Every Dog Has His Day
To say that Sirius Black was surprised when something other than Dementors showed up in front of his cell would be a bit of an understatement. The only time he ever saw a human being was when the Warden, one of the prison guards checking to see if someone had died, or a Ministry flunky doing the yearly inspection who felt brave enough to try and rub it in that he was going to be here for the rest of his life for his betrayal of the Potters.
The oldest Auror pointed his wand at Sirius and ordered him to come with them.
"Where are you taking me?" Black wanted to know. "Did the Ministry finally decide to get rid of its mistake so that no one can ever find out what they did?"
Black’s raspy voice startled the Aurors and almost made a couple of the younger ones drop their wands. Even though the warden had warned them that Black seemed to be mostly alert and appeared to be aware of his surroundings, the Aurors had taken that to mean that he was more responsive to commands.
The Potter’s betrayer had spent the last ten years in Azkaban’s high security wing with the Dementors! He should not be capable of rational speech!
Kiteridge, the senior Auror on the team recovered from his shock first and told him. "We have been ordered to transfer you to a high security cell at the Ministry."
"Why?" Sirius was instantly suspicious.
If they were planning on eliminating him, they could do it far more efficiently by having the Dementors Kiss him. It would insure that wizarding Britain would never know that the Ministry had condemned an innocent man to Azkaban for the crimes of another. It would also have the side effect of leaving the actual criminal free to betray his godson again.
"You are to be held there pending your retrial." Kiteridge told him. Personally he did not see why the Ministry was wasting the time or effort on a retrial. So what if they couldn’t find the original trial records, everybody knew that Black had betrayed the Potters to his He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. He was the reason the Boy-Who-Lived was an orphan. There were even tales told of how he had laughed like a madman when they had arrested him after he had killed Pettigrew.
Black was silent for a few moments before hoarsely barking out, "Retrial?" Black shook his head. "A retrial is for people who have had a trial." Black got to his feet and thumped his chest. "I never did."
While the man who was considered one of the most dangerous wizard next to his former master did not move toward the front of the cell, he did make the Aurors nervous as he paced back and forth between his cot and the corner.
"What is today’s date?" Black suddenly demanded.
One of the junior Aurors told him then backed up quickly to the outside wall as a hysterical barking laughter came out of Black’s cell.
"It took over ten years for those dolts at the Ministry to realize I never had a trial!" Black bellowed making a few more of the Auror team back up and take a firmer grip on their wands.
"Black, another outburst like that and we will stun you and drag you out of here." The tone of Kiteridge’s voice made it very clear that was the way he wanted to do this. "Your choice, Black, leave on your own two feet or on your arse."
Sirius could tell he meant it so he quickly got himself under control and shambled toward the doorway of his cell as Kiteridge opened it. He was not about to let them have the satisfaction of humiliating him.
As Sirius stepped into the corridor and was surrounded by the waiting Aurors, he could not help wondering who had managed to blackmail the Ministry into giving him a trial. He had been convinced he was going to die in Azkaban, since he had no idea where Wormtail was hiding.
One thing was for sure, Sirius told himself, Once I am free, that sewer rat is going to die the most painful and longest lasting death I can come up with.
Outside as the portkey took them away from Azkaban, Sirius briefly wondered if Moony would like to help in the hunt.
As the same group of Aurors who had removed him from Azkaban escorted Sirius into Courtroom #10, he could hear what sounded like voices coming through the open doorway. He stopped for a moment surprised, before being shoved from behind by Kiteridge. He glared at the Auror for a moment, before going through the open door.
While the crowd in the courtroom was not very large, there were enough people there to make him wonder if someone on the Wizengamot had lost their mind. Sirius recognised two of the people as reporters. One worked for the Daily Prophet and the other was from the Wizarding Wireless Network, which meant once he was proven innocent would mean that the Wizengamot would soon have mud all over their faces. The citizen’s of magical Britain would know that an innocent man had been sent to Azkaban without even the courtesy of a sham trial and he had no doubt that they would soon be wondering if the judicial arm of the British magical government would do the same to them.
Of course, Sirius reflected cynically, it is also possible that the Wizengamot has figured out a way to rig things so that I look like the next Dark Lord, which will have people screaming for me to receive the Kiss, before I can take Voldemort’s place. Given that he had not been given the opportunity to speak to a defender that possibility was looking more and more likely which meant the people were there to see justice done, since I apparently will have to defend myself.
A moment later Sirius received his biggest surprise of the day. A stocky little man with wiry hair walked up to him, with his hand extended and the Aurors surrounding him, made no move to stop the man’s approach.
When Sirius made no move to take his hand the little man withdrew his and then introduced himself. "Lord Black, I am Waldo Copperfield. I have been retained by the acting Head of House Black to act as your defender."
"My mother hired you to defend me?" Sirius barely managed to smother a snort of laughter at the thought that she would do anything to help him. She was far more likely fire the Killing curse at him than help him.
"No," Copperfield shook his head. "Your mother Walburga Black died about nine years ago. Gringotts retained my services at the request of the regent for your named heir who is currently the acting Head of House Black. Were you not told any of this by the DMLE representative after you were transferred here from Azkaban?"
It took Sirius’ mind a few moments to backtrack from the realization of who the acting Head of House Black had to be and wondering who his regent was so that he could focus on his solicitor’s question and give him a you have to be kidding look.
"I see," Copperfield nodded as he led the way to a small table set off to one side. "Should I also assume that they did not give you the required health check-up?"
"They did not." Sirius confirmed.
As the members of the Wizengamot took their places, Copperfield told him. "I will make a note of it and will deal with that issue later."
"Please be seated, we are ready to begin." Chief Warlock Dumbledore requested of those in the courtroom.
Once everyone was seated and waiting expectantly for the trial to begin and Black’s guilt to be proven beyond doubt, the wiry haired little man seated next to Black stood up and spoke. "I challenge the right of one member of the Wizengamot to sit in judgement of my client for failing to uphold their magical oath in regards to Lord Black."
Those familiar with the normal proceedings of the Wizengamot murmured in surprise. There had not been a challenge issued in over a century. The last time a challenge had been called on a member of the Wizengamot it had been because of an ancient blood feud between the Wizengamot member and the person on trial. That had resulted in an impartial proxy having to be chosen to cast the vote for that member’s seat.
"State your challenge and let it be judged for validity." Dumbledore followed the required formula for a challenge.
"I challenge Chief Warlock Albus Dumbledore’s right to oversee this case, in any and all areas including the right to question witnesses and his right to render any judgement using the proxies he currently holds. The first part of the challenge is due to his failure to insure that Lord Black received a trial, before being sent to Azkaban. The second part is due to the fact that the seats you are currently voting as proxy for belong to the Houses of Potter and Black and are my client’s responsibility, given he was never convicted of any crime"
"While I do concede the point with regards to the seats, that I have been voting as proxy for," Dumbledore chose his words with care. "I did not oversee every trial after Voldemort’s disappearance."
"Whether you oversaw the trial or not is not the basis of the first part of the challenge." Copperfield countered as Sirius sat there and watched his defender work. "By law and the oath you swore when you assumed the office of Chief Warlock, long before Lord Black’s incarceration, it is the responsibility of the Chief Warlock’s Office to insure any and all criminals receive a trial, even if it is not one you sit in judgement on. According to what few DMLE records there are …Lord Black was arrested the morning after Lord and Lady Potter’s deaths and shipped out to Azkaban that evening. There was no meeting of the Wizengamot prior to his being sent there… not even a closed session. By the magical laws of Britain, you cannot now render judgement or even act as interrogator, given how you failed in one of your main duties as Chief Warlock. "
"I do not believe anyone in my office would do such a reprehensible thing such as deny a man a fair trial." Dumbledore hedged. "My staff here at the Ministry knows how much I value justice and expect them to do the right thing, but since there are no records to back up my certainty, I must excuse myself from this hearing. Lady Longbottom, since you are the longest serving member of the Wizengamot, would assume my duties for this trial?"
"Of course, Chief Warlock," Lady Augusta Longbottom, rose from the seat she held as regent for her grandson, Neville and moved to where Dumbledore was standing to assume the position of Chief Witch for this hearing.
Since the Dumbledore family had no seat of its own on the Wizengamot, he had to join those watching the trial from the gallery. As he took a seat on the end of the aisle, Dumbledore presented a calm, unruffled demeanour to those watching to see how he was going to take this attack on his integrity, while inwardly he was seething with frustration. Ever since he had discovered that Joshua Talbot was Harry Potter, everything Dumbledore had tried to do seemed to be determined not to work the way he wanted or intended. The destiny that he has planned for the boy was being met by more and more roadblocks, many of which the boy was creating by refusing to allow himself to be guided by Dumbledore to his destiny. And today was just the capper of a very frustrating month.
Dumbledore was fairly certain that he knew where to place the blame for the boy’s stubborn refusal to listen to older and wiser heads. It was because of the Dursleys that Potter was not as mouldable as Dumbledore needed him to be. If the Dursleys had just kept and raised the boy the way he had intended then he would have had someone he could shape into the self-sacrificing saviour he needed Potter to be. Instead because of their refusal to co-operate with his plans for the Greater Good of all, Potter had been raised by a strange witch who refused to acknowledge Dumbledore’s superiority and had somehow managed to pass that stubbornness on to the boy.
He had given in on leading Black’s trial partly because he was not about to admit that he had known Black had been sent to Azkaban without a trial. And lying about that or even admitting the truth would cost him his magic and he would need that if he were to guide Potter and others when Voldemort returned as he knew he would. He knew Voldemort was not dead, because the Dark mark on Severus’ arm, while barely noticeable, still held traces of Voldemort’s magic, as did the lightning bolt scar on Potters forehead. If Voldemort had truly been dead then the energy signature in the Dark mark and Potter’s scar would have faded away.
The other reason Dumbledore had given in on leading the trial was because he was hoping that if Black were indeed innocent and he still had some control over the man, that he could get him to apply in the magical courts for custody of Potter. He needed to get Potter away from the Talbot witch and Black was going to be his best chance to make that happen. Unless overridden by a will or for some other very pressing and provable reason such as the chosen guardian was going to be a danger to the minor, by magical law going back centuries, if there were no close magical blood kin for an orphan to be placed with and they had godparents, then they were placed with one or the other of their godparents. If Black could be persuaded to apply for custody, then they could get Potter away from the Talbot witch, which would ensure Dumbledore a much better chance of having Potter raised the way he needed to be if he was to fulfil his destiny.
Dumbledore watched the trial intently to see if there might be anything he could use to keep or regain control of Black if he had lost it. The comments from those around him were very telling. They were surprised when it came out that Sirius Black had not been the secret keeper, that it had been Peter Pettigrew the man who had been given the Order of Merlin for daring to stand up to Black and many thought dying in the attempt to capture him. A more surprising bit of news came out that shocked even Dumbledore. Black, Pettigrew, and Potter had all been animagi? How had that escaped his notice? Further revelations came out that Pettigrew’s form was a rat and since all they had found of his human form was one finger the DMLE would need to try and trace a long-lived rat with a missing toe. That was going to be an interesting and most likely fruitless man or should he say rat hunt.
Finally the trial was over and Black was advised that he would be receiving notification about the compensation he would get for his unlawful imprisonment and the session was adjourned. That was Dumbledore’s signal to try and get to Black and speak with him.
As he headed over to where Black and his solicitor standing, Dumbledore noticed that a dark-haired woman dressed in muggle clothes and wearing a cloak over them walking up to the pair then he overheard her say, "Mr. Copperfield, an excellent job. I must remember to thank the goblins for recommending you."
Black’s solicitor bowed slightly as he said, "Thank you, madam but the case was relatively cut and dried once we got them to actually listen to it."
"Lord Black, I believe this belongs to you." The woman held out a small silk bag. "My son asked me to return this to you. He has been keeping it for you, since our visit to Gringotts a few months ago, when they advised us that he was your heir. I have been acting as his regent and yours since we found out that he was not allowed to by magical law until he came of age."
Opening the small silk bag, Sirius stared in surprise at the ring within. Pulling it out he connected what the woman had just told him with what Copperfield had told him earlier. "The Black family ring. Never thought I would see this again, especially after being thrown into that place."
Placing the ring on his finger, Sirius looked at the woman. She did not look like anyone he had known at school, but her face looked vaguely familiar. "Since you have this ring, I must assume that you are taking care of my heir?"
The dark haired woman nodded her head. "Your heir is a very interesting and talented young man and he is looking forward to meeting you."
Sirius started to smile and then saw Dumbledore standing behind the woman studying them intently and his smile vanished. He was determined to keep Dumbledore guessing about who his heir was, because he could tell from the look in his eyes Dumbledore really wanted to know. "Good. Good. I want to see him as soon as possible. He is about the only thing that has been keeping me going while in that place. "
Sirius had a child! That was surprising news to Dumbledore. He had not known that Sirius was seeing anyone prior to his arrest, but then again Black went through women almost as quickly as Dumbledore went through lemon drops so his list of conquests was the stuff of legend. There was also the fact that when Walburga Black got going she could put both Molly Weasley and a Banshee to shame. That combined with the fact that Walburga Black was a blood purist to the nth degree would have insured that Sirius would have been very careful not to give her a target to vent her ire on. And he would have been even more determined to insure that his mother never found the woman, let alone plotted to kill her and his child for bringing shame on the House of Black because his heir would not be from a long line of purebloods. Dumbledore couldn’t help wondering if more witches might not start coming out of the woodwork now that it had been proven that Black had not betrayed the Potter’s and name him the father of their child if they could prove it.
Dumbledore was also somewhat surprised by both the dark haired woman’s and Sirius’ formality. Surely a former girlfriend and the mother of his child would be a lot less formal, unless Sirius had not known about the child. That was not possible though because he had heard Sirius say that it was thoughts of his heir that had kept him going, so he had to have known and just kept quiet about it.
Had Sirius been involved with this particular muggleborn witch which around the time of James and Lily Potter’s death. If so, it would make sense then that no one would know about Black’s child, other than him. He would have protected his heir with everything he had in him. Even though Sirius Black would have been considered the black sheep of the family, he was still a Black and family came first to them. Dumbledore could not help wondering if this witch had retreated to the muggle world after the death of the Potter’s and Voldemort’s defeat by young Harry or had Sirius arranged her disappearance.
Dumbledore was willing to bet that this unknown and clearly muggleborn witch had retreated to the muggle world to hide and to try and protect her child in a world she knew well and the magical community did not. He was also willing to bet that even though her face and voice were not that familiar to him she had been in Hufflepuff when she had attended Hogwarts. Dumbledore had to ruefully admit to himself that unless they worked at the Ministry and he came in contact with them frequently he rarely remembered any of the Hufflepuffs who had attended Hogwarts. They tended to blend into the background so well.
It made Dumbledore wonder how old the child was and why neither of them were using the boy’s name, given he must have been born about a year after the Dark Lord’s defeat. He also could not help wondering when she had risked bringing her son into Diagon Alley to claim the Heirship from Gringotts, given that would have been the only place they could have gone to in order to stake a claim on the Head of House ring for the House of Black. Gringotts by treaty held the family rings for those families without an immediate line of succession until there was a provable heir via an inheritance test.
Sirius’ next question though baffled Dumbledore: “I realise this is going to sound like a silly question, but have we met before? You seem familiar to me, but I can not place where we could have met.”
“Do not worry about that right now, I will explain who I am and how I wound up with custody of your Heir later.” She promised him.
“I take it you and he are responsible for me finally getting my trial?” Sirius decided to keep ignoring the Headmaster. He could tell it was annoying the old man no end.
The woman nodded her head. "When we were informed by the Goblins that you had never had a trial we did we did whatever we could to get you your long overdue trial.”
"Thank you. I am in your debt as well as my heir's," Sirius told her seriously and gave her a formal bow.
“There is no debt,” the woman told him. “You are family, though I should tell you that if you turn out later to be a closet axe murderer, you will be dealt with.”
Sirius smiled at that, but before he could make any comment, Dumbledore decided to interrupt. “Excuse me Sirius, I know you and this young lady have a lot of catching up to do, but I need to speak to you regarding your Godson. If you will excuse us for a few minutes, Miss…”
Hazel eyes set into an oval face looked up at Dumbledore with silent indifference as to what he wanted. In addition she failed to tell him her name and also made no move to leave him alone with Sirius as he had requested.
“Has something happened to Harry at Hogwarts?” Sirius knew he had to play the ignorance card, even though he knew this woman had custody of Harry. It was fairly obvious from Dumbledore’s lack of recognition and his comments that he thought the woman was the mother of his child, though Sirius had been very careful never to get any witch pregnant. He had no real desire to subject any witch to his mother. “If not then I will speak with his Magical guardian first, and once I get my living arrangements sorted out I will pay him a visit at Hogwarts. Who currently has custody of him? I know that some of the people that Lily and James named in their wills as their alternate choices were killed before I went to Azkaban. A few others were unable to due to extenuating circumstances, like the Longbottoms and Remus. Bella was very vocal in Azkaban about what she had done to the Longbottoms.”
“Unfortunately it was decided that none of the people listed in the will were suitable to act as Harry's guardian, given the chaos after the Dark Lord’s defeat. There was a great deal of concern that those who supported the Dark Lord would be able to find and harm Harry if he remained in the magical world. It was decided that he would be safer growing up in the muggle world away from the chaos and adulation of being the-boy-who-lived. A muggle family that was aware of magic because they had had a child go to Hogwarts was chosen to raise him.” Dumbledore left off mentioning the name of the family he had left the boy with since he knew how Black felt about Lily’s sister. He also avoided mentioning that he had been the one to decide who was a suitable guardian for Harry Potter.
“And just exactly who was it that decided to ignore the Potter’s Will?” Sirius growled. “And were the others listed on their will even consulted? Because I know that at least two of them were muggle-born who would have gladly moved back to the muggle world to protect Harry.”
“I am afraid the decision was made very quickly and only a small group from the Ministry was involved in the decision and it was decided it would be best that no one else be consulted. We were trying to protect the boy from any potential Deatheater attacks.” Dumbledore hedged. After all one is indeed a small group.
“So you know the name of the family he was placed with. I want the name of the family, Dumbledore.” Sirius’ face was an expressionless mask.
“I really do not think that would be a good idea, Sirius,” Dumbledore continued hedging. “He is very happy with his adoptive family, there is no reason to disrupt his life.”
“I am his godfather and by magical law I have the right to know.” Sirius countered firmly.
Dumbledore glanced around as checking to see if anyone was listening in. “I really do not think this is the place to discuss this, I mean others might listen in.”
“Then put up a silencing charm.” Sirius ordered. “I want to know who is taking care of my godson. I want to speak with them to find out what he is like. I want to make arrangements to be part of his life…”
“Sirius, we should discuss this somewhere else.” Dumbledore tried again.
“Unless you are willing to answer my questions about my godson, we have nothing to talk about.” Sirius countered.
“Sirius, we really need to talk… privately.” Dumbledore persisted.
Sirius decided he was tired of his former Headmaster’s refusal to answer his questions. “Mr. Copperfield, do you take on cases outside of Gringotts?”
“I do not work for Gringotts, directly,” Waldo told him. “I take referrals from them as I did your case today. Did you wish to hire my services as a solicitor?”
“Yes,” Sirius looked directly at the headmaster. “I wish to hire you to find out who ignored my godson’s parents’ will and who placed him with the family he was placed with and their name. Good day Dumbledore.”
“Sirius!” Dumbledore could not believe the man was refusing to speak with him.
“Dumbledore, when you are ready to answer my questions fully and truthfully send me an owl.” Sirius held out his arm to the dark haired woman whose name Dumbledore still did not know. She took it and they strode from the courtroom with his solicitor following close behind, leaving a stunned Dumbledore standing there.
Sirius woke to the smell of food cooking. Stretching he revelled in the fact that he was warm and comfortable and that for the first time in over ten years he had been able to get a full night’s sleep without the presence of Dementors waking him in terror.
The smell of the food was getting stronger and his stomach was growling letting him know it wanted to be fed. Sirius couldn’t help wondering what Megan was cooking for breakfast, not to mention when it would be ready given she seemed to prefer doing things the muggle way. He had no doubt though that it would be as good as the meal she had served him last night when she had brought him to her home.
His first day of freedom had certainly been interesting. Upon departing the Ministry of Magic he had been brought to a home that looked like a small wizarding cottage, but turned out to be a muggle home. And then he had been even more surprised to learn that the witch who had been taking care of his godson seemed to prefer living as a muggle even though she could clearly use magic. While she had not done much magic the night before, what little he had seen had been wandless. As everyone in the wizard world knew a witch or wizard had to be powerful to be able to use wandless magic, which meant she was a very powerful witch, maybe even more powerful than Dumbledore given he had not seen her use a wand yet.
Of course Sirius could not understand why anyone would prefer to do things the muggle way, especially when they had the ability to do things with magic. While there was no doubt Sirius was grateful that she had been there for his godson when the Dursleys had abandoned him but doing things the Muggle ways instead of using magic was… it was just… odd.
As for the Dursleys abandoning Harry... that was something Sirius was going to be discussing with Dumbledore at a later date and in greater detail. He knew what was the in the Potter’s will and he knew they had not intended for Harry to be raised by the Dursleys. Why that wily old man had thought leaving a baby on a doorstep was a good idea was one of many things Sirius was going to get answers for.
But for now Sirius needed to rest and regain his strength. He had to admit that Megan was right about one thing; he needed to recover before meeting his godson for the first time since that dreadful night. If Harry could see him right now he might run in the opposite direction to escape from someone who he had no doubt looked like an Inferi.
Sirius climbed out of the guestroom bed and put on the muggle clothes that Megan had taken him to get yesterday on the way to her home. She had told the salesperson in the store that he had been attacked and had only just gotten out of hospital with nothing to his name but the clothes he was wearing. The store clerk had been very helpful in getting him set up with several different outfits. Sirius made a mental note to visit Diagon Alley as soon as he could and go to Gringotts to get some money to pay her back for the clothing and also to get himself some proper wizard clothes at Madame Malkins.
Sirius followed his nose into the kitchen and stopped in the doorway shocked. Standing at the stove was a woman though not the brunet he had been expecting. The woman had red hair that was hanging a little below her shoulders, but she was not Molly Weasley. Having had six children at time he had been sent to Azkaban had insured Molly was rather plump and for all he knew in the last ten years she might have had several more. As the woman’s head turned slightly showing him the profile he realised it was a familiar one that he had not seen in ten years. In fact the last time he had seen it was in Godric’s Hollow on October 31st.
“Lily!” He gasped.