Magic’s Justice

Title: Magic’s Justice
Author: Keira Marcos
Betas: Chris King & Ladyholder
Series: Harry Potter & the Soulmate Bond
Episode: 28
Fandom: Harry Potter
Relationship: Harry/Hermione
Word Count: 21,283
Warnings: This episode contains a somewhat graphic description of a ritual sacrifice of a young woman—mutilation and cannibalism are briefly discussed. Read with care.
Author’s Note: You know I hate Ron and Ginny Weasley, right? See Series page for further author notes, warnings, and ratings.

Magic's Jusice

Banner Art by FanArts Series

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It crossed Hermione’s mind as they passed through the wand check at the Ministry that most of the magicals in Britain had seen very little of Harry since he was cursed. Their public appearance before the Wizengamot had been announced in the Daily Prophet and unlike the inquiry into her magic, the trial of Percy Weasley was going to be available to the public at large. The largest court room available in the Ministry had been opened for the proceedings. Her mother had told her that it would hold three thousand people in stadium seating above the actual court. The Atrium was brimming with people but Harry’s vassal, Thaddeus Banner, was making way for them without much of a fuss.

Lord Black had offered to bring them both into the Ministry by a special portkey but they’d agreed that it would be best to arrive just like everyone else. If they were going to make their home in Britain, which was Hermione’s preference, then their appearing in public had to be normalized. Harry’s fingers tightened against hers briefly at the flash of cameras but she was distracted by someone calling her name. She turned and got a face full of camera.

“Can I get a quote for Witch Weekly, Miss McGonagall?”

“Okay.” She paused and Harry stopped with her. She looked the reporter right in the eye. “If you or any other member of your organization ever shoves a camera in my face again, I won’t ever do another interview with your magazine as long as I live.”

Harry laughed and tugged her away from the flabbergasted reporter as several people started laughing. “We can look forward to a scathing article about that.”

“I’m seeing spots,” Hermione exclaimed. “There is no need to be rude. I’ve been very gracious about contributing to their magazine!”

“You have,” Harry agreed.

Thaddeus guided them both into a lift and it closed on the crowd. Harry relaxed against the wall as the car started to move and fiddled with a little ring she was wearing on her wand hand. “What’s this?”

“Oh, it was Mum’s sweet sixteen ring,” Hermione admitted. “I found it in her jewelry box and she gave it to me.”

“It’s nice,” Harry murmured rubbing his thumb over the heart shaped ruby. The band was silver made of intertwining Celtic knots. “You realize it’s got a tracking charm on it, right?”

Hermione smiled. “Yes, I don’t mind, you know. It’s nice to have a parent who actually cares where I am and that I continue to breathe.” She shrugged when he grimaced. “It’s fine, Harry.”

“It really isn’t,” Harry said.

“I never intended on telling anyone, you know.” Hermione bit down on her lip when he scowled at her. “I knew I only had to hang in there until I turned seventeen. I wasn’t going to go back home after this year and I already had the application to have them memory charmed by the Ministry filled out.  Their religious zealotry makes them a threat to our society. I signed a document for Amelia Bones attesting to that so that they could be monitored by the DMLE. I doubt they’ll go a full year without being memory charmed.”

The lift opened and Harry stilled Hermione until Thaddeus had stepped out of the lift and given him a signal that it was clear. “We’ll need to work with you a little on security protocols.”

Hermione frowned. “So you don’t think it’s ever going to be possible to have a normal life in Britain, do you?”

“I think we’ll have to define a new kind of normal for us if you want to stay in this country.”

“And you’d be okay with that,” Hermione murmured as they were basically herded by a pair of Aurors into the courtroom.

“Yes, of course.” He gave her a hand a gentle squeeze. “I’ve built a house in Britain. We’ll work it out. I won’t take you far from your mother for very long now or in the future.”

She smiled then. “Okay.”

Hermione settled into a chair and watched the proceedings with interest as it was different than the hearing after the Gryffindor Circle and not quite like the ICW interrogation she’d endured. The court officer read off the list of charges against Percy Weasley and it was difficult to maintain a neutral expression as the depth of his depravity was laid bare before her. Multiple counts of ritual murder, the conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, line theft, magical corruption of a minor, child abuse, and conspiracy to commit insurrection.

“I call to the witness stand, Hermione Isobel McGonagall.”

Hermione started and turned to share a look with Harry. Neither one of them had been notified she’d be required to give testimony in Percy’s defense and she was to be called by the Prosecutor as his first witness. She took a deep breath as an auror appeared next to the door of the observation box she and Harry were in and opened the door. She let go of Harry’s hand and stood with a brief nod in his direction.

“Chief Warlock, Miss McGonagall was not on the list of witnesses submitted by the defense and had no expectation of giving testimony for the defense today,” the prosecutor protested. “She’s only here on the off-chance I would call her this afternoon.”

“With the court’s permission, my client related information to me shortly before the court session began that has led me to call this witness. He recalled the information when he saw her being escorted into the room,” Joseph Shireford said from his place beside Percy Weasley.

Dumbledore nodded. “Very well, Mr. Shireford, you may question Miss McGonagall regarding this information but do remember her age and her station.” He turned to the prosecutor. “Director Wright, let me know if you need a break to research after the defense’s questions.”

Zale Wright nodded. “Yes, of course, Chief Warlock.”

Hermione settled into the witness chair and crossed her legs. She felt the honesty charm activate around her.

“Miss McGonagall would you explain your relationship with the Weasley family?”

Hermione frowned. “I don’t have a relationship with the Weasley family.”

“But at one time you spent a great deal of time at their house over summer breaks and even accompanied the youngest of the two children home for Yule during your third year at Hogwarts.”

“Yes. There was a time when I considered Ron and Ginny Weasley my friends but I was… mistaken. I spent my summers with their family to escape my Muggle parents, who mistreated me.” Her lips pressed into a thin line at the murmur of conversation that emerged from the spectator section. “I ended those friendships in September of this year.”

“Because of Harry Potter.”

Hermione frowned. “Lord Potter.”

“Excuse me?” Shireford questioned.

“You should address the Earl of Gryffindor as Lord Potter. You are not an intimate friend and certainly do not have leave to be so informal with his name in a legal proceeding. You do have your mastery in Magical Law, correct? I’d hate for this entire process to be thrown out because you were underqualified.”

Shireford sputtered. “Yes, I have my mastery and I’m asking the questions, young lady.”

“Well, ask them properly,” Hermione returned tartly.

He flushed dull red and glared at her. “Did your friendships with Ginevra and Ronald Weasley end because of Lord Potter?”

“Yes, I suppose they did. His arrival at Hogwarts caused quite a bit of upheaval, though it was really no fault of his own. He’s not like any other student at the school—his magical circumstances and noble title fascinated most of the student populace. I wasn’t immune to that, I admit. He made it clear from the start that he was interested in me romantically. Ginny was extremely jealous and petty about it. Ron tried to interfere. He claimed to be interested in me as well but that was nonsense. I doubt he could tell you how I take my tea and we supposedly became friends our first year.”

“And how well do you know the defendant?”

“He was the fifth year prefect for Gryffindor my first year but he was standoffish and unavailable to the younger years so I wouldn’t say I knew him well at all my first year. By my third year, he was Head Boy and had even less time to give anyone—including his own siblings. I believed him extremely self-involved and far more invested in appearing intelligent than actually gaining knowledge.”

“And your experiences with him outside of school?”

“He stayed in his room mostly and only came out for meals when I stayed at the Burrow. Percy isolated himself from his family, resented being interrupted, and often yelled at his brothers and sister if they disturbed him. The summer before my fourth year, Mr. Weasley got tickets to the World Cup and Percy was the only one not to go. He said it was a waste of his time.”

“So you’d say he felt as if he weren’t a part of the family?”

“I’d say he didn’t want to be part of the family,” Hermione corrected. “He wasn’t disrespectful with his parents, that I ever witnessed, but he often put on an air as if he were better than the rest of us and even having to speak with us was a trial for him. Though he exhibited that attitude often at Hogwarts as well.”

“Did you ever notice him spending time with his sister or was he put off by her company as well?”

“He didn’t yell at her but I wouldn’t say he interacted with her any more than he did the rest of his family.” Hermione frowned at him but refrained from asking any questions.

“Have you ever noticed Ginevra Weasley receiving correspondence from her brother?”

“No, but I don’t actually pay attention to Ginny so I’m hardly a reliable witness for such a situation. Most mail at Hogwarts is delivered at breakfast and I spend that time preparing for my classes, checking in with the younger years to ensure they have what they need for the day, and making sure Harry eats more than toast. If he only has toast, he’ll start complaining by second period that he’s hungry which is annoying, you see. I just don’t have time to keep track of Ginny Weasley’s mail.”

“The prosecution has accused my client of providing Ginerva Weasley with the spell that nearly killed Lord Potter. Do you believe that possible?”

“Yes, of course I do.”

“Why?” Shireford questioned.

“Who else could’ve?”

“You,” Shireford suggested.

Hermione laughed. “Are you serious?”

“Did you purchase a copy of Dark Curses and Cures by Olivia Osgood earlier this year?”

Hermione considered that. “Yes, I did actually. I’m building a library of resources for my Mastery work in transfiguration and that book is on the recommended reading list for the International Mastery.”

“Would it surprise you to know that the curse that hit Lord Potter is in that book?”

“Not at all, I was told it was the definitive work on dark curses and the methods of combat transfiguration used to block such curses which is why it’s one of the books I’ve been encouraged to read.”

“Isn’t it possible that Ginevra Weasley took that book from your collection when you weren’t looking?”

“No, actually it isn’t,” Hermione said. “Lord Black gave me a magical catalog for my library trunk for my birthday in September. I used that catalog to inventory and secure my book collection. Moreover, on that same day the house elf that takes care of me and my things warded all of my belongings and also barred Ginny specifically from entering the dorm where I sleep at one of my roommate’s suggestion. They feared that she might lash out at me because of one of the presents I received.”

“And what present was that?” Shireford asked.

“Lord Potter gifted me with his mother’s violin—the Lily 1732 to be specific. It’s a Stradivarius so I was worried that it might be damaged or destroyed in my care. Ginny was very upset that I was given such a personal gift though at the time she did not know that Harry was my soulmate.”

“One might say she was entitled to such jealousy. A Stradivarius must be worth over a million galleons.”

“It’s priceless,” Hermione corrected. “But that isn’t the point. Ginny wasn’t allowed in my dorm after my birthday on the nineteenth of September and I purchased that book in late October by owl order.” She sat back and stared at the man. “For the record, I don’t appreciate your client spying on me. I wonder how many other people he was keeping an unreasonable watch on.”

“He was an employee of the Ministry and it was his job to monitor dangerous people. Surely you don’t deny that you’re dangerous.”

“I’ve rarely encountered a witch who isn’t,” Hermione returned.

“Including Ginevra Weasley.”

Hermione grimaced. “Actually, she’s not much of a witch at all. Her practical work was sloppy and her theory is barely on an acceptable level. She had the potential, yes, but she squandered it due to laziness or perhaps it was madness. I didn’t interact with her much at all before she was possessed by a dark artifact during her first year so I don’t know what she was like before the possession. Maybe it ruined her, I don’t know. I’m not qualified to make such a judgment.”

“You’re Muggle-born.”

“I was born to a Muggle woman, yes. My biological father is a squib. What of it?”

“There must be plenty of young women at Hogwarts who find your relationship with Lord Potter vexing.”

“Maybe at first but less now that it’s known we’re soulmates. I don’t see how that has any bearing on your client’s current situation.”

“He’s been charged with facilitating your attempted murder, Miss McGonagall,” Shireford explained smoothly. “I’m just trying to establish for the record that Miss Weasley wasn’t the only young woman at Hogwarts who might have wished harm on you because of your relationship with Lord Potter.”

She didn’t know what purpose that information would serve so she glanced towards the prosecutor and found the man looking cross and bored all at once. Hermione immediately decided she was going to master that facial expression as soon as possible because it was amazing. “Harry’s fame is… obscene.” She paused at the stir that caused in the upper reaches of the courtroom. “He’s been abused by the media for almost his entire life. There were plenty of young women at Hogwarts who sought his personal attention because he’s famous or because he’s wealthy. It doesn’t hurt, at all, that he’s beautiful. But really it was the fame that drew their interest.”

“He’s the Boy-Who-Lived,” Shireford said. “That’s hardly obscene.”

“Don’t you think it’s time you stopped calling him a boy?” Hermione returned evenly. “And yes, it’s obscene. He’s famous for surviving a familicide. There is a cemetery in Godric’s Hollow. I visited it in October. Forty-six Potters died in the blood war and seven of those were lost in 1981. That’s why it’s obscene and why it always will be. But your client’s sister found Harry’s fame exciting and arousing. She wanted him so she would be famous, too.”

“And you have no interest in fame?”

“I don’t care if a single person outside of my family and circle of friends even remembers my name,” Hermione said. “Fame is fickle and mean. It’s unrewarding, largely dispensed without merit, and dangerous.”

Shireford frowned at her, his face a dull red. “I have no further questions.”

“Director Wright?” Dumbledore questioned.

“Yes, I have quite a few questions actually. Miss McGonagall would you like a glass of water?”

“No, I’m fine but I’m going to have to remove my familiar from my cloak pocket. She’s getting irritated with her confinement,” Hermione explained. She pulled Inari from the pocket and the dragon-snake hissed before whipping off her mistress’ hand with a flutter of wings and flying across the room to Harry. “My apologies, Director Wright.”

“No, it’s fine. It’s important that you keep her close during the bonding stage,” Zale said smoothly. “I read in Witch Weekly that your bond with her is quite new.”

“Yes and she’s territorial. I’m having to keep her and my cat separated for the time being,” Hermione said and focused on the prosecutor. He was for lack of a better word, lovely.

“Part of the evidence my office is presenting today covers Mr. Weasley’s long term plans for his family and how they were adjusted throughout the years leading up his sister’s attempt to kill you and his own arrest. Would it surprise you to know that one time Percival Weasley considered you a viable wife for his brother, Ronald Weasley, and that he had plans to potion you into compliance?”

“Yes, actually I’m very surprised. I though Percy was a blood purist.” Hermione grimaced and shifted her seat. “That’s nightmarish to think about actually. I know that there was an attempt to dose me with love potions during my fourth year but the house elf that takes care of me caught it.”

“That’s the second time you’ve mentioned a house elf,” Zale said. “Who is she?”

“Oh,” Hermione glanced towards Harry who only inclined his head. “She’s bonded to the House of Potter and she’s been my personal attendant since shortly before I turned nine years old.” She bit down on her lip as the crowd’s response grew so noisy that Dumbledore had to call the room to order. “Though I did not meet her until September of this year.”

“I don’t understand,” Zale admitted. “How did she take care of you if you never met her?”

“As you might know or have heard, Harry visited the Book of Souls the summer he turned eight years old. He tasked one of the house elves bonded to the House of Potter with my protection in August of that year. She stayed with me, protected me from my biological parents, and eventually followed me to Hogwarts to do the same. She saved my life several times during my years at Hogwarts and even fought off a full grown mountain troll in my defense. She’s a very loyal and dedicated house elf.”

“I would say so,” Zale agreed. “Is she here now?”

Emmie appeared in a flush of magic right beside the witness stand much to the shock of everyone in the room. She was dressed in a dark red wool dress and knee-high dragonhide boots. The little elf rocked back on her feet and offered Zale Wright a charming little smile, her green hair styled very similarly to Hermione’s own—pinned up a little braided bun with a series of rhinestone encrusted combs.

“As you can see she’s very adept at staying hidden,” Hermione said and Emmie disappeared again. “She’d have never allowed Percy to potion me so while his plan to potion me into a relationship with his brother is horrifying on many levels, I’d have never had any reason to worry.”

“Horrifying on many levels,” Zale repeated. “Could you explain that for the court?”

“Love potions have only real one purpose and that is rape,” Hermione said and paused when the crowd grew noisy. When they were quiet again she cleared her throat. “Forcing someone to love you, want you, and have sex with you—that’s rape. Mental, emotional, physical, and in my case it would’ve also been magical.”

“Magical?” Zale questioned.

“I would consider being dosed with love potions a violation of my magical soul,” Hermione said and bit down on her lip as the prosecutor paled. He wasn’t the only to be so shocked by it, even Percy’s solicitor looked like he might be ill. “But there are no laws in Britain that would see him punished for that. I’ll have to content myself with the punishment he’ll face in his afterlife.”

“Would you explain that?” Zale asked.

“Have you ever seen a soulmate record?” Hermione questioned.

“No, I was not blessed in this life with such a gift,” the man said, his smile was gentle and genuine.

Hermione looked toward Harry for guidance and Star appeared in front of him with the portable vault.

Harry stood. “Chief Warlock, with your permission?”

“Yes, of course, Lord Potter,” Dumbledore said and urged him forward with a hand.

Harry took the vault from Star and left the spectator section with a brief glance in his father’s direction. He placed the vault on the narrow table in front of Hermione and the key flashed into his hand from its place in his bracelet.

“May I ask what that is?” Zale questioned.

“When I visited the Book of Souls, it created a copy of our record for me to take with me,” Harry explained and glanced towards the man. “At the time, I considered the information precious and worthy of the most protection I could provide. This is a portable vault designed specifically for me by Gringotts. I was the first to ever receive one. My head house elf is tasked with the security of this vault. Though the information is no longer a secret, I decided to keep the record in the vault. It’s also currently housing the wedding ring for the Countess of Gryffindor and several pieces of jewelry Hermione will wear to the Ministry’s Yule Ball.” He opened the vault and retrieved the record which he offered to Dumbledore. “You should be able to read it, sir.”

“Thank you,” Dumbledore said gravely and carefully opened the scroll. Gold light bathed his face and he took a ragged breath. “Let it be known that there is no lighter, no purer magic than the magic of twin souls meeting and being reunited. It is to be considered a crime against magic to stand between two so gifted by magic herself with a perfect companion in life and love—a soulmate. Harry James Potter ~ Magical Soulmates ~ Hermione Isobel McGonagall.” He paused. “I’m surprised to see her adopted name.”

“It originally had Hermione Jane Granger but in the minutes after her ritual adoption into the House of Ross, it changed to reflect her new name. I can only assume it will do it again when we marry,” Harry explained as Dumbledore passed the parchment back to him.

“Fascinating,” Dumbledore murmured. “Soulmate magic is so very special, is it not?” He looked expectantly at Zale Wright. “Director Wright?”

“Yes, sir, it is. Thank you for your indulgence in this matter, Lord Potter.”

Harry nodded, returned the parchment to the vault and closed it. The vault disappeared with a little pop and Harry returned to his seat.

“Miss McGonagall, were you aware that Lord Potter filed a formal protest concerning the charges filed against Percy Weasley?”

“Yes,” Hermione frowned as she spoke. “Your department only charged him with the conspiracy to commit one murder when it should be two. Had the spell hit me—it would’ve killed us both. If I’d failed in my attempt to coax Harry’s soul back into his body I would’ve probably dropped dead before I could’ve closed that ritual circle.”

“But Mr. Weasley didn’t know you were soulmates at that time.”­

“I believe he suspected it. His sister knew—in fact at that point all of Gryffindor knew. Moreover, the Ministry sent a parselmouth to the school to investigate our relationship because Fudge and Umbridge suspected we were soulmates. The Ministry demonstrated an extreme amount of interest in finding Lord Potter’s soulmate over the years despite their public denial that he had one. The even had a prophet scry for a name and made a list of potential targets. Though their bigotry made them focus entirely on pure-bloods which is probably why I wasn’t dragged to the Book of Souls sometime during my first year. Regardless, I supported Harry’s petition for more expansive charges. Harry’s the last of his line and Percy’s plans nearly saw the House of Potter destroyed.”

“You said earlier that Mr. Weasley was more interested in appearing intelligent than actually gathering knowledge. Could you expand on that?”

“Appearances are important to him—the appearance of success, intelligence, and wealth. All of that matters a great deal to Percy. I noticed during my first year when he would bother to answer my questions that he could answer on practically any topic I had on surface level but would display impatience when I required a more in-depth answer. I thought perhaps he found me personally vexing but I noticed he did it to everyone. His schoolwork was superficially intelligent as well and he rarely used source materials outside of those required for the courses. Once he left Hogwarts, he glutted himself on Ministry propaganda. He actually told me last summer that he thought Muggle-born children had stolen magic. When I asked him how I could’ve possibly stolen magic from a witch or a wizard without a wand or even knowledge that magic existed—he grew irritated with me and left the kitchen of the Burrow. I mean, it’s no doubt that I was a fierce eleven year old but certainly not so formidable that I could’ve taken on a magical person and stole their magic. It’s utterly ridiculous.”

Wright cleared his throat and focused on the parchment in front of him with a grin. “For the record, Miss McGonagall did you ever have any sort of romantic interest in Ronald Weasley?”

“No, none.” She shook her head. “At most I considered him sort of like an irritating little brother. I had no idea he was interested in me until over the summer when I was staying with his parents—he tried to peek at me when I was getting undressed. I told his mother about his crass behavior and it stopped. Even then I didn’t think he was genuinely interested in me.”

“Why not?” Wright asked. “You’re a beautiful.”

“Oh, well, thank you.” She blushed furiously and focused briefly on Harry who just offered her a smile before continuing. “Ron never seemed to think so. In fact, when he found out Viktor Krum was taking to me the Yule Ball during our fourth year—he appeared genuinely confused as to why any wizard would want to go to a dance with me.”

Zale raised an eyebrow. “Perhaps he was just a late bloomer or an idiot.”

Hermione laughed and bit down on her bottom lip as he grinned.

Dumbledore cleared his throat.

Wright rocked back on his heels and shrugged at the gentle reprimand. “You said during your fourth year that your house elf prevented you from being potioned. Was she able to tell you who tried to potion you?”

“No, in order to keep her presence a secret she was forced to vanish the potion outright and couldn’t save any so she could have it checked for a key. Considering the fact that there was another far more dangerous threat in Hogwarts at the time, I can’t say for certain that Ron was responsible for it.”

“No, it’s my understanding Viktor Krum was well known for using magic and potions to subdue his victims. You were fortunate to be protected magically as you were.”

She smiled then. “Harry said it was an honor and a privilege to protect me.”

“And so it is,” Zale agreed. “I know many wizards who would consider such privilege a gift from Lady Magic herself. Thank you for your time, Miss McGonagall.”

Hermione allowed herself to be escorted back to the private box where Harry was seated. Inari crawled off Harry’s lap and wrapped herself Hermione’s wrist. Harry shed his cloak and let it fall over the back of his chair as Shireford called him as a witness. Hermione watched him leave the box and take a seat on the witness stand with the easy physical grace she’d admired in him since the beginning.

“Lord Potter, how do you know the defendant?”

Harry inclined his head. “I don’t know him personally. I heard his name in passing over the years due to associations I have with his siblings and father. I met his father after the school year began. I attend classes with Ronald Weasley, and Ginevra was a fifth year Gryffindor. I did not socialize with either of them at Hogwarts. I know William Weasley, the oldest son of Arthur and Molly Weasley quiet well due to his work at Gringotts.”

“What can you tell the court about the day you took the curse for Hermione McGonagall?”

Harry took a deep breath. “Our bond had taken a dramatic turn—fully maturing in a way that was breathtaking and compelling all at once. We were both quite enthralled with it and with each other. I asked Hermione to marry me at lunch that day and during dinner her mother and I discussed the announcement. The three of us also talked over the contract terms. As we were leaving the hall after dinner, I felt the magic in the room shift due to my connections with the wards. I heard Dumbledore shouting though his words are… distant and fuzzy to me. Since we were so close to the doors, I felt a threat, whatever it might be, would be coming from behind. I grabbed Hermione and whipped her around to face the door and put myself between her and whatever was coming.” He paused. “I honestly expected to take a reductor or perhaps a blasting curse either of which I could’ve recovered from easily enough.”

“Yes, it appears being the High Warlock of a conclave full of parselmouths is quite advantageous. Members of your conclave healed you after the duel you fought against Viktor Krum, correct?”

“Actually Master Hiro Ito handled the actual healing after the duel but his conclave is allied with my own. I have faith had I taken the injury I expected to take that my conclave would’ve come to my aid. It is our duty to one another after all to render such aid when at all possible.”

“Yes.” Shireford cleared his throat noisily. “Lord Potter, why are you in Great Britain? You’ve avoided the country of your birth for more than a decade.”

Harry frowned and crossed his legs as he relaxed in the witness chair. “My father preferred that I not return to Britain until I could properly defend myself—both magically and legally. It is the reason I claimed my title as soon as I could and why I forced my magical maturation.”

“You forced your maturation?” Shireford asked, voice subdued with obvious shock.

“Yes, of course, I did. I’m emancipated.” Harry asked with a raised eyebrow. “I would assume such information would be common knowledge.”

“You could’ve claimed your ring without emancipation. Why did you do such a thing?”

Harry’s mouth drew into a small frown before his face cleared and his expression became ruthlessly neutral. Hermione had seen him shut down like that far too often not to suspect the question was going to force to him to admit something he’d rather not. “I’ve known who my soulmate was since I was eight years old. I was forced, due to the corruption in the British Ministry of Magic, to watch from afar as she entered the magical world. Over and over again, she was drawn into dangerous situations that left me equal parts furious and helpless. I tolerated it because I had no choice. The moment I had a choice—I made the best one I could. I forced my maturation, claimed my title as an adult, and accepted the invitation to Hogwarts.”

“To pursue your soulmate.”

“To protect my soulmate,” Harry corrected. “I was prepared all along to have nothing but her friendship because ultimately her happiness is more important than my own. That she accepted my romantic interest and gave me her time makes me a very lucky wizard.”

“There are many in Britain who feel you should’ve made a different choice.”

“I’m sure.”

“How do you answer to them?” Shireford asked.

“I don’t,” Harry said bluntly. “There are precious few people on this planet that I would feel the need to explain myself to. I don’t care if the other noble and ancient families in Britain have a problem with my choice of wife. I owe them no explanations and I won’t apologize for it.”

“It could be argued that your arrogance brought us here today.”

“It’s no fault of mine that your client is a monster,” Harry said mildly.

“And your lack of regard for the social and political ramifications of your choices?”

“Exactly how much do you expect me to sacrifice for this country?” Harry snapped and his magic flared briefly before he took a deep breath and Godric appeared wrapped around his throat. The snake swept off his neck, down his shoulder to wrap around the wrist of his wand arm. “I’m the last of line—my family cemetery is full of Potters who made the ultimate sacrifice during the blood war. I gave up any chance I might have had at a childhood to train and educate myself for a fate I wanted no part of. I did my duty to Lady Magic when I was just thirteen years old. I vanquished Riddle and I did it at no small cost—magically, emotionally, and financially.”

“Has it not yet crossed your mind that there are people in this country who would not thank you for murdering their Dark Lord?” Shireford asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Oh it crossed my mind,” Harry said but then shrugged. “I killed quite a few of those people in October as a matter of a fact. I don’t worry much about them. They’re corrupt and dark, to be sure. But they are also lazy and stupid. The ones who never actually had the displeasure of Tom Riddle’s company are simply ignorant. They don’t understand how obscene his existence was. They don’t really understand that he didn’t have followers—he had slaves. The Dark Mark wasn’t a gift, it was a brand.

“In the end, he was the only true Death Eater because he was destroying those that joined his cause from the inside out. He was constantly feeding on them, corrupting their souls and tainting their magic in the most unspeakable of ways. Your client is just as dark, lazy, and stupid as any witch or wizard Riddle ever branded a slave. After all, he didn’t come at me directly. He plotted his ugly little game then manipulated his mentally damaged fifteen year old sister into doing his dirty work. He ought to be tossed through the Veil for being a dishonorable coward.”

Shireford took a deep breath. “Death doesn’t seem to concern you much.”

“I’ve seen beyond the Veil. I know what comes next—I know the reward that awaits me if I live a just and moral life. I also saw what Tom Riddle was cast into—I saw the eternal damnation he brought onto himself,” Harry said quietly. “No, death doesn’t concern me. I’d rather focus on living.”

“Ginevra Weasley asked you to open her in a formal ritual, correct?”

“She attempted to, yes, but I interrupted her before she completed the request. She’s underage and it was an inappropriate conversation for us to have. It made me very angry with her. I reported the situation to her father and my own as soon as I could.”

“Due to the danger witches in our society face, young men of your social position are often called upon to perform such duties. Why did you reject her request?”

Harry frowned. “I’d already entered into a formal, exclusive courting period. I had no interest in asking either Hermione or her mother for a dispensation in order to participate in an opening ritual in their own coven with any witch much less Ginny Weasley.”

“You’ve opened other witches.”

Harry flushed with temper and dropped his gaze. “Yes, before I came to Britain. It was… I considered it the business of being magical. They are both friends and I have a great deal of respect for them. I won’t have them discussed here—fodder for your little game of pure-blood entitlement. Moreover, I don’t feel I should have to explain to this court why I didn’t want to have ritual sex in front of the woman I wish to make my wife.”

“Chief Warlock,” Shireford began and focused on Dumbledore. “I concede that the court doesn’t need the names of the two witches he opened—I believe it of interest to know their blood status and a specific reason why he refused Ginevra Weasley.”

“With apologies, Lord Potter,” Dumbledore said. “I can’t deny him these answers and would be required to hold you in contempt if you refuse to answer due to the rules of this court.”

Godric lit with black fire around his wrist. “The first witch was a half-blood like myself and it was done in private. I’ve known her since I was eight or nine years old. The second was a pure-blood Veela and it was done in ritual.”

Harry blushed at the burst of noise in the audience level and Hermione fought the urge to draw her wand. She resolved to ruin Joseph Shireford.

“You opened a witch in a Veela coven ritual?” Shireford questioned, shocked.

“Yes.” Harry frowned at him. “That’s what I said. As to Miss Weasley, I found her immature and her interest in me distasteful. She was a fan and I’ve never been fond of the people who put a lot of stock into the Boy-Who-Lived mythos. But I told her no for two specific reasons—one, I’d never have offered Hermione such disrespect and two, I don’t find her attractive. I didn’t want her—in any form.”

“Was she insulted?”

“Extremely so,” Harry admitted. “More so when I told her she was no longer allowed to be familiar with me. She didn’t believe my interest in Hermione was genuine. She also expressed disbelief that we were soulmates. There was a lot of hostility between her and Hermione as a result.”

“Do you think it possible she acted alone?”

“No,” Harry said. “The curse she used is obscure and it certainly isn’t taught at Hogwarts. It’s not in a single book in the library and isn’t even mentioned in passing in a single text book for any year at the school. She found out about it from an outside source—I’m confident that the DMLE’s investigation was done properly and their evidence is sound.”

“Are you? You’ve expressed a great distrust for the government here in Britain.”

“I trust my father,” Harry replied. “He told me the investigation was meticulous and the evidence handled carefully.”

“And that’s all you need? Your father’s word?”

“It’s all I’ve ever needed,” Harry responded evenly. “If my father told me the sky was purple—then the bloody sky would be purple should I be made curious enough by the declaration to check.”

He ignored the laughter from the crowd as he focused entirely on Shireford.

The solicitor shifted and after a few seconds, dropped his gaze. “I have no further questions.”

“Director Wright.” Dumbledore raised an eyebrow. “Did you wish to question Lord Potter?”

Wright stood and took Shireford’s place at the podium. “Yes, thank you.” He settled a stack of parchments down in front of him. “Lord Potter, you testified earlier that you’ve never had any contact with Percy Weasley.”

“I’ve seen him once—during the inquiry regarding the Gryffindor Circle matter. He was in the court supporting Mr. Diggory during that process. I didn’t have any interaction with him that I can recall. We weren’t introduced. My father has, in truth, isolated me from the Ministry and the people working there despite his new position. Minister Fudge and the people that worked for him were directly responsible for a great many difficult situations for me.”

“Such as?”

“Minister Fudge was very invested in gaining physical custody of me. He tried various legal and illegal methods to accomplish it including the attempted assassination of my father and four failed kidnapping attempts before I was ten. There came a time when I was not allowed to leave my own home without fear of being snatched off the street and returned to Britain against my will. I’m sure some of the people who were a threat to me then are in this room and still in the employ of the Ministry. I’m not particularly interested in being introduced to them.”

“I can see how that would impact your desire to interact with a great many people in this building. You stated that you believed you would be hit with a blasting curse or something similar and that you felt the magic in the room shift. How did you feel it?”

“We had a magical creature intrusion on the school grounds and in order to make sure it didn’t happen again I claimed the ward stone in ritual so that we could make specific adjustments to the security. I became intimately connected with the wards as a result. I felt the magic of the castle shift in response to a threat.”

“And you put yourself between your betrothed and the threat.”

“Better me than her,” Harry said. He stroked his fingers along Godric’s head. The elemental increased his size and flowed along his arm. “No matter the outcome.”

“She stated earlier that she wouldn’t survive your death.”

“We don’t believe our bond would tolerate our separation,” Harry agreed. “But her passing would’ve been relatively painless compared to a blasting curse. A shield charm could’ve reflected the curse into someone else and despite my access to the wards, I couldn’t apparate us away from the threat. I had seconds to make a decision for the both of us. I made the one that was best for my Lady.”

“At your own expense,” Zale said.

“No honorable wizard would’ve chosen differently in those circumstances.”

Wright shifted the parchments around in front of him. “Did Miss Weasley approach you for an intimate purpose at any other time?”

Harry paused and frowned. “She did attempt to enter my private rooms at Hogwarts but the portrait that secures my door refused her entry. I agreed to meet with her in the common room just to get her to go away. She made it clear during that meeting that she was interested in me but I told her that I wouldn’t be dating any underage witches while I was at Hogwarts without parental consent. She offered to secure that consent but I declined. She expressed disbelief and hostility when I reminded her I had a date with Hermione.”

“When were you made aware that Percy Weasley had encouraged his sister to sleep with you and that she had been supplied a potent fertility potion?”

“After she was arrested,” Harry said. “Ultimately, their plan would’ve failed. I have a contraceptive charm set in parselmagic. It can’t be circumvented by a fertility potion no matter how potent it might be.”

“But you wouldn’t have slept with her even if you were available.”

“Not of my own free will. My ring has protections on it so I couldn’t have been potioned.” Harry took a deep breath. “Why does it matter?”

“It’s a matter of motivations, Lord Potter. The more we understand about the motives of everyone involved the clearer the picture we’ll have at the end of the day.”

Harry nodded. “I understand. I can’t see a circumstance where I would’ve taken Ginny Weasley to bed. I would’ve never had any sort of relationship with her. I wasn’t even interested in being her friend. She’s thoughtless, cruel, and selfish. She didn’t seem to care if her interest was reciprocated. In fact, I believe that my wishes on the matter were the very last concern she had. She appeared to have no problem whatsoever plotting and attempting to murder my soulmate. She didn’t care at all what it might to do me—how I might suffer magically or emotionally from such a loss. That level of selfishness couldn’t be more unattractive.”

“For the record, you’ve expressed no interest in anyone at Hogwarts but Hermione McGonagall.”

“Well.” Harry paused. “Sometimes the two of us flirt with Lord Malfoy and someone outside the situation might take that seriously. He doesn’t but I believe there are a few rumors floating around Hogwarts that Hermione and I might be considering a triad.”

“But you’re not?”

“No,” Harry said shortly. “I find myself quite unwilling to share. Perhaps it’s the dragon in me.”

Zale grinned. “Perhaps it is.” He shifted another parchment to a secondary pile. “I’d like to speak with you concerning your interactions with other members of the Weasley family. Let’s start with Ronald Weasley.”

Godric’s hood flared open and Harry quieted the snake with a near sub vocal hiss. “He’s an immature boy filled to the brim with entitlement.” He paused and shifted the snake’s weight until most of his body draped over his legs. “It was so odd to meet him after meeting his older brothers—they’re hard-working and intelligent men. I’m not making any sort of statement about his mental abilities. He’s just lazy and seems to think the world owes him a living. He’s had quite a lot to say about how I spend my money and what he considers a waste of resources.”

“Can you give a specific example?”

“He finds my personal and financial investment in Potter Redoubt offensive. He’s made comments about the money I spend there, the trust funds I’ve established for the residents, and how it is a waste of my time and money. He stated these opinions in public and in front of several witnesses.”

“And his personal issues with you?”

“He wants my Lady,” Harry said and fire danced along the length of Godric’s body. “When my interest in Hermione became clear, he warned me off—claimed her like a piece of land. He was quite furious when he realized I wouldn’t be ordered around by him.”

“Did there ever come a time when you had a physical altercation?”

“We had a couple,” Harry admitted. “He said something foul about Hermione and I stunned him. His arm was broken. I contacted his father concerning the injury and things were settled between us regarding my actions. Later on, he put his hands on me and I came precariously close to losing my temper—I almost shifted into my animagus form.”

“Is that reaction out of the norm for you?” Zale questioned.

“I was nearly beaten to death as a child as you might remember,” Harry said and the room grew very quiet. “Having anyone lay hands on me with violent intent causes my magic to respond instinctually. I removed myself from the situation and while I scared him quite badly I did not injure him. My father worked very hard to make sure that while I cannot always control my magical response to a threat, I can make a rational decision about how I deal with such threats. I can’t say my control is always perfect but I do the very best I can to contain what I carry as a result of my childhood. I might not remember it but my magic will never forget.”

“You don’t remember?” Director Wright questioned.

“No, the Glain Neidr helped me suppress the memories from before I was rescued because the abuse I suffered in the Dursley home was detrimental to my emotional and physical well-being. The nightmares were so bad that I went without sleep for days on end. My father didn’t want me to become dependent on potions to sleep so other alternative therapies were tried before I agreed to the memory suppression ritual. I can’t say I don’t have regrets—I lost what precious few memories I had of my biological parents as well.”

“George and Fred Weasley work for your father.”

“Yes, they won internships with Marauder, Inc. It is a magical research and development company my father started in France. They’re very talented and creative people. Being around them is quite entertaining. They also have been visiting Serpent’s Lair and working with the staff there.”

“Serpent’s Lair?” Wright questioned.

“Serpent’s Lair is my personal business—the first that I created for the House of Potter’s business portfolio. You might say I play host to magical snakes. I fell into it by accident.”

“Can you elaborate on that?”

“I have a deep connection with wild magic due to being a parselmouth. Magical snakes are attracted to me and have been since I was born. My parents had to launch wards to keep them out of the house. Eventually, I accepted my responsibility to them and built them a place where they could be safe. In return for sanctuary and safety—they give me the eggs they don’t want to hatch, allow me to collect the skin they need to get rid of for potions, and at the end of their life my staff harvests what can be harvested for the good of all. Serpent’s Lair provides housing for any number of snakes that belong to members of my conclave.” He paused. “I also have a contract with the Horde to breed several kinds of snakes for their food supply.”

“And you consider providing this sanctuary a duty,” Wright asked, his expression skeptical.

“Yes, there are those of us who have a deeper responsibility to Lady Magic and the creatures that share our world.”

“What would you consider the most dangerous snake in your possession?”

“You’re looking at him,” Harry said. “Certainly not the most dangerous snake on Earth but the most dangerous I could claim ownership of if I did such a thing. He’s not a possession but my familiar. I would not consider any snake in my life property.”

“Why is he the most dangerous? Elemental vipers aren’t poisonous to a magical person.”

Harry rubbed his thumb over the top of Godric’s head. “Do you suppose poison is the only weapon a snake has?” He lifted an eyebrow. “The basilisk is extremely poisonous but their stare is the real threat. The average non-parselmouth has no hope of subduing an elemental viper. Their defensive magic is built on elemental wild magic—nothing short of a Killing Curse could take one out and let’s be honest, that isn’t a curse the average magical person can accomplish in controlled circumstances much less in a combat situation. It takes concentration, an extreme amount of emotional investment, and no small amount of magical power gathered with intent from the core. Magical theorists speculate that a magical person can only cast such an Unforgiveable a limited number of times before they do significant damage to their magical core. The International Council of Magic is currently conducting a research study on that very subject with convicted killers across the globe. Beyond his defensive capabilities, he can increase to his mass to a little over a ton. He is an immense threat in the right circumstances.”

Wright inclined his head in agreement. “Do you have any runespoor?”

Harry paused. “Pardon me, Director Wright, but I’ll have to call one of my elves in order to answer that question entirely honestly. Willaby.” An elf appeared immediately. “Willaby, Director Wright has some questions for you concerning the snakes at Serpent’s Lair. Answer them honestly, no matter how it might reflect on me.”

The elf focused on Zale Wright without hesitating. The wizard frowned. “Do you know me?”

Willaby nodded. “Yes. All Potter elves know you.”

“Why?” Wright asked.

“You be near Lord Black,” Willaby said. “We takes care of Master Harry’s father, watch his back, and protect him from dumb people who not know right from wrong. You not dumb but we be watching you anyway.”

Wright laughed then coughed. “Right. Does Lord Potter own any runespoor?”

A book appeared in his hands and he opened it. “Forty-six females, only five be capable of nesting. One male, they be very rare. They all live in Paris at snake house.”

“Does Lord Potter own a basilisk?”

“No.” He looked at Wright expectantly.

“What is the most dangerous snake Lord Potter has in his life?”

Willaby paused, considered that, and rocked back on his heels. “A coatl.”

“A coatl? There is a coatl in Serpent’s Lair?”

“Oh, no, Lady Potter be sitting over there,” Willaby pointed at Hermione.

Wright grinned. “Thank you very much Willaby.  That will be all.” He put another piece of parchment aside as the elf popped away. “Lord Potter, you have a full set of basilisk armor and upon investigation it was discovered you also supplied Hermione McGonagall with a set of armor as well. Where did you get it?”

“It’s not a crime to have basilisk hide.”

“No, it’s not,” Wright agreed. “In an effort to save himself, Percy Weasley attempted to implicate you in the cultivation in a basilisk.”

“Oh.” Harry sighed. “I haven’t but I do have a license issued by the ICW to do so should there ever be a need for one. There are only ten magical people on the planet with permission.”

“What sort of need?”

“War,” Harry said succinctly. “Basilisk hide makes the best armor and with the license from the ICW comes with the stipulation that should the ICW or International Protectorate of Magic require it—I would cultivate the snakes for the purpose making armor. As to my own armor, while I did not cultivate a basilisk, I did kill one.”

“For the record, could you explain the circumstances of that?”

“The house elf I assigned to protecting Hermione came to me in the middle of the night—she was hysterical which honestly is extremely out of character for her. She reported that Ron Weasley and Hermione had followed Ginny Weasley down into the Chamber of Secrets.”

“You were just twelve during that incident,” Zale interjected.

“Yes, I was. Using my house elves, I came to Britain and entered the Chamber of Secrets. Ginny and Ron were unconscious and Hermione was hiding. I killed the basilisk and removed it from the school grounds. I brought the snake to the Chieftain of the Horde and he handled the processing of the carcass, which was for the best since I was grounded for a decade. In fact, I think I’m still grounded for it.” He glanced towards his father and shrugged when his father glared at him. “But I would do no differently if faced with the same circumstances again.”

“A privilege and an honor,” Wright agreed. “However, I understand your father’s ire.”

Harry inclined his head. “Yes, well, my father only has himself to blame for the man he raised.”

“Indeed, I certainly can’t find fault with his results,” Wright said as he shifted more parchment out of his way. “You also know William Weasley.”

“Yes, I met him when I was very young—I was ten and I believe he’d just turned twenty. He was working at the bank in France, apprenticing as a Curse Breaker. Over the years, he was part of the effort to capture and eventually defeat Tom Riddle. He was there the night I completed the final ritual that banished Riddle’s spirit. Recently he took a job at Hogwarts and is teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts.”

“Do you trust him?”

“Yes.”

“No hesitation there,” Wright noted. “How can you be so certain of him considering the actions of Percy Weasley?”

“Bill Weasley has twice placed himself and his magic in my hands in ritual. One reason I rarely practice ritual magic outside of my conclave is that non-parselmouths are laid bare before me in ritual. While I did not violate his mental privacy—his magical intent was completely opened to me. If he were dark, I would know. If he couldn’t be trusted, I would know. You can close your mind with a variety of mental techniques but if you do dark things—the stain of it lingers on your magic forever.”

“And Arthur Weasley?”

“I’ve met him just once but my father has a great deal of faith in him. He’s the chief executive officer for Marauder Innovations, the newest business venture for the House of Black.” Harry shifted Godric. “My apologies, he’s practically dead weight right now.”

“It’s fine,” Zale said. “Sharing your life and magic with a magical creature is a serious responsibility. It’s interesting seeing you with him like this. While the attitude towards parselmagic has changed throughout Europe, very few parselmouths are so open about their gifts.”

“I learned along the way that being ashamed of myself for circumstances beyond my control is a terrible way to live. My nature and my magical circumstances make some people very uncomfortable. I can’t do anything about that but prove to them that where it matters I’m no different from them.”

“Lord Potter, with all due respect, you’re like no wizard I’ve ever met,” Wright said.

“You need to get out more,” Harry said dryly. “Travel a bit, expand your horizons.”

“Perhaps I will. Ronald Weasley told the DMLE that he considers you a threat to his life.”

“Does he?” Harry questioned, black fire danced over the length of Godric, lighting Harry’s face with dark light briefly.

“Yes. Are you a threat to his life?”

“Not at this very moment,” Harry said. “But I could foresee a circumstance in the future where that would be true. He doesn’t know how to keep his hands to himself. He has also demonstrated a lack of respect for my betrothed and her future position in life. As I said before, he’s an immature boy. Maybe he’ll grow up, educate himself, and move on. If not then we’ll definitely have problems.” His gaze flicked towards Percy. “I hope that Percy is anomaly in the Weasley family.”

“I have no further questions at this time.”

Shireford stood immediately. “Chief Warlock, I’d like to ask a few more questions.”

Dumbledore hesitated but then nodded his agreement.

Godric shrank down to about two feet, with a flash of fire disappeared from Harry’s lap and reappeared in Hermione’s. She picked up the snake as he reduced to his smallest size then lifted her hand. He swept up around her neck and tucked his head against her pulse point. Shireford stared at her briefly and she raised one eyebrow at him. He flushed a dull red with what Harry thought was temper before he turned and refocused his attention.

“You said you could see a circumstance where you would be dangerous to Ron Weasley’s life.”

“I did.”

“Should the court consider that a threat?”

“No, it’s merely a statement of fact. Interfering in the marriage of a noble-born wizard could and certainly would have deadly consequences for Ronald Weasley. Perhaps he’s already learned from his mistakes.” Harry flicked a piece of lint off the knee of his trousers. “Eventually we’ll work out our conflict—one way or another.”

“And that doesn’t concern you?”

“Should it?” Harry questioned.

“Wouldn’t it be wiser to make peace with Ronald Weasley now? When you’re both young and the resentment between the two of you hasn’t become ingrained?”

“I’m not at war with that boy,” Harry said mildly. “And I won’t cater to his entitlement by offering him some sort of concession since his only true desire that I can ascertain is dominating my woman.”

“And you’re unwilling to apologize?”

“A man doesn’t apologize for having what is his,” Harry said.

– – – –

“I doubt seriously most people in this country are prepared to deal with your son,” Zale said as he settled into a chair with a cup of tea. “He’s an impressive young man and a very dangerous wizard.”

Sirius hummed under his breath and slouched down in his chair and took a healthy bite of the biscuit in his hand. “Yes, well, I can’t claim credit for most of it.” He looked across the large room to the small table where Harry and Hermione were seated. “Magic gave him gifts beyond measure and he respects all of those gifts.”

“Some more than others,” Zale murmured. “Though I can’t blame him. I know wizards who would sacrifice an arm for a soulmate. She’s interesting as well—attractive certainly but—did you notice?”

“Notice what?” Sirius questioned.

“Every moment she was on the stand, her focus was on your son’s approval. Every single word came out of her mouth was carefully selected. Even her ire at Shireford over his disrespect was calculated and coolly delivered,” Zale said. “When I flirted with her—commented on her physical appearance—she turned to him for guidance like he was her only touchstone in the entire room and maybe he was. The way he sent his familiar to her when Shireford tried to move on the offensive as if he didn’t have a single care about the man’s posturing was savvy and very well done.”

“And she just put the snake, the most dangerous one he claimed to own, around her neck without a blink,” Sirius said. “It was quite a scene, I agree.” He frowned. “What was Shireford attempting to do this morning?”

“Deflection and spectacle,” Zale said. “And honestly nothing catches the eye these days in Britain like your son and his lovely Lady. People are curious about them both—enthralled with their fated match and their obvious love to one another. It’s all very romantic.”

“So he has no other cards to play?”

“At this point, I think he’s trying to keep his client alive. He put Lord Potter on the stand to create speculation among the other members of the Wizengamot that perhaps Percy Weasley was right to seek to control on him some level.”

“Did he succeed?”

Zale shook his head. “No, not at all. What he did was expose your son’s knowledge of his role in British society, which many doubted. Not a single one of those men is interested in being managed or manipulated by some bureaucrat in the Ministry. In the end, Miss McGonagall’s testimony has only damaged Shireford’s case. She presented an ugly picture to the court concerning the defendant’s disinterest and obvious disdain for his own family. Such an attitude is a crime to many. He turned his back on his own family magic and abused his own mentally damaged sister out of greed for power and money.”

– – – –

“I did okay?”

“You were perfect,” Harry assured. “Whatever he wanted from you—he didn’t get it. You made Percy look like a complete arsehole.”

“He is an arsehole,” Hermione said. “I was jealous, you know. When I first met the Weasley family, I was just so struck by how much Molly and Arthur cared for their kids. My parents never loved me like that. Yes, I always thought Molly was kind of overwhelming but she clearly loves her children so much.”

“And Percy took it all for granted.”

“Ignored it, took it for granted, or never appreciated the gift of family he had to begin with.” Hermione frowned. “It was infuriating and maybe I disliked him pretty early on because I was jealous. Maybe I spent a great deal of time with Ron and Ginny to get some of that love and attention from Arthur and Molly. I looked forward to going to the Burrow so much—to escape my own parents and because I could pretend to be one of them.”

Harry reached out across the small table to thread his fingers together with hers. “If you’re working towards blaming yourself for Ron’s inappropriate interest in you or even Percy’s plan to potion you into compliance—I’m going to be put out.”

She laughed and squeezed his hand. “No, no, I’m just saying that I think I’ve been resenting Percy for a very long time and I didn’t even know it until Mr. Shireford was trying to get me to admit that the rest of the Weasleys were to blame for Percy’s behavior.”

“I can’t say I blame them for what he’s done but his corruption speaks to how shallowly they’re all connected to the family magic. Think about your relationship your mum—the magical side of it. She knows you and your magic.”

“Yes, she does.” Hermione took a deep breath. “So how did it… how did it go so far wrong with Percy and they not know?”

“The House of Ross has a rich magical legacy which is why it was such a shame that Aunt Min didn’t have an heir to share it with. Ancient family magic can be rich and the connections are lovely under normal circumstances.”

“The Weasley family only achieved Ancient status in the last hundred years,” Hermione said. “Is that what you’re talking about?”

“Family magic gathers through a blood legacy. Each person in a bloodline born with magic builds on that legacy and after ten generations—the family magic matures. At that point, a family can claim to be ancient.” Harry said. “Part of the magic I have moving in my channels and in my core is a hook.”

“A hook?” Hermione questioned and frowned.

“A figure of speech not an actual physical thing,” he explained. “Everyone within the embrace of a familial magical legacy is influenced both physically and magically by their ancestral legacy. If you had met my grandfather or even Godric himself, you’d notice similarities between us.”

She inclined her head and raised an eyebrow. “Do you mean like how you and Niall Gryffindor have the same smile?”

“Yeah, I mean some of that is genetics. But ancestral magic can influence dominant physical traits. You took on several physical characteristics of the House of Ross—the hair, the eyes, the nose. I expect you’ll look so much like your adopted grandmother as an adult that some will come to wonder if you weren’t Aunt Min’s secret baby all along. In fact, one of the more fascinating things about my appearance is that I have my mother’s eyes. As a Muggle-born she had no family magic of her own. The last six generations of Potters have been born with blue eyes.”

“Until you,” Hermione said.

“Until me,” he agreed. “So the problem becomes in a family like the Weasleys that there are many people in their family magic. It’s not unlike the idea that a single wizard can’t maintain multiple bonds with house elves or with familiars. You have to be extremely powerful to maintain those bonds. The same holds true for the Patriarch of a family.”

“I don’t…” She frowned. “So what you’re saying is that because they had so many kids, Arthur isn’t fully connected to them individually as Patriarch?”

“Basically, it’s one reason why having so many children in pure-blood families is so rare,” he paused and grimaced. “And also why some families are known for marrying in because it creates stronger bonds with family magic. My dad’s parents were first cousins and their marriage was arranged.” He laughed at the face Hermione made. “I know. Now because his parents were related and both fully entrenched in the family magic when he was born he was practically bathed in the Black family legacy from the moment of his first breath.”

“Which is how… families are dark and light for generations.” She frowned. “And it makes Draco’s rebellion against his father pretty impressive considering how old the Malfoy family is.”

“Draco loves his mother and Lucius betrayed their ancestral magic in word and deed which has left his son damaged. I can’t fathom such a betrayal personally—no man I could or would claim as my father would’ve done as Lucius did. He tainted his family magic and performed some extremely foul dark magic but it was the abuse of both his wife and his family magic that caused the breach between them. He caused his heir to lose faith in him—once that was done the breach couldn’t be healed.”

“The night I was adopted,” Hermione began. “It was… like being immersed in love and magic. It was safe and lovely.” She paused. “Like being reborn.”

“You were reborn,” Harry said. “Magically at least.” He rubbed his thumb over the top of Hermione’s hand. “Your skin feels softer.”

“I have a new lotion,” Hermione said then smirked. “I put it everywhere.”

Harry sighed. “That is a terrible thing to say when we’re in public and completely dressed as we are often required to be.” He kissed her palm. “Remind me later and I’ll devote myself to a thorough exploration.”

“I like being the subject of your devotion,” Hermione admitted and quirked an eyebrow when he laughed. “How will it work? When we have children? Will you feel them, feel their magic?”

Harry paused briefly and after a few seconds he took a deep breath. He pulled a piece of parchment of his bracelet with a surge of magic and an auto-inking quill followed. “First, we’ll both be connected to any children we have.” He drew a circle in the center of the piece of parchment. “This is me as the Patriarch, and honestly that is both an exciting and scary thing to say aloud.” He drew another circle and connected them. “This is you. Our marriage bond will draw you into the Potter family magic—at least it will if our soulmate bond doesn’t do it first. Considering what happened when I claimed the wardstone at Hogwarts, I have to think that the Potter family magic is already drawing you in.”

She touched the circles with a smile. “And the Ross family magic?”

“You won’t lose it—it’ll be a part of you and it will be with any children we have. The House of Ross is ancient—Aunt Min is the eighteenth generation and you’re the nineteenth. Due to the Matriarchal structure of the house, our first born daughter will be fully entrenched in your magical legacy and like you, she will be the Heiress of Ross.” He drew a circle and connected all three. “Now, the first born son is always special in an ancient and noble family. Often such a child is not seen in public until he is several years old.”

“Because he’s the continuation of your line,” Hermione murmured.

“He is, yes, but he will also more than that. When I was born, I was recognized by the ancestral magic of Gryffindor and Potter as a legacy bearer. Perhaps that legacy would’ve been spread out to my siblings but that obviously didn’t happen.”

The quill was suddenly pulled from Harry’s hand and Sirius leaned over the table. He quickly drew eight more circles. “I told you both I expect lots of grandchildren.”

Hermione huffed and snatched the quill back. “Honestly.” She looked down at the parchment in horror. “I’m not going to give birth to ten children!”

“Are you sure?” Sirius questioned. “Because parenthood is a gift.”

She glared at him and pointed the quill at him. “You’re not nearly as amusing as you think you are.”

“He’s pretty funny,” Harry said and took his quill back. He flicked it back into his bracelet then picked up the parchment. “Don’t fret—certainly some of these circles are adopted.” He folded it up and pulled it back into his bracelet as well.

“Certainly,” Hermione said with a huff.

– – – –

Harry found himself less and less interested in Percy Weasley’s fate as the day wore on. He mulled over his mother’s suggestion and his own promise to consider it. Lily Potter. It was easy to see how much influence his mother would’ve had over him if she’d lived and a part of him found that disconcerting. Sirius Black had raised him to be independent both in action and thought. What would’ve happened if he’d been raised amongst siblings in their triad? James hadn’t seemed nearly intense as many had painted him to be. Though, Harry thought it was perhaps unfair to compare the man he’d met in the afterlife with the one who had lived. Death cleansed and changed the soul.

Percy’s defense called several more witnesses, but none that were actually related to him which said more about his life than anything else as far as Harry was concerned. Not a single witness appeared to be a close friend, but a colleague from the Ministry and they had a very shallow knowledge of the man he was. It was sad and Harry wondered how a man who could come from such a large family would become so isolated in adulthood.

Maybe he had a bit of jealousy of his own. He’d grown up loved but an only child’s life was at times a lonely one. It certainly wasn’t what he’d want for his own child. He considered the little circles his dad had dashed off on the parchment and glanced at Hermione. She was watching a woman from the Department of Regulation testify on Percy’s work ethic and good manners. Who cared if the dark bastard had good table manners?

Hermione leaned over and pressed her lips against the shell of his ear. “It’s too bad he didn’t pass that on to Ron.”

Harry coughed to cover up the abrupt laugh he couldn’t control and turned his head slightly to hide his smile against neck. When he was sure his expression was slightly more neutral he glanced around the room and met his father’s gaze. Black raised an eyebrow at him but he could tell even at the distance that separated them that he was amused. He shrugged and his father shook his head.

Zale Wright called his first witness an hour after lunch. Harry watched Armand Dearing take a seat and get settled. The elderly wizard was spry for his age and as well-known as Dumbledore but not prone to public appearances.

“Master Dearing, if you could state your occupation for the record?”

“I was the Chief Healer at St. Mungo’s until my retirement ten years ago,” Armand said. He rearranged his robes and relaxed into chair as he got used to being under the truth spells.

“May we know why you retired when you’re obviously in good health?”

“I went to Paris to become part of the Glain Neidr and oversee the rituals that would restore Harry Potter to full health. His case gained international attention due to his magical potential, his parselmagic, and his status as a burgeoning magus. Losing him would’ve been a blow to the magical world in more ways than I’m prepared to discuss here today. I saw it my duty to Lady Magic and to my craft to dedicate myself to his care. I wasn’t alone in that. The Glain Neidr’s membership doubled the year he joined us.”

“You were part of the healing team assembled to treat him after he was cursed by Ginevra Weasley.”

“Yes, in fact, he was in my care roughly five minutes after he was cursed. Dumbledore crafted an emergency portkey to deliver him to Gringotts where the Glain Neidr is based here in Britain. I assembled the conclave and we started researching our options for keeping him alive until the curse could be managed.”

“And it was your decision to ask Hermione Granger to bring him back?” Zale questioned.

“Yes, his soul was gone from this plane. I knew she was a coatl and his soulmate. I think their soulmate bond was indirectly responsible for keeping his body alive until we could get him in magical stasis. Magically they are very invested in one another.”

“Part of the ritual required that she subdue his magic. How could you be sure she’d be successful?”

“She was the only option. I trusted in our Lady Magic that she had given Lord Potter a true match when she mated their souls. It was all I could do at that point. Miss McGonagall is a talented and powerful young woman. Moreover, as she herself said—love saved Harry Potter once. We all had to have faith that it would do so again. She built her entire ritual on her feelings for him. We should all be so fortunate when it comes to the matters of the heart.”

“And if she’d failed?”

“They’d have both died,” Armand said evenly. “She knew that going into the ritual—we thought perhaps she’d live another two days without him but not much longer but she believed she’d have only a few minutes if his body died. That is the way of mated souls.”

“You personally treated Ginevra Weasley after she was possessed by a dark object her first year.”

“Yes, Tom Riddle’s diary fell into her possession while she was doing her school shopping on Diagon Alley that summer but I can’t discuss the specifics of her care. Her parents gave me limited permission to discuss her treatment with my conclave’s inner circle at the time and with their help we kept her alive.”

“The Glain Neidr,” Wright clarified. “Lord Potter’s conclave.”

“Yes, but at the time he was just thirteen.”

“And his placement in the conclave?”

“He was part of the inner circle,” Armand admitted. “Master Bardon recognized his magical power and at the beginning of puberty he was brought into the inner circle so that we could ensure his maturation into adulthood went as smoothly as possible.”

“So Lord Potter was familiar with Miss Weasley’s medical history before he came to Hogwarts.”

“Yes, but not just because he was a member of the Glain Neidr. The Gryffindor Trust paid for Ginevra Weasley’s healing and her three month stay in St. Mungo’s. The Trust also paid the healing expenses for all the victims petrified at Hogwarts. He didn’t work as a healer if that is your concern, though he was apprenticing in that field already with Master Hiro Ito and Master Castius Arnou. He didn’t gain his license to practice until shortly before his fifteenth birthday.”

“That’s a very young age to achieve a Mastery. I didn’t realize France would allow anyone to sit for a Mastery exam at that age.”

Armand lifted an eyebrow. “Lord Potter doesn’t hold a healer’s license issued by the country of France. His Mastery is international and was awarded by the International Confederation of Wizards and it has a secondary certifications by the World Court of Magic and the War Mages Council individually.”

“I’ve obtained permission from Arthur Weasley to ask you questions about his minor daughter, Ginevra Weasley, and the treatment she received when she was eleven years old.” Wright passed a rolled parchment to a court officer and it was taken to Dumbledore for verification. He waited while the parchment was read and passed to the witness.

Harry watched Armand read the parchment in silence, he could tell what he saw irritated the older wizard. Armand took healer/patient confidentiality very seriously and obviously wasn’t pleased to see it circumvented even in the circumstances they were in.

Armand sighed. “Very well. For the record, I would like it noted that I don’t approve of this. The relationship between a healer and patient is sacred. I reserve the right to not answer any question I feel is a violation of her privacy. Despite her actions and her crimes, she’s a child and I haven’t forgotten that even if the court is prepared to overlook it.”

“I will take the utmost care, Master Armand, and will accept your answers to my questions no matter how brief you choose to make them,” Wright responded. “I requested the permission merely to protect us both and the integrity of the process. I agree with you that she is a child—a child corrupted and driven insane by dark magic. I stand for her this day as much as I stand for any other victim of Percival Weasley’s actions.”

Armand nodded. “Very well.”

“After the incident in the Chamber of Secrets, what was the state of Ginevra Weasley’s magic?”

“Her core damage was extensive and irreparable despite our best efforts. Our research efforts were international and no expense was spared in her treatment per Lord Potter’s insistence. He spent close to twenty thousand galleons in potion research alone during that time seeking a remedy to the core and channel damage done to the child because of Riddle’s diary.”

“Why?” Zale asked. “He’d never even met Ginevra Weasley.”

“No, he had not. I asked him once about the Lily Potter Foundation and his management of the Gryffindor Trust—nearly all of his estate income, which is not minor, goes back into the two organizations in some way or another.”

“His answer?”

“He said it was his duty as a peer to do for those who cannot, for whatever reason, do for themselves.” Armand frowned. “As to Miss Weasley, in the end while we were able to repair most of the channel damage—her casting power and magical ability was dramatically decreased. There was no ethical way to restore her magical ability.”

“But her magical ability was restored,” Zale said. “I’ve a report from St. Mungo’s that despite scarring on her core that she has recovered fully. You were called in to consult on this matter after her arrest.”

“Yes, but I did not join the healing team until after the situation with Lord Potter was resolved. He was my first priority,” Armand explained. “I investigated her magical situation thoroughly and discovered that sometime in the month of July, Ginerva Weasley received a significant increase in magical ability due to a ritual.”

“And what rituals could’ve accomplished this?”

“There is but one,” Armand said coolly. “She was given magic harvested from another magical person during a ritual sacrifice. Further investigation found the residual magical signature of a young woman named Elizabeth Wood—her parents have been searching for her since the end of May of this year when she disappeared during a shopping trip on Diagon Alley. Miss Weasley even has a small hook of the Wood family magic in her which is why Miss Wood’s father had not yet given his daughter up for dead despite the mounting evidence that indicated there was no hope of recovering her.”

“And there is no other way she could’ve received the magic?”

“No, none. She would’ve had to be the receptacle during the sacrificial ritual which means she was in the ritual circle when the murder of fifteen year old Elizabeth Wood took place.” He stopped speaking at the outrage that filtered through the audience.

Harry rubbed Hermione’s chilled fingers gently, he could practically feel the horror and grief pouring off of her. They hadn’t discussed Elizabeth Wood since he’d put the Tear on her and he wondered if that was a mistake. He touched on the memories he’d been left with because of claiming Gryffindor’s ritual space but pushed them down deep after a few seconds. Elizabeth wasn’t there. He’d already looked.

“Moreover, due to the nature of the ritual itself the only way she could’ve been the receptacle would be if the chief practitioner of the ritual was related to her. It’s my understanding that Percival Weasley has been charged with the ritual murder of Elizabeth Wood as a result.”

“Yes,” Zale agreed. “That is so. I would like you to speak of Miss Weasley’s current mental state but have no wish to ask you to violate your principals, Master Armand. Please tell the court what you can of her condition.”

“She’s insane and was probably driven thus during the ritual that returned her magic to a more normal state,” Armand said. “Mental health shoring charms were applied liberally by her brother Percival throughout the last part of July and most of June and August. Two other sets of charms were applied during the school year, during the weekends that the Hogwarts students are allowed to visit Hogsmeade. She acted out in school—displayed a lack of decorum that eventually was reported to her parents. There was really no hope of him keeping up her appearance of sanity long-term. It’s unfortunate that Lord Potter found her presence so offensive because he would’ve certainly noticed the charms if he’d spent any real time with her.”

“Before her break with reality, many would’ve said that Ginevra Weasley was a beautiful young woman. Why do you think Lord Potter found her offensive?”

Armand frowned. “He obviously found her physically unattractive but I doubt even he fully grasps the reason behind his distaste for the girl. She consorted with his mortal enemy for the better part of a year, Director Wright. She was magically, emotionally, and mentally involved with an object intimately connected to Voldemort. It took months for that diary to truly gain control over the girl—months when she could’ve turned it over to an adult. She didn’t. She used it and the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets to terrorize the school. Lord Potter is deeply disturbed by necromancy and the diary was created through a necromantic ritual that I am unable to detail to this court. When we retrieved the diary, even handling it made him physically ill. Lord Potter insisted on its immediate destruction.”

“Is there any hope for Ginevra Weasley?” Zale questioned.

“No, I’m afraid not. She is… broken,” Armand said. “Magic is a wondrous thing but it can’t fix everything.”

“Thank you, Master Deering.” Zale sat and Shireford stood.

“You testified earlier that Lord Potter has a Mastery in Healing from the ICW,” Shireford began and frowned. “Why?”

“Because that was what we required of him to take his place as the High Warlock of the Glain Neidr,” Armand stated. “And the reasons why are none of your business. Lord Potter isn’t on trial here.”

“Perhaps he should be,” Shireford said snidely.

“It’s not against the law to be superior,” Armand said dryly and smirked at the laughter he earned from the audience. “And he is, by the way, superior to your client—in every single way.”

“My client is a pure-blood.”

“So was Gellert Grindelwald and he was kicked out of the Durmstrang Institute for being too dark.”

The defense solicitor glared furiously at the elderly healer and Harry carefully pulled Godric from Hermione’s neck. He snake twisted in his hand briefly and flamed away, only to appear coiling around Deering’s wrist, lit with dark fire. Armand trailed fingers along the length of Godric’s body without making any appearance of being startled.

“Did you just compare my client to Grindelwald?”

“No, of course not, your client is much worse. Gellert had many, many faults but he was loyal to his family. Your client is more like Voldemort—you know he murdered his own family when he was just sixteen years old then he framed the one uncle he didn’t kill with the murders. Also, I never once heard that Gellert stooped so low as to rape.”

Godric he hissed at Armand which made the wizard laugh.

“What?” Shireford demanded.

“He thinks you’re a fool,” Armand said. “Though you shouldn’t consider this to be Lord Potter’s opinion. Elemental vipers are very intelligent and capable of forming opinions quite separately from the wizard they are bonded to.”

Shireford glared at him. “Have you ever practiced the dark arts?”

“I’ve participate in rituals and in magical events that could be construed by some uneducated people as dark arts. I also, regularly, practice blood magic which many in Britain consider to be dark. That being said—I am not a dark wizard nor have I ever used magic to hurt another person except for in the defense of myself or others.”

“Does the Glain Neidr practice dark arts?” Shireford questioned.

“In the past, certainly but the Glain Neidr has not performed a single dark or necromantic ritual since Lord Potter joined us as a child. Master Philippe Bardon, the High Warlock before Lord Potter, insisted that we cease any and all activities that even skirted towards grey the day Harry Potter joined us. Anyone that disagreed was dismissed from the conclave without discussion. Today, even our greyest members avoid dark ritual magic though we do have a necromancer in our company. He ritually cleanses himself thoroughly after any personal or familial ritual to ensure that when he is in Lord Potter’s ritual space he offers no offense.”

“Do you suppose, Master Deering, that the deference your conclave has given Lord Potter is the reason he is so arrogant?”

“He is a confident young man but I would not consider him arrogant. He knows his place in the world and in the service of magic. He respects the power he’s been gifted with and is humble before our Lady Magic. Because of training and discipline, his craft work is careful and thoughtfully wrought.” Armand paused. “Though he threw up on me as a child and blamed me for it—that was arrogant behavior. Fortunately, he grew up.”

Harry sighed.

“He did ruin my favorite cloak,” Armand continued. “To this day—the water repelling charm is off on it and I’ve reapplied it several times. It’s vexing to be sure.”

Shireford frowned. “That’s not quite I meant.”

“I know what you meant, you disrespectful twat,” Armand snapped.

Harry slouched down in his seat and exhaled sharply.

“Sir, I must insist you speak civilly.”

“You can insist all you want but I don’t actually answer to you.” Armand flicked a hand at him and magic sparked off the tips of his fingers. “Fortunately for you being a fool isn’t a crime either.” Shireford’s hand tightened into a fist. Godric increased in size, reared up off the old man’s arm, and his hood flared open dramatically. “Don’t get hostile with me Shireford, you’ll upset this beautiful lad.” He petted Godric’s head with careful fingers. “And we wouldn’t want that, would we?”

“I have no interest in indulging that creature and its whims,” Shireford snapped. “There should be laws against having such a dangerous thing in public.”

“You live in a society where even the children are armed with a deadly weapon, Shireford,” Armand said. “I suggest you grow a pair. Do you have any other questions for me? I’m bored.”

Dumbledore snorted and averted his gaze at the looks he received. “You’ll have to excuse Master Armand, there comes a point in a wizard’s life when he decides he no longer needs to be polite. I believe it’s been almost twenty years for him.”

Shireford scowled and made a show of rearranging his parchments. “Lord Potter stated that he most dangerous snake in his possession is the one you’re holding. Do you agree?”

“Hmmm, while I would certainly consider a fully matured and bonded elemental viper an immense threat—I’m going to have go with his woman being the more serious threat. There are few snakes on this planet more dangerous than the Queen of Snakes—the coatl. They are beguiling creatures, beautiful, intelligent, venomous to both Muggle and magical alike, and they hold a grudge like no other. They’re as smart and as deadly as a basilisk, as vicious as a runespoor, and ruthless in the rendering of justice. That’s not even taking into account their unique magical existence. A coatl could follow you into the afterlife to seek revenge.”

Shireford paled. “Pardon me?”

“That’s why they’re so coveted, you see. This is common knowledge, Mr. Shireford, I’m stunned a man so educated as yourself wouldn’t know this. I, too, begin to wonder if you’re qualified to represent Mr. Weasley in this proceeding. If I find out you’ve wasted my time today and this entire trial has to start over—I’m going to be really very irritated with you.”

“A coatl can commune with the dead?”

“Yes, such information has been widely published in all the magical papers since Miss McGonagall’s form was revealed before the ICW as it was revealed during her hearing. Several governments across the planet have petitioned the British Ministry for access to her only to be thoroughly told off by her mother.” Armand frowned. “Also common knowledge. There are four different petitions pending before the ICW regarding the matter though they’ve been thoroughly thwarted by the Goblin Horde since Lord Potter became their patron. The Chieftain himself has sworn to sanction any country or individual that would seek to abuse the young woman. I’d rather get set on fire than be sanctioned by the Horde.”

“Why do you suppose that Lord Potter didn’t consider her the most dangerous of his snakes?”

“Because that’s not how he sees her—her animal spirit is intriguing to be sure but first and foremost to him she’s a witch. He’s a young man in love and while he certainly recognizes the more dangerous elements to Miss McGonagall’s animagus form it should be remembered that he turns into a dragon.” Armand smirked then. “Or maybe he just really likes dangerous women. We certainly couldn’t fault him for that, could we?”

– – – –

“And I can’t believe you called him a twat, Armand!” Harry was pacing back and forth in front of Armand Deering who was lounging on a sofa in the Minister for Magic’s office like he owned it. “You’re a hundred and fifty-two years old! Surely you have more control over your mouth than that!”

Armand lit his pipe and puffed on it. “You didn’t use to be this excitable. Being in Britain is turning you into a terrible person.”

Harry huffed. “You spent two hours lecturing me yesterday about presenting myself and our conclave in a positive light during the trial and you called the defense council a twat.”

“That honesty hex Dumbledore put on the witness box was stronger than I anticipated,” Armand protested. “Fitz Shireford is a disrespectful twat. That’s my honest opinion.”

Sirius snickered.

“Dad.” Harry frowned at his father. “Don’t encourage him. He told the entire planet I threw up on his favorite cloak! And told the man to grow a pair! That trial is being broadcast on the international wireless! Every major publication had at least one reporter in the spectator section. Six members of the ICW, besides Dumbledore, were in attendance.”

“Lad, Armand’s attitude problem is not unknown. He literally bared his arse the World Court of Magic in 1971,” Sirius reminded. “If he hadn’t demonstrated felony-level arseholery during his testimony people would’ve questioned his identity loudly and in public.”

Harry snorted and loosened his cravat. “What a ridiculous bloody day and honestly who cares if that dark bastard has good table manners?” He tossed the red silk on his father’s desk, shed his robe, threw it over one of the straight back chairs in front of the desk, and slouched down on the sofa near the window. He let his head roll a little bit and he glared at Zale Wright. “The next time you flirt with my woman, you arsehole, I’m going to make you regret it deeply for the rest of your life.”

Zale grinned. “Merlin, lad, she’s such a pretty little thing. I’m almost ashamed of myself, really, but she’s an adult so I can admire her from afar.”

“Really afar if you know what’s good for you,” Thaddeus Banner murmured as he leaned on the wall near Harry.

Harry started to say more but the door swung open and Hermione entered, a communication mirror in one hand, eyes blazing and golden scales trailing down the sides of her neck. Minerva strolled in behind her daughter and pulled the door shut with a grin.

“I will not calm down!” Hermione snapped. “You work for me and I’m not going to be lectured about what to do with my own money! You know what? You’re fired! I don’t know why my mother has tolerated your nonsense for so long but I assure you that relationship is done. I knew we should’ve transferred the management of the Ross accounts to the bank.”

“You listen to me you little mudblood!” The man shouted over the mirror. “My family has been managing the Ross monies for generations and I don’t care what you have to say. You don’t have the right or the power to fire me.”

“What did you just call me?” Hermione demanded in a low tone.

“You’d best mind your betters,” the man snapped. “The rules of your trust and the Ross estate guarantee I have domain over the entirety of the financial concerns of the House of Ross until you’re thirty years old. You mess with me, little girl, and you’ll be virtually penniless until then. Minerva McGonagall is an elderly woman. She could die tomorrow then where would you be?”

“Doing a fine Irish jig on your corpse!” Hermione shouted. “Who the hell do you think you are? You ignorant, backward, foolish, irredeemable fuckwit!”

Harry’s mouth dropped open.

“What are you going to do? Send your boyfriend to teach me a lesson? Your mother doesn’t have the legal right to end my relationship with the House of Ross either. My job is guaranteed through her grandfather’s will.”

“I don’t need a wizard to kick your arse for me,” Hermione scoffed and she smirked. “But if you’d like to meet the Earl of Gryffindor; you only have to ask. This is an official notice from the Heiress of Ross to the accounting firm of Lockhart, Durant, & Jenkins that I will be having the entire Ross estate magically audited by Gringotts!” She ended the conversation with a flick of her hand and immediately jabbed it once with her finger. “Razel.”

“Miss McGonagall.”

“You may proceed with our plans, Razel. I want the House of Ross audited, go back as far as you have to find what we need to get us free of those bastards. They’ve managed the financials for the House for five hundred and twenty-six years.”

“It is an honor to do business with a young woman who understands the beauty of fine print, Miss,” the goblin said gravely. “May your enemies die in terrible pain at your wizard’s feet.”

Hermione smirked. “May your gold flow straight into your wife’s purse.” The goblin laughed and the mirror went black.

“I see you’re in fine form,” Harry said.

Hermione huffed. “Will you go burn down his house?”

“Don’t ask me to do illegal things in front of the Director of the Prosecutor’s Office,” Harry said sternly and laughed when she huffed. “Put your scales away, darling, before you freak people out.” She stowed her mirror in her little bag and as her scales retreated. Her skin glowed briefly and returned to normal. She turned to her mother. “How was that?”

“Excellent execution—he was notified of the impending audit as the Trust requires but because of the immaturity and temper you displayed he won’t take the notification seriously as he should,” Minerva smiled. “Our end is covered and since we know he’s been skimming monies off the interest earned we’ll be free and clear of them within the week.”

“And a hundred thousand galleons in fines to the good,” Hermione said and rocked back in her boots. “Who knew a well-executed temper tantrum could be so lucrative? And honestly, he had no business limiting my book budget. His gall is outrageous.”

Harry crossed his legs at the knee, lounged back in his chair, flicked his Blackwood wand out of his bracelet and sighed. “I’ll definitely go burn down that bastard’s house.”

Hermione offered him a wry grin. “I had no doubts.” She checked her watch. “Mum and I have an appointment on Diagon Alley then we’ll be heading back to Hogwarts.”

“I’ll be along in time for curfew,” Harry promised as she pressed a quick little kiss to his mouth and dart off with her mother. He turned to his father. “Dad, could we talk privately?”

Sirius nodded. “Gentlemen, if could give us the room? Thaddeus, I hate to ask if you could stay but I’d prefer you escort him back to school.”

“No problem,” Banner murmured as he left the room.

Harry said nothing while his father’s people cleared out and Armand strolled out smoking his pipe. Harry stowed his wand, sat up and rubbed his hands over his highs nervously. “I… Dad, why is Castius in Paris? He’s been gone for a week now and I know he doesn’t have any conclave business there.”

Sirius sighed. “If I told you it was personal and none of your business?”

“I’d be upset and hurt,” Harry admitted. “I am hurt, actually, that he’s apparently moved back to Paris without a word to me about it. When I questioned him, he told me that being a part of Glain Neidr didn’t require that he live in Britain. He’s obviously upset and I haven’t done anything extremely stupid in a while so I know he’s not upset with me. Which leaves you and I’m sure it is personal but he’s more than just your… lover. He’s important to me and I…” He huffed and trailed off. He took a deep breath, appalled by the sting of tears in his eyes that he would not let fall. “I love him. He’s been with us for ten years and while you’ve never shared a residence this feels different and permanent. He said he wouldn’t be back for Yule.”

“Last week was the anniversary of the end of his apprenticeship with Ito,” Sirius said quietly. “He was supplied with his elixir just like always and this time he received enough for both of us.”

Harry turned to him in shock. “What?”

“Ito sent him enough for me as well—enough to extend my life by a hundred years or more,” Sirius said quietly. “You and I both know that Hiro Ito is thinking ahead and he’s thinking about you. He’s going to want you to prolong your life as long as he can. He’d have you live endlessly like he does if he could so be prepared for that because while the decision is fourteen years away, it’s like a blink of the eye to him. What better way to ensure you accept his gift of eternity than to give it to me?”

Harry wasn’t put off by the elixir, not like his father was. He found Master Ito’s philosopher’s stone fascinating and had studied it often in the past. He didn’t know if he’d want to live for thousands of years but he wasn’t strictly opposed to a few hundred as long as Hermione was with him.

“You said no.”

“Of course I did,” Sirius said gently. “I love you, Harry and I want to be with you and your lovely Lady as long as I can but I miss James and Lily like a severed limb. I plan to live a long, productive, and inappropriate life but I also look forward to being with them again—seeing them, fussing with them about how I raised you.”

Harry laughed but his throat was rapidly closing up. He’d always known that his father wouldn’t accept the elixir to prolong his life. He cleared his throat but his eyes were burning like crazy.

“Hey.” Sirius slid onto the sofa beside him and wrapped an arm around him. “I told you—I’m going to get old and really inappropriate. I’m going to give Armand a run for his money.”

Harry laughed but buried his face against his father’s neck. “So you and Castius are done?”

“I told him a very long time ago I wouldn’t accept the elixir,” Sirius murmured. “One reason why we never took the next step is that he was leery of getting too deeply involved with someone living a mortal lifespan. He certainly invested himself more than he intended and I’ve hurt him despite my very best intentions. We’re not fighting if that’s your concern—just disappointed, I guess, in how foolish we’ve been and how we hurt each other.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry murmured. “You’re obviously not in the best shape yourself.”

“No, but that’s no fault of his. We’re both… it’ll be fine but different. I still count him as my friend and we’re not hostile with each other. I suppose you might say the situation is rather bittersweet. He wants a partner for eternity, Harry, and I can’t be that for him.”

“Sucks,” Harry said.

“I can’t say it doesn’t,” Sirius agreed. “And I do… I really do love him but…”

“But not more than you loved my parents?”

“It’s not the same kind of love but I’ve come to think you don’t love the same way twice. What I had with Castius was quiet and comfortable. We were both comfortable and maybe that was our mistake. I thought he’d stop taking the elixir for me and he thought I’d take it for… you.”

“I’d never ask that of you,” Harry said. “It’s going to hurt and I’ll probably never really get over it but when you’re ready to go after you’ve lived another hundred years and you’ve done all the inappropriate things you wish to do… I won’t try to make you stay, I swear it.”

“Settled then,” Sirius murmured and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “And I wasn’t really kidding, you know, about the grandbabies.”

Harry snorted. “Merlin, Dad, Hermione is going to ruin your life if you don’t stop asking for ten grandchildren.”

“It’s a perfectly reasonable number,” Sirius defended.

“It really isn’t,” Harry said. “Do you think there will be a verdict tomorrow?”

“Wright has four more witnesses and Elizabeth Wood’s father has requested the right to speak before the body.” Sirius paused. “You know I’d not ask this if I had a choice but I think it’s important that you sit in your seat for the verdict.”

Harry took a deep breath. “Wow.”

“I know you don’t want the rest of it and I’m not asking you to undertake your responsibilities to the Wizengamot.”

“Okay,” Harry murmured. “I won’t be allowed to vote since I’m one of the victims.”

“No but you might be asked for an opinion regarding sentencing,” Sirius said. “Just be honest and make yourself clear. I’ll let Minerva know you’ll be expected here for the session.”

Harry sighed. “I think I’ve missed more classes than I’ve attended lately.”

“You and I both know you don’t need the classes.”

“True but it’s nice… normal.”

“Ten children is normal,” Sirius said after nearly thirty seconds of silence. He grinned when Harry laughed and relaxed completely against him.

“So if I’m going to take the seat…”

“Ah, we definitely need a battle plan.”

– – – –

He’d barely slept and had skipped breakfast in the hall in favor of staying in his rooms. Hermione had visited with him briefly but she’d left to handle her prefect responsibilities which he couldn’t begrudge. He’d ate what he could of the breakfast Star had personally laid out for him and had gone through the floo with the Headmaster. Dumbledore had guided him through the Ministry with a deft hand, people just naturally got of the elderly wizard’s way and for once Harry was just relieved to be managed.

They entered the Wizengamot chambers and Harry’s gaze briefly sought his father’s. He was looking like himself—in charge, elegantly dressed, but Harry could see even at a distance that he’d not slept all that well either. He wondered if his living at Hogwarts was the best choice he could’ve made for his father. In the past they’d spent a lot of time together and now his whole life basically revolved around his conclave and Hermione. Dumbledore paused and Harry found himself standing in front of the Potter box. No one had sat in it since his grandfather’s death. James had never had the chance to assume the courtly duties of his title due to the war.

“It’s a big step,” Dumbledore murmured.

“Remember when we spoke of our magical circumstances?” Harry asked.

“Duty and burden alike,” Dumbledore said with a nod. “Your grandfather was one of the best men I’ve ever known. He couldn’t be anything less than proud of you—wherever he may be now. The Earl of Gryffindor has always had a special place in our society, perhaps because your house is believed to be the last connection we have with the lost realm of Avalon. You’re a very good young man, Harry. I have faith in your ability to be honorable and fair in every circumstance. Don’t tell your father, but I happen to agree with Director Wright—he did an amazing job and raised a son any decent man would be thrilled to claim as his own.”

Harry cleared his throat. “Thank you.” He turned to the older man. “What happens when I fail? When I fall flat on my face and disappoint the entire bleeding planet?”

“You get up, dust off, pour yourself a substantial drink and tell the entire bleeding planet to kiss your arse,” Dumbledore said and grinned when Harry laughed. He reached out and opened the door to the Potter box. “Take a seat, lad, before the people in this room expire from the anticipation.”

Harry took a step forward into the box and Dumbledore let the door shut of its own accord. He turned and faced the room before he sat. Runes lit all over the box as the Wizengamot tested his magic. A seal bearing the coat of arms for the House of Potter appeared on the box. Magic shifted around him in waves of red and gold. It stirred the air, blowing his robes briefly before everything settled and went quiet.

Dumbledore grinned. “Welcome to the Wizengamot, Lord Potter.”

“My thanks, Chief Warlock,” Harry said and took a deep breath as the box provided him with a desk. He pulled his personal journal and a quill from his bracelet as Dumbledore walked away.

Dumbledore called the session to order but Percy wasn’t brought in immediately. The elderly wizard turned to Harry. “Lord Potter, for my records, what is the status of your proxy?”

“Lord Black will retain the proxy for the House of Potter when I’m not in the Wizengamot. There may be circumstances in the future, due to his position in the Ministry, where I will hold the proxy for the House of Black to avoid a conflict of interest on his part. You’ll be notified at the start of any session where that is the case.”

“Thank you,” Dumbledore said and made several notations in the large book in front of him. “Due to your own conflict of interest, it’s my understanding that you won’t be voting today regarding Mr. Weasley’s guilt or innocence.”

“That’s correct but I would like to speak after Mr. Wood and before sentencing is decided.”

“Understood and acceptable.” Dumbledore closed the book and signaled the Auror at the back of the room. “We can began Auror Dawlish. See the prisoner brought it.”

Harry honestly tried to tune out the evidence—he knew more about the power harvesting rituals than he ever wanted thanks to the Gryffindor Circle. The evidence against Percy was so overwhelming he really didn’t understand why a plea deal wasn’t reached or what Shireford had been trying to do when he’d put Hermione on the stand. The only thing that Harry could figure is that they were trying to deflect the members of the Wizengamot or merely a ploy by Percy to further expose them both. He was a petty little bastard so Harry didn’t doubt that it could’ve been that simple.

Duty. Burden. Justice. It all sort of blended together for him as the Aurors from the DMLE took the stand to present evidence—illegal purchases, black market portkeys, smuggling of illegal substances, magical creature abuse. Some of the issues were more of an international concern than a local one. The British Ministry of Magic didn’t have extensive magical creature laws but if a citizen violated international law and weren’t punished by the local government—there would be sanctions and legal ramifications. Before he knew it, the prosecution had rested their case and Randolph Wood was standing in the place of Director Wright.

“My daughter was fifteen the day she disappeared,” Randolph said carefully. “She dreamt of playing Quidditch professionally like her brother. She loved books and flying her new broom—I’d gotten it for her as an early birthday present. She would’ve turned sixteen August 1st.  When she was taken, I berated myself for allowing her romantic ideals about her opening to cloud the issue. I blamed myself and a small, now-hated, part of myself blamed her. I was so angry that I’d given into her terribly sweet dreams—she wanted to love and be loved, you see. She wanted it to be special and amazing. It was none of those things. I know it and all of you know it. Her last moments on this earth were a nightmare. My daughter is dead but for the rest of my life—I will feel her magic moving in our family because Percy Weasley gave my sweet Elizabeth’s magic to his own sister. He drove her mad doing it but it doesn’t matter since she willingly participated in the ritual to begin with. No one’s said that—no one has even brought it up. But she couldn’t have been an unwilling receptacle in the ritual. Every day I wake up and for a few precious seconds I feel my Elizabeth then I remember she’s dead. For me, ladies and gentlemen of the Wizengamot there is no justice to be had. Throw him in Azkaban or kill him, I don’t care. Just know this—if he walks free I’ll kill him myself.”

Harry took a deep breath as the man stalked from the podium and retreated to a privacy box where the rest of the family was sequestered in the courtroom. It had some many privacy spells on it that the entire area was obscured. He couldn’t even tell how many people were in the box to begin with.

“Lord Potter?”

Harry activated the sonorous charm on his box and glanced briefly at his father before he began. “Yesterday, I sat in the audience and listened to the charges read. It struck me in those moments that despite being charged with six counts of ritual murder that not a single rape charge was being levied against Percival Weasley. And let’s not kid ourselves, he raped and murdered those young girls in those rituals. He violated them—mind, body, and magical soul. His crimes are obscene. I don’t know if I trust Azkaban to hold him. No system is perfect, no jail is without vulnerabilities. He’s already plotted the murder of my soulmate once and his desire to control me is disconcerting. Before this trial began, I pitied him but now I doubt I’m alone in despising him.

“We have a duty and Percival Weasley has transgressed against our beloved Lady Magic. He has disdained the gifts he was given and destroyed the gifts given to others due to a petty, unreasonable desire for power and wealth. He’s a monster—a sick, depraved creature. He cannot suffer enough for what he’s done and I believe we’d all sleep better at night if he wasn’t a threat looming in the back of our minds. I don’t want him tossed in Azkaban where he’ll continue to plot and be driven insane by Dementors. I think he should be sent through the Veil. He won’t suffer as he deserves but at least the rest of us will rest a little easier knowing there is one less dark wizard in the world.” He closed the sonorous charm and sat back in his seat.

“Lord Greengrass, you have the floor,” Dumbledore said when the Greengrass seal lit up unexpectedly.

“I have a question—it’s rather unorthodox,” Gerald admitted.

“Regarding the sentencing law? We haven’t voted, yet, Lord Greengrass.”

“No, it’s about conclaves and I’d like to ask Lord Potter as I believe he is the only sitting member of the Wizengamot to be a High Warlock of a conclave currently practicing regularly.”

Dumbledore turned to Harry. “Lord Potter?”

Harry reactivated the charm. “I am willing to answer superficial questions regarding the structure of a conclave but there are some matters of the Glain Neidr that are beyond anyone’s purview. To give you perspective, Lord Greengrass, there are situations, issues, and even secrets in my conclave that my father is not allowed to know.”

Greengrass nodded. “Understood, Lord Potter. My first question is about the ritual itself. I realize you’ve certainly never participated in the sort of rituals that Mr. Weasley is accused of doing but I have no frame of reference at all and I didn’t know the full measure of what happened to his victims until you just said it. I didn’t know… I didn’t know these young women were being raped. I don’t know what I thought to be honest.”

Harry took a deep breath. “First, I’d like to point out that this ritual has been done to both wizards and witches—though British dark wizards tend to favor young girls. Not a surprise considering the inherent misogyny of this country. It’s not even considered a crime for a pureblood wizard to rape a witch unless she’s a pureblood herself or betrothed to a pureblood wizard. In those circumstances, he would be charged with property damage. As to the ritual itself, I’ve not studied it at all. What I know of it, I know because I was shown various versions of it when I claimed the Gryffindor Circle. I’ve known for years that the basic content of the ritual involves a potion which is illegal to make. In fact the harvesting of some of the ingredients required for the potion are considered international crimes against magic. The main ingredient is the heart of an infant house elf.”

He paused at the teeter of shock that filtered throughout the room. “All the participants must drink this potion—including the victim. I don’t know the runic sequence or incantation specifically as the magic of my circle attempted to shield me as much it could when I claimed it ritually. The Gryffindor Family magic is sentient. Since claiming Godric Gryffindor’s ritual circle, I find myself much more connected with that magic. The leader of the ritual, most often the Chief Warlock of the conclave, would then force himself on the victim. After ejaculation, he would use an athame to carve out the victim’s heart. He or she would stay alive, due to the ritual structure.”

“And then?” Greengrass asked.

“The receptacle of the ritual—the one to receive the magic of the sacrifice—would eat the heart,” Harry said quietly. “The combination of life blood and the active spells would then harvest the magical core of the victim. Once the magic is completely removed, the sacrifice is complete.”

Greengrass frowned deeply. “I.” He looked around the room pale and shaken. “I have two daughters.” He sat back in his chair and rubbed a shaking hand over his face. “Would the one conducting the ritual have to be the High Warlock of the participating conclave?”

“You’re asking me if Percy Weasley is the High Warlock of some secret, dark conclave?” Harry questioned. “I can’t answer that specifically. What I can tell you is that your view on what a conclave is might be slightly skewed.”

“If you would explain that?”

“The Glain Neidr is organized and highly structured—some have served in the conclave longer than I’ve been alive. But that is not the case for all conclave situations. A conclave could be formed for a single ritual and disbanded afterward. Wizards could come together for a ritual without a formal conclave in place. I’ve participated in rituals in and out of the Glain Neidr. Curse breaking is often done in ritual but a formal conclave is not required. Mr. Weasley doesn’t have the magical power to shoulder a large group of wizards. At most, he might have been able to maintain a group of six or seven moderately powerful wizards in a ritual. One reason why I’m the High Warlock of the Glain Neidr as it became nearly impossible for any of the other members to lead and use my magic in ritual after my maturation. Moreover, I don’t know that Mr. Weasley has the education and experience required to lead a conclave.”

“And you do?” Greengrass questioned. “He’s four years older than you.”

“I’ve been a practicing member of a conclave for ten years and he sought no further formal education after Hogwarts,” Harry said.

“Yes, I see your point,” Greengrass murmured. “You said you had memories from the rituals done at the Gryffindor Circle—was Mr. Weasley ever there?”

“No, but then I wouldn’t have expected him to be. The wizards abusing my ancestral circle were Death Eaters. Percival Weasley and his co-conspirators would consider themselves patriots. I’m sure he has a whole list of justifications for his actions and his delusional vision of the greater good.”

“So there is another corrupt ritual space in Great Britain,” Greengrass said pensively.

“Sir,” Harry paused and shared a startled look with Dumbledore who looked shocked and troubled. “There are probably dozens of such spaces in Great Britain. There have been close to a thousand ritual sacrifices in this country since the 1970s that we’re aware of.” He slouched back in his chair in shock as the entire room exploded.

He was struck by the sheltered existence of the people in the room and wondered what that meant for the general populace. It took Dumbledore nearly twenty minutes to regain control of the room and he had to resort to a very dramatic display of his magical power to achieve it. If there had been members of the Wizengamot on the fence about Percy, Gerald Greengrass’ curiosity had ensured they wouldn’t say a single word in his defense. Every single sitting Lord, except Harry, voted guilty. He was sentenced to the Veil though some vocal members of the body were all for a beheading which Harry knew hadn’t been done for hundreds of years in magical Britain.

Fifteen minutes after the verdict, the back of the Wizengamot opened up and Harry watched in stunned silence as Percy Weasley was unceremoniously tossed through the Veil.

– – – –

“Harry?”

“There wasn’t even an appeal process,” Harry murmured. He took the tumbler half full of bourbon and stared at his. His father was fond of Muggle bourbon and Harry had to admit it was smoother than firewhiskey. “I’m mean you said that the sentence would be carried out immediately.”

“I’ve seen people kissed in the middle of the Wizengamot. The first time I was just fourteen and my grandfather thought it was time I started to learn my role in society. It caused a lot of friction at home for me because until that point my father had assumed he was the Black heir. To find out differently was a severe blow to him and his pride. He dared not touch me because he knew his father as a cruel son of bitch when he was crossed.”

“I’m not sure I could’ve stayed in my box if they’d brought a Dementor into the room.”

“I pushed a law through the Wizengamot two weeks ago outlawing the use in our justice system for any reason. The ones that were at Azkaban have been destroyed.” Sirius paused and glanced towards Armand who was staring at the floor. “I’d have thought you’d be informed.”

Harry took a sip of bourbon and focused on Armand. He raised one eyebrow.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Armand said mildly. “I was going to tell you but you went and got yourself cursed in the back. It seemed a secondary concern after all that and we haven’t had a meeting of your inner circle formally in a while. We haven’t even been able to meet to discuss the search for Nagini and her remaining children.”

“Granted,” Harry said. “Okay, I hope you had fun killing a bunch of Dementors.”

“It wasn’t boring,” Armand murmured and grinned when Harry laughed. “As to the bloody snake—we’ve tracked her to Romania and to a house owned by Alecto Carrow. It was abandoned by the time we got there but there was evidence of several large magical vipers in residence. Evidence of shed skins but not much, certainly not enough to even guess to as how many were there. Carrow came back to Britain two days ago but the goblins can’t find her and their pursuit is ardent.”

“Ragnok takes his debts very seriously, as you know,” Harry said. “Atlas is still here. I’d like to bring Gaia here as well.”

She’s not as tame as Atlas,” Armand pointed out.

“No, but she’s a badass,” Harry murmured. “And she’s an excellent sentinel. If I’m going to let loose a snake in the Forbidden Forest then she’s the one I want in there long term. She won’t be seduced by Nagini and I fear Atlas might find her too alluring. He enjoys powerful females and likes to be dominated.” He flushed when the men in the room laughed. “You know what I mean.”

“We do,” Armand agreed. “I’ll go to the Lair and retrieve Gaia personally. You’ll need to be on hand to get her settled. She takes instruction from you without discussion or argument. The last time I put her on duty, she argued with me for a half hour about the perimeter, her feeding schedule, and the placement of her heating charm.”

Harry grinned. “She’s a bit of a drama queen but I believe she is exactly what the forest needs and maybe it’ll calm her down as well. She’s been moody and ill-tempered of late. There were no eggs this year despite the fact the she approached several males for mating.”

“She’s over ten years old—reproduction in magical pit vipers tends to fall dramatically after eight. It was only her safe environment and excellent care that allowed her eggs last year. It was probably her last clutch.”

“It would explain why she kept all six eggs,” Harry agreed. “All right—if you could bring her to the townhouse in Hogsmeade before the end of the year? Atlas is doing nightly patrols in the forest and nothing is tripping our wards so far but he’s getting restless so he’ll request to go back to the Lair within the month.” He drank the rest of the bourbon and set aside the glass. “Armand, if you’d return with me to Hogwarts? I think I’m going to need some settling down and… well… Castius puts a special sleep charm on me sometimes.”

“I can do that, lad,” Armand said. “Who do you think taught him that charm?”

“Harry.” Sirius paused. “Don’t be angry with him for what’s happened.”

“I’m not angry with him for what happened between the two of you,” Harry said. “I’m furious with him because he didn’t even tell me he was leaving Britain and he owes me more than that. I’m more than just your son and his patient. I’m the High Warlock of the Glain Neidr and he ignored that because he was more focused on our personal relationship. It was disrespectful, high handed, and it’s frankly bullshite. I’ve never, once, in all the years we’ve known ever failed to separate it. Not even when I was ten and the two of you spent six months fighting like cats and dogs.” Harry held up a hand when Sirius started to protest. “So, it’s not about you and him. It’s about me and him. We’ll work it out—don’t worry.”

“Sleep well,” Sirius said with a sign. “Call me on your mirror when you wake up in the morning. The trial transcript will hit the morning edition of the Prophet.”

Keira Marcos

In my spare time I write fan fiction and lead a cult of cock worshippers on Facebook. It’s not the usual kind of hobby for a “domestic engineer” in her 30’s but we live in a modern world and I like fucking with people’s expectations.

83 Comments:

  1. Outstanding!! The details are amazing and I love what you`’ve created in the trial…. and the ritual is appropriately foul! Xoxo

  2. That was lovely and totally worth staying up to 4:00 a.m. to read. Thank you Keira!

  3. ah… Zale… I’ve missed him….. And Castius… *sigh*

    but this is kickass from start to finish!!!!

    Ron will even harder to deal with now…

    Mr Wood feeling his Daughter’s magic even though she’s dead is a horrible thing… Another reason Percy’s flight through the veil was well deserved….

  4. So awesome, thank you! Definitely worth staying up for.

  5. I absolutely love this…

    *\o/*

    *doing the geriatric fangirl chairdance of glee, just for you*

    \o/ \o/ \o/

  6. Awesome. Thank you

  7. This was a wonderful episode. The trial was fulfilling in that justice was served and many were educated in many issues that should have been common knowledge.

    I was heartsick to read about Sirius and Castius, but I can see both their points of view. Sure gonna miss their interactions.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful work with us!

  8. Oh.My.GODRIC!!!! **SWOON** I love you so much right now! SQUEEEEEEEE!

  9. Brilliant, absolutely brillant. Loved everything about this update.

  10. Helengloucester

    Thank you M’Lady. *Sighs*…you know I completely adore you for your stories. Big cuddles from Merry Old England. Hxx

  11. This was awesome. I was thrilled to see Zale. I’m so happy that they punished Percy to the fullest extent permitted. I feel badly for Harry, Sirius, and Casius. I can only hope they can work it out.

    Thanks
    Calia

  12. Utterly and completely fabulous! It was a wonderful gift in my mailbox today and significantly improved my mood. Thank you so much!

  13. Excellent chapter! I liked most that Hermione is the most dangerous snake in Harry’s life and that even though Harry was right about why Percy should go through the Veil, he was put off by the lack of an appeals process.

  14. Oh, Sirius. That scene was heartbreaking, but I understand why he wouldn’t want to live forever. Wonderful story, as always.

  15. I just re-read this story a couple of days ago. It was lovely to get an update just a day later!
    I love this story so far and this chapter was no exception. Your story telling skills are superior!
    Thanks for writing and sharing your stories with us.

  16. What a great present for Mother’s Day! Thanks a lot, it was a great read as usual. There are enough important points in there that I think I’ll reread this chapter and maybe the entire story so far a time or two before the next chapter is out.

  17. I blame you…it’s all your fault!! I went up the moutain today to work with some of my folk to pull down a house. I checked my email and saw you had updated Soul Bond…I sqealed like a little bitch in excitement. Next thing you know everyone wants to know why I was so happy. I had to read the chapter out loud to all of them cause I got them hooked on all of your stories. Now we’lol never get anything done today because I have been volunteered to start reading Soul Bond from the beginning out loud so every body can get caught up. It’s been a really bad week up here. Every one who lives on my moutain have horrified and appalled by what happened. It’s why we are pulling down the house and having the land cleansed thanks to the advice of serveral wonderful minions. Thank you for giving us all something to smile about and my moutain folk say thank you for being the badass who made me smile when they couldn’t.

  18. Oh my, this was lovely! Horrifying in the details of the ritual but lovely in the depth of details – I love learning more and more about the world of magic as envisioned by you and your tremendous and gifted muse. I never found Rowlings views on the world of magic to be detailed enough, thought out all that well, etc. But it makes for a great foundation to build upon and you’ve taken advantage of that here and in your other Harry Potter AU!verses. Thank you for this. I’ve been wishing for more reading from you and your muse. Thank you.

  19. I love that as much as Harry wanted Percy dead, that he was distressed by how quickly they killed upset him. Another brilliant chapter. Glad to see your still inspired with you writting

  20. Your work as always was impeccable, that ritual was disgusting and i’m only disappointed it stopped here ’cause I wanted to see the reaction(s) inside Hogwarts. 🙁

  21. You always write such enthralling stories! I need to go back and re-read from the beginning each time because each new installment is so fantastic it’s almost disappointing when that part comes to an end. Thanks for sharing another fascinating piece with us!! 🙂

  22. twilight_seeker3

    I consider this a Mother’s Day present….thank you. This was truly amazingly crafted. Hermione was SUCH a bad ass and Harry cool and sharp as Damascus steel.

  23. OK… I’ve read it, and been pondering it since I read it, and I have to ask… Six counts?!?!? Is that because it took him that many tries to get it right, or was that how many he needed to get his whack ass sister to resemble ‘normal’?

    Either way, I wish we could tie a rope around him and just toss him in, pull him out, toss him in, pull him out etc., etc., etc. Torture is seriously too good for his stank arse. 😛

    • That’s how many times he did the ritual. Only Elizabeth was for Ginny. The others may or may not come up later.

      • Oh my THOR! I hope they find the other 5 foul assed mother fuckers and toss them through the veil as well!!! Too bad they didn’t go tip toeing through Percy’s tulips before they tossed his sorry ass. It’s good to know where the truly sick arseholes are hold up. ARGH!

        You’re brilliant and I’m mesmerized and horrified by this latest installment. You just craft the best evil fuckers ever.

  24. eroslackermicha

    beautifully done. I get the feeling Percy’s lawyer is going to try something down the road.
    feel bad for Sirius that Castius left him.
    thank you for another chapter of a great story.

  25. wow, that made my day…

    great chapter, loved it

  26. KieraMarcosMinion

    Lovely Mother’s Day present, (and early birthday present) Thank you. Can’t wait to meet Gaia.

  27. So when i saw that Magic’s Justice had gone into beta, the first thing i did was start re-reading the whole thing. I was getting worried when i realised that i might finish the re-read before you posted the next episode so i tried to slow down, that didn’t particularly work because your work is quite frankly, addictive.

    The squeal i let out when i got to the end of ep. 27 and saw that the new one was up must have been loud because my brother came into my room do see if i was alright.

    Another great episode, as always and i’m already eagerly awaiting more!

  28. Wow. What a creepy, dramatic, wonderful chapter. Thank you.

  29. More Than a Pint

    It’s great… I really enjoyed it, thank you!
    By the way, I hope you are feeling better.

  30. Thank you, Keira! I read and re-read all of your writing, no matter the fandom, but lately I’ve been in an HP mood and you write badass Harry & Hermoine. This is how it should have been.

  31. Oh my – this chapter is a feast of story and detail. I actually got a bit teary when Harry and Sirius talked about Castius for all sorts of reasons including Haarry’s upset, the thought o Sirius leaving Harry behind and the loss of the mental visual of Sirius and Castius together. (Fans self).

    The banner for this installment is awesome.

    The details of what Percy did, the ritual and that Ginny was willing was horrific. So glad they all finally understand the extent of the killing/rapes and the perversion of Magic it is. My heart just about broke for Mr. Wood.

    So richly delivered — a wonderful installment. Thank you!

  32. So very very good. There are no words beyond that.

  33. Fantastic part.

    Thank you so much!

  34. Ahhhhhhhhh – that was great. The ritual description was creepy as hell, which was entirely appropriate. Good work all ’round.

  35. Magnificent! I do love your work. IM a bit sad about the Sirius/Cassius break up, but I’m looking forward to the conversation Harry has with Castius 🙂

    I shall now go back and reread from the start.
    Comfy chair – check
    Snacks – check
    Blanket (it’s chilly here) – check
    Keira’s awesome works – check……

    Thanks so much for sharing your most excellent works – your talent is inspiring.

  36. Completely amazing chapter. There was so much detail that I gladly read it twice and I still feel like I would get more out of it on a third read. Thank you so much for posting!

  37. Keira, it is a privilege to read your stories. You and your incredible story crafting ability are truly a gift from Lady Magic herself. Thank you, as always, for sharing your gift with us.

  38. As always, your writing is enthralling and amazing. It is not simply the well thought out plotting and superb characterization – so awesome that your original characters are more loved than most cannon ones – that draws me in and consumes my attention (am currently reading/writing this while at our family mother’s day event, and I like my family!) but the time you obviously spend to create such a fascanating and well grounded universe. Yes, you obviously build upon the given cannon, but you go so far beyond the surface layer there and every single addition/expansion you add makes sense and is not just a ‘plot gimmick’ but has world building thought behind it and that just increases my love for this story.

    I have known you were a fantastic writer for quite a while now, but my personal lack of knowledge in the other fandoms has kept me from really getting just how awesome you are, as I was not always sure what was given cannon and what was purely yours. I read a lot of Harry Potter fiction, I have all the books and the movies, and I consider myself pretty well versed in this fandom, so I KNOW how beautiful, unique, and wonderful this story is. Thank you for your willingness to share your talent with the rest of us. You’re an inspiration.

  39. Holy crap. This was fantastic. Great way to wrap up the weekend.
    I really enjoyed how they did in the stand, and also how Zale and Sirius reacted to their testimony. Armand was an absolute blast to read too!
    Thank you for sharing your brilliance.

  40. spirit.seeker.60

    I’m not a big Harry Potter fan but I’m so loving your take on his world. I agree with your take on Ginny Weasley and Harry. No way. Thanks for this on today, Mother’s Day. Debi C

  41. This was amazing!
    Sooo detailed!
    I can’t wait to see what’s next!
    Bravo!

  42. If the courtroom exploded over finding out the thousand how will the country respond? Does Harry know the identity of the victims or will some parents read about it in the daily prophet and realise what happened to their lost child? I really felt for Mr. Wood and his morning nightmare and I think all of Percy’s conclave monsters should consider committing suicide before the public draws and quarters them.

  43. greenbunnyowner

    Thank you so much for making this story for us. I read it over and over in between waiting for the next chapter because it is so good. I appreciate the hard work and dedication you put into your stories. Not all writers can keep up the work load or the relatively quick pace you make your updates, especially with all your works currently in progress. I am a Harry & Hermione reader but totally understand the fact your other works are just as important and am very willing to wait as long as needed for my favorite story updates because it is harder, lately, to find talent like yours in fan fiction. Most of the writers I have followed over the years have largely given it up. it makes me appreciate you more. So thank you again for taking time and so much hard work and effort for making such wonderful stories, typing them all out and being generous enough to share them with us.

    I hope you are feeling better. Take as much time as you need and never feel the rush to get any updates ‘done’ just to satisfy demanding people who are too impatient to appreciate all you do for us.

    Take care of yourself.

  44. Love it!

  45. What a great update. It was really intense, although I’m not sure I can put my finger on exactly why. Maybe I’ve watched too much Court TV and I really dig courtroom drama. Plus someone getting their just desserts is a guilty pleasure. I sort of wanted popcorn. Armand’s testimony was the highlight for me… calling Shireford a twat was hysterical. And then blaming it on the truth spells… Total win! Thanks for sharing!

  46. Hi Keira,

    THANK YOU!~!

    I *adore* this developing tale.
    Despite wanting to wait, I could not help myself, so while at school (Polytechnic), I read what my battery would allow before my i4’s screen went black.

    Then I just started from the beginning. Fantastic characterisation of the willful isolationist and ignorant nature of a large portion of the population of Magickal Britain. With the trial of Percival Weasley being broadcast internationally on the Wizarding Wireless, the shameful level of ignorance to say nothing of the utterly unspeakable level of stupidity in their society, should be a source of profound shame…were they bright enough to realize how poorly they are reflected in the many revelations of this trial.

    Shireford *was* an utter twat. Well said, Armand Deering!
    ~*irredeemably foul and ugly man*~.

    “…Godric lit with black fire around his wrist. “The first witch was a half-blood like myself and it was done in private. I’ve known her since I was eight or nine years old. The second was a pure-blood Veela and it was done in ritual.”

    Harry blushed at the burst of noise in the audience level and Hermione fought the urge to draw her wand. She resolved to ruin Joseph Shireford….”

    Raucous laughter burst out of me at reading this part and in turns I cheered and was otherwise quite vocal during various parts of reading. Fist pumps and so on all done in private.
    Ah well, most of my neighbours who could hear me *should* be in bed and asleep…it being QUITE early in the morning. LOL

    As always, I look forward to that very special email from you to say something new is ready.
    Thanks for sharing…now to crawl into bed!

  47. Not knowing if I wrote this already… but I seriously ADORE the snakes in this story. (And I don’t mean the human ones, altjough I have some favourites there as well gg)

    Very impressed with the Castius/Sirius split. It makes the story so much more deep and “real” if not all of the well liked couples are living in harmony and bliss.

    As always – thank you very much for a great read. I never expected to like this story so much.

  48. You are such a wonderful writer! Thank You for this update. I consider it my best/favorite Mothers Day Gift!
    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

  49. Lovely chapter with great characters! Finding an email with a new post from you is always a joy and has me jumping in excitement (and staying up waaaay to late to read).
    Looking forward to the next email!

  50. Armand was hilarious on the stand. Great job with the courtroom. Hermione’s temper tantrum was great. Sad about Sirius/Castius, Cas really needs to apologize to Harry- it wasn’t nice him just leaving. Was so happy to see another chapter of this. Hope things are settling down for you and getting better.

  51. What an excellent episode. I thoroughly enjoyed it (in a rather macabre way at some points!) I thought the house elf moments were great and loved the responses of Armand. It was only after I was a good way through that I realised that Hiro Ito is your OC (I’m pretty sure) and wasn’t actually in the original books. I’ve absorbed so many of your OCs that my head canon is now that they helped/hindered Harry throughout his Hogwarts career!

    Many thanks
    Daisy

  52. Chiiiiiiiild….damn. This chapter was the shit. I love courtroom scenes in the Potterverse. Also, your use of magical theory and logic just gives me the shivers. Well done!

    Also? Armand is so badass.

  53. Very nice, I was rooting for Percy to get beheaded but this is still satisifiing

  54. So I have said this before but normally I don’t read het. But I love all your stories so I once a whole ago gave this story a chance, and so I can quite firmly say this is the only het story I am reading. And its that amazing.

    The entire courtroom presentation in this story was amazing and just awe inspiring. I love the declaration of information and how things work and operate. I seriously got chills whenever Harry spoke, since I especially like dominant, powerful, knowledgeable Harry. Hermione was really cool as well, her will and power and just aura were great to read and fun to see.

    This series is pretty awesome and I honestly and surprisingly say that I eagerly smile when I see a new chapter, no matter what direction you take things.

    I also have to say I feel really sorry for this Ginny, and I hate the character probably as much as you do it seems, but she never really had a chance to become something more.

    Finally, I like the little mention and stuff about Draco and Harry and how while it doesn’t exist some people think it does. Not to knock this story, since its honestly kind of perfect as it is, but it would be such a simple change to have it be Draco and Harry, and that makes it hilarious when its mentioned.

    All in all, this is awesome and you deserve all the praise and thumbs up and great job that you are getting for it. The work is profoundly entertaining, the world you have created takes Harry Potter in a different and somewhat better more developed way, and just everything about it is plainly awesome.

    So congrats to you!! 🙂

  55. yea

  56. Somehow I was 2 chapters behind with this, I’ve obviously not been paying attention. I’m am constantly blown away by the sheer level of detail you get into each and every chapter, I’m sure I could read them Half a dozen times and still not absorb every little nuance. Thanks for sharing xxx

  57. Wow this is an awesome story, so cannot wait to seeing what happens next in the story ^^

  58. This is so much fun. I like bad ass Harry a lot. Hermione is more endearing than usual. I hope they so get back to the idea of healing Neville father. I get that they’ve been busy. 🙂

  59. I have no idea how many times I’ve read this chapter or re-read the entire series but its still satisfying all the way through. Thanks.

  60. Absolutely fantastic! I’ve been saving this for a day when I needed a pick me up and as usual, your writing has made my day. Thank you!

  61. I just want you to know that I think you are awesome. Love your writing so much.

  62. Amazing story, very clever and intriguing plot, and well written

    I am excited to see how the story progresses.

    Keep it up

  63. Hi there! I don’t mean to be a prick about it but your latest chapters don’t have links to the next chapter at the bottom. It’s a tiny gripe but well… it’s a gripe.

  64. I’m reading this again because of the comments it’s gotten recently, and the last chapters just remind me of what an utter bad ass you are at writing convincing court room scenes! 🙂

  65. Fantastic story with a ton of detail!

  66. keepcalmloveseverus

    This just keeps getting better and better. This is truly an epic tale — I had actually forgotten about Nagini lmao. I’m sure there’s a bunch of smaller plots that I’ve forgotten about too.

  67. Really enjoyed reading this story so far.  I love a competent Harry, and your Harry certainly qualifies.

  68. Very intense story. I’m so impressed with your world building. Thank you

  69. This is such a joy to read!! Thank you!

  70. I followed this fic when you originally started posting but I haven’t been back to it in a couple years. It’s just as lovely as I remembered and you’ve of course continued to add richness and depth to the world. Thank you for sharing as much as you have in spite of the entitled whiny bitches making you crazy 🙂

  71. Fantastic story!! Your characterization and plot building is alluring and amazing!! Please update soon! Maybe before 2018?

  72. So i discovered your story while i was searching for a fanfiction titled Dangerous by Black Lotus. Im disappointed in that i couldnt find it but im happy to have found your site. Waiting to clear your 48 hrs registration was not frustrating per say but only in that i was so curious to read this story! Absolutely love the how you portrayed harry and hermione in this story. Everyone knows they always had the potential to be such strong figures and im always happy to read a story that reflects that. Im usually not so taken with OCs but i genuinely enjoy yours. I love the names of all the snakes in this story and the detail you give them. I find myself looking up a few bits of info about them whenever you bring them into the story. Completely fascinated by the details you give describing the rituals and protocols that go into being a member of of a conclave or circle. Im so you felt the need to step away from your stories because of negative reactions but i can understand it. No artist should ever have to force their gift after all. Several more complements and questions for your story but im sure your tired of seeing me ramble on. Lol. Love the story and look forward to seeing is continuation and sadly conclusion.

  73. I adore Armand in this chapter. His interactions in court make me laugh, especially with Harry’s reactions.

    The best part of your stories for me is the relationship between Harry and Sirius. I love the devotion they have to one another as father and son. The line in this chapter “If my father told me the sky was purple—then the bloody sky would be purple should I be made curious enough by the declaration to check” reminds me of the one in Courting Hermione Granger where he says he’d stab himself in the heart before he’d ever disrespect Sirius the way that Ron did to Arthur.

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