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Chapter 10 : Trial
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Clad in his finest robes, Minister Shacklebolt was seated front and center just ahead of the rest of them, his official seal in one hand, his other resting on a heavily dog-eared copy of the Ministry Codebook. “Ms. Granger, your next witness?” he intoned deeply.
Hermione rose from her seat at the Advocate’s table, careful to keep her posture perfectly correct and her tone confident and measured. “The Ministry’s next witness is Harry James Potter.”
Harry strode forward confidently in his white shirt, wearing a crisp black suit with matching necktie, his Auror badge fixed prominent over his breast pocket. Before ascending to the dais on the right side of the courtroom, Harry faced the Minister, his face stern and professional. He raised his right hand.
A perky blonde witch rose from her small, seemingly out-of-place chair beneath the bench. “Harry James Potter, do you now affirm that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
Nodding curtly, the witch retook her seat. Harry slowly ascended the steps of the obsidian dais and faced forward, directing his gaze first toward his friend and former housemate.
“Please introduce yourself,” she began.
Harry’s eyes lit with a masked smile that only Hermione detected. “My name is Harry James Potter.”
“How are you employed?”
“I am an Auror for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. My current title is Head of the Major Crimes Division.”
“What training did you receive to hold that position?”
“At the end of the Second Wizarding War, I joined the Academy and completed the Ministry’s Accelerated Training Program, becoming a duly-licensed and appointed Auror. For the three years after that, I received continuous training in magical and physical combat, concealment, investigation, and tracking.”
“Did your training suddenly stop two years ago?”
“No,” Harry said, adjusting his glasses. “Based on my track record of apprehensions and successful investigative resolutions, I became the instructor for those advanced courses.”
Hermione’s heels clicked on the hard floor as she walked into the center of the courtroom. “How are you involved in today’s case?”
“Head Auror Gawain Robards appointed me as Lead Auror and Lead Investigator in the death of Tobias Hughes.”
“When did that investigation start?”
“Shortly after midnight on April 9th, 2004.”
“Where did it begin?”
“After Head Auror Robards and I assembled my team…that’s myself and Aurors Longbottom and Weasley, we went to the Corinthia Hotel in Muggle London.”
“We received information through our monitoring of Muggle law enforcement that indicated a man matching Tobias Hughes’s description had been found dead in Room 1218.”
“Did you proceed to that room?”
“And what did you find?” Hermione questioned.
“I immediately saw Mr. Hughes’s body on the floor. He was laying on his stomach, essentially face down, but with his head turned toward the two beds in the room. I performed several detection charms, discovering the small amounts of trace evidence that Auror Longbottom testified about. I also performed a tracing spell, which revealed a series of spells that had been recently cast in the room.”
“It was apparent that despite the complex protective wards securing the room, an individual had been able to apparate inside. At that point she hid someplace–”
“Objection!” shouted Eleanor Busby, the dark-haired twenty-two year old barrister who had been appointed to represent Adalie Shafiq.
“Grounds?” the Minister inquired.
“T-this statement, Minister is, in-inherently speculative. Both the fact that the individual was a-a witch and t-the fact that they hid cannot possibly have been known to Mr. Potter.”
“Minister,” Hermione replied, her tone laden with superiority, “prior testimony already confirms that the only two people to enter the room at the relevant time were the victim and his assailant. Auror Potter’s description of the trace does not reveal that Mr. Hughes had entered the room yet, enabling us to easily conclude that the attacker must have concealed themselves prior to Mr. Hughes arriving. It’s a basic lay opinion…”
“But we h-haven't addressed the other part of my objection, M-minister if I may–”
“You may not, Ms. Busby. Your objection is noted and overruled. Please continue Mr. Potter.”
“Like I was saying,” Harry said, directing a pointed stare at the defense table, “the killer hid someplace in the room. After our timeline places Mr. Hughes’s entering, they used non-verbal magic to extinguish the lights in the room. Mr. Hughes then produced his wand for illumination, but was disarmed. A short time later…maybe three to four minutes at most…the killer restored the lights non-verbally before Mr. Hughes was executed–”
“Mr. Hughes was executed,” Harry repeated, “by means of the Killing Curse.”
“Were you able to determine what happened in those three to four minutes?” Hermione asked.
“What did you conclude?”
“Based on both the other evidence on scene and the report by Coroner Maithwaite, I determined that after Mr. Hughes was disarmed, his attacker engaged in a physical attack, striking his face and thrusting him against the door to the room. In the process of this attack, Mr. Hughes’s wand was broken. The murderer then drove Mr. Hughes’s toward where he eventually died at wandpoint, prodding him in the back with her wand at least twice. She then stabbed Mr. Hughes twice.”
“What did this lead you to believe?”
Eleanor Busby half-rose in her chair, an indignant expression on her face as she contemplated another objection. In the end however, she merely frowned in reflecting on her previous failures and kept her seat.
Freed to speak by her silence, Harry answered. “It led me to believe that the witch that murdered Tobias Hughes had a track record of violent acts and dark magic and a deep-seated anger at Mr. Hughes that led to this brutality.”
Hermione carried on confidently. “What do you think could have caused this anger?”
“Under the circumstances, I can only believe that the killer feared his vote in the In re Walsham case, and acted to protect their interests.”
“What kind of interests would those be?”
“Interests in maintaining ancient blood supremacist policies in wizarding business.”
“So how does the defendant, Adalie Shafiq, a native of France, come into this?”
“Ms. Shafiq’s family is historically British. They abandoned this country for France when blood purity regulations first began to weaken in the 1950s. However, they maintain substantial business and financial assets here and indeed isolated themselves from French culture and society in order to extend their beliefs on blood purity not just to magical lineage, but national origin as well–”
“But Auror Potter,” Hermione interrupted. “This is all old information. What does it have to do with the defendant?”
“She was raised and trained to advance those views. When I interrogated her, she admitted to being schooled in dark magic and manipulation of the elements by her parents, as well as using that magic to perpetrate acts of cruelty against pests around her family’s estate in France.”
“Pests perhaps…but people?” Hermione challenged.
“She was already using dark magic as a young child. Likely learning spells of violence at the age Hogwarts students are learning about levitation charms. That kind of brutality at an early age shapes a person, as we have seen all too often in the case of prominent Death Eaters.”
“Were there any other connections?”
“There were. Coroner Maithwaite’s report indicated the presence of two prod marks produced by the tip of a wand. When comparing the wand tips of all suspects in this investigation to the marks created, Ms. Shafiq’s was found to be a perfect match. She also confessed to being alone in London on the night of the murder, giving her the perfect opportunity to commit the crime.”
Hermione turned, dipping her head slightly in deference to the Wizengamot. “Thank you Auror Potter. No further questions.”
Several hours later, the Wizengamot had finally finished hearing a separate version of events from the only witness for the defense, Adalie Shafiq. Adalie had felt horribly alone throughout the process. Her so-called friends had testified for the Ministry, spilling every detail about her repeated trips to Britain over the last seven months and her presence in the country around the time of the murder. Of course this alone was not damning, but Adalie had hoped they would be her witnesses. That they would explain the kind of person she was. But instead they had helped her accusers.
She watched warily from her elevated position on the dais as the brown-haired witch prosecuting her rose again. Adalie tried to suppress her fear. She knew of course that this was coming. She had been told as much when she insisted on testifying on her own behalf. But now it felt so much more real. How would this clever girl try to twist her words further? How would she try to re-cast her life and her actions? How would she herself handle it? Suddenly, she realized she had missed the first question. Adalie looked down at her feet, face flushed.
“I-I’m sorry…I didn’t hear you,” she said.
Hermione stared up at her icily. “I asked you what Ms. Busby never did. If you deny the charge against you.”
“Of course I do!” Adalie said immediately.
“And yet the first time…you didn’t hear me?” Hermione asked sarcastically.
“I didn’t! I was thinking about something else…”
“Something else? Perhaps the story you’re going to tell these witches and wizards now to save yourself?”
“Tell me, Adalie,” Hermione interrupted, softening her tone greatly “are you afraid?”
Adalie looked worriedly at the people who would be judging her. Her supposed victim’s friends. She bit her lip. “Yes. Very.”
“Well then, I’ll keep it very simple. All you have to do is tell the truth.”
“Seven months ago, you began taking trips to Britain, correct?”
“And these trips increased in frequency over time?”
“Until between seven months ago and now, you had taken a total of fourteen trips from your home in Marseille, to this country?”
“Trips you claim were purely social?”
“They were! I only had–”Adalie defended
“Yes of course,” Hermione interrupted, putting up a hand to silence her. “Purely social gatherings with only former Death Eaters or fellow blood supremacists?”
“We didn’t talk about all that…I didn’t even know…”
“So you expect us to believe that you never talked about their backgrounds in all that time?”
“We just stuck to other topics…”
“Like preserving blood supremacy perhaps?”
“No!” Adalie protested. “That was my parents. I hated their lessons. I hated the way they isolated me from everyone else!”
“So you admit you felt isolated…” Hermione pressed.
“Yes, of course–”
“Separate from the rest of wizarding society…”
“For a long time, yes. My parents–”
“We’ve heard enough about your parents,” Hermione said dismissively. “I’m talking about you. You felt isolated, didn’t you?”
“You felt separate.”
“For a long time, yes.”
“Until you met Blaise Zabini.”
“A wizard who shared your parents’ strong feelings about blood purity…”
“I’m sure. And a wizard who introduced you to others who felt the same…”
Adalie felt about to burst. Her eyes were becoming wet with hot tears as her frustration and fear mounted. Nobody was even trying to protect her! “No! I mean…yes, but I didn’t know that they felt that way.”
“Of course you didn’t,” Hermione said brightly, her eyes full of scorn and her lips twisted in a cruel smirk. “A witch trained in the Dark Arts, with a history of using them for violence, just happened to reunite with former followers and sympathizers with Lord Voldemort’s agenda in the months leading up to the Wizengamot decision that might finally destroy it…”
“Objection! Argumentative!” Eleanor Busby spluttered.
“Sustained…” said Minister Shacklebolt warningly.
“Did you or did you not become friends with Blaise Zabini?” Hermione asked sternly.
“And did you or did you not become friends with Draco Malfoy?”
“And did you or did you not, in the months leading up to Tobias Hughes’s murder, have a private conversation with both Draco Malfoy and his father about the In re Walsham case and its potential impact on your family’s finances?”
“I…we talked about money…the case…I didn’t even know what they meant…I didn’t have a–”
“Right, Ms. Shafiq,” Hermione interrupted, again feigning happiness as she turned dramatically to face the Minister and the rest of the Wizengamot. “Of course you didn’t. I have no further questions.”
As Adalie was finally excused from the dais, she could feel the penetrating stares of all the eyes in the courtroom boring through her. She could sense that the brown-haired witch who had questioned her so fiercely had easily won. She could see the pitying look in her own barrister’s eyes. As she sat down in the now ice cold chair she had vacated more than an hour ago, she sniffled and wiped at her eyes.
When the time came to hear the body’s verdict, Adalie stood stiffly. She didn’t follow the words the stately British Minister spoke. She didn’t even register the man banging his seal to regain control of the large courtroom as the murmurs of those lucky enough to be let inside to witness her undoing drowned him out time and time again. Adalie was able to disconnect, as she had so many times during her parents’ lessons or their episodes of verbal abuse and calculated cruelty. As they led her away, she realized that things would not be so bad. She had almost enjoyed her brief taste of freedom, but upon reflection, it had all been a lie. In the end, despite their terrible approach, despite they had seemed to be wrong about, her parents had been right about a few important things. Freedom wasn’t safe. Freedom wasn’t good. Freedom wasn’t for people like Adalie. Isolation was life and life was isolation. In a way, her journey to prison was more like a journey home.
A/N: So I knew going in that it was impossible to capture a full trial for Adalie. It would take far too long, be far too redundant compared to some of what you’ve already read, and in short, it would bore you to death. So instead I tried to do something a bit different – nail down some procedure, focus on the key points, and give you some more character and reform insight through the whole process. I hope I carried that off.
I also hope that you have enjoyed this story. I have absolutely appreciated those of you who have read it and especially those who have been thoughtful enough to leave feedback. This has really been a bear to write in so many respects for me, but it’s been a good road and one that will hopefully make me a stronger, more versatile writer in the future and I have enjoyed the battle each and every day.
To eke just a bit more of that enjoyment out before I switch this one over to complete, I hope you will stick around just a tiny bit longer for the last chapter. I won’t go so far as to promise, but I’m pretty confident you won’t be disappointed if you do.
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