This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. The various OCs belong to me.
Posted 9th January 2006
ON TWO LORDS AND A PRINCE
CHAPTER 25: POLITICAL OUTCOMES OF JUSTICE
When Malfoy's trial did finally arrive, Madam Bones was presiding rather than the minister. Furthermore, the trial took place in front of a jury rather than the full wizengamot. Sometime during the intervening period, Fudge had obviously decided to make Malfoy a scapegoat for the mistakes, problems and crimes of his administration. The witness bench was packed with Fudge allies all waiting to push the blame for Fudge's mistakes onto Malfoy. Harry suspected that if it weren't for the fact that Fudge needed him and the guards who had been there when Malfoy had been arrested to prove Malfoy's use of the unforgivables, then they wouldn't even be there. It was a weakness that Harry planned to exploit to the fullest. He'd been heavily briefed at the previous order meeting about the facts of the case and what he should say, all he needed to do was find a convincing reason he would know the inner workings of the ministry. The last thing both he and the order wanted was for Fudge to discover the renewed alliance between himself and Dumbledore. He had though about mentioning his grandfather but implying that his grandfather had told him ministry secrets would hurt said grandfather's position within the ministry. Fortunately his journey to the courtroom, accompanied by Ron's father, had resolved his dilemma. Not only was Arthur Weasley the father of his best friend, he was also one of Lucius Malfoy's worst enemies and possessor of a reputation for disclosing both the ministry's inner workings and its secrets to his friends, especially one Albus Dumbledore. That Harry would benefit from his knowledge in areas where he and Dumbledore had a mutual interest was plausible. Fudge would probably think that Dumbledore had ordered Arthur to brief Harry and he would not be entirely wrong to do so. Another outcome of Fudge's games was that Harry testified first, before even Lucius had a chance to testify, followed by each of the guards that had been there that evening. Sure, it gave Fudge a chance to explain why everything that Harry might say, but it also gave Harry a chance to set the agenda for the trial, assuming of course that Madam Bones let him.
In the end Madam Bones explicitly gave him the opportunity to set the agenda and heap the blame on Fudge by asking Harry what he thought Malfoy's motives were, that an one of Fudge's allies among the jury objected to this question on grounds of irrelevance only helped matters. He'd had to explain what he'd seen of Malfoy's attempts to torture Vernon, but he'd slanted his answers to imply that Malfoy had been acting on someone's orders. Then when Madam Bones asked the question, Harry had been waiting for, he launched into an explanation of how Fudge had tried to fix Dumbledore's trial and the argument he'd had with the minister over this issue, as well as his suspicion that Fudge had, after Harry's refusal to co-operate, ordered Malfoy to ensure that Vernon co-operated instead. Naturally, Madam Bones had followed this up with a very sternly posed clarifying question asking whether he thought that Fudge had ordered Malfoy to torture Vernon. From her tight-lipped expression and the frigid glance she had given Fudge, it was clear she had taken Harry's accusations to heart and was less than impressed with the minister as a result. Her attitude did not shift when Harry responded to her question with his genuinely held belief that Fudge had intended Malfoy to broker a deal with Vernon rather than torture him, but that Malfoy's hatred for muggles had prevented him from doing that.
After that question the next witness was called to the stand, allowing a relieved Harry to return to his seat, pleased that he had not been forced to mention either Voldemort, who many people still believed to be dead, or some ministry secret he shouldn't have known. There was, however, another damning accusation from the guards had arrested Malfoy saying that they had been ordered by the minister not to interfere in Malfoy's dealings with Vernon and had only intervened to protect Harry. Fudge was almost thrown out of the courtroom after that one for protesting it loudly and for far too long, when he shouldn't even have been speaking. It was only after that story was confirmed by the other guards that had been there that night, that things got really got interesting as Lucius was called to the stand. He didn't hold back either revealing the long list of bribes and lies he had fed Fudge and Fudge's allies. He only lied four times throughout his entire three-hour long testimony, once to protect Julius Lacetter, once to protect Edward Hamworthy, the owner of the daily prophet, once to deny that he was a loyal death eater and once to deny that Voldemort had returned. Wisely, Madam Bones chose not to fight him on these points, concentrating on detailing the accusations Lucius was willing to make, to ensure that Fudge and his cronies, who sat in stony faced silence throughout the testimony, could not rebut them later. It was a tactic that was to work exactly as intended; Fudge floundered badly when called to testify, unable to convincingly deny any of the accusations made against him. His cronies fared marginally better, but only because they heaped some of the blame on both Fudge and Malfoy, something the minister had tried and failed to do. After all, Fudge was ultimately responsible for everything his administration had done, something Fudge seemed to know and believe as much as anyone else. Besides by trying to avoid sounding incompetent, Fudge managed to sabotage the argument he'd been making that Malfoy was partly to blame. However, his efforts to prove his competence also failed, leaving him seeming both corrupt and incompetent to the gallery. It was of no surprise, therefore, that all the post trial discussion and reporting centred on the minister not on Lucius Malfoy, who was unsurprisingly sentenced to forty years in Azkaban – the maximum penalty for his crimes. The daily prophet seemed to respond to Lucius' protection of its owner, by barely mentioning him in the next day's edition, focusing almost exclusively on Fudge. For the first time, it launched a scathing attack on the minister and reported all of the allegations made against Fudge and his friends during the trial as well as a few more that hadn't been mentioned and which the order had known nothing about. Only one member of Fudge's inner circle remained free from criticism – Julius Lacetter, but only by virtue of the fact he wasn't mentioned at all.
In fact Lacetter's name didn't appear in the Prophet until after the wizengamot meeting that took place the week after Malfoy's trial. It was during that meeting that he was elected Minister. It was a disastrous result, given that he was one of the death eaters who, along with Lucius, had claimed that he was under the Imperius Curse during the last war, but one that had been expected and prepared for. Consequently, Lacetter's stint as Minister only lasted two weeks, during which time he passed no laws and proclaimed only three new decrees, none of them particularly harmful to the light side. Lacetter wasn't even allowed access to any files or documents that Lucius Malfoy wouldn't have had access to in his pre-Azkaban role as Fudge's senior advisor. Lacetter did perform two notable acts though, both of which would came back to haunt him, he sacked several senior Unspeakables, Harry's grandfather included, and he had Harry arrested for the murder of Cedric Diggory. Initially, though the general public was not that concerned by Lacetter's elevation, for unlike Malfoy he had been able to shrug off his dubious past and leave behind the bad reputation that Lucius still possessed. For one thing, he had never been accused of using the dark arts. Indeed, at the time he was elected minister Lacetter's only enemies were Dumbledore, Dumbledore's followers, and the other members of the order.
It was for this reason that Harry was not surprised when he received an owl late at night on the day of the wizengamot meeting saying that Slinker wanted to see him immediately. He'd already been told that this would happen in the highly likely event that John Corey, Fudge's deputy and the order's candidate for minister, failed in his bid to become Fudge's successor. He reacted without hesitation, showing the note to Ron before hurrying off to see his uncle. Not even Hermione bothered him as he walked through the portrait hole, but then she'd left generally left him alone since their previous confrontation outside the potions classroom. In fact, he didn't encounter any problems at all as he made his way to his uncle's dungeon quarters, despite being outside the common room after curfew without his invisibility cloak.
His uncle was clearly waiting for him, for when he entered the now familiar quarters his uncle, who was standing in front of the fire looking into the flames, turned to face him. Even Harry could tell that he looked tense.
"Lacetter won. He only got twenty votes out of fifty four, but he won none the less," he said softly but firmly, not even waiting for Harry to settle down, "He'll come for you in the morning, arrest you for murdering the Diggory boy, within a week you'll have been convicted and placed in Azkaban ready for Voldemort to kill you when he attacks the prison to release his imprisoned followers. Unless that is you take this portkey," He handed Harry a small box, with a coin inside, which Harry pocketed. "This will take you to the one person I can trust to protect you from Voldemort. Only he, you and I know about this, make sure you keep it that way."
"You haven't told Sam or my Grandfather about this?" Harry retorted, with surprise. He had no plans to tell his friends about this, but he was surprised family didn't at least know, they would did not share Dumbledore's faith in the legal process and also believed there was no way Harry could win a trial over Cedric's death. But then he had not thought of the consequences of helping someone evade arrest.
"Sam knows me too well for him not to have his suspicions. He also knows that he does not have the legal immunity that my status as an ambassador grants me, so will be questioned by Lacetter the moment you disappear, most likely under Veritaserum," Slinker answered in the same soft but firm tone as before. He did not look annoyed by what was actually a pretty stupid question. Nevertheless, Harry took his leave and returned to the common room. He didn't even ask where the portkey would take him, but then he was pretty sure he knew the answer already. The leader of Slinker's clan was supposedly one of the most powerful Vampire's in existence, as well as someone who reportedly who disliked those, like Voldemort, who misused dark magic. Slinker had mentioned him several times during their dark arts classes and during his one on one channelling sessions, but had never told him his name, much like the books on Vampires that mentioned the man, which lead Harry to wonder what the leader of the Drakonmire Clan had to hide.
He would soon find out, for Lacetter didn't wait until breakfast had finished before coming to Hogwarts with half a dozen aurors to arrest Harry. The prophet had already arrived by the time the minister came and, like everyone else, Harry's friends were busy discussing the new Minister of Magic. Harry barely listened though as Ron explained who Lacetter was to Seamus and Dean, he kept his eyes firmly on the entrance to the great hall and waited for Lacetter to arrive. He'd been waiting ever since Slinker had handed him the portkey the previous evening, so much so that he hadn't been able to sleep a wink, torn as he was between watchfulness and the sinister fears that plagued him telling about what could go wrong and which dreadful places the portkey could take him. His friends had noticed how nervous he was and how distant he was acting and asked him whether he was alright, but thankfully they had taken his assertions that he was fine at face value and not pressed him on the issue. Such was his nerves that seeing Lacetter stride arrogantly into the great hall surrounded by aurors was actually a relief. Seeing the enemy in front of him gave him something real to focus on as well as putting an end to the awful period of waiting and the nightmares and tension that accompanied it. He did not have the time for such fears now. As the aurors headed up the hall towards the Gryffindor table, led by the minister himself, Harry put his plan into action. He stopped eating and went for his pockets and took out his wand, whilst finding the portkey with his other hand, ready to touch it when the moment was right. Naturally, the aurors responded by drawing their wands, but that did not bother him, he did not intend to cast any spells and the aurors would only cast in self-defence. Nor, for once, did being the focus of attention phase him. He had more important things to worry about.
Eventually the group of aurors stopped in front of Harry's seat at the Gryffindor table and the minister stepped forward. "Harry Potter," he said soberly, his accent smooth and deep, "I am arresting you on suspicion on the murder of Cedric Diggory…" Harry was sure he carried on with some spiel about his rights similar to what he had seen on cop shows on muggle TV, but he didn't stick around to listen to it. The moment he heard Cedric's name he activated the portkey and disappeared. He did leave one thing behind though: a letter on his bedside table declaring his innocence and detailing what had happened at Voldemort's rebirth.
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