A/N okay okay, it's been a long time coming [3 weeks :P] but I now have up to chapter 28 written...:) For the first time ever I am ahead of myself, feel so happy...tehehe. [I wanted to post on Fridays, but couldn't stop myself] This means I most likely will be able to do once-a-week updates from now on OR even twice a week, if I can.
Also, I have a few thank yous to do[I know they're long overdue]...
Kaityb- thanks for recommending it on tgs and saying all those nice things.
Envalyne- for picking it as your 'favorite fanfic' on hpff and then making a gorgeous siggy for it, and
marinahill- for nominating it for 'best drama' on tgs. [didn't even know your high esteem self read it, such a shocker].
Thanks to all you fabulous reviewers!! I really should run around and hug you all individually...But the best I can do is....-HUGGLES- This story has just reached over 300 reviews!! You're AMAZING!
And to the anonymous fans who read the new chapters whenever my lazy ass gets the urge...it's reached over 20,000+ reads. woop! :p.
This chapter turned out a bit differently, tell me what you think? Good? bad? anything you think needs changing?
Lockdown was still in progress the next morning when the dim light of the sun broke through the gap for a window. Harry hadn't slept, every time he closed his eyes, his mind was filled with dark images.
Images of Hermione telling him she couldn't speak for him, of a courtroom where the prosecutor was a medieval executioner, wearing a black hood, his eyes glistening behind small holes in the fabric, just waiting to get a hold of Harry.
Others were of him not getting a hearing, and like his godfather, being marched off towards the backdoor before anybody could come into the room, screaming his head off, begging with life that he didn't do it. Also, the fact that he jumped twice during the night because he thought he saw something didn't help him either.
Harry's stomach churned with fear as he looked at the ceiling above him; it was judgement day, the very last hearing he would ever get.
"Just think it in this way..." Bruce began, hearing Harry's groans as he turned himself over on his bed.
"What?" Harry asked into his pillow. Pulling Molly's dark green jumper that he'd worn to sleep around himself; it was so large, that the arms had been folded six times to allow his hands to protrude from the wooly softness, and hem fell a tad too long to look reasonable.
"You'll be stuck with me," and Harry could hear the smile in his words.
"Is that suppose to make me feel better?" Harry mumbled, but couldn't help the grin that tickled his lips. The mattress beneath squeaked and he flipped his head over to see Bruce looking at him.
"When you get out, won't you put a good word in for me?" he asked, leaning his chin on Harry's mattress. Before answering him, Harry blindly searched for his glasses that he'd stuck onto the rails with his hands, finding their frame, he pulled them off the bar and plopped them onto his nose.
"Yea, but why would anyone listen to me?" he questioned, and Bruce shrugged.
"You're Harry Potter," he stated, putting emphasis on his name. "They're going to listen to you."
Without replying to him, Harry sat himself up on the bed.
"You look terrible," Bruce mumbled, surveying his face as Harry rested himself against the wall behind him. "But the jumper looks good on you!" and Harry let a small chuckle escape him.
"It's lovely and cosy," he said sleepily, snuggling his arms around himself.
"Rub it in why don't you!" Bruce grinned, and Harry smiled. "So, what's the first thing you're going to do when you get out?" Bruce asked.
"I don't want to think about it," Harry mumbled, all smiles vanishing from his face; Bruce groaned.
"Listen, I'm telling you now, you're getting out. There's no doubt about it."
"Since when have you been an expert on who stays and who goes?"
"I just know," he stated simply.
"You wont be saying that when I come back into you," Harry mumbled to himself, but Bruce heard it and looked on the verge of shaking Harry.
"I give up," he mumbled, vanishing from Harry's view as he sank back down onto his own bed. "You just remember to get me out!" but they secretly both knew his words held no meaning.
Harry watched the other inmates begin to twist and turn in their beds as they woke up. Some had already begun effing and beeing as they remembered that they were still in lockdown and most of them where likely waking up not smelling the best.
"They would need to feed us, wouldn't they?" Bruce asked. "That would be forced imprisonment."
Harry couldn't stop the laugh that cackled from his throat.
"What?!" Bruce came back into view as Harry still had a goofy grin on his face.
"Force imprisonment?" Harry chuckled, "you sound like some of us want to be here!" and Harry flinched as Bruce's hand hit off his leg.
"You know what I meant," Bruce frowned.
The sound of verbal fights with the Aurors and prisoners had already begun as they wanted showers and needed to go to the toilet. But by the sounds of it, the Aurors weren't backing down.
"You're lucky," Bruce sighed, "You get to have a shower, and food."
"Are you sure?" Harry asked, he just presumed that they were only going to let him out just before the Hearing to get changed, nothing else.
"Yea, you dimwit! Do you really think they're going to let you turn up- no offence!-," and he put his hands up to show his innocence, "I'm not saying you are or anything, but smelling so bad you'll stink the room out, and then an empty stomach that grumbles," he shook his head, "It wouldn't show the ministry in a good light."
"Speaking of the Inferi," Bruce mumbled so low that the Auror that had arrived couldn't hear him.
Smiling, Harry jumped down from the bunk.
"Good Luck- but you don't need it," and Bruce tapped Harry's back. As the door began to open, Harry pulled Molly's jumper over his head; turning around, he handed it out to Bruce.
"Na, it's too small for me," he declined.
"Mind it then for me," Harry argued.
"I'm telling you, you're not going to come back," Bruce retaliated, but Harry smiled.
"I promise, I will," and he shoved the jumper against his chest, not giving the man a choice but to take the garment. Turning around, Harry stepped out of the cell to the Auror, and as the bars slid back over, he glanced back; Bruce was grinning down at the jumper.
Glad that he got the message, Harry was smiling as he felt the ropes slid around his wrists, and he silently walked down the corridor beside the Auror. Shouts and yells coming from all sides.
Half an hour later, a fresh smelling Harry in a black suit and tie, with newly polished shoes was standing in the small room that adjoined the courtroom. Stephen had just joined him, the door was still closing from his arrival.
"You'll be sitting in a stand beside Tiberius Ogden," Stephen explained, looking a bit stressed and tired, and he was bouncing from one foot to the other.
"Okay," Harry's voice was tiny.
"Don't say a single word," he ordered, his eyes locking onto Harry "I'll answer all the questions, you just sit there and put on your best innocent face, 'kay?" he rushed, trying to lighten the atmosphere, and a strained smile lifted up his face.
Harry nodded, as the doors behind Stephen were opened and a young Auror walked in.
"Mister Dawson?" he interrupted them, "You might want to get into the courtroom, Mister Ogden is on his way." he explained quickly.
"Crap," Stephen cursed. He turned to Harry and placed his hands on top of his shoulders; so Harry was looking directly up into his face.
"Everything will be fine, I promise," before quickly dropping his hands and Harry watched as he hurried out of the room.
Harry wasn't surprised when the Auror didn't leave with him, but remained standing at the door. He looked no older than twenty. Harry watched as the kid tried to put on his most confident stance, by puffing out his chest, and Harry momentarily questioned if he was ever that ignorant. The kid walked over to him, the traces of acne scares visible on his cheeks as he stood before the small bench Harry was sitting on.
"I'll be taking you in," his voice gave him away, he was shitting himself, and with those words, Harry stopped thinking about the kid, and was suddenly overcome by a rush of panic.
He was by himself, nobody that he knew was around him, and now whatever happened in the next few minutes could change his life forever. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. He rested his head against the hard stones of the wall behind him, and closed his eyes. He hoped Hermione was right about Stephen being the best, as Harry's life now rested in his hands.
Harry could hear the shallow breathing of the kid as he remained silent, the sound of footsteps and voices drfited into them from the door to their right. When, suddenly, the left-hand door popped open, and a much older, grayer Auror pushed the door open and jerked his head.
"Come on," the kid said, understanding that it was time. Harry stood up from the bench, his legs feeling as if they each weighed a ton, his breathing had quickened as his heart panicked. He took a step to the door, the wood inches from his face, when a memory popped into his head.
When he was going to face Voldemort in the forest.
It was the same overwhelming despair that he was feeling, he wasn't going to die, he knew that, but he was facing a life that death would be a welcoming escape from it. He knew he wasn't going to make it through another week back in prison, even if nobody else got to him first, he was sure he was going to lose his mind.
Even the thought of his children wouldn't be the little light of hope; they would be on the other side, unreachable. Then, like Bruce and many other inmates, once time moved by, people wouldn't come to him. He would be left to rot in the damp confines of Azkaban...forgotten, his children wouldn't want to know him, or just wouldn't know him.
The loud click of the lock pulled Harry out of his thoughts, and bent his head as he began to walk, watching his feet take one step at a time and he didn't look up. The people who had been talking among themselves seconds before had fallen silent at his arrival.
Harry sank down on the chair. The silver chain vanishing from his wrists, as the Auror took his place behind him. He kept his head bent low, looking down at the wooden ground; he didn't want to look up, to see the strangers of the Wizengamot as they were most likely, all staring at him with scrutinizing eyes.
Wiping his sweating hands against his trousers, there was the sound of a door opening and Harry dared a glance at whoever had come in. Stephen was making his way down to the table below where Harry sat, a bundle of folders and papers tucked under his right arm.
He didn't look up at Harry as he fixed his files onto the table, and stacked them in neat piles, just as he poured himself some water from a jug. Something caught Harry's attention in the stand and he looked up, his heavy heart lifting as he saw the line of red-hair.
Molly was the nearest to him, and was smiling sweetly towards Harry, a smile Harry's terror was making it impossible for him to return. Arthur sat beside her, looking around at the courtroom and at the Wizengamot on the other side in wonder and eyeing the two Journalists that were doubled over their tiny notepads, waiting. Beside him was George and Angelina who were whispering to one another, Angelina was still wearing her dark blue Quidditch robes. Next was Bill, who nodded his head at Harry, while his wife, Fleur gave Harry a tiny wave. Charlie sat bent over, looking like he was having a mini battle all to himself, his facial expression moving in and out of a frown. Last in the line was Percy, who was whispering into the ear of- whom Harry presumed- was his new girlfriend, Audry.
"All rise!" was shouted. The whole room, including Harry stood up, his hands reaching out to the side of the stand he was in for support. He didn't look up to Tiberius as he took his seat, but kept his eyes focused on the wood before him, willing his head to stop making him feel sick.
"The hearing of Mister Harry Potter on September eleventh is in procedure, you may be seated!" shouted a woman down on the ground floor, and everyone took their seat, nobody willing enough to talk. The quills of the journalists had already started scratching away in excitement.
"Would you like to state your defense Mister Dawson?" Tiberius asked.
"Yes sir," and Stephen stood up from the table he had been seated at.
"You had all the right to imprison Mister Potter on bail sir, I accept that," Stephen started his case. "But lets start from the very beginning, when Mister Potter got his warning, which he was given after supposedly beating his children," he continued, walking back and forth in the space in the middle of the room.
"That has been sorted," Tiberius interrupted him; Stephen grinned.
"Aye, but you are wrong. Because, no it hasn't," Stephen answered, he paused for a second before continuing "Is it not true that the three children in question are still in care?"
"Yes," and Tiberius seemed to have acknowledged that the man was right,"continue," he mumbled.
"See sir, I have gotten numerous accounts that the accused would never touch his children, and didn't," Harry dared a glance at Stephen, he seemed to be relax, taking everything in his stride; total opposite of what he had been a few minutes previous "You had no hard evidence that Mister Potter ever laid a finger on them, had you?" Stephen questioned.
"We had a a record from Saint Mungos and first-hand source-,"
"You had accusation from a man who turned out...,"
Harry cracked his neck as he knew what Stephen had been about to say, and Stephen, luckily, caught himself on time.
"..untrustworthy...and who might have held a grudge against Mister Potter as it was his little sister, Ginny, who died giving birth to their youngest daughter. Would I not be correct in saying, sir?"
A pang of guilt filled Harry as he heard the false reason come from the man's lips.
"Yes, but Mister Potter was inebriated on the night in question, meaning he would not have any recollection of anything that took place."
"Precisely. So he was unable to defend himself when he was dragged up before you in his first hearing, and you unlawfully took his children away before he even came back to the house."
"That was for the safety of the children-,"
"It was wrong!" and Harry felt very grateful towards Stephen, who's face had turned a rosy red as he stared up at Tiberius, "As we are on the subject of the children, may I call Healer Elisha Johnson to the stand?"
Harry looked up at Tiberius, his silver hair was combed back and caught the tiny light that was inside the room. He narrowed his eyes at Stephen before nodding.
At the name, anger filled Harry's body, and he watched as the now suited lady strolled up into the stand, her brown hair no longer fuzzy, but falling dead-straight down her back. As she took her spot, she locked eyes with Harry, and he couldn't read her emotions.
"Please state who you are who you work for."
"Elisha Johnson, Healer for Saint Mungos,"
Harry bowed his head in defeat. She was going to destroy him. Stephen made the worst choice possible with this; she was the last person he would have liked to see stand for his defense.
"First time you had contact with Mister Potter or his three children was the occasion when they turned up with bruises, am I right?" Tiberius questioned
Harry was going to vomit.
"What were your findings with them?"
"After I spent a bit of them with the children, it was clear that something wasn't adding up."
Just stop the hearing and lock me up now please; Harry was begging to himself.
"The eldest and chattiest of the three, James Sirius Potter, was constantly asking when would they go home. I'm sure, like any person with a brain would know, a five-year-old wouldn't want anything to do with someone who could provoke such injuries to him, even if it was his dad. "
Confused, and sure he was mishearing what the woman was saying, Harry looked over at her as she continued.
"The next time I met Mister Potter, on the Ministry's orders was on the third of September for a counseling session for Post Natal Depression," she stated, her eys fixed on Tiberius.
"How did that go?" Tiberius asked.
Harry had to choke about the emotions that were threatening to spill, he was listening as his whole life slowly fell. The silence hung in the room as she took a deep breath.
"But that was to be expected. He got defensive the second we started and stormed out not more than two minutes into our meeting."
Tiberius glanced at Harry, "So he had anger problems?"
But, to Harry's shock, Elisha vigorously shook her head.
"Oh, no sir!" and a ghost of a smile was shot in Harry's direction,"It was to be expected. How would you cope if you've lost nearly everyone you hold dear to you?" she questioned Tiberius, who shrugged.
"I don't know."
"Mister Potter closes himself off from everyone. I did a little research and found my assumption to be true by a little chat with a good colleague of mine, Hermione Granger."
Tiberius nodded slowly, taking in all the information that was being passed to him.
"Anything else you want to add Miss Johnson?"
"Yes, sir! When Albus Severus was admitted into hospital with Magus Mortis, on fourth of September, he was in hysterics, the Healers working with him couldn't get him to settle. He had no objection whatsoever, and was ecstatic when his dad turned up. I went to check myself, to see if everything was okay, and found Mister Potter lying on the bed telling tales to his settled son as he fell asleep,"
Harry closed his eyes, waiting for the outburst- he wasn't suppose to be at Saint Mungos.
"And before you start giving out about him breaking the law, his son was and still is seriously ill with a rare disease. And if given any choice, I know Mister Potter wouldn't have turned up which shows his devotion to his kids."
"Thank you, Miss Johnson, you are dismissed."
Stunned, Harry watched as Elisha nodded, before hurrying off, as if she couldn't get away quick enough. Confused, he watched as her back disappeared through the door.
A scrapping sound of a chair; Stephen was standing up, ready to step back in.
"May I begin?" Stephen asked, Tiberius nodded, writing something down with a quill.
"The next time Mister Potter popped into your range, was the night he is now being accused of murdering a Mister Rolf Scamander," and Tiberius just nodded.
"We've gotten witnesses who saw Mister Potter coming out of Mister Scamander's home-," Tiberus interrupted, plopping the black feather back into the small ink pot.
"But not into it, you never saw him go into the house, he could have been there for just a few seconds, a second hiccough for the Ministry who didn't do their research properly."
"We did, and we had good reason to believe Mister Potter killed him. He was the last one seen with Scamander and he had a motive to do so."
"Do you kill people that might not be in your good books?"
"I would like to, but no."
"So what makes Mister Potter any different? You only pointed the finger at the defendant because he held something against Scamander and that you had a tinniest bit of proof so you jumped on it."
"I did what I thought was right."
"You did it to make it look like the Ministry was doing a good job!"
Tiberius didn't answer; giving Stephen the advantage to keep talking.
"You didn't even care that he had been one of your best Aurors seen in recent years, he's brought in more legit wrong-doers to you than what most Aurors do in a life-time, you didn't want to look bad and because of that, a totally innocent man has spent two days in prison. Which, may I point out is still uncontrolled as you can see, by the slash and cuts on Mister Potter, that he has been jumped on by two other inmates in just two days. Tell me where the justice is in that!"
Tiberius looked stunned as he surveyed Stephen, sticking his tongue against his cheek. The seconds ticking by in silence.
"I'm going to hear the other statements," he stated, before adding "will a Chief Wizengamot member come too," through his teeth.
Confused, Harry scanned the crowd; he was so happy at seeing the Weasleys that he'd forgotten to look for them. He couldn't find them, Luna and Hermione weren't there, at this thought, he couldn't stop the smile that came to his lips. Silently, Tiberius and an elderly man wearing Wizengamot robs stood from his chair and left the room.
A massive wave of relief washed over Harry. He hadn't expected Hermione to speak, he knew he shouldn't have doubted her now; it was Hermione after all, but despair had forced him think of the worse scenarios.
Harry looked towards a flushed Stephen, who winked as he took a gulp of water from the glass.
Harry sat in silence, the alienated feeling of hope filling him, a feeling he hadn't felt in days. He knew he wasn't safe yet, but at least he could say that he gave it his best shot.
A few minutes later the doors opened, and the two men came back into the room. Instantly, Harry's heart started banging against his ribs, in the next few seconds he would know the verdict. Tiberius' elderly face was still as he made his way to the seat and sat down.
A few mumbles, and Harry looked over; something had happened to the members of Wizengamot, as they were now all doubled over pieces of parchment. Everyone in the room were watching them as they read something.
"Those in favour of conviction?" Tiberius asked suddenly, without waiting for the members to finish reading.
Harry was sure he was going to pass out, as a watched the hands rise into the air.
"Those in favour of clearing the accused of all charges?"
The air left Harry's lungs.
"Harry James Potter has been..."
Harry was sure his frantic heart was about to stop beating as he waited, even though he knew what it was, he needed a confirmation...
"cleared of all charges."
At the words, all the different emotions he'd been battling with throughout the hearing spilled down Harry's face in silent tears, and he gasped for breath.
Stephen turned to him and smiled; Harry tried to stop his gasping. His whole shaking with relief.
"and will be given back full custody of his children."
Happy yelps and clapping erupted from the Weasleys. Smiling through his tears, Harry saw that they were standing; Molly and Arthur were hugging one another, Molly held onto a balled-up piece of tissue.
"Hearing is dismissed," the female voice shouted over the noise, and through his tears he looked up at Tiberius who hid all emotion from his face, before turning and walking away. The kid stepped up to stand beside the sobbing Harry, as the chatter got louder and the Wizengamot left the room.
Harry snapped his head around, he hadn't noticed him leaving his spot at the table, but Stephen was now walking towards his stand, a silly grin on his face.
"Told you there wasn't anything to worry about," and he placed a reassuring hand on Harry's shoulder.
"T-thanks for everything." Harry smiled up at him, if he wasn't such an emotional mess at that moment, he was sure he would have jumped on top of the bloke and squeezed the life out of him.
"No problem. You'll just have to go back to a waiting room in Azkaban until they get your papers sorted."
"What?" Harry snapped,his tears stopping, couldn't believe he was hearing the words that came out of the man's mouth. He didn't want to go back into that place for as long as he lived.
"Don't worry, it will only take a few minutes," he reassured him.
After a few seconds debating it; Harry nodded, wiping his soaking wet cheeks.
"Okay then," and he stood from the chair.
The Auror led him back through the door, but before he left, Harry glanced at the Weasleys for one last time. The girls were watery eyed, and sobbing, a red-faced Molly waved at him, her eyes brimming with tears as she watched him leave. Harry smiled and waved back at her.
He was back inside the tiny room he had waited in beforehand, the Auror turning to him.
"Ready?" he asked and Harry nodded. Without further ado the man grabbed Harry by the lower arm. He felt the thug and the two of them Apparated back to the prison.
When they landed, the kid let go of his arm and Harry blinked a few times to adjust his eyes to the darkness; they were back inside the entrance hall of the prison.
"Can I have Mister Potter's belongings?"
Harry looked over at an Auror who stood beside the little window. The elderly man nodded and hobbled off.
"You may go," he said, dismissing the kid standing beside Harry, who Disapparated.
The Auror smiled, which Harry wearily returned.
"I'm glad you're out, me and some of the Aurors-," he was cut off as the man came back into view with the little black bag. "Cheers," and he handed it out to Harry, who took it; his hands still shaking.
"We thought it was just plane weird," he smiled, a low squeak filled the hall, and the door to a room Harry hadn't noticed before swung open. "They'll only be a few minutes. You can get changed if you want," the new Auror explained, indicating for Harry to step into the new room.
"If you need help or anything, I'm just outside," the Auror explained from the door; Harry nodded. With a smile, the Auror walked away and his voice filled the hall as he started up a conversation with the old man.
When Harry had finished getting changed into the jeans and the navy jumper, he sat himself back down, before digging his hand back into the bag, and with a smile, he pulled out his hand. His fingers tingling as they held onto the wood; he had his wand back.
He hadn't noticed how much he missed it until now, holding it delicately in his hand.
Looking up, the Auror was back at the door.
"Ready?" he asked, and with a nod of his head, he indicated for him to come with him. His suit vanished from it's crumpled up place on the bench, it had already been sent home. He hurried out after the man, pocketing his wand into the pocket of his jeans.
"Brace yourself. the media are out here," the Auror warned, and they stopped just inside the large front doors, but Harry was listening to him, he was begging the doors to open quickly, the media was the least of his troubles at the moment, all he wanted was to get away from the place.
With a low groan, the steel doors pulled apart, the dim light of outside barely having an affect on Harry's eyes, as the bitter wind swept passed them, Harry's body shivering against it and he pulled his jumper tighter around him.
He was just about to step out, when clicks and blinding flashes blasted through the darkness; blinking against them Harry was suddenly surrounded by reporters, with their microphones and cameras jammed in his face.
"Mister Potter! Do you think the ministry have treated you fairly?!"
"Are you looking forward to seeing your children?"
"Will you go back as an Auror after this ordeel Mister Potter?!"
Harry glanced around at them all, their faces in a hazy blur against the lights and flashes, some were doubled over little notepads, others behind cameras and some looking him directly in the face with microphones clasped in their fists.
"Okay, guys! Back off!"
Three Aurors were marching down the hall in Harry's direction. "You're not suppose to be here!" and as the men shoved the people back, the group loosened around Harry. One of the Aurors indicated for him to go through a gap that had appeared in the crowd, he did, ducking out of the way of the journalists arms. When he had cleared them, a bright light caught his attention and he looked towards it, a patronus was shimmering against the stones and gravel. But beside it stood Hermione and Luna, waiting for him. The patronus trotted around beside them, and Harry had a feeling the spell wasn't either of theirs as it was the shape of a goat, and neither had their wands in their hands.
"Hey," Harry smiled as he walked up to them.
"What happened to you?" Hermione asked her brown eyes scanning his cheek; how ironic for Hermione. No hello, or pleasant conversation,straight in with the facts and details.
"I'll tell you later," Harry replied. With a weary smile, Hermione wrapped her arms around his neck in a hug.
"Thanks," he whispered into her ear, so nobody else could hear except her; she replied with a kiss to his cheek.
When they pulled away and Hermione's arms fell from his neck, Harry looked passed her, to Luna who was looking down at the ground at her feet. He took a step towards her, and she lifted her eyes. As he had predicted the second he saw her, they were bloodshot.
"Luna," he smiled sadly, and he already knew before saying it, that his words were pathetic, but it was the least he could do to comfort her. "I'm sorry."
She sniffled back the tears.
"It's okay," her voice had barely made a sound against the thunderous crashing of the waves behind her. Not knowing what else to do, Harry planted a gentle kiss on her forehead, and he could feel her lean into it.
Reluctantly, Harry pulled away from her. He was confused, he didn't know wether he should be happy for being free, and now, at long last getting his children, or be sad with the woman who'd been there for him from the start of this whole mess, and who was having a tough time.
"I shouldn't be wasting stupid tears on him," and she wiped her eyes. Harry brushed a strand of blonde hair behind her ear.
"Molly said that they're going to hold a little party tomorrow at the Burrow when the kids are back," Hermione interrupted, and Harry's heart lifted; his kids, he was getting his kids back today. With a smile, she took hold of Harry's hand, who in turn took a gently grip of Luna's shaking fingers; they Apparated home.