Chapter 11 : Today Is The Day
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“Today is the day,” she eventually nodded.
“Five months have gone pretty fast, don’t you think?” George asked. Hermione had picked him up from Diagon Alley and they were now heading to the Ministry. Hermione clocked the time; they weren’t late, which was good.
“They have indeed,” Hermione replied, “but please don’t get up to mischief when you get it back.”
“No can do Hermione, can’t agree to that, mischief is second nature, if I can’t get up to mischief then I’m not me,” George shook his head vigorously, smirking.
“Fine, just be careful, I know what you’re like when you have access to magic,” Hermione said, turning into the lane that had the entrance to the Ministry situated on it. She pulled up on the curb, making sure to check she wasn’t on double yellow lines, and cut off the engine.
“Don’t worry about me,” George grinned, pushing his door open and climbing out. Hermione did the same and joined him on the other side of the car.
“Come on then, let’s go get your wand back,” Hermione smiled.
“So, we’re called here today in order to decide whether or not George Weasley, son of Arthur and Molly Weasley, has the right to gain back full ownership of his wand or if he needs to serve time in Azkaban,” a large nosed grey haired wizard began, “we have been monitoring his progress over the last five months, after being deemed mentally unstable to be accountable for stealing from the Minister of Magic, and the results are clear, firstly I would like to call Harry Potter to the witness stand.”
George sat on the other side of the court. The room was cold but George felt himself break out into a sweat as he looked across the large room to look at the ten members of the Wizengamot that had gathered to decide his fate. Hermione would usually be the one to be in control of a court case such as this but as she was personally involved she would only serve as a witness. George watched as Harry walked in through the door to the left hand side of the court and took his position on the large seat in the centre of the room.
“Mr. Potter, please state your full name, job title and relationship with the offender,” the large nosed grey haired wizard specified.
“Harry James Potter, Head Auror, brother-in-law to the offender,” Harry replied levelly. George could tell Harry was extremely used to being a witness.
“Are you fully aware, Mr. Potter, of the charges placed upon George Weasley, the reasons behind them and the two outcomes that could come of this Wizengamot gathering?” the old wizard asked.
“Yes, I am,” Harry nodded. The hairs on the back of his neck were stood on end, no matter how many times he’d been in a seat similar to this one he was still always nervous, even though some might say he looked like the calmest person in the world.
“And what is it you wish to say about this particular case?”
“I suppose there are a lot of things I would like to say,” Harry began, “but I’ll just cut to the chase, five months ago was the first time I had seen George Weasley in years. He was a mess in comparison to how I’d known him and I could fully understand why he did not go straight to Azkaban, and instead had his wand taken off him and was forced to rethink his life. Personally I think he’s managed that in the last five months, he’s now talking to his family and is more involved with them than ever, he has become a great uncle I believe to both my kids and Hermione Granger’s children, and he’s managed to reopen Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley and return it to what it once was, a very successful shop.”
“So, listening to that, would we be right in thinking that you believe, Mr. Potter, that George Weasley should gain the responsibility once again to be able to use magic for whatever he wishes and that all charges against him should be cleared?” a younger woman, who sat next to the stout grey haired wizard with the large nose, asked politely.
“You would be right in thinking that, yes, I believe George Weasley has worked hard to get back on track and I believe all charges against him should be cleared,” Harry nodded. He splayed his hands nervously, feeling his heart beat hard in his chest. He watched the faces of the Wizengamot intently, looking for any sign of a verdict.
“Thank you, Mr. Potter, for your input, you’re free to leave as we call George Weasley himself to the stand,” the old wizard replied.
Harry nodded and stood. He turned and headed towards George who had stood too, his face red and forehead visibly sweating with nerves. Harry reached him.
“Don’t act smart and don’t say anything stupid,” Harry whispered, “you’ll be fine.”
George nodded, thanking Harry for the encouragement, and then made his way down to the floor. He reached the chair and sank into it, feeling the nerves ready to swamp him. He kept his eyes averted from the wizard sat high above him.
“As before, please state your full name, job title, and relationship to the offender,” the old wizard stated. George found this a bit odd; his relationship with the offender was that he was the offender.
“George Weasley, owner and manager of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, I am the offender,” George replied, feeling his throat tighten, as though he soon wouldn’t be able to get his words out. The man above him nodded in approval.
“Thank you, now, are you aware of the charges against you and the reasons behind these charges, as well as the outcomes that may come of this trial?” the old wizard said, his voice was extremely monotone and George found him incredibly boring.
“Yes,” George nodded.
“And what do you have to say for yourself?”
“Well…erm…I suppose I’ll start from the beginning,” George bit his lip nervously, “my twin brother, Fred Weasley, died in the Battle of Hogwarts, in the fight against Lord Voldemort, and I felt as though I’d lost not just my best friend but everything, I turned to drink, to drugs, and the shop that Fred and I ran fell into administration. I didn’t want to talk to my family and I didn’t want to contact my friends, thinking and believing that they would look down on me, so I began living on the streets. I did everything I could to stay alive but whatever money I managed to get I spent on drink. The day I stole from the Minister I was drunk, and I believe that’s what gave me the balls and the stupidity to do it.”
“Thank you,” the old wizard nodded, about to tell George to return back to his other seat.
“Wait a minute, I still have things to say, I’m not done,” George frowned, the wizard waved him on, “the day I stole from the Minister was a bad day, but it was also the best day of my life. It forced me to get my act together, to get back in touch with my family, to get my life back on track, and I believe I have done that, and hopefully you all see that with all of the information you have received, thanks, now I’m done.”
“Okay Mr. Weasley, if you would take your seat back in the viewer’s area, but please, in a different row to Mr. Potter, if you wouldn’t mind?”
George stood and made his way back to his seat, plopping down in it, a sense of relief falling over him. The trial was far from over though.
“Next to the witness stand, I would like to call Hermione Granger,” the wizard stated.
Hermione appeared from the side door, dressed in some striking red robes. She made her way to the witness stand and sat down, not even giving a glance in George’s direction.
“Please state your full name, job title, and relationship with the offender,” the judge said.
“Hermione Jean Granger, formerly Weasley, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, sister-in-law to the offender,” Hermione stated. She clasped her hand in front of her, trying desperately to relieve the nerves. Usually she was the one asking the questions, not answering them.
“And do you understand the charges placed against George Weasley, the reasons for the charges and the different outcomes of this trial?”
“Yes, I placed the charges mentioned upon George Weasley myself,” Hermione nodded.
“What do you have to say about the offender?”
Hermione gulped. She had several things to say. She had so many things to say that she could talk for hours, but the Wizengamot were only looking for one thing, and she would give them it.
“I believe that George Weasley is now completely mentally stable and deserves to get his wand back with all charges placed upon him acquitted.”
George stared at Hermione. He had expected a long speech from her, about how much he had improved, what he had done over the last five months, but she had given nothing of the sort. George frowned.
“Is that all you wish to say Miss. Granger?”
“Yes,” Hermione nodded.
“Okay, thank you, you can take your place in the viewer’s area, if you would?” the man nodded, he too seemed a little confused.
Hermione stood and took a seat on the first level of the viewer’s area, far from George and Harry. She didn’t even look up at them.
“Are there any more witnesses who would like to make their opinion known on the witness stand?”
The room was quiet; clearly there were no more witnesses.
“Okay, please remain silent as we make our verdict and raise your hand if you agree with the statement I give,” the head judge called. The ten members of the Wizengamot that had been gathered nodded.
“George Weasley, based on the evidence given and the information presented to each member of the Wizengamot before the trial, should be prosecuted for stealing from the Minister of Magic and should therefore spend the next month in Azkaban.”
Only two hands rose.
“George Weasley, based on the evidence given and the information presented to each member of the Wizengamot before the trial, should be acquitted of all charges and should gain full responsibility over his wand once again.”
This time eight hands rose.
George felt a wave of relief roll over him. He couldn’t help it; a smile broke out across his face.
“George Weasley, you have been acquitted of all charges brought against you and are free to leave, however not before Mr. Doge presents you with your wand.”
An old man shuffled out of his seat and made his way down the steps towards the viewer’s area. He reached George and pulled a wand from his pocket, holding it out to George who took it gingerly, feeling the magic return, flow through his veins, as he gripped the wand’s handle.
“Well done my boy,” Elphias Doge smiled. He winked up at Harry and then turned and shuffled back to whence he came. George grinned.
“Well done George,” Harry grinned, pulling George into a hug and patting him on the back. They had exited the court room and were stood in the cold corridor outside. Hermione had yet to join them.
“Thanks Harry, and for your speech too, do you mind if I disarm you?” George smiled back. He couldn’t contain himself any longer; he needed to use the wand that was grasped in his hand.
“Wouldn’t a Patronus be easier?” Harry frowned.
“I haven’t been able to cast one of those since Fred died,” George admitted, gulping.
“Well why don’t you try again?” Harry asked, “I’d rather you try and do that before you go disarming me.”
“Okay,” George nodded, breathing in a deep breath.
George searched his brain for a happy memory. He’d never been able to think of one since Fred died; because every happy memory he had had had something to do with Fred. But now he realised he had other happy memories, memories he had made in the last five months. He focused on them; seeing Hugo’s face when he bought him his first broom, seeing Ginny’s face when she found out he’d got a job, Harry when he’d stuck up for him in the trial and the most important memories of all, the ones involving Hermione. Hugging her, stroking her hair, talking to her, seeing her smile, her sparkling eyes, and kissing her, the moment when everything seemed to have fallen exactly into place. He focused on that in particular.
“Expecto Patronum,” George murmured, waving his wand as Harry had taught him so many years ago. Half expecting to see nothing happen the familiar silvery substance that burst from the wand was as much a surprise to Harry as it was to George. The substance transformed, flitting between the shapes of a coyote and a hyena before resting with a hyena. It cackled mischievously then turned to look at George.
“Tell mum that the trial went well,” George grinned, a burst of happiness erupting in his heart. He couldn’t explain it. The hyena turned and sprinted away.
“A hyena? I’m sure your Patronus was a coyote?” Harry asked, engrossed as the silver animal disappeared around the corner.
“Yeah, I thought it was too, Fred’s Patronus was the hyena,” George frowned; before they could look any further into it Hermione appeared, strolling up to them, a grin plastered across her face.
“Well, you’re a free man again?” she said.
“Yeah!” George grinned. Hermione stepped forward and hugged George, whispering in his ear.
“Sorry I didn’t give a big speech in there, I didn’t think it was necessary.”
“It’s fine,” George replied softly. Hermione kissed him on the cheek and withdrew.
“So, do you two want to come back to the Potter household, Ginny’s cooking up a nice Sunday lunch?” Harry smiled.
“Sorry Harry, I’ve still got a lot of work to do in my office, I’ll have to pass,” Hermione sighed.
“No worries, George?”
“Sorry, I’ve got to go run my shop,” George apologised, “I’ll see you later.”
With that George marched off along the corridor. Harry and Hermione made no attempt to follow but as soon as he turned the corner something clicked in Hermione’s brain.
“His shop is shut on Sundays?” she frowned.
“Maybe he just doesn’t like Ginny’s cooking?” Harry shrugged.
“Maybe,” Hermione nodded. She couldn’t get rid of the feeling that George was up to something though.
George apparated into Diagon Alley. The familiar feeling of being pushed through the eye of a needle was brilliant and somewhat comforting to him. He’d landed next to Ollivander’s. The street was quite quiet considering it was the weekend as most shops were open, if not his own. George made his way down the street.
“Hey, George, is that you?” a voice called out from the crowd. George looked around, puzzled. A figure came towards him.
“George, it’s me, Lee,” the man shouted again. It suddenly dawned on George. The man was Lee Jordan; he hadn’t seen him in years.
“Is that you Lee?” George frowned as the man met him.
“Yeah,” Lee grinned, grasping George’s hand and shaking it strongly, “I heard you had reopened the shop, couldn’t help but come and give it a gander.”
“Yeah, I reopened it about three weeks ago; it’s going well but we’re shut today,” George nodded, “anyhow, how are you?”
“Oh that’s a shame, maybe I’ll come back tomorrow, I’m really good thanks,” Lee smiled.
“Good, what have you been up to since I last saw you?”
“Wow, when was that? About ten years ago?”
“Something like that,” George nodded.
“Wow, well, I got married, you know Alicia Spinnet right? We’ve got three kids, Jamie, Christopher and Rachel,” Lee explained.
“Really? I thought you were after Angelina?” George said, his eyebrows rising in surprise.
“I was for a while but she’s still pining after you, so I gave up, good thing too, Alicia’s brilliant,” Lee laughed.
“Yeah, I figured she was, but I’m glad you’re happy with Alicia!” George nodded, turning red as he remembered the time when Hermione had caught him and Angelina together. Maybe he should let Angelina know what was happening so she could move on; clearly Lee thought she was still after him, which George was quite humbled by.
“Yeah, she’s really great, we started talking after the Battle and yeah, got married two years later, I did try to get in contact with you, I was going to ask you to be my best man actually, but you’d disappeared off the face of the Earth,” Lee winked, punching George lightly on the shoulder.
“I’m sorry about that, I should have been there to see you get married,” George apologised, blushing further with embarrassment, “what are you doing now?”
“You mean work wise?” Lee clarified.
“Yeah,” George nodded.
“I was working as a radio presenter, you know, seeing as Potterwatch was so popular, but then they sacked me for making my opinions known too much, I slammed the Minister for Magic for one, always knew my big mouth would get me into trouble,” Lee chortled, “so now I’m just moving job to job, see where the money is.”
“You can come and work at the shop, if you want?” George offered. He felt incredibly guilty for missing Lee’s wedding and everything else; he desperately wanted to make it up to him.
“Really? You would do that for me?”
“Well yeah, I feel kind of guilty that I haven’t been there for you over the last few years, aside from Fred you were my best friend, and if giving you a job could make up for it a bit then sure? You can start nine am tomorrow if you want?”
“That would be awesome, thanks George!” Lee grinned, “anyway, I haven’t asked about you, what have you been up to recently, clearly somebody has stuck a rocket up your arse?”
“You could say that,” George nodded, “like you I had a bit of a tussle with the Minister, stole a couple of galleons from him, so I was going to be sent to Azkaban but then Hermione Granger sorted me out.”
“We’re like two peas in a pod so we are,” Lee laughed, “but Hermione Granger? Didn’t think she was one to bend the rules?”
“Me neither, when I walked into her office I thought I was done for, but she got me back on track so she did,” George smiled. Lee noticed a glint in George’s eye.
“Don’t tell me there’s something going on between you and Granger?” Lee asked. His eyebrows rose up, almost disappearing off his forehead.
“Well, she, she bought me the shop,” George babbled, “and well, I suppose you could say-”
“You’re kidding me!” Lee suddenly burst out, “you and her? That’s a bad move mate, Hermione’s been completely cold since Ron died, you’re in for a right rollercoaster ride, do you not remember what she was like in Hogwarts? Seriously George, good luck to you!”
“Yeah but we’ve both got our faults, right?” George defended.
“Hermione Granger,” Lee mused, ignoring George’s remark, “now that’s quite something. Personally I’d choose Angelina.”
“I know you would, but Hermione’s great, like Alicia’s great for you,” George laughed, “anyway, I’ll see you tomorrow Lee, bright and early, I’ve got to go sort something.”
“Whatever mate,” Lee smiled, “see you later.”
Lee shook George’s hand again and then walked off. George could still hear him muttering to himself about Hermione as he went, his dreadlocks bouncing up and down as he shook his head in disbelief. It made George smile. Getting to know Lee again seemed like a pretty good idea to George, he needed someone he could trust and could have a good laugh with, and Lee could always be relied upon for those two things, George was sure of that. George took his eyes off Lee’s bobbing head and proceeded towards the shop.
He reached it and took out his keys from his pocket. As he slotted them into the lock he heard a few whispers behind him. George turned. A group of people had gathered around him.
“What’s up?” he asked, frowning.
“Are you opening the shop?” one eager woman asked.
“No, it’s closed on Sundays, like it says in the window,” George pointed out, gesturing towards the sign.
“Yes, we saw that, but it looked like you were opening up,” a spritely elderly man replied.
“Oh, sorry, no, I’m just going inside to sort something out, but it’s open every other day of the week,” George explained.
“Oh, that’s a shame,” the eager woman said. She actually sounded really quite sad. The group of people surrounding her nodded in agreement.
“Hey, how about I just go sort out the thing I need to sort out and then I’ll open up, how does that sound?” George asked. There were customers here; he wasn’t just going to force them away if there was money involved.
“Yes, that would be brilliant,” the woman smiled. The people surrounding her nodded in agreement again.
“Great, I’ll be back in about fifteen minutes, if you can wait?”
The group nodded and George turned back, twisted his key and let himself in. He made his way upstairs as quickly as he could and headed through the back and up another set of stairs to the apartment on the top floor where he had been living since his argument with Hermione.
George grabbed his wand from his pocket and then took his jacket off and slung it over the nearby dining chair. Grasping his wand tightly in his hand he made his way towards the empty room that he was keeping his surprise in. Turning the door knob he let himself in.
The room was dusty. George hadn’t been in it for a while; he’d been waiting to get his wand back to complete the surprise, and hadn’t seen any need to go in. Now though George felt excitement begin to build up inside him, working its way from his toes to his chest, making him want to rip the white cloth off the object and jump around the room punching the air, but he kept a tight hold of himself. George stepped forward and pulled the white cover off the secret he had kept for almost three weeks.
George studied the creation in front of him, the beautiful lines and the unparralled likeness that the painting showed. George lifted his wand, touching it to the portrait, and, remembering the spell he had read in one of the spell books at Flourish & Blotts, he whispered the incantation, watching as a spark lit up the end of his wand and rippled across the painting like a stone hitting a still pond. George stepped back, keeping his eyes on the painting.
George gulped. Nothing was happening. He wondered if he’d said the spell wrong, or perhaps the painting wasn’t as lifelike as he had thought and perhaps that was why the spell hadn’t worked. George took a step forward again; ready to repeat the charm, but then a sudden movement made him stumble back, his bum hitting the floor with a resounding thud. George blinked as the man in the portrait shook his head, as though he were just awakening from a deep sleep. George couldn’t believe it, he’d done it, he’d actually done it.
“Can you hear me?” George asked the painting. The man’s blue eyes blinked and his red shaggy hair bounced as he recognised George.
“Bloody hell, is that you George?” Ron’s portrait gasped.
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