Chapter 10 – Interviewing The Prisoners
The four of us had dinner in London with Mrs. Toms, who thought it time for a relaxed talk. She treated us at Shacklebolt's favorite restaurant. The staff knew her. We had excellent service and a pair of most excellent wines to go with Harry and my Chateaubriand for Two. Mrs. Toms had carefully controlled the discussion.
"We should be friends. I think the four of you are young enough to be both more flexible and more realistic than Ginny's father. All five of you, including former Minister Weasley are certainly more honest than even-more-former-Minister Shacklebolt, although I must tell you that while Kingsley is certainly dishonest, he is also deeply honourable. You can depend upon him to have your backs and to be willing to sacrifice his life for your community. I know the four of you are equally honourable and courageous. My job is to keep Britain safe. I stomp on toes and bend laws, in a way which the Prime Minister and regular police cannot. Protecting one's people can involve some dirty deeds. All of you have been forced to kill. So, have I. I doubt you liked it any more than I did. It had to be done and we did it. We must look ahead and prevent trouble. That is the only way to reduce or avoid killing. There are a few things you need to focus upon.
"You can't stay hidden forever. There have been way too many incidents, from Voldemort forward. We can hold the friends at bay only for so long. They aren't stupid, they have more agents than they know what to do with, and they rarely give up on a scent. They have your scent. I'm surprised the British media haven't broken the story of your community. I work as hard as I can at this in order to give you time to prepare for and execute a plan for your people to go public. My message is it's a question of when, not if, and the sooner the better. A planned disclosure has so many advantages for both of our governments and communities. Your International Secrecy Statute is a problem. You need to address it promptly. I wish to speak to the International Confederation of Wizards. I know they are looking into your possible violation of the Secrecy Statute. It is important that I be allowed to convince them just how much they have their heads in the sand and are just wishing and hoping the current problems will disappear. That can't work. I don't know how much time I can give you, but it isn't a lot. We are lucky that the bear hasn't heard of you, yet. It is inevitable that they will. All the spy services spy on each other. If we know, they will know soon enough. They will not be happy to learn that they have secret magical people in their lands and that those people are governed by other magical people in Germany and the Nordic countries. They won't like that at all."
Mrs. Toms stopped talking while we ate our meals. Her only comments referred to the food. After dessert and coffee were delivered to our table, the waiter was no more than ten feet away, when she asked, "are you going to arrange for me to speak to the Confederation?"
"Wouldn't that rather much be an admission that we have violated the ISS? Okay, I suppose we're past that point. I'll see what I can do. Really, I promise to do it. What are you going to ask them to do?"
"I want them to think, I want them to think very seriously. They cannot go on ignoring how much our world has changed and how difficult it has become to hide in it. I don't know what to do about the Giants, and Elves and Goblins and Centaurs, but the magical humans are going to have to come out of hiding. I can't possibly tell them how much time they have, but it isn't a lot. Your people will be very lucky to stay hidden another year. Our government has known about you for quite some time, and you are hardly closer to integrating into British society than you were when we first encountered you."
"I understand. The Death Eater wars were kind of hard to miss."
"Longer ago than that. I've read the fanfic. It's still being added to, by the way. I checked some details against our files. Dumbledore recruited us to search for Jaden and Dilys. He didn't say he worked at a Wizarding school, but his unusualness was remarked upon. Throughout the years, there have been citizens and police, even soldiers, who saw things they shouldn't have seem and escaped without having their minds wiped. There are several dozen such files. They are remarkably similar. The first go back to the end of the nineteenth century. We have been given ample reason to spy upon you. We don't want your full story breaking into full public view with a giant thud any more than you do. One thing is clear from the files: there are more and more entries each year. You are becoming less and less successful at hiding. We knew about and accepted the Lords Montaigne. Let's say we had a sort of agreement with the Malfoys. Really, we've bent over backwards to tolerate you. You must do better, and you must prepare for the future.
"You may have to set some of your boyish purity aside to deal with the problems of the present. You need to be tougher in dealing with those of your opponents who are willing to engage in serious violence or deliberate attempts to threaten your secrecy. What the fanfic calls your catch-and-release policy toward serious political criminals hasn't and can't work. Ignore your Deputy Minister and keep them in the Gringotts' vaults forever, or at least until you can complete the secure prison you're working on. There will be complaints from opposition Gamots that you have imprisoned a fellow Gamot. Your answer is to expel her from the Wizengamot and keep her locked up. She is a dangerous terrorist. This is too delicate a time to risk what she might do next. Keep an eye on your enemies. Your wife might solicit another raven or two from Odin. I give you this tip from my own agents: Barnabas Cuffe is more than a Slytherin-for-life businessman. He may well be the leader behind the terrorists. This last stunt your opposition pulled was most dangerous. It was exactly what a dozen agents of the friends were looking for. Dumb luck they missed it. If the friend who saw it had not been promptly captured, well... I'll keep you updated on events with Roger. I assume that you can find your own way home. Good night. Tony doesn't know I'm here. Please don't mention this meeting. I don't think we've been watched. Don't wait to speak to Madam Bones."
We made a very quick stop at Madam Bones' townhouse. She had used a laptop to write PMs, she took pains to explain that these were personal messages, to a reader who had left a comment on her story. She, not Hemerocallis, had written the initial chapters of the story. A back and forth PM had started the ball rolling. She had included enough notes to write the first two books as an attachment to her final PM. After that, she had contacted Hemerocallis by e-mail. She gave us the address. She gave us her hidden laptop. All messages had been sent from an internet café in London. She had chosen one far from the townhouse. She gave us the name. She told us yet again how truly sorry she was. We made a quick stop at the Ministry, having summoned Shacklebolt with a Stone message, which woke him. He said he knew how to contact Mrs. Toms and that he would get Wood to start work on the computer immediately.
Even with those quick side trips, I was home in plenty of time for sexy times with Harry. I slept very well. No whale song was required.
We were up early and off to the Ministry with Ron, Hermione, and McGonagall. Neville's mum was already seated and drinking tea when we arrived. We ate in Harry's conference room and steeled ourselves to interrogate the prisoners. Gamot Priscilla Endron was to be first up. She entered in a cloud of haughtiness, which was remarkable for such a minor aristocrat of highly dubious pureblood status. She was just about the lowest ranking of the opposition Gamots. Likely her relative youthfulness, Harry said she was thirty-six years old, explained her actions as a fighter.
"You have no right to hold me in that dungeon. I'm a Gamot. I have rights. I demand to speak to my minority leader and my solicitor. You will regret this."
"You are charged with treason and murder of school children. I can hold you without contact for a week and intend to do so. Do not expect Madam Bones' gently, gently approach to Death Eaters from me. You and Gamot Hinshaw were playing a very dangerous game. He's dead, by the way, so you might consider yourself at least somewhat fortunate. You are going to tell us what you know in front of these truth-tellers."
Three court truth-tellers had joined us, so there were five of us.
"I'm not a Death Eater. You'll never tire of chasing supposed Death Eaters, but I believe you've killed them all. I am simply an opponent fighting to protect the traditional way of life, which you are determined to destroy. If you had any proof that I actively supported Voldemort, you'd have arrested me long before this. Obviously, you don't have proof, since I was never a Death Eater. Do you care to see my arms?"
She started to roll up both sleeves, but the blouse proved too tight. She removed it and softly tossed it toward Harry's head. "Like what you see boys?"
"I see that you don't bear the mark. That's a point in your favour, but given your actions, a small one," Ron replied, as he tossed her blouse back to her. "Seen better, by the way."
"You have no proof that I either intended to bring down your government or that I killed anyone."
"I don't need to prove either of those things. You violently attacked a government facility. You were a member of a group of attackers who killed school children. You were part of a group who used Giants and a Dementor to attack and kill school children."
"Only one of those killed was young enough to be considered a child, and I certainly did not kill her, nor did I order, encourage, or approve of her death. I was there to demonstrate against your government's policy of admitting adult Muggles to our community. I was not there to kill or even to fight."
"There are witnesses that you fired curses."
"Self defence. We were cursed. I cursed back. Apparently, nobody heard me use an Unforgivable Curse, or you would have led with that. That's because I didn't use one. A person who is being attacked is at liberty to use and 'Expelliarmus' or 'Petrificus Totalis'."
"Or even a meteorological spell," Mrs. Longbottom suggested.
"Who organised and planned this attack?"
"I don't care to respond, other than to say that it wasn't me."
"Who coordinated the attack you participated in and the attack upon Hogwarts' first years, and the commotion in Sheffield designed to attract the attention of non-magical Britons and consume auror time to confound on-lookers?"
"That is a coincidence. It might have been organised. I know nothing about any of that. I was at the school in Wales to demonstrate against the presence of that school, because Gamot Hinshaw asked me to join his protest and allow the Daily Prophet to take our picture. The community needs to know that there are still some brave souls who are willing to stand up against your destruction of our community."
"You and Gamot Hinshaw both wore Death Eater masks and hoods."
"That has already become recognised as standard garb for those who protest your government. We would have removed our masks to be photographed."
"After all of the students and faculty were dead."
"I told you, there was no intention of killing anybody. We were cursed. We cursed back. Unfortunately, deaths resulted."
"Without your using an Avada Kedavra?"
"I did not use that curse. Neither did my colleague. I heard one or two, but don't know who used them. I believe the Giants and the Dementor became overly excited and lost their self-control when the faculty started to curse us. They are simple minded and can't be held accountable for that. Besides, they're all dead."
"One of the Giants and the Dementor live. We'll be questioning the Giant this afternoon. We've sent for the leader of the Giant tribe. I think the captured Giant will tell us who hired him. I find it strange that you felt it appropriate to invite two Giants, a Dementor, and Demons to your peaceful protest of the presence of non-purebloods in our community. I'm sure the Giant will explain his strange appearance at a peaceful protest. Perhaps he also wanted the Daily Prophet to take a photo of him. Do you care to amend your testimony, before that happens? No? Then, we'll repeat the questions, using Veritaserum Don't bother objecting, I have authority to do so. Here are two witness statements swearing that the first curse of the day actually came from you and that it killed a professor."
I was surprised that McGonagall had yet to object. Normally this treatment of anyone, especially a Witch, would have her hurling accusations at us. Perhaps Harry had spoken to her in advance, or perhaps the destruction of the school was too vile an action for her to care what happened to the perpetrator.
The Gamot now looked more worried. We had to force the Veritaserum down her throat. While we waited, Mrs. Longbottom polled all of us truth-tellers and made note of each time that the Gamot had lied or been evasive. She had been evasive about not using an Unforgivable Curse, about not organizing the attack and about coordination of the attacks, she had lied about only cursing in self defence and only going to the school for a peaceful protest. She had been truthful about not using the AK curse. I should point out that Hermione's spiked Veritaserum was used, rather than the plain variety. I'm certain McGonagall was aware of this. It looks different enough that any Witch half as skilled as McGonagall couldn't possibly be fooled.
Gamot Endron mainly confirmed that she had lied but did reveal that the attacks had been planned by Barnabas Cuffe. She couldn't say why. She didn't know his formal position in the opposition. She didn't know whether he had been some sort of honorary Death Eater. She admitted that she was masquerading as pure blood, but said she was not the only Witch to do so and that it hardly mattered. She wasn't a Death Eater and only Death Eaters cared about such things. What counted was a reverence and willingness to fight for the traditional lifestyle of the Wizarding world's aristocracy. "We are the only true carriers and transmitters of the Wizarding culture. Our world works best when we rule." Of course, she was a graduate of Slytherin.
Hagrid, Grawp, and the leader of the Giants sat in on our meeting with the prisoner Giant. I wasn't sure if I or the others had the ability to truth-tell a Giant. His answers seemed honest, both because none of us detected a lie and because he said nothing that I would have any reason, just based upon my own knowledge, to suspect was untrue. He said that he and his partner had each been given a bar of gold and a handful of gems as payment for participation in a single attack. Shown a group of photos, he pointed at Gamot Hinshaw's portrait. There had been a meeting prior to the attack. Gamot Endron spoke of the necessity to kill everyone present and absolutely destroy the building, reducing it to burnt rubble. He identified Barnabas Cuffe as the man with the camera, who took photos prior to the group's traveling to the school, photos taken with faces visible.
"We need to get those photos," Ron nudged Harry.
"I will do my best," Mrs. Longbottom promised.
We spoke to the other 'Death Eater' prisoners - Gamot Endron at least believed that she spoke the truth when she stated that neither they nor herself were ever Death Eaters. Ron ordered each of these prisoners to roll up their sleeves. No smudges or marks were visible. I knew that Draco's mark remained visible, so this was further proof that Gamot Endron spoke truth on this point. The most interesting testimony came from the only prisoner captured at what Hermione called the 'street demonstration'. It was clear that many of the actors were non-magical Britons paid by Barnabas Cuffe. A Daily Prophet photographer had been present when the prisoner had arrived. Our prisoner had been recruited by Gamot Hinshaw. He had been paid. He had been given a precise time to begin the demonstration. He had been told that buildings must be damaged in a way which would be "difficult to repair or explain." He had no knowledge that there was to be an attack on the new school in Wales.
I also sat in as one of the truth-tellers on the interrogation of the students who had attacked the Gryffindor first years. They were defiant. They refused to answer. They were threatened with prosecution for treason. They proclaimed their innocence. The spiked Veritaserum was administered. McGonagall showed signs of inner turmoil, but raised no verbal objection, letting her posture speak for itself. The Slytherins changed the tale they had told Neville. They had not launched an impulsive attack on "snivelly little Mudbloods who had the temerity to occupy the halls of my school". The father of one of the students had sent an owl demanding a serious and very prominent attack upon, preferably the twins, but as a fallback plan, against any Mudblood students, the younger the better. An exact time for the attack was given. The importance of this timing was emphasised. Parental authority and threats of dire consequences, in the case of disobedience, were invoked. The student receiving the owl was Hieronymus Hinshaw, the son of our dead Gamot Hinshaw's brother Eustace, also a member of the Wizengamot.
It was late, but I was very hungry. I had access to an infinite supply of tea, coffee, and baked goods during the interrogations, but nobody thought to provide any real food. I can't survive like that. Harry tasked an auror to grab Indian pick-up. When he returned, he and Barb transported us to Hermione's house. Mrs. Longbottom had gone on ahead to Hogwarts with Shacklebolt and four of his aurors to get her son's permission to search Slytherin House. She had a signed statement from young Hinshaw and had gotten a search permission from the member of the Wizengamot, who served as the judicial master. I left that matter in the capable hands of the Longbottom's. I needed food.
The early Quest stops had featured so much curry that I had become satiated with those spice blends. There had been none of that taste on Vanaheimer or Asgard, and I hadn't missed it in the least. Now that I had Tandoori chicken and vegetable curries in front of me, I suddenly realised how much I had missed these tastes. I thoroughly enjoyed my food. The naan bread was something I hadn't had warm and fresh since I began Questing. I welcomed back my old friend. We had finished eating when the Longbottom's appeared at the door.
"Slytherins can be very foolish and stupid," Neville declared. "Hieronymus saved the note from his father! Why! Maybe he had planned to blame his father if he came to trial. Perhaps he would claim a crippling fear of an extremely abusive father. In any case, Mrs. Longbottom had the note and she was off to arrest the second Gamot Hinshaw. I was sure she would get permission to search his house. Was he as stupid and careless as his son? We could hope.
"Young Hinshaw is going to be very unpopular with his Slytherin chums. We found several gallons each of Scotch, gin, and vodka. I let them keep their wine. They also had marijuana. As far as I know that's a first for Hogwarts. Worst of all, they had a bomb. Now it's my bomb and it's also ample reason for future searches of Slytherin and questioning of all, with truth-tellers."
"Nice of you to just drop that in at the end. I had hoped to meet with Margaret, the twins, and Steven, Angela, and Fran, before returning to Asgard in late morning."
"I couldn't resist seeing how much a half sleeping Harry's jaw would drop when I said that. I'll arrange with Fran for all of us to have breakfast in my apartment."
A Slytherin bomb at Hogwarts!