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Chapter 15 : Let the Sunshine In
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When Scorpius had trimmed his hair and dusted the strands off of his black blazer, it was time for us to approach the Wizengamot. He participated willingly for me. He knew how I would transport him through the Ministry; he offered his hands to me when he knew it was time to leave. I bound them together with a simple spell and we were leaving his small cell. His face brightened just by being in a room other than his cell.
I tried not to pity him as we reached the front of the ward. I instructed him to stay by my side before we left, for as soon as I opened the door, we had reporters jumping on us. They were snapping pictures of Malfoy, asking him questions. Some were even calling him foul things. I ordered them to back away as I kept a firm hold on Malfoy's elbow. He held a grimace, but other than that, he kept his head held strong. He kept his eyes on a straight path and didn't let the reporters get to him. I would have encouraged him, but he was already performing brilliantly without me saying anything.
With Malfoy on my arm, that was the fastest I had ever crossed the main atrium. We were squeezing into an elevator in a matter of seconds and moving closer to the courtroom. In the quiet elevator I began to notice that he was sweating, shaking. I asked even though it was obvious, "Nervous?"
"Little," he commented, looking at me through the corner of his eye.
"You'll do fine. Just tell the truth and you might be out of here," I said.
He didn't reply, just took my advice with a grain of salt and nodded.
While he seemed to be staying strong and I knew he wouldn't be convicted, I did something very suddenly. We were passing the only floor with windows, so I slapped my palm against the emergency stop button, and we came to an immediate halt. I slid the barred door open and escorted Malfoy off the elevator. He stumbled slightly, disoriented with the quick stop and his inability to use his hands. He looked about the empty floor used for office space.
"What are we doing?"
"Just a detour," I said and pulled him forward.
We walked down the hallway. It split off in every which way, but I took the left fork and we walked down that one until we reached a dead end. Scorpius gave me a perplexed look. I felt the corners of my mouth pulling up into a grin as I let go of him and my hands moved to the window curtains. Scorpius hadn't even noticed the rise in temperature, the golden glow on the floor that came from the covered window we were standing before.
I figured this would be Malfoy's only chance for a good while to see the sun, and since we had some time, I thought it wouldn't hurt.
I pulled at the dusty curtains and let them pool together on the floor. Dust filled the air, but Scorpius didn't care once he realized what I was doing. His mouth dropped, and he closed his eyes as the sun touched his cheeks. I actually smiled as I watched him, pleased to see that he would have at least a moment of happiness.
He just took a moment before moving, but when he finally did, he folded his arms and let them rest in the sill of the window, finally opening his eyes. I reached around him and opened up the creaking windows. He took a deep inhale and looked at the world before him, the world that was passing him by as he was kept locked up inside the Ministry.
"You have two minutes," I said quietly. I didn't want to interrupt his peace, but I thought it best he knew how long he had.
He didn't say anything for a good while. He just stood there, leaning into the window. He was breathing in deeply, letting the sun reach his skin and sink in. He finally nodded, and when I was leaning against the wall, staring at a scuff in my shoe, he commented, "Thanks, Lupin."
"For this. It had been too long." He straightened up but still didn't leave the sunlight. "And who knows how long it will be again."
"It will be sooner than you think," I said. He moved aside so I could close the window and replace the curtain. The look on his face as soon as the sunlight vanished made me feel awful for the guy. I wished I could just keep him there, but we had a hearing to get to. "Let's get moving again."
Scorpius nodded and we set off towards the elevator. We walked down the winding hall, the walls a copper metal, bronze doors leading to empty offices. We passed several twists and turns, and due to our silent walk, I was able to make out a faint voice. I wondered who was in this corridor; it was almost always empty.
I stopped Malfoy, placing a hand on his chest. He opened his mouth and began to ask questions, but I silenced him. For some reason I didn't want to be found out. Not until I knew what exactly was going on down here.
I didn't recognize the voices. They were clearly hushed, trying to be quiet. I listened as closely as I could, trying to make out their words, unable to tell which hallway they were at the end of. "This changes things."
"It changes nothing," another said. "We had a deal. The deal included there wouldn't be a conviction. It isn't our fault the job was performed in a sloppy fashion. We will have to work around it, come up with new evidence."
"The deal has changed," the first man hissed. "I don't care anymore who gets convicted and who doesn't. We're almost there."
I wished I could hear more, to find out who was speaking, to just hear a 'he' or a 'she' mentioned in the conversation, but the two men were very careful about their word choice. And unfortunately, I could make out their footsteps. They were leaving the dark corner to which they had held their conversation, and their footsteps were moving towards the center where all the hallways met up.
Scorpius looked appalled, looking at me to do something, to take note, to be able to prove that this conversation had happened. He looked hopeful almost, like he had found the key to his freedom.
"Shh," I hissed, and I latched onto his arm, dragging him out the hall. We were running for the elevator, and I had closed the gate and selected the floor of the Wizengamot without a moment to lose. Thankfully, and unfortunately as well, we were out of sight before we could see the two men.
Malfoy looked as if he would say something, but I stopped him. I grabbed him by the collar, smoothing it out. "Listen, Scorpius. You aren't going to say anything about what we just heard."
"But that could prove it! Those men! They're the ones behind it. Clearly! Were you not listening? They could prove my innocence!"
"Shh," I interrupted. "I know that. I heard what they were saying, but we can't analyze what we heard in ten minutes to overturn your hearing today. That's not enough time. You keep quiet about this, and I'll look into it. You let me do my job."
It took him a moment. I knew it was his trust that was holding him back. Why should he trust me with his fate? I didn't blame him. I didn't deserve anyone's trust.
I agreed with Malfoy. Some questions had been answered, yet others had been created. Someone was being forced to do the dirty work, that was obvious. But who was the one forcing them to do it? What was the motive? And who was being forced? Was it Rose? Was it Malfoy and he wasn't saying anything? Was it someone else completely who's DNA hadn't been left behind. However, the man said that they 'got sloppy.' With that statement, I would assume all persons involved left some sort of DNA behind, and unfortunately the two DNA sets were Rose and Malfoy.
This was too much for me to comprehend in such a short matter of time, and it wouldn't change anything during the hearing. So I knew I would have to put it off until I could think it through clearly.
Unless Malfoy could settle a few questions...
The elevator came to a halt at our appropriate floor, but I asked him before we made any movement to get off. "Scorpius, is there something you should tell me before we walk into that courtroom?"
"What?!" he shouted, outraged with me. "No! You just told me you don't think I killed anyone! What, now that you hear two strangers, you think I did it?"
"Not at all," I said, shaking my head. If he could give me something to work with, anything, I could get on stand to testify again if I believed it would help Malfoy's case. "But if you know anything, it may help you. You weren't being threatened, were you?"
"If they were threatening your family or blackmailing you, you can tell me. We're walking into that room in a matter of minutes. I can help you. If you're being threatened, now is the time to tell me and I can have them behind bars."
"It's not me!" Scorpius hissed, and I believed him then. "I had nothing to do with this until I was dragged out of my office by other Aurors."
"All right. Then I believe you," I nodded.
Did I really though? If I believed all the DNA sets had been found, then that meant Rose was the one who had made a deal. And despite her actions that did have me questioning it at times, I refused to believe that.
I warned him one more time to not speak of what we had heard, and only when he nodded did I escort him out of the elevator and to the Wizengamot. The path from the elevator to the entrance of the courtroom was empty. I assumed the majority of the tribunal was in their appropriate seats, and I also knew Peakes had Rose in a separate room down here on the Department of Mysteries floor, her hearing being after Malfoy's. It was extremely vital to make sure her path and Malfoy's don't overlap.
I was walking casually when we reached the main doors and I realized that Scorpius had fallen back. I stopped in my tracks, turning back to face him. He was staring at the doors in such a way that made me think Malfoy felt as if he were walking towards his death. I couldn't even begin to comprehend all the thoughts that were suddenly rushing through his mind. I'm sure that the reality of having his fate to be handed to him after weeks of simply waiting for it was a difficult thing to comprehend.
"You okay?" I asked.
He pursed his lips, and when he opened them to speak, I could see the word 'yes' about to roll off of him. But we had come to an understanding over the last half hour. So he stopped himself and shook his head. He whispered to me, the silence eerie, "No. I'm not. But that isn't going to change until this is over. So let's go."
"All right," I said. I admired the strength he showed. If it were me on trial for murder, my fate lying in the hands of someone other than myself, I don't know how I would handle it. He was stronger than I believed myself to be. But I also began to believe that, if he were truly at the summer house instead of me, he would still be the shoulder that Rose could lean on. It may have taken more time, but I knew their relationship would have gotten there. Eventually.
It did remind me of my own job, my own performance to Rose, and it did force me to believe that I was truly performing the way Malfoy would.
"Then let's go," I added.
I watched him take two bold, courageous steps, and he was by my side once more. I reached for the door, holding it open for him. I allowed him to pass, and then I escorted him further into the courtroom.
It was intimidating, entering the courtroom with the entire Wizengamot tribunal waiting for us. All eyes were on the pair of us as we entered. I led Scorpius to the large chair I remembered sitting in to testify. I watched Malfoy sit, and I approached him, pulling my wand out. I undid his bonds, but I whispered his next instructions to him, telling to place his arms on either side of the chair. He did so, only for me to clasp the shackles about his wrists.
He hated this, I could tell by the look on his face. He watched me lock him down, and he winced with each bolt I completed. I knew it wasn't physically harming him, but I knew it was only bringing forth the reality of his hearing. I completed his shackles and moved the chains so they weren't twisting about his arms. Before I stepped away, I gave him one more nudge. "You'll do fine."
He nodded, and I stepped back. I took my proper place in the stands beside Ruckman, and upon seeing that I was seated, Geoffrey Sondheim began the trial.
"On May 6th, 2025, Wizengamot calls Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy to the stand. You have been accused for the murder of Minister for Magic, Jarvis Otto Branstone on April 16th, 2025. How do you plead?"
"Not guilty, sir," Scorpius answered in a strong voice. He sat up straight, and for a moment, I thought he looked fearless. He looked like he was simply embracing this case, but I knew what was going on beneath.
"Very well. Can you tell us where you were the night of the event?" Geoffrey said. He wasn't looking at Scorpius. Not now, at least. He was jotting down Scorpius' plea.
He nodded and swallowed. His eyes scanned the courtroom, but for what he was looking for, I had no idea. This was a closed hearing; due to the magnitude of the case, no outsiders were allowed. It was just the Wizengamot tribunal and the select few Aurors who were helping to manage the case. Me, Peakes, and Ruckman. When he realized he had no one in the room to reassure him, his eyes came to land on me. I didn't quite understand why he looked at me, but when he did, I knew the meaning behind that look. He had consoled in me, and I had clearly done something to show him that I was on his side, that he could put his trust in me. He seemed to have grasped that idea completely.
He didn't take his eyes off me, and that was when I realized I was the one person in this room who he trusted. Who he could put his faith into, place his life directly into their hands. If I was theonly one here who he could do that with, I had to be the one to reassure him.
So I gave him a nod and a small smile.
He still looked at me when he said, "I was in my flat."
"Please elaborate," Sondheim immediately demanded.
"I had cooked myself dinner," said Scorpius. I immediately picked up on the term cooked. That was a plus for me. I had no idea if Malfoy could cook, but I had just received verification that I was portraying him correctly at the summer house. "I had had a long day at the office. My article on the Caerphilly Catapults was due by eight PM and I just barely made the deadline. I was in my office until 7:45 that day. I went home, cooked dinner, and scanned the radio for any news for any injuries or player suspensions for the Quidditch World Series. I was asleep by eleven."
"Awfully dull for a man who recently turned twenty, don't you think? For example, you didn't meet any of your friends at a pub for drinks?"
"No, sir," answered Scorpius. Even though I could tell the question aggravated him, he answered politely. Which was great. Irritating Sondheim or anyone on the tribunal was the last thing he needed. "I take my job seriously. I only go out on the weekends."
"Right, and can you prove you were alone at your flat for the evening?"
"Well, my friend Ewan Rosier came by my office around six, asking about having dinner, but I told him I had to meet my deadline and that I couldn't, that I was so exhausted from the day that I would be going straight home as soon as I finished as well. I also had a Puddlemore United match to attend early in the morning for my job. Reporter's box; I wasn't going to miss the match or do anything foolish the night before."
I recognized the name mentioned by Malfoy. Ewan Rosier. That surname had been mentioned to me by Rose. I took a mental note that Ewan was the kid's first name that Malfoy was apparently good friends with. That information could come in handy in the future.
"But you cannot prove that you were at your flat for that entire night?"
"I guess not, sir..." answered Scorpius in defeat.
That's all right. Chin up, kid. He didn't need to give up yet. So that was one question in favor of the Wizengamot. That's all right.
"And the following morning?" Sondheim asked.
"I was up at 5:30. I made breakfast and apparated to the Puddlemore stadium. I was accompanied in my box by Ginny Weasley herself. You - "
"The Potters are to remain impartial in this case and are not allowed mention in this courtroom," Sondheim caught him off so quickly that I was caught off guard. His voice was stern as if he had something against the Potters, but he just kept looking down at his little pad, taking all the notes he could.
Scorpius looked stunned, shocked, and you could see his hope for freedom slowly fading more and more by the second. He had been hoping to mention someone who could testify for him, and of course the person who could potentially be his saving grace wasn't allowed in the courtroom.
"V-Very well," Scorpius muttered, looking down to his lap. My eyes followed the path his did, and I focused on his knuckles. How they were white, strained, the veins popping out of his arms from the tension.
Relax, I thought, and he slowly let loose of his grip. He took in many deep breaths and then sat up straight once more, his composure regained.
"I was in my box for the entire match. I took my notes; it was a close match, and the final score was 210 to Puddlemore and 190 to the Wimbourne Wasps if you want to check me. After the match I went to my office to begin my article. I needed a head start; I didn't need to push another deadline already. I was in my office for maybe an hour when Aurors hauled me off."
"All right, and if you are in fact guilty, can you inform the Wizengamot as to why someone would frame you in such a way? I hope you know that our tests are solid and never lie; your hair was found at the scene of the crime."
"I'm innocent, sir, but I don't know why someone would try to frame me."
"Can you provide proof of your innocence and your alibi?" Sondheim asked.
"No, sir. I cannot prove my innocence, and I have no witnesses to my alibi..."
"Well, that's quite unfortunate, isn't it, Mr. Malfoy?" Sondheim said with a snarky attitude. That voice made me want to smack him upside the head for his lack of care for Scorpius' future. Clearly Malfoy was shaken up. He was young, he had a lot on his plate, he didn't need any of this.
This case wasn't looking so good for Malfoy anymore. He couldn't seem to pull together any firm proof that his alibi was genuine, and Sondheim method of the hearing was appearing biased to me. Maybe the Ministry just wanted a conviction so they could put this murder behind them. But I didn't approve of that. There wasn't going to be a conviction without hard evidence. Unfortunately, a little hair found on the body of the Minister was already enough to test the sentence of being thrown into Azkaban.
"I guess so," Malfoy snarled, his temper being tested by Geoffrey. I wished I could warn him to keep cool, that the Wizengamot wouldn't like him being a smart ass, that it wouldn't get him anywhere in this trial.
"Well, like father like son, perhaps," Sondheim muttered under his breath, taking down another notation.
This comment sent a chill throughout the courtroom. Did he really just say that? The few spectators allowed into the stands made gasps and focused more intently on Sondheim. The tribunal did a fine job of hiding their surprise and their emotions, but perhaps they just agreed with him. But Scorpius was furious. His pale face was suddenly red, and he was grinding his teeth in frustration. I could see him jerking about to break his chains.
"Is that what this is about?! Is that why I'm being treated like this? Because of my family?! I may come from a family who has made some bad decisions but that does not make me a bad person as well!" he shouted in frustration. Murmurs filled the courtroom, but Scorpius continued shouts drowned them out. "And what about Rose Weasley then, hmm?! Is she being fed dinner on silver platters and most likely being pardoned for being a suspect as well?!"
"Speaking out of turn in the Wizengamot," Sondheim accused. "Silence!"
A man across the stands rose cleared his throat. I recognized him vaguely; I knew he was a lawyer, and now I could only assume that he was Malfoy's lawyer. Well, a lot of help he had been during the first part of this hearing. "Sir," the man said over the uproar, "I apologize for my client's behavior. I request a recess so that he may cool off."
"Very well. This hearing will resume in a half hour," Sondheim commented before rising out of his chair. People dispersed, but I watched the lawyer jump down from the stands and rush right to Malfoy. He bent in front of him and scolded him, but he undid his bonds and quickly escorted Malfoy out of the room. I jumped out of the stands and followed them. It was my responsibility to make sure Malfoy didn't do anything out of line or be led anywhere he wasn't supposed to go. Even though I had already broken that rule.
I wanted to see what Malfoy's lawyer had to say, what sort of coaching they had been doing before the trial. Right now Malfoy needed all the help he could get, and I didn't regret taking Malfoy to that window a single bit. Because it looked like Malfoy could use a little sunshine in his life right about now. It wasn't going to be getting any brighter any time soon.
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