Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter and all who reside therein belong to the woman whose name is on the side of the books: J.K. Rowling. And certainly not to me.
Title: Counsel for the Defense
Author: Aeryn Alexander
Summary: Hermione Granger has entered the legal profession. She never imagined that she would be defending a former Death Eater, this one in particular. So what happens? Read the story! Please? HG/SS
Rating: PG-13 (for mild to moderate language, moderate violence, and some sexuality) individual chapters may carry different ratings when necessary.
Genre: Drama/ Angst/ Romance/ Action/ General
Author's Note: I wrote a lot of this over the last holiday weekend, so there may be errors of which I am not aware. And I would hesitate a guess that this has probably been done before. There are few original story lines left. But I hope that this may still be entertaining in some way. The chapters will be pretty long, I think. Also, I am not a legal expert (American, UK, Muggle, or Wizard). Knowing almost nothing about the legal profession and writing a story involving those elements was probably a bad idea, but I hope I have managed to pull it off. Please read, review, and feel free to speak your mind.


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Counsel for the Defense

Chapter One

In which Hermione gets a job


Hermione Granger swept her hair back as she began reading the scroll on her desk that morning. Working for the legal office of the Ministry of Magic, she never knew quite what to expect. Four years out of Hogwarts, and after the defeat of Voldemort, she was still new to the office, but assisting in the prosecution of the last surviving Death Eaters and other followers of Voldemort had given her a vast amount of experience in a short amount of time.

People still asked her why she went into the legal profession. Ron had become an Auror after extensive training. Harry was a hero and a star Quidditch player. Neville and Ginny were both teaching, finding their niches in Magical History and Charms, respectively. Where did that leave Hermione? She had decided not long before the final battle with Voldemort that she didn't have what it took to be an Auror. Then she decided that she wanted to put off teaching at least for a while. And so she entered the legal program that the Ministry sponsored and completed the requirements in record time.

It had been a recommendation from Professor Remus Lupin, who had returned to Hogwarts for her sixth and seventh years. He had once had such aspirations himself, but as a werewolf ... they were hardly likely to come to fruition.

That particular morning Hermione had to read the scroll twice. She had been assigned a new case, but she couldn't believe whose. It was unthinkable! It was unimaginable! An official inquiry had been ordered into the involvement of Severus Snape in the events of the previous twenty years or more.

"After everything he did for us ... this?" she questioned quietly.

A rather loud knock at the door her small office startled Hermione from her reading and disbelief. She rolled up the scroll before bidding her visitor to enter.

The door creaked open slowly to reveal one of her former professors, minus his school robes. Professor Snape was dressed in casual wizarding attire, dark brown flowing clothes, not altogether un-robe-like. He hesitated in the doorway, looking a bit disgruntled and uncomfortable, until Hermione rose from her chair and gestured for him to come in. She desperately wished that she had had more time to prepare, not to mention recover.

"Professor ... I just learned ... I am terribly sorry. I can't imagine ... well, I can't imagine a lot things ... like why they assigned your defense to me. For Merlin's sake! I'm not even a defense attorney." she babbled as he entered the office and closed the door.

Snape slowly seated himself in the plush chair in front of her desk, indicating with his unfathomable dark eyes that she should return to her seat too.

"Because I requested you." he replied.

"But why, professor?"

"Don't call me that. I have resigned, you know. The scandal would hardly do the school any good right now." he answered, seeming a good deal more relaxed than when he had been her instructor. The four years of peace had agreed with him.

"Very well." she agreed. She stifled a sigh. If only Professor Dumbledore were still there, if only he hadn't disappeared practically into thin air after the defeat of Voldemort. "Where to begin ..." she mumbled aloud.

"You're supposed to ask me some questions, Miss Granger." he prompted.

"Ah, yes." she said, glancing at the scroll on her desk. "How have you been?" Hermione questioned absently, trying to recall what it said. "This is all so impossibly ridiculous." she thought to herself.

Snape was caught off-guard. She could see it in his eyes as they narrowed.

"I am one week away from an inquiry that could lead to a trial that could lead to a very long stretch in Azkaban ... and you want to know how I've been?" he asked irately. She simply looked at him. "Better, I've been better." he replied at long last.

"I can imagine." she nodded. After a pause she questioned, "I still want to know why of all the experienced counsels you could have chosen, why you wanted me. There are, after all, many former Slytherins in the legal profession."

"And most of them would like nothing more than to see me thrown to the dementors for one reason, or another." he sneered.

Hermione caught his meaning. Some of them would want to punish him for betraying their former lord and master. Some of them would want to exploit their position as his attorney for the prestige, or perhaps even purposefully fail in his defense out of hope of gain, from either side potentially. It was a slippery slope. At least with a Gryffindor, everything would be on the up and up.

"Point taken." she said.

"Then let's get on with it shall we?"

"Fine. Were you ever in Voldemort's employ?" she asked bluntly. Now that he was gone, few people in the wizarding community felt it necessary to call the deceased dark wizard by anything but his chosen name.

Snape pulled up his left sleeve and said, "Don't be daft, Miss Granger. You know the answer to that one." She winced as she looked at the faded Dark Mark, hardly more than a tattoo now. "I had a mud ... muggle-born student tell me just last spring that I could probably pay to have it removed at a tattoo parlor or someplace." he commented. "But it's been there so long now ..."

Hermione frowned at the narrowly avoided pejorative, which wasn't directed at her, but still ...

"Did you kill anyone?" she questioned.

"What does the scroll there say?" he questioned. "No, never mind. Of course I killed." he snapped.

"How ... How many then?"

"Five."

"You're sure."

"One doesn't lose count of these things, Miss Granger. Two Aurors who had ambushed a group of us. I was the only one who kept my head. A squib shopkeeper on Knockturn Alley. There were three of us there ... Malfoy, MacNair, and myself. We all cast Avada Kedavra simultaneously. And two muggles that strayed close to Voldemort's lair. Malfoy and I took care of them ... That was, let us say, an initiation of sorts." he informed her coolly.

"And do you regret ...?" she began to ask.

"The Aurors? No, that was self-defense. Hard times. Everyone flinging curses left and right ... It was them or us that night. But the rest? I suppose I do regret what happened. They were just by-standers. Harmless. Not on anyone's side really. I wasn't happy about it then, and I ..." he said, suddenly stopping and shaking his head. "I would imagine that a simply 'yes' would suffice."

"Of course." she agreed. "You left the ranks of the Death Eaters before the first fall of Voldemort, correct?"

"Yes."

"And you acted as a spy during both the first and most recent conflict?"

"Yes."

"Who do you know that can vouch for your conduct during this time?"

"Only Albus Dumbledore was fully aware of my role."

"That isn't good." said Hermione mostly to herself as she made notes.

"Of course, Potter, Weasley, and you all knew something of it, did you not?"

"That you were a spy, yeah, but none of the specifics, and Harry and Ron never quite believed ..." she started saying, realizing too late that she had said too much.

"That I was loyal to our side?"

"Well ..."

"A simply yes or no would suffice here too, I believe."

"No, they didn't."

"And you? One likes to where one's legal counsel stands on such an issue."

"I believed you." she told him, looking him straight in the eye. He could not bring himself to doubt her.

"Please continue then."

"Professor ..."

"Severus or Snape. I don't care which, but you aren't my student anymore." he snapped.

Hermione grimaced as she said it: "Severus, I really need to review the information the Ministry has given me on your inquiry. I'm not certain that I can ask any additional pertinent questions at the moment. This case ... it's all too sudden."

Severus leaned forward in his seat, his face expressionless as he said to her, "I will pose a question then. Do I have a chance, Miss Granger?"

"Hermione ... It's Hermione. When you say 'Miss' it's like I'm still in my fourth or fifth year." she told him, stalling for time while she considered his question.

"Of course."

"Voldemort would have killed Harry his first year without your help, at least that's what Harry grudgingly admits. Albus Dumbledore trusted you with all our lives and the lives of all the students in Hogwarts for many years. And there was the last battle too ... The headmaster may not be ... available right now, but his good opinion is well known and maybe if Harry would testify ... that has to count for something. But then, those people you ..." she said, swallowing hard and trailing off.

"Yes, quite a debt to pay, isn't it?"

"But you risked so much."

"Was it enough? Will it be enough?" he asked. A different man might have sounded desperate, but Snape's voice only held a vaguely questioning tone, as though he inquired of himself and not just of Hermione.

"I don't know." she answered honestly. "These things aren't taken lightly, Severus."

"I know. They ... took my wand." he admitted.

"Your wand?" she questioned incredulously. It was the ultimate sign of distrust in the wizarding world.

"For safe-keeping. Funny, though, taking the wand of a potions' master." he said, looking up with a twinkle in his dark eyes.

"Right ..."

"I will return tomorrow morning. By then, I hope, you will be prepared to discuss ... what we have to discuss ... in more detail." he said, rising from the chair.

"I will be ready." she nodded as he showed himself out. "I hope ..." she added quietly as the door closed behind him.

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A/N: Question for the day: Was the courtroom stuff in GOF vague, or was it just me? Only read it once. Sigh. Review?