A crowd gathered around a podium set up in what remained of Diagon Alley. Banners floated above them, proclaiming: ‘POTTER SPEAKS: TODAY AT 2PM’. The banners dissolved just as it turned 2pm, and Harry Potter, Saviour of the Wizarding World, Apparated behind the stand. He coughed once, to gather their attention, and began to speak.
“Thank you all for coming. I would like to speak today about some of the important changes that will soon be affecting all of our lives. Changes that are long overdue.
“Sirius Black was no murderer.” The crowd began to murmur. Harry looked out at them, at the hordes of people desperate to hear what their ‘Chosen One’ had to say. He recognised the faces of people who he knew would have been happy to hand him over to Voldemort; he glimpsed Pansy Parkinson stood proudly, if separated from her peers. He stood taller.
“He was a good man: my Godfather, accused of selling his best friends out to Voldemort, did everything in his power to keep me safe. The Ministry will be granting him an Order of Merlin, First Class, in Memoriam.” The crowd’s whispers grew louder. Harry carried on. “Dumbledore was brilliant, but he wasn’t always right. He knew one of The Order was a spy for the Death Eaters. He, too, thought it was Sirius. But it was Peter Pettigrew who sold my parents out, who blew up that street, who convinced the public that Sirius was a killer. I’m sure by now you know he was an unregistered animagus and hid in the Weasley’s home as their pet, Scabbers.
“Pettigrew was an evil, evil man. Sirius was far from it. He could be angry, and confused, and mean; he taunted those he didn’t like, and was stubborn to a fault. But despite all that, he was one of the best men I ever knew.
“Padfoot – as was his codename – was wrongfully imprisoned for another man’s crimes. The Ministry promises me they’re going to put in new legislation in order to make sure nothing like this ever happens again. But this is all too late for Sirius. The man who wanted to look after me, who was the closest thing I had to a father? He wanted nothing more from life than to be seen as different from his family of pure blood supremacists. Thanks to Minister Fudge, the opposite of this happened. He found a new family in my father, and lost him. He wanted to protect his brother, and Regulus died fighting Voldemort too. He never wanted to return to his family home, and yet he was forced to live there for the remainder of his life because he was in hiding. This man suffered in numerous ways for much of his life, but he was still a positive force in the Order and a good man at heart. And I will mourn his loss until my dying days.
“Horrible, awful things have happened to our community because of fear. Sirius is not alone in his trauma: I know others were similarly mistreated. His partner, Remus Lupin, is now dead. He fought at my side during the war, along with his wife, Tonks. They were both looked down on as being less than Wizards for being ‘half breeds’, as the former Under Secretary put it. My friend Hermione Granger will, in their honour, be looking into the best way to change the laws about Magical Creatures. Any of you who know her will understand that it is best not to get in her way when she is working.”
“Are you threatening us, boy?” a voice called out from the crowd, to be quickly shushed by the surrounding people.
“Not threatening, no. Informing. I have no interesting in running the Ministry. I’m due a long rest, to be honest with you. But you all need to know what will be done. This is not a suggestion: change is coming. Change – finally – for the better.” With that, Harry strolled off the podium. He knew that, back at Grimmauld Place, Kreacher would have a nice hot meal ready.
He could finally let someone else be in control.
All would soon be well.