"I tell my love to wreck it all, cut out all the ropes and let me fall."
Skinny Love, Birdy
The air was chilled when Hermione entered the atrium of the ministry the following morning, with Adelia by her side. Even though the crowd was bustling before them, making their way to the Main Courtroom where the trial would be held, there was an accepted hush over everyone. The mood was somber, yet vindicated, now that there was someone responsible for the death of the life that had been taken from them.
Hermione paused, glancing at a Daily Prophet a wizard held beside her. It was the moving picture of Draco at the inquest, pushing against the guards. She sighed, wondering if she would be able to handle this.
“Hermione?” Adelia softly asked as she placed a hand on her arm.
Hermione turned to her secretary.
“We should probably go.”
It seemed as if everyone was partaking in a mass exodus towards the main courtroom; every witch and wizard quietly moved in the same direction, with their faces hiding bouts of anticipation, excitement, and nerves.
Hermione glanced to her side, and noticed a usually cheery Adelia had glassy eyes which faced forward in a somewhat blank stare. The whole situation was just as much of a shock to her as anyone else. She was a seemingly fragile creature who couldn’t comprehend death, especially when it tragically occurred so close.
When they reached the courtroom, Hermione pulled a golden curl behind her ear as she surveyed the massive space. They room was expansive, with wizards slowly filling the observation wooden benches which circulating the space. The ceiling was ornately decorated with carvings which depicted justice scenarios from the history of the Wizarding World. Beneath her ebony heels was a pattern of alternating white and black tiles which covered the floor. In the middle of the space, a large wooden chair was placed, where each witness would give their testimony. In front of the chair, a modest distance away, was the elegant judge’s chair, which sat behind a taller wall which elevated the judge and the jury above the ground floor. Behind the judge’s bench, were individual red velvet seats in which each member of the jury would sit and listen to the case.
Adelia turned to survey the space beside her, and even let a whisper of awe escape her lips. Hermione noticed a box of seats which was to the right of the judge, and elevated a degree higher than the first row benches. She saw the Various heads of departments with their secretaries and members of the Ministry Board milling within those seats, and realized that she would join them.
“I think we’re up there, Hermione,” Adelia stated before making her way to the entrance to the seating area.
She followed her secretary up the aisle, and glanced at the rows of observers filling the rows on either side. It seemed that every wizard and witch in the Wizarding World wanted to be present at this trial. When the two reached the box, they were greeted with smiles.
“Good morning, Hermione, Adeila,” greeted Sebastian Henderson, the Head of the Magical Maintenance Deparment.
“Hi Sebastian,” Hermione greeted.
“This will be quite exciting, won’t it? I haven’t seen a case this big since the death eater trials after the war.”
“But we can’t forget that Terence’s tragic death brought us here,” Adeila reminded him.
“You are very right, Adeila. We will never forget him.”
Hermione thanked Adeila in her mind for saving her once again.
“Oh there she is!” Shouted Mr. Dawling as he made his way over.
“Hello, Mr. Dawling,” Hermione greeted.
He smiled after greeting Adeila as well.
“It’s so good to see you both. I can feel it within me that justice will be rightly served within this court. In the end, Terence will have justice.”
“I am just as ready to see Terence’s death avenged as you sir, but we can’t forget that a defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty.”
Mr. Dawling’s expression seemed to drop a millimeter.
“You are indeed right, Hermione. Forgive me.”
Hermione greeted most of the other heads and board members before taking her seat beside adeila inside the ministry box. Her heart was pounding beneath her chest.
To her right, in the auror box, she saw Ron and Harry mingling with their co-workers. Ron suddenly turned around, and seemed to glance around the room until he saw Hermione. He waved in her direction, and she responded with a small smile. Ron seemed to have forgotten that she had been almost an hour late for their meal yesterday. Harry was calm and serious, his demeanor exemplifying a true leader.
Hermione’s eyes drifted over the bustling room. She found Lenard as his officials sitting to the direct right of Judge Mason, each chatting among one another. To her left, she finally spotted Ginny, who sat between George, Percy, Bill, and Mr. Weasley. Charlie was stuck in Romania, and Mrs. Weasley wouldn’t have wanted to come. They were all talking animatedly with one another, except Ginny, who kept her eyes on Harry and Ron as they mingled with the other aurors. She noticed Neville and Luna, Cho Chang and Cormac McLaggan with their spouses, and even Dean Thomas.
She followed everyone’s glances as they moved directly across from her. Across the room, Narcissa Malfoy, followed by Blaise Zabini, Pansy Parkinson, Therodore Nott, and Astoria Greengrass filed into a bench to the left of Judge Mason. Narcissa was dressed in elegant robes, and her platinum hair was pinned back by a silver plate, allowing her wavy curls to fall gracefully down her back. Blaise and Theodore donned crisp black suits, and their wives wore simple, yet elegant dresses paired with exquisite jewelry. The crowds seemed to look at the purebloods with a hint of distain as they lowered themselves onto the benches. Hermione could tell Narcissa was holding back waves of emotion with her blank stare, and Hermione’s heart ached a fraction for the her.
The Court Foreman stepped up to a podium and began to speak as the room quickly hushed.
“All rise for the jury and the honorable Judge Mason.”
From a door at the opposite end of the room, members of the ministry jury began to file into their seats, each decorated in scarlet red robes. After all were standing in their proper place, Judge Mason began to make his way toward his chair. He wore navy robes, with a golden pendant around his chest. His spectacles were balanced on the bridge of his nose, and he pushed them back as he stood in front of his seat.
“You may all be seated.”
The creaking of wooden benches and chairs could be heard as everyone settled into their seats, each boiling with anticipation.
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, members of the jury. We are gathered here today for case No. 1245898, The Ministry of Magic vs. Draco Abraxas Malfoy.”
“As you certainly can all see, this is a very high profile case, with much media attention. There is much emotion invested into this trial, and I have nothing against it. What I do ask is that all spectators in this courtroom today keep their emotion to themselves. Every defendant has the right to a fair trial, and no matter how convicting the evidence is, he will receive it. This is a court of law, not a sporting event.”
Judge Mason glanced around the room before adjusting his spectacles.
“The defense may enter.”
A deafening silence gripped the room as the large wooden doors were pulled open. Hermione’s stomach twisted as Sam Goldwater first stepped through the doors, followed by a slew of ministry guards. They were leading a handcuffed Draco towards the defense bench, and Barry Samsburg stood beside him. Hermione felt her stomach twist as her chestnut eyes finally fell on Draco. His head was lowered, and he wore a plain white shirt with dark slacks. Draco’s hands were cuffed in front of his waist, and his eyes never left the floor as the group entered.
With all eyes on him, Draco was lowered into his seat beside Barry and two Ministry guards. Hermione watched as he attempted to find his mother with his eyes, and after he did, continued to look about the room. Draco stopped when he found her. His ashen eyes bore into her brown pupils for a few long moments. Hermione’s heart began to race just as he lifted his stare from her.
“Now that the defense is present, we can proceed. Today, we begin proceedings in the Ministry of Magic vs. Mr. Draco Abraxas Malfoy. Mr. Malfoy, you are accused of the murder of the late Minister of Magic, Terence Fletcher. You are not guilty until proven so, and will remain innocent until the verdict is decided by the jury. The reason you are here today is because you claim innocence in this case. Does the defense accept this?”
Barry Samsburg nodded.
“Yes, your honor.”
“Then we will proceed. Will Mr. Draco Abraxas Malfoy please come to the witness chair?”
Silence echoed once again through the court as Draco stood, as was escorted to the witness chair directly in front of the judge, and was handcuffed to the arms of the seat.
Draco's pulse was racing as the guards finished cuffing him to the chair, and as every stare in the room rested on his figure. Draco knew this would be difficult, but it was necessary. He glanced over to his mother once again, who was attempting to stay strong for him. His friends sat beside her, and he was very grateful for their attendance.
“Mr. Draco Malfoy. Do you swear to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth?”
“Yes, sir,” he responded.
Judge Mason paused.
“Alright, let’s begin. Mr. Malfoy, you were found at the scene of the murder with ample evidence against you. Please tell the court your testimony.”
Draco swallowed in an attempt to calm his nerves, and began to give his testimony.
“I was working late on the night that Terence Fletcher died. I went to Terence’s Office to speak with him, and I found him….I found him dead on the floor by his two sofas.”
It was still difficult to discuss his dear friend, but he knew he had no choice.
“I inspected his body, and found no pulse. The only thing I found was a wand, and his crushed pocket watch. Then Lenard Grindow rushed in, found me holding the wand I discovered, and accused me of murder.”
There was a slight hint of malice at the end of his statement as a few whispers could be heard throughout the crowd. His close friend Lenard quickly rushed to conclusions about what he saw, and didn’t even give his friend any form of doubt.
To his left, Draco saw the Prosecuting attorney for the Ministry, Thomas Buckley. His hair was still greased on his head, and he was dressed in a tailored pin-striped suit, with silver cufflinks. Buckley was leaning back in his seat with his hands folded across his lap, waiting for his entrance.
“Thank you Mr. Malfoy for your testimony. Is the prosecution ready for questioning?”
Buckley nodded with a smile.
“Yes, your honor.”
Draco couldn’t help but glare into the Buckley’s twinkling eyes as he approached Draco. He knew the truth was on his side, and he could do this.
“Mr. Malfoy, I’m sure you are well aware that you are accused of masterminding a plot to tragically end the life of the beloved Terence Fletcher.”
“I thought so. Well, for being accused of such a drastic and horrific crime, your testimony was quite short, with gaping holes.”
“It’s short because it’s the truth.”
“The truth? Oh, Mr. Malfoy, I think we know it’s far from the truth. Just a fabricated story given as an attempt to save yourself from your fate.”
“Your honor, that is speculation.”
Judge Mason nodded.
“Noted. Mr. Buckley, new argument.”
Buckley nodded graciously.
“Mr. Malfoy, you were close with Terence, were you not?”
“He was one of my best friends.”
“And you two went on outings together, had dinners, and you even were present at his daughter’s wedding, am I correct?”
Buckley began to pace.
“You two were also very close in the workplace. You completed tasks together, ran meetings, and your latest project was the moving of a rare dragon to Bulgaria. You made many visits to each other’s offices, traveled around the world together, and publicly supported the work of one another.”
“Yes, we were very close”
“Ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, and probably did see over time, Mr. Malfoy was very close with Terence Fletcher. But all this begs a question. Why was he close with Terence? Why did he befriend the minister. Why would an ex-deatheater want to become so close with the Minister of Magic?”
Draco closed his eyes as Buckley uttered the word “deatheater,” reminding him and the courtroom of his dark past.
“Well, it’s simply because all along, Draco Malfoy thirsted for power. He yearned for it after losing the battle against good, and to avenge his father and despicable, bloodthirsty Aunt. Draco Malfoy knew that if he befriended Terence, he could cleverly place himself at the right hand of the Minster, and at the right time, be given the position of the Minister of Magic.”
“That’s not true.” Draco spat through clenched teeth, “Terence and I became close because we had things in common, and got along-“
“That’s quite sweet, Mr. Malfoy, and probably could be true. But the question is why did you make such an effort to befriend the Minister of Magic?”
“I didn’t make an effort. We worked in the same place, and saw each other on a daily basis.”
“As you can see, it was all a cover-up for a dark, sinister plan that was conducted over many years of intricate planning. Everything seemed perfect. Draco was finally in position. But, someone was in the way. Terence, only in his fifties, would serve as minister for another, 30-40 years. That wasn’t fast enough for Draco. He wanted the power now. That’s why on the night of Terence’s murder, Draco didn’t go home at his usual time. After everyone had gone home for the evening, went to Terence’s office, and murdered him. Now he would be given the position, because he was considered Terence’s prodigy, and next in line to run this Ministry.”
Buckly held up a finger.
“But there was a snag in Draco’s plan. Mr. Lenard Grindow, one of Terence’s advisors, was also working late. Draco Malfoy was caught red-handed, at the scene of the crime. There was no way of getting out of it.”
Draco was becoming tense.
“None of that’s true. I found Terence dead. Someone else had murdered him. There was nothing I could do.”
“Nothing you could do?! You could have called for help.”
“But there was no one else in the Ministry!”
“You could have ran and found help!”
Draco shook his head.
“Everything you’re accusing me of isn’t true. It’s all lies.”
“All lies? Draco, the truth of the matter is that no one would gain more than you would with Terence’s death. You would have gotten the most prestigious and most powerful position in the wizarding world. And I’m afraid that doesn’t look good to a jury.”
Barry shot from his chair.
“Your honor, how this relevant? Mr. Buckley is no longer questioning my client, but clearly assaulting him.”
Judge Mason looked at Buckley.
“Please continue with your questioning, Mr. Buckley.”
Buckley nodded and began to circle Draco once again.
“Mr. Malfoy, since you insist on being innocent, where were you when Terence Fletcher was murdered?”
Draco had been expecting this. He knew it was coming. This was Buckley’s homerun. He lowered his eyes to the floor and began to clasp his hands.
“I can’t give it to you.”
Buckley widened his eyes in a sarcastic shock as he motioned to the jury.
“Can you say it loud enough for the ladies and gentlemen of the jury to hear?”
Draco paused as he opened his eyes.
“I can’t give you an alibi.”
Gasps broke out over the crowd. Even Judge Mason’s expression changed for a few moments.
“You are telling me, Mr. Malfoy, that you can’t produce an alibi?” Buckley stated as he looked around the room.”
“Yes,” he murmured.”
“And why is that?”
Draco closed his eyes again, and sighed as he replayed the events of the night in his mind. He opened them and brought his eyes up in Hermione’s direction.
“Because it would do more harm than good.”
Buckley narrowed his gaze at Draco and attempted to follow where he was staring, but failed to do so. Suddenly, Buckley stood directly in front of Draco and leaned forward.
“You can’t produce an alibi, Draco. It’s going to be very difficult for you to claim innocence now,” Buckley sneered into his face.
Buckley turned to the Judge.
“I’m finished here, your honor. I’m ready for the witnesses.”
“Alright. Guards please escort Mr. Malfoy back to the defense bench.
Draco kept his eyes piercing the floor as he was slowly removed from the chair, and placed back next to Barry on the bench.
This wasn’t going to get any easier, and Draco knew it. But thinking about the reason why he was doing this made everything seem much more bearable.
Hermione stood frozen in place when his grey eyes met hers for a second time.
“Because it would do more harm than good.”
Everything he said or didn’t say was to protect her. It was killing her, the feeling of being helpless to take any action. Draco had told her if she did come forward with his alibi, he would deny everything. There was absolutely nothing she could do.
She sighed, placing a trembling hand over her brow. Soon she felt a delicate hand on her shoulder.
“Hermione?” Adelia’s worried blue eyes bore into hers, “Are you alright?”
Adelia, unconvinced as always, decided not to pursue anything, and turned back to the court as Judge Mason began to speak.
“The next witness to be called to the stand is the Minister of Magic, Lenard Grindow.”
Hermione watched as Lenard slowly made his way to the witness chair, looking distressed.
“Mr. Grindow, do you swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?”
“Please give your testimony.”
Lenard cleared his throat.
“It is very difficult for me to discuss this, seeing I witnessed such horrific images. But I will do my best. On the night of Terence’s murder, I was working late in the ministry. Terence had asked me to deliver some of his outgoing mail to the mailroom. I had done so, and began to make my way to his office to tell him I was leaving for the night.”
He paused, and bit his lip.
“But when I returned to Terence’s office, I saw something I wish I could erase from my memory every single day. I found my friend Terence dead. And if things couldn’t get any worse, my other close friend, Draco Malfoy, was sitting beside him, with a wand in his hand. I couldn’t believe it. My friend that I thought I knew well had murdered the Minister of Magic. I accused him in shock, and disbelief. I didn’t believe he could have done it. But I had no choice but to call for help. Then the aurors came and found us. That’s everything I know.”
“Thank you, Mr. Grindow.”
Judge Mason coughed.
“Mr. Grindow, when you ran your errands to the mail room that night, did you see anyone else present in the ministry?”
Lenard paused to rest his chin in a free hand.
“Maybe a member of the maintenance staff earlier in the night, your honor. But no one else.”
“Mr. Grindow, how was the defendant acting when you entered the room?”
Lenard paused again.
“He seemed disturbed. His hand was on his wrist checking for a pulse, and the other was holding the wand.”
“Had you talked with him earlier in the day?”
“Yes. We talked briefly in the afternoon.”
“And what was his demeanor then?”
Lenard brought his fingertips together.
“He seemed a little off during the day. Draco was known for his sarcasm and humor, and honestly he seemed a bit flat.”
Judge Mason nodded.
“Mr. Buckley, do you have any further questions for Mr. Grindow?”
He shook his head.
“Do you have any further questions, Mr. Samsburg?”
“A few, your honor.”
Everyone’s eyes followed Barry Samsburg as he walked over to Lenard. He was one of the most respected attorney’s in the Wizarding World, and some wondered why he would make a career move to defend such a condemned criminal.
“Mr. Grindow, I only have a few questions for you.”
“Alright,” he nodded.
Barry began to pace in front of the chair.
“We all know that you found Draco Malfoy with a wand in his hand at the scene of the crime. And we also know that it was the same wand that projected the killing curse which took the life of Terence Fletcher.”
“That’s what I saw.”
“True, but how can you know for sure Draco committed the crime,” he turned to the Jury, “Ladies and Gentlemen, how can we be sure about this? Isn’t it completely possible that Draco Malfoy came across a murdered Terence Fletcher, and bent down to see if his dear friend was alive?”
“With all due respect, Mr. Samsburg, if I found my dear friend killed, I wouldn’t have stayed around his body. I would have immediately run for help.”
“But that is your opinion, Mr. Grindow. My client could have been grieving at the loss of his close friend, and could have been too distraught to leave him. Isn’t that plausible.”
“Some could think that, yes.”
Barry paused before turning to the Jury.
“Some could think that. As in speculate the details of this case. Speculate the details of the murder scene that night. ”
Barry turned to Judge Mason.
“I’m finished, your honor.”
Judge Mason gave a curt nod as Barry returned to his seat.
“Ladies and Gentlmen, since our scheduled testimonies have been given, I motion this could to a recess until 8:00 AM tomorrow morning. Dismissed.”
The once still crowd erupted in chatter as the members of the jury began to stand and depart through the door in which they came. The ministry guards that stood around Draco Malfoy lifted him from his seat, and began to escort him towards the door.
Hermione watched breathlessly as Draco walked blankly out of her vision past the others filing out of the massive courtroom. He was being taken back to his cell in the depths of the ministry, and would no longer be allowed visitors besides his representative and immediate family members, which would be Narcissa only. Hermione wished there was anything in her power to do. Never before had she felt so utterly helpless.
After saying short goodbyes to her co-workers and members of the board, Hermione led Adelia down the aisle, across the tiled floor, and through the exit into the atrium. Everyone seemed to be mingling in clusters, discussing the surprising testimonies they had just heard over the last few hours.
She turned to find Ginny pushing her way through the crowds in her direction. A smiling Ginny gave Hermione a tight hug when she finally reached her friend.
“Why hello person who named me maid of honor and hasn’t talked to appointed maid in days.”
Hermione gave her friend a warm smile.
“Sorry, Gin. I did speak with Ms. Pemviord the other day, and she said everything is ordered and ready.”
Ginny crossed her arms over her chest and narrowed her eyes in Hermione’s direction.
Hermione’s brow fell in confusion.
“Yes. I mean I went through the whole checklist in my head.”
Ginny remained in the same mocking position before turning to Adelia.
“Adelia,” Ginny asked warmly, “What is the most important part of a wedding for the bride?”
Adelia seemed to think on it for a moment, before opening her mouth in surprise in Hermione’s direction.
“Oh, Hermione! You don’t have it picked out yet? Your wedding coming up fast!”
Hermione stared at both girls, who were now standing in very similar positions.
“What are you both going on about?”
Ginny and Adeila exchanged looks before both shouting the same answer.
“Your wedding dress!”
Realization drifted over Hermione.
“Oh, of course. I didn’t forget, Gin. I told your mum I’d wear the one she offered. You know, the one she wore for her wedding?”
Ginny’s jaw dropped to the floor.
“Hermione Jean Granger, please tell me you are not wearing that ghastly, horrific lacey nightgown.”
Hermione’s eyes widened.
Ginny shook her head.
“See, this is why I make the aesthetic decisions. Hermione, that dress is old, it’s frilly, it’s laced, and it has more bows than my Aunt Jeanie’s cat Francis. I scheduled your dress fitting at the boutique Friday.”
Hermione looked at her friend.
“I guess that works.”
“Of course it does. And Mrs. Aubouchon makes the most beautiful dressed you’ve ever seen. I wanted her to design one for my wedding, but she had taken on too many clients. When I told her about you, she was more than delighted to squeeze you in.”
Ginny turned to Adeila.
“And Adeila, you are more than welcome to come. After all, you know Hermione better than herself sometimes.”
“I’d love too.”
Ginny brought her hands together.
‘Alright then. After the trial finishes Friday we’ll all go to your dress fitting. Oh, Hermione, I sent an owl to your mother inviting her to come.”
The three fell silent as each began to survey the darker mood of the room. After being court for the duration they had, each seemed to avoid the subject that surrounded them. And Hermione was completely fine with it. She then saw Ron and Harry begin to finish up their conversations with the other aurors from a distance, and start to turn towards the three.
“Hermione, I have to run. My brother is in town today and I’m meeting him soon,” said Adeila as she placed a hand in her bag to search for a personal item, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Bye, Adeila,” Hermione said after her secretary smiled and turned to leave.
Adeila stopped to say goodbye to Ginny, and then pushed her way through the crowd.
Ginny glanced at her friend.
“How are you, Hermione?”
By the look in Ginny’s eye, Hermione knew what she meant.
“I’m fine. Really, I am.”
Ginny sighed as she stared off into the distance for a bit, before turning back to Hermione.
“I thought the papers were just creating rumors to fuel gossip. But it’s true. I can’t believe he isn’t telling the court his alibi.”
Hermione turned her gaze away from Ginny’s.
“I can’t either.”
Ginny gave Hermione a sad smile.
“Let’s do a late lunch. Harry and Ron are just over there, and it’ll be a great way for all of us to clear our heads.”
As Ginny motioned for Hermione to follow her, and grabbed her arm to bring her in Harry and Ron’s direction, Hermione glanced behind her. It didn’t surprise her that he wasn’t visible in the crowds.
Hi readers! Ok first, I owe every single person who has ever read or reviewed this story an apology. This update took way too long, and I feel terrible about it. I just got wrapped up into my other stories and my senior year, and this one unfortunately got pushed to the side. I promise it will never take that long again, because....
I've been writing like crazy!! I have written almost every single day for the past week and a half. For this story, I have the next THREE chapters written. 3! What does that mean for you? It means VERY fast updates! (depending on the queue) the next chapters are written and ready to be posted, it just depends on the queue. I am in such a zone with this story right now, and i'm taking a little break from writting now to post chapter. 17. Since a few were wondering, this story is about 2/3 of the way through. My goal is to finish the remaining chapters in the next few weeks, so I can post them quickly.
For readers of my other fics, don't worry, i'll be posting those too.
Just as a side note, I posted a little prequel fic in the figment harry potter challenge called, Beside the Begonias. If you are looking for something to read, hop on over there and check it out :)
As for this story, things are going to start heating up VERY SOON. I would highly suggest that you get excited ;)
Thank you so much for your patience and support!
Please review! It only takes a few tiny seconds.
Until Chapter 17, (which happens to be already written)
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