Unofficial Portkey Archive

The Perils of Innocence by puck_nc

The Perils of Innocence


Disclaimer: If you recognize the character, it isn't mine. Just playing in Rowling's sandbox.

Apologies: Life sometimes gets busy. And then sometimes life gets insane. On the bright side summer is within reach and the next chapter is already in progress, so I hope the gap won't be as long next time.

Reminder: I'm on Twitter under "avidbeader" if you are reading this on a guest account and would prefer to get your notifications of a new chapter that way. I promise I won't be spamming. I'm also on Tumblr under the same name; it's mostly for my own fannish glee but I have begun posting there with the tag "perils of innocence by avidbeader".


2 September 1991

"Really, Amelia, must it be today?"

Amelia Bones pinched the bridge of her nose, nearly dislodging her monocle, as she fought to stay patient in the face of the Minister's whining. "Yes, Cornelius, it must be today. You've seen Pettigrew for yourself, you've read the transcript of the Veritaserum interrogation. It is a hundred percent proven that Black did not kill Pettigrew, which calls into question everything else he was accused of. And the fact that there appears not to have been a trial for Black at all is going to prompt some very harsh questions."

"But that was during Bagnold's time!"

"Which is exactly why you should be leaping at this! If you want your political capital to rise, you'll move heaven and earth to get Black out of there and get to the bottom of this! Whether he was part of a conspiracy against the Potters or completely innocent, you will look good for making sure that the truth is known."

Cornelius Fudge bit his lip, wavering, and Amelia pressed her point. "I want to go today because if Black is innocent, he doesn't deserve to be in that hellhole a moment longer. I also want to go today because Dumbledore will be distracted with the first day of classes at Hogwarts. I don't need his signature to get Black out of Azkaban, but I will have to deal with him in getting a trial scheduled. And right now I don't trust Dumbledore. You didn't see his reaction to Pettigrew on the train."

Fudge weighed his options and relented, signing the form she was waving around. Ultimately, she was right in that his only option was to publically investigate the matter and either confirm that Black was where he belonged or vindicate an innocent man.


Dumbledore awoke to find that he still had the headache he had developed after yesterday's incident with the train. This was really most upsetting; he had been so distracted with the pain that he'd said some rather short and ridiculous thing before the feast and then proceeded to eat without even noticing what he put on his plate. Whatever it was, it had upset his stomach. He had taken a pair of Poppy's potions and tried to go to sleep.

It was quite tempting to send a message to Minerva and let her know he was feeling poorly and staying in bed. However, it would be very bad form to do so on the first day of classes.

He did summon a piece of parchment and a quill.

Minerva, I'm feeling a bit under the weather. Don't look for me at breakfast, but I will be in my office by the time classes start. - D

He rolled up the parchment and held it out. "Fawkes, if you would be so kind." The phoenix took off from his perch and carefully plucked the scroll from his hand before sailing out of the open window. Dumbledore then sat up carefully and rearranged his pillows with a wave of his wand. "Maxy?"

An elderly house-elf appeared. "Yes, Headmaster Dumbles?"

"I'm having a slow start. Could I ask for a breakfast tray, just some eggs and toast, and for someone to bring me a fairly strong headache potion?"

Maxy bowed and disappeared. Dumbledore summoned the lists of new first year students from his desk and began looking it over. He was pleased that Harry had been put in Gryffindor; the Weasley children were there and they could help introduce him to the wizarding world. He was a bit concerned about the other Muggleborns. If he remembered correctly-and with his head aching he wasn't sure he did-the Thomas boy and Granger girl were the other two students who had been at that hospital with Harry.

As a matter of fact, it seemed that Harry had been part of a large group of children last night, mostly with unfamiliar names. Dumbledore felt a frisson of unease, but he couldn't place why through the pain in his head.

A breakfast tray appeared on his knees, exactly as he has asked, down to the corked bottle in a corner that held one of Snape's remedies. He gulped down the contents and attacked his food, eager to shake off this unwellness.


A large black dog, curled up in a corner of a stone room, lifted its ears at the sounds of doors opening above. This was the wrong time of day for anyone to be stirring in this part of Azkaban. Cautiously, the dog stood, shook its fur, and morphed into a man.

The man shivered with the sudden absence of fur to insulate him from the cold North Sea wind and gathered the few ragged blankets around him as he lay down on the straw mat that served as a bed. He rolled to face the wall and did his best to imitate a limp dishrag.

Footsteps sounded down the corridor. This was most definitely unusual. Even more unusual, there was no impending chill of dementors accompanying the guards. The footsteps halted and he heard a key rattle in his door.

"You shouldn't go in, mum. He's one of our most dangerous criminals."

"You will follow orders. Sirius Black is being transferred to the Ministry for further questioning as new evidence has come to light."

The prisoner fought to appear unresponsive as his hand was lifted. He felt a leather strap wrap around his wrist, binding it together with another person's. Before he could suss out what might be happening, the yanking sensation of a Portkey took over.


The second Amelia landed in the security cell with Sirius Black, she stunned him and then removed the bracelet from their wrists. Kingsley Shacklebolt, one of her better Aurors, was at the door. He quickly levitated Black to an interrogation chair and wrapped him in chains. Amelia went to the door and waved in two people.

Croaker, the Unspeakable, produced the vial of Veritaserum. Jorkins was acting as recorder and Amelia frowned at that. The woman had proved to be a bit unreliable at her job while being most efficient at spreading gossip around. She decided to at least try and delay the inevitable.

"This interrogation is to be kept under a seal of secrecy until I say otherwise. Is that understood?"

Croaker nodded and moved to Black. Amelia revived the prisoner and Croaker quickly administered the three drops of potion. As the familiar glazed look in his eyes took over, Amelia began.

"What is your name?"

"Sirius Orion Black."

"How old are you?"

"Er, I've lost track. I was born in 1959."

"What was your house at Hogwarts?"

"Gryffindor. Brassed my parents off completely."

Croaker nodded to Amelia that the potion had taken effect. She took a deep breath and began the important questions. "Did you kill Peter Pettigrew?"

"NO!" The vehemence in his tone made everyone jump. A typical side effect of Veritaserum was to keep the person being questioned in a relaxed and dreamy state.

"What happened?"

"We tried to bluff Voldemort. Everyone would assume I was Secret-Keeper for James and Lily, that he would try to attack them through me. We made Peter Secret-Keeper instead. We thought it would draw out some Death Eaters, maybe even the big man himself."

Sirius paused and Amelia prompted him. "What went wrong?"

"We didn't know the little rat had already gone over to Voldemort's side. I was afraid Remus was a spy, because Voldemort was openly courting the werewolves. We never dreamed that Peter would betray us."

"Tell us what happened the night of 31 October, 1981."

"I was uneasy. Things had been very quiet for several days. I went to where Peter was hiding out, but he wasn't there. He wasn't at his home or his mother's home. At that point I was terrified that he'd been caught and tortured and went to Godric's Hollow to get James and Lily to move.

"When I arrived, it was too late. The cottage had been half-destroyed by some kind of magical backlash. James was downstairs, dead. Lily was upstairs in the nursery, also dead. Harry was in his cot, crying. I picked him up and tried to calm him down. I was trying to decide how I could keep Harry safe and go after Peter at the same time when Hagrid arrived. He said Dumbledore had told him to come get Harry, to take him somewhere safe."

Amelia filed that bit of information away for later. "So you went after Pettigrew?"

"Yes. I finally tracked him down the next day in Muggle London. I was so furious I don't even know what I was shouting at him. Then he screamed back about me being the one to betray James and Lily. He blew up the street and must have transformed into his Animagus form, he's a-"

"A rat, we know. That's how he was discovered."

"All I remember after that is just staring at the destruction and laughing. Laughing that little lumpy Peter had betrayed us all, had gotten away from me." Sirius' face fell and a few tears began gathering in his eyes.

Amelia knew the signs of the Veritaserum weakening. "We've got enough. Kingsley, help him get cleaned up and find him some robes. Keep him here for the moment, but put together a comfortable bed and warm meals. Croaker, validate Bertha's transcript and you two can go while I inform Fudge. And none of us is to breathe a word until I say so."

Shacklebolt had vanished the chains around Sirius and his hand shot out to seize Amelia's wrist. "Harry? Where's Harry?"

Amelia patted his hand. "He's safe as houses right now. He arrived at Hogwarts yesterday for his first year."

Sirius brightened at that. "He's at Hogwarts? And he's all right?"

"He looked all right to me yesterday. Kingsley can fill you in on the rest. Let me go deliver this to Fudge so we can get you cleared."


Amelia waited until nine o'clock, the curfew at Hogwarts, before calling Minerva through the Floo. The first time she found an empty room. The second time she opened the fire just as a tabby cat came in and stretched.

"Minerva! May I come through?"

The cat looked at her, then grew in size, morphing into the deputy headmistress. "Of course, Amelia."

Amelia stepped out, carrying an armful of scrolls. "You wouldn't believe the day we had."

"Well, I suppose the chaos had to go somewhere. We had a remarkably smooth first day here."

Amelia held out three of the scrolls. "I'd like to ask you to pass these to Dumbledore. This one is an official request for a trial to be held within ten days for one Sirius Orion Black on charges of murder. The second is a request that he recuse himself from the trial once it is scheduled. The third is a summons for him as a witness in the trial."

Minerva's eyebrows were reaching for her hairline by the time Amelia finished. "I take it that things have happened?"

"This needs to be kept between us until the trial, but we questioned Black under Veritaserum. He's completely innocent - they tried to bluff Voldemort by making everyone think he was the Secret-Keeper and using Pettigrew instead. But Pettigrew had already switched to Voldemort's side. When Black cornered him he caused the explosion and escaped in his Animagus form."

Minerva stared for a minute, then spun on her heel and made for the whisky bottle.


Sirius Black slept around the clock on his first day out of Azkaban. He was warm, truly warm, in a gloriously soft bed. He was clean, with no itch of straw or bites from insects plaguing his skin. His dreams did not suddenly morph into nightmares as the dementors made their rounds.

He refused to stir the first few times the Auror Shacklebolt tried to rouse him. Finally the scales tipped and his hunger won out over his exhaustion. He sat up in the bed in the cell and looked over the tray. Porridge, eggs, a pile of bacon, and toast with three kinds of jam awaited him.

"I wasn't sure what you'd like, so I brought a variety. Now eat. Bones wants you able to stand when you have your trial."

"A trial." Sirius looked at the Auror with a sceptical expression.

"Yes, a trial. Madam Bones started looking for the transcripts after Professor McGonagall began asking questions. Seems young Potter wanted some answers about his parents' deaths because his aunt and uncle never told him anything."

Sirius froze, the spoonful of porridge halfway to his mouth. "Aunt and uncle? You mean he ended up with Lily's sister? That's the last place she wanted him to be!"

Shacklebolt shrugged. "All I know is that Madam Bones' investigation showed that you never actually had a trial of any kind, and then Pettigrew turned up alive, which shows you're innocent in at least one count. So you will have a trial soon and in the meantime you are to be treated as kindly as possible in a high-security cell in the Ministry." He pointed to a dark square on the pale brick wall near the door. "Press your hand there if you need anything."

"Any chance of something to read?"

"I'll bring you the last few Prophets to start."


The potions had made a dent and Dumbledore was feeling better as long as he focused on Hogwarts. When he entered his office after dinner, he discovered a set of scrolls on his desk with seals from the DMLE. He opened the first one with a frown. Upon seeing the name of "Sirius Black" in the opening text, his headache returned with a vengeance.

This was most disturbing. Black was guilty of betraying the Potters and had been rightly sent to Azkaban. Dumbledore had been there as the high emotions swept magical Britain, seen the public's need to punish someone as Harry Potter had already removed the first target for their anger. With the eyewitness descriptions obtained from the Muggles of Peter Pettigrew's last words, Dumbledore had allowed then-Minister Bagnold to simply throw the man into Azkaban without protest. As soon as the wizarding community had learned of Black's fate, emotions had been soothed and things had calmed down.

And now the whole business was being raked up again.

Dumbledore opened the second scroll and his eyes widened. Recuse myself? I'm the Chief Warlock! Not enough people will trust Madam Longbottom to direct the trial!

The third scroll made the request clear. Of course anyone called as a witness should not be in a position of leadership or judgment in a trial. But even the thought of having to revisit that night set his head almost to throbbing. He tried to remember where he had gotten his last potion. At this rate, Poppy was sure to question his sudden intake and Severus might even be moved to express concern.

A sudden burst of flames in front of him made him shy back before he realized that it was Fawkes. The phoenix clutched a familiar bottle in its claws. Dumbledore took it gratefully. "Thank you, my friend."

Fawkes' trilling song of response helped bring the headache down to manageable levels before he got the stopper out.


9 September 1991

Amelia surveyed the courtroom, noting that almost every seat was filled. Cornelius had arranged a press conference to announce the discovery that Sirius Black had never been formally tried and his intentions to rectify that oversight. He had taken the stance that justice must be served fairly to one and all, even to the Potters' betrayer, and that a complete accounting of the night was long overdue. They had purposely not set a date before the press conference - Amelia's intention was to have a closed trial with only the Wizengamot present. The summons had been bespelled to be readable only by the members with strict instructions not to share the information until after the trial in order to preserve legal integrity. Judging from the faces she saw, the instructions had been taken seriously.

Fudge, Umbridge, Augusta Longbottom, Tiberius Lancaster, and Crispin York entered from a side door to take their positions. Lancaster was acting as prosecutor for the case while York was defending Black. Both lawyers had gone over the transcript from the questioning under Veritaserum and had planned the approach accordingly. Madame Longbottom took the raised chair designated for the Chief Warlock and raised the gavel to signal the beginning of the trial. "Aurors, please bring in the accused."

The Aurors, Shaclkebolt and Robards, did so, causing a ripple of unease through the assembled crowd as they walked with Sirius Black between them with no sign of any bindings. The week away from Azkaban had helped: Black's hair and beard had been neatly trimmed and he was dressed in formal robes bearing the crest of the House of Black. But his skin was still deadly pale from over a decade in a cell and he had barely begun to put on some much-needed weight.

The Aurors led him to his place and he sat beside York, who shook his hand. When no chains of any kind appeared to secure him, the murmurs of the crowd grew louder.

Madame Longbottom spoke again. "Witnesses are to come forward."

Black sat up suddenly, looking very intent, and Amelia frowned. Her first instinct was to palm her wand, but the Veritaserum testimony had been clear. Black was innocent.

Dumbledore entered, leading the remaining Hit Wizards of the group that had arrested Black. They took seats and Black leaned forward, staring at Dumbledore. Amelia noted that the headmaster had a hand across his eyes, rubbing his temples with thumb and forefinger, as if his head ached. Finally Robards gently pulled Black back into his seat. Amelia saw the frustration in his expression, which shifted into resignation.

Just as Madame Longbottom raised the gavel to open the trial, Black drew a deep breath and shouted, "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country!"

Dumbledore keeled over and chaos erupted in the courtroom.


Author's Note: Thanks as always for reading! The next chapter will happen when it happens.