Chapter 5 : Chapter 5 - Causus Belli, Findings of Facts, and Just Desserts
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The silence of the courtroom was broken by a tidal wave of discussion. While not overtly hostile, the members of the DA were still cool towards their former classmate. Looking decidedly uncomfortable, Marietta appeared downcast as she waited for events to proceed. Hermione studied her former classmate and saw that she was very different than she remembered her from Hogwarts. Deciding she needed to make an effort to regain control of the situation, she looked up at Percy and nodded towards his gavel. As Percy gaveled the court back into order, Hermione cleared her throat and turned towards Kingsley and Percy.
“Mr. Minister, if it pleases the court, if Ms Edgecombe feels she has information that would enlighten these proceedings, I would like to give her a chance to tell her story. Her revealed relationship to the defendant indicates that she would be in possession of knowledge that would shed light upon some of the murkier aspects of these proceeds. Under the Concords, I would like to call Ms Edgecombe to give testimony regarding these matters.” Looking at the defendant, Umbridge was still too flummoxed to respond and her advocate shrugged his shoulders, possibly thinking that since the Minister was going to allow the testimony anyway, he might as well appear gracious. Giving a slow nod, Kingsley gave Hermione leave to proceed.
“Marietta, if you’re ready to proceed, I can facilitate you coming down to the lower level. If you’d like?” Speaking in a gentle and conciliatory tone, Hermione watched her former classmate blush. Taking her hesitant nod for assent, Hermione silently levitated the witch down to the lower floor, her dress robes gently brushing the floor as she regained her footing. Watching as Marietta walked towards her, she noted the glare of disgust that she regarded Umbridge with.
“For the record, could you give your name to the court?” Percy asked as he looked expectantly at the younger witch.
“My name is Marietta Dolores Edgecombe, and I’m a junior clerk in the Floo registration network with the Ministry.” Bobbing her head, her strawberry blond curls bounced as she swiveled her gaze from Percy to Hermione. “And for the record, Hermione I’m very sorry for what I did back at school. I need to apologize to you and Harry and to the rest of Dumbledore’s Army for what I did that night. I thought I could repair the rift between my mother and her sister by doing what she wanted.” Blinking back tears, she turned her gaze upon her aunt. “You cost me every friend I had, except one, and you still wouldn’t acknowledge me as your niece because you were still bitter that mum married my dad.” Shaking her head, she whispered. “This all goes back to her sick beliefs and hatreds, but it’s going to stop here and now.” Looking up, she gazed imploringly at Hermione. “I can’t expect anyone to forgive me, but I’m still going to explain why she did what she did, especially to you.”
Blustering, Umbridge finally found her voice. “Mr. Minster, this silly child is simply acting out due to her well deserved feelings of inadequacy. I told my sister that marrying that mechanic was a mistake and their child is a perfect example of what the Commission is trying to prevent.”
Giving way to laughter, with just a manic twinge to it, Marietta shook her head. “I’d call you a foul evil harpy, but that would be an injustice to harpies, Aunt Dolores. Your entire crusade against the muggle-born is simply the spiteful vendetta of a schoolgirl who could never accept the fact that the boy she fancied married a muggle-born witch. Mum told me that John Dawlish never looked twice at you, yet you acted as if Carley Abbot stole him out from under you.”
“Your mother helped her steal him from me. Thought the fact that they were both in Ravenclaw counted for more than blood. And my feelings for John had nothing to do with the truths I tried to bring out.”
“And he wasn’t even the first. Mum told me about you making a spectacle of yourself when you were a second year. You actually thought that boy had noticed you? You were twelve for Merlin’s sake.” Shaking her head in disbelief, she continued on. “Xenophilius Lovegood was a seventh year in Ravenclaw, he probably never knew you existed, much less your name. He and Aranrhod Jones were soul bonded, for Merlin’s sake. Your insane jealousy of every muggle-born witch started then and it hasn’t let up. Merlin’s wand.”
“Thirteen and one eight inches, yew wood, seadragon heartstring.” Ollivander stated, not realizing that the young girl hadn’t asked him a question.
Trying to ignore the cryptic, and very disturbing remark from Ollivander, Hermione turned to Marietta. “So it’s your contention that the defendant’s actions are a result of two failed crushes she had while she was a student at Hogwarts?” A note of incredulity crept into her voice as she asked.
“As ashamed as I am to admit she’s my aunt, yes that’s exactly what I’m saying. That’s why she hated Harry’ mum, you and Luna.” Looking up into the gallery at Harry she shrugged. “Both your dad and Professor Snape fancied the same girl, a muggle-born witch named Lily Evans. She was livid that they weren’t pursuing witches of ‘proper wizarding families’ and so she tried to get your mum expelled, or at least so buried in detentions that she’d not have time to see either one of them. She didn’t count on your mum being the Hermione of her day and your dad having more detentions than anyone else in his year.” Smiling shyly she turned to Luna, who was looking a bit less distant than she normally did. “Luna, she hated your mum for marrying your dad. Aunt Dolores was behind the death-eaters taking you off the train and taking you into custody. She saw that as a chance to rid herself of the final reminder of her bitterness against your mum” Blinking back tears, she continued. “If you’re still talking to my family, you should come by sometime and talk to my mum. She was a friend of your mother’s when they were in Ravenclaw together.” Turning to Hermione, she squared her shoulders. “And she hates you because of Harry and Ron. Mostly Harry. She believed that you were involved with Harry and she was furious because she was convinced you were the reason his romance with Cho didn’t work out.” Turning back to her aunt she continued. “But mostly she tried to convince anyone who would listen that the muggle-born had stolen their wands and powers from ‘deserving’ witches and wizards, but this whole thing was because she felt that a couple of muggle-born witches stole boys who she fancied.” Shaking her head sadly, she continued. “And the really sad thing is that neither one knew you existed.” Smiling bravely, she turned back to Hermione. “And that’s the whole of her vendetta. Hell hath no fury like a totally insane witch who thinks she’s been scorned.”
Shaking her head slowly, Hermione bit her lip for a second; she looked up into the gallery at Harry. Seeing him nod his assent, she turned back to the dais in front of her. “If it please the court, I would like to beg the Wizengamot’s indulgence for a moment as I need to resolve an injustice that has been brought to light by this testimony.” Ignoring the bewildered look on Marietta’s face, she waited for a response from Kingsley.
“Will the resolution of this injustice involve a finding of fact against the defendant?” Kingsley asked gravely.
“Mr. Minister, the injustice involves myself and others in regards to this witness and has no direct bearing on the guilt of innocence of the defendant.”
“You may proceed Miss Granger, as long as it’s brief.”
“My thanks Mr. Minister. As a member of the Order, this matter attains to you as well.” Turning around and facing the gallery, Hermione gazed impassively at her friends as her voice rang out in the chamber. “Dumbledore’s Army, I present Marietta Edgecombe, a member of our fellowship who has been absent from our ranks for far too long, it would seem.” Looking around and seeing the looks on the faces present, she continued. “What say you?” A rousing chorus of ‘Aye’ rang through the chamber, and Hermione turned to face a bewildered Marietta. “Marietta, we judged you without knowing the facts and the circumstances. Please forgive us and we ask that you’d do us the honor of resuming your membership in our ‘ragtag group of delinquents’. That is, if you’re willing?” Taking Marietta’s stunned nod for assent, Hermione looked up to Kingsley and Percy. “Mr. Minister, Dumbledore’s Army would like to thank you for this opportunity to see a lingering wrong corrected. The Order should be notified of a candidate since Ms Edgecombe is of an age as some of the rest of us.” Flashing a genuine smile at her classmate, Hermione returned to the business at hand.
“Ms Edgecombe, is there any other testimony you would care to give or a statement you would like to make?” Nodding towards Marietta, Hermione tried to look encouragingly at her friend who was still visibly shaken at what had transpired.
“My mother and I would like to thank the Wizengamot for this opportunity. My aunt has let her hate and bitterness ruin her life and the lives of her family, which is bad enough, but she took advantage of Voldemort’s rise to power to expand her bitterness to as many people as she could reach. She’s disturbed and she needs help, but she shouldn’t be allowed to hurt anyone else.” Turning towards her aunt, she continued. “Aunt Dolores, I turned my back on my friends and you couldn’t even acknowledge me as you relative because of who my father is, and it’s come to a stop. Your petty jealousies have caused enough problems.” Shaking her head ruefully, she sighed. “If they ever let you out of Azkaban, you are so not invited to Christmas.” Turning back to Hermione she flashed a grateful smile. “Is there anything else?”
Looking towards Umbridge and her advocate, Hermione looked expectantly. “Does the defense have any questions for this witness?”
Clearing his throat, Carrenton rose from his chair. “I believe the Defense has no questions for the young lady.” Flashing the young lady a sympathetic smile, he nodded towards Hermione and then Percy.
“Seeing as the court has no questions for you, please accept the thanks of the Wizengamot for your testimony and you are released today from these proceedings.” Nodding to Marietta, he watched as the younger witch turned around, ignoring her aunt, and left the room. As the doors closed behind him, he turned his gaze towards Hermione and Carrenton. “Are there any more questions for Ollivander?” Watching both parties shake their heads and give a quick ‘no’ in response to his question, he turned and met the disturbing silver eyes of the wand maker. “Sir, unless you have further testimony to give, the Wizengamot and the Ministry would like to thank you for your service here today.”
As the venerable old wand maker started to leave, he noticed Hermione’s questioning gaze and smiled. As he passed close to her, he paused, leaned close and spoke quietly so that only she could hear him. “The crafting of the wand was completed during the full moon of June of that year. Totally different calendar then. He was muggle-born you know. Great potential, just as you showed, my dear.” Chuckling at her confused look, he added, “We are still talking about Merlin’s wand. I see I was right about both you and your Mr. Potter, both of you were headed for great and terrible things. Hopefully the terrible is behind you both.” Continuing towards the door, Hermione watched in awe as he nodded to both of the aurors by the entranceway and disappeared into the corridor beyond.
Turning her attention back to the dais, she visibly shook herself and took a deep breath. Nodding towards Percy, she flashed him an uncertain smile.
“Is the amicus curiae satisfied with the examination of the defendant’s testimony?” Percy nodded towards Hermione, quirking an eyebrow as he wondered what Ollivander had said that had so unsettled her.
“We are. The Department is satisfied that the testimony of Marietta Edgecombe and Ollivander has shed sufficient light that these ridiculous assertions of the defendant can no be dispensed with.” Pointing her wand, which seemed to just a tad more responsive after it’s time in the hands of it’s maker, she wiped the air clear of the page of text that had hung there. “And if the Wizengamot and the Ministry could see it’s collective way clear to rescind Commission Directive Number Three at some point, we would be grateful. For this case, the Department begs leave to retain its status as a friend to the court through the sentencing phase, if such a phase becomes necessary.” The last was said so drolly that even the defendant couldn’t miss the implication that a conviction was a foregone conclusion since any shred of a defense had been demolished.
“The Department’s interest is so noted. Does the Defense wish to present additional evidence, subject to examination by the Court and Miss Granger? “
Rising once again, Advocate Carrenton addressed the court. “While I’m certain that Miss Granger would like nothing better for additional points to be presented, the Defense would like to restate it’s original contention that the defendant should not be held totally accountable for actions that occurred during such a period of disarray and confusion. Without those circumstances, none of the things she is charged with would have occurred.”
Laughing, Hermione caught Percy’s eye. “The department is willing to accept the defense’s assertion that Dolores Umbridge was only a truly evil and foul person when someone allowed her to. Minister Fudge gave her free reign at Hogwarts and she turned into a petty tyrant. Tom Riddle gave her free reign and she turned into a venomous despot whose reign of terror is still claiming victims. What we don’t accept is that that is mitigation. Neither circumstance forced her to do the things she did, it only gave her opportunity to do the things she wanted to do.”
Tapping his gavel three times, Percy nodded towards both parties. “Testimony in this matter is now closed. Do any members of the Wizengamot have questions for the defendant” Looking around the room, he could see that the members of the court were unanimous in shaking their heads. Turning towards Kingsley, he nodded. “The court is prepared to render a verdict in this matter.”
Kingsley leaned forward and looked around the room before address the assembly. “Members of the Wizengamot, you have heard testimony in the matter before you. The bill of indictment includes 587 charges, but rather than dealing with each separate incident, I am going to ask for a finding of innocence or guilt based upon the entirety of the indictment. Does the court find sufficient evidence to find the defendant, Dolores Jane Umbridge, guilty of these crimes against the muggle-born witches and wizards as outlined in the indictment and as addressed by the testimony heard by this body. All in favor of conviction please signify now.” An overwhelming majority of the Wizengamot raised their hands. “Will those who feel the evidence did not prove the indictments please signify” Three defiant members of the assembly raised their hands.
“No, I will not be cast aside like that on the ramblings of a senile old shopkeeper and a spiteful girl.” The reality of her conviction broke through the shock caused by the testimony of her niece. “I refuse to believe that everything I’ve worked for my entire life is come to naught.”
Sighing Kingsley set back in his seat and looked at the defendant with pity. “Dolores Jane Umbridge, whether you choose to believe it or not, the Wizengamot has found you guilty of the crimes you have been charged with. Since it was a single vote on all the charges, the Ministry has recommended a single sentence of confinement in Azkaban for a period of 120 years, at which time you will be returned to the Wizengamot for a determination of whether or not you still pose a threat to the community.” Smiling grimly at the shocked look on the defendant’s face, he motioned for the two aurors to return her to her seat. After she was seated, he returned his gaze to Hermione. “I believe that the amicus curiae wished to be heard on the matter of sentencing, since it’s now become necessary.”
“Thank you, Mr. Minster.” Reaching into her valise on the table in front of her and withdrawing a heavy bracer made from goblin-silver, she continued. “As satisfying as a sentence in Azkaban seems, it also seems a waste. Ms Umbridge’s crimes were against the muggle-born and muggles and we feel that her punishment and rehabilitation should make amends to those communities. What the Department proposes is that we take a leaf from the muggle justice system and sentence Ms Umbridge to ‘Community Service’ to specifically serve those communities. We especially feel this is fitting since the defendant feels so strongly against members of those communities.” Smiling she looked to Kingsley for leave to continue. “I have taken the liberty of contacting St. Mungo’s and speaking to the healer in charge of the Muggle Maladies Ward. As surprising as it may seem, they have a difficult time in getting personnel to work in the ward and perform basic services in a muggle manner for those patients that are brought in to be treated. Not wanting to disturb these individuals any more than we have to to affect their cure, anything that doesn’t have to be done magically, is done in the muggle fashion. The typical orderly functions from a hospital are what we’re speaking of here. What we’re proposing is 180,000 hours of community service on the ward, performing basic housekeeping and other functions without the use of magic. This would allow the defendant to make amends to the community she wronged and, hopefully, allow her to see them as people and not objects of scorn.”
Looking perplexed, Kingsley shook his head. “I’m not certain that I would be keen to trust the defendant in a situation where she was even partially responsible for the care of muggle and muggle-born patients. Given her history of contempt and abuse it seems a chancy thing. I take it you have a solution for that?”
“Yes, your honor.” Holding up the bracer in her hand, she smiled. “This device has several functions. It was constructed in conjunction with the goblins at Gringotts; it’s a basic modification of a design that they’ve used for centuries. They have human employees that work maintenance and what not around the bank and until they earn the trust of their goblin supervisors a similar band such as this is worn. It prevents the wearer from acting outside a certain set of parameters, specifically the ones at Gringotts prevent their employees from reading anything they’re not specifically asked to read or entering any of the vaults unless specifically asked to by a goblin. This one has been created with the duties of an orderly in mind, and specifically prohibits the wearer from neglecting or harming anyone within the confines of the hospital and grounds.” Taking Kingsley’s smile as leave to continue she grinned. “Since the defendant has also exhibited a history of having problems with the truth, both the telling of it and the recognizing of it when someone else states it, there are two additional functions with this device. I know that the Ministry has banned the use of Veritaserum in all but the most extreme circumstances because it robs the imbiber of free will and forces them to answer truthfully. This device simply prevents the wearer from knowingly telling a lie. The wearer can decline to answer a question, but they can’t give a false or intentionally misleading answer to a question.” Looking down at the hammered silver, she could see the phrase ‘I must not tell lies’ in Harry’s spidery scrawl, repeated multiple times on the bracer.
“You also said it aided in recognizing the truth?” Kingsley asked, remembering events in the Headmaster’s office and beginning to see where this was going.
“Yes, the defendant seems to be unable to recognize when someone speaks the truth around her, so a simple charm was added to the bracer to allow her to recognize when someone speaks the truth. The greater the truth or the more strongly the speaker believes it, the stronger the indication. But, alas, it only works on things that either pertain to the wearer, or the wearer chooses to disbelieve.” Holding the bracer out to the advocate, she nodded for him to place it around his client’s wrist.
As he clicked the bracer around Umbridge’s wrist, she looked up at Kingsley. “May I have the court’s indulgence for a demonstration?” Smiling at his assent, she looked at Umbridge with a look of undisguised glee.
“My name is Hermione Jean Granger, a Hogwarts graduate*.” The bracer glowed with a faint blue glow. Taking a step nearer to her, Hermione continued. “I am a fully qualified muggle-born witch, working for the Ministry of Magic.” The glow intensified. Another step closer. “You have been convicted by the Wizengamot of all of the charges levied against you and now the Muggle-born Registration Commission is as dead as Tom Riddle.” Again the glow intensified, but Umbridge couldn’t tear her gaze away from Hermione’s. Her next step took her to Umbridge’s side, leaning over she lowered her voice so that only Dolores could hear her. “All of this, everything I did to make certain you were punished, was for Harry’s sake,” The glow intensified until it was clearly visible throughout the chamber. Smiling wickedly, Hermione placed one slim finger on the bracer, traced her finger along the engraved ‘I must not tell lies’, standing tall she pitched her voice so that everyone in the chamber could hear. The bracer flared with a blinding blue light as she concluded.
A/N - *Because of the disruption of their seventh year, students in Ron, Hermione, and Harry’s class were given three choices. They could take their NEWTS immediately, return to Hogwarts for a repeat of their seventh year, or take a practical exam to be recognized as a graduate with NEWTS pending. This option gives them three years to study for and take their NEWTS. The three of them opted for the last choice (Shocking, I know, but Hermione didn’t return for her seventh year in my storyline). Everyone else was given a chance of moving forward or repeating the 1997-98 school year. Since Ginny was offered a pro contract with the Harpies, the long-standing quidditch exemption applied to her and she left school in the middle of her seventh year and she is currently (in this story) working towards her NEWTS. Since I don’t plan on presenting it anywhere, for those who are interested in that sort of thing, Hermione does tie the record with 11 NEWTS, all O’s. Ginny and Ron both received 5 and Harry 7.
A/N – The blue glow of truth from the bracer is in tribute to H. Beam Piper and his worlds. Well worth reading if you can pick up a copy.