Now that the opening statement had been made, it was time for them to move on. It was time to flawlessly execute their lines of questions, ripping me to pieces during the process without so much as a second thought. They would bring their speech to dramatic heights, wishing to startle the jury, to evoke gasps from the bystanders, and to make me look like the monster that they were insinuating me to be.
Me? My resolve was weak, my strength fleeting. Strength in numbers. The saying rang through my ears. Lies, that’s what the statement represented. It’s only strength in numbers when the numbers are on your side. I dared not look around the courtroom. Shifty eyes are a telltale sign of guilt, or so they teach.
Now, I can see the holes in that statement. Sitting on this stand, with all the people around me, I’ve got a sense of longing only to make all of them happy. Please them with my answers, with my truths. A long shot, I now realize.
‘Did you ever suspect Ronald Weasley, your fiancé, of knowing about your infidelity?’ Shacklebolt’s question isn’t a surprise, but its answer isn’t easy all the same.
Did I ever think that he knew? Did he? Still thoughts that linger on mind my in the darkest of hours. When I sit in my cell while sleep evades me, I think about Ronald. I can’t help it; it’s something that I’ve never known, a detail that I lack. I sit in silence now, racking my brain for any memories that would stand out in the crowd.
‘No.’ My voice comes out weak and frail, my vocal cords traitors to the rest of my body still. ‘I’m sure…’ I begin, so badly do I want to expand on my answer.
‘I don’t care what your sure of, it was a simple yes or no question.’ Shacklebolt’s voice is low, cold, and filled with an obvious sort of hate. One that I know he holds, it’s in his nature to hate the people he thinks to be wrongdoers. I can’t change his mind now; forever will I be what he hates the most.
My safest bet now is to try and convince the jury, the judge, but most of all, I have to convince myself.
My defense attorney, a mild woman with a tight bun in her hair with a stern expression begins to stand opening her mouth to object with a look to me. She wants to know if I want her to fight for me. I shake my head pathetically, no, don’t fight for me.
I’ve got to fight for myself.
The weather outside was brutal. Near white out conditions, or so the weather men had described it. Near didn’t begin to cover the situation, it made thinking hard to do. Even though it was nearing ten o’clock, it was still light out, the white sheets of snow illuminating the night sky.
Something disturbed the air in the house. Hermione sat in the study, trying to focus on the book in front of her. Her hand nestled in her hair holding her head up as she looked to the information below; it kept slipping as sleep threatened to take her over.
The clock on the wall chimed, 10:15 it read. How had it only been fifteen minutes? The time mocked her as she looked around the room with faint interest. Nothing was out of place or moved, but still, some sort of feeling lingered over her. The atmosphere was changed.
Standing up, no longer able to pretend that studying was what she was doing, Hermione stretched her arms above her head, replacing her feet in her worn slippers. Walking through the hallways, she fought the urge to shiver it was cold. Peeking around the corners as if she was a small child about to be reprimanded for sneaking out of her bed past bedtime, she wasn’t surprised to find the warmth that the den offered.
It’s fire was lit, the logs smoldering with heat. The embers of the flame dropping to sit in the bottom as the log withered away. Spotting the redhead in the front arm chair, she began to walk over as he stood. He didn’t see her, though if he knew that she was there or not, she couldn’t tell.
His movements were uneasy, though still with a graceful ease he walked and got new logs. Putting one in, he stroked the fire waiting for the fresh log to catch. Setting two other planks next to the mouth of the fireplace, he retook his seat, never once having spotted her.
To Hermione’s immense disappointment, he said nothing of her appearance at his side. Instead, he moved over as though to let her sit, though a feeling in the pit of her stomach questioned his motives.
Was it truly to give her room, or was it to move farther away from her?
His eyes were of a glazed content, his gaze caught by the flames raised from the log. Hermione tried to cope with the silence, not every silence was in need of ruining; some situations didn’t call for words. Curling her legs besides her, she leaned slightly towards Ron, hoping for some sort of reaction.
Wishing she had the words to say to him, anything at all, she cursed her awkwardness. Surely she was just paranoid; after all, he hadn’t said anything bad. Though, he hadn’t said anything at all either.
‘How was work?’ She ventured, her voice laced with a sense of timid ness she had never before known.
For a long moment he said nothing, as though he’d heard nothing and still didn’t know that she was in the room. A large knot of worry began to knead in her stomach, threatening the contents to spill. Was this how it would end? She wondered silently. Would this be their moment of truth?
‘We lost one.’ His voice filled with unsaid emotion. His gaze never dropped from the destructive fire before him.
‘Oh Merlin Ron, I’m so sorry. What happened?’ She asked him, cautiously moving her seat closer to his own, her body calling out for the warmth that his provided her with.
‘I just…’ He began, shaking his head. Pulling away from her and accepting her closure of distance all in the same moment, he turned his eyes filled to the depths with sorrow. ‘I looked away for one moment. Merlin, she was so scared. I promised that I would protect her, and I just… I couldn’t.’ Ron’s voice cracked with emotion as his eyes began to well with tears of anger.
Angry with himself, her mind thought with a wave of calm. This was a situation that she could deal with.
Pulling him closer to her, Hermione ended up on his lap. The smooth movement caught him off guard and he pushed her away with little force. The look on Hermione’s face was one of pure shock; he didn’t want her. The thought hit home but in a movement just as smooth as her own, he pulled her back to her, burrowing his face in the nook on her shoulder.
Still stunned, it took her a moment to react. Rubbing circles on his back in a soothing pattern, she listened to him as he mumbled and sobbed. Finally, after the building moments, he pulled away from her and bore his eyes into her own.
Such a truthful moment with no words, she had never known.
‘If I ever lost you…’ He began, stopping the thought shaking his head to clear the thoughts that plagued his mind. ‘You know I love you, right?’ He asked, desperation in his eyes at the thought that she didn’t know the one thing that he felt so fiercely.
‘I know. I love you too, Ronald.’ She said, thankful that he only accepted her answer and didn’t comment, or notice, the shakiness that had consumed her own voice.
Replacing his head on her shoulder, he murmured lovingly into her ear. She was glad that he seemed content with her not talking, as a lone tear escaped her eye, skipping over her cheek to land on her hand, still tracing circles on his back.
I feel my eyes welling with tears as my attorney sits back down. She can’t save me. Hell, I bet she doesn’t even believe my story, after all she doesn’t have to. Her own feelings aside, she is simply working for the money that I’m paying her, it’s her job not to feel one way or the other, not to let her own personal opinions sway her feelings.
Feelings. I’ve got to get my own in check. I can’t go all sob on the court now, I can’t let them see me breaking. The last thing I see before I close my eyes so briefly is Shacklebolt looking mockingly at my attorney, her looking so helpless and shaking her head knowing that this case is one that’s lost.
I can hear his footsteps falling closer to me. I look up, the wrong thing to do. His eyes portray his ease in the situation they radiate a smug composure. It makes me want to shrink.
‘What about Mr. Malfoy, did he know of your engagement to Mr. Weasley?’ He asks. Of course he knew, a question that I don’t even need to answer. Never ask a question that you don’t know the answer to. You never want to appear shocked in front of the court. His voice rings out to me and I am brought back into the classroom that he taught. Sitting in those uncomfortable chairs with desks attached, admiring his tactics. The very ones that he uses on me now.
I nod in answer. A move that is very obviously not pleasing to him. He slams his hands on the wooden railing, the boundary that keeps me from him. The boundary that marks me guilty and him innocent. I jump, my heart seemingly stops and I’m jolted into alert.
‘You will answer the question with a yes or no!’ His voice booms out, and I’m intimidated. Surely that’s his desired effect. I look helplessly to the judge, her face hard and set. She’s not going to tell him to stop, after my display to my own attorney she wont stand up and claim that he’s battering her client, and he wont give up.
‘Yes.’ My voice trembles under the stress that he’s putting on me, a faint ripple of pain rolls through my body.
‘Thank you.’ He says, though his voice is anything but grateful. He turns and strides purposefully towards the jury, his audience, with his hands clasped tightly behind his back. Turning he brings his gaze back to me and I find myself wishing that he would turn back around.
Never before have I felt such fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of questions; fear of a single man and how with only words he could condemn me a life that I didn’t rightfully earn.
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