AN: I actually like this less now that the entire thing has been written, and even considered not uploading it. However, I promised it, so here it is. This is a non-canon (non-fanon?) chapter that explores the question of "what if Harry had been sentenced guilty because Mrs Figg's testimony wasn't there?" If you read canon, you'll find that her testimony was all over the place, so it likely mattered little, but her not being present with the dementors (because there were no guards, so she wasn't out there to try to find the guard that had left while on duty) DID make for a change compared to canon. Most of this was written two months back, basically when I was at this point chronologically in my writing (it has never been my intention to make this canon though), but the last few hundred words were written just yesterday after I finished the epilogue.
Bonus: A Different Trial
"The accused has been judged guilty of all charges. The punishment will be as follows: The accused will be expelled from the Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, and his wand will be snapped. Aurors, please confiscate the wand."
"Cornelius," Dumbledore began, but Tess was not as patient.
Get ready to bolt for the door.
Harry locked his eyes on said door, and a second later Dumbledore was interrupted by a series of loud bangs and thick black smoke obscuring the room, causing everyone to shout out in surprise and confusion. Immediately, Harry leapt out of his chair and ran, though he could barely see where he placed his feet. By the time he was halfway, wind blew left and right from various wizards and witches trying to clear the smoke. Still, he continued, and a wizard Harry didn't recognize got a clear view and shot a stunner at him, only to be absorbed by a shield.
Thanks! Harry exclaimed as he reached the door, which was guarded by two Aurors that got banished away, and from behind him a blasting curse shot past Harry and crashed through the door. He leapt over the rubble and continued on.
Left! Straight! Through that door!
Harry followed, and moments after he burst through the door it closed behind him and several locking charms were applied.
"Let's get out quickly," the disembodied voice of Tess said. Harry followed her lead through mental conversation, and several minutes later they stood on the streets of London, where she took off the Cloak.
"What now?" he asked. "If you'd bring me back to Grimmauld Place there's no way I could get away with not telling them about you."
"I know," Tess said. "So I'm taking you along to Riddle Manor and then I'll send Dumbledore a letter. Ever side-along Apparated before?"
Harry shook his head.
"Prepare yourself then, it's not the most pleasant feeling."
Tess grabbed his arm, and suddenly Harry felt as if he got squeezed through a narrow rubber tube, leaving him slightly nauseous when they arrived in front of a manor several seconds later.
"I'll show you around quickly, and then you can tell Cedric what happened while I'm writing the letter. We'll see what we do after that."
Albus Dumbledore hastily Apparated to Grimmauld Place - after he had abundantly shown he had nothing to do with Harry's escape, of course. In fact, he was just as worried, if not more. He walked into the kitchen to find all the Weasleys, Hermione and Sirius waiting. Currently, no other Order members seemed to be around. Looks of shock appeared upon their faces when they saw his expression.
"What happened?" Sirius asked, craning his neck to see if Harry was behind Albus.
"I'm afraid I have to admit I don't know," Albus said. "Harry was convicted, but before I had the chance to reason with Cornelius or the Aurors had the chance to confiscate his wand, someone cast several smoke spells to obscure the room. I could not see much, but from what I did see, Harry seems to have used the distraction to get out of the courtroom. Whoever cast the smoke spells also cleared the path for him, and when I tried to follow him I couldn't because the next door had been shut with several locking charms. I feel confident in saying that Harry's wand hasn't been taken from him, and that he was ready for this, but other than that I don't know where he is."
A multitude of distressed faces looked back at him.
"Do you have any idea who could have done this?" Sirius asked.
Albus shook his head. "I believe that whoever did this was hidden under an invisibility cloak, perhaps even Harry's own Cloak, but he or she must also have been an experienced wizard or witch. In all honesty, the only non-Order member I can think of who would be able to cast so quickly and precisely is Voldemort, and that assumption would be ridiculous for various different reasons. First, she would not risk herself in the Ministry at this point, second, she obviously wouldn't protect Harry, and third, she would never give herself away like this after the Ministry is denying her return so completely."
"So we do not know who this mystery witch or wizard is?" Molly asked.
Albus shook his head and was about to speak when an owl flew in through the open window and dropped a letter in his lap. Quickly, he opened it and read.
"To Albus Dumbledore (and the Order),
"Harry is safe." A series of relieved sighs went through the room. "I figured I should get that out of the way first, as it is no doubt your foremost concern. He is currently hidden away from the Ministry under a set of protective wards until the sentence can be reversed.
"However, the need to get him away from the Ministry in itself presents several problems. Because of this, I would like to meet with you and you alone as soon as possible, preferably today. Send me an owl with your preferred time and place. Please do everything in your power to make sure knowledge of this meeting does not extend beyond the Order. In particular, it is imperative no Death Eater hears about this."
Albus read the signed name and his breath hitched in his throat.
"What is it?" Molly prodded.
"It is signed… It is signed Tess Riddle, which is Voldemort's birth name."
"What?" Sirius exclaimed, dashing around the table to look over Albus' shoulder. The rest of the audience seemed to stunned to say anything.
"Why this name?" Sirius eventually asked.
"That is what I find myself wondering about as well," Albus said. "She has hated the name ever since she was a child herself. To suddenly use it now seems to make no sense. Just like it makes no sense for her to go into the Ministry, independent of the circumstances."
"What do we do?" Molly asked.
"I will accept her proposal," Albus said. He held up his hand to stop the storm of protest. "I will go to the location of the meeting as soon as I send the owl to make sure she will not be able to set up a trap, and I can handle her if she is alone. Right now, she has Harry, and seems to have control over him considering the events at the Ministry, and with this she has raised more questions than I can ignore. With her letting me choose the location and time of the meeting, she implies that she wants to talk, as she is well aware she cannot defeat me in a duel. Sirius, could you get me a quill?"
Molly tried to protest, but a hand from Albus stopped her. He turned the parchment around, accepted Sirius' quill and penned a reply.
Meet me as soon as you receive this letter. I have charmed it as a portkey, the activation word is 'trial'.
He pulled out his wand and tapped the parchment, "portus," then returned the parchment to the owl.
"I will be going immediately. We will have an Order meeting this evening, make sure everyone is here, Molly, Sirius."
He rushed out the door and Apparated to the empty rural road the portkey would deliver Voldemort to. Then, he sat down on a conjured chair and waited.
It took a shorter amount of time than he had expected before two people materialized some one hundred meters away. Albus stood, vanished his chair, then cast a Sonorus on his throat.
"Who is with you?"
"Harry," Voldemort called back.
Albus canceled the charm and walked forward, meeting the two others at the halfway point. Immediately, he registered two surprises. First, Harry did not seem worried or uncomfortable at all. And second…
"Why the glamour?"
Harry snorted. "Because she's afraid I won't like her anymore otherwise." He leaned in and kissed Voldemort on the cheek, leaving Albus completely speechless.
"Let's sit down, shall we?" Voldemort said in a conversational tone as she conjured a loveseat behind her and Harry on which they sat down comfortably and close enough that they were touching each other.
Shaking off his confusion, Albus conjured his standard stuffed armchair opposite her – or them, it seemed it was. He wasn't entirely sure how to continue, so he decided to go with the simple and straightforward.
"What do you want?"
"Right now? To have that ridiculous sentence overturned so Harry doesn't need to spend his days holed up somewhere. Like the last two weeks." She gave him a pointed glare.
Albus spluttered indignantly. "What are you playing at? No, wait." He held up a hand. "Harry, are you alright?"
"As alright as one can be while on the run from the Ministry," he replied. He snorted. "And considering they're currently defaming me for 'spreading lies about the return of Voldemort', I don't feel the need to be worried, as Tess can prove them all wrong whenever is convenient."
Albus raised an eyebrow at the casual – and clearly permitted – use of her real name.
"And just why was Tess in the Ministry during your trial?"
She – again – didn't respond to the use of her birth name, to Albus' continued surprise. It had always been the perfect way to rile her up, make her think emotionally rather than rationally. "Because I'm not going to risk Harry losing his wand and place at Hogwarts over a farce," she said. "Even if it throws a wrench in my plans."
Harry pulled her close to give her a kiss on the top of her head, the perfect picture of a couple in love, and Albus found himself still absolutely clueless of the situation. Harry could resist the imperius, didn't seem to be suffering from memory loss or compulsions, and couldn't have been exposed to love potions these last two weeks.
"What is going on?" he finally said.
Voldemort sent him a smile. "Now we're getting somewhere. Where should I start?"
"How about you start with what you did to Harry?"
She snorted. "What I did to him? Try 'what Harry did to me', instead."
"I'm innocent!" Harry protested before she could continue, raising his hands in a mock defensive gesture. Clearly, he knew what she was talking about, though Albus was still absolutely clueless.
"What do you mean?"
Harry snorted. "Miss Riddle here" – he poked her in her side, causing her to yelp – "thought she could seduce me, but then continued to fall hopelessly in love with me instead because apparently I'm too noble to resist. Or something."
"Not how I would have put it," Voldemort said, appearing a little put out at being poked (not an emotion Albus had ever expected to see on her face), "but I suppose that is more or less an accurate summary."
"And… when did this happen?"
"Last month," Harry answered casually.
But Severus had ensured him Voldemort had no interest in Harry at present. He must have been deceived by her, then. Even still, she'd first have had to find Harry, then find out there were guards there, then mislead Severus until the guards were removed, and then get close to Harry – which he'd have to somehow allow – and gain his trust and, it appeared, perhaps even his heart. In a single month.
Voldemort smirked. "How what?"
"How… everything. In a single month."
She smirked again. "It helps that I left a better impression on Harry that evening of the third task than you believe."
"What do you mean with that?" Albus asked sharply.
"Do you know what I believe to be the most useful – and, as it happens, least despicable – purpose of the imperius curse?"
"No," Albus said after a few seconds.
"To use it on a willing target who is able to throw off the curse if they do not condone the actions taken," Voldemort said. "It allows for unparalleled teamwork, for example, but it can also turn someone into a perfect liar if they would rather keep the truth a secret."
"I fail to see where you are going with this," Albus said.
She raised her eyebrow. "Come, think a little."
It took a few seconds for Albus to connect the dots. "Harry was under your imperius when he told me of the events after the third task?"
"Exactly," Voldemort said. "That entire story you heard? Forget it, didn't happen. About the only truth in there is the ritual of my resurrection."
"I doubt I'd have figured out the Cup was a return portkey," Harry muttered. "I don't even see why it would have been one at all if the situation had been different."
"Must I remind you that you figured out how to kill a basilisk at age twelve? Not to mention you then went on to figure out how to destroy a horcrux? Even I didn't know for certain basilisk venom could destroy them."
Albus was, again, struck speechless as Voldemort casually mentioned what he thought was her deepest secret – not to mention that she was, apparently, aware of the events in the Chamber of Secrets.
Voldemort whispered something to Harry that Albus could not make out, to which he replied in his own whisper – again too soft to make out – followed by a quick kiss on her lips. When they turned back towards Albus, they wore almost identical smirks.
"So what did happen?" Albus asked, returning to the subject of the resurrection.
"We talked," Harry replied. "Or rather, Tess talked and we listened, for the most part."
"We? Who was with you?"
Albus didn't know what to say. Again.
"Remember what I said about the resurrection ritual being the only truth of the story?" Voldemort said. "Cedric's still alive. He's currently in Riddle Manor studying."
"Harry brought his body back with him," Albus replied sharply.
"A transfiguration," Voldemort corrected, "meant to fake his death, as allowing him to return would be suspicious at least. But as much fun as it is to see you at a loss for words every ten seconds, we really should get to the heart of the matter. From what Harry told me about the Chamber and the extensive research you've undoubtedly performed to try and figure out how I obtained immortality, I'm assuming you know I have made several horcruxes, correct?"
Albus nodded. No use hiding he had those suspicions when she just confirmed it anyway.
"And did you know creating a horcrux causes insanity?" she continued.
"I… had my suspicions," Albus said.
Voldemort laughed. "Yes, I suppose you did. But what you most likely didn't know – if only because you would have sought me out earlier if you knew – and what I didn't know either, is that if your body dies while you have a horcrux, you regain the sanity you previously lost. Can you imagine what I felt like, after that happened to me?"
Harry put his arm around her while Albus thought back to everything Voldemort had done, and imagined a sudden return to sanity after taking those actions…
"If you are speaking the truth, I am very sorry for asking you this question, but can you prove this?"
"I've experienced it," Harry spoke up, softly. "When she was teaching me occlumency I accidentally pushed back into her mind and came across the memory."
Albus nodded slowly. "If I may ask, why were you teaching Harry occlumency?"
"Before I went to Godric's Hollow that evening, I had prepared another horcrux ritual, the last I was planning to perform. I suspect that when my body was destroyed, the soulpiece got loose and embedded itself in Harry instead, giving us a mental connection. I figured Harry should be able to keep me out if he so wanted, so I've been visiting him every day at Privet Drive to teach him."
That was… surprisingly altruistic, even for the Tess Riddle he had known before she made her first horcrux.
"And you had no other reasons?"
"Well, as mentioned earlier, I did try to seduce Harry, but that didn't really happen as intended, even if the end result is much the same."
"And what was your reasoning for that?"
She raised an eyebrow. "Don't tell me you don't know how to regain a human appearance when disfigured from making horcruxes."
"And why Harry?" Did she perhaps intend to combat the prophecy with that? After all, the part that she knew did not state that they would fight, only that he had the power to vanquish her.
"Well, first of all it would allow me to both find a lover and teach Harry occlumency, but on top of that having Harry's trust – not to mention, once again, a way to communicate with him – would go a long way towards achieving my new goals."
Ah. "Are those new goals the reason you mislead me last June?"
"Yes. I felt I owed this country a debt after… everything, and intended to eradicate the blood purist movement in an attempt to repay it. My plan was to put the Death Eaters in positions where they were likely to be killed, while protecting their supposed victims, as well as acting out a few carefully chosen moments of rage to clear out everyone in the room at those moments. I kept you in the dark because I assumed – and still assume – that you wouldn't condone such a course of action."
"And my knowledge of your motives matters because…?"
"Because you would stop me. I am correct in that, am I not?"
"To save lives? Yes, I would. Even if they are the lives of Death Eaters."
"Then there is your answer. Of course, with the Ministry sentencing Harry guilty for saving his own life and that of the cousin he didn't even like, we'll have to change our plans a bit. A lot."
"And what is it you're thinking of?"
"Legal action seems the logical choice, but I am uncertain if even my testimony is enough to get people like Lucius Malfoy behind bars, and I have to admit I'm not looking forward to a potential trial of my own. If I am sentenced guilty despite my defense that I cannot be held responsible for actions taken while insane, I would have to kill myself and then resurrect myself again, which is much more trouble than I want to go through."
Albus peered at her over his glasses. "If you truly regret your actions, then why do you still have your horcruxes?"
Voldemort looked confused. "What do you mean?"
"Regret is the only way to reverse the creation of a horcrux," Albus summarized.
"I could argue you on that, but we have better things to do. I most certainly regret making my horcruxes, because of what I had to do, but now that I have them, I see no reason to get rid of them; it's not like it would return the people I killed to life or anything like that."
"Is simply restoring your soul not reason enough?"
"I would gladly discuss the details of the soul and soul magic with you some other time, but let's stay on topic for now, shall we?" She looked at Harry. "Besides, Harry might fall asleep otherwise."
"Hey! I wouldn't do that."
"You'd be surprised how boring and technical things like soul magic can get." She placed a kiss on his cheek.
Albus was once again surprised at how casually they interacted. He mentally shook himself and returned to the matter at hand.
"What do you propose?"
"In rough terms, reinstating your power in the Ministry by showing Fudge was the crazy one, then getting trials for all Death Eaters who went free and making absolutely damn sure they end up in Azkaban. Oh, and getting Bellatrix out of Azkaban, she only did what she did because I convinced her to make a horcrux as well." Harry poked her in the ribs again. "And getting Harry's sentence overturned, of course. That entire trial was a farce if I've ever seen one."
"Will Harry be allowed to come with me?"
"That would be the best option. Our connection allows for extremely fast communication, much better than owls. I do think we'll want to meet up a few times, however." Harry nodded at that.
"I believe it is time for him and me to leave then, to inform the Order of these… developments."
"Make certain to include Severus too when discussing this," Voldemort said, standing. "He's already aware of everything." She apparated away, leaving Albus behind dumbfounded.
"Shall we go, professor?"