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Just Decide by katiefelton
Chapter 20 : The Deliberation
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 25


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 "And cry a little cry for me, so I can bear the flames. And hurt a little hurt for me, my future is untold."

-The Hammer Holds, Bebo Norman         

            An exhausted Draco Malfoy showed no sign of resistance as the guards dragged him into the courtroom for a final day of questioning. Draco winced in pain as the metal cuffs rubbed the bare skin on his wrists as the guards shoved him into his seat. To his right, Barry was anxiously twiddling his thumbs.

            “Good morning, Draco,” Barry greeted with a somber smile.

            “Same to you, Barry.”

            Draco’s stomach was twisting in knots. Today was the last and final day for witnesses and questioning. After weeks upon weeks of being dragged into the crowded room, and listening to dull testimonies, his fate would be decided very soon.

            “Draco,” Barry stated as he turned to face him, “I want to you stay as strong as ever. We have done everything we could to prove your innocence. I’ve done physically done everything in my power to clear your name. Now everything lies in the hands of this jury.”

            Draco nodded, before turning to Barry.

            “Whatever happens, I wanted to thank you for defending me, Barry. Not many wizards would have remained loyal through all this.”

            Barry flashed him a sad smile.

            “I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

            Draco sighed as he turned away from Barry, to make eye contact with his mother. She was sitting silently between Blaise and Pansy, who sat without any movements. After a few moments, she turned to face him. It seemed  that she had used every ounce of energy within her to give him a small, somber smile. Draco watched her lips tighten as her eyes began to mist at the edges.

            “I love you, Draco,” she mouthed to him.

            Draco felt his eyes water at the edges as he returned her message.

            “Draco?” Barry questioned, forcing Draco to turn from his mother.

            “Yes?”

            “After the final witness, Buckley and I will give our concluding thoughts, then you will be called to the stand one final time to answer remaining questions. Then, the jury will deliberate.

            Draco nodded.

            “Alright.”

            “Barry? Who are the final witnesses?” he asked.

            Barry pulled a stack of papers from his briefcase, and began to shuffle through them.

            “My mistake,” he mumbled, “It seems there is only one witness left.”

            “Who?”

            Barry peered down at the paper through his spectacles.

            “Ms. Hermione Jean Granger, Head of the Department of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.”

            Draco felt as if someone had punched him in the stomach. All along, he had assumed this day was coming, but he had been silently hoping that she hadn’t been chosen as a witness. Draco hated making her do this, he hated it. But Hermione lying on the stand was the only thing that could save her. At least Buckley wasn’t going to be questioning her; he didn’t want to put Hermione through that. One day, she would see that this was necessary for her to keep the life she was living now.

            “We’re going to begin any moment now,” Barry stated.

            Draco nodded his head.

            “I’m ready.”
 



            “Hermione, you can do this,” Adelia confidently reminded as she placed an arm on Hermione’s shoulder.

            Hermione nodded with a shaky smile.

            “Thanks, Adelia,” she responded as Adelia turned, and began the walk to her seat.

            Hermione lifted her head to glance around the slowly filling courtroom. Today was the day in which she was going to testify on the witness stand. For every single day since Sam Goldwater informed her, Hermione had been dreading the moment that would soon be upon her. The thought of her lying on the stand made her nauseous, but this was what Draco had begged her to do, and hadn’t given her another option.

            She glanced up at Ginny, who immediately caught her eye. Ginny gave her a silent encouraging nod from the distance. Only Ginny, and Ginny alone would understand why this was so difficult for her.

            “I now bring this court into session,” Judge Mason yelled while banging his gavel, sending shivers through Hermione’s spine.

            Judge Mason coughed into his hand.

            “Today is the final day of questioning for the trial of The Ministry of Magic vs. Draco Abraxas Malfoy. We will have one last witness, closing statements from the prosecution and defense, and then a verdict from our jury. To be as fair as possible, I will be asking the final questions.”

            He paused to sort through his papers.

            “Will Ms. Hermione Jean Granger please come to the witness stand?”

            Hermione’s heart began to accelerate within her chest as she slowly stood, and began to walk over to the witness chair. To prevent her hands from trembling, Hermione brought them together in front of her while she walked. For the first time all day, Draco was now in her view. She watched him lift his blonde head, and bring his ashen eyes to her brown ones. Draco seemed so exhausted, and emotionally drained. She noticed dark circles had begun to form under his eyes.

            Suddenly aware that everyone was watching her, Hermione turned her gaze away from Draco, and finally reached the witness chair. She silently lowered herself into the chair, and brought her eyes to Judge Mason.

            “Ms. Hermione Jean Granger, as the final witness, do you swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?”

            Hermione could feel her pulse rise beneath her skin.

            “Yes.”

            She watched Judge Mason re-adjust his spectacles before continuing.

            “Ms. Granger, what is your position in the ministry?”

            “I’m the Head of the Department of the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.”

            “What does that job entail?”

            Hermione knew she could answer these confidently. After all, she loved her job, and her passion could be heard inside her voice.

            “My department watches and monitors behavior and populations of magical creatures throughout Britain as well as over international lines.”

            “How long have you had this head position?”

            “For about six years, sir.”

            He paused.

            “Ms. Granger, is it true that you were in the same year as Mr. Malfoy at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?

            Hermione felt her pulse began to quicken.

            “Yes.”

            “But you were in different houses?”

            “Yes. I was in Gryffindor, and he was in Slytherin.”

            “How did you get along with him?”

            Hermione glanced up at Harry and Ron, who were both muttering to each other.

            “We weren’t really…..friends.”

            “Did you ever interact with him?”

            “Well…yes.”

            “What happened?”

            She moved in her seat.

            “He wasn’t always…kind to me.”

            “Why not?”

            “He wasn’t kind to me or any other of my friends.”

            “Why didn’t he like you?”

            “I…I would assume it was because of my…my blood status.”

            “Which is what?”

            “I’m a muggleborn, sir.”

            “So it was fair to say that he had prejudice towards you at Hogwarts?”

            “Well…um…yes.”

            “Did he ever insult you with degrading words like mudblood, for example?”

            Hermione clutched and unclutched her hands.

            “Occasionally, yes.”

            Whispers broke over the crowd again. Hermione stole another glance a Harry and Ron, who sent glares in Draco’s direction.

            “So you could also say that Mr. Malfoy was a mean child, in considering his actions towards you and your friends?”

            “I…I guess so.”

            Judge Mason paused.

            “Was he always this way to you, even with age?”

            Hermione’s heart stopped for a few moments with the fresh dagger into her chest.

            “Yes,” she said in a barely audible whisper.

            It was her first lie, and it stung like sulfur on her tongue.

            “During the war, you were on opposing sides, correct?”

            ‘Yes.”

            “And was considered a death eater, correct?”

            Her chest sank.

            “Ms. Granger?”

            “Yes.”

            “When was the last time you saw him before you met again a few months ago?”

            “Maybe when we were fighting, or in the Great Hall after everything ended.”

            Another lie.

            “There was a period where you never saw Mr. Malfoy. 8 years, correct? But you did both work in the ministry, right?”

            “Yes. We worked in different departments. I saw him at various meetings and parties, but never spoke to him.”

            Judge Mason paused to glance at the papers on his desk once again.

            “You were both paired on a case a few months ago, correct?”

            “Yes.”

            “And which case was that?”

            Hermione sighed.

            “I was given an assignment to aid in the movement and transfer of an Eastern Ridgeback dragon to Bulgaria.”

            “And then you were paired with Mr. Malfoy on this assignment, correct?”

            Her heart skipped a beat.

            “Yes…seeing that he was head of International Magical Cooperation, he was needed to deal with the other nations who agreed to open their borders for us.”

            “How did he treat you? Seeing that you weren’t on very…civil terms as children.”

            “He…he treated me with kindness. We worked very well together.”

            “Did he show any signs of uneasiness?”

            Hermione pinched her lips together.

            “No, not at all.”

            Judge Mason nodded.

            “Ms. Granger, what were your activities on the day that Terence Fletcher was murdered?”

            She paused, allowing her heart to accelerate.

            “Well…I went to work, went to a few meetings, went to lunch, went through some papers, and then…then stayed late to work on the Dragon Transfer.”

            “Did you plan to work late?”

            “Yes, both of us were occupied with meetings and work all day.”

            “Did he suggest it?”

            “No.”

            Judge Mason continued.

            “Ms. Granger, what did you do in his office late that night?”

            “We went through more paperwork and files for the assignment,” she mumbled softly.

            “Did Mr. Malfoy seem to be acting peculiar? Like there was something on his mind?”

            “No, he was fully concentrated on his work, like always.”

            “So he never alluded to anything strange?”

            “No.”

            “What did you do after your work had been finished?”

            Hermione drew an intake of breath, realizing that now she was growing closer to her biggest lie yet.

            “I…I left.” Hermione whispered.

            Judge Mason nodded.

            “What about Draco? Why did he stay?”

            Hermione sighed.

            “He…he always worked late, and was very intent about accomplishing as much as possible.”

            “So you don’t think it peculiar that he stayed late that night?”

            “No,” Hermione muttered with glazed eyes.

            Judge Mason grunted, and after pausing, began once again.

            “And what did you do after the work was completed?”

            Hermione took her eyes away from the judge, feeling his words plunge like tiny spears into her lungs. Beside her, Hermione felt her fingers begin to tremble against her skirt.

            “….I…I went…home.,” Hermione whispered in a barely audible voice.

            “And did you remain home for the rest of the night?”

            Hermione sighed, and lowered her eyelids for a few moments.

            “Yes,” she whispered.

            Hermione spoke her last and final lie of her testimony, and her body was burning with ravaging emotions. She had just told them a false truth, and committed her largest sin. With this, she closed her eyes, and placed a hand on her temple.

            Judge Mason seemed content with this, and cleared his throat.

            “Is there anything else you wish to say, Ms. Granger?”

            Hermione lifted her tortured gaze.

            “No,” she whispered.

            “Then you may leave the witness stand.”

            Hermione slowly lifted herself from the wooden chair, attempting to calm her trembling hands as they fell to her side. With a turn, she walked slowly across the marble floor. Her eyes unknowingly lingered in Draco’s direction, where she caught him bent over his knees, with his head hiding in his hands. Hermione turned away almost instantly, her eyes misting at the edges.  Feeling Ron and Harry’s eyes upon her, she continued her way back to her seat, her body numb and her expression blank.

            When she reached the Head box, Hermione walked silently to her seat besides Adelia. Hermione neither said nor released anything as she slowly lowered herself into her seat. To her left, an unusually quiet Adelia looked at Hermione through somber eyes, and placed her hand on Hermione’s shoulder. As always, Adelia knew exactly how to comfort her.
 



            Judge Mason grabbed his gavel in his right hand, and began to bang the mallet against his desk.

            “Silence please.”

            He paused, waiting for the whispers to die out.

            “Since our last witness has given their testimony, it is time for the closing statements from the prosecution and defense.”

            On either side of him, Barry and Buckley both stood.

            “You will each address this court and the jury with your final statements now.”

            Seeing that courtroom procedure stated that the defense gave their final thoughts first, Judge Mason looked at Barry.

            “Mr. Samsburg,             are you ready with your closing words?”

            “Yes.”

            All eyes remained on Barry as he slowly stood from his seat, walked from behind the desk, and began to make his way to the center of the room. Once he stood in front of the witness chair, Barry laced his fingers together, and began to give his heartfelt message.

            “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, before I continue, I must inform you of something. As I give my closing statements, I am not going to stand before you, and beg, plead, or grovel for compassion when you sentence my client. In my opinion, there is no need to, for I believe that the evidence stands on its own. All the conclusions that you have heard about my client so far have been assumptions and speculations. When the prosecution presented their theories, they were speculating every detail, because there isn’t enough strong evidence to condemn this man.”

            “By saying that Draco Malfoy stayed late intentionally that night, crept to the Terence’s offices, and then decided to kill him is a theory, not a fact. Who saw Draco point this wand and utter the killing curse? From the testimonies we heard over the past weeks, one underlying fact was true in each; Draco Malfoy and Terence Fletcher were the best of friends, and mentored each other. Don’t “friends” visit each other at work? Wouldn’t a friend check up on his mate while they were both working late? I believe it is plausible that Draco could have found his friend dead, checked for a pulse, and was too distraught to leave his closest friend dead. By giving a “theory,” the prosecution is speculating!”

            Barry’s eyes narrowed as his emotional plea began to pull his heartstrings.

            “And what motives would Draco have to commit murder, and kill his closest friend? Well, it was made clear by many witnesses that it was common knowledge that Draco was being groomed for the Minister’s position after Terence’s time had ended. What would be the need for killing the Minister for his position, when the job was basically being handed to him in the first place? Sure, he would have to wait a few years to attain the position naturally, but why would he want it know?  He loved his job of traveling the world and meeting with diplomats. Does it make any sense why he would give that up? Right now, I can think of multiple explanations for Terence’s Murder that do not involve Draco.”

            “This man was respected, domestic and abroad. He was given a position to deal and negotiate with other countries, which demanded a high degree of accountability. Each nation trusted him, and respected him. Some countries begged him to make a diplomatic visit to their ministries! He was given a task of aiding in the move of a dragon across country borders. Why would some of these closed nations allow a high risk magical creature move to take place in their skies if they didn’t trust the man in charge?

            He paused to glance at a still Draco, and suddenly thrust a finger in his direction.

            “Look at this man! Look at him! You all knew him: some of you worked with him, attended the same functions, and even were on speaking terms. Remember the man you knew! He was respected, diligent, intelligent, and trustworthy when he was in the workplace. Why, he was even elected as a department head. This clouded situation has blinded some of you, and caused you to forget the man you once knew.”

            A new batch of whispers broke over the previously sullen crowd.

            “True, Draco Malfoy had a dark past. But this wasn’t his doing; he was born into a family that was associated with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. His mother raised him away from this, sending him to Hogwarts like a normal child, and protecting him from her husband’s colleagues. It is also true that Draco Malfoy was given a mission to murder Albus Dumbledore during his sixth year at Hogwarts. But he never completed the task! The only reason he was given this assignment was to torture his parents for his father’s mistakes and failures. Not to mention the fact that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named threatened to destroy his entire family if he failed to follow through with his task!”

            “But let me ask you this: why are we punishing this man for making a change in his life? He separated himself from his family’s past, and is a changed man. You’ve seen the good Draco has brought to our Ministry. And now, we will condemn him for a charge and can’t even be proved? Doesn’t he deserve a chance to live the life that he worked so hard to earn? Why would you take him away from his family, his friends, and his career? He is a man! He has a mother who loves him!”

            Barry stopped as he caught Narcissa’s misty eyes. He glanced around for a few long moments, preparing for the ending of his speech.

            “Ladies and Gentlemen, soon you are going to cast your votes that will determine Mr. Malfoy’s fate. What I say to you know is this: when you make a decision to convict him of the said charges, you must have beyond a reasonable doubt that he is the killer. The evidence must have shown you crystal clearly that Draco was the murder. Do not huddle over these speculative theories that the prosecution has put forward by jumbling up the testimonies of witnesses. Please.”

            Barry seemed to quiet before his audience, while looking down at the floor.

            “We have tragically lost our dear minister,” Barry sighed, “and I wish for justice as much as you do. I want to find the killer, and bring justice. But do not take this emotion that has been given to you by bitter ex-lovers and an overconfident prosecution and condemn an innocent man. For there is no greater crime than that.”

            Barry stopped, sighing heavily as he clutched his hands in front of his chest. The entire audience seemed to hang on his every word, and felt the emotion seeping from his expressions.

            “Are you finished with your statement, Mr. Samsburg?”

            He slowly nodded.

            “Yes, your honor.”

            With a nod, Barry turned to his right and began his walk back to his seat. As he opened the gate, and lowered himself into the seat beside Draco, he attempted to compose himself. He was shaking with raw emotion, and had just put all of his possible energy into delivering a statement that would hopefully save Draco.

            On the other end side of the courtroom, Buckley stood in his seat. With a nod, he began to walk purposefully to the center of the marble floor, where he then faced Judge Mason.

            “Mr. Buckley, are you ready with your closing words?”

            “Yes, sir.”

            All eyes watched Buckley as he began to pace.

            “Ladies and gentlemen, I know that you have just heard an emotional plea from Mr. Samsburg, but I ask you now to set aside his rubbish accusations and defiling of witnesses, and listen to a voice of truthful reason during this dark time. I know all of you have sat here for weeks listening to this, but I feel that you must be reminded of a grave fact; Terence Fletcher was murdered. He is dead. Our minister was taken from us, and we must seek justice.”

            He continued to pace.

            “Mr. Samsburg told you that he wishes that you would pocket this emotion that you rightfully have from this truth, but I am asking just the opposite. You must use your emotions in this very decision, because your emotions are right! Justice for his murder is sitting right before us! Why would we give it up? Draco Malfoy is being tried in this room for a reason; he is the only suspect in this case. Not because our investigators didn’t try hard enough, or the evidence was faulty. In all honestly, every single piece of evidence and testimony pointed a finger right in Mr. Malfoy’s direction.”

            “True, we have given you theories on Terence’s Murder. But these do not appear from thin air! These theories are based on fact, and the evidence and we have slowly placed these together to present you with truth. No one saw Mr. Malfoy with a wand, but no one had to! He was found at the scene of the crime, bend over the victim’s body, with the wand that shot the killing curse directly beside him. How can you believe otherwise?”

            Buckley paused, lifting a fist to his mouth as he cleared his throat.

            “As for his motives, what motives didn’t he have?! Mr. Malfoy was caught second in line behind a Minister who would reign for a while longer. He wanted the position now. He was thirsty for it, even if the consequences including spilling innocent blood. With Terence gone, he could rise to power quicker than he even imagined. Draco was fed up with standing by the sidelines, and he wanted more. Unfortunately, he was caught in the act.”

            “I am aware that some of you knew this man, and feel sympathy for him. You all remember the laughs at dinner parties, the leadership, the passion, and the drive he had. But couldn’t this all have been a façade? Couldn’t he have been acting to deceive you? I sure think so. What if you never knew his true personality at all? He was trusted, and respected, and honored because of this incredible acting talent. He fooled diplomats, heads of state, and even co-workers. He probably even fooled some of you?”

            Buckley stopped, and brought his fingertips together. With an intake of breath he continued.

            “However you try to doll this up, not a single person in this room can deny that Draco Malfoy was once a deatheater, and a servant to the dark lord. I’m sure the mark is still embedded into his forearm! It doesn’t matter the scenarios of this task. The point was that he was given a task to murder Albus Dumbledore. Doesn’t that sound familiar? And may I also add that even though he never committed murder, he did get away with cursing a girl, and poisoning another boy in his year! The dark lord trusted him go complete this task, and he wouldn’t have given it to someone who he felt unprepared. If Mr. Malfoy truly wanted to have changed his ways, he would have left his family home, or ran away from this evil.”

            Buckley drummed his fingers against his chest, and began to directly address the jury.

            “Ladies and gentlemen of this most esteemed jury, I feel that I have said everything that I believe valuable to your decision. You have all seen the condemning evidence, heard grave testimonies from witnesses, and heard no alibi from the defendant yet. There is no possible way that you can add these things together, and not find Mr. Malfoy innocent of murder. Think of Terence, think of his wife, and his children. All of them, as well as the entire wizarding world seek justice! Put your emotions to use! Let them be your guide!”

            Buckley turned to his right.

            “Draco Malfoy murdered Terence Fletcher!” He shouted as the room erupted with chatter and gasps.

            Before Barry could retort, Judge Mason lifted his gavel.

            “Alright, enough. Mr. Buckley, you know accusations are imprudent.”

            He stopped.

            “Mr. Buckley, are you finished?”

            With a sneer and a slight bow, he nodded.

            “I am all finished.”

            Buckley turned and made his way back to his seat as the audience still buzzed with noise. Behind him, Judge Mason narrowed his eyes and began banging his gavel again.

            “Order in my courtroom!” He shouted over the commotion.

            Judge Mason paused, waiting for the room to die down.

            “And that concludes the closing statements of the prosecution and defense. Now I will call Mr. Malfoy to the stand one last time, for a final chance to give any statements or information. Will Mr. Malfoy please be escorted to the witness stand?”

            Every gaze fell on Draco as he was pulled from his hunched position, and pushed over to the witness chair. The guards held onto his arms tightly as the re-bound his handcuffs to the witness stand once again.  A few silent moments passed as the crowds anticipated for Draco to move. He seemed to sit upwards a bit, and blankly faced the judge, but that was all.

            “Mr. Malfoy, I brought you to this stand one last time, to say any last pieces of information that you would like the jury to hear. Now, if you have anything else to say, please say it now.”

            Draco seemed to clutch his hands, but continued to remain silent.

            “Mr. Malfoy?”

            Judge Mason waited for a few moments, but shook his head when silence ensued again.

            “May I remind you, Mr. Malfoy, that you still have not told this court your alibi?”

            Draco turned his head away from Jude Mason, and lowered his eyelids for a few moments.

            “I am aware of that. But I am innocent,” Draco muttered with the same blank expression.

            Judge Mason let out an audible sigh of frustration as he leaned forward in his chair.

            “Mr. Malfoy, You do understand the seriousness of this situation, do you not?”

            “Yes I do sir.”

            “And you do understand that you are being accused of murdering the Minister of Magic?”

            “Yes. Yes I do sir.”

            “And you do understand the punishment for such a horrific act?”

            Draco Malfoy brought his cold, lifeless eyes to the stone floor.

            “I do sir.”

            The judge slowly took off his spectacles and brought his hand to his wrinkled brow. He gave a quick glance to the jury, and again faced the convict.

            “What puzzles me Mr. Malfoy, is that even with your knowledge of these things, and the fact that you deny these charges, you still have not given this court an alibi. You refuse to tell this court where you were when this offence was committed. “

            The judge watched as Draco’s eyes closed, almost in a sort of pain. Draco lifted his head to face him, his exhausted eyes displaying no signs of visible life.

            “We have already been over this sir. I have no alibi.’’

            The judge placed his spectacles on his desk and began to rub his eyes. Crossing his hands, he rested his elbows on the table and let out a large sigh.

            “Mr. Malfoy, how is this court supposed to believe your statement of your innocence when you refuse to tell us your whereabouts when the minister was murdered?”

            Draco rested his eyes on the judge’s.

            “You are going to have to believe me. I speak of nothing but the truth.”

             Murmurs filled up the packed court room. The jury and spectators erupted in whispers, not believing what they were hearing. 

            “Order! Order in this courtroom!” shouted the judge.

            Instantly the whispers stopped. Looking rather cross, the judge set down his gavel, and again faced Draco.

            “Mr. Malfoy. I know that you are aware that the evidence against you is overwhelming. You were found next to Terence Fletcher’s body, with a wand in your hand that shot the killing curse. Not to mention that there was no one else in the minister’s department except you.”

            Draco lifted his troubled eyes to give a quiet protest.

            “I told you. I found him dead in his office. Someone had broken in and murdered him.”

            The judge began to look impatient.

            “Yes, Mr. Malfoy you have already briefed us on your statement.”

            Draco watched as the judge placed his spectacles back on his face and gave him firm stare.

            “With these statements you are asserting that someone else had killed Terence Fletcher before you found him. Yet you will not tell this court where you were at the moment he was murdered.”

            The spectators had detected an irritation in the judge’s voice, and all brought their eyes to Draco. They watched anxiously as he brought his head up to face the jury and the audience. He shifted his arms in his handcuffs, and stared at the judge. As he spoke, his voice cracked, choking back tears.

            “I c-can’t give y-you an alibi. I can’t tell you where I was when my friend was murdered.”

            And with this, the judge shook his head as he leaned back in his chair.

            “Then, Mr. Malfoy, you condemn yourself.”

            Judge Mason’s final statement seemed to halt the steady breathing of everyone in the packed courtroom. As soon as they recovered from the judge’s chilling final words, their eyes fell on Draco, who had once again buried his head into his hands. Atop the judge’s stand, Judge Mason picked up his gavel once again.

            “Since the defendant will give no further information, this court will now move to the sentencing period of this trial. In a few moments, the jury will cast their votes, and a majority will be enough to sentence Mr. Malfoy. May I remind all of you that if he is convicted, his punishment will be decided at a later date.”

            Judge Mason sat upright in his seat as he began to conduct the final stages of the trial.

            “Will the guards please help the defendant to rise?”

            All eyes watched as the guards fumbled with Draco’s handcuffs again, and pulled him into a weak, standing position. Barry Samsburg stood with his client, and anxiously pinched his lips together. To his right, Blaise, Pansy, Astoria and Theo clutched onto Narcissa Malfoy’s trembling hands as they awaited the verdict. Buckley’s eyes were narrowed, concentrating on the jury in front of him. Around the expansive courtroom, no voiced could be heard as the jury prepared themselves for their vote.

            Behind Judge Mason, a middle aged woman in a darker robe than the rest of the jury slowly stood. In one hand, a tablet and quill balanced gracefully between her fingers.

            “All of those in favor of conviction?”  She firmly questioned.

            At first, for the few split seconds after she finished, not a single movement could have been spotted. Then, a single hand slowly began its ascent upwards, and was soon followed by another, and another. The hands began to rise like wildfire, with the amount of raised hands spreading consistently over the robes of the jury. After a few minutes, an entire sea of gloved hands was raised. The only sound that could be heard was the growing sobs of Narcissa Malfoy as she buried her head into Blaise’s shoulder.

            Judge Mason’s eyes widened at the overwhelming verdict that was newly presented in the courtroom. He moved his gaze along the expanse of hands, and tightened his jaw. With a slow, but sudden movement, he turned into his chair. Judge Mason grasped his gavel with his fingers, shook his head.

            “In the case of The Ministry of Magic vs. Draco Abraxas Malfoy, the jury finds the defendant guilty of all charges.”

            The crowd erupted with nose; some shook their heads as they acknowledged the verdict, others whispered excitedly to their neighbors, and others stood to stretch their legs, glad that the lengthy trial had come to a close, and justice had been decided.

            Below the commotion, still chained to the witness stand, Draco Malfoy kept his numb expression in the palms of his hands. As Narcissa Malfoy continued to sob hysterically while the four friends clung to her, Barry shook his head, and grabbed his forehead with sadness as he sat in silence behind the bench. Soon the guards would come to unchain Draco and drag him back to his cell in the depths of the ministry, where he would wait for the decision of his punishment.

            Lost in all of this, no one seemed to notice the silent tears that steadily fell down Hermione Granger’s face.

*Sobs :(* Goodness that killed me. I'm so sorry, but I had to do it. *Sniffles again* Wow. I can't believe I finally made it to this point in the story. This was one of those moments that I had been planning since the very first chapter. For those of you in shock, I know it seems like things are lost, but hold on! I'm not finished yet :)

So i'm officially a college student! And i'm loving it. But, I do have less time to write and answer reviews. So please be patient with me, and I promise it will get done!

I love you all! Thanks for your support!

Until chapter 21,

-Katie:D
 
 


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