Chapter 21 : Uproar
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“That is literally insane!” Rose exclaimed. “Reinstate the dementors? Is she mad? Is she throwing the election?”
“I don't know,” Albus said. “But she must be mad. Will people actually approve of this? Will she even be able to do it?”
Rose nodded. “Whoever she gets to replace herself as Head of Azkaban will surely want the dementors back, too. Then she'll approve it as Minister and it'll pass.”
“But it would be stupid to bring them back,” Albus said.
“It would,” Rose agreed. “They're dangerous and their allegiance changes so easily. But to be honest, I'm not sure everyone will feel that way. Not with those prisoners on the loose.”
“Quiet, quiet!” Professor Kendrick shouted. The crowd finally settled down.
“Mr. Weasley, it is your turn to speak,” Farleigh said exasperatingly.
Percy shook his head to regain his composure. He'd lost his cool, calm, and collected politician look and now he looked more like he did after arguing with Georgia about her Quidditch career.
“Well, I, er, do not believe that dementors are the answer to the security problems in Azkaban,” Percy said. “What we need are more skilled guards in charge of high security prisoners as well as a revamp of the spells and enchantments currently keeping prisoners inside. It will also help to go over the organization of the guard schedule because at the time of the escape, only three guards were maintaining that part of the prison. That was surely an oversight that could have been prevented.”
“Human error,” Laurentis said. “It happens and it will happen again. Can we really risk the lives of our children in the chance that another error will occur? Dementors were proven guards who did not allow prisoners to escape. During their reign in Azkaban, before their allegiance changed, only one person managed to escape. Since their removal we have had numerous escapes.”
“Clear evidence that we need to revamp prison security,” Percy said. “But dementors are not the answer. They are dangerous creatures and as you said, their allegiance changed. What's to say that won't happen again if, God forbid, another Voldemort were to rise to power? If anyone offered those dementors a better deal than we did they'd have a whole prison of dangerous criminals at their disposal to do their bidding. It's not worth the risk.”
“Another Voldemort is not going to rise to power,” Laurentis said with a laugh. “We have learned from our history and it won't happen again.”
“You can't guarantee that,” Percy said. “Even if there is a very small chance of it happening, it is not worth risking having dementors guard Azkaban.”
“Mr. Weasley, Ms. Laurentis,” Farleigh said. “It is time to move on-”
“You are talking about a hypothetical!” Laurentis exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air. “I am talking about what is happening now! Five dangerous criminals have escaped, four of whom were on Voldemort's side during the war, and are out there, wreaking havoc as we speak. If the dementors were guarding Azkaban this never would have happened.”
“Now look who's talking hypotheticals!” Percy shouted back, ignoring Farleigh's vain attempts to get both candidates to stop talking. “For all we know they would've escaped anyway!”
Laurentis let out a deep laugh. “Five prisoners escape when the dementors are allied with the Ministry? That's laughable. Only one person was able to do that and it was because he was an Animagus. None of the prisoners are Animagi. We test for that before admitting anyone to the prison.”
“Be that as it may, dementors are dangerous magical creatures. Not to mention the ethics of subjecting prisoners to their effects-”
“Prisoners have no rights,” Laurentis said. “They give up their rights when they commit crimes-”
“Basic human rights!” Percy exclaimed. “There are basic human rights that everyone deserves! Talk about learning from our history. History tells us what happens when someone believes they are above others. Or do you not remember the reign of Voldemort?”
“I lost my mother to that war!” Laurentis said. “Don't you tell me that I don't remember it.”
Albus was on the edge of his seat. His uncle was so red in the face that he was starting to turn purple and resemble Kaden's grandfather. Laurentis's hair was breaking free from its tight bun and there was a vein popping out in her forehead. Farleigh was still trying to get both candidates to stop talking and failing miserably, while every other person in the Great Hall sat completely still, staring at Percy and Laurentis.
“Silence!” Professor Kendrick shouted in a magically amplified voice.
Both Percy and Laurentis immediately quieted. The vein on Laurentis's forehead continued to throb, and Percy still looked like an overripe tomato.
“I think we've run out of time,” Farleigh said, in a voice barely more than a squeak. “Thank you all for coming.”
“Students, please return to your common rooms,” Kendrick announced. “Lunch will be in an hour. As a reminder, there is no question and answer session today.”
The whispering rose up immediately after Kendrick stopped speaking and since everyone was whispering the noise level rose very high. Albus, Rose, and Amanda joined the queue of people ambling to leave the Great Hall, and without even talking about it, went immediately to the Marauder's Den, where they found John and Kaden.
“What the bloody hell is she trying to do?” John asked as soon as Albus shut the door.
“She's lost her mind!” Rose shouted as she began pacing around the room. “She has legitimately lost her mind. That's the only explanation.”
“Well there's no way she'll win now,” Albus pointed out. “Dementors?”
“It's a bit convenient, don't you think?” Rose asked. “This break-out happens and then she announces she wants the dementors back? It didn't sound like a plan she'd just come up with.”
“We've got to find out if she's tried to get them back before,” Albus said. “If she has it'll be in the Prophet tomorrow.”
“Dementors...” Kaden murmured. “They're what sucked all the happiness out of us when we were in Australia last year, right?”
Albus nodded. “They're awful creatures.”
“And they used to guard the prison?” Amanda asked incredulously. “That's just wrong.”
“It is,” Rose said darkly. “That's why after Voldemort they stopped using them as guards. That and all the dementors changed allegiance and let Death Eaters escape.”
“Would they even come back, though?” Kaden asked. “I mean, if they switched allegiance so easily....”
“They'll go wherever they're offered the most humans to feed off of.” Rose shuddered. “Voldemort offered them far more than even Azkaban could offer. But right now they don't have a good source. They just travel around, feeding. They'll guard if given the opportunity.”
“Shouldn't people be against it?” Amanda asked. “It's so ethically wrong.”
“That's why it was dumb of her to announce it,” Albus pointed out.
“She wouldn't announce anything if she didn't think it would get her votes,” Rose said. “Most people our parents' age and older, who lost loved ones in the war, will have absolutely no sympathy for Death Eaters and wouldn't care if the dementors were brought back, especially if Laurentis could then guarantee no one would escape.”
Albus hadn't thought of that and apparently no one else did, either, because the room grew quiet. Albus sank onto one of the couches and started counting the number of Bertie Bott's Every-Flavor Beans that were scattered on the floor. He got to twenty-three before anyone said anything.
“I wonder what Malfoy thinks of all this,” John mused. “Wasn't his dad a Death Eater? So he shouldn't want the dementors back in Azkaban, but the way he was talking in the Three Broomsticks a while back made it seem like he's very against your uncle.”
“Of course he's against my uncle,” Albus said. “His whole family dislikes my whole family and it goes the other way, too. But his dad was never found guilty of his crimes so he never did time in Azkaban.”
“Surely his dad's got friends there,” John said.
Albus shrugged. “Probably.” To be honest, he didn't really care what Malfoy thought about Laurentis and Uncle Percy.
“We should go to lunch and then visit Matt,” Rose said. “Catch him up on all this.”
Albus had completely forgotten that Matt was still in the hospital wing, in the midst of Laurentis's announcement. He felt vaguely guilty about it, but at least Rose had remembered.
Everyone gathered for lunch in the Great Hall was talking about Laurentis's desire to bring back the dementors. Percy, Laurentis, and the Ministry officials were still there, having lunch with the professors at the staff table, and all were deep in discussion. Albus would've loved to be able to listen in on their conversations, but wearing the Invisibility Cloak in the crowded Great Hall wasn't a good idea.
“Better get used to the idea of your dad being Minister,” one of the seventh years was saying to Bradley. “No one's going to vote for Laurentis now.”
Bradley muttered something under his breath that Albus couldn't hear. Albus took a seat a few people down from his cousin and began to make a sandwich.
“She's got my whole family's votes now,” one of the other seventh years said. “Both of my grandparents were killed by Fenrir Greyback. If the dementors will catch him and keep him in there forever, it'd make all of us sleep better.”
There were a few nods from other older students sitting nearby. Albus was slightly shocked. If this many students approved of her idea, a lot of adults probably did, too. And these were seventh years; they could vote.
“Wait, the dementors find criminals, too?” Kaden asked. “I thought that's what Aurors did.”
“Only the really awful escaped prisoners,” Albus said. “My dad's Godfather, Sirius, when he escaped, the dementors were given permission to give him the Dementor's Kiss if they caught him.”
“What's the Dementor's Kiss?” Amanda asked.
Albus shuddered. “It's where they suck out someone's soul.”
“And they die?” Amanda asked quietly.
Albus shook his head. “No, they live without a soul. Everyone says it's worse than dying.”
“And they were going to do that to Sirius?” Kaden replied.
Albus nodded. “He was the first to escape Azkaban. He's the one Laurentis was talking about and at the time everyone thought he murdered thirteen Muggles and gave my grandparents up to Voldemort.”
“That's absolutely horrible!” Amanda exclaimed. She turned to the few sixth and seventh years who had said they'd vote for Laurentis. “How can you wish that on someone?”
“If your grandparents were murdered by Death Eaters you would, too,” one of the girls snapped.
“Albus's grandparents were murdered by Voldemort and he doesn't want the dementors back at Azkaban,” Amanda pointed out.
“Well, Voldemort's dead,” the girl said. “Maybe if Greyback were dead I'd feel differently. But he's not so I want the dementors back.”
“I don't think she's going to lose as easily as we thought,” Amanda said quietly.
“Of course she's not,” Rose said. “This is probably better for votes than digging up dirt on Uncle Percy.”
“It's absolutely barbaric,” Amanda said, shoving her plate forward. “Sucking out someone's soul? And they just suck your happy memories out?”
“Yeah,” Albus answered, thinking back to the previous June. He shuddered. “You're forced to relive your worst memories.”
“That's all you can think about?” Amanda asked. “Just the bad ones?”
Albus nodded. “My dad said it makes you go mad after a while.”
“Of course it does!” Amanda shouted. “That's just not right! Are you lot done eating yet? I can't sit here anymore.”
Albus was surprised Amanda had had such a strong reaction to the dementors, but he supposed coming from the Muggle world, where she hadn't even known such creatures existed, it would be a bit of a shock. He was even more surprised that she'd nearly gotten into a shouting match with a seventh year over them, when she was normally so quiet.
“I'm done,” Rose said.
“Me, too,” Albus said as he got up.
John and Kaden each grabbed the remaining halves of their sandwiches and followed the others out of the Great Hall. Amanda lead the way, stomping her feet a bit more forcefully than was necessary.
“It's just wrong on so many levels!” she said as she led them to the Hospital Wing. “It's torture, honestly. That's what it is. Emotional torture. Can't they just be killed off or something?”
“They don't die,” Rose said. “They can't. They just sort of...exist. Once my mum gets word of this, well, she's not going to stay quiet.”
“And she shouldn't,” Amanda said. “Can she stop Laurentis?”
“Not if Laurentis is Minister,” Rose answered. “Right now Mum's the Senior Assistant of Magical Law Enforcement, so if Laurentis tried to get this to pass now, my mum could help stop it. But Minister Hartwell would never put something like this through.”
“They're foul creatures,” Amanda continued. “Having them guard anything or anyone is a terrible idea.”
Albus decided now would not be a good time to tell Amanda that when his dad was a third year Hogwarts was guarded by dementors.
“A dementor went after my dad once,” Kaden announced as they continued to the Hospital Wing. “Albus's dad saved him with a Patronus. Then he nearly got expelled for doing underage magic in the presence of a Muggle.”
“You're kidding,” Amanda said. “God, the Ministry really was screwed up when your parents were at Hogwarts. This is the sort of thing Embry should be using as examples.”
“I doubt it's a well-known fact,” Albus said. “That the famous Harry Potter nearly got expelled.”
“It's a serious example of injustice,” Amanda said.
“You sound just like my mum,” Rose said. “It's creepy. Doesn't she?”
Albus agreed. “You do sound just like her mum.”
“Your mum has the right idea,” Amanda said as they reached the Hospital Wing.
Matt was the only patient in the ward. The curtains weren't drawn around his bed and he was sitting up and eating a bowl of soup, which was a good sign. Madam Pomfrey was sitting at her desk, working on charts, and muttering to herself about something.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” Albus asked when they got to his bed.
“Fine,” Matt said. “Three cracked ribs and a lot of nasty cuts, but I'm fine. Listen, I heard the debate. Madam Pomfrey had it on on the wireless. How insane is Laurentis?! You should have heard Madam Pomfrey ranting about her earlier.”
“You're not to repeat what you heard,” Madam Pomfrey said. “But Albus and Rose, you can tell your uncle that he's got my vote. Always thought he was a little pompous when he was at Hogwarts but at least he's not dumb enough to employ dementors as guards of Azkaban.”
“Amanda's on a rampage,” Albus said.
“It's kind of funny,” John added.
“It is not funny!” Amanda exclaimed. “It's serious.”
“It's just that you're so quiet, but you got into it with that seventh year.”
“I did not get into it with a seventh year!” Amanda shouted and turned to Matt. “John's exaggerating. She announced that she and her family were all going to vote for Laurentis because her grandparents were killed by Greyback and she wants to make sure he stays in prison.”
Matt toyed with his blanket and didn't meet Amanda's eye.
“What?” she asked. “Don't tell me you want the dementors in Azkaban.”
“I don't,” Matt said quickly. “It's not that. It's the whole Greyback thing, I can sort of see where she's coming from. It's got to be scary, knowing he's out there when he killed her grandparents.... I mean, I guess I've always been sort of lucky. The bloke who bit me is in prison and has been since he bit me.”
Albus had never heard Matt talk about the werewolf who bit him, except for mentioning that he's in prison.
“He gets out next year,” Matt said quietly. “He can get paroled.”
“Do you know much about him?” Albus asked.
“Just his name and how old he was,” Matt said. “My parents know a bit more but they've never told me and I've never asked.”
“Is the Australian prison guarded by dementors?” Amanda asked.
Matt shook his head. “No, and it never has been. And I don't think prisons should be guarded by dementors. But Greyback...he's scary. He's worse than Silas Humphrey, that was the bloke who bit me. Humphrey's attack on me, that was an accident. Greyback bit people on purpose. He'd bite people and then raise them in his pack. That's why he liked going for kids. Teddy's dad...Greyback bit him and tried to get his parents to give him up. They didn't, of course, but a lot of parents did.”
Albus swallowed hard. He hadn't known that about Teddy's dad and wasn't even sure if Teddy knew that. Teddy's dad's parents died long before Teddy was born and Albus doubted his grandmother knew that.
“How'd you find that out?” Albus asked.
“When we first moved here Amy learned about Teddy's dad when she was catching up on British History of Magic. She told me all about him and how successful he wound up being just to make me feel better. But then I decided to research other werewolves and found out about Greyback in one of my dad's books. It talked about his whole thing with biting kids. It never said Teddy's dad specifically was one of those kids but I figured he must've been.”
“That's horrible,” Albus said quietly. The others nodded.
“He had a whole pack of werewolves to do his bidding,” Matt said. “And now he's out. What if he wants to do that again?”
“Bite people and make a pack?” Albus asked.
Matt nodded. “That or find people who've already been bitten.”
Albus saw where this was going now. “He's not going to find you. Hogwarts is safe.”
“That's what everyone always says, but the past few years it really hasn't. Remember last year?”
“Technically we weren't in the castle when we got taken to Australia. We were in the Floo. So if we just stay in the castle...” Albus pointed out.
“It's still not a guarantee,” Matt said. “I wonder how many people he bit last night.”
Albus didn't answer. There was no way of knowing what Fenrir Greyback did during the full moon, just like there was no way to guarantee that Hogwarts would be safe. All Albus and his friends could do was hope that it would be safe and that the escaped Death Eaters would be recaptured soon. Albus still thought having dementors guard Azkaban was an absolutely terrible idea, but after listening to Matt talk about Silas Humphrey and Fenrir Greyback, he sort of understood why some people might want the dementors back at Azkaban and thus vote for Laurentis. She might even get elected just because of this. And that, when it came down to it, was what scared Albus the most.
A/N: No cliffhanger this time! Thanks for all the wonderful reviews! If you like Marauder era, please check out my newest novel, Between Here and Somewhere!
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