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Chapter 14 : Dudley Dunderhead
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The accused was not present when the trial commenced because the accuser's main witness refused to testify with Harry present. Not that Dudley's handlers would have allowed Harry to have direct eye contact with their star witness. To nobody's surprise, Mr. Zedward Finkle just so happened to be the Presenter Judiciary for the prosecution. And the Chief Inquisitor happened to be none other than Dolores Umbridge. And of course, for Harry Potter, there was Severus Snape.
An insane number of authorities and wizards showed up at the Ministry bright and early, and Dolores Umbridge entered the enormous trial chamber with as much pomp, disdain, and unctuousness as one with her size and features could muster, whilst walking to the head seat in the chamber.. She nearly tripped over her chartreuse Chief Inquisitor robe on the way up the steps. Everybody in the room who was there to support Harry Potter secretly smirked as they stood, flanking the toady woman's walk to her chair.
“Hem hem,” she began, “you may all be seated. We will begin with the traditional formalities.” Her assistant read out the entire roster of the Wizengamot. Everybody except those who had been killed or gone missing were present. Amelia Bones, in particular, was missed greatly by those who supported Harry, since it was largely due to her intervention that the charges against him were dropped the last time he faced the Wizengamot.
Many names were exchanged and documents were read before it was time to bring the first witness forward. It took Umbridge nearly an hour to complete the requisite introductions, and there was no doubt she relished every second of her authority.
“Hem hem. Mr. Finkle, you may bring in your first witness,” said the toad-faced woman.
Dudley Dursley was pale-faced and shaking. He gawked around the courtroom as he was led inside by a court page. The stout young man tripped over his own two feet several times and even uttered aloud, “Blimey, look at all those wizards...” Seeing the Ministry building and Wizengamot had to be the singular most terrifying experiences of Dudley's life. Until the moment he saw them, the most wizards he'd ever seen in one spot was the Order of the Phoenix. Now he was surrounded by hundreds of Harry's kind, and it was clear he had no idea what to think about that. The prosecution coddled him like he was an infant. “Are you okay, Mr. Dursley?”, “Do you need refreshment, Mr. Dursley?”, and “Would you like a moment, Mr. Dursley?” were all questions uttered by Zedward Finkle and his cronies. It was enough to make one feel ill. However, it was more than likely Dudley himself was a pawn in this great scheme. He warily eyed the heavy chains attached to the side of the witness chair in the centre of the room. They moved slightly of their own accord and he simultaneously squawked and jumped away from them.
Severus Snape watched this whole spectacle with an unreadable expression on his face. He found it increasingly difficult to bite his tongue about bringing a Muggle to the wizarding court. Your time will come, and soon, he repeatedly reminded himself.
“Now, Mr. Dursley, please state your full name and age for those present,” instructed Mr. Finkle.
Dudley looked at him blankly and replied, “But you just said my name. Why do I have to say it again?”
Mr. Finkle adopted a look of fake patience and repeated, “Just state your full name and age, please.”
“Okay,” shrugged the plump young man, “I'm Dudley Vernon Dursley, and I'm 16 years old.”
“Very well, Mr. Dursley. Thank you. Now, where were you on the evening in question?”
Dudley looked at Finkle strangely again and said, “But you didn't question me about an evening.”
Visibly fighting the urge to sigh, Finkle replied, “It means where were you on the night of 30th June this year.”
“Oh, erm, I was with my mum and dad watching the telly. And then we went to Kings Cross Station to go pick up Harry.” Dudley got a dark look on his face as he said his cousin's name.
“You already know the answer to that. It's Harry Potter,” answered Dudley, as if it were Finkle who was the slow one. Finkle ignored it.
“And why were you picking up Harry Potter?”
“Because it was the end of his term at—at—Hogwiggers, or whatever he calls that bloody wizard school of his.”
The Wizengamot bristled at this statement. Think what you will about wizards, they seemed to say to Dudley, just don't insult our most prestigious boarding school in the entire United Kingdom. Even Snape raised an eyebrow.
“And what mode of transportation did your family use to get to Kings Cross Station?”
Again, Dudley looked at Finkle as if he had a couple of loose screws and said, “By car, of course. How else?” A few of the members of the Wizengamot smirked. Umbridge smiled her wide toadish grin.
“How else, indeed,” echoed Finkle, causing a few of the Wizegamot to chuckle. Dudley frowned.
“Mr. Dursley, did you notice anything unusual about your cousin, Harry Potter, that evening?”
“Well, he's usually very quiet. But this time, he was even more silent than usual. And he seemed angry, too. He even told my dad he could 'bugger off'!” Furious scribbling broke out among the Wizengamot. This was clearly the type of information for which they had been looking.
“Did Harry Potter say why he was angry?”
“Mr. Dursley, did you, in fact, witness Harry Potter perform magic?”
“I don't know what he did, but once he got in the car, something happened. There was green sparks, like lightning that engulfed the whole thing. It happened after he shut the door.”
“Excuse me,” interrupted a member of the Wizengamot, who was also raising a hand.
“Hem hem,” said Umbridge, “the chair recognises Joyce Prince.”
“This question is for Mr. Dursley. Did Harry Potter use his wand to perform this magic?”
“What? No, his wand was in his pocket.” A collective pause, and then more furious scribbling. “But I just know he did something!”
“I see,” said Joyce. “And did you confront Harry Potter about this?”
“No, but my dad did. That's when Harry swore at him.”
“Did Harry Potter deny having performed magic?”
“Yes. He said he couldn't have done it, because his owl's cage was on his lap.”
“And was the owl cage on Harry Potter's lap?”
“So you're asking us to believe that Harry Potter somehow performed wandless magic whilst being hampered with an owl cage on his lap?”
“Well...yeah.” Dudley looked confused at this, as if he were giving away some sort of secret. It seemed something in his dim brain recognised that was a rather critical piece of information. It also seemed he was taking his cues by the way the Wizengamot and others in the room were taking notes on the case.
During this exchange, Finkle had leaned over to Umbridge and was speaking quietly into her ear.
“Thank you, Mr. Dursley. That is all,” said Joyce Prince.
“Mr. Dursley? Yes, ahem,” said Umbridge, “I understand you've seen your cousin perform magic before?”
“Yes, I certainly have!”
“And when have you seen Harry Potter do magic?”
“It was last summer. He—he did—something—made it go all dark, soundless, and cold.” Suddenly, Dudley shuddered with memory. “I felt like I was dying,” he said so quietly it was difficult to hear.
“Please speak up, Mr. Dursley, so the court can hear you.” Umbridge's face had an odd look of glee upon it now.
Dudley frowned deeply at her and rubbed his hands across his arms as if trying to warm himself up. “I said I felt like I was dying.”
“Then what happened, Mr. Dursley?”
Dudley mumbled something incomprehensible.
“What was that?”
“I said I don't rightly remember what happened.”
“Very well, Mr. Dursley. Thank you. Your witness, Mr. Finkle.”
“Madam Inquisitor, the prosecution is through questioning this witness for now, but would like to reserve the right to recall said witness.”
“Right to recall the witness is hereby granted,” said Umbridge. “It is now the defense's turn to question this witness.”
Severus Snape stood up regally out of his seat and swept into the centre of the room. He quite enjoyed the look of terror he evoked upon Dudley Dursley's face. Dudley kept looking at Mr. Finkle as if pleading for him to do something.
“Greetings, Mr. Dursley,” said Snape. Best to start subtle and then go for the kill.
“I ask for you to tell the court again, in your own words, what happened the evening of 30th June this year.”
Dudley gulped. “Again?” He looked to Finkle who nodded.
“Okay. When we went to get Harry at Kings Cross, he was sullen. He had his hands jammed in his pockets and hardly said a word to us. After we got him from inside the train station, we all walked out to the car. Me, Mum, and Dad all got inside while Harry put his stuff in the boot. When he got in the car and shut the door, green lightning flashed around the outside of the car. Kind of like a strobe light.” Dudley paused.
“Go on,” said Snape.
“Then Dad yelled at Harry and asked him what he meant by doing magic. Harry yelled straight back at him and told him he had more important things to deal with us than us. Then he told Dad he could bugger off."
“Hmm,” said Snape contemplatively. “And did Harry Potter ever tell you why he was in such a terrible mood?”
“Well, er, no. He didn't.”
“He had lost his godfather in a tragic accident the week before. Mr. Dursley, wouldn't you agree that losing one's godfather is cause enough for a bad mood?”
“I...” Dudley faded off. “I suppose so. But that still doesn't excuse what he did.”
“You also say that he tried to kill you and your parents. Why, pray tell, would he do such a thing when he was in the car with you?”
“Er, uh, I don't know why he does what he does!”
“Are you suggesting he was homicidal or suicidal? Think carefully before answering, Mr. Dursley. Both are very different states of mind.”
“I suppose I'm saying he was homicidal,” Dudley answered quietly.
“I repeat: then why would Mr. Potter attempt to kill you, his only living family, whilst he was in the vehicle with you? Especially in a car wreck which caused him the sort of injuries it did?”
Dudley paused for so long, it was as if he was going to refuse to answer.
“Hem hem,” said Inquisitor Umbridge, “you must answer the question, Mr. Dursley.”
“I don't know why he'd try and kill us. I just know he doesn't like us.”
“Are you aware, also, Mr. Dursley, that your cousin nearly died in this car crash? That it was only by swift medical intervention that he, himself, is still alive? Does this sound like the story of a cold-blooded killer to you?”
“No. It doesn't,” muttered Dudley. “But as I said, he doesn't like us.”
“And why doesn't Mr. Potter like you and your family, Mr. Dursley? Could it possibly be since you force him to live like a Muggle when he is with you? Could it possibly be because you and your parents have verbally assaulted him for being who he is? That you've physically assaulted him on numerous occasions in his youth, all because his exhibited magical tendencies? Tendencies which amongst our kind are not only natural but expected?”
“He tried to kill my mum and dad!” shouted Dudley, clearly upset with Snape's badgering. “So I got him back! I hit him as hard as I could during the crash when the car was rolling!”
His voice rang out loud and clear in the courtroom. Everybody was staring at him in shock.
“So then, Mr. Dursley, what you are now saying is that you tried to kill your own cousin?”
“Madam Inquisitor!” at last Finkle stood up out of his seat, “I demand that question be recanted and stricken from the record!”
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