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Chapter 30 : Crime and Punishment
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Crime and Punishment
Harry couldn't believe how menacing and scary Severus looked. He had never seen that terrible hatred upon the elder wizard's face before. Of course, Severus had a right to hate Marlene—not only was she crazy with jealousy and prejudiced towards Slytherins, she had dared to hurt Skull and also Harry, the two Severus loved best. Harry could understand that, but at the same time he didn't want Severus to get in trouble for striking down an adversary in cold blood. So when he heard Severus ask McGonagall to give him one good reason not to kill Marlene, he spoke up. "Because she's not worth going to jail over, Uncle Severus. She's totally cracked and all and she does deserve to be punished for what she did, but you shouldn't kill her . . . not like this." He shot Severus a half-pleading glance from his green eyes. He set the Codex down beside the stunned raven and gently felt him over for broken bones. As far as he could tell, nothing was broken.
"He's right, Sev." Skullduggery suddenly interrupted, sitting up and shaking himself. "She's two sandwiches short of a picnic and I really don't like her, but you ought not to dirty your hands with her. Let the Ministry, or better yet, the Society, deal with her. Her crimes were against them as well as Harry. Let her be judged by a jury of her peers."
Severus was silent, mulling it over while giving the bitch time to squirm, since his face was still wearing its dreadful glare. He knew that Harry and Skull were correct in telling him not to commit murder. But his rage was very close to the surface and it longed to be unleashed upon the witch who had targeted Harry for humiliation and abuse. Not to mention had also harmed Irma and Skull and stolen a rare magical book from the Society of Ravens. Yes, Marlene was guilty of many things, especially kidnapping Harry and holding him prisoner. That alone was worth a number of curses.
But seeing Harry standing there, looking unharmed, his huge green eyes gazing innocently into Snape's own, cooled some of the fires of revenge. The boy was all right, and Severus didn't wish to tarnish that innocence by making Harry witness an execution, no matter how deserved. Then too, McKinnon was a pureblood, and her death by his hand would cause a scandal, as he was a half-blood former Death Eater.
"Severus, think of Harry," Minerva whispered.
The Potions Master heaved a sharp sigh. "I am." Slowly he lowered his wand. "You walk for now, McKinnon. But the devil shall have his due, woman. I'm bringing you back to face a trial. And if the fates are kind, you will be put away for life or face a Dementor or the judgment of the Society." He bared his teeth in a cold malicious smile.
Marlene tried to meet his gaze, but failed.
"Well done, Sev!" the raven croaked, perching on Harry's arm.
"Skullduggery, are you all right?" Severus asked, concerned.
The raven fluffed his feathers. "Just a small knock on the head. I'll be fine in a day or two."
Severus breathed again. Losing Skull was unthinkable. He turned to Harry, "Are you all right?"
In answer, Harry walked over to his guardian and hugged him hard. He buried his face in Snape's robes and just breathed in the scent of the other man. "I am now. You came for me."
Severus wrapped his arms about the small boy and hugged him tight. "I will always come for you, Harry." One hand gently stroked his hair. He found that he was very close to tears, so great was his relief that Harry was found at last. He had to blink several times to keep the threatened tears at bay, for he refused to cry in front of McKinnon.
He felt Skull settle on his shoulder and start preening his hair. Then he heard the insolent raven squawk, "What you lookin' at, bitch?"
Severus raised his head and saw McKinnon staring at him, and the look in her eyes could have slain a dragon. Severus smiled coolly. Clearly she was not enjoying the reunion with his ward. That pleased Severus to no end. He felt Harry shudder against him and knew the boy was crying silently. Automatically, he moved a hand to the boy's back and rubbed small circles. "There now, bran-boy," he murmured. "You're safe now, she can't hurt you."
Harry wasn't sure why he was crying all of a sudden. Perhaps it was from relief, because he was incredibly grateful that Severus was here. His guardian always made him feel so safe. Safe and wanted and most of all loved. Sniffling sharply, he kept his face hidden in the soft black robes, and listened to the comforting sound of Snape's heart beating. The nightmare of his captivity was over and he leaned against his guardian and basked in his presence. It felt so very good to have someone to hug, to chase away the shadow of fear.
Marlene watched and ground her teeth in rage. She felt betrayed by the young wizard. How dare that brat cozy up to Snape? After all she had done, Snape got hugs and tears, and she didn't get so much as a glance. In that moment she hated the dark-haired boy more than anything. He was a traitor to his blood and a disgrace to Gryffindor House. She washed her hands of him. His loyalties clearly lay with the House of Serpents. Let him rot with them and be tainted with darkness.
After a few moments, Harry stepped away from Severus and wiped his eyes. He went and picked up the Codex from the floor. "What do we do now?" he asked his teachers.
"We take her to the Auror Department," Minerva answered. "Get up, McKinnon." She tugged on the rope binding the other witch much as she would have a leash.
Marlene snarled, but rose to her feet.
"I wish to take Harry back to the castle first." Severus said. "Can you handle her on your own?"
Minerva snorted. "I'm not in my dotage yet, Severus! She canna do anything to me all tied up." An instant later, they were gone in a flicker of blue light.
"Come, Harry. It's time to go home." Severus put an arm about his ward and Apparated to Hogsmeade and from there they Flooed back to his quarters.
As they emerged from the fireplace, Skullduggery took wing off of Snape's shoulder and shook himself vigorously. "Rrrawk! Next time I'll use my own wings, Sev. Less chance of being choked to death by a cloud of soot." He began preening his feathers, cleaning them of soot.
Severus cast a cleaning charm on himself and Harry, then said, "Forgive me, Skull. I should have warned you beforehand, so you could fly back on your own."
The raven made a non-commital noise and continued grooming.
Harry made his way over to the couch, still holding the Codex Magicka. The book was silent in his grasp now, and he wondered if it knew it was no longer in Marlene's house. As he sat down with the book in his lap, Severus asked, "How did you know to take the book with you? That's a rare ancient spellbook known as the Codex Magicka. It contains much old magic and it could have done great harm in that woman's hands."
"It wanted me to take it with me," Harry explained.
"What do you mean it wanted you to?"
"It spoke to me . . . in my mind," Harry told him. "It said it was a repository for ancient magic and it didn't want Marlene to keep using it. It taught me how to project myself out of my body so I could get help, but first it made me promise to take it with me when I left."
"How precisely, did it teach you?"
"It copied pages of itself with instructions on how to project myself astrally. I destroyed them though, so Marlene wouldn't find out."
"I see. I never knew the Codex was sentient."
"What's that mean?"
"It means to be conscious or self-aware. The Society never spoke of the Codex as a sentient book. But perhaps they did not know, if no one had used it in a long time," Severus mused. "Or perhaps it only speaks to those it finds worthy or in need."
"Yeah. It sure didn't like Marlene. Then again, who would? It got real mad after she . . . err . . . whacked me with a ruler for touching it the first time."
"She did what?" Severus exclaimed, his voice sharp with anger. "When did that happen?"
"Uh, a day or two ago. She said she punished me like that because I disobeyed her, but she never told me I couldn't touch the book." Harry said.
Severus' face was dark with anger. "Where did she hit you?"
"My hands, a few times. And also my bum. It really hurt at first, but then she gave me a potion for the pain and it's not so bad now." Harry admitted, coloring slightly.
"Show me your hands, please."
Harry flipped up the palms of his hands and Severus saw the faint white lines on them. He swore under his breath.
"I'm assuming your backside is the same?" his guardian said.
"Uh . . . I guess so."
"Would you mind if I looked at it? Just to make sure there aren't any bleeding welts there? You wouldn't want to get an infection."
Harry blushed a sunset rose and slowly nodded. He turned around and unbuttoned his jeans.
Severus gently lowered jeans and underpants. Nothing was bleeding, but there were white lines across Harry's bum. "That bitch!" he swore. "I'm going to have her up for abuse of a child besides the other crimes she stands accused of." He replaced Harry's clothing. He was fairly shaking with rage, because those marks reminded him of his own horrible childhood. That Marlene had done such a thing to Harry made him want to horsewhip her to pieces. How dare she lay a hand on the boy?
"I'm sorry I couldn't find you sooner," he said regretfully. "Then I might have prevented that."
"It's not your fault, Uncle Severus. She was using the Codex Magicka to hide herself and her house, I'll bet."
"You are probably right," Severus agreed. But that still didn't make him feel better. He felt guilty that he hadn't been there to protect Harry. He looked down at the Codex, the book that had saved Harry, and thought that at least he had one ally in that madwoman's prison house. "I believe I should return this to Irma, as she is the one who was originally in charge of it. The one thing we couldn't figure out was how Marlene found it."
"I think she summoned a creature to find it. She told me she learned how to call it from a book of dark magic. I think it was called . . . a revenant."
Severus looked alarmed at the name. "She must be insane! Revenants are extremely hard to control and if they slip your control they are like death unleashed."
"She said she used it to get revenge on people who were mean to her," Harry said, scowling. "I think she sent it to hurt Madam Pince. Either that or she followed it and knocked her out. I think she knocked me out too, now that I think about it."
"I wouldn't put anything past her." Severus said darkly. "Here. I found your amulet on the ground. Put it on, I've mended the chain." He gave Harry his amulet back.
Harry took it and put it on. He felt much better with it on. "I was afraid I'd lost it. I hid my watch from her," he pulled out the pocket watch and opened it, smiling at his mum waving.
"That was good thinking. And now, I must go and give this back to Irma. She's the archivist of the Society and the book should be back in her possession." Severus picked up the book. "I shall be back soon. Why don't you take a rest while I'm gone? Then we can have dinner."
"Here? Or in the hall?"
"I think it best if we eat in the hall tonight. Everyone in the school will want to see you, they were quite worried about you. Some of my fifth year Slytherins and Gryffindors volunteered to search for you in the forest with me. It was how I discovered the barrier surrounding her estate." Severus said. "We can talk more about it later. Skull will keep you company." Then he left the room, his black cloak swirling.
Harry just sat on the couch, amazed that Slytherins and Gryffindors had actually gotten together and searched for him. That must have been the first time in years that both Houses had cooperated like that. And he was the cause of it. He had to admit, it felt strange that such a thing had come about because of him, he hadn't thought any other Slytherins except Draco and Blaise cared about him. He would have to ask how that had come about when he saw Draco at supper. Or Ron, Hermione, and Neville.
He yawned, for he was quite tired after the day he'd had, and then he curled up on the couch and fell asleep.
Irma was delighted to have Severus return the Codex Magicka to her. Both she and Lena were also relieved that Harry had been rescued, and furious that Marlene was the one who had stolen the Codex, attacked Irma, and kidnapped Harry.
"She shall face the judgment of the Ravenmistress for this," Irma vowed. "As well as the members of the Society. Her crimes are heinous in the extreme, and not just because she stole a valuable magical text, but because she brought harm to me and worse, to a child. Ten times worse that it was Harry Potter."
Lena's eyes flashed. "I'll vote that she's either executed or turned into an insect for the rest of her life, which could be very short if a bird or snake spies her."
"There is one other thing you should know. The Codex is sentient. It spoke to Harry and instructed him on how to use his gift of astral projection and also to beg him to remove it from that hag's home."
Irma's jaw dropped. "The book . . . is conscious? Great Cerridwen! I wonder how it became so? Could it be that after so many centuries with the ancient magic at its command, it absorbed some of the personas of the wizards who used it?"
"That's fascinating1" Lena said. "Did Harry say how it communicated?"
"He said he heard a voice in his mind. So I'd say it was some sort of mind magic."
"Probably a form of mindspeaking," Lena observed. "That's a type of telepathy. Did Harry say if you had to be touching the book?"
"He told me the first time it spoke to him, he was touching it. But other times he heard it without touching it."
"Will it speak to me?" the young librarian wondered.
"I don't know. It hasn't said a word to me," Severus mused.
"I've never heard it speak either," Irma muttered. "Perhaps it only speaks in a time of great need." She lovingly caressed the book.
"Where is Marlene now?" growled Lena. "I think I might pay her a visit."
"She is residing in a cell the Ministry, Minerva brought her there . We intend to have a trial."
Irma snorted. "I have no faith in Ministry justice. I have seen too many purebloods walk away without convictions because they have family connections. And the McKinnons are practically considered saints because of how they died. I would be very surprised if they did any more than slap her on the wrist."
"Aunt Irma, surely not!" Lena protested. "She is evil as any Death Eater! Not only did she steal a magical book whose worth is far more than the paper it's written on, she also deliberately injured you, and kidnapped the Boy Who Lived! And then she hurt him as well, and almost killed him. What sort of family connections could she have to overturn a conviction like that? They're all dead, I think, plus she's mental."
"You'd be surprised, Lena dear, just how much leeway a pureblood, especially one from an Old Family, has. Unless the jury is scrupulously honorable, McKinnon could get off."
Severus growled, "If that happens, I shall be waiting to duel her and take strips off her hide for what she did to my ward."
"I'm surprised you didn't kill her on the spot," Irma said.
"I was going to, but then Minerva and Harry stopped me. Harry told me he didn't need a father who went to jail. And since she was already disarmed and bound, I couldn't kill her without it looking like murder." Severus admitted. "They were right, but that doesn't stop me from wishing they weren't."
"Give me five minutes with her and she'll wish she was in Azkaban," Lena declared, her eyes blazing with ferocity.
Severus smiled icily. "My thoughts exactly. Give my regards to the Ravenmistress. Whatever happens next, I am hoping there will be justice done. For if not I shall provide it myself, and the hell with the consequences. Forgive me, we can discuss more of this later, but I must get back to Harry. I shall see you tonight at dinner."
He left the two librarians alone with the precious Codex, and thought grimly that he might even feel sorry a bit for Marlene, dealing with two ferociously protective and furious Society members, were not Marlene such a terrible person. As it was, he wished McKinnon all the misery anyone could dish out.
Arriving back at his quarters, he gently drew a blanket over Harry then went to take a nap in his recliner until dinner. And only then, in the privacy of his own sanctuary, did Severus finally weep over his son, who had suffered at the hands of a madwoman, but now was home at last.
When Harry walked into the Great Hall that night, following behind the Potions Master, a hush descended over the hall as all the students stared at him as if he were an apparition come back from the dead. Then they were all on their feet, clapping. Harry met the eyes of his friends. Ron and Neville looked totally shocked. Hermione was crying. Draco's eyes were bulging. Blaise was looking at him, shellshocked. Even the professors, all save Minerva, were agape at his return.
The hubbub ceased only when Dumbledore stood and asked for silence, then said, "Let us all welcome back Harry Potter!"
Harry found himself blushing, for he never enjoyed having all eyes on him, and for a moment he considered turning tail and running all the way back to the dungeons. Until Severus squeezed his shoulder and whispered, "Chin up, Harry. Most of them never expected to see you alive again, they were sure some creature had torn you to shreds. So let them have their ten minutes of awe and then go take your seat."
Harry watched as Severus strode up to the staff table, where he would no doubt be bombarded with questions. He almost wished he could follow. Then he turned to sit in his old seat, next to Ron, and across from Neville and Hermione. He could feel eyes on him, and as he started to sit down, waved at Draco across the way.
"Harry, you're back!" Ron cried. "How did you do it?"
"I'm so glad you came home," Hermione said sweetly, brushing her hair back.
"Me too," Neville said, smiling.
Oliver and the Quidditch team set up a cheer. Percy said, "Glad to have you back, Potter."
Harry felt all warm and cozy, and he shyly thanked everyone for their concern. "I had help, Ron. Skullduggery helped me and so did Professor Snape."
"Three cheers for the raven!" Yelled the Weasley twins.
Draco sent over a memo, a piece of parchment folded like a paper airplane. When Harry opened it, it read, Glad you finally came back and are all right. Meet me at the Slytherin portrait hole at seven tonight, I have a surprise for you. Draco
Up at the staff table, Skull tap-danced his way across the table, singing, "He's back! He's back! He's really really back!" to the tune of "He's Bad" by Michael Jackson. At the end of the performance, all of the teachers applauded and Skull bowed.
Severus leaned close to McGonagall, and asked softly, "How went the witch's incarceration?"
"I went straight to the Head of the Department, Amelia Bones. Once I explained the situation, she was livid. She refused to listen to any of McKinnon's accusations and stuck her straight in a cell. There should be a hearing scheduled very soon, in no more than three days. They wish you and Harry to give testimony at her trial."
Severus nodded. "I would rather Harry were not involved, but his is key testimony, so I shall allow it. But just this once. I don't want him having to repeat his story more than once." He rolled his eyes at his familiar's antics. "Bird, you should have been on Broadway."
"Broadway? Where is that?" asked Minerva.
"It's a Muggle theater," Severus explained. Then he turned to answer some questions from Albus, Pomona, and the rest of the staff about rescuing Harry.
For dinner that night, roast beef with gravy, mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and broccoli was served. It was one of Harry's favorites and he ate until he was stuffed. The sweet was apple pie or strawberry tarts, and he also ate that.
Afterwards, he accompanied his friends back to Gryffindor Tower, where they all threw him an impromptu celebration. Fred and George passed out wizard crackers, and there was Honeydukes chocolate, butterbeer, and other fizzy drinks. Harry found a corner and discussed a few details of his captivity with Ron, Hermione, and Neville.
"I'm sorry I ran away that night, mate." Ron apologized.
"Me too," Neville added, looking ashamed.
Harry astonished and said, "It wasn't your fault. I would have run too, if someone hadn't conked me over the head."
"Someone knocked you out?" Hermione gasped.
"Yeah. My so-called godmother, Marlene McKinnon," Harry snorted. "She claimed all she wanted was to keep me safe from Death Eaters and Slytherins, but she was barmy. Thank goodness Skull and Professor Snape found me." Harry had already decided not to mention the fact that he could Travel astrally. The ability was too new to him and he didn't want people thinking he was more special than they already did.
"You know, Oliver and Percy and a few other Gryffindor girls helped Professor Snape and his Slytherins search for you," Ron told his friend.
"I know. Uncle Sev told me," Harry said. "How'd that happen?"
"The next afternoon, Oliver was down at the pitch, and Tarrent, he's the snakes Beater, came up and asked Oliver how come he wasn't out there looking for you, and Craven the ass said something smart and Tarrent kicked hi skinny arse. Then he said that he and some Slytherins organized a search party called Operation Potter Search and invited Wood and whoever else to join it. So they did."
"The professor only let fifth years join, otherwise we would have been in it," Neville said.
"I'm glad you're safe, Harry." Hermione said sincerely. "Now tell us more about the magic book."
Harry smiled, trust Hermione to ask about the Codex. As he began to speak, Ron beckoned over Fred and George to listen.
Once he had told the story of the book, he excused himself, saying he had to go down to the dungeons. It was almost seven.
Draco was at the portrait hole. "Thought you'd never get here," said the blond boy.
"I just had to answer ten million questions," Harry said. "So . . .what's the surprise?"
"Come with me." Draco spoke the password to the portrait hole and it slid aside. Harry followed.
"Draco, why are we going into your common room?"
"Because that's where the welcome back Potter party is," Draco announced.
Sure enough, there was a large sign, decorated red, green, and silver with the words Welcome Back, Harry! And beneath it, said honorary Slytherin.
There was a large table with food—sandwiches, crisps, all sorts of dessert, including chocolate cake.
Harry gaped. He hadn't been surprised when his own House welcomed him, but Slytherin . .?
Flint and Tarrent spotted him first and made their way over. "Come on in! Now we can get the party started," Flint said, clapping Harry on the back.
Harry almost fell over. "This . . . it's . . . great. But why?"
It was Tarrent who answered. "Because you're a snake too now. And family sticks together. When the professor adopted you, you became a family by default. Simple, right?"
It was . . . and yet it wasn't. Led by Draco, Harry walked through the room. He knew he should be surprised at the welcome he received, but he had learned after dealing with the professor that the Slytherins, far from being the cool haughty aristocrats only out for themselves, actually were warm and welcoming to those they felt were deserving of it. Especially those who they considered family.
Harry stopped when he came to a silver plaque upon the wall. On it was written Slytherin House Rules.
1. Your House is your family. Respect and treat them as such.
2. Slytherins stick together, no arguing in public.
3. Your Head of House stands in place of your parents, he is to be obeyed as such.
4. All House meetings are mandatory, unless one is critically ill
5. House Prefects are to be respected and may give extra chores as needed to a misbehaving member.
6. The common room does not belong to you, your mother or house elf does not live here, keep it clean and neat!
7. Your dorm room is YOUR responsibility, keep it clean, monthly inspection will be given without notice.
8. You will treat all Hogwarts staff, including house elves and Mr. Filch, with respect.
9. Mandatory study periods for all years will be posted in the common room. Be quiet and respectful of others.
10. Any problems with homework or classes, see my office schedule for an appointment.
11. Bedtimes are to be strictly observed: 9:30PM-1st -2nd years, 10PM 3rd-4th years, 11PM 5th-6th years, 12-1AM 7th years-Prefects patrolling halls.
12. Anyone with allergies or another medical problem must report it to me, and I shall dispense any needed potions.
13. If you become seriously ill and miss class, a make-up pass shall be given. Missing class for any other reason will result in detention.
14. Absolutely NO dueling or using of dark curses is allowed, at any time, for any reason, upon anyone. Failure to obey this rule may result in being expelled.
15. Any of the above rules are non-negotiable. The punishment for breaking them shall be detention with me for an unspecified amount of nights, to be determined by me.
16. Welcome to the family! Once a Slytherin, always a Slytherin.
Professor Severus Snape
"What are you reading, Potter?" Tarrent asked, coming up behind him. "Oh. Now that you're an honorary Slytherin, you need to follow our rules. But then, I'll bet Snape makes you do that anyway."
Harry nodded. "He does." He wondered why McGonagall did not post rules like this. It made sense rather than relying on the prefects to tell the first years how to behave. Or the consequences when they misbehaved. Actually, McGonagall seemed to take it for granted that her lions behaved, which Harry knew was not so. Look at the trouble Neville, Ron, Hermione, and he had gotten into with Viviane. "Umm . . . Mark, right?"
"That's me. I heard how you tricked that crazy lady who kidnapped you. You were clever and cunning, like a real snake," the older boy said in approval.
"Her name was Marlene McKinnon, supposedly she was a friend of my mum's in school, and she thought she could be my godmother, even though she was never named it. She . . . she was insane, she wanted me to refuse the guardianship and called Uncle Severus an evil wizard. She really hated him, and all Slytherins. She wanted me to live with her . . . ugh! I was never so glad until Skull came and found me."
"Skull's the best familiar that ever lived," Mark said, grinning. "And everybody knows if a raven chooses you, there's no way you can be evil. Ravens guard against dark magic, they don't embrace it. She must have been two bricks shy of a load."
"More than that. I'm glad she's in jail now."
"I heard the professor and old KittyCat McGonagall kicked her ass all over. I wonder when her trial is?"
"I don't know. But I hope it's soon." Harry said fervently.
"Potter, come over here and try this bacon and tomato sandwich," Draco called. "It's excellent. And so's the roast beef and cheese."
Harry, who was feeling rather hungry, walked over to the refreshment table. He took a plate and put on it a small sandwich of bacon and tomato on toast, took a ham and cheese on brown bread, and some chocolate cake. There was butterbeer and lemonade. Harry took some lemonade and then Draco led him to a black recliner and pulled up a small snack table so Harry could put his food on it and eat.
"Today you get the royal treatment, Harry," Draco chuckled. "Tomorrow you get your own food." He popped the second of the bacon and tomato sandwiches into his mouth. Then he drank a bottle of fizzy orange drink.
Blaise and Mark came to sit with them, and they discussed Quidditch and their favorite teams and players and various other aspects of magic. Harry was enjoying himself very much, and before he knew it two hours had gone by.
It was then that Severus entered the common room and said that all the first years, including Harry, had to start getting ready for bed. There were good natured groans and Harry sighed, rolling his eyes.
Mark noticed and smirked. "Better go and do what he wants, kid. Otherwise he'll get ticked and you don't want to get in trouble your first day back."
Harry knew the Slytherin was right. So he rose and came to stand beside his guardian, a rather mulish expression on his face.
Severus looked down at him and said, "Why the long face, Harry? Didn't you like your surprise?"
Harry looked startled. "You mean . . . you knew about this?" He waved a hand at the food and drink.
"Of course. They needed my permission to turn the common room into the Great Hall for a few hours. Now why are you frowning?"
"Because you're making me go to bed."
"Along with Draco, Blaise, and any other first year of my House. Sleep is important Harry, especially for growing boys. You may not think it, but you need more sleep."
"But I took a nap before dinner," Harry objected.
"After what you have been through, you need a good night's rest as well," Severus insisted. "Now, no more arguing. You may sleep in your room or in Gryffindor Tower as you choose." Placing an arm about his ward, Severus led Harry out of the portrait hole. "Another thing. I have received an owl from the Ministry, regarding McKinnon's trial. They wish you to be a witness and to tell them what happened to you. Would you be willing to testify in front of a judge? Or barristers?"
"Yes. I want people to know what kind of an evil bitch she is!" Harry said.
"Watch your mouth," warned Severus. "I don't blame you though. That's another reason you need sleep, because we shall be leaving early, and you need to be prepared. Now then, the only question that remains is—where are you sleeping?"
"Uh . . . I think I ought to stay with you. Since I have to get up early, I'd rather wake up down here."
"Good. No more pouting." Severus ordered. "Did you have a good time at the party?"
"Yes. That's one reason why I didn't want to leave."
"You'll have other chances to talk with them," Severus told him. "For now though, you need to get ready for bed."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Slavedriver."
Severus frowned at him as they entered his quarters. "Don't be impudent, Mr. Potter. Now get, before I treat you like the five-year-old you're acting like, and make you stand in the corner." He gave Harry a mild spank to get him moving.
Harry went. He had learned, mostly by observing Skullduggery, just how far he could push the Potions Master without making him totally lose it. Once he had showered and gotten into pajamas, he came out to find Severus drinking coffee and reading a periodical in his recliner, with Skull perched on the back.
"All ready for the fireworks tomorrow, bran-boy?" Skull crooned.
"You mean when we put Mad Marlene away for good?" Harry asked, smirking.
"Right on, Harry," Skull warbled.
"Do you think she'll get life, or is there a death penalty?"
"There are both," Severus interjected. "Depending on the jury's ruling, she could rot in Azkaban or get the Dementor's Kiss."
"Where they suck out your soul!" Skull hissed.
"Or they could let the Society decide her fate," Severus said. "I know for a fact that the Ravenmistress wishes to get her hands upon McKinnon very badly."
"I just hope she gets what's coming to her," Harry said. Then he came and hugged his guardian. "Night, Uncle Sev. Sorry I behaved like a brat before."
Severus' arms came about his ward and retuned the hug. "Good night, Harry. You're forgiven, I don't expect you to be perfect, all boys are brats one time or another. Pleasant dreams, little raven."
Harry went to bed with a slight smile on his face. Normally he disliked pet names, because the ones people tended to come up with sounded totally stupid. But little raven sounded just right.
Ministry of Magic
"We have a jury of ten standing ready to try Marlene McKinnon for crimes against Harry Potter, as well as Irma Pince, librarian, and the stealing of a rare and valuable artifact from Pince." Amelia Bones told them.
Harry had been awakened at the ungodly hour of six thirty and after eating breakfast and dressing in his best robes, he and Severus had taken the Floo to the Ministry of Magic. Before Harry could marvel at all the things inside, Severus hustled him off to Madam Bones' office.
"She also, I believe, murdered Irma's owl," Severus interjected.
Amelia looked disgusted. "She is a disgrace to her Name and House. We can convene the trial immediately."
"Yes, but I want it to be a closed hearing, not open to the public," Severus said firmly. "Harry does not need the rest of the wizarding world listening to his testimony, he has suffered enough without that."
"I can't refuse the press, Severus."
"I'm aware of that. However, you may insist upon their discretion. Otherwise my ward will not testify."
Amelia shook her head. "Very well, Severus. A closed hearing it shall be. Now, are you both ready?"
At their nods, the Head Auror lead them from her office and into a large circular chamber. There were ten witches and wizards already seated there.
Amelia spoke to a tall wizard in Auror robes of red and navy blue, and he herded all the spectators, of which there were over thirty, out of the room. He let a slender witch with glasses and a notepad stay, she was a reporter for The Daily Prophet.
Then the doors were shut and Severus escorted Harry over to the right hand side of benches, which was arranged in a semi circle around the podium where Amelia stood. In front of her was a large chair, with chains wrapped about it. Sitting in the chair, dressed in prisoner gray, was Marlene.
"Snape!" she spat his name as if it were a curse.
"Order in the court!" Amelia growled, banging her gavel. "Prisoner will be silent unless spoken to. This court is now in session. Marlene McKinnon vs. Harry Potter and Severus Snape. Prisoner, state your full name and occupation for the record."
"Marlene April McKinnon. I am a bounty hunter, my mission to kill Death Eaters."
"For whom do you work?"
The questioning continued, establishing Marlene's reputation and her guilt in planning both the theft of the Codex Magicka and kidnapping Harry Potter.
"The Wizengamot calls Harry James Potter to the stand."
Harry went up and sat down in a chair facing Marlene.
"Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, upon your wand and your magic?" asked Amelia, who was judge for these proceedings.
"I do swear," Harry replied, laying his hand atop his wand. A wizard who took an oath upon his wand and broke it would cause his wand to snap.
Amelia began questioning him gently, asking him where he had been on the night of his detention and what had happened after he got struck in the back of the head.
Harry told her about waking up in Marlene's house, how at first she was all sweet and nice, but soon showed her true colors when she realized that Harry refused to abandon Severus and defended Slytherins against her narrowminded prejudiced doctrine. He also said she had admitted to sending him nasty letters, including a Plague envelope with Hornet Dust inside, and not shown the least remorse when he told her how she had hurt him.
"When you refused to renounce your loyalty to Severus Snape, how did the prisoner react?"
"She told me if I didn't, I'd regret it. She said Uncle Severus was a Death Eater and that I should hate him."
"Did you see an object called the Codex Magicka in McKinnon's possession?"
"Yes. It was on a large stand in her living room. I didn't know what it was at first, until I touched the pages and it spoke to me." Harry went on to tell about the Codex and how Marlene had beaten him for touching it. "That was when I knew she was cracked, because I didn't even know I shouldn't touch the book, and she insisted I did and disobeyed her."
He also admitted that the book helped him escape by showing him a way to contact Skullduggery, Snape's raven.
Then Amelia dismissed Harry and called Severus to the stand.
She quickly established that Severus was a good guardian and had Harry's best interests in mind. She asked him what had happened on the night Harry went missing and what he had done to search for him. She also asked about Irma and her injury and the death of her familiar. Severus told her about the librarian being in a coma, and burying the owl. He also told her about rescuing Harry.
Amelia dismissed him and returned to questioning Marlene. Since she had been given Veritaserum, she had to speak the truth, and Amelia asked if everything Severus and Harry had said against her was true. She replied bitterly, "Yes! And I would far rather my godson died than be raised by Snape the Scumbag!"
Some of the jurors gasped.
Amelia turned to the jury. "Witches and wizards , you have now heard all the testimony. Would you please retire to the room and make your judgment of Marlene McKinnon?"
The jury filed out. They didn't take very long and returned after ten minutes and whispered the verdict in Amelia's ear. Amelia stood.
"Marlene April McKinnon, it is the judgment of this court that you are guilty of all crimes. You shall be sentenced to life without parole in Azkaban in the psychiatric unit. Case dismissed!"
"Bailiff, take the prisoner away," she ordered.
Marlene was dragged off spitting and cursing and threatening Severus with disembowelment.
Severus then took Harry back home. It was over, or so he thought.
The next morning, the paper was full of Marlene's trial and Harry was quoted as saying he was glad he didn't have to live with someone as cruel as Marlene .
The one thing left in his dreary existence he had to look forward to was the morning paper. Even prisoners got the Prophet, even ones like him. He eagerly took the copy tossed to him by the warden and then opened it. The front page nearly made him pass out. His godson and his old girlfriend had made the front page. As he read, he started to grow very angry. He could not believe what Marlene had done . . . masquerading as Harry's godmother, kidnapping the boy from school grounds and holding him prisoner in her home. He also could not believe who was Harry's current guardian! But based upon the testimony Harry had given, apparently Harry was not being mistreated by the greasy git after all. Not that he liked the fact that his rival was now Harry's guardian, but there was little he could do about it, and if Snape protected Harry from Marlene, all the better.
As he sat and seethed in his cell, he heard footsteps and suddenly he saw two guards and an escort of Demetors marching a prisoner into the cell beside him. "There! Have a nice day!" the guards chuckled. "Looky, Black, we gave ya a new cellmate, ain't she a looker!"
Then they departed.
Marlene was shivering from the chill presence of the Dementors. She moaned and then realized what the guards had said. Could it be true? "Sirius? Is that you, love?"
Sirius stood up and faced her coldly. "It's me. And I'm not your love, Marlene. Not any more."
"But Sirius, I've been trying to get you free all these years! I know you're innocent!" She rushed to the bars and tried to take his hand, weeping.
Sirius drew back. "Don't, McKinnon. Don't expect me to welcome you with open arms. Not after what you did."
"What do you mean? I tried to kill all the Death Eaters for you! I saved your godson Harry from Snivellus Snape! Or tried to. But he brainwashed the boy into a Slytherin pawn . . .!"
"Really? That's not what this says!" He waved the paper at her. "This says you kidnapped Harry and held him prisoner. You tried to alter his memories and make him into your little puppet. You hurt him! How can you call yourself his godmother, the way you treated him?"
"He was a disrespectful brat to me!" Marlene flared. "he refused to see the opportunities I could give him! All he wanted to do was go back to school and be with Snape! He needed discipline and it's my right to provide it!"
"Yeah? Lady, when did Alice die and make you godmother?"
"Lily always meant to make me godmother in case something happened to Alice. I know she was."
"But she never did. And that means you don't have the right to lay a hand on him! And what's all this about how you'd rather see Harry dead than living with Severus Snape?"
"I would! Snape's turning him into a Death Eater!" Marlene shrieked. "He's better off dead!"
"You're insane. No wonder Harry didn't want to stay with you."
Marlene went pale. "I am NOT insane! Everything in that article are lies and exaggerations. I only wanted to protect my godson. And help you get out, Sirius!"
"If that's true, then why were you mistreating him?" Sirius challenged.
"I wasn't! I was trying to discipline him!"
"By beating him? Yeah, you sound just like my mother! She thought that was the way to discipline me. But you know what? It didn't take, any more than it did on Harry. You're a poor excuse for a godmother, Marlene, and I don't blame the kid for running away. You know, I never thought I'd say this, but for once I'm grateful to Snape, for rescuing him and doing what I can't—giving him the chance to grow up with someone who cares."
"What? You're the one who's insane, Sirius Black! After all I did for you, trying to get you released, this is how you repay me? You bloody bastard!" She was practically frothing at the mouth.
Sirius knew that if she could have gone through the bars, she would probably be at his throat. He could almost pity her, for she had been sweet and loving when he'd known her back at school, except for her hardcore hatred of Slytherins. Now she was like a stranger, a fanatic that had become hard and unbending and filled with an unrelenting hatred.
"I may be a bastard, but at least I still have something of a conscience. Where did yours go, McKinnon? What happened to the girl I used to know?"
Marlene glared at him. "She died a swift death when she was attacked one night by Death Eaters and watched her family murdered and then she was left for dead. Here's what rose from the ashes. I would think, you, of all people would understand."
Sirius shook his head. "What should I understand? Revenge? Hatred? Yes, I understand that. But I will never understand how you could hurt an innocent kid, one that you should protect and love. And then justify it by saying you were only trying to discipline him. That's bullshit Marlene. You made a choice to try and make Harry into what you thought he should be. Just like my mother tried to do to me. You never once considered what Harry wanted. And that's what I'm so angry about. You hold yourself up as an example and yet you stole, you attacked an elderly librarian, you terrorized an eleven year old. You are no kind of person to talk about what's proper and what's right."
"And Snape is?"
"I don't know. I used to hate him, to think he was the epitome of a Death Eater. But after reading this, I'm starting to believe he's changed, or maybe he never was as bad as we thought. After all, Lily always loved him as a friend. And no Death Eater would protect the Boy Who Lived."
"You're wrong. I think Snape wants to corrupt him. And he's succeeded."
"Your hatred is blinding you," Sirius said.
"You're pathetic, Sirius!" she spat. "And here I used to think you were the one I wanted to spend my life with. I love you, dammit!"
Sirius felt a shiver crawl up his spine. "Too bad I'm so pathetic then." He turned and walked away, standing at the opposite end of the cell, looking out onto the corridor.
"Sirius! Don't you walk away from me, Black! Sirius!"
Sirius ignored her, and kept staring at the corridor. He wondered how long before she went totally mad. He had remained sane by shifting into his Animagus form of a black dog. Marlene had no such option and she was already half-insane.
He turned and faced his enraged cell mate. "If I were you, McKinnon, I'd stop screaming and take a nap. You won't be getting any sleep tonight when the Dementors come."
The next day:
The footsteps sounded again on the block where Sirius' cell was. He was lying in his cell as Padfoot and quickly changed back to his human form. None of the guards knew he was an Animagus and he would never tell them. When they came by, he was sitting on his bunk, looking bored.
"Company again? Wow, is it Christmas?"
The guards ignored him, instead going into Marlene's cell and yanking her up and handcuffing her. "You're coming with us."
"Why? What have I done?" Marlene babbled. "You're not going to . . . Kiss me are you?"
"No. That's too easy for the likes of you," said one guard coldly, showing a pin with a raven in flight on his collar. "The Ravenmistress wants to see you McKinnon. You may have been judged by the Ministry, but we of the Society have a score to settle with you too. And we're calling in your debt."
Marlene went pale. "No! Let go of me! No!" struggling, she tried to pull free. "Sirius, don't let them take me!"
"Stop it, bitch! Don't go crying now, 'cause it won't work. You knew exactly what you were doing when you stole the Codex and hurt the archivist. Not to mention what you did Harry Potter. But don't worry. I'm sure you'll be comfortable . . . roasting in hell with all the other traitors. Now, move!" He jerked hard on the chain attached to the cuffs and forced Marlene to move with him.
Sirius winced. Marlene was still screaming as they led her away. He knew only vague things about the Society, but wasn't surprised they would come and have Marlene face their justice system. Once you started stealing rare magical texts and beating up their librarians, they wouldn't be inclined to show any mercy.
Once they were gone, the Animagus switched forms and dozed on the floor, it was easier to avoid the eternal depression if he was a dog. And maybe, someday, he would figure out a way to escape and to clear his name. Someday.
A/N: I would like to thank everyone who reviewd and gave me their opinion on how Marlene should be punished. I had a real hard time deciding, so I used one of my suggestions and one from a number of you wanting the Society to punish her. You'll see the Scociety's judgment next chapter and the return of an unexpected ally of Harry's as well as get an answer to a mystery begun earlier in the book. i would also like to thank everyone who sent prayers and well wishes for my mom. She has finally come home from the hospital, and with rest and nutrition, may yet recover fully.
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