Bones looked at him strangely, not knowing what to think of all this.
“Who are you really?” she asked out of curiosity. “I get it that you are not German to begin with.”
“Someone who has a genuine interest in getting Black a trial and out of prison, but I’m sorry I can’t tell you more at the moment…not here anyway. So do you want to help me with this and eventually getting back at the Minister for violating several laws?”
“Are you sure, that you can get her sacked properly? I don’t want it to backfire. Getting an innocent out of jail is one thing but offending the most powerful person in England…I don’t know.”
Salazar mused about that a few seconds.
“One question, who initially gave the order to imprison Black without a trial?” he finally asked.
“That was Ms. Bagnold” she answered after flipping through the case file pulling out the imprisonment paper.
The grin that now showed up on Salazar’s face told her that the Minister offended the wrong person. “Then she will be not only politically but also personally ruined before this day ends.”
Bones furrowed her brows. “I can only hope that you are correct. What do we have to do?”
“First we will need to make a small detour to my townhouse because I need to get changed. After that a visit at Azkaban is in order to give Black the proper questioning under Veritaserum. The last step will be a special speed trial at the Wizengamot” he casted a quick Tempus to check the time, it was short after noon. “If we are quick enough Black will be a free man this evening.”
She nodded. “I will send a message to Azkaban so that they will expect us. What about the members of the Wizengamot? Shall we inform them in advance?”
Salazar shook his head. “No, the less time they have to prepare themselves the better for us. Otherwise certain persons might come up with a strategy against us so better catching them off guard.”
Bones stood up and left the office for a few minutes to instruct her secretary to send out the message to Azkaban that they will arrive soon. She also gave him instructions to prepare a few things for the trial like making copies of the research results for the members of the Wizengamot without alerting anyone of the impending trial.
When she was ready she and Salazar left the office and went to the apparition point. Salazar then apparated them both straight to his town house.
Bagnold reached her office but instead of returning to the revision she had to do she started pacing her office the Black case running through her mind. She was very well aware about the fact that the man never got a hearing or a trial because at that time the evidence seemed to be waterproof and despite that several people had an genuine interest in getting that man out of the way. But now some unknown journalist came into her Ministry, threw around with evidence about the man’s innocence and even had the nerve to blackmail her. This was bad and she had to do something or otherwise she would be thrown out of her job before the weekend. So she sat down and wrote several letters.
When she finished, she called out for her secretary.
“Ms. Bagnold, what can I do for you?” the secretary who just entered asked.
“I need you to send those letters out as fast as possible. You also will bring me everything you are able to find on Herbert Stein a German journalist and please hurry up with it. I fear he means a lot of trouble.”
The secretary nodded before leaving the office in order to fulfil his duty.
They arrived in the entrance hall of his townhouse and Salazar motioned Bones to follow him to the study. There he took off his wig and contact lenses which he deposited in their case. He shook his hair before binding it together with a braid. Bones followed that with much interest.
“So who are you? I assume you can tell me now that we are no longer in the Ministry.”
“You are right but I’d prefer to keep my real name to myself for the moment. Not that I don’t trust you but let’s just say it comes with some major prejudice I want to avoid for now. But if you need to know a name for reference, Jack Hardinger” he replied.
She looked at him questioningly. Which name was so heavily prejudiced, that he didn’t want to tell her? She thought that through a bit more when recognition hit her with the name he gave her.
“Wait you mean Jack Hardinger who worked for the American Ministry about a decade ago as a hit wizard known for treating humans and creatures equally but chasing criminals mercilessly?” her eyes went wide.
She knew of Jack Hardinger through her work. Some colleagues who had been on a vacation in America told her about him and how he helped everyone in need but at the same time anyone who didn’t follow the law was hunted and brought before court. He hold one of the highest scores of legitimate arrests in America.
“I don’t care whether someone is a wizard, werewolf or vampire as long as they stay on the right side of the law and don’t hurt people. I hope you don’t have a problem with it.”
“No, no, but you seem a bit…young for being who you claim.”
Upon that Salazar started to laugh. “I can assure you that I’m older than I look.”
That was when suddenly a black cat rushed into the room through the open door and hid behind his desk. Shortly after Hadrian came rushing in completely oblivious to the two adults in the room. He chased after the cat who now bolted form under the desk to the opposite side and under the sofa in front of the fireplace. Salazar coughed slightly to get his attention which made Hadrian cringe.
He rose an eyebrow. “What do you think are you doing?”
“D-dad, I’m sorry I didn’t see you…I wanted to catch Midnight” he looked sheepishly at the floor looking like he was caught with the hand in the cookie jar.
“That much is obvious. You should know that chasing a cat never works” he crouched down and held out a hand towards the cat. “Cats are intelligent and self-reliant creatures and you can’t force them to do what you want. See? Treat them as the intelligent creature they are and you get results” the cat came out of her hiding and slowly approached Salazar eying him critically. “But the better question is since when do you have a cat?”
“Oh this isn’t mine, it’s Neville’s. His uncle bought her for him because he finally displayed magic. He brought her with him and we let her out in my room but then James opened the door and she ran out…we tried to catch her since.”
“Well you can let her roam the house but make sure she doesn’t get out into the street. There isn’t much traffic out there but it is enough that she might get run over by a car after all.”
His son gave him a short hug before running out of the room. The cat first looked cautiously after him but then seemed to decide that the chasing was over and quickly followed him.
Bones looked after the boy in confusion before realisation hit her.
“That was Harry Potter wasn’t it?” she gave Salazar a piercing look.
Salazar sighed. “Yes he is and yes I am the one who adopted him but how did you know?”
“I worked together with his father for years so what do you think? The only thing that confuses me is that he has no scar on his forehead. I’ve been told he has one in the shape of a lightning bolt.”
He flinched. “That’s because it vanished after he had a massive breakout of accidental magic. I can tell you more about it some other time but today I doubt we have the time.”
Just then James entered.
“Sal…oh hello ma’am, I didn’t know we have a visitor. I’m sorry, can I offer you something to drink?” he gave Salazar a scolding look for not informing him.
“Thank you for the offer but we have to leave in a few minutes so there will be not time for it” Bones answered.
James looked at Salazar who nodded before leaving again.
“Sal?” she gave him another questioning glance.
“Short form of my real name…I’d like to get changed for our visit at Azkaban and the trial after. Would you mind waiting here? It will take only a few minutes.”
Bones nodded and Salazar left the room. She went over to the bookshelves but she didn’t really look at the books.
It was the man who just left the room she was thinking about. She had the distinct feeling that she had all the needed parts of the puzzle the man was and that she would only have to arrange them correctly to come to the truth. So she started to sort the facts she knew in her head. The thing that bothered her the most was the name his butler let slip just a few minutes ago. The look said man gave him afterwards told her clearly that he didn’t want her to know it, not yet anyway.
So Sal, he said it was the short form of his real name but for what could it be the short form? The first name that came to her mind was Sally but he wasn’t a woman so that was out. It could be some strange foreign name but she had the feeling she knew him from somewhere and that he wasn’t from a different country.
She knew that thinking too hard about something wouldn’t help so she let her mind wander when something she read that morning came to her mind. The inheritance test from Harry Potter said something about him being the heir of Salazar Slytherin. Wait, Sal…Salazar the one could be the short form of the other but that was impossible wasn’t it? The man who left the study…how old could he be? Not older than thirty or thirty-five but Salazar Slytherin lived over thousand years ago. Yes wizards could get old, the oldest had been over three hundred years old if one didn’t count Nicolas Flamel who had the Philosopher’s Stone. But over thousand years? Could he have gotten his hands on another one? Then why did no one hear about it?
On the other hand the day taught her to not jump into conclusion without prove. So what prove did she have? She knew that normally Potter could never be the heir of Slytherin. The Potter line was in no way connected to the Slytherin line and his mother was a muggle born and therefore also couldn’t be related to Salazar Slytherin. So the only way for him becoming the heir would be adoption but the Slytherin line was assumed extinct with the death of You-know-who.
That was when she remembered something else. While she visited Hogwarts she came across a painting of Salazar Slytherin in the dungeons of the castle. Sure the man on it was much older, somewhere around eighty years old, grey hair, wrinkled skin and a bald head but his aura and whole demeanour…she was sure this man and the one she met today was one and the same but she had no concrete proof. It was really frustrating.
“What are you thinking about?” she was so deep in her thoughts that she hadn’t heard Salazar returning and now she flinched.
“Oh, I’m sorry I haven’t heard you. To be honest I was thinking about you” she replied after she took a deep breath to calm herself back down.
She noticed that his earlier black hair were now a dark brown shade and he seemed to look a bit older which only confirmed her the similarity between him and the painting at Hogwarts.
Salazar smiled. “And did you come to any conclusion?”
She narrowed her eyes because she felt like she was back at school and was about to write an exam. “Yes I did but unfortunately I have no evidence…only clues”
“Would you mind to share your thoughts with me even without having evidence?” he asked her in genuine interest.
She looked into his eyes and sighed before she finally started to talk.
“I think that you are Salazar Slytherin. First it is what you just said a few minutes ago about Sal being the short form of your true name and it would fit. It also would fit your fear of prejudice against you. The second thing is that I remember a painting in the dungeons of Hogwarts that shows you, or more an older version of you but it definitely looks like you and it radiates the same power and demeanour as you do. Last there is the thing with Harry Potter being the Heir of Slytherin. As far as I’m aware he is in no way directly connected to the Slytherin line and the only explanation for this could be an adoption through a member of said line. You are definitely not You-know-who and there is no other known descendant. There is only one thing I don’t really get…how comes it that you lived for over thousand years now?”
Salazar stood there arms crossed behind his back listening carefully. Now a smile formed on his face.
“I have to admit that you are very intelligent and pretty good in deductions. Not everyone would have been able to come to a conclusion with just that few hints which makes me wonder even more why you thought Black guilty even after looking into his case” she blushed upon that. “I assume that it is just one of those cases where one gets the answer to a question and just assumes that it is the right one without considering other options hence why I never went into a case with a suspect in mind right from the start. You tend to blend out any other possibility and only work to get proof for your suspicion.
To the result of your deduction…well I’m really Salazar Slytherin but in one thing you were wrong. Harry Potter is directly related to me. In fact he is my great grandson in 33rd generation” he went over to the bookshelf where he stored the scroll which contained Harry’s ancestry and gave it to Bones.
While she read it her eyes went wide.
“I hope that this won’t overshadow our cooperation to get Black out of jail and to be honest we should hurry up because of the appointment we have with him” he said after looking at the clock on the mantelpiece.
Bones thought about that. Would the information that he was Salazar Slytherin have impact on her ability to judge? No, definitely not. As she told him she served justice and not a person or his reputation and to be honest he was nowhere close to the man she would have imagined he would be.
“I don’t care much who you are. All that counts to me is what you do and how you act. You came into my office and proved the innocence of a man you don’t even know and should only half the reputation you gained as Jack Hardinger being true you’re a better man than Dumbledore could ever hope to be. That is all that matters to me” she replied. “The only thing I wonder at the moment is your change of hair colour and age.”
“Just a hair colouring and slight aging potion. An interesting fact about the wards against disguises at the Ministry is that they cancel any illusion charms or Polyjuice Potion. But in courtesy to the woman working there it doesn’t act upon beauty potions to which those potions count. So as long as you don’t change your real features you don’t have a problem.”
“But why did you then use a wig this morning?”
“Oh that was because of the hair length. I didn’t want to cut my hair and go through the trouble to regrow them again later so this was less trouble.”
She started to snicker, it seemed that Salazar was vain. “I understand and now let’s go.”
Salazar nodded before they together left the study and went to floo to a little house at the coast of England from where the boats left to Azkaban.
It took them about fifteen minutes of a hard boat ride before they reached the island the prison is placed upon. For about a minute until they reached it they started to feel the presence of the Dementors and it grew worse the nearer they got. The boat reached a small wooden boat house where the guard who awaited them, tied it up and they climbed out. It was the guard who then escorted them both to the main entrance of the fortress. He knocked, another guard opened and let them in.
“Welcome at Azkaban. Ms. Bones I got your message. You want to see Mr. Black? And who are you?” he directed the last question at Salazar.
“My name is Jack Hardinger” Bones gave him a curious look but didn’t ask. “I am here as the advocate of Mr. Black.”
“Okay then please follow me, we have a visitor room where you can meet with Mr. Black.”
They both followed the man to a side room. Salazar eyed the Patroni who patrolled the room critically, they were quite good but should the Dementors decide to attack them all together they would have a problem. Hopefully it would never come to that. When they reached the visitor room the guard motioned them to sit down and wait while he would get Mr. Black.
“You could have warned me that you would go by the name of Hardinger beforehand” Bones lend over to Salazar and whispered to him in order to not alarm the guard who was standing next to the door that lead to the rest of the prison.
“I’m sorry but I thought that was clear when I told you that name at my house” he replied with an equal low voice.
She only shook her head but said nothing more to that matter. It took about three minutes until the door next to the guard opened and two other guards escorted a third man with cuffs in and sat him on the other side of the table they were sitting at.
The man who was just brought in looked terrible. Four and a half year in Azkaban clearly took their toll. He was underfed, dirty and his face haggard and haunted. His eyes stared into the off.
“Hello Mr. Black I’m Amelia Bones Head of the DMLE and we are here to get you out of Azkaban” Bones introduced herself but Sirius didn’t give any reaction or sign that he was even aware of the two persons in front of him.
Salazar frowned and gave him a small mental nudge. Suddenly his eyes focused on them.
“Oh sorry I didn’t pay much attention to my surrounding for some time.”
It was one of his safety measurement against the Dementors to retreat into his own thoughts and let only his guilt floating to the surface. This way the nasty creatures couldn’t feed on him properly and he wasn’t fully aware of their presence.
Bones rose an eyebrow but didn’t comment on that.
“As I said I’m Ms. Bones Head of the DMLE and I’m here to get you out because new evidence reached me that proves you innocence.”
Sirius cocked his head in mild interest no wanting to get his hope up that he got out of here.
“New evidence? What took you so long to find them?” he snarled.
“I’m sorry it wasn’t even me who found them but a German journalist who approached me because of the inconsistencies in your case.”
“No offense, I think we can discuss those details once he is cleared of the charges but for now I have the feeling that we should hurry up because I fear otherwise certain individuals who want him in here will get to know about all this and might intervene” Salazar interrupted them.
“What do you mean by that and who are you anyway?” Sirius narrowed his eyes.
“My name is Jack Hardinger and I’m here to work as your advocate. For what I mean is that it is no coincident that you ended up in Azkaban without a trial. To me it seems that someone wanted you incapacitated and therefore unable to take up your duties as the godfather of Harry Potter and before you ask yes I know about it.”
“Hardinger…Hardinger, wait aren’t you an American auror? I heard about you” his eyes went wide, but before he could go on Salazar motioned him that this would also have to wait. ”But who would want to keep me from my duty as godfather of Harry. No one knows about it despite his parents who are dead, the Longbottoms who are in St. Mungo’s, Remus Lupin and Dumbledore. Not even Pettigrew knew about it and I doubt either Remus or Dumbledore would do that.”
“I’m afraid that you are wrong in one point. Albus Dumbledore was the one who placed Harry Potter with his aunt and uncle.”
His eyes went even wider than when Salazar introduced himself before his face went red in anger.
“You are lying. Why would Dumbledore do such a thing? He knew what Lily wanted for Harry and what her last will was and that was definitely not him being place with those…individuals” he barked out.
Salazar sighed. That could take time they hadn’t available but none the less he took out the article about Harry’s vanishing and gave it to the man. Sirius eyed him critically before he started to read it. He first went pale as a sheet before again he changed to red.
“That can’t be real, this must be a hoax” he shook his head.
“Mr. Black I know that you are loyal to Dumbledore but I can assure you this is real. If you promise to keep quite I show you something through Legilimens. I assure you I’m neither going to hurt you nor will I look into your mind.”
Again Sirius narrowed his eyes but finally nodded. He wasn’t in the position to prevent it anyway. So Salazar looked him into the eyes while showing him how he found Harry and what the results of the medical examination were, not the thing about Hadrian being a Horcrux though. Sirius took a sharp breath.
“If you want to you can talk to Ms. Pye once we got you out of here but for now you have to trust us with that.”
“Where is my godson now? It is not that I believe or trust you about Dumbledore but I need to know whether my godson is still there or not.”
“He is in safety and out of Dumbledores reach, Ms. Bones can confirm this” said woman nodded.
Sirius sighed in relief and leaned back, at least he was safe now.
“Ok, so what do we have to do to get me out of here?” as he had said he wouldn’t trust him but beggars can’t be choosers and at the moment that man was his only option to get out.
“First I need to question you under Veritaserum it makes things easier. After that we will call a special meeting of the Wizengamot to give you the trial you deserve. At that Mr. Hardinger will be your advocate and therefore represent you while I as the head of the DMLE will lead it. As Mr. Hardinger said some people don’t want you out of here but we are quite sure we can convince those who are neutral into your favour.”
“The thing is there are fifty-three seats at the Wizengamot. About eleven are empty at the moment because they belong to families who are thought extinct but never the less have a seat out of tradition, or because they are incapacitated at the moment. But I plan on reactivating the seat the Potters have by placing a substitute there. Up to the day Harry vanished this substitute was Dumbledore but since I don’t trust him to vote in our favour and since he no longer has the right to be his substitute I’ll place one there I trust and who has the right to vote for him.
That makes forty-three members who are empowered to vote which means we need twenty-two votes in our favour. I know of at least thirteen who will vote in our favour but the problem will be to convince nine other.”
“And who will be those thirteen?” Sirius wondered.
“Well as I said the Potters, then the Longbottoms, Malfoys, Mr. Bones, as well as several other families who are not in favour of Ms. Bagnold as the Minister because she is known to be firmly in Dumbledore’s pocket.”
“I don’t think that the Malfoys will vote in my favour…they hate me.”
“Oh, they will. They might hate you but you are the Lord of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black and your title is more valuable to them then their hate especially if they think it gets them into good books with you.”
Sirius hummed upon that. He didn’t want to admit it but the man was right. For a long time he despised his connection to the House of Black but now it would be very valuable. Many thought that because he ran away he had no idea how all the intrigues worked but they were wrong. He only didn’t want to be part of it as long as it wasn’t necessary.
“You’re right, most of the darker families will. I hope you know how to sway around the other needed nine votes because I don’t really know who at the moment is sitting in the Wizengamot next to the obvious ones and where their loyalties lie.”
“Don’t worry about it. I know how to convince them and now let’s go on with the Veritaserum. Time is running and I’d like to be through with this today. The less time the others have to prepare themselves the easier it is for us” Salazar motioned Bones to continue.
She picked up her bag, took out a vial with crystal clear liquid in it and also parchment and a, from the Ministry approved, dictation quill in order to get a transcription from the questioning. When she was ready she went over to Sirius and gave him three drops of the liquid.
“Okay, let’s get started. As a test: My name is Amelia Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement” she looked at the parchment and nodded in approval.
“What is your name?”
“Sirius Black” he answered.
“Have you been the secret keeper of the Potter family?”
“No that was Peter Pettigrew. James and I decided that I would be the too obvious choice as the secret keeper and so we switched it to him. We thought that Remus was the one who wasn’t to be trusted and that Pettigrew was loyal to us. No one else was informed about it despite Dumbledore.”
“So you didn’t give away the place the Potter family hid to the Dark Lord?” she wanted to make clear.
“No, I wouldn’t have been able to do so.”
“Okay, did you blow up the street and killed twelve muggles with it?”
“No, I admit that I was blinded with rage when I got to know that Pettigrew betrayed us and that I chased after him but when I finally found him he started to panic. He then blew up the street, cut off one of his fingers and transformed into his animagus form, he is an unregistered rat Animagus. After that he went into hiding and I have no idea where he is now.”
Bones nodded, that was exactly the same as what Salazar told her earlier.
“Then why did you laugh maniacally and shouted that you killed the Potters when the Aurors arrived?” that wasn’t a vital information for the case but she was curious about that.
Sirius sighed before he replied. “I was the one who suggested to make Pettigrew the secret keeper in the first place. After all that happened that day…” his last words were mere whispers.
She looked at the transcript, knowing fully well what he meant. It had been a break down after all the stress and the death of his best friends.
“Good, I’ll give you the antidote and then we will transfer you to a prison cell in the Ministry where you will be given the opportunity to have a shower and receive some clothes to wear in front of the Wizengamot” she put away the parchment and quill and was about to take out the antidote when Sirius waved her off.
“No need for the antidote, the effect of the Veritaserum should wear off soon on itself.”
She shrugged and put the phial back into her bag. Salazar on the other hand observed Sirius closely. Through the entire questioning the man underwent quite the change. While he at first was a broken man there now sat a man who dared to hope again. His face cleared up and the eyes showed a fire that had been buried for a long time.
“Before we leave there is one last thing. I know it will be hard for you but should you agree it would make things much easier. The thing is I plan on suggesting to the Wizengamot that in case they vote in you favour you will be placed in St. Mungo’s for some time in order to check your health because of the time you were here at Azkaban. This will also include that you won’t be able to see Harry until the healer gives his approval.”
Sirius thought that through. Yes he desperately wanted to see his godson and make sure he is okay but he knew staying over four years at Azkaban left his traces on him. Whether he wanted it or not assuring the court that he would stay away from their beloved saviour until he was confirmed to be no danger to him should calm them down and turn them in his favour so he nodded even if sadly.
“I arranged that you will be under the care of the same healer who treated Harry recently. This should speed things up a bit but it might never the less take a few days before you are allowed to meet him” on that he perked up a bit.
Bones waved the guard that stood at the door the entire time and told him about the procedure. She would escort Black together with him to the Ministry where he will receive the trial. The guard nodded before giving further instructions to the other guards. After that the four of them took the boat to the coast from where they apparated back to the Ministry.
On the way to the Ministry holding cells Salazar spoke up.
“I will stay with Black until the trial will take place because I fear that either the Minister or others who don’t want him free might try something. So send out the signal for it as quick as possible.”
She eyed him critically but nodded before casting a quick Tempus Charm, it was shortly after five in the afternoon.
“How are you contacting the substitute for Mr. Potter then?”
“Oh don’t worry he will be there. I left him a message before we left for Azkaban” he just replied.
James knew what he would have to do, they talked about the possibility beforehand so that he was able to get in quickly without any further ado. When he receives the message for the meeting he will sit in for the Potters. Salazar wrote him a confirmation signed with John Smith so that everything was legal.
Now the three escorted Sirius to the Ministry holding cells which are right next to the court rooms in the lowest level of the Ministry. They went there with a special elevator installed for especially such means so that they hadn’t to use the official ones. It took them about ten minutes before Sirius was in a cell there and Bones went to her office in order to call out for the Wizengamot members. In the meantime Sirius got the opportunity to have a shower and one of the Aurors brought him a plain black robe to wear. Salazar stayed with him the entire time in respectful distance. About half an hour later Sirius sat in his cell while Salazar lend against the wall opposite of the cell arms crossed before his chest.
“I still can’t believe that Dumbledore is supposed to be the one who wants me in Azkaban” he murmured.
Salazar groaned. “I suggest that you observe him closely during the trial. He is quite proficient with hiding his emotions but I don’t doubt that you’ll be able to look through it.”
“If what you said is true he was able to fool me for fifteen years now…” he shook his head.
“Only because you never doubted him but now you know that he might not be the man you think he is. As I said just observe him during the trial and it will be obvious.”
This was when the door to the corridor opened and Bones entered.
“Everyone arrived and the trial will start in five minutes” she declared.
“I have to sit in, you’ll be escorted in by two Aurors then.”
Salazar and Sirius nodded, Sirius suddenly got quite nervous.
“Calm down, everything will work out in our favour.”
“You know I lost hope of ever getting out of Azkaban over three years ago but now…” he rubbed his face before he stood up and paced in front of the cell door while waiting for the Aurors to arrive.
It took a few more minutes and the two guards arrived to escort him to court. Sirius took a quick look in the direction of Dumbledore before he had to sit down in the chair in the centre and was bound to it with magical chains that not only supressed his magic but also were unbreakable. Salazar stopped right next to him while the guards took place next to the door after finishing. Dumbledores mien darkened but he quickly regained his indifferent composure. Sirius saw that and rose an eyebrow.
“Might anyone please explain what this is all about?” the voice of Bagnold echoed through the courtroom.
Bones stood up and picked up a piece of parchment before speaking.
“Dear members of the Wizengamot, I apologize for the sudden calling of a trial but some disturbing information reached my office which made an instant acting necessary. You all know what Lord Sirius Black, Head of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black is accused of. Treason against the Potter family and murder of Peter Pettigrew as well as twelve muggles in coincidence with a breaking of the International Statute of Secrecy. Unfortunately evidence reached me that he in fact is innocent.”
Upon that revelation a gasp went through the rows of the courtroom followed by excited whispering. Dumbledores face again darkened this time even more visibly while the Minister threw the two man in the centre a gaze of pure hatred.
“His advocate Mr. Hardinger will explain it to you” she continued after the ruckus died down.
“Thank you very much. Dear Ladies and Gentleman, my name is Jack Hardinger former Auror under the American Ministry and I’m here to prove Mr. Blacks innocence to you.”
He just wanted to start his speech when suddenly Dumbledore stood up.
“So Mr. Hardinger, you are not a Ministry approved counsellor?” he asked.
Salazar turned to him and narrowed his eyes. “I didn’t know that this would be necessary” he just replied.
“Any counsellor who defends an accused person in front of the Wizengamot has to be Ministry approved” Dumbledore replied with a smirk.
Now Salazar started to grin. “Article 128, section 5, subsection c of the Wizengamot Court Rules instated in 1585: any person accused of a crime and tried in front of the Wizengamot can state any person he sees fit as his/her counsellor. There is no word in it about said counsellor has to be ministry approved since the Ministry didn’t exist at that time.”
“Article 54, section 1 of the English Wizarding Law instated 1828: Any counsellor acting in an official business within England has to be approved by the Ministry” Dumbledore countered.
Salazar rose an eyebrow. Did that man really want to play the game “who knows the law”? Fine with him.
“Oh now it gets interesting. Article 4 of the English Wizarding Law instated 1707 when the Ministry was founded: In case a new law contradicts an already existing law without disabling the older law first the new found law is rendered null and void while the old law remains active. It’s on the first page of said law book so look it up if you don’t believe me” he added after seeing the incredulous look on the man’s face.
Bones waved one of the court assistant to bring her a copy of said books and a few minutes later she nodded.
“He is right, not only about the Court Rules but also about the newer law being rendered inactive” she finally told the court with a smirk.
It seemed that Dumbledore had a hard time to reign in his anger. He somehow tried to get rid of Salazar to either defend Sirius himself therefore gaining a debt from him when he got him out, or he wanted to sabotage him so that he had to stay in Azkaban. Either way he didn’t put into mind that this Mr. Hardinger might knew the law better than he himself so he tried something.
Salazar felt someone probing his mind and quickly got to know that it was Dumbledore. His first thought was blocking him out when he had a better idea. He let him roam his mind freely leading him to the impression that he had no Occlumency shields but in the meanwhile he only showed him what he wanted the man to see. This was in especially scenes with Harry which gave no indications about where the boy is. His final image was that of how Harry called him “dad” for the first time teasing him even more. When he was done he blocked out the man before looking him straight into the eyes with a smile all the while discussing several more laws with the man who tried to get him sacked.
That was when it was the last straw for Bagnold.
“Mr. Black was thrown into Azkaban because he is guilty and this is nothing you can change. He even admitted that he killed the Potters right at the crime scene.”
Salazar looked at her in curiosity. “But do you have any hard evidence for his guilt?” he asked in return.
“The crime scene was evidence enough and as I said he even admitted his guilt and confessed right then and there” her anger showing clearly on her face.
“So you admit that you threw a man not to mention the head of an Ancient and Most Noble House into Azkaban without any concrete proof of his guilt except the rambling of a man who just lost his best friends and got to know the betrayal of another good friend and that you would do it again now?” he never would have thought that it was so easy to get Sirius out.
“Do I have to repeat myself? The crime scene was evidence enough and yes I would do it again” she nearly shouted which let Dumbledore pinch the bridge of his nose and Salazar started to laugh.
“I have to thank you Minister Bagnold because you just made my life a lot easier and rendered this whole trial null and void. You know there is a nice little law to prohibit persecution of single persons active since 1503. Article 13 Section 1 of the Wizengamot Court Rules: A person can only be sentenced to prison when his guilt is proved. In case said person is sentenced to prison without concrete proof deliberately or a person tries to do so against given proof of innocence the whole case is nullified and the person cannot be brought to court for the same accusations again.
The thing is I couldn’t push this law until now because I never had any official proof that you did it deliberately but you testimony right now changed that.”
Bagnold’s face went even redder after that. “I never said that I threw him into jail deliberately.”
“No? I know for a fact that you know since this morning with concrete proof that Mr. Black is innocent, Ms. Bones can confirm it. But you just said that you would throw him into Azkaban again. If you insist I can repeat what you got to know for the court.
Sirius Black is the magical bound godfather of Harry James Potter and I have an official Gringotts document confirming this. Despite that he wasn’t even the secret keeper. So there is no possible way he could have betrayed the Potters because he would be long dead. It also was physically impossible for him to blow up the street, kill Peter Pettigrew and twelve muggles with the evidence left at the crime scene as they are. I don’t want to bore the court with details now but anyone who wants to know them ask the court assistants they have copies of the research results which prove it. On top of that confirmed Mr. Black during a questioning under Veritaserum this fact and told us that it was Peter Pettigrew who committed all those crimes before hiding in his animagus form, a rat” he now smiled broadly.
After that statement the whole Wizengamot was so silent that you could hear a needle fall before everyone started to talk to each other. Bagnold was white as a sheet when she called the court to order.
“Ms. Bones is that correct?”
Said woman started to leaf through the respective book before she nodded.
“Yes he again is perfectly right, you just nullified this trial and Sirius Black is a free man” she couldn’t hide a smile upon that.
“There is something else” he interrupted them.
“What more is there?” Bagnold knew she was politically dead but now there was supposed to be even more? Salazar’s predatory smile didn’t infuse any confidence that he would let her of the hook that easily.
“Article 327, Section 5, Subsection b of the English Wizarding Law instated 1842: The Head of an established House can only be imprisoned for one week without a trial.
Subsection c of the same Section: Should the Head of an established House being held longer than the given week without a trial a compensation of one hundred Galleons per week has to be paid by the person who imprisoned him/her without trial.
Since he was imprisoned for about four and a half years without a trial this would make around 23500 Galleons of compensation to be paid by Minister Bagnold since it was her order to imprison him without trial” everyone could hear the rustling of paper before Bones confirmed the said.
Sirius looked at Salazar wide eyed. Not only had the man proven his innocence and gotten him out of jail without even the need of a vote but now he would also be compensated for being imprisoned falsely. This was more than he ever hoped for.
Bagnold on the other hand gulped visibly getting a bit green around the nose. She was ruined not only politically but also personally. Her income up to date was 175 Galleons per month and she owned a vault with about fifteen thousand Galleons. Since she couldn’t hope to be employed after that catastrophe…
Bones saw that she was unable to continue leading the court and therefore took over.
“Since that entire case has been nullified is Mr. Black cleared of any accusations against his person and is to be released immediately. He will be compensated for his false imprisonment with 23.300 Galleons to be paid by Ms. Bagnold. Any objections?” she looked around the court but no one rose his voice and only Dumbledore looked as if he swallowed an especially sour drop.
She waved the two guards to release the man. “Are there any more matters to be addressed Mr. Black, Mr. Hardinger?”
Both men shook their head.
“Good, this trial is hereby closed. Good evening” she slammed down the gavel in front of her.
The entire Wizengamot instantly went into a state of chaos. People stood up, went to others and started conversations about what just happened. The only one who left instantly was Albus Dumbledore. He turned around and went straight out of the court room without even looking at Sirius. Bagnold on the other hand seemed to pray that the ground would open and swallow her.
Sirius stood up stretching his legs before turning around to Salazar.
“I really have to thank you. You not only managed to get me out of jail you even got the Minister to pay me compensation for my time at Azkaban and I even don’t know you” he stated supressing tears.
“First I didn’t do this for either you or me but for Harry. He deserves a life with a family who loves and cares for him. I assume you did as I suggested and observed Dumbledore during the trial?”
Sirius nodded while his face darkened.
“When I now think about it I don’t know how that man was able to fool me for this long time” he sighed. “But that lies in the past now. The only thing I want now is to see my godson.”
“That’s the second thing. You shouldn’t thank me yet…” Sirius rose an eyebrow. “For once I would ask you to stay at St. Mungo’s for at least one night. It is not because I want to stop you from meeting your godson or because I think you are dangerous but you stayed at Azkaban for over four years and that took its toll, if not mentally then definitely physically. A night of good sleep and a medical check would do you good.”
Sirius nodded. He didn’t want to admit it but he was exhausted and who knows what the malnutrition over the years did to him not to mention the missing hygiene and the constant exposure to the Dementors.
“Good and the other thing…well there are a few things you need to know before meeting Harry if only so that you don’t hurt him with an inconsiderate comment and there are also a few things about myself that might let you see me in a light you won’t like.”
This was the last thing which could go wrong now that Sirius wasn’t able to look past the name and was so blinded with prejudice that they couldn’t get to an arrangement. Salazar didn’t want to think about what that would do to his son.
“I hardly doubt that there is anything that could change my view of you that drastically. You saved my life for Merlin’s sake” he shook his head with a grin before a yawn took over. “But you are right a bed at St. Mungo’s sounds like a very good idea right now.”
Right at that time Bones approached them.
“You know that you just made my life a lot harder?” she accused Salazar, but the smile on her face told everyone, that she was only half serious.
“I know and I’m sorry. I would have warned you but after Ms. Bagnold offered me the entire case on a silver plate…I never thought she would be that…stupid” he shrugged.
“Well I now have to check every case upon airtight proof. I just hope that there are not more procedural errors in other cases especially those of the really dangerous persons” she sighed.
“Should you have problems with any of them I would gladly help solving them. You know that I have my resources and as long as it helps keeping those peoples in I will help as good as I can.”
“Thank you, I think I’ll come back to that offer” with that she wished them goodbye and went back to work.
Sirius and Salazar were on their way to the elevators when they were approached by a man with long blond hair.
“Hello Mr. Hardinger, Lord Black, I wanted to compliment you to the possibly most interesting acquittal in recent history. I wonder how it comes that an American hit wizard is so firm in British Wizarding Law. You managed to find laws even I didn’t know about.”
“And you are?” Salazar rose an eyebrow. He knew very well who that man is but he didn’t like his arrogance.
“Oh I’m sorry, my name is Lucius Malfoy, Head of the House of Malfoy” the man replied while holding out his hand which Salazar shook.
“Nice to meet you Mr. Malfoy but we now have to leave. Mr. Black has an appointment and we are already late. Have a nice evening” he nodded coolly. Luckily he was there as Mr. Hardinger and therefore hadn’t to pretend liking that man.
They just arrived at the elevators when the door of one opened and a man came out. He was one of the court assistants.
“Sir, if I were you I won’t go through the entrance hall of the Ministry. It seems that somehow the media got wind of the trial and now the entire floor is flooded with journalists who want to get an official statement” the assistant told them.
“Damned, I hoped they would take a bit longer. Is there another possibility to get out of here without having to pass them?” Sirius looked quite pale now and he started to sway a bit so he wanted to get him out and to St. Mungo’s as fast as possible.
“Sure down here in the guard office of the cell block is a secured floo connection you could use. If you would follow me please.”
Luckily right then James managed to fight his way through to them.
“Ah, Sir, I’m glad I found you. Congratulations on this marvellous victory.”
Salazar motioned the assistant to wait for a minute. ”James you arrive just at the right time. Mr. Black this is James Finnigan my butler and the person I instated as Harrys substitute. James, this is Sirius Black” he introduced the men.
They both shook hands. “Nice to meet you Mr. Finnigan but I would like to get out of here. I’m getting a bit dizzy.”
“James would you please escort Mr. Black to St. Mungo’s? Unfortunately I have to take care of a pack of journalists waiting in the main hall of the Ministry before they think about printing false news. This assistant will lead you to a chimney from where you can floo there.”
Sirius looked at him questioningly but wasn’t able to ask because he suddenly swayed so much that he nearly fell down. It was only Salazar’s and James’ quick reaction that they were able to catch him.
“Please hurry up he needs rest” James nodded and was about to follow the assistant while supporting Sirius so that he won’t fall again when suddenly four men stood in front of them.
“Mr. Finnigan, Mr. Hardinger, you are arrested immediately” was the only thing they said.