Hi, my dear readers. Thank you, for all the reviews and suggestions about Harry's appearance after the adoption. There had been some interesting ones, that I may consider. This chapter wasn't an easy one, with the trial of the Dursleys, but I managed finally. Here, I also what to give a special Thanks to Dime, my beta reader, who helped me with my poor knowledge on English grammar.
I hope you enjoy reading the next chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it. ;-)
Harry sighed to himself and let his eyes wander over to his new drawing kit. He would prefer testing that to the potions essay he was currently working on. His party the day before had been great and he was very thankful to Lucius for it. That was the only reason why he didn't complain when the man asked Harry to finish his summer assignments after breakfast.
He was writing with one of his new quills right now. It really made a difference whether you wrote with an expensive one or a cheap one. His old standard school quills were nothing compared to these quills he got from Blaise. The new ink also made a difference. It didn't drip where it shouldn't and dried faster than the standard school ink and therefore didn't smear.
The boy smiled to himself. Life was definitely improving. He just feared he would morph into one of those snotty purebloods one day. He liked Theo, Blaise and Draco a lot, now that he got the chance to get to know them, but there were times when he noticed that they had grown up completely differently than Harry. The way they cast critical looks at muggleborns or looked down on muggles all high and mighty. Harry couldn't imagine being like that.
Sure, some muggles were vile but Harry also knew some muggles that were friendly and nice. Hermione's parents were the best example. Besides, there were also a lot of wizards and witches that weren't nice. Magic was the only difference between a muggle and a wizard. Pity that both sides had trouble accepting the other.
Harry sighed once more, wondering what the world would be like if muggles and wizards lived together in harmony, when a sudden knock startled him out of his thoughts.
"Yes?" Harry turned around to look who was entering.
"Hello, Harry. How are you?" Melinda stood in the doorway with a friendly smile on her face.
"Erm... fine?" Harry answered confused. Had he forgotten an appointment?
Melinda chuckled. "No need to look so worried, I'm just here to wish you a belated 'Happy Birthday'!"
"Oh," the boy answered, relieved, and then smiled, too. "Thank you."
The woman entered and walked over to the boy. "I have something for you, here."
"You didn't need to get me anything," Harry replied but accepted the present.
"I know, but I wanted to get you something. See it as something that will help you with your new situation," Melinda said.
Harry's eyes went wide. Curious now, he looked down at the parcel, frowning.
"Open it!" Melinda encouraged him.
Harry nodded and placed the box on his lap. Carefully he removed the tape and peeled the wrapping paper out of the way. Then he lifted the top of the box and glanced inside. Sitting on a pillow of velvet was... "A camera?" the boy asked and looked back at Melinda.
"Yes. Now you can take photos of your new family. I'm sure Severus knows the potion that is needed to make the pictures move."
A camera that could take moving pictures? Like the ones in the album Hagrid had given him? He could continue his album! There were so many empty pages that he could fill now! Harry was speechless once again and sure enough his eyes filled with tears. He hated how fast they always came. He was a boy for Merlin's sake!
After some seconds he got a grip on himself again and thanked Melinda for the camera. Then he looked towards his bed and sure enough, Mr. Paw was no longer asleep but looking at him. He took the camera out of the box, looked through the viewfinder and pushed the release down. A clicking noise told Harry that he had successfully taken a photo.
Melinda watched the cat stretching on the bed. Then Mr. Paw hopped down and walked gracefully towards Harry's legs to rub himself against them. Harry placed the camera onto the desk and then picked up the cat, snuggling his cheek against the soft fur. Mr. Paw started to purr like any other cat would do. Nothing betrayed the fact that this cat wasn't a normal cat but a stuffed animal brought to life.
The cat never left Harry's room and as long as Harry didn't need Mr. Paw, he simply slept on Harry's bed. But when the cat was awake, it behaved and acted like any other cat. It was a fascinating piece of magic Harry had managed to do. A living consoler that was just active when there was need.
If Harry knew how to do this on purpose, he could make a lot of money with his invention. Then Melinda snorted to herself, knowing Harry would never be interested in money. The boy was so different from the other kids she had worked with. He may have similar problems but the way Harry was thinking was completely unique. She really hoped that the camera would help Harry settle in with his new home and family.
"Well, do you have any questions, or things you want talk about?" Melinda asked.
Harry smiled and shook his head. "Not really, or are you any good at potions? I'm writing my summer essay."
Melinda shook her head, laughing. "Oh no, you don't want me helping with that. I know I have told you that I met Severus on a potions conference, but I was just there looking at the new potions and not because I understand how they are made. I'm sorry."
Harry shrugged. "It's okay. I'm halfway done anyway. I just have a hard time concentrating. Lucius gifted me with a drawing kit and it keeps distracting me. I want to test it really badly."
"Hmm... I see. Do you already have an idea what you are going to draw?" Melinda asked.
"I want to draw Mr. Paw! He is so cute when he sleeps on my bed. But... well, he isn't sleeping any longer and I can't take him for my model right now. So I guess I will continue writing the essay."
"Very well. Don't hesitate to call me whenever you need my advice. I will be on my way for now. Have a nice day!"
"Thanks again for the camera," Harry said and wished Melinda a nice day, as well.
Harry managed to finish his essay right before lunch. He had reread and double-checked it and couldn't find any mistakes. He hoped it was up to Severus's standard and if not... well, at least his penmanship had improved greatly.
He had handed his essay to Lucius as the man had asked Harry to do, but Lucius said he would looked at it in the afternoon. Harry nodded and left wondering once more why the man was always working so much. Shrugging to himself, Harry went to lunch with Lucius following soon after.
Draco already sat at the table looking bored out of his mind.
"Draco, sit straight!" Lucius said as he entered. The blond boy jumped in his seat and then corrected his posture, glaring at Harry who had the gall to snigger.
"Very funny, Potter," the blond-haired boy grumbled.
"Say 'Potter' as long as you can because soon you will have to call me 'Malfoy'!" Harry pointed out with a grin.
"Yeah, why I ever thought that would be a good idea I don't know," Draco said grumpily.
Harry frowned at these words but then he grinned again and said confidently: "Because you love me and you always wanted a brother and I am the best brother you ever had! Besides, it's 'yes' and not 'yeah'."
Draco couldn't help but smile. That was something his friends would have said, too. "Yes, you are probably right. You are the best brother I ever had, but also the worst, because you are the only brother I ever had."
"Hmm... so I'm also the biggest, the smallest, the funniest, the most horrible, the nicest... all that in one. With other words, I'm your favourite brother, yes?"
Now Draco chuckled. "Yes, most obviously!"
With a happy smile, Harry let himself plop into his seat and not a second later he got the same reprimand as Draco. Both boys chucked and Lucius had a hard time hiding his own smile. He was surprised at Harry's reaction to Draco's grumpiness. Just a week ago Harry wouldn't had said these words. He would have hung his head and taken Draco's words to heart, thinking he was unwanted.
The boy was improving. He was getting to know Lucius and Draco better and learning how to react appropriately in different situations. It warmed Lucius's heart.
Draco was also surprised at Harry's reaction. He loved to banter with his friends and seeing that Harry didn't take every word to heart any longer was a relief. Because half the time Draco didn't really mean what he was saying. He didn't want to hurt his soon-to-be-brother, but also didn't want to take extra care every time he opened his mouth in front of the far too sensible boy.
"Father?" Draco asked and stood before his dad could flee the room. "When are we going for a ride? You promised me we would ride out together before school starts again. Mr. Corner also missed you these last few weeks."
Lucius looked at his son in surprise.
"You used to go horse riding together with me. I… I miss that," Draco went on.
The man sighed and ran a hand over his mouth and chin. "I know," he finally admitted. "I miss it, too."
"Well then…," Draco grinned, "let's go! I'm sure these papers in you study can wait a few hours, couldn't they?"
"What about Harry?" Lucius asked and cast a glance at the other boy.
"What about me? I can survive on my own without supervision and if I need help I know how to contact Severus. Besides, I'm not really alone, I have house elves and pictures and even Mr. Paw. If you want to go riding, don't let me keep you from it," Harry said with a shrug.
Lucius had a thoughtful look on his face while he asked: "Don't you want to come with us?"
Harry snorted. "Me? On a horse? No, thank you. I would most definitely disgrace the Malfoy name. No, that's a thing between you two. Go and have fun!"
"But what are you going to do in the meanwhile?" the man wanted to know.
"I fought the whole morning to concentrate myself on the potions essay while my drawing kit kept distracting me. I guess I will give it a try now."
At this Lucius smiled. "Very well, if you are sure." Then he looked at Draco and said: "We will meet in fifteen minutes, don't dally."
"Me? Dallying? I will be the first in the entrance hall, you will see!" With these words Draco bolted up the stairs with a scolding Lucius shouting: "No running on the stairs!"
Harry chuckled and Lucius cast him a stern look. "I swear, one day I will jinx the stairs so that anyone running up or down will get pinched or some such."
Mr. Paw wasn't sleeping as long as Harry's concentration was on him, but he lay absolutely still since that was Harry's wish, and so the boy started to draw the cat. Every now and then, the cat would cock its head as if asking if it was doing okay.
"Okay, you can move again, if you wish. I'm done," Harry said with a smile. The cat yawned at these words and finally fell asleep. Harry chuckled and then went back to his drawing.
He was surprised how alive the cat looked in his picture. He'd never drawn before but even he had to admit that he was not so bad at it. He was very satisfied with his first work.
While Harry stared at his drawing for a while, an idea formed in his head. "Dobby!" Harry called and a soft pop announced the arrival of said house elf.
It was the evening before the trial of the Dursleys. Fear suddenly gripped Harry's heart when he thought about the following day. Lucius had told him that it was necessary for him to make a statement but that he shouldn't worry about it.
Well, that was a lot easier said than done. Whenever Harry thought about his relatives, he got the feeling of not getting enough air into his lungs. He was sure he would not be able to say a single word and he was worried that maybe nobody would believe him and people would accuse him of lying. Or that his magic would do something freakish just to show everybody that he really was what the Dursleys accused him of being - a freak.
Now Harry sat on his bed. Lucius had asked him to get to bed early because the trial would start at eight in the morning, but Harry couldn't sleep. He'd even emptied his stomach after dinner. Lucius didn't know about that and Harry was unsure if he should go and ask for help. The man had no idea what Harry was going through right now and Harry didn't want to be more trouble than he already was.
Harry looked down at Mr. Paw in his lap. The cat meowed and rubbed its head against Harry's petting hand.
"Harry?" the surprised voice of Lucius suddenly came from the door. "Why are you still awake?"
The boy jerked, startled, and looked at the man with fearful eyes.
Seeing the state the boy was in, Lucius's stern look morphed into a worried one. "Hey, what's the matter?" he asked and came into the room and over to Harry's bed.
Harry watched the man's every move with an unsure expression in his face.
"How long have you been awake already?" Lucius asked softly, but Harry just shook his head.
Frowning, Lucius asked: "You don't know, or you haven't slept at all?"
"I'm sorry," Harry whispered. "I couldn't sleep."
The man sighed tiredly and cursed to himself. "This stupid trial."
Harry's eyes widened. "I'm sorry I'm so much trouble. You... you don't have to-"
"STOP!" Lucius yelled and Harry jumped but fell silent immediately, lowering his eyes. Mr. Paw meowed pitifully.
Lucius took some calming breaths before he continued to speak. "I thought we were past this, Harry. Why are you apologizing to me? You have done nothing wrong. I came in here to help you, not to scold you, so why are you looking at me still worried I would kick you out any second? You are a Malfoy now and we look out for each other. We help and protect each other. Why can't you accept this?"
As Harry risked a short glance at the man, Lucius sadly shook his head. "I know you are worried about the trial. I can understand that. But I had hoped you would come to me if you are worried that much. Shall I call Melinda? Do you wish to speak with her?"
Harry bit his lip, unable to say anything. Lucius was angry, that much was obvious and he was hurt by Harry's behaviour. The boy had no idea how to handle the situation on top of his own worries. He had no idea if Melinda would be of any help. It was the middle of the night, surely she was asleep already, as he should be, too.
Once again the word 'freak' appeared before his mind's eye. Had the Dursleys really been the only ones realizing that he was abnormal? His summer with the Malfoys had been great but he didn't earn any of that. He was just causing trouble for these normal and nice people. They shouldn't try to help him. He was a nobody. What good was it to anybody to have him around?
So lost in thoughts Harry lost time and focus on the real world. He didn't notice Lucius getting up and vanishing and just moments later re-entering with Melinda in tow.
"Since when has he been like this?" the woman asked as she looked sadly at the boy who sat cross-legged on his bed staring unfocused at the opposite wall.
"I came in just a few minutes ago and he looked at me with this fearful look and I... well, I fear I lost it. I just couldn't understand how he... I don't know... I fear I said something wrong. I... it's so hard. Maybe I'm not the right-"
"Mr. Malfoy," Melinda interrupted the man's stammering. "We all know that Harry has trouble with the concept of family. He doesn't know what a family is about and this is all thanks to his relatives. Tomorrow he will be confronted with them, it is natural that he would fall back into old patterns. I understand how hard this must be on you, as well. You love him, and you want to be here for him and he just doesn't get it. It is frustrating, I know."
"Then why does he have to give a statement in person? Why confront him with the Dursleys?" Lucius asked.
"Because this is the only way Harry can find closure with this part of his life," Melinda explained. "It will be important for him to see that what the Dursleys did was indeed wrong. He knows now the difference between their abusive treatment and your family life, he just doesn't know for sure what is right or wrong when it comes to him. There is a part within him that is still convinced that he didn't earn any kindness. I don't know if it will ever go completely away but I believe that seeing the outraged reactions of the people tomorrow will help him realize that the Dursleys had no right treating him that way."
Lucius hung his head but then looked up again. "So, what now?"
Melinda smiled sympathetically. "I could talk to him, but it would be much better for both of you if you just showed Harry that you are here, no matter what. Take him into your arms and wait. He will come back to you. Talk to him, but don't try to point out to him what he isn't ready to accept. He must come to terms with the concept of 'family' in his own time. And if he doesn't want to talk at all, then that's okay, too. Just be here for him. Tomorrow will be a very hard day for him. Hard, but important."
Lucius nodded and thanked the woman. Then he sat down on Harry's bed and pulled the boy into his arms, kissing the top of his head. "I love you!" he whispered, "and I'm sorry I scolded you earlier."
Harry stiffened in his arms at first, but at least he wasn't fighting him. After some time, though, the boy relaxed again and leaned into the arms around him. Time ticked by without any words spoken or any movements.
Finally, Harry whispered sleepily: "I know, I love you, too. It's just... everything is so... fucked up in my head."
Lucius nearly gasped in relief at hearing Harry's voice again. He didn't scold the boy for his choice of words as he normally would do, instead he just hugged Harry tighter and said: "I know. It will get better one day, I know it will!"
Harry sighed contentedly and then fell asleep in Lucius's arms.
The next morning Harry felt horrible. He was sleep-deprived, light-headed, nervous, worried and unable to even think about eating anything. Severus forced two potions into the boy before they left for the trial. Nobody talked very much. Draco didn't know what happened last night, but one look at his brother-to-be was enough to let him know how Harry was feeling.
As they arrived in the ministry, there were a swarm of reporters already waiting for them. Draco took Harry's hand and squeezed it. Lucius had one of his arms around Harry's shoulder and Severus walked in front of the small family, trying to scare the fools out of their way with dark glares left and right.
It wasn't of much use, though. Harry saw flashes coming from all sites, questions were thrown at him, but his lips were closed. His gaze was fixed on the hem of Severus's billowing robes in front of him and his face gave nothing away of the turmoil of feelings inside him.
The courtroom was huge. Harry sat with Draco, Lucius and Severus in the front row. Two empty chairs stood in the middle of the room, right in front of where the members of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement would sit, and of course the Minister of Magic himself.
"Wow, the whole Wizengamot," Draco whispered in awe.
"The what?" Harry asked in a low voice.
"The Wizengamot, wizarding Britain's high court of law. Your relatives are so done for. I wonder if they would throw muggles into Azkaban."
"Azkaban?" Harry asked once more, feeling very stupid for not knowing all this.
"The wizarding prison. It's a fortress on an island in the middle of the North Sea guarded by Dementors, foul creatures that feed upon human happiness."
Harry looked horrified. "Surely that's just for the most evil criminals."
Draco looked at Harry with a strange look. In his opinion child abusers were the most evil criminals, right after murderers. But before he could answer, a man spoke with a loud and clear voice and announced the arrival of the Minister of Magic. Everyone stood up as Minister Cornelius Fudge, followed by his Senior Undersecretary Dolores Umbridge and Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Amelia Bones, entered the room.
Before the door closed again, Albus Dumbledore also entered the room. He looked like he wanted to say something but as he took in the full room he sighed and went over to the Wizengamot and took a seat there.
Harry blinked in confusion. What was the headmaster doing here?
"He is Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot," Draco whispered into Harry's ear, "and a muggle lover."
As everyone finally sat down, Petunia and Vernon Dursleys were brought into the room. Harry gasped at the look of them and he grabbed Draco's hand tighter. His aunt looked distressed and his uncle enraged.
"Those are your relatives?" Draco asked, shocked.
Harry just gave a tiny nod with his head. He was unable to say anything. Vernon was looking around, surely searching for him and as their eyes locked with each other's, Harry paled and shrank into himself. His breathing got heavy, his palms sweaty and pure fear grabbed his heart. Nothing Draco tried to whisper into his ear reached Harry anymore.
Lucius placed his arm around Harry's shoulders but said nothing. This was Harry's fight. He couldn't help Harry in it.
Finally, the trial started. Minister Fudge stood and greeted the attendant crowd and introduced the jury. After him, Amelia Bones stood and told them what crimes the two muggles were accused of.
She asked the Dursleys how they pleaded and Vernon growled angrily: "Not guilty! We were never asked if we wanted be burdened with another child! We could have kicked this ungrateful brat out of our house, but we didn't. We tried to make a good boy of him, but he continued to attack us with his unnatural freakishness. We never asked to have him, we never wanted him. You cannot accuse us for something we never wanted. Why didn't you take him, if he was that important to you? Why burden us with him? We never wanted anything to do with your crazy world!"
Harry blinked, confused. Well, he knew he hadn't been welcome at the Dursleys', but Uncle Vernon asked a valid question. Why did the wizarding world burden two muggles with him? He forgot his fear for a moment and felt a little twitch of compassion.
Albus Dumbledore was called up for questions after that.
"Is it right that you were the person who decided to give little Harry Potter to the Dursleys?"
"Yes, that is right," the headmaster admitted and loud murmurs broke out at these words. It took the Minister some time to quieten the crowd down again.
"Well, I guess I speak for everyone in this room when I ask: Why? Why give a little boy who just lost his parents to a muggle family that doesn't want another child?" Amelia Bones asked.
"Ah," Dumbledore said and held up a finger, "let's not forget what chaos the wizarding world was in at that time. How many Death Eaters were still on the loose. How many people, even within the Ministry, pretended to have been held under the imperius curse. It was nearly impossible to know whom you could trust. And dear Lily... dear lovely and selfless Lily Potter, she gave her life to protect her son. With her actions she created a protection of old magic for her son connected to her bloodline. Harry's only living relative at the time was one Petunia Dursley, nee Evans. It looked like the perfect solution to protect Harry from Voldemort's followers, far away from the chaotic post war time."
"But obviously it was the perfect solution just from one point of view. What gave you the impression that the Dursleys would like to take Harry Potter in?" Madam Bones continued to ask.
"I admit I had hoped they would have mercy with the poor boy. I knew Petunia's own child was nearly the same age and I assumed that, being a mother herself, her heart would reach out to Harry," Albus said and looked at Petunia with a sad expression.
The woman glared at him and hissed: "You placed him on our door step with just a blanket to protect him at the beginning of November. Yes, we took him in. We are no monsters! But you never even asked us! All the informations we got were a few words written in a letter, telling us we had to take him in and protect him."
"You never wrote me that you didn't want to look after Harry anymore. You know how owl post works," Dumbledore pointed out.
Petunia growled but didn't answer.
Madam Bones frowned. "Well, Mrs. Dursley, why didn't you tell us to pick Harry up again?"
As Petunia still didn't answer, Albus did it for her. "She didn't want to forgo the monthly financial support she got for keeping Harry."
This got new murmurs in the room. Vernon Dursley looked at his wife: "We got money for the freak?"
"Yes, and don't play dumb, you were aware of it!" Petunia hissed.
Harry stared at the two in shock. So they really got money for him? Harry had been so sure that there had been a mistake and they never received any money, no matter what Lucius had told him. The tiny twitch of compassion vanished again immediately. Disbelievingly, he shook his head.
The next person called in for questioning was Arabella Figg. Harry frowned and wondered why their muggle neighbour was of any importance.
"Mrs. Figg, you had been living near Harry Potter since the boy was brought to the Dursleys. What can you say about his life with his relatives?" Madame Bones asked.
"Oh, Harry has been a very well-behaved and helpful child. Very quiet, though. He was over a lot and helped me with my cats."
"Have there been any signs indicating that something was wrong with his home life?"
"Well, he sometimes had bruises, but no more or less than any normal growing young boy would have. He often fought with his cousin. It's just natural that he would have some minor injuries."
"So you never got suspicious of anything?"
"No. Not really."
"Did you witness any accidental magic performed by Mr. Potter?" This time it was the pink clad woman who asked the question, Mrs. Umbridge. Mrs. Figg answered in the negative.
"Why is she asking her that?" Harry whispered to Lucius. "She is a muggle."
"No, she is a squib, born to wizards but with no magic herself. It's the reverse to a muggleborn."
Harry's eyes widened. Had she been aware that he was a wizard? Why had she never mentioned anything?
"Did it never accure to you," Mrs. Umbridge went on, "that maybe his fights with his cousin or his troubles with his relatives had been caused by accidental magic?"
Mrs. Figg rubbed her hands nervously together. "Well, I don't know. Maybe."
"Have you ever told Mr. Potter that he was a wizard? Have you explained to him that he could do magic and that he would one day go to a school where he would learn how to do magic?" the pink lady asked.
"No. I was just keeping an eye on him to make sure no Death Eater got to him."
"But why not tell him what he was? Don't you think it would have been easier for the boy to know what was happening to him?"
"I was told not to say anything," Mrs. Figg said in a desperate voice.
"Oh?" Mrs. Umbridge blinked in surprise. "And by whom?"
Mrs. Figg glanced at Albus Dumbledore and finally said his name.
Once again the people began to talk and whisper to each other. Harry, though, didn't say anything. He sat completely still, shocked into silence. She knew. She knew and never said anything, just because Dumbledore told her not to. His eyes travelled over to his headmaster. The old man didn't look happy, but he also refused to look back at Harry. Harry couldn't help but feel a stab of betrayal. He continues to stare at Dumbledore but the man was wilfully ignoring him.
The next witness called up was Professor McGonagall. She was asked by Madam Bones how Harry's introduction into the wizarding world had been. As deputy headmaster it was her duty to visit the muggleborn and muggle raised students.
"It wasn't me, who introduced Harry into wizarding world," the woman admitted, "It was Hagrid."
"Who would send a half giant after a boy who grew up with muggles and knew nothing about our world?" Mrs. Umbridge asked, outraged.
"We had some trouble getting Harry's Hogwarts letter through and Hagrid offered to go. Albus also thought it would be easier for him to … well … persuade the Dursleys to let Harry go."
"That's a scandal!" Mrs. Umbridge shouted.
Obviously, the whole room agreed with her. Harry, though, couldn't find any fault with this decision. Hagrid did convince his relatives. Besides, no matter how big he was, he was the most friendly person Harry knew. Hagrid was cool and this pink lady should better be careful of what she said about him.
"I wouldn't call it a scandal," Madam Bones interrupted. "Mr. Hagrid is part of Hogwarts's staff. It was an unusual decision, but obviously necessary. So Mr. Potter didn't receive his invitation to Hogwarts?"
"No, we tried different ways to send the letter, but the Dursleys tried to run away from their post."
"You flooded our garden with owls!" Vernon roared. "In the broad daylight, no less. Do you have any idea what our neighbours were saying?"
"The letters appeared everywhere, of course we ran. We thought our house had been cursed!" Petunia snapped.
"Is that so, Mrs. Dursley? Then why for heaven's sake didn't you just give Mr. Potter his letter?" Madam Bones asked in a dangerously low voice.
"We had enough freakishness already. In our opinion there was no need to let him learn more of it." Vernon replied.
The head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement shook her head in disbelief. "I assume with 'freakishness' you mean incidents of 'accidental magic'? You, as the sister of a witch, must had been aware that it happens in the early childhood of every witch or wizard. Did it never occur to you that training Mr. Potter in this field would stop the accidental magic? Even telling him what had happened after such an incident would have helped a lot. With you not telling him about it, he had no chance to get it under control. So, where is the logic in your actions? You are not any random muggle, unaware of the magical world. You knew. You knew exactly what Mr. Potter was going through!"
Petunia harrumphed and crossed her arms, saying nothing else.
With a final hard glance at the woman, Madam Bones turned back to Professor McGonagall. "So, back to the topic, you met Mr. Potter the first time at school then?"
"Yes," McGonagall confirmed. "I met him with the other students right before their official entering of the Great Hall for their sorting."
"Was he in any way... noticeable?"
"No, not really. He may have looked a lot like his father, but his whole demeanour was nothing like James Potter. He was shy, curious and thoroughly fascinated by the Great Hall, like any other first year."
"I have been told that his sorting took quite some time. Any idea why?" Mrs. Umbridge asked this time.
"Mr. Potter's sorting took a bit longer than average, but not by much, and there have been other sortings in the history of Hogwarts that took far longer than his. I do not know what is said during the sorting. That is a secret between the sorting hat and the student."
"Well, I think it is time for our next witness. Thank you, Professor McGonagall." Madam Bones cut Mrs. Umbridge short to avoid any more private questions that had nothing to do with the situation at hand. The pink clad woman frowned but leaned back in her seat.
The next person called up for questioning was Madam Pomfrey. Everybody wondered why she never noticed the abuse.
"Harry was on the thin side but he didn't look unhealthy. He never gave me reason to suspect anything. Often, abused children are very shy, or jerk at sudden movements, but Harry showed none of these signs."
"What about the initial health check every first year has to do?" Mrs. Umbridge cut in once more.
"Professor Snape is the only one who insists on these check-ups. The other teachers only send their students in case of an emergency."
Mrs. Umbridge blinked, confused. "I never knew that it was just a Slytherin thing. It should be done in all houses."
"I agree," said Minister Fudge. "We should look more closely at the health of our youth."
Harry yawned silently. All this sitting and listening was tiring him a lot. His short night wasn't helping either.
As Lucius Malfoy was called up though, Harry sat straight again.
"Mr. Malfoy, you are currently caring for Mr. Potter?" Madam Bones asked.
"How did it come to that? Hasn't it been just a few weeks ago that Mr. Potter got into a fight with your son in Diagon Alley?"
"That is correct. When I asked Mr. Potter about the whereabouts of his relatives, he explained to me that he was on his own. I was shocked, but I promised the boy I would see him and his relatives the next day. As I visited the following day to tell his aunt about Mr. Potter's behaviour, she showed no interest, instead she told me I should punish Mr. Potter myself. The hostility towards our kind was visible and audible in all her words and actions.
"I took Mr. Potter with me. It was clear to me that this was no proper place to raise a wizarding child. I wasn't aware of the abuse at this point, but it was obvious to me that he was at least neglected. The incident in Diagon Alley just showed how much Mr. Potter was missing a stable environment to grow up in. As a remote relative I saw myself responsible to act. So, I took Mr. Potter in. "
"And how did your son react to this? Haven't young Mr. Malfoy and Mr. Potter been rivals in school?"
"Indeed we had a rocky start. But then I became aware that Mr. Potter has not been neglected by his relatives but heavily abused. One day Mr. Potter told me of some pain in his hand that made it hard for him to hold a quill for a longer period without feeling pain. I got concerned and called my healer, Mr. Greg Jason, and asked him to run a medical examination. What he found was..." Lucius shook his head, still in disbelief, "... it was a shock. He had incorrectly healed bones, scars all over his body, and he was also heavily malnourished.
"And that was just the physical abuse. The longer we lived together the more it became apparent that Mr. Potter has also been psychologically abused. He still has a hard time believing that he belongs to us now."
"You also plan to adopt him?"
"Yes. He is a part of our family now. I would never want to send him away again. He is very special and it will be an honour for us to call him a Malfoy."
At the fondly spoken words the audience aaw-ed in compassion. But then the pink lady had to open her mouth once again.
"Weren't you a Death Eater?" she asked with a strange glint in her eyes.
"I made a mistake at a young age, that is right, but I never killed anyone. The Dark Lord had some good ideas about the world at first. But his methods were brutal and wrong. As the Dark Lord became aware of my wavering loyalty he kidnapped my wife. My hand was forced."
"And Mr. Potter is aware of your past?"
"Yes. He is. There are no secrets between us. He has been lied to enough already."
"Well, thank you, Mr. Malfoy. Now, I would like to speak with Mr. Greg Jason," Amelia Bones announced and the man stepped up. "You are the healer of the Malfoys?"
"Yes. I have accompanied the Malfoy family since Narcissa Malfoy was pregnant."
"You also ran the medical scan on Mr. Potter?"
"Yes, indeed. I will never forget that day. As soon as I entered the room and saw the boy, I knew that there was something wrong, but even this knowledge has not been able to prepare me of the results of my scan. I do not exaggerate when I say Harry Potter would have been dead if it wasn't for his magic."
Gasped and murmured 'no's were heard from everywhere.
"How is it possible that Mr. Potter has been in the magical world for a whole year without anyone noticing anything wrong with him?" Minister Fudge asked in outrage.
„I can't answer you that, but it is my belief that Mr. Potter's magic was used from an early age to heal his body. With time, his magical levels grew so that he had some magic left for other things. I don't know how good Mr. Potter has been at school but I'm quite sure he has a lot more magic at his hands now, as it is no longer used to keep his body functional. He will need to learn anew how to control it."
As finally Melinda Mays got called up for questions, Harry's eyes grew wide. Worriedly, he turned to Lucius. „I don't want the whole wizarding world to know about my problems."
„Don't worry, Harry. I'm sure she won't say more than absolutely necessary."
„I don't want her saying anything. Why do they need to know that I am seeing a mind healer? Don't I have any say in what is revealed about me?"
Lucius smiled sympathetically. "I know this is hard, but it shows just how far the abuse you went through goes," Lucius explained. „And it's my belief that the people will be relieved to know that you get all the help necessary to get you healthy again."
Harry sighed unhappily and hung his head. So everybody would learn what a freak he was.
„Mrs. Mays, how long have you known Mr. Potter?"
„Just a little over two weeks. As Mr. Jason said, Mr. Potter has a lot of magic at his hands now and he had difficulties handling it all."
„What kind of difficulties?" asked Mrs. Umbridge immediately.
„I'm sorry, but I can't give you any details about my client. But I think it is not hard to guess that, as he learned from a young age that magic doesn't exist and he was called a freak and got punished for accidental magic, the loss of control of his magic has caused him some distress.
"Nearly his whole life Mr. Potter has been lied to by his own relatives. Some of these lies are deeply rooted and influence Mr. Potter's actions. They even lied about his parents; told him they had been drunkards and died in a car crash."
Once again the audience got loud and protested that it was a disgrace to call the Potters drunkards when they had fought so hard and had given their lives for Harry.
"But why does Mr. Potter need you? Is he unstable? Is he a danger?" Mrs. Umbridge asked and some people protested at the question.
"Mr. Potter is still the same he was a year ago. I'm just one more person he can talk to if need be," Melinda replied calmly.
"But you just told us he now has more magic at his hands and no control over it!" Mrs. Umbridge pointed out.
"This is just a matter of adapting and training and Mr. Potter will have everything under control in no time. He is no more a danger than any other child that is just beginning his education in magic."
Before the pink clad woman could ask anything more, Madame Bones thanked Melinda and dismissed her.
Then Draco was asked forward. Harry was startled and looked sideways at his brother, but obviously Draco had been forewarned, because he looked collected and confident.
Madame Bones smiled at Draco and asked: "I'm sure your life took a different turn since Mr. Potter came into your family. How do you feel about it? There are rumours that you and Mr. Potter didn't get along very well."
"That's right. Harry and I have had difficulties ever since we first met and I have to admit, at first, I wasn't thrilled to learn that he would be my brother. But then I realised that there was more to him than meets the eye. Now, I'm happy that he will become my real brother. I want to show him what brothers are good for and how a family should work."
The audience aaw-ed again and Draco sat back down.
"Well, we have heard now what people around Mr. Potter think about this situation, but I think it is high time to hear from Mr. Potter himself. Please, Mr. Potter, if you would," Minister Fudge asked and Harry gulped.
Nervousness made him numb. Draco squeezed his hand and Lucius patted his shoulder, but one look at the Dursleys, who cast murderous looks at him, took his breath away. He forced himself to take some calming breaths in fear his magic could lash out if he didn't relax.
"Mr. Potter. Can you describe to us what exactly your life with your relatives looked like?"
"I..." Harry started but his voice gave out again.
"It's okay," Madam Bones assured him, "take your time. We all know that it must be hard for you."
Harry bit his lip and nodded. He wanted to cry, he wanted to turn around and flee, but he couldn't. He had to be strong now. "Well, my room at my relatives was a... a cupboard. The cupboard under the stairs. My first Hogwarts letter was addressed to it." Harry ignored the gasps of the others or the outraged yells and went on. "I was really surprised that morning I got the first letter because nobody ever wrote to me. But I couldn't read it since my cousin Dudley took it away from me, believing I was reading mail that didn't belong to me. The letters kept coming but I still wasn't allowed to read them. So, Hagrid came and brought me one of the letters personally." Harry gave a weak smile, "He was brilliant."
"You weren't shocked by him?" asked Mrs. Umbridge and Harry frowned. What was this woman's problem?
"Maybe for a second, but he was nice and he brought me a birthday cake, my first birthday cake ever. He told me about wizards and Hogwarts and I admit I didn't believe him at first. But then my relatives protested and said that they didn't want me attending the school and then I knew it must be real."
"Dr. Jason said that without your magic you would have been dead. Why is that? Did they beat you?" Minister Fudge asked.
Harry's smile vanished immediately. Nervously he shuffled his feet. "My relatives have been afraid of my magic and if something really bad happened they p... punished me."
"What is 'really bad'?" Mrs. Umbridge wanted to know.
"Erm... one day... I... I dyed the hair of my teacher in primary school blue. Another day, as I was running from my cousin, I suddenly found myself on the roof of the school building. The police and the fire brigade had to come to get me down."
"So you got punished when you exposed your magic to others than your relatives?" Mrs. Umbridge pointed out finding no fault in that.
Harry's frown deepened. He really hated his woman. "Yes, mostly. Because when I did freakish things it would cast a bad light on them and people could start thinking that they were freaks, too. But I also got punished if I brought home better marks than my cousin, or when I didn't finish my chores before bedtime."
"What kind of chores were those?" Madam Bones asked softly.
"Erm... cooking dinner, washing the dishes during the week. On weekends also cooking breakfast, mowing the lawn or doing the laundry."
"And how did you get punished, if I may ask?" Madam Bones asked once more.
Harry liked her most. The pink lady was evil in his eyes and the Minister of Magic was very cold and closed off.
"Mostly I got locked up in my cupboard without food for one or more days," Harry said in a low voice. It didn't sound all that bad in his hears and maybe the others wouldn't think that it was a bad punishment.
"Mr. Jason told us you had wrongly healed bones. Do you remember how you broke them?"
"During playing. My cousin and his friends loved to play a game called 'Harry hunting'. When they got me, they would beat me up and when my clothes got ruined I got punished by my relatives, too."
"And if you got injured? Did they help you? Looked at your wounds, or brought you to a doctor?"
Harry gulped but shook his head. "No. If I was stupid enough to get myself injured then I had to live with the consequences."
Everybody in the room gasped. Some yelled at the Dursleys and protested wildly. Minister Fudge called for order, but it took some time before everybody calmed down again.
"Did your cousin ever get punished for hurting you?"
"No. If my cousin hurt me, then I must have done something to provoke it. So I just got what I deserved."
Madam Bones grimaced at that but her tone was still friendly as she asked: "And did you do anything to provoke it?"
Harry chewed his lip and hung his head.
"Well, did you?"
Harry didn't need to look up to know that the last question came from this Umbridge woman.
"In a way I did," Harry said and looked up again. He locked eyes with Mrs. Umbridge and told her: "I breathed. I existed. That was reason enough for him."
The pink lady smiled, satisfied, and sat back without saying anything more. Somehow this smile unsettled Harry more than her stupid questions.
"Has there been any moment while living with your relatives where you were happy?" This time the Minister asked the question.
"Erm... Well, I liked the gardening. It was relaxing when it wasn't too hot or too cold. I liked to see the flowers blossoming under my care. It gave me hope that I'm not completely useless, that I could do at least one thing right."
"Nothing else? What about birthdays, or Christmas?" Mr Fudge asked.
Harry shook his head. "For many years I didn't even know what day my birthday was. I found out per mere chance, because my cousin said one day that he was giving me a special birthday present. He gave me a broken figurine of a soldier and as soon as I had it in my hand he called for his dad and told him I broke it..."
Harry trailed off and looked down. He took calming breaths as he felt his magic rise up. The beating he had gotten then was still fresh in his mind even though it had been years ago. It was one of the first beatings he could remember.
Pressing his eyes closed and concentrating on his breathing as Melinda had taught him, Harry managed to fight down the angry bursts of magic that threatened to break out. Carefully he looked up again.
"Don't be. I would be angry in your stead, too. You have been treated unfairly by people far below yourself." It was Mrs. Umbridge again.
Harry frowned at her once more, not understanding the woman in the least.
"I don't see myself as superior to them. All I ever wanted was to be treated as an equal."
"But you are Harry Potter," Mrs. Umbridge pointed out, "the defeater of the darkest lord of our time, you are famous. You have been famous nearly your whole life. Don't you think the wizarding world should have taken better care of you? Don't you think you deserve much better for ending the war for us?"
Harry really didn't know what this woman was trying to do. Irritated he shook his head not answering the strange question.
"Well, I guess we have heard-" Madam Bones started to cut the under-secretary off but Mrs. Umbridge cleared her throat loudly.
"Yes? Was there something else you wanted to say?"
"Indeed. I'm still wondering how all of this could have happened. For one, I wonder why it was up to Albus Dumbledore to find a home for Mr. Potter. Why wasn't he given to the child service in the ministry? The child service would have tested Mr. Potter's relatives before giving the precious and famous child into the care of simple muggles.
"The other thing I cannot understand, why was Mr. Potter sent thousands of letters when normally muggleborns and muggle raised wizards are visited by the deputy headmaster to get informed about Hogwarts? It seems to me that when it comes to Mr. Potter, nothing was done as it should have been, why is that?
"I don't want to say that the Dursleys are innocent, they are definitely not, but why life made so hard for them? We have protocols for smooth interactions with muggles and I want to point out that someone obviously ignored them when it came to Mr. Potter. None of this should have happened. Laying a child on someone's doorsteps at the beginning of November? How could anyone do this? How can that be okay?
"And sending a half-giant who never finished his education after a muggle family was also against protocol. Mr. Potter not only has been treated unfairly by his relatives, he has been cheated by wizards, too. I want the responsible person called to account."
With that Mrs. Umbridge stared at Albus Dumbledore.
Harry was shocked at her words. Pointed out in this way, Harry was forced to think about them. No matter how much he disliked this woman, her questions had been valid this time. Was she trying to win him over for something, Harry wondered. The ministry maybe?
"We will start an investigation into this, don't worry. I'm aware that there are many unanswered questions about the way Mr. Potter ended up in the care of people that didn't like him. But this trial is about the way said people treated an innocent child whose only failure was that he lost his parents far too early."
"But we were forced to take him!" Vernon Dursley protested once again.
"That may be so, but it wasn't Mr. Potter's fault. He was a one year old child. Why didn't you contact someone if you didn't want to be bothered with a second child? Even giving him to an orphanage would had been better that letting your anger out on the child."
"We were forced to keep him!" Vernon pointed out once more. "The letter said that our home was the only place where he could stay and that he would get killed if we didn't keep him. You say we have been unfair? We were generous to let him stay even though we didn't want him! We are no murderers and we are not heartless. We gave him a roof over his head and food. We kept him alive, didn't we? Nobody told us that we had to like him.
"And how would we have been able to with all the trouble he's caused us? The incidents with the hair and the school roof are just two examples. We had similar incidents weekly! We told him to stop, but he didn't. Nothing we did ever stopped him. And the incidents were not always harmless. Just look at all the things he did to our Dudley: turned his food into sand cakes, destroyed his favourite toys so that he couldn't sleep any more, or locked him into a terrarium in the zoo.
"These incidents were not funny in the least. Do you have any idea how hard it was for us to explain to the director of the zoo how my son got into the terrarium and why the snake was free instead, causing chaos everywhere and forcing the zoo to close until the monstrous snake was caught again?
"And guess who had to pay the compensations for these incidents? Guess who had to pay the fire brigade? That was us. None of you people came and set it right. Don't you have a department or something to deal with magical incidents in our world?
"It's so easy to point the finger at us and say we are to blame, but what about you? You also never cared for the brat. Who are you to judge us?"
Vernon Dursley was as red as a tomato from all the yelling. Harry stared at him in shock. He never took his time to consider the Dursley's point of view. Harry had to admit that his uncle brought up some valid points.
"I can just repeat myself, Mr. Dursley. There will be more investigations. You will not be the only ones facing justice. But whatever failure lay with us, it can not excuse your treatment of an innocent child. No court in the world, not even muggle ones, would excuse your crimes against Mr. Potter. You took away his basic human rights.
"It's alright to give a child a time out if he misbehaves, but locking someone away with no food for a whole day is a crime. It's also okay to give a child some chores every now and then, but not to treat them like a personal slave. What you took away from Mr. Potter can't be given back, you took his childhood away. You starved him to the point he didn't grow properly. You didn't treat his injuries. The emotional wounds you inflicted on Mr. Potter are immense.
"I understand your anger, but none of this was the boy's fault. This hearing is closed. I ask the wizengamot to vote now. Put up your wand if you think the Dursleys are innocent."
Harry had resumed his seat again and looked up at the members of the wizengamot. Just five people put their wands into the air. One of them was Albus Dumbledore.
Then the minister asked the wizengamot to raise their wands if they found the Dursleys guilty. Many wands went up this time and Harry stared in disbelief. He had been convinced that Vernon's speech would have changed the minds of most of them. His uncle had always known what words he needed to say to make people believe him. Why hadn't it work here, too?
Then Harry heard a loud sob. It was coming from his aunt. Harry looked at her feeling a strange detachment. Shouldn't he feel guilty for causing her such grief? Shouldn't he be horrified that his relatives would go to jail? Instead he felt nothing. No pity, no guilt, but also no happiness. No, he was not glad that they were found guilty, but not sad either.
Draco squeezed his hand and smiled broadly at him. Harry smiled faintly back but then he turned back to Madame Bones who explained that the Dursleys would get sent to a muggle jail for ten years.
Two muggle police officers that had been sitting amongst the audience stepped forwards and handcuffed the Dursleys informing them that they were under arrest. Vernon struggled and protested while Petunia sobbed pitifully. One of the officers nodded at Madam Bones and at the Minster of magic.
"Who are they?" Draco wondered.
"Muggle police men," Harry answered. "Like the aurors."
"Oh, and what did they do to your relatives to bind their arms? They didn't use ropes."
"No, they used handcuffs. It's faster and more... practical." Harry shuddered and shook his head to get rid of the pictures that suddenly assaulted his mind. He gulped and went on: "They are two metal rings with a short chain between them. You can click them on easily but need a key to open them again. My cousin got a toy pair of them for his seventh Birthday."
Harry didn't really want to remember what his cousin did with said handcuffs, but the memories came nonetheless. His cousin liked to used them on Harry. They broke after a few weeks, because they were just simple plastic. On the one hand, Harry was relieved when this happened, on the other hand he got heavily punished for breaking Dudley's toys.
Draco's eyes widened and he turned to Harry to ask more about those cuff things, but seeing the look on his brother's face he frowned and asked instead: "Bad memories?"
Harry jerked a nod and tried to smile, which came out more like a grimace.
"You are free of them now. You will never go back!" Draco said and squeezed his hand.
"Yeah," Harry said and finally managed a real smile. He watched his relatives being led out of the room and felt like he was looking at strangers.
Some wizards protested that they should get punished more severely, but Minister Fudge called the room into silence once more. As everybody calmed down, Madame Bones informed everyone that the investigation about the whole Harry Potter affair would start immediately. She asked Albus Dumbledore and Mrs. Figg to keep themselves available for further questions.
She also announced to Harry's shock that a member of the child service would interview Harry Potter to make sure that the adoption into the Malfoy family was indeed the best course of action for him. She said that it was time to stop ignoring the normal procedures when it came to Mr. Potter. And with that the hearing was closed.
Harry was horrified. What if the child service didn't agree with the adoption?
"Don't worry, Harry," Lucius whispered into his ear, "If the adoption is what you really want, the child service will not go against your wishes." He sounded very sure and it calmed Harry's nerves at least a little bit.
Harry turned to the man, searching his face for any traces of worry, but there were none. He sighed deeply and then nodded to himself. Okay, maybe this really was just a formality to ensure the wizarding world that the law and rules were no longer being ignored.
"How are you feeling?" Lucius asked and stroked a hand over Harry's head while they waited for the people to file out of the room.
Harry frowned to himself. "I'm not sure. There is much to think about. So many things I never considered."
"Aren't you angry that your relatives didn't get longer terms? Ten years is nothing," Draco interrupted.
Harry shrugged his shoulders. He wondered about the detached feeling he suddenly had in regards to his relatives. "I don't know. I'm not really feeling anything when it comes to them. It's as if they are strangers now and don't have anything to do with me. I'm sad that it has come this far, but, well... it was their own fault, wasn't it? They were awful people. Is it wrong to not feel sorry for them?"
"What? NO!" Draco shouted and some people turned around at that. Draco blushed and lowered his head. Then he went on in a much calmer voice. "If you felt sorry for them, I would strongly suggest to change your mind healer."
Harry punched Draco's shoulder, like he would do with Ron, and laughed.
Draco didn't know how to react. The punch didn't really hurt but he had never before received one that wasn't meant to hurt. He rubbed the slightly sore shoulder and slowly realised that it was an act of friendship. Was that something he had to get used to from now on, he wondered.
He wanted to punch Harry back but then a hand settled down on his shoulder. "Boys," Lucius warned as a flash of a camera got off, "Behave!"