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Chapter 27 : Day 43
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Thank again to those who have followed this story so faithfully and who have read, reviewed, and favorited. That means everything to me.
And thanks to my fellow HPFF friends and such for our long skype sessions of word wars and muse-seeking conversations. My list of these brilliant fellow writers is endless. You guys are amazing.
Also, sometimes I find a part goes very well with a song I have listened to, and I will collaborate that chapter with that song. For this chapter, I have done just that. The song Einstein's Wrong by Steve Jablonsky from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Original Score) is the song that this chapter collaborates with. If you would like, you can listen to it as you read to get the mood I envision for this chapter. I hope you do, and I hope it gets you excited! The part to begin listening to this song is cued in the chapter. :)
Be sure to review and let me know what you think!
lovely chapter image by rojia @ TDA
As soon as Ron disappeared from the Auror Department, I uneasily approached Peakes' office. It was my first time to go into his new office that once belonged to my god father. It was a strange feeling, to be approaching the office that I could always just open the door and let myself in to. Now I was shaking as I raised my fist to knock.
Peakes' voice came from within it. He sounded relaxed and care free. "Who is it?"
"It's Ted," I said, my voice cracking as I did so.
"Ah," he said, and the tone of his voice didn't change. This was good for me, I guess. I didn't want him to be angry with me as we spoke or question my true intentions. "Come in, Lupin."
I entered but didn't settle myself in; I knew we had to get moving soon. The office was so different. There was no plush maroon rug on the floor that I could remember Lily playing on as a young girl when she came to visit her father at the office; there were no family pictures of the Potter family sitting on the desk, or a portrait of the famous golden trio with the addition of Ginny hanging on the wall. It was bare, empty, lonely.
Uneasily I clapped my hands together, puffing out my lips until I finally stuttered out my words. "I've been meaning to talk to you. I was going to fetch a snack from downstairs. Mind coming with me?"
"O'course not," Peakes shrugged. He dropped the Prophet he had been reading and strolled to my side. He even smiled as he approached me. "I could use a cup of coffee myself."
"Great," I commented under my breath and we were heading out of his office.
We started at a steady pace, weaving through the Auror Department and towards the exit that would lead to the elevator. The observation and interrogation rooms would be in the hallway we would take to get to the elevator. I folded my hands behind my back, and as soon as I opened my mouth to speak, I felt the coin in the right pocket of my jeans grow hot. It grew so hot so fast that I wondered if it would burn my skin, but I didn't care. That meant the first part of our plan had gone well. Sondheim was stationed in the observation room and Ron would remain there until this was over.
Now it was all up to me.
"I - uh," I began uneasily and rubbed a kink out of the back of my neck. "I've been meaning to talk to you about Rose."
Peakes gave a tsk and shook his head. "Should have known you'd be coming to talk to me about her sooner or later."
"It's not about what you think it is, though," I said quickly, still not wanting to have him questioning my actions. "I've thought a lot about it, and whether she loves me or not, she killed the Minister. And she should pay the price for that."
I was disgusted by the words that left my mouth. They were far from the truth; every word that seeped from my lips was a pure lie, but I had to say it if I wanted to bring up the topic of Rose and still not have him questioning any ulterior motives that I may have. Like exposing him for good...
"Glad you're on the same page as us now," he said.
"Right," I dismissed that quickly. "I just...I do wish we had left things on a better note. I want to make things right with her. Is she accepting visitors?"
"She is not, but you know I have the capability to change that status. Is that why you have come to talk to me?" he asked. He just wanted the answer; I could tell he didn't really care why as long as he didn't think I was exposing him.
We were leaving the Auror Department quarters now and slipping into the hallway. We were only feet away from the interrogation room. How was I to get him in there?!
There was a huddle of Ministry workers in the hall, and so I did the first thing that came to mind. I placed one hand on Peakes' back and guided him towards the door of the interrogation room.
"Here," I said quietly. "We can talk in private. Just for a moment."
"Sure," he said. He was the one who reached for the handle and let himself into the unlocked room. I followed behind him, and he shut the door once we were both securely inside.
"That's exactly why, really," I said, resuming our past conversation and answering his question. "I just want to mend things between us. Before she goes too...mad..."
From Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Original Score)
"Lupin," Peakes said seriously. The short bloke folded his arms across his chest and gave me a serious look. "Let me give you a piece of advice. She's been imprisoned. For life, and for good. You should move on. Sooner or later she'll be so insane she won't even remember she loved you."
I shuddered. My blood boiled with the urge to scream at the thought, with the idea to break her out of Azkaban in that very moment, and the urge to strike Peakes as hard as I could across the face.
"Perhaps you're right," I muttered under my breath. Where could I go from here?! How was I to make him talk about how he bribed her? "It's just...I had never loved a woman like her before. It's so unfair that I fell in love with her and now she's gone. Why her, Jim...? Why did you choose her out of all people?"
I had spoken the words. Now Peakes just had to go along with it. Just one simple answer would be enough if he could just forget that those in the observation room could hear every word we were saying. Please let him forget...
"Look, Lupin," he began seriously. "I'm sorry you love her. You did a pretty poor job by letting yourself fall in love with her. That was never supposed to happen. But I'm going to be honest with you because you've done a superb job of keeping your mouth shut. I chose Weasley because of her relation to both Potter, her father, and Percy. Too many targets that could all be taken down with just one girl. She made it all too easy; of course she was perfect. Think about it; with Weasley in Azkaban, Potter couldn't possibly continue as Head. Ron's lasted a bit, but we will see how long that streak will continue for, and then there would be no way Percy Weasley would continue in the running for Minister. That let me slide right into Head Auror, and Sondheim has always been fond of me."
By the end of his speech, his eyes had pulled down into slits and his voice had grown cool and superior. I could tell his ego grew larger and larger with each passing minute as he said this.
I sucked in a deep breath. We had gotten part of what we were looking for, but would this be enough? What would be enough to overturn Rose's case? I knew it was now or never, so I pushed onward.
"She's so brave though. What did you blackmail her with?" I uneasily asked.
Oh, I was beginning to think Peakes dumber and dumber as he spoke.
"Of course I threatened her with the life of her father. Her mother. Her uncle. Any family member, really. I tort - "
Suddenly a knock came from the door, and both Peakes and I gave a jump. We whipped to face the door where Sondheim was bursting into the interrogation room. The look on his face was demonic and intimidating, but a part of me began to soar. I think we did it! There was hope after all!
"Lupin," Sondheim addressed me, but he kept his eyes locked with Peakes, who was beginning to grow fearful of what he had just done, "you are dismissed. Immediately!"
"Yes, sir," I muttered and slipped from the room.
But I didn't wander far. I slipped immediately into observation room where Ron was standing next to the glass with his nose almost pressed against the thing. The room, though, was now empty except for him. He whispered to me, ever hopeful, as I came to rest by his side. "We heard you. We all heard you!"
A smile reached my face, but I turned to the window and looked into the interrogation room where Sondheim, standing over Peakes, was fuming. The vein in his temple was bulging, his face growing red, and he began to shout.
"Do you have ANY idea what you done?! You could have just blown everything! Everything! I was in the observation room! With half the Wizengamot tribunal, and all we could hear was you GIVING yourself away!"
"Fuck..." hissed Peakes under his breath, rubbing his neck. "Shit, oh, shit."
"You know I'm on your side. I've been by your side through this entire thing, and I would deny anything said against you, but I can't after something like this. They all heard you, and I can't play favorites. I have no choice. You better come up with a good lie. And fast. The murder case for Jarvis Branstone has been reopened, and you've been called to the stand."
It was the best feeling for Ron and I when the signal for an immediate Wizengamot tribunal hearing ran throughout the Ministry. Members of the Wizengamot were startled and alarmed, wondering what case could possibly be so important, or what information could possibly be so vital that they be called together on such short notice. I had never felt so triumphant in my life as I watched the members file into the tribunal until Sondheim collected everyone's undivided attention and his voice rang throughout the court.
"I apologize for calling us together on such short notice, but vital information concerning the murder of Jarvis Otto Branstone has surfaced. I hereby declare the murder case of Jarvis Branstone reopened."
The court erupted into whispers with shock upon their faces. It was clear to me then that the Wizengamot had done their best to forget about the murder case involving the Minister. No one wanted to think about it, really, and now it was being forced back under their noses.
Sondheim looked extremely distressed as he began the case. I could tell he didn't know how to go about it. Just in the last hour I had been able to piece together our one missing piece of information. Ron and I hadn't known if Sondheim had been forced to get in on things with Peakes or if he had chosen to, but things were beginning to clear up. Sondheim's frustration and distress over everything proved that he hadn't been threatened; Sondheim was in on the whole thing.
He rubbed his eyes as he called out to the tribunal. "The Wizengamot calls Jim Anthony Peakes to the stand."
Ron and I directed out attention to the main doors as they opened upon Sondheim's words and Jimmy was escorted inside. Like me, he was being dragged by his arms, his knees bent and legs dragging on the floor with all of his limbs shackled.
I loved the sight of him like that. After everything he has done, he deserved it. I hissed triumphantly. "He can't get out of this now."
"We will see about that," said Ron, but even his smile was the biggest I had ever seen. "That bloody asshole is about to be thrown into Azkaban."
Ron and I cackled under our breath before turning back to Sondheim.
"Mr. Peakes," began Sondheim with a groan, "please explain to the Wizengamot and myself why we are going through this trouble with the murder case of Jarvis Branstone?"
Peakes did look desperate, and I hoped he wasn't smart enough to get out of this. Or I hoped Sondheim wasn't going to be lenient and twist Peakes' words to keep him innocent. I cursed under my breath at that possibility. With Sondheim willingly partaking in the ploy and his position as Minister of Magic, all of the odds were in their favor. But maybe...What more did Sondheim need with Peakes? Sondheim had been voted Minister; the job was his. Unless they were great friends, what reason did Sondheim have to keep Peakes out of Azkaban? If Sondheim would just convict Peakes, no one would need to know that he was involved in the least...
"Minister, I was just having a conversation that was misinterpreted. My words have been twisted. I had nothing to do with the murder of Minister Branstone."
"How do you defend 'I chose Weasley because of her relation to both Potter, her father, and Percy?'" Sondheim asked with a sigh. Even he seemed to know that this trial would be Jimmy Peakes' downfall.
"I...I..." he blubbered, desperate for an excuse. "It's been misinterpreted! I wasn't saying I chose Weasley as a murderer; I was just telling Lupin that from the beginning I believed Weasley to be the killer. I didn't think Scorpius Malfoy did it; my opinion chose Weasley."
A hushed and eerie silence feel over the Wizengamot. I think everyone was trying to figure out what to make of Peakes' words. That had been a pretty quick and clever lie. Damn it, Jimmy. If he somehow found a way to convince the Wizengamot...
I realized I was fuming. He couldn't get away with this! I didn't realize I was sinking my teeth into my bottom lip, drawing blood, holding in a growl, and digging my nails into my knees until Ron patted my forearm.
"Easy," Ron coached and patted me. How was he being so clam at a time like this? "This can still go our way."
Jimmy's continuation of the hearing turned our attention back to the matter at hand. "And everything that I said after that statement - about too many targets, being easy, perfect - all of it was just an overview of why I think Rose Weasley killed the Minister. We know she did it, but I was just musing out loud as to why she decided to do it. Most of you heard, but for those who didn't, I believe Rose may have held higher ambitions for her family members. Her uncle and father are both high class Aurors. Her mother practically runs the law department, and Percy Weasley would have been a perfect candidate for the next Minister. I think if Percy Weasley was elected Minister, he would pull all the strings and perhaps further Rose Weasley in her career path or any other ulterior motives."
"Shit..." I cursed under my breath. He had the Wizengamot entrapped with his words, and people were starting to think it through. And of course - in his own twisted way - Peakes was speaking the truth on some level, but he just left out the one major, pivotal detail. As I watched the faces of the Wizengamot, I knew he had the tribunal eating out of the palm of his hand.
Sondheim resumed speaking next. "Very well. Then what did Ted Lupin mean by his question 'what did you blackmail her with?'"
"You might very well be called to the stand," Ron leaned over to mutter to me.
I hadn't even thought of that. But the idea was beginning to seem more and more likely; I was a part of the conversation that had pulled this entire case out of the dark. A part of me was eager to contribute, to speak my truth and see what would happen from there, but the other part of me didn't want to be so bold and risky. What if I opened my mouth, spoke the real truth, and nothing changed? Then Peakes would be on the loose, and I now know him to be capable of nearly anything. I knew he wouldn't have a problem with hurting a loved one. My thoughts immediately went to Rose.
Jimmy's head twisted about, and I knew he was scanning the crowd for me. I crouched lower in my seat; I didn't want him to see him. When he couldn't find me soon enough, he directed his attention back to Sondheim and the court.
"I have no idea where that came from. I did not blackmail Rose Weasley," said Peakes sternly.
I swallowed a lump in my throat.
Sondheim continued to go on. "Then what did you mean when you said 'I threatened her with the life of her father. Her mother. Her uncle. Any family member, really?"
"I didn't!" blurted Peakes painfully.
"You said the words, Jimmy. What did you mean?" Sondheim's eyes were beginning to narrow at his friends.
My level of optimism was beginning to grow, and I could feel the smile returning to my face. Sondheim was making the right decision; as Minister of Magic, he could get away with this without ever letting on that he had taken a part of it. Why would he be stupid enough to not take it?
"I..." gasped Jim. He was floundering for a better response. His face was beat red, and he was panting.
"Did you or did you not have an involvement in the murder of Jarvis Branstone?"
"No!" shouted Peakes horrendously.
"Then why can't you provide a sufficient alibi to your words?"
"I - "
"On this 43rd day of Rose Weasley’s imprisonment, I – Geoffrey Sondheim, Minister for Magic – hereby declare Rose Weasley to be released from Azkaban on her 61st day of imprisonment. The duration of this release is unforeseeable. I reserve the right to - at any time - return Miss Weasley to Azkaban, but until the murder case of Jarvis Branstone reaches a resolved conclusion, no one shall be convicted of the murder of Jarvis Branstone. Jimmy Peakes, you are hereby relieved of your duties as Head Auror, as you now must remain impartial for being an involved party member. Aurors Ron Weasley and Teddy Lupin will also step down from their positions for the unforeseeable duration for their relationship with Rose Weasley. I now declare this case to take on an eighteen day recess. Jimmy Peakes and tribunal members, you are dismissed. This session is now closed."
Oh my god. Rose is coming home.
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