June 29, 2012

After his conversation with Professor Kinsel, Joseph went straight to his office and closed the door. He sat at his desk and took the Veritaserum out of his pocket. He stared at it, twisting it round and round in his long fingers. The clear liquid frothed a little as it rolled within the bottle.

Joseph had chosen his words carefully back in Professor Kinsel's office. When he had asked him if he could let James show his character and intentions on his own, he had replied, "I can." Not "I will." He had made no decisions then, preferring to keep the option open until he could take the time to think it over.

Now he gazed upon the Veritaserum, the only thing he knew for sure would give him the truth, if only he could be granted the opportunity to use it. To him, it was the key to everything.

And yet, everything had both good and bad in it. Did he really want to know his brother's intentions? Joseph had braced himself, knowing that James could not, would not be the same person he had remembered. That had been the case before James's time in Azkaban. He recalled Professor Kinsel's opinion that James would have been driven slightly insane. His lack of optimism was jarring, as well.

Why did James wait so long to show himself, anyway? He had been out of Azkaban for almost 20 years already; Joseph had assumed he had gone to ground, since no one had seen him in public since his release. And how did he secure a post of a Wizengamot member, or even get away with his disguise? Had James done that just to spite Joseph, or was there another reason? Joseph had given up that dream many, many years ago, and he had no bitterness toward his current job.

Joseph shook his head to clear it. There were too many questions he could not answer. But the Veritaserum stayed in his hand, like a promise waiting to be fulfilled.

He focused on his brother as a Hogwarts student. Likable, quiet, literate. Full of bitterness toward the Hufflepuffs, but protective of Joseph, like an older brother should be. Hiding his plans carefully. Joseph had found out but kept his mouth shut then.

He had imagined himself in two scenarios before his conversation with Professor Kinsel, both involving forcing Veritaserum down his brother's throat. In one, James had confessed an evil plan, and Joseph would go to the Ministry and tell them everything he heard, forever silencing his brother's schemes. He could not admit to himself the second part of that, that James's Wizengamot spot would be left open, calling his name. In the second scenario, James would confess that he had always wanted to reconcile with him, but had never known how. James would say he had left his plans behind, that he knew he couldn't win and had begun to change. Both were wonderful dreams in Joseph's mind.

What if James was simply insane?

Joseph clutched the potion tightly in his hand. He had made up his mind. He opened his desk and hid the Veritaserum deep in the corner. Just in case.

He firmly pushed all thoughts of James out of his mind, then began to go through a stack of papers. He had students to teach and homework to grade. That was all.