Chapter 8 : Chapter 8 The Trial of Draco Malfoy. Part One
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Harry was the last one down in the morning. There was an excited buzz of conversation in the air. “Morning everyone.” he said, bending to give Ginny a kiss on the cheek she offered him. “What’s going on?”
“Read this mate,” said Ron, passing him the Daily Prophet, “page two.” Harry opened the page and waited for something to catch his eye. And it did! There covering the bottom third of the page was an article under the headline:
DRACO MALFOY ARRESTED.
Harry read the article with great interest. Draco Malfoy was to be charged with Death Eater activities and endangering life by the use of cursed objects. The trial was expected to be held at the Ministry in about a month. ‘I’ll look forward to that.’ thought Harry. He idly flicked through the rest of the paper before turning back to the front page. Another article headlined ‘New punishment devised’, caught his eye. The article read:
“Ministry researchers have developed a spell. Charm or curse, call it what you will, which when applied to those found guilty of criminal offences; disable all their magical abilities for a specified period. If, after a suitable test period it is found to be effective it would be combined permanently into our sentencing guidelines. So for instance a possible sentence could be one year in Azkaban followed by two years without magical abilities. It is the Ministry’s intention to close Azkaban, which is widely known to be a scar on the face of our world. This development will help to bring that day closer. The first person to face this possible sentence is expected to be Dolores Umbridge, former headmistress at Hogwarts, whose trial starts in two days.”
Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione entered the High Court of the Wizengamot and found seats of to one side that would give them a clear view of the proceedings. Harry had been here before, once at his own trial after he’d defended himself and his cousin Dudley from a couple of Dementors during the summer holidays, and a couple of times when using the pensieve in Dumbledore’s office. Ron looked around the large room and then nudged Ginny to point to their mum and dad sitting high up on the other side of the room. Molly Weasley gave a little wave to which an embarrassed Ron gave surreptitious wave back.
In the centre of the court between four other judges sat Kingsley Shacklebolt, Minister of Magic and Chief Magistrate in the trial of Draco Malfoy. The undercurrent of conversation died away as Shacklebolt banged his gavel and announced “The court will come to order. Bring in the accused.”
Draco Malfoy entered the court escorted by two burly Ministry wizards who looked as though they spent an hour a day ramming their faces into a brick wall. He was pale and his nervousness was clear for all to see. The Clerk of the Court began to speak. “You are Draco Malfoy, son of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy?” Draco swallowed heavily,
“Yes, that’s right.”
“You are aware of the charges against you, how do you plead?”
“Not guilty.” Malfoy replied. The prosecuting wizard rose and began to outline, at great length, his case against him. Harry listened with interest, the case was strong he knew, but who could know if a good defence wizard could find legal weakness or loopholes that would get Draco off. Several minor prosecution witnesses had been heard when Shacklebolt called for a break for lunch. The two couples left the Ministry and found a type of Muggle café nearby which Harry explained was known as a ‘greasy spoon’ café. Harry ordered bacon sandwiches and coffee for everyone.’
“I think you’ll be on after lunch,” said Ron through a mouthful of his sandwich, “I reckon the prosecution has dug Malfoy a nice big hole, now you’ve just got to drop him into it.”
“I wonder what they’ll ask me?” said Harry. Hermione looked at him directly,
“Harry, whatever they ask you, just tell the truth. No exaggerations, no window dressing. That should be enough. Remember also that the defence wizard will try to make you look bad. He’ll set traps for you, so think before you answer.”
“The hardest thing will be keeping your personal feelings out of it,” said Ginny, “so try not to show that you’re enjoying it.”
“It may surprise you to know that I won’t be enjoying it, I just want to get it over with.” They chatted for a few more minutes and when everybody had finished eating they left the café to return to the Ministry. Harry was mulling over in his mind the comment that Ginny had made. She was right, he decided, it would be easy to let his feelings colour his evidence. So he concluded that he would try to remain as calm and unemotional as possible, and watch out for traps set for him by the defence.
“The prosecution calls Harry James Potter.” The prosecuting wizard intoned. Ginny squeezed Harry’s’ hand as he stood to make his way to the chair in the centre of the floor. He was sworn in. He sat down looked around and his eyes made contact with those of Draco Malfoy, who still looked pale but now instead of looking nervous, he looked just plain scared. There was a look in his eyes that Harry couldn’t describe. He was desperate and pleading silently for Harry to help him. Harry turned his attention to the court as the prosecutor began to speak.
“Mr. Potter, I am sure we could spend the next month going through the years that you and the defendant were students at Hogwarts. I’m also sure that you, and indeed all of us, will be relieved to know that I don’t think that will be necessary. I intend to concentrate instead on one evening. The night that Albus Dumbledore was murdered. Although it is known that the defendant did not carry out the killing. So let us begin. You were at the top of the Astronomy Tower when Dumbledore was murdered, is this correct?”
“Yes.” replied Harry.
“Please tell the court how and why you came to be there.”
“Dumbledore and I had been away from Hogwarts that evening, Dumbledore was seriously ill when we apparated back to Hogsmeade. Madame Rosmerta alerted us to the Dark Mark over the school. We borrowed a couple of brooms and flew to the Astronomy Tower. We could hear the sounds of fighting below and then the door burst open and Malfoy came out. The next thing I knew was that Dumbledore had immobilised me, and was then disarmed by Malfoy.
“Why did Dumbledore immobilise you?”
“I don’t know, perhaps to protect me. Malfoy was bragging that he had fooled Dumbledore and had succeeded in getting Death Eaters into the school under his nose and that now he was going to kill the headmaster. Dumbledore was talking calmly to Malfoy. He said that he knew that Malfoy was the one who had tried twice to kill him, and what poor attempts they had been. Dumbledore did not believe that Malfoy would kill him and told him so. He sympathised with Malfoy’s problem, which was that Voldemort had threatened his family unless Draco did what Voldemort wanted.”
“How long did all this take?”
“I’m not sure, maybe four or five minutes.”
“Why didn’t Malfoy speak to you?” The lawyer perched himself casually on the edge of his table.
“He couldn’t see me.”
“He could not see you. Why was that?”
“I was under an invisibility cloak.” Harry hoped it didn’t sound cowardly.
“Where did you get an invisibility cloak?
“I inherited it from my father.”
“I see. What happened then?”
“More Death Eaters arrived at the top of the tower.”
“Did you know these Death Eaters?”
“Fenrir Greyback, Amycus and Alecto Carrow and one other that I didn’t know”
“The others were urging Malfoy to kill Dumbledore and get it over with. Malfoy kept hesitating. Greyback said that he would do it. Amycus Carrow stopped him and said that the Dark Lord had decreed that it had to be Malfoy. After a couple of minutes Snape arrived and killed Dumbledore almost immediately. ”
“What happened then?”
“Malfoy, Snape and the Death Eaters bolted down the stairs. I realised that I could move again and managed to stun the last one through the door. I followed them down the stairs and joined the fighting.”
The prosecuting wizard turned to face the judges “I have no more questions at this time, but the prosecution reserves the right to recall Mr. Potter if necessary.”
The defending wizard, Harbeckat Howe by name, stepped forward. He stared thoughtfully at the sheaf of notes in his hand, before turning to face Harry. “Mr Potter, you have known Draco Malfoy since your first day at Hogwarts, is that correct?”
“Yes it is.” Harry thought he had done okay so far.
“And your hostility toward him began that day.”
“The hostility was mutual.”
“I understand that Malfoy offered you his hand to shake. That’s hardly a hostile gesture is it?” Harry thought for a moment, he saw what was happening, they were going to try to make him look like the bad guy.
“Not by itself, no.” Your plan isn’t going to work Harry thought.
“There was more?” Howe sensed the change in Harry, his answers were firm and concise.
“It was what he said that put me off him.” There was silence for a moment,
“Well, don’t keep us in suspense Mr. Potter, what did he say?”
“He said that some wizarding families, especially his, were better than others because they were pure blood and wealthy. He also insulted some of the people I was with and told me that he could help me choose the best people to make friends with.”
“And your response was what?” Howe was pacing slowly back and forth in front of Harry, glancing occasionally at the notes in his hand.
“I declined to shake his hand and said that I was perfectly capable of choosing my own friends. That is when his attitude changed to open hostility.”
“Hmmm… let us now discuss the time that you turned Malfoy into a ferret.” Several of the people watching started to laugh and Shacklebolt banged his gavel hard on his lectern, the gallery fell silent.
“There will be no more behaviour like that, this is not a comedy show. This young man is facing serious charges… it is not, in any way, funny. If there is any repetition I shall clear the court.” He turned to the defending wizard, “Please continue.”
“Thank you sir.” said Howe “I totally agree with that sentiment.” He addressed Harry again. “This occurred just prior to the Triwizard tournament I believe, Mr. Potter?”
“Yes it did, but I did not turn him into a ferret, that was someone who, as far as I knew at the time, was Professor Moody.”
“Did you laugh at him?”
“Along with maybe a hundred other people, yes I did.”
“We are not concerned here with what other people did Mr. Potter. What happened to make Moody do such a thing?”
“Malfoy and I were arguing, and he was going for his wand.”
“So Moody protected you?”
“Yes, but I wish he hadn’t.” Again Harry’s answer showed his confidence.
“Oh really… why is that?” The question, casually asked, put Harry even more at ease.
“I would rather have defended myself.” ‘Good answer’ Harry thought to himself.
“Very commendable I’m sure. Do you think that you could have… what is the modern phrase… taken him?”
“Yes I think so.” Casually, Harbeckat Howe tripped his carefully laid trap.
“Like you did a couple of years later in a boys toilet at Hogwarts when, but for Professor Snape’s timely intervention, you would have killed him?” The people watching gasped out loud. Harry’s insides churned, making him nauseous. Ron nudged Ginny in the ribs,
“Ouch… he walked right into that didn’t he?”
“Yeah, but I didn’t see it coming, did you?” she asked rhetorically. Harry was thinking furiously, ‘How the hell do I answer that.’ The confidence he’d had previously vanished in an instant. The lawyer continued,
“Well Mr. Potter, we’re waiting.”
“That was… an accident,” Harry began uncertainly, “we were duelling…”
“An accident? An accident that you used a little known spell designed to produce serious, if not fatal, injuries? How can that possibly be construed as an accident?” Howe had stopped pacing, standing directly in front of Harry, who was looking at the floor.
“I… I did not know what the spell was supposed to do.”
“You did not know… you did not know what the spell would do. Do you make a habit of using spells that you are not familiar with?”
“No I don’t, but as I said we were duelling and I said it without thinking.”
“You said it without thinking, that’s interesting. Why were you duelling?”
“He had hexed and nearly killed Katie Bell, a friend of mine.”
“And your evidence for this was?” Harry struggled for an answer. “You did have hard evidence for this?” He was pressing Harry hard now.
“No. But it could not have been anyone else.”
“So you nearly killed him because you suspected he had hexed your friend, even though you had only circumstantial evidence?”
“What would you think if this court operated to the same standard of evidence Mr. Potter?”
“That would be wrong. Just as I was.” Harry had just about given up when Howe surprised him. The lawyer turned to the judges’ bench,
“If there is no objection from the court, I propose that we now adjourn until tomorrow. We may have another witness that I need to interrogate, and would like some time to prepare.” The judges conferred amongst themselves before Shacklebolt banged his gavel and announced,
“Court is adjourned until 10am tomorrow. I remind Mr. Potter not to discuss the case or his evidence with anyone, anyone at all. Do you understand Mr. Potter?”
“Yes sir.” Harry replied.
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