Chapter 9 : The Trial of Draco Malfoy. Part Two
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The next day Harry resumed his seat, wondering if bringing a cushion would have offended the dignity of the court, and the questioning continued. He thought he was prepared but the first question nearly threw him. Harbeckat Howe smiled benignly and began.
“Good morning Mr. Potter, did you sleep well last night?”
“Er… yes thank you.” Harry was now very wary.
“Don’t look so puzzled Mr. Potter, that’s just my way of warming up. Relax. Now then on to the night of Dumbledore’s death. You said that you and he had been away from Hogwarts. Where had you been?” Before Harry could reply the Prosecutor intervened.
“Objection, he was asking about events at Hogwarts so that question is irrelevant.”
“Sustained, counsel will stick to the point please.” said the Shacklebolt.
“Very well. Mr. Potter, you have said that Dumbledore was disarmed by Malfoy, you were immobilised, and that you were under an invisibility cloak. Am I correct?”
“Yes.” Harbeckat Howe resumed pacing in front of Harry as he had before.
“So between the two of you there was no threat, physical or otherwise, to Malfoy?”
“I suppose not, no.” Another pause and glance at his notes.
“You were well placed as an observer, what was Malfoy’s demeanour at this time?”
“He was very nervous, scared, blustering and I thought unstable.”
“But you just told us that there was no threat. What reason did he have to be scared?”
“I don’t know but…” Howe interrupted him, all the while consulting his notes.
“So why do you think Malfoy didn’t kill Dumbledore?”
“I’m not sure but I could see he was very frightened.”
“Do you think he was capable of killing the headmaster?” Harry was being very careful with his answers.
“Dumbledore didn’t think so and I think he was right. He said that killing wasn’t as easy as people think. So no, I don’t think he could.” Harry looked at Malfoy, Draco stared back. Harry thought he saw gratitude in his eyes. His attention was snapped back to the court.
“Do you think Malfoy is capable of killing anyone?” Harry thought for a long moment. He could almost feel Malfoy’s eyes boring in to him.
“Actually no I don’t. I think he’s a bully and a braggart but no, I doubt that he could kill a person.”
“Not even you?” Harry actually smiled,
“Maybe he would make an exception in my case, you’ll have to ask him, but no I don’t think so.”
“You said that Dumbledore sympathised with Malfoy because of the threat from Voldemort to his family.”
“Yes. He offered to protect Malfoy and his family, but Malfoy was too scared to accept.”
“Would you have any sympathy for him, considering that threat?”
“It can’t have been easy, so I suppose, yes, I might.”
“I now wish to ask about another event. This was the day some months after the fall of the Ministry, when you and your friends, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger and others, were caught by a group of snatchers led by, I believe, Fenrir Greyback, and taken to Malfoy Manor. Am I right?
“Yes you are.”
“I also believe Miss Granger had disfigured you with a Stinging Hex to make you hard to identify. Am I correct so far Mr. Potter?
“So you arrived at Malfoy Manor. What happened then?” Harry was wishing that Howe would stand still for a while, his neck was starting to ache.
“We were taken into a room with a large table…”
“Who was present in the room?"
“Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy, Draco, Bellatrix Lestrange and Peter Pettigrew."
“Greyback told them who he thought I was and Mrs Malfoy wanted to summon Voldemort immediately. She was prevented by Lestrange who wanted to be absolutely certain of who I was. She was terrified of what Voldemort would do if they were wrong. She asked Draco to look closely and see if he could identify me. I thought he would, but he said he couldn’t be certain.”
“What was his demeanour at this time, was it the same as before?"
“Not exactly no. He wasn’t bragging or blustering, he was just plain scared.”
“Do you think he did, in fact, recognise you?” Harry suddenly knew where Howe was going with this line of questioning. He was trying to build up some credit for Malfoy, trying to show that he wasn’t all bad.
“I’m not sure but he was also asked to identify Hermione which should have been easy for him, but again he said he wasn’t sure.”
“Why do you think he did that?”
“I think he may have realised just what he had got himself into and it scared the sh… er, living daylights out of him.” That brought a hint of a smile from Howe.
“Just to be clear Mr. Potter, let me ask you directly. Is it your opinion that, by not identifying you and Miss Granger, he saved the lives of you and your friends? Harry thought briefly,
“Yes I suppose that’s possible.” Howe stopped in front of him with an exasperated look,
“You only suppose, Mr Potter. Come on, give an unequivocal answer please. Did Draco Malfoy, for whatever reason, save the lives of you and your friends?” Harry could only reply,
“Yes.” Howe seemed to have the answer he wanted at last.
“That will be all Mr. Potter. Thank you, you may stand down. I now call Miss Ginevra Weasley.” A murmur went through the court. As Harry and Ginny passed each other, he gave her a smile and a wink to encourage her. Ginny took her seat and was sworn in.
The relaxed, smiling defender began, “Miss Weasley, you are a friend of Harry Potter, are you not?”
“Yes I am.”
“A close friend?”
“I think so, yes.” This won’t be too bad she decided, she was totally unprepared for the next question.
“Are you lovers?” Howe’s face was now devoid of all expression.
“What?” Ginny was incredulous. Her stomach churned and her heart pounded fiercely in her chest.
“Are you lovers? A simple question surely.” In the gallery Molly and Arthur Weasley were on their feet. The prosecutor jumped to his feet in a fury, as Shacklebolt pounded his gavel on the block.
“Objection, that question is insulting, irrelevant and immaterial. Miss Weasley’s relationship, or lack of one, with Mr. Potter is no concern of this court.”
“Sustained.” said Shacklebolt again, “Mr. Howe you will desist from this line of questioning immediately, or I will hold you in contempt of this court. You will also apologise to the witness.” Howe bowed his head to the bench and turned back to Ginny.
“My apologies, Miss Weasley,” he paused for a moment, consulted his notes and continued, “Thank you, you may stand down.” Ginny stood and returned to her seat, her heart was pounding but she was relieved that she had not had to answer that question. Harbeckat Howe threw his notes onto the table in front of him.
“It had been my intention to call Miss Hermione Granger at this point; however as my attempt to clarify the character of the prosecutions most potent witness is being frustrated by the court, there is no point. The case for the defence is concluded.” The court was silent for a moment before Kingsley Shacklebolt spoke,
“You do not intend to call the defendant to give evidence?”
“That is of course your privilege. We will now adjourn for one hour, before hearing the closing arguments.” The court emptied and people congregated in groups in the atrium of the Ministry. Hermione took food and drink orders and dragged Ron away to the café. Harry and Ginny found a quiet corner,
“Are you alright? I could have killed that man when he asked you that question. I don’t know what he hoped to gain by it. It was ridiculous.”
“I’m just glad I didn’t have to answer it. That would have been awful.”
“Would you have said yes?”
“Well, I would have had no choice would I? If I had said no I would have been lying, and as I was under oath that would have been perjury. That’s a crime isn’t it? What would you have done?”
“Don’t ask me, I haven’t got a clue.” He really didn’t.
The court re-assembled on time and with the preliminaries done the prosecutor began his final speech. He went over the evidence in fine detail. As he came to the end he emphasised the total complicity of Draco Malfoy. Alone and unprompted he had sought to become a Death Eater and to wear the Dark Mark with pride. His final remark was chilling for Malfoy. “His guilt is clear and the prosecution asks for the severest possible punishment. Nothing less than ten years in Azkaban would do.” He sat down looking confident of the outcome.
Harbeckat Howe rose slowly and surveyed the court. “Witches and wizards of the Wizengamot, I will begin by asking you to consider what we know of this case. We know the who, the where, the when and the how. What we do not know is the why. What was the motivation of the accused? To properly answer this question we must go back a long way.”
“Draco Malfoy was raised in a home where the belief in the superiority of ‘pure blood’ was something maintained with an almost religious fervour. It was something he would have imbibed with his mother’s milk. Add to that the advantages of untold wealth and it is easy to see the sort of mould the young man would be shaped in. His father, who is currently serving a term in Azkaban for Death Eater activities, would have reinforced this belief on a daily basis. His mother was a willing accomplice and if that wasn’t enough his aunt on his mother’s side was Bellatrix Lestrange, one of the most evil of the Dark Lord’s supporters.”
“This then was the boy who arrived at Hogwarts. Spoiled, and with an unwavering faith in everything his parents had taught him.” He paused and took a sip of water before continuing. “He met, probably for the first time, people whose feelings and opinions ran contrary to everything he had been taught up to then. His inbred sense of superiority would not allow him to concede that they were, in any way, right. Therein lay the source of the conflict that was to plague the years he spent at Hogwarts.”
“He was aware of the existence of Harry Potter, ‘The Boy who Lived’, and for some reason expected him to be special or at least to share the same opinions. Imagine his disappointment when he found an ordinary boy who had been raised by Muggles. A boy who had only recently become aware of his true identity. Malfoy was someone who was used to getting his own way but he soon found out that the teachers at Hogwarts were also used to getting their way. So he soon learned to suck up to figures in authority. He expected deference from everybody often relying on the fact that his father was an influential figure on the Board of Governors of the school.”
Another drink of water, longer this time, a clearing of the throat, and he pressed on. “This then is the young man who came under pressure from the Death Eaters and eventually Voldemort himself to carry out the dirty work that, for various reasons, they could not do themselves. Under the threat of grave harm to members of his family, he complied. Who wouldn’t? I ask you all to examine your consciences, can any of us say that we would have acted differently under those circumstances. I will answer for myself and say that I would probably have reacted as Draco Malfoy did.
This is the person you now have to judge. Misled from birth, misguided through youth, and finally threatened. Does this excuse his culpability? Perhaps not, but it should go some way to answering the question we asked earlier. Why? So members of the Wizengamot, I ask you in all sincerity to bear all this in mind when considering your verdict. Thank you.” He sat down and took a long drink of water. Kingsley Shacklebolt banged his gavel,
“The court will now be cleared to allow the Wizengamot to consider its verdict.”
It took three hours before the court was re-opened. Silence fell as the senior members of the Wizengamot took their seats. Kingsley Shacklebolt laid out his papers in front of him and began to speak,
“The defendant will please rise.” Draco Malfoy stood slowly, he looked around the court, his eyes lighting briefly on Harry. The fear in his eyes was clearly visible, as was the trembling of his hands. He took a deep breath and looked directly at Shacklebolt as the Chief Magistrate began to speak.
“Draco Malfoy you have been adjudged guilty on all specifications.” Malfoy’s pale face whitened even more. “Do you wish to address the court before sentence is passed?
“No sir.” Harbeckat had strongly advised Draco to say nothing.
“I am going to briefly explain the reasons for what some may think as lenient punishments. This court has a duty to the population to punish offenders, however it also has a duty to the defendants, whoever they may be, whatever their offences. This duty is to say to them that there is compassion and that we will not give up on them as people. We tell them that they have a chance for redemption and a chance to become once again a full member of our society. All they need to do is take the opportunity offered.”
“In the case of Draco Malfoy, the court was moved by the eloquent closing argument of his attorney, Harbeckat Howe. The defendant will please stand.”, slowly and visibly shaking Malfoy did so. Shacklebolt continued, “Draco Malfoy the sentence of the court is that you will serve a prison sentence of four years, however three and a half years will be suspended. In addition you will suffer disablement of all magical abilities for four years. This part of the sentence will be reviewed after two years. The court will now maintain complete silence.” He paused and then turned to a wizard, an Unspeakable from the Department of Mysteries, standing below the bench, “Proceed.”
The wizard stepped forward and stood in front of Malfoy, who was now pale and shaking. The wizard pointed his wand directly upwards. Speaking quietly so that nobody else could hear, he slowly muttered an incantation, and slowly brought his wand down to point at the floor. Everyone looked as a column of darkness descended from the ceiling and enveloped Malfoy and the wizard, completely hiding them from the rest of the room. A minute later the darkness dissolved and outwardly nothing had changed. The wizard turned, bowed to the bench and left the court. Another wizard approached Malfoy and returned his wand to him, he then produced his own wand.
He walked a few yards away and said to Malfoy “Please attempt to disarm me.” He repeated his request. Malfoy raised his wand shaking noticeably.
“Ex…Expelliarmus.” Nothing happened.
“Now please attempt the Cruciatus Curse.” Draco did. The wizard looked relieved when nothing happened. As Draco Malfoy’s lack of magical ability was proven, his shoulders slumped and he fumbled in his pocket for a handkerchief to wipe his eyes under the pretence of blowing his nose.
“Draco Malfoy you will now be escorted to Azkaban for a period of six months. The court wishes you well. The court is now adjourned.” As the four friends left the court one of the ushers took Harry by the elbow,
“Mr. Potter, the Minister would like to see you and Miss Granger for a couple of minutes in his office, if you wouldn’t mind.”
“Oh, yes of course,” he said. Hermione agreed. To the others he said, “We’ll see you in the atrium. Won’t be long.” They set off following the usher. Kingsley met them in his outer office.
“Hello Harry. Miss Granger, would you mind waiting here for a few minutes. This way please Harry.” said Kingsley, opening his office door. Hermione sat down, noticing for the first time two burly looking men on the other side of the room. Harry followed Kingsley into the Office of the Minister for Magic. He remembered it as a large, plush and ostentatious, but what he saw now was just an ordinary room. A desk and chair over by one wall and a couple of armchairs with a coffee table was the only furniture, and a rug occupied about half of the floor. Very different from the room that Kingsley had inherited from Pius Thicknesse. Harry was stopped by the sight of Draco Malfoy standing by the window. “Malfoy has asked to see you before he leaves, if you have no objection.” Obviously puzzled Harry looked at Malfoy.
“No, no objection.” Malfoy approached Harry,
“I wanted to say thank you,” he began, “you could have buried me in Azkaban for life in court this morning. I was expecting you to.”
“I answered the questions I was asked, and I told the truth. That was all.”
“Oh come on Potter, don’t patronise me. You could have put me away for twenty years, you know you could.” The slight anger in his voice dissipated. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have raised my voice. Anyway, thank you, and I want to ask a favour of you.”
“Which is?” A favour for Malfoy, he’s got to be joking Harry thought. Malfoy produced his wand.
“Look after this for me while I have no use for it.”
“What?” blurted Harry, “Why me?”
“From the events of this morning, I think I can trust you, and that’s not something I’ve said to a lot of people.” Harry took the wand. “Thanks Potter, I guess I’d better be going, see you later.” Malfoy headed for the door on the other side of which, his escorts waited, and as he opened it Harry called out,
“Malfoy.” As Malfoy turned Harry offered his hand which Draco shook, he continued, “Good luck Draco.”
“Thanks… Harry.” Then he was gone. Harry stared after him. He never would have imagined, even in his wildest dreams, that he would one day feel sorry for Draco Malfoy.
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