Chapter 10 : the trial, some secrets and an escape plan
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-Carrow: Department of International Magical Cooperation
Wednesday 21st December, 8.53am
It was nearly time.
He smoothed out his plum robes, standing in front of the full length mirror in his secretary’s office. It was his first session with the Wizengamot, and he was nervous.
Not bad nervous though- a happy, butterflies-in-stomach, first-date kind of nervous.
He picked up his mortar board style hat, and tucked it under his arm, walking out of the office and towards the elevators, benignly nodding at people he knew. In return, he had smiles and murmured respectful greetings.
This case had elevated his profile within the Ministry to such a degree that even the Head of the Department of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures acknowledged him as he stepped out of the lift. Feeling puffed up with importance, he strolled gracefully into the Court, and took his seat near the head.
The Minister of Magic had declined the invitation to head the court- and Carrow was hardly surprised. Kingsley Shacklebolt was godfather to Victoire and Dominique, and was a regular at the Weasley family dinners. Shacklebolt’s deputy sat in the too-large chair instead, the purple robe hanging loosely off his skinny frame.
Dennis Creevey had always been deemed as too young to be the Deputy Minister for Magic, but a shiver ran down Carrow’s spine as he saw the stern set to Creevey’s jaw. Dennis was all too aware of his huge responsibility, and he firmly believed in justice, honesty and liberties. He believed in the power of the jury and he believed in equality. His brother’s death in the Battle of Hogwarts had spurred him on to achieve good in this world- by making the Ministry a fairer and more just place.
Abner couldn’t believe he was a politician. Surely people like Creevey were rooted out while they were still office assistants and sent to some obscure department where they believed they were doing good?
With a fond smile on his face, he remembered watching his boss relocate Arthur Weasley. Those were the good old days. But it was more favouritism than corruption, he mused.
Abner looked around the court. Most of the Wizengamot were assembled, so he took his place, smoothed out his robes and was careful to keep his face neutral as the accused filed in.
They still looked somewhat defiant, Carrow noted. Probably because they were convinced of their innocence- but in the eyes of the court that would change, and very shortly.
-Rose: Courtroom Ten, the Ministry of Magic
Wednesday 21st December, 9.59am
I cast a surreptitious glance at the giant clock which hung on the wall to my left, and sighed. Nearly an hour since our court case had begun, and so far they’d finished the introductions and what we were accused of. Which was a pretty lengthy list, and partly true.
We were accused of breaking into two Gringotts vaults; 604 and 930, and stealing goods worth thirty thousand Galleons. We were accused of killing two goblins; Marchday and Greynitt, and seriously injuring a third; Bullwatt, and my old mate the security guard; Gerald Lewis.
It was enough to send us down for fifty years each. More, if they could directly implicate us with the actual breaking-in, and not just planning.
Next to me, Albus shifted uncomfortably. The robes were itchy, and I swear the bench was charmed to be as unforgiving as stone. I already had bruises on my backside. I squeezed his hand, and the corner of his mouth twitched into an unhappy smile.
Teddy was the first to be questioned, and he denied everything. If we admitted to what we had done, we’d have to explain why, and that would uncover a whole nest of other bad deeds we’d rather keep in the closet, thank you very much.
But that meant we had no defence. No alibi, no witnesses, no explanation. Of course, we could all back each other up, but that was equivalent to admitting guilt. Our lawyer, however, was amazing. One of Mum’s friends from Hogwarts, Terry Boot, was constructing a fantastic story from our half-formed answers and to my inexperienced mind at least, it seemed fairly watertight.
But when it was my turn to give evidence, my courage seemed to have run away and hidden. My feet were unsteady as I climbed up to the massive chair in the centre of the room. Terry smiled at me.
“Could you please state your name for the record?”
“Rose Minerva Weasley,” I said, trying to make my voice calm. I was a hands-on kind of person, and talking my way out of a situation had never been my forte.
“Formerly Rose Minerva Dalton?” Terry asked.
My insides froze. That was strictly classified information, which only Albus, Molly, Lorcan and my mother knew. And now everyone in the courtroom knew as well.
“Yes,” I said, my voice coming out as a croak.
Terry rifled through the papers crowding his table. “I have here,” he started, searching and knocking a pile of papers off his table, before plucking the elusive piece off the floor and tilting it towards the light. “Ah, yes. I have here a signed statement by Zachariah Dalton that Rose Weasley was at his flat on the night of the 30th of October, and stayed until midday on the 31st.”
Oh my wizard god. I must be dreaming- no, having a nightmare. There is no way in heaven, hell or any parallel universes that this could possibly be happening.
He passed the parchment to Dennis Creevey, who read it silently, and then passed it back. “That seems to be in order, Mr Boot,” Creevey said.
Terry smiled again. “No further questions,” he said, and I shakily got up and returned to my seat next Albus, who crushed my hand in a reassurance, while I sat in a state of shock. Zach was in London? Zach was covering for me? Unless he was mixed up in this too? No, Zach never intended to hurt me.
“I’d like to call my next defendant, Hugo Weasley, to the stand,” Terry said, despite the fact that Hugo was not in the courtroom.
As no-one moved, Creevey looked up from his parchment. “Hugo Weasley?” he said, as he scanned the courtroom. “Where is Hugo Weasley?”
There was silence.
Terry picked up a sheaf of papers, tied with string. He undid it with a flourish. This was clearly planned. “I have an arrest warrant for Hugo Weasley. I also have the transcripts of four interrogations and I have a copy of a visit permit for his parents. I do not, however, know of his whereabouts.” He glanced up at the Wizengamot, who avoided his eyes.
Creevey raised his eyebrows in disbelief. “Could anyone tell me how have we managed to lose Hugo Weasley?”
His icy gaze swept across the room. “Filch? You have been overseeing the accused, haven’t you?”
Filch coughed and stood up from his seat. “Ah ain’t seen ‘im, sir.”
“Anyone care to elaborate on this?” Creevey paused dangerously, but no-one spoke. The Aurors shuffled uncomfortably in their seats. “Shed some light on what is clearly flummoxed the professionals?”
The pause lengthened.
Creevey moved some papers around. “And why isn’t anyone going to find Mr Weasley?”
I could kiss that man. Even that showed that we had people on our side. Even Kingsley’s absence showed we had people on our side.
-Abner Carrow: outside Courtroom Ten
The Wizengamot were seated around him in a half-circle, discussing the case in low voices. Abner let the conversation flow over him, waiting. He needed to up his game. That ridiculous lawyer- what was his name? Terence Shoe? –he was blasting through the evidence like it was tissue paper. Already that Rose Weasley was practically free. Abner needed to call the vote now, or risk them getting off scot-free. He had a few members of the administration of the courts in his pocket, a few more under the Imperius curse, and more still were working for his ideals. They also believed that the Wotter Clan were too big for its boots, that the Golden Trio deserved to be taken down a step, that the children’s illegal activities were just downright cocky.
He needed the vote to be taken now. If not, and this onslaught of evidence was permitted to continue, then no lawyer in the wizarding world could be trusted to break down the wall of innocence surrounding the children. He gritted his teeth in frustration. Why hadn’t he foreseen this? Why hadn’t he realised that this was a possibility? The Wotters were clever and influential and rich- the best lawyers in the country were available to them. He bit his lip. He needed the vote to be taken now. Before his lawyers’ clumsy attack reinforced their innocence further, before the hard facts of guilt were pushed out of the way. The vote needed to be taken now.
On cue, a young, spotty man ducked into the small antechamber and coughed nervously, his Adam’s apple bobbing. The assembled looked at him expectantly, but only Abner recognised the slight jagged edges to his irises which was a side-effect of the Imperius curse. “Witches and wizards,” he said, his shaking hands making the paper he read off weave about, “Witches and wizards, it has been recommended that you make your judgement now, without the testimony of Mr Weasley.”
A tall woman with an authoritive voice crossed her legs and asked “Have they located Mr Weasley?”
“Ye-yes,” the spotty man stammered.
“Then why can’t we hear his defence?” she asked, narrowing her eyes.
“He is not fit to answer questions at this moment in time,” the young man said, with an anxious glance in Carrow’s direction. “It is advised that you make your decision now,” he repeated, when Carrow didn’t make any move to help him.
Abner hadn’t risked trying to sway any of the Wizengamot- they were generally righteous anyway, but more importantly, each member has to undergo a severe mental examination before sitting on the court. It had taken all of Carrow’s skill in Occlumency to hide his plans, and he hadn’t wanted take unnecessary risks. The voting was already rigged.
Carrow wasn’t at all bothered as each member –grumbling- put their vote into a wooden box. It had been privatised, so that the accused were unaware of who had voted against them, instead of the old-fashioned show of hands. The small box charmed to change the writing on the paper, but in case of failure Carrow wrote ‘innocent’ on his parchment, and slotted it through the top. If something else went wrong, he wouldn’t want to be incriminated in any way.
-Rose: Courtroom Ten
Hugo hadn’t appeared, but a lot of official looking wizards had looked confused and worried- and then the Wizengamot filed back in, looking subdued, and not one of them looking us in the eye.
My heart sank.
"The Wizengamot have cast their votes,” said Creevey, sounding almost as astonished as I felt. He held up a wooden box, and waved his wand over it, sending a tendril of silver through the slot in the top.
After a second, red smoke puffed out. Red.
“The Wizengamot have found the accused guilty, of all charges,” he said, not managing to keep the disbelieving tone from his voice.
This was happening too fast. Something was wrong here, something in the court. This trial should have lasted for weeks, months even.
“This isn’t right,” Scorpius whispered. “What is going on?”
After a beat of stunned silence, and then our families, on the other side of the court leaped to their feet, shouting and yelling. This was not a fair trial. What was happening? Why was this so fast? Our traitor clearly had the resources to influence the Ministry... who could it be? We weren’t even being given a chance.
And where was my brother?
Guards came to escort us out of the courtroom, ignoring the frantic protests of our parents. I was too numb to say anything, just register Mum’s tearstained face before I was led away.
So I was surprised as we were led back into our cells- and even more surprised as I saw Hugo sitting in the cell next to mine, looking battered and bruised, his head in his hands.
“Rose!” he yelped, and I dashed over to him, hugging him as best I could through the bars with my hands cuffed in front of me.
We were left alone by the Aurors, the only sounds being the soft sniffs and tears, and clanking of metal as people rubbed at their sore wrists. And then Filch hobbled in, his face ecstatic with joy. “They can't take you anywhere yet!” he told us cheerily. “The goblins want you all to be punished by them, and the Aurors are trying to stop the rioting! All of Gringotts has gone on strike!”
“How did the goblins find out so soon?” Teddy called after Filch, who was checking we were all locked in securely- he trusted Aurors about as far as he could throw them, as he’d told us many a time.
“Must have inside knowledge,” he said chirpily. The idea of lawful punishment, and the prospect of us being ripped limb from limb by goblins had made the grouchy old man positively chatty. He hummed a mournful tune as he left, his mouth twisted into a gruesome smile.
The door shut with a clang after him, and then Dom stood up. “I think we’ve waited long enough,” she said. “Red? Locks?”
I still had the keys from Macmillan, so I tossed them to Lorcan and he unlocked his own cuffs, and then his twins.
With my picks, it was fiddlier and took longer, but I managed to get my own cuffs undone and my door unlocked before the keys had made their way up and down the cells. Macmillan’s keys only opened handcuffs, so I needed to get and open the cell doors. Speed was essential: I couldn't make a run for it until everyone was freed.
Then the door to outside was opened as the Aurors realised that we were on the point of escape, and they streamed in. I tripped Macmillan over as he started to charge down the aisle. An Auror got past us, but Teddy whacked him the face with his metal band. His nose made an audible crunch as it broke, and he fell to the floor, stunned. Teddy rifled his robes, found his wand, then grabbed the still cuffed Vic and dragged her with him as he turned on the spot, Disapparating with a loud crack.
There was another yell as an Auror said an anti-apparating spell, and the rest of us were stuck. Lily splinched herself -judging from her scream- as the spell stopped her half-way, and she clutched her bleeding hand to her chest. James grabbed her and Albus, and started to barrel through the melee. Anti-apparating spells only have a certain range, and as soon as they were out, they Disapparated.
Around me, it was a manic fight for wands. Lorcan managed to duck a spell, and then punched the Auror in the gut, whose wand dropped out of his hand. It must have been him who cast the spell, because Lorcan grabbed Molly, who was standing next to him, and she grabbed Lucy, and the three of them Disapparated.
The Anti-Apparating spell was renewed, and now there was just eight left. I was still trying to unlock someone's cuffs. They clicked open, and then I was flattened by my dear old pal, Ernie, who seemed to think I was his personal responsibility. But I was still hanging onto the person’s wrists, and they pulled me from underneath him at the same time Hugo held a silver lighter up, clicked it, and all the flaming torches went out.
How the hell did Hugo manage to get Dad's Put-Outer in here?
My rescuer had hold of my hand still, and was pulling me through the crowd in the dark, who were now shooting random spells at anyone. Every time someone tried to yell, “LUMOS!” the ball of light sped into Hugo's Deluminator. One light cast a fleeting beam on a stick on the floor, so I picked it up and hoped it was actually a wand, and not just a twig.
I felt the ripple of the anti-apparating spell as I passed through it, and then I turned on the spot, keeping a tight hold of whoever’s hand I had, and then we came out on a lawn before a giant manor house, where it was raining.
I collapsed onto the grass for a minute, gasping, and then was dragged up by Scorpius, who looked decidedly green.
Bollocks. I get saddled with Scorpius.
“We need to get under cover,” he panted, looking panicked, and I stumbled after him towards the nearby treeline.
Once we were inside the trees, he fell onto all fours, and vomited.
“How can you even have anything in your stomach to throw up?” I asked, disgusted. No matter how many times I see people puke, it is still gross.
Scorpius flicked the V's at me. “I hate Apparating,” he coughed, and sent a ball of spit into the ground. “I can't apparate.”
I narrowed my eyes at his back. He’d never mentioned this before- and it was a very convenient way of getting us both caught.
“Do you know where we are?” he said croakily.
“Nope, I remember the house from an old postcard once. I didn’t think the Aurors would be able to connect this place to me. It’s called Ford Abbey, I think.”
Scorpius was as white as a sheet. “We need to go, right now.”
“What? What’s wrong? How are they going to know we apparated here?”
He beckoned me over, and I helped him up, and more out of habit than any malevolent thoughts, I slipped my hand into his robe pocket, and plucked out a hard, circular object. A ring.
“...Scorpius, what’s this?” I twirled it around my finger.
“How... what? When did you get that?” His face looked outraged, but I rolled my eyes at him.
“Scorpius, I’m a pickpocket. Get over it.”
“When did you get that?” His voice was low and dangerous, and for a moment I saw a flash of someone I wasn’t entirely sure of.
“Just now, I nicked it out of your pocket,” I said, pretending not to notice his small conversion into Mr Hyde. I examined it more closely. The ring was white gold, and simple, but a band of tiny diamonds hugging one edge.
“Give it back.”
“Whose ring is it?” I asked. It had to be a guy’s, the band was too big to fit on any finger except my thumb, but the stones made it look more delicate and feminine. I wiped rain drops off the metal. I didn’t really put Scorpius down as someone who hoarded family heirlooms. I glanced up from the ring to see his shoulders slump in defeat.
“It’s- it’s mine.”
I nearly dropped it into the leaves. “Yours? When did you get married?”
“The night you broke into Hogwarts,” he said, and suddenly I vividly recalled Scorpius in the conference room, telling us he couldn’t do the job.
“You didn’t tell us?” I said, miffed. “Did you even tell Albus?”
“No! Why should I?” he snapped angrily. “It’s not like any of you would be welcome at my wedding.”
I raised my eyebrows, and he smacked his forehead. “Not that I wouldn’t want any of you there, but would my family? Really?” he said, trying to cover his back.
“Who’s the lucky girl then? Or guy, I don’t discriminate,” I said, still a little peeved.
And yes, I know. I had problems sorting out my priorities. We had just escaped from prison, mauling by goblins and a snotty old man with a grudge- but who wouldn’t be pissed that they’d missed out on a chance to get all dressed up?
“You don’t know her.”
I was going to say something witty, suddenly the woods were full of barking dogs, and the shots of guns.
“Muggles,” Scorpius said quickly. “Grouse and partridge shooting, probably.”
I took a few steps closer to him. I did not want to get shot. “Since when did you know about Muggle stuff?” I asked quietly.
“Does she shoot?”
“She’s a Muggle?” My voice was loud and surprised, and the next second, Scorpius clapped his hand over my mouth, and kicked my legs out from underneath me.
I fell straight to the ground, and Scorpius dropped to his knees as well, and rolled both of us into the ditch. It was full of mud, effing cold and Scorpius landed right on top on me, his nose millimetres from my cheek. He lifted his hand away, and put a finger to his lips. Alright, I get the message. I need to stop being so loud. But I did not appreciate being manhandled, so I kneed him in the balls and his mouth formed a silent O of pain. I smiled vindictively.
The Muggles’ voices got closer.
“So, Horace, how’s your daughter?” a very posh, plummy kind of voice said. The kind of voice which belonged to a man who went grouse or partridge shooting.
“Louisa or Polly?” a second voice -presumably Horace- said.
“Louisa, of course! The one that’s just married that convict- what’s-his-name, Malfoy, wasn’t it?”
I had apparated us into Scorpius’ father-in-laws estate. And from his pained expression, he was going to kill me. Possibly because I also bruised his privates.
“We’re confident he will be cleared of all charges,” Horace said, sounding less than confident.
The stupid posh arses seemed to have stopped walking right in front of our hiding place. About three feet, a bush and some mud lay between us and discovery. And we had only one wand. At least I was pretty quick on the draw. Although they had guns. They weren’t odds I was very comfortable with.
“What are those blasted beaters doing?” snapped the first guy.
Beaters? I mouthed at Scorpius, who shook his head. I didn’t know Muggles had beaters! Awesome!
But Scorpius just rolled his eyes.
“Anyway,” the first voice continued, “it’s a bad business. Don’t understand why you encouraged the match, Horace. I’ve not heard of his family. New money? I heard his father was in government?”
Had I suddenly been transported into eighteenth century Britain? He was going to start on about breeding next. Scorpius had an odd glint in his eye, so I grabbed his hand, warning him against moving. Thank Merlin I had the wand.
Suddenly, there was a loud rustling of leaves, and the heavy beating of wings as startled birds took to the air. Scorpius instinctively ducked his head.
There was a beat of silence, and then twin bangs as the two men discharged their guns, followed by twin thumps as two birds hit the ground.
“Good show, Maurice,” Horace said, and they walked off, leaving the dead birds.
Scorpius was immediately on his feet, and pulled me up with him. “Come on,” he whispered urgently, “We need to move before people come looking for the birds.”
We started running, Scorpius leading. He clearly knew exactly where we were going. We reached a small outbuilding, and Scorpius kicked the door open.
“They don’t use this one,” he said, quietly shutting the door behind us. “We can wait until its dark.”
So in silence, on top of an upturned bucket, we sat, cold. I found myself wondering how the others were getting on, and if anyone knew who the traitor was yet. I wasn’t fully convinced it wasn’t Scorpius.
Finally, Scorpius judged it was dark enough to move. I thought it had been dark enough about an hour ago, but hey, I’m not the thief-extraordinaire here, am I? “Wait here,” he told me quietly.
“Wait! We need to take these robes off,” I said. “They’re too obvious.”
He sighed, and pulled off his grey robe, revealing a long-sleeved red top and cobalt blue boxers. He shivered. “How is this any better?”
“Jesus, do they glow in the dark?” I asked, indicating his shorts. He scowled at me. “If anyone sees you, pretend you are drunk,” I suggested. “It’s certainly less weird than this,” I said, brandishing his cast-off robe. “This even has a label saying ‘property of the Ministry of Magic.”
He stuck his tongue out at me. “I’ll be back soon,” he said. “Just wait here.”
I’m not good at waiting. In fact, I suck at waiting. I started to count, already feeling frustrated and useless- but by the time I got to twenty, Scorpius reopened the door. “I can’t get in,” he whispered.
“Show me where,” I said, trying to sound as exasperated as possible.
He led me to the main house -which, by the way, was fucking huge up close- and pointed at a window three floors up. At last, something I can do. I shrugged off my own robe, my boots and socks, so I was standing in only leggings and a t-shirt, and then I wedged a lock-pick between my teeth, flexed my fingers, and grabbed the drainpipe.
At least I’m lighter than usual, I thought, listening to my growling stomach, which was so loud it could easily give me away. I shimmied up easily, no doubt giving Scorpius a lovely view of my backside. The window was one of those old fashioned ones where the bottom half slid upwards, so I carefully levied it up- but it had barely opened a foot before it started to creak.
Bugger. I spat on the hinges to grease it, and managed to get it open another few inches before it stuck fast. Great. I still managed to slither in, landing in a graceful heap in some girl’s bedroom.
Empty girl’s bedroom, thank God. I stuck my head out the window. “How are you going to get in?”
“Is there a rope?” his voice floated up to me.
No, there isn’t a rope. Why would there be a rope? I managed to do the cliché bed-sheets-tied-together though, and hung that out the window. Two minutes later, Scorpius tumbled into the room, at the exact same time as a girl with long brown hair and wearing a dress with pale blue ruffles (yes, you heard me, ruffles) came in.
“Louisa!” Scorpius said, attempting to smooth his hair, and stand up, resulting in him falling over the bedsheets.
“Louisa,” he said again, “Look, I can explain everything.”
Louisa’s cherubic china doll features were scrunched into a scowl.
“Who is that?” she snapped, her voice like ice and her finger pointed accusingly at me. I swear her eyes flashed green.
Seriously? There are two escaped murdering criminals in her bedroom and she gets jealous?
A/N: long time, no update! I'm sorry. This will probably be the last update for about a month and a bit- exams are evil time-stealers :(
So, I hope you liked it- new developments! Tell me what you think please?
And thanks to Heir/Sam and Aguamenti/Olive for helping me with names and words that leave my brain and refuse to return. :P. Also, credit to Eion Colfer for the idea about irises becoming jagged through overuse of the Imperius Curse. He actually uses it for overuse of the 'mesmer' which is pretty much the equivalent of Imperius. Thanks for reading :)
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