemort's return tarnished the wonder of our world, but now that he's gone, we can regain it once more."
I couldn't help but ask how.
"Well, in the Wizengamot today, for instance," he explains, calmly. "I'm sure people will wonder why I didn't object to certain heirs who inherited the permanent seats."
"Do you mean the families of alleged Death Eaters?" I asked.
"Yes," he answers, without hesitation. "This isn't the time to hold onto grudges, or even fighting over what kind of blood we have. At this moment, all that should matter is that we are all willing to come together to build our world back after these trying times. Those that caused us to suffer shall be tried under the law properly. In the meantime, everyone else should band together, not keep searching for reasons for fighting."
It might seem like an overly optimistic statement from someone else, but his determination and resolve is unmistakable. Our saviour truly believes we are stronger together, rather than divided by blood purity or old feuds.
"But surely it won't be easy," I point out.
"It never is," he says, bluntly. "But I believe we are all capable. I am not saying we have to forgive and forget. I'm not that naive, after all. I think the priority should be rebuilding and recovery, not revenge or retribution. That's why I also wanted the Wizengamot to be balanced. Voldemort's mistake was thinking that only purebloods deserved a place in our world. The truth is, this is a world for all of us. Purebloods, half-bloods and muggleborn, alike."
When I suggested that the late Albus Dumbledore would have included muggles in that list as well, Mr. Potter surprisingly disagreed.
"I think the Statute of Secrecy exists for a good reason," he says, and there is a weight to his words. "We ought to focus on the wizarding world. That should be our priority."
Speaking of which, I also brought up his recent resignation from the Auror Department.
"I feel there is much I can do, and though working with the Auror Department has been an honour, I feel like my path lies elsewhere," he says. When asked where, he only smiles and answers that he is focusing on taking his NEWTs. "Whatever comes next, I'll be ready for it."
Finally, I asked for his parting words to the wizarding world.
"We will be alright," he says, firmly. "I truly believe that."
So, there you have it, dear readers. Our Saviour believes in us, and our ability to carry on after everything our world has suffered through. With him at the forefront, we can be assured that we truly might be headed for an era of peace and prosperity.
Harry sighed and folded up the newspaper. "It makes me sound…" he struggled for words, but Hermione giggled.
"It's good, Harry," she said. "People need to be reassured. Sure, it's a bit hammy, but I think that was the point. It's actually quite clever."
"Let's just hope I can live up to it, then," he said, with a small smile.
"Oh, Harry," smiled Hermione. "You already have."
2nd June, 1998
"We have something we need to do today," said Daphne, when Harry got down to the Verdant offices the next day.
"Good morning, Daphne," he said, raising an eyebrow at her abrupt manner.
"We are short on time," she shrugged. "Fleur's already here and she's gotten started on your finances, so you and I need to do this."
"What are we doing?" he asked.
Daphne showed him a parchment. He glanced down at it and noticed that it was - "A map?" he asked, surprised.
"Of Diagon Alley," nodded Daphne. "I got it from the Ministry's archives. It's the most up-to-date version they have. Unfortunately, it's still two years old."
"What do you want us to do with it?" he asked.
"We are taking a walk around the Alley," she said. "We will be taking note of all the shops in there. The ones that are occupied and seem to be operational, we'll mark with green, the shops that seem to be struggling, will be marked with yellow, and the shops that are empty or abandoned, will be red."
"Got it," nodded Harry, catching on.
"And while we're there, we will be keeping an ear out for any particular ways in which the Diagon Restoration Program can help them," said Daphne. "We won't be asking outright, just making a mental note of it for later. I feel like we need to get a scope of things as they exist now before we launch into the change."
"Yeah," said Harry. "Did you read the Prophet yesterday?"
She gave him a look. "Of course I did," she said. "I thought it was very well-handled. I already owled Tracey to congratulate her on a job well done."
"I should do that too," he murmured, and then remembered he didn't have an owl.
"Don't worry, she'll be here in an hour or so," said Daphne, getting up and putting on a silver cloak over her charcoal grey robes. "She's in a meeting with Ben, so she'll have an update about how the article was received and all that by the time we get back."
Harry nodded, as he followed her out of the office. They passed by Fleur's office, and Harry waved in greeting. She looked up briefly to wave back, but seemed busy so he didn't wish to bother her. Before they stepped out into Diagon Alley, Daphne handed him a flask. "Polyjuice," she said. "We are being discreet."
Harry took it and grimaced as he drank it down. His body twisted in the familiar way, but it surprisingly didn't change much. He was the same height and weight, and when Daphne showed him a mirror, he saw a young man about his age, with caramel brown hair, brown eyes and rather dull features.
"It's my cousin Pierre," said Daphne, without him having to ask. "Just in case anyone gets suspicious."
Harry nodded, and the two of them walked out and went towards the Leaky Cauldron, deciding to start at the entrance and work their way down to the other end. Daphne had the map in her hand, and each shop they passed, she would tap her wand to the map to mark them. Some of the shops, she entered with Harry, perusing the wares on sale but really looking to see what kind of an establishment it was. Harry himself was taking stock of things as well, noting how some shops seemed to be doing fine, while others were deserted, with the bare minimum on the shelves, covered by a layer of dust.
It took them almost four hours to finish their survey of the full Alley, and by the time they returned to the Verdant offices, it was almost 1 in the afternoon.
"You're back, how was it?" asked Fleur, when she saw them.
"Productive," said Daphne, with a tired smile. "How about you?"
"I actually managed to put it in order, believe it or not," she smiled.
The door to Daphne's office opened and Tracey poked her head out. "Hey," she greeted, with a wave. "Maribeth said she was stepping out for a bit to buy us lunch."
"Let's meet up in the conference room and we can update each other," said Daphne, and they all agreed and moved to the little conference room that just had a long table with six chairs around them. As they were getting settled, Maribeth came back with packed containers of spaghetti napolitana.
"Where did you even find this?" asked Daphne, surprised.
"I went to the Muggle side," said Maribeth, with a smile. "Please eat, and I will go make some tea in the meantime."
"You aren't joining us?" asked Harry.
"I always have an early lunch," smiled Maribeth. "Bon appetit."
The food was delicious, as Harry, Daphne, Tracey and Fleur just ate quietly for a few minutes. Harry had never had any kind of pasta before, and it was by far the best thing he'd ever tried.
"We need to get a place that sells this," he said, when he was halfway through his food.
"Agreed," nodded Tracey. "The pasta isn't handmade or anything, but the sauce is good and it beats the fried food and bland sandwiches from the Leaky."
"Ah, the English, they fry everything," muttered Fleur. "I agree with the sauce being good, though, Tracey."
"So, how did everyone else's morning go?" asked Daphne, changing the subject from the food.
"I got the finances in order for the most part," said Fleur. "You had done most of the work already, Daphne, so it wasn't too difficult. But, there's something important you missed."
"What's that?" asked Daphne, sitting up at once.
"Don't worry, it's just the matter of residences," smiled Fleur.
Daphne nodded. "Ah, yeah," she said. "I knew there was something like that."
"What's this about?" asked Harry.
"You inherited a number of residences," said Daphne. "We need to access them and check up on things. There might be repairs that need to be done, there might be weird things with the wards...any number of things really."
"They are your residences now, so they are your responsibility, Harry," said Fleur.
"Right," nodded Harry, and looked at Daphne. "When should we start?"
"I have a list here," said Fleur, passing the parchment to Daphne.
"We can get started tomorrow," said Daphne, reading the list. "Is it cleared with the goblins?"
"Yes, of course," nodded Fleur, and passed her a long, manila envelope. "The details are in there. It's sealed since only Harry can open it."
"Right," said Daphne, and Harry saw the Gringotts seal on it. "And what about the vaults from the inherited seats?"
"Yes, I sent off the letters you wrote up," said Fleur. "The goblins wrote back a little while ago, saying the transfers were done."
"Is this about…?" asked Harry, having an idea already.
"Well, the Lestrange vault's contents are going to Rolf, the Crouch and Prewett assets are going to the Weasley family, like you wanted, remember?" said Daphne, and Harry nodded as it was confirmed.
"I'll write to the individual recipients this afternoon to inform them of the transfers," said Fleur. "The goblins will no doubt send their own correspondence, but we should do it as well. It's courtesy."
"Okay," nodded Harry. "Anything else?"
"They also sent a package," said Fleur, passing him a small box. "They said you would need these."
Harry took the box and saw the Gringotts seal on it as well. Curious, he broke the seal and unwrapped the box from the brown paper covering on it. The box, which really was no bigger than a snuff box, and was made of plain dark wood, contained four different rings.
"Oh, good, they've arrived," said Daphne, glancing at the contents of the box. "They're your family rings."
"Why are there four?" asked Harry.
"One each for Potter, Black and Peverell families and the last one should be a signet ring," she said. "It will have a seal that we need to put on all of your official correspondence."
Harry nodded and saw the small, gold signet ring.
"That should go on your pinky," said Daphne. "The other three, you should put on your ring finger."
Harry put on the gold signet ring on his pinky, and then picked up the gold and ruby ring which he assumed was the Potter one. He put it on the ring finger of his right hand, where it shrunk to fit him. The Black family ring was a clear diamond set in gold. When he put it on the same finger, it vanished and the Potter ring acquired a clear diamond border around the ruby. The final ring was the Peverell ring, which was an unusual stone that looked much like a sapphire. When he put it on, instead of a border like the Black family ring had made, the blue colour seemed to branch out like veins or branches of a tree through the diamond and ruby, giving it a most unusual effect.
"That is quite a ring," said Tracey, impressed.
"Is it?" asked Harry, even as he was admiring it.
"Most of them are just one colour," said Daphne, showing him her right hand which had the Greengrass family ring on it.
Harry looked at the beautifully cut emerald set in gold that was on her hand with a smile. "It's nice," he said, and then turned to Tracey. "So, how'd it go with Ben?"
"Well, I met with him this morning," said Tracey. "Yesterday's edition of the Evening Prophet was very well-received." She grinned at Harry. "Your words are being heard, and they are having an impact. Which is why, I think we need to get a move on and start the Diagon Program thing quickly. We need to ride this wave from the start, otherwise it's hard to get the momentum back."
"We still need to find someone experienced in business venture," said Daphne.
Tracey paused. "One of the Leiden?" she asked.
Daphne snorted, as both Harry and Fleur looked confused. "Which one?" she asked, and then gave it some thought. "Isn't he the only one?"
"Yeah, come to think of it," frowned Tracey.
"What is it?" asked Fleur.
"It was an old, secret pureblood alliance," explained Daphne. "A bunch of venturists formed a consortium of sorts to invest and manage their shares in businesses. It's fallen apart by now."
"So, who's left?" asked Harry.
"You're not going to like it," said Tracey.
"Try me," said Harry.
"Malfoy," said Daphne. "The alliance kind of sold off their interests around the time of the Dark Lord's return, and most of those involved are now dead or in Azkaban. Lucius Malfoy is the only one left. It's a shame, really, that he's such a scumbag because he was a good businessman, at least."
"Well, all the gold to bribe people had to come from somewhere," muttered Harry, darkly. He frowned a bit. "Hang on, didn't you say you were groomed by your father to take over the business?"
"That's right," nodded Daphne, confused. "Why?"
"Does that mean Draco was trained in this business venture thing by Lucius?" asked Harry.
"Oh, yeah," said Tracey. "Draco was an idiot, but he grew a brain somewhere along the way. He was quite shrewd in business matters, and it's a shame he didn't really get to use the acumen for anything."
Harry looked at Daphne. "What do you think?" he asked. "About hiring Draco."
"You trust him that much?" she asked.
"No, I don't trust him at all," said Harry. "He's weak, self-serving and an idiot. But he's also a talented wizard and he's got potential that if used right can actually be of some use."
"And you think he'll work with us?" asked Daphne.
"Let's ask him, shall we?" smiled Harry. "Invite him here tomorrow and we'll talk."
"Do you plan on speaking with him?" asked Daphne.
"Yes," said Harry. "Besides, if you really think he's capable, then we would be hiring someone qualified."
"What's to stop him from blabbing to his father?" asked Tracey.
Harry chuckled. "He owes me," he said. "I kept him and his family from Azkaban. And besides, I don't think his relationship with his father is the best at the moment."
Fleur looked unsure, as did Tracey, but Daphne looked at him speculatively and gave a nod.
"Fine," she said. "Could you send the letter, Fleur? Let's see what comes of this."