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Chapter 1: The Price of Redemption
As always, that which you recognize belongs to JK Rowling
Hagrid dipped his oversized, ragged comb in the grease drippings he had borrowed from the kitchen elves and ran it through his long, scraggly hair one last time. Dressing up had never been his stock in trade. The last time he tried was for Bill and Fleur’s wedding. He fondly recalled his great, hairy suit, which had been damaged beyond repair as he helped to fight the first wave of Death Eaters so the wedding guests could escape. He had tried his best to fix it up, but most of the holes were caused by dark magic and his spells did nothing to close them. The tattered remains had been lost along with most of the rest of his possessions while the Death Eaters controlled the school.
He stepped in front of the great window of his sitting room to study his reflection. He admired the fit of his new dress robes against the backdrop of the thickly-shaded forest. They were a gift from Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny, and he was sure they had cost a fat sack of galleons. Making them had probably used up every yard of fabric in Madam Malkin’s storeroom. George and Charlie had given him a new pocket watch which looked suspiciously like a small wall clock on a silver chain. Bill and Fleur completed the ensemble with a silk necktie in a dignified red and grey pattern. Hagrid supposed that it must have come from Paris. Although it was entirely too narrow and far too delicate to wipe the corners of his mouth, he genuinely appreciated the gesture. His old, yellow tie had almost certainly met the same fate as his suit.
There was little left of his hut after the war, so he gratefully accepted Professor McGonagall’s invitation to take quarters inside the castle. While they were rebuilding the sections damaged in the battle, it had been little trouble to expand and furnish one of the old larders to accommodate him. At times he missed the privacy of his secluded corner of the school grounds, but he found that proximity to the kitchen more than made up for it.
There was a crisp knock at his chamber door, and he set his comb down and crossed the room to unbolt the door. Even living under the protective enchantments of the castle, there were certain habits he found hard to break.
“Minerva! Please, come in!” He smiled at the headmistress and moved his great bulk to the side, offering her a path into the room.
“Thank you, Rubeus, but we really must be going. It wouldn’t do to be late,” Minerva chided him gently. She took in the full effect of his outfit and smiled warmly. “Your new outfit is impeccable. My complements to your tailor.”
“Ah, thank ye,” he replied. “Harry, Ron, Hermione and an’ Ginny got ‘em for me.”
“Well you look splendid,” she said, “but we must hurry.”
Hagrid took one last furtive look into the window and followed her out the door, bolting it behind him.
They had almost reached the castle entrance when a familiar voice called out from behind them. “Hagrid! Wait!”
They turned to find Ginny Weasley sprinting towards them. She slid to a stop in front of him, panting from the exertion.
“Miss Weasley, aren’t you supposed to be in class?” Minerva asked sternly.
“Yes... Professor,” she huffed between breaths. The look on her face was neither ashamed nor defiant, merely accepting of her fate.
“Well, then” the headmistress replied quietly as her expression softened, “I suggest you get back there as soon as you’ve said whatever it is that you so urgently need to tell Professor Hagrid.”
Ginny finally caught her breath and looked into his dark eyes. “I wish that I could come with you today. I’ll just have to settle for wishing you good luck. Nobody deserves this more than you.”
Hagrid bent down on one knee and pulled her into a smothering hug, causing her to completely disappear from view. His eyes were damp when he finally released her and held her at arm’s length. “Thank ye, Ginny. And thank ye for the robes. Now run along to class like the headmistress says.”
They watched her disappear down the corridor and turned back towards the entrance. “Heart o’ gold, that one,” he mused. “Harry’s dead lucky ta have ‘er.”
As soon as they reached the edge of the school grounds, Minerva offered him her arm. Side-along apparition with a half-giant was a daunting feat for any witch or wizard, requiring the utmost concentration. She took a long, careful look at him, studying his position and dimensions, and then she turned. Hagrid felt his world collapse and the tremendous pressure seemed to crush his massive bulk to the size of a teacup. He struggled to find a breath as everything spun and contorted around him. As suddenly as it began, it was over and he landed uneasily on the street outside the Ministry of Magic. Professor McGonagall caught him in a levitating charm just as he was about to collapse onto his backside.
“Thanks,” he offered weakly as he regained his balance. There was a good reason why he almost never traveled by apparition. Soon, he mused, he might be able to do it on his own.
They entered the Ministry atrium and found Harry, Ron and Hermione waiting by the fountain. Harry and Ron both cut striking figures in their newly-tailored Auror robes. The department was badly depleted in the aftermath of the war, and had eagerly snapped up both of them, waiving the N.E.W.T. requirement. Hermione had started her career in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, and she was already lobbying hard to change the department’s name to something less oppressive.
“Hagrid!” they shouted in unison as he exited the lift. They all rushed to him and Hermione greeted him with a big hug that reached almost halfway around his leg. He patted their heads and shoulders warmly, giving them a huge smile.
“Ah, it’s so nice of ya all ta be ‘ere with me today.”
“You know we wouldn’t miss it,” Harry replied with a smile. Hagrid couldn’t help recalling the crying baby he had plucked from the rubble of a ruined house in Godric’s Hollow. What a man that boy had grown to become. Kind, loving and braver than he could find the words to explain.
They made their way to the main lifts and descended to Level Nine. From there, they took the steps down to Wizengamot Courtroom Number Six. Along the way, they encountered Arthur Weasley, who had made his way down from his office. Hestia Jones and Dedalus Diggle were already waiting in the spectator gallery, along with Bill and Fleur Weasley and Andromeda Tonks. Harry, Hermione, Ron and Minerva all offered Hagrid their well wishes and took seats near the others. Hagrid made his way to the front of the room but the only seats in the docket were far too small for him, so he merely stood, towering above everything else in the room.
Moments later, Kingsley Shacklebolt strode into the room, looking very courtly with his bald head and purple robes. The newly appointed Minister of Magic was being followed by his personal secretary and two department heads, all jockeying for a few moments of his attention. As soon as he saw Hagrid standing awkwardly before the dais, he dismissed the small entourage and quickly made his way to the front. Kingsley enlarged one of the chairs with a wave of his wand, motioning for Hagrid to sit.
Hagrid smiled gratefully at Kingsley. He still felt in awe that the Minister would take time out of his schedule to personally present his case to the Wizengamot. Hagrid tried to insist that Kingsley must have more important things to be doing, but the Minister had waved the concerns away with his customary poise and graciousness. “I owe this to Albus,” he explained simply.
Moments later, the gallery stilled as the members of the Wizengamot began to file into the room. All eyes were on the half-giant before them as they took their seats. Some regarded Hagrid with curious fascination, while others appeared disdainful. Some betrayed no feelings at all, stone-faced. Hagrid noticed that nearly all of the seats on the dais were taken. Dumbledore had once mentioned to him that it was very unusual for the entire body to convene for a single hearing. Kingsley obviously had their attention.
With the Minister of Magic acting as counsel, the Head of Magical Law presided over the hearing in his place. Erasmus Burnstock was also new to the council, having been appointed to replace the puppet installed by Voldemort after the murder of Amelia Bones. He rapped the gavel on the podium.
“This session of the Wizengamot shall come to order,” he announced. “This hearing has been called to hear final arguments in the matter of the petition for reinstatement by Rubeus Hagrid, currently the Professor of Magical Creatures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
Hagrid forced himself to sit up a little straighter. He hated hearing his name called in this room. It made him feel as though he was being accused of something terrible.
“As noted in the record, Mr. Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts in nineteen forty-two after it was determined that a dangerous magical creature he was illicitly keeping inside the castle had injured a number of his fellow students and caused the death of a young witch. At that time, this council forbade Mr. Hagrid from practising magic and it was ordered that he should never be qualified as a wizard. His wand was destroyed and he assumed the position of Hogwarts gamekeeper at the discretion of then Headmaster Armando Dippet.”
Hagrid flinched as he recalled that day. He never knew quite why Dippet had allowed him to stay, but he was dead certain that Dumbledore had something to do with it. Even then, people had a tendency to defer to Dumbledore’s judgment.
Burnstock continued with the formalities of the hearing. “Comes now Mr. Hagrid before this court, represented by the honourable Kingsley Shacklebolt, Minister of Magic, to petition that the order banning him from becoming a qualified wizard and practising magic be vacated. In support of this petition, Mr. Hagrid has offered the following:
“First, that the death and injuries that occurred at Hogwarts in nineteen forty-two were not caused by Mr. Hagrid or any creature within his control. Instead, they were the result of the so-called Chamber of Secrets being opened by fellow student Tom Marvolo Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort, the Dark Lord, or He Who Must Not Be Named. Mr. Riddle freed a very dangerous creature known as a basilisk from the Chamber and used it to commit the acts for which Mr. Hagrid was expelled.
“Second, that Mr. Hagrid’s subsequent services to the wizarding world merit reconsideration of his case. Specifically, Mr. Hagrid was a member of the organization known as the Order of the Phoenix. Under the leadership of former Head Warlock Albus Dumbledore, the Order acted to thwart both attempts by Lord Voldemort to overthrow the Ministry of Magic and install himself as the ruler of Wizarding Britian.
“Mr. Hagrid has proffered the sworn statements of several witnesses in support of his petition. First, Mr. Elphias Doge, Special Advisor to the Wizengamot, testified to Mr. Hagrid’s involvement in the First Wizarding War.
“Next, Arthur Weasley, the newly appointed Head of the Department of Muggle Affairs, testified to Mr. Hagrid’s role in the recently concluded Second Wizarding War. In particular, Mr. Weasley described Mr. Hagrid’s bravery in helping Harry Potter escape from Lord Voldemort in the skies over Little Whinging.”
“Minerva McGonagall, recently appointed Headmistress of Hogwarts, offered testimony on Mr. Hagrid’s actions in both wars, as well as his exemplary service to the school, first as the gamekeeper and then as Professor of Magical Creatures.
“Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, this court heard the testimony of Auror Trainee Harry Potter. Mr. Potter testified to his direct knowledge of Tom Riddle’s activities while a student at Hogwarts. This knowledge was derived from a number of stored memories shared with Mr. Potter by the late Albus Dumbledore as well as a telepathic connection between Mr. Potter and Lord Voldemort resulting from the Dark Lord’s failed attempt to kill Mr. Potter as a young child.”
A low murmur arose from the gallery at the mention of Harry’s testimony, and Burnstock allowed it to die down before continuing. “At this time, the distinguished members of the Wizengamot are invited to ask whatever questions they may have prior to the petitioner making his closing statement.”
Kingsley waited patiently for the questions to begin. Many of the Wizengamot members appeared to be consulting the transcripts of the witness testimony or their own notes. Finally, a middle-aged witch with dark hair and spectacles was recognized by the chair. Kingsley was pleased. Josephia Teathon was known to be one of the most progressive, forward-thinking members of the body.
“Mr. Hagrid, you’ve stated for the record that Albus Dumbledore sent you on a number of missions prior to his death. Could you please explain why Dumbledore sent you to seek out the giants living near Minsk?”
Hagrid paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. “Well, see, Dumbledore knew that Voldemort would try an’ get the giants ta come over ta his side, you see? The giants are none too fond of wizards ta begin with, on account o’ the wars an’ bein’ banished from most o’ Europe. So Dumbledore had it figured that Voldemort would get ‘em to fight on his side, promisin’ ‘em more territory an’ lots o’ gold. An’ Dumbledore was right, not that he could get Fudge ta do somethin’ about it. So Madam Maxine -- she’s the headmistress of Beaubatons an’ half-giant, herself -- she an’ I went ta Minsk ta try ta make ‘em see reason. Voldemort might o’ promised ‘em a lot of stuff, but he hated ‘em just like he hated everybody that’s not a pure blood wizard.
“We had a good thing goin’ with Karkus -- he was their Gurg, ya see? That’s their leader,” Hagrid continued. “But Macnair, he beat us to tha punch. Convinced a bigger giant named Golgomath ta overthrow Karkus and bring tha giants over ta Voldemort’s side. Olympe an’ I, we had ta high-tail it outta there, ‘fore they could kill us, too.”
“Thank you, Mr. Hagrid,” she replied, nodding approvingly.
Kingsley breathed a quiet sigh of relief. He and Arthur had spent many hours sitting with Hagrid, going over the questions he was likely to face. Hagrid’s visit with the giants had been a closely-held secret of the Order, so Kingsley wasn’t surprised to hear the Wizengamot members digging for details.
The next question came from a bald wizard who wore a patch over one eye and was listening to the proceedings with the help of an ear horn. “Mr. Hagrid, could you please explain how it is that you’ve been able to teach lessons at Hogwarts without using any magic?”
Kingsley smiled inwardly. They had spent lots of time rehearsing the answer to this particular question. “Well, there are certain advantages ta bein’ built a bit larger than average,” Hagrid began, indicating the dimensions of his massive frame with his hands. “Fer most wizards, wrestlin’ a graphorn or a hippogriff back inta their pen can’t really be done without magic, but me, I jus’ kinda take it in stride. If I ever really get inta a fix, one o’ tha other teachers can always help me out.”
Several other members asked factual questions about various aspects of Hagrid’s service in the war as well as his tenure at Hogwarts, all constructive in nature. Eventually, the lack of hostile questions began to make Kingsley nervous. He was well aware of a faction within the Wizengamot that still held with the ideals of blood purity, at least privately. Since Hagrid’s mother was a giant, he would always be unfit to hold a wand in their eyes. The fact that he had lost that right based on fabricated evidence and lies was merely an inconvenient detail to be disregarded.
Kingsley had been quietly making inquiries and counting votes since well before the hearings. He knew that he could count on the progressive faction of the Wizengamot, who numbered twenty-two. The conservative faction, who would almost certainly vote in opposition, numbered a solid twenty-four. That left seven swing votes, of which Hagrid needed five. Kingsley found it both curious and troubling that the conservative faction was asking nothing that might sway the opinions of the undecided members. He stole a glance toward Elphias Doge, who sat in a small section to the side of the main dais that was reserved for advisors and other dignitaries. Doge also appeared unsettled. His flinty eyes were carefully surveying the faces of the members.
Soon the questions were exhausted and Burnstock turned back towards Kingsley. “The petitioner will now deliver his closing statement.” Kingsley caught Doge’s eyes, and the elderly wizard shook his head ever so slightly.
Kingsley rose and addressed the chair. “In light of several questions posed by the honourable members, the petitioner humbly requests a recess. Two hours should be more than adequate.”
A loud murmur arose from both the gallery and the dais. After permitting it to go on for a few moments, Burnstock lightly rapped his gavel to call for order. “Minister, this is most... unusual. I believe the members were in general agreement that we would be able to conclude this case before lunch and proceed with the rest of the day’s agenda.”
“With all due respect,” Kingsley replied, “the issues raised will require changes to our closing statement. I’m afraid I must insist.”
Burnstock stared back uncomfortably. Behind him, the Wizengamot members tutted quietly in frustration. But in front of him, his new boss stared him down with grim determination.
“The petitioner is granted a recess of one hour,” Burnstock declared. “This hearing is adjourned until that time.” He banged his gavel and the room erupted into dozens of low conversations.
“Stay here,” Kingsley said firmly to Hagrid. On his way to the courtroom doors, he caught Harry, Ron and Hermione at their seats. “Ron, Hermione, could I prevail upon the two of you to keep Hagrid company during the recess? There is much to be done, and I’d appreciate whatever help you could provide in keeping his spirits up.”
“Of course,” Hermione replied, looking concerned. She took Ron by the hand and led him to the docket, forcing a happy smile.
“Harry, Minerva, you’re with me,” Kingsley said, turning back towards the exits. They struggled to keep up as the Minister strode rapidly out of the courtroom.
Doge was already waiting for them when they reached the hallway. Kingsley motioned them all towards a vacant courtroom across the hall, managing to catch Arthur Weasley’s attention, as well. Once they were behind closed doors, Kingsley fixed Doge with a stare. “What the hell just happened in there?”
“I’m not sure,” Doge replied thoughtfully, “but I would bet my last galleon that we lose the case if a vote is taken right now.”
“What?” Harry blurted angrily. “How? Everybody knows that Hagrid is innocent.”
Doge stared at Harry with a wry smirk. “With all due respect, Mr. Potter, that was a hopelessly naive statement. There is far more at stake here than whether Hagrid is allowed to remove the fragments of his wand from that god-awful umbrella and do magic in the light of day. We are asking the Wizengamot to shake off centuries of prejudice and intolerance and to admit that they were deceived by Voldemort just like everybody else. Those are bitter pills for them to swallow.”
“Time is short,” Kingsley interrupted. “The civics lesson will have to wait. We all know who the swing votes are. Arthur, you’re friendly with Prudence Marchbank, find out where she stands. Elphias, you talk to Anderson and Pennyworth. Minerva, I believe Capella Flemming has a grandson who’s just begun his first year at Hogwarts. See if you can use that to start a conversation with her. I’ll take Cornfoot and Brambleton. We’ll reconvene in half an hour.”
“And I’ll be doing what, exactly?” Harry asked impatiently.
“Wait here with Ron and Hermione,” Kingsley replied. “You are our ace in the hole, Harry. Once we identify the nay votes, I may need your help to persuade them.”
Harry spent the next twenty minutes trying keep a smile plastered on his face. He, Ron and Hermione struggled to make small talk with Hagrid and keep their minds off of the hearing. The conversation with Kingsley and the others had left Harry frustrated and angry. It must have been plainly obvious to every member of the Wizengamot how much Hagrid had risked and sacrificed to make Tom Riddle’s defeat possible. How could anyone allow prejudice to sway their opinion in the face of such overwhelming evidence?
Fleur provided a much-needed respite from their efforts when she hurried into the room with a large bag of sandwiches and crisps. “Zey are from zee cafe ‘ere, so eat at your own risk,” she said, looking slightly nauseated. “‘arry, zere is somebody outside who needs to speak with you,” she added.
Harry grabbed a bag of crisps and hurried to the door. When he stepped into the hall, he found Bill standing next to a shimmering, silvery lynx. As soon as Harry stepped in front of the patronus it began to speak in Kingsley’s deep, resonant voice. “We’ve identified the problem, Harry. Please join me on Level One.”
Harry tossed the bag of crisps to Bill as the patronus dissipated, then raced to the stairs. He took them two at a time until he reached Level Nine and entered the lifts. By the time he reached Level One, his heart was racing. He exited the lifts and looked around, but the Minister was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, he heard a soft whisper from behind him, “This way, Harry.”
He turned and saw nobody, but a doorway that led to a service corridor was just closing. He hurried to the door and pulled it open, finding Kingsley and Elphias standing behind it. “My apologies,” Kingsley said quietly, “but I can’t appear in the open these days without attracting a swarm of bureaucrats and secretaries all trying to get me to sign something.”
“I see your Auror skills still come in handy,” Harry smirked, catching his breath, “So what is the problem and how do we fix it?”
“The problem, Mr. Potter,” replied Doge gravely, “is Wilton Anderson.”
“Wilton Anderson,” Harry repeated the name quizzically. “That doesn’t sound like much of a name for a pure blood fanatic.”
“Very observant,” Kingsley replied, nodding. “That’s because he isn’t. Both of his parents were half-bloods. He’s mostly voted with the progressives in the past. Suddenly, however, he’s turned on his heel and convinced Cornfoot and Pennyworth to join him in voting against us. So, Harry, we need you to convince him otherwise.”
Harry looked at the two older men incredulously. “Me? I’ve never met the man. Wouldn’t he be more likely to listen to the Special Advisor to the Wizengamot or the bloody Minister of Magic?”
“If it were that simple, it would be resolved already,” Doge replied. “Kingsley and I have done what we can and time is running out. You have a reputation for producing miracles, Mr. Potter. If there was ever a time for one, this is it.”
“Do we even know why he’s against us?” Harry asked, suddenly feeling nauseous with anxiety.
“Not a clue,” Kingsley answered with a shrug of his broad shoulders. “But you have about twenty-five minutes to figure it out and rectify it, so I suggest you get started.”
Harry signed heavily. The whole concept was preposterous. Then again, preposterous had been his stock in trade for nearly a year. “Where can I find him?”
“He keeps an office down the hall and on the left,” Kingsley replied. “You’ll see his name on the door.”
Harry turned to go, but Doge caught him by the elbow. “Listen to me, Mr. Potter. You may not realize it yet, but this wonderful service that you have performed for the world has earned you more than just a chance to go on living. You have influence. If the cause is worthy, do not be afraid to use it.”
Harry pondered the old wizard’s words as he made his way to Anderson’s office. He had no idea what sort of influence he would be able to wield, but he supposed that it was time to find out. Hagrid deserved no less.
Harry took a deep breath and knocked on the door bearing Anderson’s name. After a short pause, a reedy male voice called out, “Come in.”
Inside, he found a wizard with wispy, gray hair and a large belly sitting behind a sturdy, wooden desk. Anderson still had on the plum-colored robes that the Wizengamot members wore during hearings, although he had unfastened several buttons at the top. For a fraction of a second, Harry was sure that he could could see anxiety in the man’s eyes before he broke into a smile that looked well-rehearsed. “Harry Potter! Please, have a seat, my boy.”
Harry closed the door quietly behind himself and leaned across the desk to shake the man’s hand before taking one of the leather-backed chairs in front of it. “What can I do for you?” Anderson asked.
“I’ve come to talk to you about Hagrid, sir. Off the record, of course,” Harry said.
The look of apprehension once again crossed Anderson’s face. “What is it you want to discuss?”
“I understand that you intend to vote against him, and I’d like to know why,” Harry replied.
Anderson chuckled nervously. “I’ll have to remember to compliment Doge and the Minister on the reach of their sources. Did they send you to talk to me?”
Harry saw no point in denying the truth. “They suggested that I talk to you, yes. And you didn’t answer the question, sir.”
Anderson looked pained for a moment, then began to speak slowly, as if to a child. “Mr. Potter, I appreciate your loyalty to your friend, but you must understand that the Wizengamot does not change its decisions on a whim. There were valid reasons why the council chose to sanction Mr. Hagrid. Just because the passage of time has cast him in a different light does not oblige us to revisit that decision.”
“All of those reasons were rubbish,” Harry countered, feeling his anger beginning to rise. “And you have a responsibility to revisit any decision that was based on prejudice and lies.”
Anderson steepled his fingers and his expression hardened. “A bit presumptuous of an Auror trainee to lecture a member of the Wizengamot on responsibilities, isn’t it?”
Harry refused to blink. “I believe I’ve earned the right to an opinion where responsibility is concerned.”
“You listen to me, Potter,” Anderson snarled, clearly losing his patience. “I don’t care what you think you’ve earned. Do you really think this is about whether some half-breed is guilty or innocent? It doesn’t matter. There’s much more at stake here.”
Harry could feel his cheeks getting hot. He fought to keep his temper from getting the best of him. “That half-breed saved my life, and the lives of countless others during the war. He’s a hero, and he deserves our gratitude and a fair chance to clear his name.”
“You just don’t get it, do you?” Anderson shot back, waving his hands in frustration. “What kind of message do we send if we allow giants to practice magic? Who’ll be the next to sashay in here demanding the right to carry a wand? Centaurs? Vampires? Werewolves? What are the chances that you and your friends escape from Gringotts if those goblins were allowed to fire curses at you, hmm? Some privileges simply must be limited to humans!”
Harry could barely process what he was hearing. Finally he shook his head and stared back at Anderson. His green eyes were blazing with anger. “How can you even say such things? Your parents were half-bloods!”
“Yes, they were,” Anderson shouted, abandoning all pretense of civility. “And unlike you, they didn’t have the good fortune to grow up at a time when half-bloods were accepted by polite society. Every day, they suffered under the prejudice and the blood purity statutes. But they never gave up. They worked hard to overcome their blood status make a future for our family. And I will be damned if I’m going to hand the rights that my parents fought for to these... sub-human creatures on a silver platter!”
Harry was seething. Every fiber of his being wanted to draw his wand and curse the hateful, arrogant wizard into oblivion. He thought of Remus, a brilliant, talented wizard who went through life wearing tattered robes and struggling to feed himself because nobody was willing to hire a werewolf. At first the memory added to his rage, but it also drew out other feelings. He remembered Lupin’s quiet dignity and his compassion. How he always thought first of others before stopping to feel bad for himself.
Harry took a deep breath, calming himself and finding his sense of purpose and moral certainty. “It’s a shame, you know?” he said, staring directly into Anderson’s eyes. “In spite of all your parents’ struggles and and all they accomplished, you learned nothing from their experience. You may have a lot of power and gold, but I feel sorry for you.”
Anderson’s face twisted into a spiteful glare. Harry considered his next words carefully. He was about to risk his career, possibly even his life. He met Anderson’s eyes with a steely gaze of his own. “Because I feel that way, I’ll make you an offer. Each week, Gawain Robards and I sit down to go over the things that I remember from my link with Tom Riddle. New things are always coming back to me: places, events... people who willingly served him. We all know that there were members of the Wizengamot who were complicit in his rise to power. Some of them even betrayed their fellow members who tried to oppose him.” Harry’s voice was cold and blunt. “So long as Hagrid wins his case, your name won’t be on that list.”
Anderson sat back stiffly. His face was defiant but his body language betrayed fear. “You wouldn’t dare.”
“If you believe that then you don’t understand anything about me,” Harry replied icily.
The two men glared at each other for a long moment. Anderson finally looked down towards his watch. “The hearing will be starting again in a few minutes,” he mumbled.
Harry stood and walked to the door. He turned back to Anderson and quietly said, “Consider your vote carefully. Azkaban is brutal in the winter.” Then he opened the door and left.
The doors of the Great Hall burst open with a wave of Professor McGonagall’s wand and a roar went up from the students eating dinner. After the verdict was read, Harry sent a patronus to let Ginny know that Hagrid had won and the word had obviously spread throughout the school. Ron had suggested a celebratory drink at the Leaky Cauldron, which turned into an entire afternoon of drinking and toasting to Hagrid, Kingsley, Dumbledore, Harry and anyone else whose name crossed their minds. By the time they arrived at Hogwarts, their mood was jubilant indeed.
Ron and Hermione entered and stepped to either side of the door, waving Hagrid into the hall with a flourish. Harry quietly followed at the end of the procession, glad to see the cheering crowd mobbing somebody else for a change. He was lost in his own thoughts, still feeling troubled about the trial and his role in the outcome. One vote; that had been the margin by which Hagrid prevailed. And Harry was quite certain that he knew who had cast that deciding vote.
The thing that troubled Harry most wasn’t that he had done something terrible, but rather that he wasn’t sure what he had done. He had cleared the name of a man who was falsely accused of a crime by threatening another man with the same fate. The conflict was obvious, and try as he might, he was unable to decide which injustice was greater. As the celebration continued to unfold in the Great Hall, he felt a tug at the sleeve of his robes and found Doge standing next to him.
“It’s difficult, isn’t it, Mr. Potter?”
“What do you mean?”
“Growing up. Being an adult. Having to make decisions that affect other people. It leaves me feeling rather envious of those first years,” Doge replied, gesturing towards a group of youngsters huddled around the near end of the Hufflepuff table. “They’ll never appreciate what they have until it’s too late.”
Harry could only nod in agreement. While every instinct told him that revealing his conversation with Anderson could only lead to bad things, he knew that he had to trust somebody. The load on his conscience was too great. If Dumbledore had confided in Doge, he reckoned that he probably could, as well.
“I had to threaten him,” Harry blurted out, just loudly enough for Doge to hear. “He was going to vote against Hagrid simply because his mother was a giant. I told him that if he didn’t change his mind, I’d implicate him as a Death Eater.”
Doge continued to stare straight ahead. “I assumed it might come to that,” he replied quietly. “If he’s being honest, the Minister probably assumed the same.”
“This can’t be right, can it?” Harry asked. “I mean, we cleared Hagrid’s name and that’s good, but I threatened an innocent man with prison. How can that be right?”
“Another way to look at it is that you used the resources available to you to bring a bad situation to the best possible outcome.” Doge turned to meet Harry’s gaze. “I can’t tell you which perspective is right and which is wrong, Mr. Potter. The decision was yours to make, and only you can decide whether the compromises were justified.”
They watched the celebration in silence for a while longer. As Harry struggled to process everything that had happened that day, a realization dawned on him. “Mr. Doge, do you think Dumbledore had the same kind of doubts when he was trying to decide, you know, about my future?”
Doge turned to him with a wistful smile. “No, Mr. Potter. As I recall, Albus’s doubts were a thousand times worse.”
Harry was about to press Doge for more details when a small whirlwind of auburn hair struck him in the chest with the force of a bludger. Before he could speak, Ginny’s arms were around his neck and her lips were pressed tightly against his. By the time he managed to catch his breath and look around, Doge was gone.
“Come on,” Ginny panted, her face and neck flushed. “McGonagall’s given us permission to have a party down by the lake. Let’s hurry and get it going before she sobers up and changes her mind.”
Harry took a deep breath and exhaled. He certainly could have gone on brooding and ruminating for hours, but at the moment there was simply no point. What was done was done. He gave Ginny a huge smile and pulled her in for another kiss before they both headed out through the castle gates, hand in hand.
The party went on until well past curfew, as Mr. Filch was careful to point out to the Headmistress at regular intervals. At ten o’clock, she finally permitted him to begin herding the students back into the castle, beginning with the first years. A short while later, Hermione said her goodbyes and went home to get some sleep. It was nearly eleven o’clock by the time Ginny tore herself from Harry’s arms and sulked her way back to Gryffindor tower.
Eventually, only Harry, Ron and Hagrid remained by the lake, nursing the few remaining butterbeers and watching the giant squid lurk near the water’s edge, hoping for scraps. The fire was beginning to die down, and Hagrid gestured absentmindedly towards it with his pink umbrella, causing the flames to roar back to life. “I guess I’ll need ta be gettin’ a proper wand again,” he mused. “Wonder what time Ollivander opens up in tha mornin?”
Harry took another sip of his beer and a thought popped into his mind. Like nearly everything he had done that day, there was an element of risk involved, but he supposed it was worth a try. “Hagrid, can you take the pieces of your old wand out of that hideous thing?” he asked with a wry smile.
“I s’pose so,” Hagrid muttered. “Haven’ done that in nearly forty years.”
Ron and Harry both leaned close to watch as Hagrid twisted off the handle of the umbrella. He tilted it upright and three slender pieces of wood slid out into his huge palm. “It was Oak. Sixteen inches, biggest one Olivander ever made,” Hagrid said thoughtfully. “Dunno where they foun’ a dragon with a heart that size.”
Harry scooped up the pieces from Hagrid’s hand and stood. “Hagrid, we’ll be back in a few minutes, alright?” Harry said, nodding towards Ron.
Hagrid looked at the two of them with more than a bit of suspicion in his eyes, but then he gave them a tired nod. “I reckon I need ta get about cleanin’ this mess up, anyway,” Hagrid replied, gesturing towards the empty bottles and other party debris that littered the area.
“Leave it for Filch,” Ron suggested, only half joking. “Serves him right for breaking up the celebration.”
Ron hurried to catch up to Harry, who was walking around the shoreline at a brisk pace. “Where are we going, mate?” Ron asked.
“Dumbledore’s tomb,” Harry answered, looking nervously back towards the castle.
Ron was silent for a few seconds and then it seemed to dawn on him what Harry had in mind. “Are you sure this is a good idea, mate?”
“Not completely, no,” Harry replied. “But so far it’s been a good day for bad ideas.”
They walked on in silence for another few seconds. “So what do you need me for?” Ron asked. “Shouldn’t I stay back and keep Hagrid company? You know, so he doesn’t come looking for you?”
Harry didn’t answer right away. “I need you to make sure that I put it back.”
“Well why wouldn’t you?” Ron asked nervously. “You’re the one who decided to put it back after the battle.”
“Ron, the wand... it isn’t like an ordinary wand.”
“I’d say that’s bloody obvious,” Ron replied wryly.
“No, that’s not what I mean.” Harry struggled to find the right words. “My wand is like an extension of me. It does what I want, sometimes before I even realize I want to do it. The Elder Wand... it’s different. It has its own feelings... its own agenda. It obeys you and casts your spells, but it wants more. And it can be very persuasive. I understand how it’s caused so much death and destruction.”
“Alright, so let’s say you decide not to put it back,” Ron countered thoughtfully. “How are me and Wormtail’s stumpy little matchstick here supposed to stop you and the most powerful wand in history?”
“Because I listen to you, Ron,” Harry replied. “You’re a pretty sharp bloke, you know?”
They arrived at Dumbledore’s tomb and Harry raised his wand and said, “Wingardium Leviosa.” The marble slab that covered the sarcophagus rose gracefully into the air, and Harry rotated it and brought it gently to rest across the lower half of the tomb. He wasn’t really sure what to do next. He didn’t want to reach into the tomb; everything about that felt disrespectful and wrong. He quickly found that he didn’t need to. He thought about the Elder Wand and it leapt into his hand, startling both of them.
“Blimey,” Ron mumbled softly, but Harry barely heard him. He could feel the wand’s awful power coursing between his fingers. It felt eager, hungry. The ancient elder wood hummed with the screams of a thousand lives extinguished in its wake. Now it was reunited with its master, and Harry saw visions of what he could do to Wilton Anderson and all the hate-filled hypocrites who casually destroyed the lives of others. He shuddered and did his best to close his mind. Reaching into his pocket, he withdrew the broken pieces of Hagrid’s wand and laid them end to end on the edge of Dumbledore’s tomb.
“Reparo!” Harry delivered the charm with focus and determination and the Elder Wand did the rest. The broken pieces of Hagrid’s wand began to knit themselves together. Each break drew closed and sealed itself tightly. In his mind’s eye, Harry could see the frayed ends of the dragon heartstring mend themselves, unifying into a single strand. Eventually, the cracks disappeared from the wand’s smooth surface and it lay on the cold marble, whole.
“Alright, then” Ron said nervously, looking around for any sign of interlopers. “Let’s put the bloody thing away and get out of here.”
Harry’s breath was coming in shallow gasps. The Elder Wand knew what they were planning. It knew that it was about to be separated from its master and entombed until its power was broken and it faded into the mists of history. Harry’s mind was filled with visions of glory as the wand made its last desperate pitch for survival. Dolohov, Rookwood, Yaxley, the Lestranges... he saw them all perish in a storm of magical fire. Hermione and the Weasleys all cheered him on as Ginny stared at him, her deep, brown eyes filled with love and admiration.
Suddenly Harry felt Ron’s hand on his shoulder. “Mate, you have to put it back.”
Harry gave him a shaky nod and turned to face Dumbledore’s open tomb. He leaned over the sarcophagus and slid the Elder Wand under the shroud that covered the body. His knuckles lightly skimmed the burial robes as he guided it beneath the withered remains of Dumbledore’s hands. As he released his grip on the wand, he could feel it calling to him, tempting, threatening and begging. With his last ounce of determination, he turned away and faced Ron.
“Care to help?” he asked with a weary smile. Together, they levitated the marble slab back into place, sealing Dumbledore’s tomb once again. As they walked back around the shoreline, Harry could feel the connection weakening, until he was once again alone in his own mind.
They found Hagrid gathering up chairs and bottles and tossing an occasional, leftover scrap of food to the giant squid. He looked at them skeptically as they approached. “Here,” Harry said, holding out the repaired wand. Hagrid’s eyes grew wide and he carefully took the wand from Harry’s outstretched hand, as though it might shatter if he breathed on it. He tentatively waved it around, then flexed it gently between his great fingers.
“Harry... this is amazing,” Hagrid mumbled.
“Try it,” Harry said softly. Hagrid selected an empty butterbeer bottle and summoned it to his hand. Then he waved his wand over it, transfiguring it into an ugly little teapot. The wand performed perfectly, with narry an errant spark.
“How did ye do this?” Hagrid asked quietly, still looking as though he couldn’t believe his eyes.
“It’s a trick we learned last year while we were on the run,” Harry offered. “Very tricky to perform.”
“And it only works in very particular situations,” Ron quickly added. “Your wand was broken just the right way.”
There were tears in Hagrid’s eyes as he looked at Harry and Ron. “I don’t know what ye did there, but thanks. To both of ye. For everything.” He reached out and pulled both of them into a smothering hug, which Harry returned with all his might. Somewhere, he imagined Dumbledore smiling. Like the old Headmaster, he had made his choices and he would live with them. That was the price of redemption.
So there it is, my first one-shot. Much credit goes to my fantastic beta reader, sophie_hatter. If you like this, you'll love her story, Evolution (M) !
Please take a moment and let me know what you think below!