Office of Marvin Sheistre
Severus Snape was waiting in his solicitor's office, having been summoned to approve the visitation agreement worked out with Sirius Black. This was one of those cases where no one would be happy, but it was also not too restrictive for either party. Sirius had also hired a solicitor, one who was able to ignore his client's antipathy toward Snape and hammer out something that, if not perfect, at least looked out for the best interests of young Draco. Sheistre's secretary motioned Snape into her employer's office.
Marvin stood up to greet Severus, shaking his hand. The two made small talk for a few minutes, Snape telling him of the progress of his new Diagon Alley store, before getting down to business.
"All right, Severus, here is the agreement, look it over and tell me what you think." He placed a sheaf of parchment in front of Severus.
"So much parchment for one little boy," Severus mused. He read through it quickly, stiffening slightly when he read a clause on the third page. "The parties are not to say anything negative about each other in the child's hearing? Or say anything negative about the other's house at Hogwarts? Don't you think that might be going a bit far? And just how do they expect to enforce that?"
"Severus, it makes a lot of sense; a huge part of your problems with Black stem from the Gryffindor-Slytherin rivalry. You can promote your own house, but you can't run down the others. Just imagine if Draco is someday sorted into Slytherin. Would you really want Draco to have to write home with that news after hearing for eight years how bad Slytherin House is, and how all snakes are untrustworthy? And would you really want Draco to face disappointing you should he be sorted into Gryffindor? And as far as enforcement goes, once you and Black sign this, it is a magical contract, you will be unable to break the clauses of the document. You can hate each other as much as you want, just not in the presence of Draco. clauses of the document. You can hate each other as much as you want, just not in the presence of Draco. You don't have to be buddies or friends, you just have to be civil in Draco's presence."
Severus carefully reread the contract, finding no loopholes he could exploit, but conversely, none that Black could exploit. With a sigh, he nodded. "How often will I be able to see my godson?"
"The actual time will be decided by the court referee, however you can probably count on every third weekend. If weekends are not feasible, they would probably allow certain weekdays, but once he starts school, you would either have to leave him at home during the nights or pick him up and deliver him to school."
"I don't see weekends being a problem. Hold it, what is this clause here," Severus asked, pointing at a paragraph.
"I tried to get it removed, but Black's solicitor insisted. I managed to put an opposing clause in to neutralize it." Sheistre pointed at the next paragraph.
"So I cannot say anything bad about muggles or muggleborn and he cannot run down purebloods?"
"That is about it. You can promote your own beliefs, but not at the expense of the others."
"I suppose that will have to do," Snape said sourly. "The important thing is that I will have visitation."
"I have seen divorces that had fewer restrictions, but it is the best deal I could get. Black stated that he was perfectly willing to take Draco and go live somewhere that you would have no influence at all over him. I'm sure that he is bluffing because of his own godson, but the idea was thrown out there. If the agreement is suitable, we can have the signing scheduled for Monday at Family Court."
"Very well. Owl me with the time." Severus stalked out of the office.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Another person watching the visitation agreement between Severus Snape and Sirius Black with much interest was Albus Dumbledore. He had been thwarted in his scheme to have Sirius locked away and Harry placed in the custody of his aunt, then had lost his spying servant and cheaply paid Potions Master. He had attempted to give advice to both parties, only to find himself rebuffed in no uncertain terms. He needed Black and Snape to remain at each other's throats, a genial settlement just would not do. If he were to get Harry and Severus back under his control, he would need for both Snape and Black to rely on him for advice. It was a good thing that he had influence with the Family Court mediator. He would be able to scuttle any agreement that did not have enough seeds of animosity built into it. It was with this in mind that he threw a pinch of Floo powder into the fireplace and called the Mediator.
"Gerald, how are you this fine morning?"
"Albus, old friend, this is a pleasant surprise! Come on through and have a nice warm scone and try some of this superb tea that I just had brought in from India.
"That sounds wonderful, I'm on my way." A moment later, Gerald Mosser's fireplace flared up and Albus stepped out into the office. The two men embraced and Gerald summoned a house elf to bring them the refreshments. Albus took a sip and widened his eyes in appreciation. "Oh my, this is superb, you will have to tell me who is your supplier."
"I'll do better than that, I made a small mistake on my order and accidentally purchased over twice what I wanted. Let me give you a half kilo, that way it won't go stale. Jinky!" Mosser's elf popped in and looked at his master expectantly. "Jinky, wrap up a half kilo of that new tea up for the Headmaster." The elf nodded and popped out, reappearing a moment later with the requested tea, then popped back out. "Marvelous elf, that one. Even tempered, and only speaks when I need him to. Now, what can I help you with?"
"Can you tell me what is happening with the visitation agreement for young Draco Malfoy?"
"It's Black now; Sirius Black adopted him a week ago. He annulled the marriage of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy post mortem, then blood adopted Draco and renamed him Drake. When he did the annulment, he also signed over the Malfoy manor house to some of Lucius' French relatives along with the title of Lord Malfoy. He made sure it was one that did not hold to the Malfoy 'blood purity' prejudices. Anyway, the case comes up for review next week, the parties have notified us that they have reached an agreement through their solicitors. From what I understand through the whispers around here, it is quite the legal document; one that will set the pattern for future custody and visitation agreements. I am looking forward to seeing it."
"Hmm…," Albus murmured thoughtfully. "It seems that two Dark characters have hammered out how they are going to divide that poor child. It is a shame, but what can you do?"
"Dark?" Gerald gasped. "Are you sure, Albus?"
"How can anyone be sure? Yes, I know that Severus was acquitted, but remember, he is a potions master. It would not be unreasonable to think that he could have made some sort of antidote to the Veritaserum. He spent more time with Lord Voldemort's forces than he ever did ours. In fact, I believe that he is the one who gave Voldemort the information that made him target the Potters. And don't even get me started on Black. As far as I know, he was the Secret Keeper for the Potters. I think he probably killed off poor Peter Pettigrew to keep him silent."
"But the DMLE said he was cleared in that." Gerald was clearly confused.
"Ah, that is the rub. You know that I spent a few years in the muggle world, don't you?" At Gerald's nod, Dumbledore continued. "The muggle police always protect each other no matter how corrupt. They will lie, cheat and steal. Do you really expect that our Aurors are any different? It is the same job, the same 'us against the world' attitude, just a different job name. I am the Grand Warlock of the Wizengamot, and I never heard him testify under Veritaserum in court." This was not actually a lie, Sirius had testified during a panel hearing that Dumbledore did not attend, although he had minutes of the hearing.
"This is terrible, but what can be done about it?"
Albus pretended to think about it. "The two parties do not get along. If the agreement should be too conciliatory, they could possibly join together to corrupt the boy. It would be better to keep them at each other's throats, that way I could possibly influence one or both of them back toward the light. I believe that everyone deserves a second chance, no matter how despicable. Possibly make sure that all of Severus' visitations would have to be supervised by someone who is solidly on the side of the Light."
"Usually we are required to sign off on mutual agreements, but that does sound like a good idea." Gerald was taking notes. "It is really too bad that Black adopted the boy, otherwise we could force home visitations by our department."
"With everything in such a state of flux, and the fact that the boy's natural parents were Death Eaters, you might be able to bend some of the guidelines and demand that anyway. I would appreciate any help you could give to keep that little boy in a healthy environment. I, of course, would volunteer any time I have free to help supervise. I would also shield you from any possible backlash."
"Albus, caring for children is my job, but it is also my passion. You know the circumstances in which I grew up, yours were not too different. I know you don't like to speak of it, but I saw the pain you went through when you had to go to school with everyone knowing your father had killed that muggle and had died in Azkaban for it. The young one are the ones who suffer because of the bad decisions of the adults who should be protecting them." The two wizards rose and Gerald crossed over to Dumbledore and gave him a hug and kiss. "How you can still care so much with all that you have been through. I really believe that is what made me fall in love with you all those years ago."
Dumbledore looked at his old friend fondly. "I know Gerald, but as fond as I am of you, Gellert was my only love, and the pain he put me through made sure that I could never have a loving relationship with anyone else. Imagine someone you love more than life itself, and that person goes completely Dark and tries to take you down with him. And the worst part was when I had to kill him, they made me some sort of hero. Everyone says I defeated Gellert that day, but it was really my heart that was defeated." Albus gave his friend a return hug, then picked up his bundle of tea and made his way over to the fireplace. Taking a handful of Floo powder, he turned and said, "Let me know what happens," then through the powder in the fireplace, called out his destination, stepped in and disappeared.
Albus stepped out of his fireplace and into his office. He sent his tea off with a house elf to be put in his private stores, then sat down at his desk and began taking notes. As he did this, he spoke to his phoenix, Fawkes, using the bird as a sounding board as he told him of his meeting and the outline of his plan to bring Severus back under his control using the visitations with Draco as a means to keep the Potions Master from getting too comfortable with Sirius Black, and sketching out a rough outline of a plan to put Severus out of business so he would have to come crawling back to Hogwarts in order to maintain an income. As caught up in his scheming as he was, Albus never noticed the look of disgust the phoenix was giving him. He also never noticed the alarmed look on the face of a past Headmaster, Phineas Nigellus Black, the Great-great-grandfather of one Sirius Black, and adopted ancestor of Draco Black (formerly Malfoy). He pretended to be asleep in his frame, but listened to every word Albus uttered to Fawkes.
Albus was startled out of his reverie when Fawkes, clearly upset by his human's scheming, flew off his perch and flashed out of the room. Phineas took this opportunity to secrete himself behind some drapes painted into his portrait. Albus looked at his watch, then rose from his desk and left his office for the Great Hall to have lunch. As soon as he left, Phineas left his portrait frame and hurried to the one in the Black ancestral home at 12 Grimmauld Place. As soon as he entered his new frame, he began shouting for Sirius. The only response he got was from an elf he did not recognize.
"Shhh! Youse will wake up the little Master and Dobby just got him down for his nap!" Dobby scowled at Phineas.
"Elf, where is your Master, Sirius?"
"Master Sirius be taking care of some business at his solicitor's office. Why is you wanting to know?"
"Dobby, this is very important. There is a dastardly plot of which I have just learned that will bring harm to Sirius and Drake. Is there any way you can get to Sirius and bring him and his solicitor here?"
Dobby was alarmed by this. "Dobby will call Master Sirius at the solicitor's office on the floo. Dobby heard Master Sirius give his address when he left." The elf scurried away, leaving Phineas to stew in his frame. He returned a few minutes later with Sirius, his solicitor, and Sarah in tow. Ten minutes after that, Phineas finished. Not a word had been spoken during the telling of the plot. When Phineas finished, the solicitor, George Steinman spoke.
"This is indeed serious, and no lame jokes," he said as he saw that Sirius was about to do just that. "If this goes the way Dumbledore wants, it could ruin everything we have worked on for Drake's benefit. I believe it is time to call in the big guns." Steinman pulled out a two way mirror and called his secretary. "Marsha, get Marvin Sheistre on the floo and have him come to Sirius Black's house. If he can bring Severus Snape, so much the better. Then call Amelia Bones and have her come her, tell her it is urgent." He closed the mirror and turned toward Sirius and Sarah. "Okay, here is what we are going to do….."
Ministry of Magic
Department of Magical Law Enforcement
It had been too easy. Amelia had gone to Gerald Mosser's office, supposedly to get information on the visitation agreement for an 'ongoing investigation of Sirius Black and Severus Snape'. Mosser had swallowed it hook, line, and sinker, eager to assist the DMLE in putting away two wizards that Albus Dumbledore had planted suspicions about in Mosser's mind. He also swallowed a dose of Veritaserum that Amelia had slipped into his tea. Once his eyes glazed over, Amelia began to question Gerald and he began to spill his guts. He happily admitted that he planned, at Dumbledore's request, to circumvent the rules of his office and make any agreement brought in on Drake's behalf unworkable and subject to Dumbledore's supervision. He also told her all about his unrequited love for Dumbledore and his disappointment that Gellard Grindlewald had captured Albus' heart before he, Gerald, even had a chance. This raised Amelia's eyebrows. Homosexuality was a career killer, especially in any job that dealt with children. Never mind that the children were far more likely to be hurt by hetrosexuals, the wizarding public just had a really bad attitude toward gays. They ranked somewhere below werewolves on the respect scale in wizarding society. This could very well spell the end of Albus Dumbledore as a force in society should it be revealed. And the fact that Gellert Grindlewald was his long lost lover would be even worse. The public might start seeing his heroic defeat of Grindlewald as nothing more than a lover's quarrel that got out of hand.
When Mosser came out of his drug induced cooperativeness, Amelia fixed him with a steely glare. "The first thing you will do is fill out this form recusing yourself from this case due to conflict of interest. The second thing you will do is write out your resignation for 'health reasons'. One of my Aurors will be here while you clear out your desk. He will then escort you home and stay with you until another mediator enacts the visitation agreement. You will never hold another Ministry position, but you are up in years, it might just be a good time to retire. You will also testify against Dumbledore regarding his interference in this matter should I require it. In return, nothing will be made public about your rather odd proclivities. Is this understood?"
Defeated, Mosser filled out the form and wrote his resignation, effective immediately. Amelia called up to her office and a few minutes later Mad-Eye Moody joined her in Gerald's office. She gave him a quick rundown on the case and instructed him to escort Mosser home and remain with him, making sure he did not have any contact with anyone until the case was finished later that day. Moody acknowledged her order and patiently waited for Mosser to finish packing. Moody then created a portkey to Mosser's home and settled in to guard him.
At five pm, well after the visitation agreement had been enacted and sealed, Mosser suddenly found himself in a full body bind while he was forced to watch Moody screw a large hook into a beam on the ceiling and conjure a noosed rope to attach to the hook.
"Just so you know, I have nothing against you or Dumbledore for being poofters, I have taken that kind of comfort myself, back in my younger days. But you have to realize, Bones has you on a leash, and she plans to use you to bring down Dumbledore, and that I can't allow. And in a trial, she can force your testimony, you are weak and you would give it. In order to prevent you from that shame, you decided to commit suicide. Terrible thing, but I will make sure that Dumbledore knows that you did this to protect him. I'm sure he will be grateful, once he gets over the fact that you spoiled his plan."
Moody then levitated Mosser to the noose and slipped his head through. He tightened the noose and, with a wave of his wand, released the body bind on Mosser and cancelled the levitation spell. Gerald's last thought was that he would have willingly walked over and placed the noose around his own neck to protect the wizard he had loved for the past 130 years, Albus Dumbledore. He only wished he could have told Moody that.
When the body had stopped twitching, Moody got a kitchen chair and lay it on its side to appear that Mosser had kicked the chair out from under himself, committing suicide. He cleaned up any trace of his presence from the house, then donned his invisibility cloak and left the scene. The body would be found the next day when Dumbledore, wanting information on the visitation agreement, came by and found his friend dead.
The visitation agreement was signed by both parties and enacted by the new mediator. Once it was in place, the parties found out that they absolutely were unable to utter a single word against the other, nor could their body language transmit their true feelings toward each other. This was not quite as hard as might be thought. It seemed that both men had earned a modicum of respect from the other when they worked together to spoil Dumbledore's little scheme. Drake Black left the hearing with his godfather to spend a weekend in the forest collecting potions ingredients while Sirius Black went home to cry on the understanding shoulder of his fiancée, Sarah Nalett. He would ask her something very important that weekend, but that is another chapter……