Chapter 1- The Trial
He looked all the same, his steel like grey eyes devoid of any emotion and hope. But it wasn't like he had always been like this. I remember the days when he used to be a very notorious arrogant youth, throwing insults and taunts on people whom he considered inferior to him and I was included in that category. He played many pranks and wherever something fishy occurred he was included. He had the "I am the best so bow to me" attitude, and his infamous smirks never left his face. Overall I can say he wasn't an angel, ofcourse not. Infact he was a pure outrageous git who liked to make the life of the people he hated, a living hell. But nevertheless he was lively then.
It happened since the summers of our sixth year when everything changed. The looming shadows of the upcoming war with Voldemort had an effect on everyone. The students no more laughed and walked down the hallway in the same carefree manner they once used to. Quite and serious faces as if became a trend at Hogwarts. The fear of war and most importantly the fear of losing their loved ones took its toll on every heart. So yes we were upset by what was to come and Hogwarts wasn't the same like all jubilant and cheery like before but the students hadn't become complete zombies like him. There were moments in our dormitories with friends which brought back memories of happiest times and made us laugh, giving us hope and courage to fight through it all and keep going but he seemed to have lost all of it. I had seen the hollow look in his eyes, instead of his smirks now the sadness never left his face. During classes he used to stare off far in space and during the breakfasts, lunches and dinners when the other Slytherins would be chatting and enjoying their time with their friends he would sit and stare at his food as if trying to drive a hole through it. Then on the protests of his cronies he would eat small bits and pieces just enough to keep him alive and leave the hall. He no more threw insults on us. I am not saying I liked it but since the last six years I had grown so used to it that it just seemed awkward and out of place when the blonde Slytherin would pass by without any nasty comment. It was just that the world didn't seemed normal without him not being a jerk.
At the end of the year I learnt from Harry that he had become a death eater and was given the task to kill Dumbledore.
"So he was the one who killed Dumbledore?" I had asked in a shaking voice.
"No, he was afraid. It was Snape who did the deed." Harry had replied.
"Oh." Was all that left my mouth and I released a sigh I never knew I was holding.
Since the time I have known him I always was sure of one thing that he had a heart. And from Harry's ans I was satisfied that I had been right. It was true he was an arrogant, stuck out, pompous, infuriating person but as I said earlier he was just notorious and never evil. He always liked to create chaos and to bother others but he would never go to the extent of torturing or killing someone. That's what made him different from other dark souls and that's what made me not to hate him as much as I will a pure death eater.
I also was of the opinion that if he couldn't kill Dumbledore he couldn't have taken the dark mark by his own will. I knew his family background and he was destined to become a death eater so this had to happen whether he wanted it or not. I figured out it must have been the reason that had brought the drastic change in his personality, that's why he turned from a vibrant youth to a very serious hopeless looking person.
With Dumbledore's death situations became even worse. Now with no one very powerful to stop them and from the support of Voldemort himself the cases of death eaters escaping from Azakaban and killing of innocent lives became frequent. The war hadn't even started and we had begun to lose our kiths and kin's already. We didn't return to Hogwarts for a seventh year as Snape had taken over as the headmaster thus snatching from us the only refuse and our home from many years. It was that year that I lost my parents. I remember the horrible night so well. I was sleeping in my bedroom when I heard blood curling screams of my parents. I woke up with a jolt and dashed out for the living room where I found their bodies lying lifeless on the floor and few ugly death eaters laughing maniacally at their achievement. I was so broken and taken aback seeing my parent's dead that I was in no condition to fight. I didn't care that the death eaters in front of me were going to kill me, at the moment all I wanted to do was bawl my eyes out and cry and cry and cry. I could hear the monsters laughing at me but my eyes never left the faces of my parents. I crawled to them and began wailing, the sight was giving immense pleasure to the death eaters as was evident from their never ending laughter. I heard one of them say,
"Cry mudblood cry, soon you too are going to join your mudblood parents in death."
Suddenly I felt a jolt, anger rushed through my veins and in a moment I felt myself filled with unusual amount of energy. I turned towards the death eaters and pointed my wand at them in violent rage. I didn't care if they outnumbered me. They were going to suffer for what they did to my parents. The laughter around me died down as they saw me in attacking position.
"Oh poor dear, fifteen against one, touch luck that is." One of them chuckled out sarcastically and soon they were pointing their wands against me with sick grins over their faces. They all shouted out different deadly curses all together and I shouted out Avada Kedavara and at that very moment I felt someone's arms encircling my waist from behind. The person made me dodge from my position because of which my curse got deflected and so it didn't hit any of the death eaters nor did their curses hit me. I realized the intruder was Harry, he must have sensed that I was in trouble.
Harry actually had given me a magical pendant when we were staying at the Weasleys for summers. He gave it to me saying that being a muggleborn, I and my family were the most targeted victims of the death eaters so if I was in trouble the pendant would shine and he would come to help. I had accepted the pendant sensing Harry's fear to be quiet right. But then in that moment I was regretting it as to why I ever accepted the pendant. I didn't want Harry there. I didn't want to be rescued. I wanted to kill the murderers of my parents even if I got killed in the act it didn't matter to me.
Harry made me dodge all the attacking curses that were thrown on our side while I struggled hard against him shouting at him to leave me alone and let me kill the death eaters.
"Hermione calm down, they are so many we can't fight them." he kept shouting. But it only earned him kicks and punches in his torso and face as I struggled to get out of his grip. And then dodging and struggling from all the attacks with me landing harsh blows on him Harry somehow managed to apparate the both of us to the Burrow.
I was a mess. I was shouting, howling and crying all at the same time as I showered punches and fatal blows at Harry.
"You pathetic excuse of a friend! Why didn't you let me kill them? Why? I wanted to knock the daylights out of those monsters. They killed my parents!" I wailed as I landed another blow at Harry.
Everyone at the Burrow was trying to calm me down but to no use.
"Hermione, you would have got yourself killed!" Harry shouted holding both my hands and shaking me wildly as to get some sense in my head.
"It would have been better; in fact now that my parents are gone I don't want to live too." I sobbed out, suddenly all the pain and wretchedness that I had felt before came back to me. I felt all the rage and energy gone and fell into Harry's arms.
He gave me a sorrowful look and hugged me tightly knowing I needed that badly and that I wasn't going to struggle anymore. I cried and cried in his embrace until I fainted.
After regaining consciousness I remained a walking zombie for weeks. Everyone at the Burrow tried to lessen my pain, but they knew I had lost something very precious and I needed lot of time to recover from it so they didn't push too hard. As more time passed I found my grief and pain turning into the feeling of vengeance. And then I decided and vowed to myself that I would take revenge from those death eaters and the master mind behind them that was Voldemort. Since then I started training even harder with Harry and Ron. My personality changed from a sad and gloomy to a determined and focused one. Determined to defeat and free the world from the monsters that were plaguing our lives, determined to make them pay for taking away the innocent lives like that of my parents. I wasn't going to let them live with it.
The days became harsher, crueler with each passing second. I, Harry and Ron searched through the forests, deserts and almost every realm of nature to find the Hocruxses which we had come to know were the sources to destroy and kill Voldemort.
We were in the Forbidden forest in search of just another Hocrux when Ron went outrageous. He said he sensed something amiss, or to say something romantic between me and Harry and he hated the feeling. I told Ron that it wasn't like that but he refused to take my words and left. I knew he had feelings for me since fourth year but I liked him only as a friend. I had never confronted him about this matter as I thought that when he would see that I never respond to his hints he will stop holding any feelings for me and would just move on. I never considered his feelings for me as strong as to make him behave so barbaric and doubt my and Harry's relationship which was obviously nothing more than that of friends.
But one day Ron returned saying that it was the locket that made him act like that. Even I and Harry were of the same belief because the locket was a Hocrux that we had been trying to destroy and Ron had been wearing it the entire day when he had left us. The hocrux had a bad effect on people and so we forgave Ron with me making my feelings quite clear to him. And he accepted it with respect; he said if I didn't wanted to be more than friends with him then he won't force me. Thus our friendship was back to the original track unstained. As the three of us continued with our search for the Hocruxses we unfortunately got caught by some death eaters. They took us to Malfoy Manor. It was there when I saw him again. He looked thin and pale, almost sick.
I had put a charm on Harry that had changed his face but it seemed the blonde Slytherin had recognized him yet he told the death eaters the opposite thus revolting to his own side by being dishonest to them. Though Bella still found out later that it was Harry after all. Then he and Ron were put down in prison in the dungeons, while I was tortured in the manor by the crazy woman. Everyone around took pleasure as I let out heart wrenching screams when she pierced a cursed knife through my bare hand craving the word Mudblood on it. All laughed at my pain and misery except one, he stood there with neutral expression on his face. Our eyes locked for a moment and I was surprised to see immense pain and suffering in them. I had never seen that in his eyes, never before. I blinked and then it was gone, his eyes were back to their emotionless state making me wonder that may be I had just imagined it. But through the rest of my torture I kept my eyes on him, I didn't know why but looking at him relaxed me a little bit. May be because he was the only one who didn't seem pleased by my torturing, he was the only one who would flinch every now and then as I would let out another excruciating scream. He wouldn't look in my direction anymore as if he wouldn't be able to endure seeing me in the miserable situation I was. So in that moment I realized that the hidden heart which he had not only prevented him from going totally dark but it also was capable of showing emotions like caring. And I knew he had cared then. Even for an enemy. Even for me.
Later I, Harry and Ron managed to escape the manor somehow with the help of Dobby the house elf. Though, poor Dobby died while rescuing us. Finally the battle which had been both dreaded and waited came. He finally switched sides and fought for the good side. The war took away many more of our loved ones but finally ended in our favor. It's been one month since the terror of Voldemort ended. The remaining death eaters and people who were found guilty of helping them in any way are being arrested and put into Azkaban from all over the wizarding world.
Today, at present is his trail, trail of Draco Malfoy.
"The people who are in favor of him being spared." The head of the jury spoke.
My hand sought up quickly. Harry and Ron followed with Ron doing it rather reluctantly. Rest from the three of us there was no one in the audience who raised hand in his favor. I felt my breath caught in my throat contemplating that it simply meant that Malfoy wasn't going to be spared.
"Miss Hermione Jean Granger, will you explain why you want Mr. Malfoy to be spared?" The head of the jury asked.
I stood up, my eyes landing on Malfoy who sat at the chair in the middle of court. He was eyeing me curiously; obvious wanting to know that why of all people it was his arc nemesis who wanted to rescue him.
I faced the jury and began,
"When Malfoy was young all he did was throwing petty insults and taunts on others. He liked annoying and bothering others but he never meant actual harm. He was a notorious kid and liked playing around. Seeing his background and the way he was taught since birth, with people and his family trying to wipe away whatsoever good in him and yet he was able to maintain the human innocence somewhere at a little spot in his heart which only grew with time is a fact worth considering. Even after becoming a death eater I can't remember he did anything which can be called as far as harmful to anyone. When he was asked to kill Dumbledore he couldn't do it because he isn't cruel. Also it happened once at Hogwarts when I had heard sobs, when I followed the voice I had found Draco crying over a dead bird. I didn't know how the bird died but I know one thing that a person who can cry over an animal's let alone a bird's death can't cause any potential harm to anyone."
At this I paused and once again looked in Malfoy's direction, he was staring at me incredulously. Of-course he wasn't to blame. He couldn't have expected me defending him and saying all this about him. He also never knew that is before now that I was there when he had cried over a dead bird because then I had left quickly without him noticing that someone was watching him.
Again turning my attention towards the jury I continued,
"Though I am not aware of his days at the Manor, but I am sure if he did any horrible deed there it would have been because he was forced to. I have a firm belief that Malfoy is not pure evil, and why I have such a belief I have already put forward the facts for that. So my opinion of him is that he actually has a heart and so won't hurt someone with his own will. And most importantly the fact that he ultimately fought for the good side prove my points as undeniably correct." I finished and sat down.
A silence followed before Harry was asked as to why he supported Malfoy. Harry just mentioned that he held the same reasons as me for why he was supporting Malfoy and Ron said the same. Of-course unlike me they weren't going to give a speech in Malfoy's favor. Not to mention, no matter even if Malfoy fought for the good side they still had those childish grudges against him. Boys I tell you.
My reverie of thoughts got interrupted as the head of jury said,
"Now those who aren't in favor of him being spared."
Now entire audience was raising hands. I wondered what could Malfoy have done even if forcefully that these people were so against him.
"Seeing that majority is against Mr. Malfoy and since it would be too time taking to listen to what grudge each one hold against him, I declare that he won't be spared. Because whatever he has done forcefully or not, they are bad deeds nonetheless. And thus punishable." The judge announced.
I hung my head low.
"But the points put forward by Miss Hermione Granger truly are worth considering and won't go unnoticed. So all I could do is reduce the victim's punishment. Thus unlike other death eaters MR. Malfoy wont' be sentenced to life imprisonment at Azkaban but will be put there for only three years." The judge stated further.
My head quickly sought up with hope, though it wasn't a complete escape for Malfoy but still it was much better than spending his entire life in a hell hole. I looked towards him and our eyes met. I felt a pang at my heart. Malfoy had always been a very beautiful person from outside and he would have been the same from inside if it wasn't for his family. I always knew it was his tyrant excuse of a father, Lucious Malfoy king of jerks who forced into becoming what the world believed him to be. But the real Malfoy was whom I knew, the one who was capable of crying and expressing his grief instead of hiding it like it's some kind of sin, the one who wasn't devoid of emotions, the one who was capable of caring, the one who was capable of maintaining his holiness even in the pitch dark of bad influence that consumed many and changed them from innocent to evil, the one who wasn't Malfoy but Draco.
I couldn't stop feeling bad for him though his punishment was reduced; three years in Azkaban meant something. It was place known for causing madness to someone in just three days and here it was a matter of three years. It wasn't at all like I fancied him or something, no way. But it just seemed too harsh for someone so handsome and smart like him to get reduced to insanity. I almost shivered thinking about it.
With the final decision being made I saw the guards coming to him to take him with them. But what happened next was quite unexpected. Draco quickly jumped out of his seat and in three long strides he reached where I was sitting in the very first row. Everyone was taken aback by his actions including me. Before anyone could compose themselves and act, he pulled me out by my hand from my seat and penetrated the tip of his wand at the side of my neck.
"Don't move anyone or I would kill her." He shouted,
"What! Is that what I get to speak in favor of him?" I was shouting in my head.
Suddenly I felt all the whatsoever good feelings I had been holding for him damned to hell. How could he be so mean? I supported him and he was saying he was going to kill me. May be I was wrong in judging him after all. I saw no one moved just as Malfoy had instructed them because they feared he would harm me. Taking his opportunity, he got apparated with me and escaped.