Remus Lupin looked out the window at the rising sun, while sipping warm coffee from the mug in his hand. The night after this was the full moon, and, needless to say, Remus was growing a tad bit worried. The wolf inside of him was growing restless, and operating on less than a good five night's sleep wasn't helping. But the reason Remus was worried was sleeping in the room a few doors down. When Remus had threatened the Minister of Magic to keep Harry Potter over the full moon, that was all it had been: An empty threat. He loved Harry, he would never endanger the child in that way, or in any way. Remus hadn't thought the Ministry would want to test what'd he said about keeping Harry during the full moon, but apparently they'd called his bluff and were waiting to take Harry to Merlin knows where. He was, however, shocked that Albus Dumbledore had yet to do anything about the matter. "There is no worry, Remus; however opposed to Sirius's innocence the Minister is, he will have to prove it, and he will not take too long in doing so," was all the Headmaster had said to Remus's growing concern that Sirius still hadn't received his trial.
Remus had opted to stay at Sirius's house until he was released from Azkaban. This was where Harry had been the few days before the boy's godfather had been arrested, and it was where Harry had most of his things, including his room. Remus had gone to the Potter's house and salvaged what he could that Harry might want to have once he got older, and whatever of Harry's he could find. There wasn't much as the house had been destroyed, but what he did manage to save from the wreckage he had brought to Sirius's for Harry. Also, as much as Remus hated to admit it, Sirius's guestroom was just as, if not more, nice as his own bedroom.
However, Remus's main concern when he decided it would be best to stay at Sirius's was Harry. He could see how Harry was suffering already, and like no one, especially someone so young, should. Harry had been calling for Sirius at times, and Sirius would never come; that made Remus guess that he had called for his parents when Sirius had first collected him. Harry had been without Lily and James before, but never for this long, only a few hours at the most. Remus guess that Harry had somewhat broken the habit of saying "Mummy" and "Daddy" when he found that Sirius would be the only one to answer his calls, and now Sirius didn't come either. Every time Moony held the child, he could see Harry's bright emerald green eyes (his mother's eyes) asking if he was going to leave too.
"What am I going to do?" he asked out to no one.
The last five days had been hell. There was no other way to describe it. Crouch had placed Sirius in a high security cell, so Sirius had been in the constant presence of the dementors that entire time. Sirius wondered why he wasn't insane; if the endless presence of dementors wasn't enough, the shrieks and cries of other prisoners, who were quite mad, every night should have done the trick. True, Sirius had stuck as well as he could to thinking neutral thoughts, but the fear he felt of losing his godson on top of his best friends always found a way to surface.
Sirius heard the cell door rattle open, and looked over, hoping to see some of the prison's food being shoved in. Sirius did still get hungry, and he had to eat, to stay alive for Harry (otherwise, he would probably be starving himself), and Azkaban's food was disgusting enough that thinking about eating it took his mind off things, however temporarily.
Sirius rethought his most recent hope and mentally snorted. Maybe he wasn't as sane as he had been thinking.
Sirius inwardly groaned. It was Crouch, Minister of Magic. He wondered though if Crouch was actually going to give him his promised trial this time. When the Minister had last been to supposedly bring Sirius in for his trial (about two or three days ago, Sirius hadn't been keeping the best record), he said something that related Sirius to the rest of the Blacks. Highly insulted and unable to defend himself physically, Sirius said something rather... inappropriate in regards to Crouch's mother. Crouch had obviously wanted to hex Sirius at that moment, by his uncharacteristic outburst and his hand's movement towards his wand, but Mad-Eye Moody (who was there for the pick up) stopped him. Since a trial had been scheduled, Crouch left with known Death Eater Igor Karkaroff (who had screamed he'd make a deal with the Ministry) instead. Holding his tongue with the newly appointed Minister of Magic wasn't something Sirius was prepared to do, at least not well. Personally, he thought even the Junior Minister in the Department of Magical Catastrophes, Cornelius Fudge, would have been a better choice for Minister of Magic, especially now that Voldemort was defeated. However temporary that "defeat" was sure to be.
"Get up," he snarled, nudging Sirius with his foot and pointing his wand at Sirius's face.
Maybe this wasn't so bad. He seemed to finally be getting his trial after all; and, while Sirius knew Moony would never do anything to put Harry in harm's way, the fast approaching full moon gave him reason to worry. Sirius stood, looking at the Aurors who'd accompanied Crouch. Their badges read "Dawlish" and "Scrimgeour". Moody was no where to been seen.
"Looking for your friend, Mad-Eye?" Crouch taunted. "Too bad he's just retired."
This was not good.
Sirius knew Moody enough to know he probably hadn't had much say in his "retirement"; after all, the Ministry had been going on about "paranoid fools" for some time, and now that Voldemort was "gone", they (as in most everyone with any connection to the Ministry of Magic, or Auror Department, more specifically) figured it had to be only a matter of time before Mad-Eye was retired, especially with the new Minister. Moody was close to Dumbledore, and Crouch despised the Headmaster, for his second chance "policy" most of all. But what really had Sirius worried was that Moody was probably the only Auror who trusted Dumbledore enough to help him get a fair trial.
"Take him to the Interrogation Room," Crouch ordered. Upon seeing the mild look of confusion on Sirius's face, he added, "There's been a change in the legal system, Black, but, being in Azkaban, I'm sure you haven't heard of it yet. You see, Black, Moody used to oversee the interrogation procedures, but Scrimgeour has taken over Moody's previous position. And he has made some... well welcomed changes to the policy regarding prisoner interrogation."
This really was not good.
Sirius knew Scrimgeour as well, but that was mostly by reputation, and not a very... comforting reputation at that. Apparently, he and Crouch were old buddies, and that, Sirius deduced, meant that he, Sirius, was in trouble if they were changing these kinds of policies together. Big time. Unless Dumbledore was waiting for him behind the Interrogation door, which, he wasn't.
Of course, nothing helped matters that Amelia Bones, former Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, had been murdered by Voldemort's supporters (or more likely, by Voldemort himself) not two weeks before Lily and James had been killed, and that she had been replaced by Albert Runcorn.
Ministry of Magic, London
The benches in Courtroom eight were filled with witches and wizards of the Wizengamot, waiting for the next trial to begin. Of course, that meant the person on trial had to be brought in. The chatter (consisting mostly of forced small talk) instantly ceased when the door opened and Sirius Black was led in, flanked by four dementors with two Aurors close by, "just in case".
Sirius had just gotten back from a first hand experience with the Ministy's new "policy" regarding prisoners (even ones only awaiting trial) and interrogation. And one thing was certain, had Sirius not know what had happened to be a change in the legal system and administered by the Minister, what went on in that room would have been illegal. Sirius, as he was guided to the lone chair in the center of the room, limped from where something (he didn't know what exactly, most likely either a curse or foot) had hit him in the leg. Personally, Sirius was surprised he could even still breathe properly; he was sure at least one of his ribs had been broken during the "interrogation", which was more like a torture session than anything else.
Sirius had been expecting something like that, but no where near the extent it actually turned out to be. He dreaded the moment he would be forced to sit in the chair in the center of the room where chains would bind him tightly to it; when he had first entered the Interrogation Room, he answered Crouch's questions with the truth, a truth that the Minister refused to believe. Sirius had then felt himself held up by magic, and something long and relatively thin erupted from the end of Crouch's wand, causing the wand to resemble a whip. Sirius had then been given the opportunity to change what he had said, but Sirius wasn't going to be intimidated into telling (lying) about how he mistreated his godson. He was determined to hold his tongue from betraying any of his pain when he felt his robes ripped off his back so that Crouch's wand whip would have better access to it. And he had, at least until the Minister of Magic and Head of the Auror Department moved on to using a certain Unforgivable on him.
However, nothing they did could force Sirius to change his version of the truth, the true version. So Sirius (with his mind properly "weakened and prepared for Veritaserum") had been taken to his long awaited trial. Everyone who watched as Sirius was brought to the chair where he would sit for his trial only thought his odd way of movement was result from spending so much time with the dementors. (His robes had been adequately repaired and "upgraded" so they wouldn't show any blood that may be seeping through them). Then again, if the actions of the two wizards had been legal, who would they need to hide what they had done from? Sirius scanned the Wizengamot seated in the Courtroom. Dumbledore, and... Nope, just Dumbledore. But, in reality, Dumbledore had authority over Hogwarts, not the Ministry.
Sirius was seated in the chair, and he silently grimaced as it chained him tightly to itself.
The trial proceeded. It started with the usual questions, control questions, to make sure that Sirius would be able to recall and relay the facts of what happened. Once the basics had been cleared up, three drops of Veritaserum were administered, and some control questions to test the validity of the truth serum were asked. Then the real questions began. Sirius (even though a few more drops of Veritaserum had been forced down his throat and he could find no way to even think about fighting its effects, even if he wanted to) was forced to relive his memories of the Potters just before their deaths, and of what happened with Harry. The worser memories, of trading places with Pettigrew, realizing his mistake, seeing James and Lily dead, cut themselves deeper into his mind, and Sirius was disappointed when the better memories, of finding Harry alive, of the good times he had spent with his godson the few days before Azkaban, just felt the same.
For three hours, the trial, with its meaningless questions, continued. Veritaserum was given again every hour or so to make certain its effectiveness wasn't wearing off. Sirius just wanted it to end. He wanted to go home, to see his godson; it had been almost a week since he had last held Harry.
Remus was thoroughly relieved when he received an owl from the Ministry of Magic stating that his testimony was needed in the trial of Sirius Black that was to take place that day. He had arrived at the Ministry shortly after Sirius had, so his best friend didn't know he was here yet. He had waited for three hours (with Harry, who, even though he didn't weigh that much, got to be quite heavy after three long hours) until his eyewitness account for what had happened was allowed in the courtroom.
Remus had brought Harry, not only because he wasn't willing to put him in the care of anyone else until the issue of guardianship was taken care of, mainly because he had been thinking of something that could help Sirius win his freedom and his godson. The Marauders had to stick together after all, and if Remus could just get the majority of the Wizengamot to vote how he wanted them to...
When, finally, Remus was asked to enter the courtroom, he brought Harry with him, despite the Aurors telling him taking a baby in wasn't necessary. Remus saw Sirius's head turn at the mention of who was coming in (the Veritaserum had been removed from his system), and the face of the man on trial smiled like said trial was already won. Upon seeing his godfather for the first time in five days, Harry's entire face lit up, especially his eyes, and he held out his arms to Sirius.
"Sirwus!" he called out happily, ignoring the many unfamiliar faces that filled the room.
The first thing Moony did, before even addressing the Wizengamot, he placed Harry into his godfather's lap. It was an action that shocked most of the courtroom (especially because Sirius's arms were chained and unable to hold the baby if he was beginning to fall), but when little Harry snuggled up to Sirius and grasped his godfather's robes in his hands, burying his face into the robes, most of the Wizengamot (well, the witches of it) lost their looks of shock.
"Now, Mr. Lupin, with the events regarding the case of Black, answer truthfully the following questions," Runcorn (who was in charge of the trial) began.
"Excuse me, Mr. Runcorn," one of the Wizengamot witches said as she stood, "but nothing anyone says is now going to convince me that this man has done anything to harm this child. I'm a mother of four, and I understand how children behave. No child would act the way that child is towards any person who has done them the severe harm that Black is accused of bestowing upon The Boy Who Lived."
Runcorn (for one) did not look happy as the witch's speech was acknowledged with nods of agreement from many, if not most, of the Wizengamot. There weren't many who could resist a baby (especially the baby that happened to be the savior of their world) after all. (Besides, James always said his son would be a charmer; though Remus doubted this was what James had been thinking of at the time.)
"Well," Crouch said (being the first of the three most opposed to the witch's speech to recompose himself), "this trial is not to judge only Black's treatment of the Potter boy, but his service to the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named as well."
"How many times do I need to tell you I'm not a Death Eater," Sirius said, trying his best to keep control over his mouth in front of his godson. Oddly enough, it was a voice in the back of his mind that sounded suspiciously like Lily that kept his tongue in line that time.
"Let's hear what the witness has to say. Shall we?" Runcorn said, in such a way that suggested he was ignoring Sirius's comment.
Remus was about to open his mouth to speak when the door to the courtroom opened once more, and Severus Snape (known as "Snivellus" to the Marauders) walked in.
If, at that moment, the day could have gotten worse, Sirius didn't know how. (He had never been too optimistic when he thought of this trial.)
Remus was about to speak again when he was cut off by Runcorn.
"You're speaking out of order, Lupin."
"Excuse me?" Remus asked levelly, resisting the urge to add a Maraud-ish phrase to the end of his question.
"A new policy has recently been enacted regarding trials and witnesses," Crouch informed the room. "Werewolves may not provide witness information in any court case that does not directly relate to their own kind."
Remus was too shocked to speak. He had expected times to get harder for him because the new Minister had such prejudices, but this... this. He couldn't provide testimony on behalf of his last friend's innocence! What would James think if his best friend landed life in Azkaban because of his, Moony's, "furry little problem"? And Harry... what would happen to Harry if Sirius couldn't take care of him? Remus doubted he'd ever see the boy again.
Sirius was appalled that anyone could even think of treating people the way the Ministry was treating Remus. But he had to hold his tongue about it. Not only was his godson in his lap, but his trial was in progress. If he mucked it up now, this might be the last time he saw Harry until he was old enough to be allowed to visit Azkaban.
Standard questions were asked to Snape for the benefit of the Wizengamot. Then, "Why are you here today, Mr. Snape?"
"Professor Dumbledore asked me to give some evidence in favor of Black's case," Snape answered as if he were doing nothing more than talking to an acquaintance he passed on the street.
"And that would be?"
Snape seemed to be resisted the urge to sigh and out and even roll his eyes. "As is known, I was once a Death Eater in the Dark Lord's service. The Dark Lord would mark each of his followers with this:" He rolled up the sleeve on his left arm and showed the room a horrible, black tattoo of a skull and snake. The Dark Mark. Pulling the sleeve back down, he continued. "Were Black in the service of the Dark Lord, he would have the same mark on his left arm that you have just seen. The Dark Lord made quite certain that it could never be removed." And with that, Snape left as if he had done nothing out of the ordinary.
A/N: In case you're wondering, the Wolf's Bane Potion has not yet been invented. And Snape is not, at this moment in time, a professor at Hogwarts, and he only came because Dumbledore asked him in such a way that saying "no" was not an option.
I know this may not seem like the best place to end a chapter, but that's pretty much the end of the trial, all that's really left is for them to check for the Dark Mark on Sirius and pass a verdict.
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