Scion of Gryffindor
19 - The Trial
Harry / Tonks ship
Harry stared at the court summons he held in his hands.
"What'd you get, Cub?" Remus asked.
Confused, angry, and scared, Harry handed the parchment over. Curious at his reaction, Godric and Tonks read it over the werewolf's shoulders.
Godric sighed as the page was handed to the adult Shacklebolts. "I was worried about this."
Harry looked at Godric, silently asking for an explanation.
"Despite the fact it's about a criminal act, it's really politically motivated."
"I'm the only one to get a summons," Harry said in understanding.
Godric nodded. "For that reason, we can challenge it if we wanted to. Their easiest counter to that would be to summon the rest of the rescue squad and question them as well. There is no harm done from their point of view, and it would STILL get you into a courtroom with veritaserum in your system."
"But it said that veritaserum only MAY be used, not that it would!" Harry objected.
Tonks joined the discussion in an official tone. "Mr. Potter, why did your Blasting Curse destroy the barricade whereas former Auror Tonks's Blasting Curses did not?"
Harry's mouth opened before he frowned and closed his mouth again in thought. "The answer is something I don't want to come out. Namely my status as Godric's heir," he admitted.
Tonks nodded and went on in her normal voice. "Right. That refusal to answer would be enough to justify the use of veritaserum."
"Right," Shack agreed. "As your potions and occlumency teacher, I think I can help you to some degree, though."
Godric nodded. "Your status as Lord Gryffindor isn't earth-shattering if it comes out. This is secondary, though. As I said, this is a politically motivated move. Therefore, Fudge has more moves planned."
Harry was frowning. "Fudge's involvement also explains why Madam Bones said I wouldn't have to testify, yet here is a summons. She was overridden, wasn't she?"
Everyone nodded to the very unhappy student.
"Dammit," he muttered, still thinking. "Fudge didn't even violate our agreement, so I can't directly retaliate."
Remus was unhappy. "Harry, just because he's making your life difficult doesn't mean you have the right to shoot back."
"Making my life difficult? I think it could be a lot worse than that, Remus. I know entirely too many secrets. Godric's existence is important to the Potters specifically and the light side in general. I don't want him hunted down by a necromancer working for Tom, after all."
"Me, neither," Godric offered.
Harry went on, "His loss would also be a blow to the morale of the light side. Also, how much do I know about the Order of the Phoenix? Ginny and Mr. Weasley could be hurt, socially and politically, if everything about the Chamber of Secrets comes out without proper explanation." He sighed. "I don't think I'm being egotistical when I say that there's no end to the damage it could do, Remus."
"Besides, politicians like Fudge only respond to certain things," Tonks said. "Appealing to his humanity, assuming he has any, won't work nearly as well as a sufficiently large political threat."
Remus frowned. "I don't like it."
"Neither do I," Harry admitted. "However, can you see another way around the problem? Turning the other cheek will just get the second cheek slapped with him, and we all know it."
Harry didn't sleep well the night of August twenty-eighth. There were several reasons for this.
It was Remus's first transformation using Snape's "mercenary" Wolfsbane Potion after Kingsley retrieved it for them. Everyone in Gryffindor Keep had strong and mainly negative opinions of Snape, but he WAS one of the best potion brewers in the U.K. Despite the apparent success of the potion, Harry couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong with that whole situation.
Next on the list of distractions was that Hogwarts classes would be starting up again in a few days. Not going back to the castle hurt in a way he couldn't quite verbalize, though he recognized it had more to do with his friends than the building itself.
The Weasleys (and Hermione) would be shopping in Diagon Alley soon, and he had agreed to meet up with at least Ginny. He couldn't see a way around a confrontation with Hermione. Not that he wanted to avoid her, really, but he didn't want to do further damage to their relationship.
Last, and certainly not least, he had the hearing with the ministry of magic the next morning.
No, Harry was doomed to have a night of restless tossing and turning. He admitted defeat at one in the morning and went down to the parlor, hoping to find some diversion. Between the crackling fire and inconsequential conversation with Godric, Harry finally nodded off at three.
The eastern sky was just beginning to brighten when he was awakened by warm breath and an equally warm tongue on his face.
Privately, Harry later blamed his reaction on the dream that had been interrupted. "Nim," he objected groggily, "isn't it still early in our relationship to be waking me up like this?"
It took several seconds before Harry woke up enough to realize that he couldn't understand what she was trying to say to him in response. He cracked an eye open to see what the problem was.
Instead of the metamorphmagus he was dating, he saw a werewolf rolling on the floor in the throes of what could only be lupine laughter.
"I didn't know it was you, Remus!" Harry objected.
"I know, Cub," the battered but cheerful now-human Lupin answered, taking a sip of his breakfast tea.
"What was it he said again?" Kingsley asked.
"'Isn't it still too early in our relationship for you to be waking me up like this?'" Remus mimicked.
Kingsley, Godric, and Remus broke into fresh laughter.
Harry just sighed.
Tonks leaned over and breathed into his ear, "I'll have to keep that method in mind." Before pulling back, she managed to lightly brush behind his ear with her tongue.
Harry jumped and gave a convulsive shudder. Tonks looked smug. The three men just smirked.
Kelly, leading Laura by the hand, walked into this scene. Looking at the five, she asked, "Okay, what'd I miss?"
Harry groaned as the ever-more-cheerful Remus launched into the story.
"The last witness I would like to call is Harry James Potter."
Harry stood and walked as calmly as his knees allowed toward the witness seat in front of the panel of Wizengamot Elders. Unlike his own court appearance, this one had only three members of the Wizengamot presiding. He didn't recognize any of them. The nine surviving Death Eaters were magically silenced and shackled in place side by side with an auror in attendance for each. Three barristers had been fighting a losing battle to get the charges dropped against their clients.
And now the Interrogator (a man by the name of Dewey, Shack had told him with a frown) had called his final witness.
Harry tried to keep the anxiety off of his face. Godric and Kingsley had spent a lot of time preparing him for any of several possible directions the proceedings could go in.
"Please state your full name, occupation, and residence."
"Harry James Potter, I'm a student, and I don't know where I live."
Dewey blinked in surprise at that. "I'm sorry? You don't know where you live?"
Harry shrugged. "I inherited it from my parents' estate. I don't know where it's physically located."
"What is it called?"
"For the sake of my privacy, I'd rather not answer that."
Dewey frowned and jotted something down on a parchment before continuing his questions. "Please describe the events as you recall them on the morning of August eleventh."
Harry reported all of the events at the Shacklebolt home after he'd apparated in.
Everyone in the public spectators' box, which included a fair number of reporters, listened in rapt attention. Surprisingly, Fudge was not in attendance. Dewey and the three defense barristers made rapid notes the entire time he was talking. The Wizengamot Elders gazed at him impassively.
After he finished, Dewey started his questions. "You claim you apparated in."
"But you are not yet seventeen," the barrister objected delicately. At that point, Harry was absolutely certain that this whole mess was politically motivated. They were trying to find things to charge him with. Fortunately, they hadn't done their homework.
"I received my apparition license on August tenth," Harry calmly answered.
The man stared blankly for a moment. "But you're not yet seventeen," he repeated.
Harry shrugged. "Correct, but that does not change the fact that I had my license already." Harry carefully kept his face blank and his voice even. He didn't want to antagonize the man by making him look more of an idiot than he was doing to himself.
Apparently realizing how he sounded, the man went on. "You claim your Blasting Curse destroyed the barricade the Death Eaters had erected, correct?"
"Were you aware that both Miss Tonks and Mr. Lupin had already hit that same barricade with Blasting Curses before you did?"
"I was told that later."
Interrogator Dewey paused for a moment in aggravation. Harry was answering the questions readily enough, but he wasn't leaving him openings to move to his next point. "So how do you explain that your spell destroyed it when theirs, two fully grown and powerful magicians, had had much less effect?"
Harry again shrugged. "Perhaps their curses weakened it sufficiently for mine to finish it off. Perhaps they'd been somewhat drained before casting that spell. Perhaps they were distracted - they WERE in the middle of a firefight, remember - when they cast their spells."
"You're aware that one," he checked his notes, "Zack Forsum died?"
"I knew one of them had died, but I hadn't heard the name," Harry said tightly.
"You killed a man, yet were not even interested in hearing who it was?" Dewey asked in surprise.
Harry's fist clenched. "I care that he died, if that is your insinuation, Mr. Dewey. I care and have had occasional nightmares about it. Implying that I'm so heartless that I didn't even bother to notice is not only incorrect but also very insulting."
A sparkle, visible only to Harry, appeared in Dewey's eye. "Was that a challenge, Mr. Potter?"
"No. I simply stated that your question was insulting to me."
"But isn't that grounds for a challenge?"
"Do you WANT me to challenge you? It also strikes me that we've strayed from the stated purpose of this inquiry, Mr. Dewey." Harry's emphasis on "stated" was very light but didn't go unnoticed by Kingsley, Tonks, or Dewey.
"I would remind you, Mr. Potter, that it is my job to decide what is within the scope of this inquiry and what is not. As such, please stop questioning my professionalism," Dewey returned.
"Then please stop questioning my humanity."
As Harry and Dewey engaged in a brief glaring contest, one of the three Wizengamot Elders cleared her throat. "Interrogator Dewey, Lord-Baron Potter is correct. You have strayed a bit afield of the events in question. Please restrict yourself to that topic."
Dewey pulled his gaze up. "As is my right as ministry Interrogator, I demand that this witness be given veritaserum."
Harry allowed one eyebrow to rise. So he finally thought he had reason?
"On what grounds?" the presiding Elder demanded.
"The witness is clearly hostile."
Harry resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Tonks and Kingsley were under no such restriction.
"That is hardly grounds to use veritaserum," the Elder pointed out.
"He has also evaded several questions. If we are to get to the bottom of the events in question, we must have answers."
The stately witch was clearly unhappy. "It is your right to demand such," she grudgingly admitted. She signaled one of the aurors standing along the wall. He stepped forward, pulling a small vial out of his robe as he advanced.
Harry raised a hand. "May I make a short statement before being dosed?" With his hand up, he silently and wandlessly cast several revealing and detoxification spells at the vial. It wouldn't interfere with the veritaserum itself, but it would reveal any treachery. To his mild surprise, nothing seemed amiss.
"Very well, young man."
"I'd like to point out that Mr. Dewey was the one who CAUSED me to be hostile despite the fact that I'm an eyewitness he's called for the prosecution. Secondly, he has already stated - as I'm the last witness he wants to call - that I'm the ONLY one he planned on calling among the five adult magicians who weren't arrested. I'm also the one of the five who arguably saw the least. That strikes me as somewhat . . . curious." His implication was not lost on anyone in the room, causing the reporters to nearly bounce in excitement and Dewey to flush.
Harry then willingly took the dose of veritaserum from the stony-faced auror.
Dewey waited a minute before he asked his questions, keeping an eye on his watch with an expression of barely contained anticipation.
While the calm, floating feeling slowly settled over him, Harry spent the time ordering his mind and building his occlumency shields. Kingsley had been very informative about veritaserum. As an above-average brewer, master occlumens, and former Senior Auror, he had a unique appreciation and knowledge of the substance. In short, it forced one to honestly answer the question asked.
This didn't sound like news to Harry the first time around, and he said so in a tone that was probably embarrassingly whiny. After a few seconds further explanation by his tolerant teacher, he saw the older man's point.
"Where are you living?" Dewey snapped out.
"The Keep," Harry honestly answered. That was the trick. He had to answer honestly but not COMPLETELY. A sufficiently powerful occlumens (and his immunity to the Imperious Curse helped here) could keep his wits about him enough to keep a check on his tongue.
"Where is this keep?"
"I don't know." And he really didn't.
"Whose keep is it?" Dewey asked, trying to get at the information from a different direction.
"Interrogator Dewey," one of the Elders interjected sternly, "we have already covered this. Move on."
"Yes, sir. I apologize to the court," he added in a completely insincere tone. He turned back to Harry. "On the morning of August eleventh, you apparated to the Shacklebolt residence, correct?"
"Did you have a license to do so?"
"Had you ever been to that residence before?"
"Did someone give you the apparition coordinates?"
"Then how did you apparate there? I can't apparate somewhere I've never been without coordinates."
"Then I must be more powerful than you are." Harry was pushing his limits on how he answered that question, but the opportunity was too perfect to pass up.
Almost the entire audience laughed. Even the three Elders had to fight to keep expressions of amusement off of their faces.
Dewey, however, got an ugly look on his face. "How did you apparate to the Shacklebolt residence without any of the information usually needed?" he restated his question.
"I was told that I could apparate to a person instead of a location if I concentrated hard enough and had enough power. I attempted it, and it worked."
"Kingsley Shacklebolt, Remus Lupin, and Nymphadora Tonks were all already there. Who told you that you could do that?"
"One of my teachers." The beauty of it, Harry reflected distantly, was that that answer was not only honest, but it also threw all of the Hogwarts professors into the possible pool of answers.
"Which one?" Dewey nearly growled.
"It doesn't matter which one."
"Interrogator Dewey," the chief Elder said sternly, "this is your last warning. Keep to the STATED purpose of this inquiry instead of going on a fishing expedition against Lord-Baron Potter." The chief Elder was beginning to realize that there is something underhanded being attempted and wasn't about to let it happen.
"Yes, madam. Mr. Potter, did you cast a Blasting Curse at the barricade?"
"Did it destroy said barricade, resulting in the death of Mr. Forsum?"
"It destroyed the barricade," Harry agreed.
Dewey waited, and so did Harry.
"Did it result in the death of Mr. Forsum?" Dewey finally snapped out.
"I don't know what killed him." After all, Kingsley didn't actually tell him the cause of death.
"The barricade YOU caused to explode killed him!"
Harry remained silent.
"Well, answer my question!"
"You didn't ask me a question."
"Did you kill him?" Dewey was clearly getting very upset at the answers he was receiving.
"You just said that I did."
"Admit it! You killed him!"
This was finally too much for the chief Elder. "Interrogator Dewey, that is enough! Lord-Baron Potter is not on trial. The unfortunate death of Zack Forsum while engaged in Death Eater activities is not in dispute. Now sit down, and be silent. I will finish the questioning of this witness."
She proceeded to hit several of the key points in Harry's earlier testimony, getting the same answers while Harry was under veritaserum as he gave previously. Harry easily answered all of her questions, as they didn't stray into uncomfortable territory.
The defense barristers only asked him a few questions. They clearly had nothing to work with and were just going through the motions of a defense.
The Elders conferred for five minutes behind an Obscuring Charm before sentencing all nine to life imprisonment in Azkaban. The defendants, now prisoners, understandably didn't take this well. They had to be stunned and floated out of the courtroom.
Dewey spent the whole time fuming and glaring at Harry.
Before anyone points it out, yes I am equating "Reducto" with the Blasting Curse. The Lexicon doesn't say they're the same thing, but neither does it say they're NOT the same thing. I'm also taking some liberties with Wizengamot procedures regarding court cases.