by C.R. Wilson
In PoA, when Fudge is seated in the Three Broomsticks with McGonagall, Hagrid, and Madam Rosmerta, as you will remember, the topic of conversation is Sirius’ purported betrayal of the Potters. On page 208, Fudge makes an odd comment which I believe implicates him in a truly horrible way.
The comment is one that I didn’t notice until my second time reading the book; it is meticulously hidden right in plain sight, as only JKR is capable of doing. Fudge states:
“I was Junior Minister in the Department of Magical Catastrophes at the time, and I was one of the first on the scene after Black murdered all those people. I-I will never forget it. I still dream about it sometimes. A crater in the middle of the street, so deep it had cracked the sewer below. Bodies everywhere. Muggles screaming. And Black standing there laughing, with what was left of Pettigrew in front of him… a heap of bloodstained robes and a few-a few fragments-“
Where was Sirius that night? We all know that he was certainly not standing in the middle of a street, laughing over the remains of Pettigrew. And yet Fudge says that he saw this for himself, that he will never forget it. He may have seen “what was left of Pettigrew”-his finger-and he may have seen bloodstained robes… but as for Sirius? Even if Sirius had known by that point what Pettigrew had done, including cutting off his own finger in order to escape conviction, he wouldn’t have been laughing about it. Not if his best friends had just been killed. Not if he felt responsible for it. This scenario that Fudge has drawn out could never have actually occurred. So how could he have possibly seen it? He couldn’t have. And if he didn’t see it, why would he say he had?
The simple fact is, he was lying. And I believe his motive for doing so was that he knew all along that Sirius was innocent. I think Fudge is even more evil than we realize. He sent an innocent man to prison-Wizards’ prison, at that-for 12 years. That is a crime of Count of Monte Cristo proportions.
On page 209, Rosmerta asks Fudge if Sirius is truly mad. Fudge says:
“I wish I could say that he was…. Yet I met Black on my last inspection of Azkaban. You know, most of the prisoners in there sit muttering to themselves in the dark; there’s no sense in them… but I was shocked at how normal Black seemed. He spoke quite rationally to me. It was unnerving.”
Can you put yourself in Fudge’s shoes here? Imagine walking into a setting as dark and foreboding as Azkaban, and looking into the eyes of someone you had sent there, someone you knew to be innocent. It’s no wonder Fudge is unnerved by this; he’d probably prefer that Sirius was mad. Maybe he feels that if Sirius didn’t know if he was guilty or not, if he wasn’t himself, it might make it easier to look into those eyes… easier to bear a burden like that.
Fudge is one seriously wicked dude.