"Okay, let's get started. Ahem, this is the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures hearing for the twentieth of April, 1994, regarding the hippogriff known as Buckbeak, called at the request of Lucius Malfoy. Audrey Hinklepuff is the chair and William Peapod is the scribe. For the record, it is ten o'clock in the morning and we are in Meeting Room six."
Meeting Room six was seldom used and very small. Audrey Hinklepuff was an elderly witch in ordinary work robes and was sitting behind a table at the side of the room farthest from the door, alongside another witch and a wizard. Aside from a tiny, unoccupied audience section, the only other features of the room were two sets of tables and chairs. One was occupied by the calm and elegant Lucius Malfoy, wearing the finest wizarding robes and the other by the huge and visibly nervous Rubeus Hagrid, in his moleskin suit.
"The Chair would like to thank Wilhelmina Grubbly-plank," Madam Hinklepuff nodded to the younger witch on her left, who smiled appreciatively, "for taking the time to help advise this committee. The Chair also thanks Walden Macnair for his attendance." The wizard on her right grunted in response.
"Lucius Malfoy has requested this meeting and has also requested that he be able to give evidence, which has been granted. Is there anything you would like to say before we proceed, Mister Malfoy?"
Malfoy rose to his feet in a smooth motion.
"Only to thank the members of this committee for taking the time to hear my complaint," he said confidently, his voice filling the small room very easily.
"The committee has also granted Rubeus Hagrid the opportunity to present evidence. Mister Hagrid," Hagrid gave a start at being addressed, "is there anything you'd like to say at this stage?"
Hagrid rose to his feet, knocking the table forwards as he did so, causing a loud screeching noise. "Uhh… no," he said.
"Very well then, let's…"
"Advocate for Professor Hagrid, Hermione Jean Granger!"
All eyes swivelled to the young girl, wearing Hogwarts robes, as she marched through the doors and stood beside Hagrid, her small stature in plain contrast to Hagrid's size, even when he was sat down.
"I'm sorry, Miss… Granger?" Madam Hinklepuff said with a touch of surprise. "But, I was not aware that you had requested to give evidence in this hearing." There was a definite undercurrent of disapproval in her voice.
"I apologise for failing to contact you earlier, Madam Chairwoman, but circumstances beyond my control have prevented me from contacting you before now."
"Shouldn't you be in school, little girl?" Macnair asked.
"I have permission from both my parents and my headmaster to be here, sir," she replied calmly.
It was then that Malfoy heard a shuffling noise behind him and he did a double-take when he saw Albus Dumbledore sitting in the audience section. Dumbledore gave him a little wave.
"A point of order, madam," Malfoy said, turning back to the panel in front of him. "I find it highly unlikely that this young… witch… is a qualified advocate at the age of thirteen."
"Fourteen, actually," Hermione interjected.
"Regardless," Malfoy continued, "without proper standing, she cannot be a part of these proceedings."
Madam Hinklepuff gave Hermione a severe look.
"Well, Miss Granger?"
"I actually have a special dispensation to act as an advocate in this matter," she said.
"Who could possibly have given you a special dispensation?" Malfoy asked incredulously.
"Hi," Dumbledore said from behind him.
"The Chief Warlock has the authority to appoint advocates and has graciously done so in this case," Hermione said, reaching over and handing a sheet of parchment to Madam Hinklepuff. The witch examined the parchment critically and glanced at Dumbledore, who winked at her. "And as such, I can speak on Professor Hagrid's behalf without prior notification."
"Very well, Miss Granger. Please take a chair from the audience section and sit next to Mister Hagrid."
Dumbledore made a big show of levitating a chair over for the young witch and she patted Hagrid on the hand when she had sat down. Hagrid was crying tears of joy for the unexpected support.
"Very well, let's begin. Mister Hagrid, would you like to begin."
Hermione sprang to her feet.
"Thank you, Madam. I call Professor Rubeus Hagrid as a witness," Hermione declared.
"Do you understand, Mister Hagrid," Madam Hinklepuff said, "that while this is not a court, we do require you to tell the truth here?"
"Thank you. Ask away, Miss Granger."
"Professor Hagrid," Hermione said, after positioning herself between Hagrid's and the panel's tables, so that she could face them both. "What is your current job title?"
"Umm, I'm a professor at Hogwarts."
"Oh what subject?"
"Uhh, Care of magical Creatures." Hagrid mopped his brow with a fluffy handkerchief.
"It's okay, Hagrid," Hermione whispered to him. "You're doing great."
He smiled at her and she beamed in response.
"What are your other duties at Hogwarts?"
"I'm also the gamekeeper an' the Keeper of the Keys."
"And since when have you been the gamekeeper?"
"Well, since 1962, but I started as the assistan' gamekeeper back in 1943."
"Fifty-one years? So you must have a lot of experience with magical creatures? And with those at Hogwarts especially."
"Well, yeah. A bit, ah guess."
"Come now, Professor, this isn't the place for modesty. Are there any other magical creature reserves in Britain as large as the one at Hogwarts?"
"Ooh, I dunno… Maybe the Romanian Dragon Reserve is."
"So you manage one of the largest magical creature reserves in Europe, correct."
"Well, when yeh put it tha' way…"
"And you're also a published academic, correct?"
"Your articles for Magical Menagerie Monthly," Hermione clarified.
"Oh, yeah. Well, I dunno if I'd call 'em 'academic'," Hagrid said.
"In fact, Newt Scamander described your article on thestral rearing 'inspired' and 'revolutionary', did he not?"
"I've always liked tha' Mister Scamander bloke," Hagrid said, smiling.
"Oh, you do, do you?" Hermione asked, with a glint in her eye. "Very interesting. Anyway, let's move on from talking about your expertise with magical creatures and let's talk about Hippogriffs. Are Hippogriffs dangerous animals?"
"Oh, no," Hagrid said enthusiastically. "They wouldn' 'urt a fly."
Malfoy scoffed from his seat and Hermione cleared her throat.
"Well, that is to say, they wouldn't attack unprovoked, correct, professor?"
"Oh, well, I mean, a dog will bite if yeh bait 'im, right?"
"I see. So, Hippogriffs aren't dangerous if handled correctly?"
Hermione retrieved a book from her bag and handed it to Hagrid.
"What book is that, Professor?"
Hagrid examined the book in his large hands.
"Oh, it's ol' New' Scamander's book."
"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, correct?"
"A book that all Hogwarts students have from their first year?"
"Would you mind turning to the marked page and reading the highlighted section?"
Hagrid flipped through the book with his massive fingers and found the correct page.
"'Alf 'orse, 'alf eagle creatures, immensely proud," he read.
"What reaction would you expect if someone were to insult a hippogriff from directly in front of it?"
Hagrid visibly qualied.
"Oh no, they wouldn' like tha'. No, they wouldn'."
"And on the morning of September the fifth, last year, did you inform your students, including Draco Malfoy, that Hippogriffs are proud creatures?"
"Tha' I did, yep."
"Did you instruct Draco Malfoy to insult Buckbeak?"
"Absolutely not!" Hagrid exclaimed, his anger pushing past his nervousness for a moment. "If I had seen 'im, I would've stopped 'im."
"Ah, so Draco Malfoy was interacting with Buckbeak behind you?"
"No further questions," Hermione said to Madam Hinklepuff, before returning to her seat next to Hagrid. She squeezed Hagrid's hand tightly and he patted her on the back, almost knocking her to the floor.
"Mister Malfoy," Hinklepuff said. "Do you have any questions of your own?"
Lucius Malfoy was perturbed. He had expected Hagrid to mumble his way through a statement, probably something that Dumbledore had written for him, and then Lucius could smoothly persuade the panel to do what he wanted. Not that they would want to risk having the Minister interfere on his behalf. Macnair would always side with him, of course, but Hinklepuff was a stickler for following the rules and this Grubbly-Plank woman was a complete unknown. In any case, it probably didn't matter. Hogwarts and Hagrid himself had enough skeletons in their closets in order to get them discredited.
"Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. Yes I do," he said smoothly, rising from his seat.
"Point of order!" The girl practically shouted and Lucius had to stop himself from glaring at her.
"Miss Granger," Madam Hinklepuff said in surprise. "Mister Malfoy has said one word. What could you possibly be objecting to?"
"As the Care of Magical Creatures professor, he should be referred to as Professor Hagrid."
Now Lucius really did glare at her. The nerve of the child!
"Miss Granger does have a point, Mister Malfoy," Hinklepuff said.
Lucius seethed, but clamped down hard on his anger.
"Madam!" Granger protested.
Hinklepuff held up her hand to waylay her objection.
"Mister Malfoy, you will refer to the witness as Professor Hagrid," she said sternly.
"This isn't the Wizengamot," Lucius spat out. "You can't find me in contempt."
"No, but I can eject you from this hearing and summarily find against you. Shall we proceed like that, or will you abide by the most basic level of politeness?"
Malfoy looked as if he was being forced to eat a particularly sour lemon, but after a moment turned to Hagrid again.
"Professor Hagrid…" he said, through gritted teeth. "For how long have you been a Hogwarts professor?"
Hagrid was suddenly nervous at being questioned by Lucius Malfoy directly.
"Since las' September," he replied.
"Less than a year?" Malfoy said, with a significant look towards the panel. "And what was your grade on your Care of Magical Creatures N.E.W.T.?"
"Uhh, I haven' got one."
"I see. Well, how about on your O.W.L.?"
"Uhh, I haven' got one of them, either."
Hermione stood up again.
"Madam, I fail to see how Professor Hagrid's qualifications have any bearing on the case of Buckbeak. We've already shown how knowledgeable and experienced Professor Hagrid is. The professor's employment is a matter for Hogwarts, not this committee."
But Malfoy was ready for her.
"I am coming to a point, madam," he said, smiling maliciously. "Professor Hagrid has a history regarding dangerous creatures."
Hermione frowned, but sat down again as Madam Hinklepuff gestured for Malfoy to continue.
"In fact, Professor, you don't have any qualifications because you were expelled in 1943, weren't you?"
Now Hagrid was visibly sweating.
"And for what offence were you expelled?"
"Aragog never 'urt anybody!" Hagrid protested hotly.
"And just what manner of creature is this… Aragog?" Malfoy pressed.
"'E was jus' a baby," Hagrid said weakly.
"A baby what?" Hinklepuff demanded sternly.
Hagrid looked to Hermione for support, but all she could do was smile sadly and nod. Defeated, Hagrid turned back to the room at large.
"An acromantula," he said.
"An acromantula!?" Grubbly-Plank cried. "At Hogwarts?! Wasn't that the year that that girl died?"
"Tha' wasn' Aragog! Tha' was the Basilisk!"
"There's a basilisk at Hogwarts!?" Grubbly-Plank said with even more alarm.
"In the interests of preventing a panic," Dumbledore said, rising to his feet, "I would like to make clear that the acromantula in question did not harm any students and escaped to the Forbidden Forest in 1943 and that the basilisk, a weapon of Lord Voldemort…" there were flinches all around. "...has since been destroyed."
"Well, yes. Thank you, headmaster," Hinklepuff said, shell shocked at the surprising revelation.
"If I may?" Malfoy asked and when there were no more interruptions, he turned to Hagrid again. "So, you thought it was safe to keep an acromantula in the castle. Is it your same disregard for safety that made you bring a dangerous Hippogriff in front of a class of thirteen-year-olds?"
"Now, that's no' fair," said Hagrid. "'Ippogriffs 'ave always been on the third years' curriculum. In fac' I remember yer lessons with the 'ippogriffs under ol' Professor Kettleburn, in yer third year, Malfoy."
Malfoy blinked, but he quickly rallied.
"None of those Hippogriffs attacked us," he said.
"I bet they would've if yeh'd insulted 'em," challenged Hagrid.
Hermione stood up.
"Again, the issue here is if Buckbeak is a danger to those around him. If Mister Malfoy has an issue with the curriculum or Professor Hagrid's teaching style, he is free to take it up with Headmaster Dumbledore."
At that, they all looked over at Dumbledore, who had at some point produced a ball of wool and a pair of knitting needles and was happily clicking away. At hearing his name, he looked up and smiled at them all.
"Very well," Malfoy said, scowling. "How strong is a hippogriff, professor?"
"Oh, er. Pretty strong, yeah."
"Stronger than an ordinary horse?"
"Ah, so certainly stronger than an adult man?"
Hagrid almost smirked at the idea.
"Uh, yeah, by quite a bit."
"So, much stronger than a thirteen-year-old, then?"
Now Hagrid could see the trap and he hesitated for a moment.
"Well?" Malfoy demanded.
"Yeah, stronger than a boy, too." Hagrid admitted.
"And what would have happened if, instead of striking my son's arm, the hippogriff had struck his chest or his head?"
Now Hagrid's panic was clear to see.
"Uhh… I mean…"
"Are you asking Hagrid to provide a medical opinion?" Hermione asked, jumping to Hagrid's rescue.
"Nevermind," Malfoy said, with a smirk. "No further questions."
"Thank you, professor," Hinklepuff said. "Would you like to call any additional witnesses?"
Hermione stood, while Hagrid wiped his brow in relief.
"We call Mister Harry Potter," she said.
"What?!" Malfoy exclaimed and he turned to see the blasted boy walk through the doors and sit down in another chair provided by Dumbledore.
"Now, Mister Potter," Hermione began. "Would you like to explain, in your own words, the events of the lesson in question?"
But before he could respond, Hinklepuff was rapping her knuckles against her desk. This jolted William Peapod, the scribe, out of his stupefied expression at seeing the real Harry Potter in the flesh. He quickly began scratching at his parchment again, his head bent down so that nobody could see his rapidly growing blush.
"Please proceed, Mister Potter," Hinklepuff said.
"Uh, yeah. Thanks," he said.
And so, Harry talked his way through what was clearly a prepared description of his encounter with Buckbeak, including a flight across the grounds, of all things.
"And at any point did you feel in danger of death or grievous injury," Hermione asked.
"Not with Hagrid there," Harry said, smiling at his oldest friend, causing Hagrid to beam back at him, tears in his eyes.
"And looking back, after Draco Malfoy had been injured, did you realise that you had been in serious danger and that you simply hadn't realised it?"
Harry scoffed. "The only reason that Malfoy… Draco Malfoy, that is, was hurt, was because he was being an idiot," he said.
"Oh? And just how was Draco Malfoy 'being an idiot'?" she said, with a glance towards Lucius.
"He walked straight up to Buckbeak and said 'you're not dangerous, you great, ugly brute."
Everyone turned to look at Hagrid in surprise at his exclamation and he blushed.
"Sorry," he said quietly.
"No further questions," Hermione said.
"What is your relationship with my son?" Malfoy asked.
Harry raised his eyebrows.
"Well, we're not friends."
"In fact, you're quite antagonistic to each other, correct?"
"Uhh, Hermione! What does antagonistic mean?" He whispered.
"That you're adversarial to one another!" Hermione whispered back.
"Oh, then yes, I suppose that's fair," Harry said at normal volume again.
Malfoy was fuming. "So, you thought it would be fun to come here and try to make him look bad? And that you'd like to make trouble for his father?"
"I've not lied, if that's what you're getting at," Harry said coldly.
"Uh huh. And you said that you felt safe flying on the hippogriff. Are you an expert on Hippogriffs?"
"How about magical creatures generally?"
"Well, I did deal with a basilisk last year," Harry said coolly, staring directly at Malfoy, challenging him with his eyes.
"You did?!" Peapod shouted, before Madam Hinklepuff's knuckle rapping sent him back to his parchment.
"Well, umm. No further questions," Malfoy said, quickly sitting down.
"Thank you, Mister Potter. Would you like to take a seat next to your headmaster. Miss Granger?"
"Ronald Weasley!" Hermione called.
"For goodness sake," Malfoy said, as Ron entered the room. "Just how many children are we expected to hear from?"
"Can I presume, Miss Granger, that Mister Weasley is going to give very similar testimony as Mister Potter did? Minus riding the hippogriff, of course."
"...yes," Hermione said after a moment's pause.
"And, by chance, do you have even more witnesses who want to give similar testimony?"
"Then you don't mind if we skip them and take their testimony for granted? In the interest of saving time, naturally."
Hermione looked like she very much minded this suggestion, but after sharing a look with Professor Dumbledore, who nodded at her, she grumbled out her acquiescence.
At that, Professor Dumbledore stood, opened the door and called out to the hallway beyond.
"Thank you everyone," he said jovially, "but your services will no longer be required today. If you follow Professor McGonagall, she can take you back to the castle."
There was a great noise of the stomping of feet and the murmur of indistinct conversation before Dumbledore closed the door again. Ron sat down next to Harry.
"Did she invite everyone who was in that lesson?" Grubbly-Plank asked.
"Only those Gryffindors," Hermione answered. "But I also invited every other student who had positively interacted with Buckbeak during lessons."
"Do you have any more witnesses, Miss Granger?"
Hermione straightened her back and called out confidently.
"I call Dobby the House Elf!"
"He used to be my elf! This is clearly an attempt to embarrass me!" Malfoy complained.
Dobby was currently sat next to Harry, Ron and Dumbledore, fascinated by the headmaster's knitting. Hermione and Malfoy were arguing quietly before Madam Hinklepuff.
"He's acting as a character witness for Draco Malfoy," Hermione said. "I want to show how he has a history of anti-creature bigotry and if I can show that, then it helps to prove that Draco provoked the incident."
"Mister Malfoy?" Madam Hinklepuff looked at him.
Malfoy debated internally, but when it seemed clear that Madam Hinklepuff was going to allow it, he decided to aim for damage control.
"I want the questions she's going to ask written down and approved first," he said.
"That's fine by me," Hermione said with a sickly-sweet smile.
"Dobby the House Elf," Madam Hinklepuff called a few minutes later. Dobby suddenly dropped the knitting needles and wool that Dumbledore had conjured for him and looked over. "Sit there," she said, pointing to the witness chair in the middle of the room. "Now listen carefully, elf. These humans are going to ask you some questions and you are going to answer them truthfully, is that understood?"
Dobby looked between the stern face of Madam Hinklepuff, the almost disgusted face of Macnair and the look of barely simmering rage that he knew so well, on Malfoy's face. "D...Dobby understands, madam," he said, fidgeting nervously on the too-big chair.
Hermione walked towards him, quickly banishing all of her anger at how Dobby was being treated from her expression.
"Hello, Dobby. My name is Hermione," she said, lowering herself to her knees so that she was on Dobby's eye level. Malfoy rolled his eyes behind her back at the gesture. "I'm a friend of Harry Potter. It's just a few questions and then you're finished. Okay?"
Dobby nodded once, his big eyes staring at Hermione.
"Can you tell us how long you have known Draco Malfoy?"
"Dobby had known young master Draco for thirteen years, great Miss Hermione, ma'am."
"From the day he was born until you left the Malfoy house?"
"As you say, Miss Hermione, ma'am, that's right."
"And can you tell us, Dobby, in all that time, did Draco ever insult you?"
"Oh yes, Miss Hermione, ma'am, everyday, miss, once he could talk."
"Were these insults part of a good natured joke between friends and equals?"
"Oh no. Not at all miss. Dobby was not young master Draco's equal! His insults were… very cruel. He…" and his voice dropped to a whisper, "he even insulted Dobby's ears, miss." Dobby's eyes were brimming over with unspoiled tears.
Hermione looked significantly at Madam Hinklepuff.
"And did he ever order you to punish yourself?"
"Thank you, Dobby. You were great!" Hermione said with exaggerated cheer.
As she sat back down, Malfoy rose to his feet, towering over the diminutive House Elf. He opened his mouth to speak, but then seemed to think better of it and turned towards the three officials.
"Actually, as a point of order, what regulations does the DRCMC have regarding, ahem, free elves?"
Madam Hinklepuff considered this for a moment.
"I… actually don't know. I've not been aware of another free elf during my time in the department. There may not be any specific regulations."
"Does that seem like an oversight to you?" Malfoy asked.
"Perhaps, but, Mister Malfoy, that is not relevant to today's hearing. If you would proceed with your questions."
Malfoy acknowledged her with a nod of his head and turned to Dobby, smirking maliciously. Dobby quailed under the sudden scrutiny and began twisting his ears nervously.
"Mister Dobby," Dumbledore called from the back of the room. "When you are finished today, how would you like to come and work at Hogwarts for me? I'm happy to offer good wages, plus room and board."
"Dobby would like that very much, Professor Headmaster, sir."
Dobby looked back up at Malfoy with renewed confidence in his eyes.
"Headmaster, please. You must stop interrupting this hearing," Hinklepuff pleaded.
Dumbledore smiled at her and then mimed zipping his mouth shut.
Malfoy now seemed to have transitioned from angry to apoplectic, but took a deep breath and fixed Dobby with a stare.
"My question is simple, Dobby. Can you show us any marks from these supposed punishments?"
"Marks, Mr No-longer-master Malfoy?"
"Scars, burn marks, missing teeth, that kind of thing?"
"No, sir," Dobby shook his head, his long ears flapping to and fro.
"Can you provide us with official documents of healing that you have received for these, ahem, daily punishments?"
"N… no, sir."
"Had you kept a diary where you recorded what punishments and insults were given to you?"
Dobby seemed close to tears again. "No," he said in a small voice.
"Oh? How convenient… I have no more questions for the elf," Malfoy said as he resumed his seat.
When he was dismissed, Dobby practically ran back to the audience area and burst into loud sobs, though a twitch from Dumbledore's wand silenced the noise and summoned him a large handkerchief.
"What's next, Miss Granger?" Malfoy asked sardonically, "a troupe of centaurs to foresee that the hippogriff isn't dangerous? Perhaps the creature in question itself? Do you fancy yourself a horse whisperer as well as a legal expert and a school girl?"
"That's quite enough Mister Malfoy, although I do hope we are approaching a conclusion, Miss Granger," Madam Hinklepuff said. "Also, I hope you know that we don't allow potentially dangerous beasts to be present during hearings. Not after that incident with the cockatrice…" Beside her, Grubbly-Plank shuddered.
"I was aware of that, Madam. In fact, I have just one more witness to call, Newt Scamander!"
The door opened to reveal an elderly wizard, though still quite youthful in appearance when compared to Albus Dumbledore, who entered the room and sat down in the witness chair. Malfoy narrowed his eyes at the new arrival, while Hagrid boggled at the appearance of the famous magizoologist.
"Mister Scamander, would you kindly give us an overview of your experience and expertise in magical creatures?" Hermione asked.
"Oh, for goodness sake," Malfoy muttered.
"I think, Miss Granger, that us panel members are familiar with Mister Scamander's expertise," Madam Hinklepuff said kindly. "Perhaps you should move on to your next question."
"Very well, Mister Scamander, are hippogriffs dangerous creatures?"
"Oh, certainly. Very strong, sharp talons, prideful and quick to anger. Yes, they are dangerous creatures," Scamander replied, his voice surprisingly soft.
"Are they so dangerous that they can't be around people?"
"Oh, no. I didn't mean to suggest… Hippogriffs can be dangerous, but only when provoked. If dealt with properly, they are calm and can be surprisingly affectionate with people."
"Even with thirteen-year-olds?"
"Oh ho! I was riding Hippogriffs around the Hogwarts grounds when I was eleven!" Scamander smiled at the distant memory.
"If I recall, Newt," Dumbledore spoke up. "That was not with the permission of us professors, at the time. Although, you were, of course, uninjured."
Scamander blushed, a strange expression on the elderly wizard, but Madam Hinklepuff was not amused.
"My apologies, Audrey. Us teachers like to reminisce about our pupils of years past," he said. "I promise to not share any more memories of students past." Then he winked at her.
Hinklepuff's eyes widened slightly, then she coughed. "Well… see that you don't, please. Ahem, Miss Granger."
"Mister Scamander, you had an opportunity to examine Buckbeak the hippogriff this morning, correct?"
"And what was your impression of him?"
Scamander straightened in his chair. "Buckbeak is a male hippogriff, about three years old. He is in a healthy condition, a testament to the good care he receives," he nodded towards Hagrid, who blushed.
"Did he strike you as a particularly dangerous hippogriff?"
Scamander shook his head. "To the contrary, he was perfectly sociable with both myself and the other hippogriffs."
"And would you recommend calling him a 'great, ugly brute'?"
Scamander scoffed. "Not unless I had a Portkey to St. Mungos at hand."
"But surely," Hermione said in an exaggerated voice. "Surely that's proof that Buckbeak is a dangerous animal! If he might attack at a moment's notice."
"Hippogriffs can be dangerous, but not if approached properly. I would no sooner call a hippogriff a 'great, ugly brute', than I would take an axe to a bowtruckle's tree or start insulting Professor Dumbledore. Both bowtruckles and the headmaster are dangerous, but only if you provoke them."
"Never tickle a sleeping dragon, is that it?"
Scamander smiled. "Very apt, young lady, yes."
"So, would you conclude that it's not Buckbeak, who is dangerous, but the act of insulting him?"
"Yes, I think that sums it up very nicely."
"Thank you, Mister Scamander. I have no more questions."
Hermione sat down and Madam Hinklepuff turned to Malfoy.
Malfoy was deep in thought. Mentally reviewing his position, he did not like his chances at this point. He had expected to just come up against the half-giant oaf, but the girl had actually made an effective argument, loathe though he was to admit it. He was certain now that Hinklepuff wasn't going to side with him based on his reputation alone, but perhaps there was an alternative route to victory. If he can't convince the committee, then he merely needs to convince someone higher up the greasy pole of the Ministry bureaucracy. There are always those who will want his influence, contacts and money, he just needed time to find one.
"Mister Malfoy? Do you have any questions for Mister Scamander?"
"No," he said slowly, mentally cataloguing those whom he could count on to support him in the Ministry. "No questions."
"Then we thank you, Mister Scamander. Miss Granger?"
"No more witnesses, Madam," Hermione said, rising to her feet briefly, before sitting down again.
"In that case, it is your opportunity to call any witnesses, Mister Malfoy."
"I request a recess," said Malfoy.
Madam Hinklepuff pulled out a watch and examined it. "Okay, let's break for lunch, please be back here by two."
There was a sudden scraping of many chairs as everyone present stood up. The committee members left the room and Malfoy immediately accosted Dumbledore. Harry and Ron rushed over to praise Hermione and Hagrid went to introduce himself to Newt Scamander.
"You were brilliant, Hermione!" Ron said. "Half the time, Malfoy looked like he wanted to curse you!"
"Thanks," she said. "I was nervous at first, but actually doing it was so… exhilarating."
"Do you fancy our chances?" Harry asked.
"Well, far be it from me to count my owls before they're hatched, but I think so."
"I quite agree, Miss Granger," Dumbledore said, stepping over to join them. "And thank you for convincing me to allow this. I haven't had so much fun in the Ministry in years! Unfortunately, our lunch plans will have to be cancelled, as Mister Malfoy suddenly requires me to collect his son from school in order to give testimony, but not to worry, as your redoubtable Care of Magical Creatures professor can guard over you until I return."
"Righ' you are, Professor Dumbledore, sir," Hagrid said. Dumbledore clapped him on the elbow and made his way to the door, but Hermione cried out to him.
"Don't forget Dobby, professor!"
Dumbledore stopped mid-stride and spun to face Dobby, who had remained quietly sitting.
"Right you are, Miss Granger. I'm terribly sorry, my dear elf. Were it not for Miss Granger's reminder, I would have entirely missed you!"
"It's okay, sir. A good House Elf isn't meant to be seen."
"But then how would we know what wonderful work you do? Would you like to accompany me to Hogwarts now? We can discuss the terms of your employment on the way. I was thinking… ten Galleons a day and weekends off."
"Oh no, sir," Dobby said, seemingly mortified at the suggestion. "I couldn't possibly accept so much…"
Their conversation faded into the general background noise of the Ministry as they left the room.
"Do you know where we can get lunch?" Harry asked Hagrid.
"Uhh, no. I don' spend much time in the Ministry."
"There's a cafe on the ground floor," Ron suggested. "Dad used to treat us to lunch there when we visited him at work sometimes."
There were nods all around and they made their way to the hallway.
"Do you mind if I join you?" Scamander asked before they left. "I would like to continue my fascinating conversation with your Professor."
"Oh, of course," Hermione said. "I want to thank you properly for responding to my owl so quickly. I know there must be so many demands on your time."
"Nonsense! Saving a beautiful creature from an unjust and cruel punishment? Not to mention helping out a fellow lover of magical creatures?" He said, nodding to Hagrid. "There's no better use of my time."
They made their way down to the cafe and as they ate Scamander regaled them with many wonderful stories of his adventures, and misadventures, during his worldwide research into magizoology. In fact, Harry was enjoying himself so much, that he quite forgot that he was quite visible in the middle of a heavily trafficked wizarding area.
"Excuse me," said a witch's voice from behind him. "But I couldn't help noticing you from across the cafe" Harry slunk down in his seat, trying to make himself look small. "You wouldn't by chance be Newt Scamander, would you?"
"Oh ho, guilty as charged," Scamander said with a smile.
"Oh, I've always wanted to meet you," the witch gushed. "I love your work. Goodness, I shudder to think what my Care of Magical Creatures marks would have been without your book!"
Scamander laughed appreciatively.
"Sorry, I'll let you get back to your lunch, I just couldn't pass up an opportunity to say 'hello'." She glanced at the others at the table, her eyes sliding over Harry without acknowledgement. "Sorry for bothering you all."
When she was gone, Harry snorted. Scamander looked at him kindly.
"I don't envy you, Mister Potter," he said. "For at least I am famous for something that I did myself. Though if you do want advice, I find that wearing a big wizard's hat is almost as good as an Invisibility Cloak."
They passed away the rest of their break amiably. Harry and Ron played chess, while Scamander quizzed Hagrid about the various creatures currently at Hogwarts. Hermione wrote down questions that she wanted to ask Draco.
Shortly before two o'clock, they spied the headmaster leading a sullen Draco into the heart of the Ministry and they began to make their way back to Meeting Room Six.
"Okay, I make that two o'clock. Let's get back underway." Madam Hinklepuff looked at Malfoy. "Your witness?"
The elder Malfoy finished his huddled whispering with his son and rose from his chair. "I call Draco Malfoy."
Draco made his way to the witness chair, but before he could sit, the door opened and a witch walked in. She was very short and dressed entirely in pink. Hermione didn't recognise her, but she did see the triumphant glint in Malfoy's eyes and she narrowed her eyes in suspicion.
"Ah, Dolores," Dumbledore said, jumping to his feet. "Would you like to sit with your old professor?"
"Uh, no thank you," the witch, Dolores apparently, said. Instead she settled herself to the seat in the audience section furthest from Dumbledore. Dumbledore sat back down himself, but he also gave Hermione a serious look as he did so.
"Madam Umbridge," Hinklepuff said, with a tinge of nervousness. "Was there something I can help you with?"
"Oh, no. I just thought I might watch these proceedings, Audrey. You don't mind, do you?"
"Not at all," Hinklepuff said woodenly, before gathering herself and gesturing to Malfoy.
"Now Draco, I know this must be difficult for you," Malfoy said. "But please try and tell us what happened on that horrible day."
"Yes, uh, sir," said Draco. Then he launched into a somewhat stilted and certainly embellished recounting of the events of the first lesson with Hagrid. Harry and Ron seethed at the blatant lies that Draco was adding into his story, but Hermione was watching him intently and simultaneously taking notes.
"And then when I rose from my bow, the vicious beast leaped forward and struck at me! I don't really remember what happened next. The next thing I recall was waking up in the Hospital Wing several hours later."
"Thank you for sharing such a… traumatic experience with us," Malfoy said, dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief. "And how was your arm afterwards?"
"Well, it was immovable for weeks afterwards. And even now, my fingers are still stiff. It, err, makes everyday a challenge."
"And you didn't insult the beast?"
"Of course not! It's attack on me was totally unprompted!"
"And, just to be clear, you've never insulted any House Elves, or ordered them to punish themselves?"
"No, I, err, I love House Elves. They're like… members of the family, yeah."
"Thank you, Draco. Thank you for being so brave," Malfoy said, clearly trying to project fatherly affection towards his son. "No further questions, madam."
Hermione leaped to her feet before Malfoy had even sat back down. "Mister Malfoy… or Draco, I suppose, considering the circumstances." Draco scowled at her, but didn't object. "Draco, you say that you didn't insult Buckbeak, correct?"
Draco seemed unwilling to answer her, but his father gave him a stern look. "Yes, that's correct," he said.
All eyes turned to the audience section, where the new witch had stood up.
"Madam Umbridge?" Hinklepuff said. "Is something the matter?"
"I'm just a little confused, Audrey," she said in a high voice. "It seems that this little girl is addressing a Ministry committee, but she is clearly too young to be an official advocate."
"As I have already explained to Madam Hinklepuff, I have a special dispensation from the Chief Warlock," Hermione said.
"It just seems to me that it's a little inappropriate to have these hallowed halls of power and prestige sullied by little children playing at adults."
Harry and Ron glared daggers at the witch, Umbridge, but Hinklepuff kept her cool.
"Be that as it may, madam, but as it is within the law, I have no choice but to accept it."
"So many of these old laws," Umbridge said, shaking her head sadly. "I was just saying to Cornelius… He he, I mean Minister Fudge, that so many of these old laws need to be… swept away."
"Well, until that time, madam, Miss Granger has the floor."
"Don't worry, madam," Hermione said, making eye contact with Umbridge. "I promise I'll do my best to sully these halls of power and prestige as little as possible."
Umbridge looked at her with narrowed eyes, but sat back down.
Hermione turned back to Draco, but she caught the gleeful expression on Malfoy's face as she did so.
"Anyway… Draco, other witnesses have claimed that they heard you insult Buckbeak."
"Well, they're wrong."
"Ahh, they misheard you?"
Hermione grinned. "Ah, so you did say something to Buckbeak. What was it?"
"Uh, I'm not…"
"Surely you have gone over this traumatic event in your mind many times. Are you saying that you've forgotten?"
"I, err, I called it… him… a beautiful creature, with a… stunning, uh, plumage."
"'A beautiful creature with a stunning plumage', I see. It's clear now how others misheard that as 'great, ugly brute'." Hermione paused, while reviewing her notes. "Would you be willing to let Madam Pomfrey testify to the extent of your injuries?"
"Miss Granger," Hinklepuff interjected. "As he is a child, young Mister Malfoy can't permit the release of his private medical information."
"Well, luckily for us, his father is right here," Hermione said, gesturing to Malfoy. "How about it, sir?"
"What?! I refuse to have my son's private medical information spread about in public!" Malfoy objected. "Certainly not with regards to such a traumatic event."
"Oh, how… convenient."
"Miss Granger," Madam Hinklepuff said warningly. "He is entirely within his rights to refuse. Now, do you have any other questions for Draco Malfoy?"
"Just one, what was it you said to Buckbeak again?"
"Eh?" Draco said nervously.
"What you said to Buckbeak, before you were hurt, can you repeat it?"
"He's already answered that!" Malfoy said, jumping to his feet.
"I just want to make sure that we have it recorded properly," Hermione said, looking at Hinklepuff, who looked between her and Malfoy contemplatively.
"Well, Mister Draco?" She said after a moment. "Could you repeat it for us?"
Draco was fidgeting in his chair, beads of sweat appearing on his forehead.
"I said 'a… a beautiful bird… with… feathers?" It was clear from his expression that he knew that he had got it wrong.
"My son is tired! And he is under incredible pressure by reliving a traumatic injury!" Malfoy was almost frothing at the mouth in anger.
"No more questions, madam."
Hermione's closing statement was both thorough and heart wrenching. For thirty minutes she hammered on the evidence that had been shown. By the time she finished, she had moved Dumbledore and Scamander to the point of tears and Ron and Harry to break into spontaneous applause. Hagrid engulfed her in a bone-crushing hug, which lifted her straight off her feet. Hinklepuff smiled at her warmly, before schooling her features and turning to Mister Malfoy.
He stood slowly, turning to look at the committee with a tired expression. They had been in the hearing for many hours and he had skipped lunch while on his networking mission.
"I have only this to say," he said hoarsely. "The proof that the beast in question is dangerous is that he was a danger to my son. But for the intervention of fate, my dear son would not be with us today. No parent would be content with anything less than the destruction of the wild beast, which almost tore his family asunder. Thank you."
Hermione boggled. Madam Hinklepuff blinked. Ron and Harry shared an incredulous look. Even the normally unflappable Dumbledore seemed taken aback by the briefness of Malfoy's remarks. But their bewilderment was interrupted by solitary applause. Umbridge was standing and clapping on her own, unperturbed to be alone in her praise.
"Well said, Mister Malfoy. Well said," she called out loudly.
Her applause continued for several moments longer until Hinklepuff was forced to intervene. "Madam Umbridge, please!"
Umbridge stopped her applause in an instant, but didn't sit down.
"I just think it's clear," she said. "That in this case, Mister Malfoy has the right of it. To think that the Ministry of this great nation might hesitate to see justice done is almost too much to consider!"
"Well, yes. Thank you for that comment, madam. We'll…" Hinklepuff hesitated, clearly flustered by Umbridge's intervention. "We'll bear that in mind. But, for now, I call the first part of this hearing to a close. The committee members will be using this room for their deliberations, so we will need you to leave for the moment. A Ministry memo will be sent to you when a decision has been met."
The various participants and observers slowly filed out of the room, talking quietly among themselves. The last to leave was Umbridge, who kept eye contact with Madam Hinklepuff for as long as possible.
When the door had finally closed, Hinklepuff shuddered.
"Just who was that woman?" Grubbly-Plank asked, staring at the just closed door.
"Dolores Umbridge," Hinklepuff said, waving her wand and causing a tea set to appear. "She likes to keep a finger in as many Ministry operations as possible. She's weaselled her way up to the Minister's office and isn't afraid to throw her proverbial weight around."
"So what was she doing here?"
"Obviously Malfoy promised her some favour of another, so that she would interfere on his behalf," she said, while busying herself with the tea pot.
"Can she do that?!" Grubbly-Plank asked in shock.
"Hmm, maybe. So, Walder, how do you, uhh…"
"Guilty," Macnair said without delay.
Hinklepuff gave him a look. "Well, actually I was going to ask you how you take your tea, but I should also point out that we don't decide guilty or not guilty. Technically, we just give a recommendation to Richard Wyeford, the head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures."
"Oh, well, I say we recommend, err, destruction of the beast, then," Macnair said. "Oh, and milk with two sugars," he added.
"Will this Wyeford follow our recommendation, then?" Grubbly-Plank asked. "I'm afraid that I don't know much about the inner workings of the Ministry."
"He should do," Hinklepuff said, handing a teacup to Macnair. "Although, it wouldn't be the first time that a recommendation has been ignored and with Umbridge's involvement…"
"Well, I certainly can't agree to killing the poor creature," Grubbly-Plank replied. "It certainly seems that the initial report was woefully lacking in details. It would be an outrage if a young, healthy hippogriff was killed due to Ministry politics!"
Hinklepuff sighed, while handing tea to her fellow witch. "I agree, but Umbridge has a particular talent for making things difficult. Although… there may be an alternative…"
"Thank you all for returning so quickly, the committee has reached a decision."
Hagrid, Hermione and Malfoy had returned to their tables. In the audience section, Harry, Ron, Dumbledore and Scamander were paying close attention. Draco and Umbridge were seated as far away from them as possible.
"Regretfully, this committee is forced by the circumstances to conclude that the hippogriff in question, Buckbeak, is a dangerous beast."
"No!" Hagrid cried out. Malfoy grinned victoriously and Umbridge smirked. Malfoy's chair scraped as he rose to his feet. "I'd like to thank the…" Malfoy started to say.
"However!" Hinklepuff said loudly, glaring at Malfoy to sit down. "Due to… mitigating circumstances… it is the recommendation of this committee that Buckbeak not be destroyed, but instead barred from interacting with any students in the future."
"So you admit that the beast is dangerous, but refuse to kill it?!" Malfoy almost shouted at Hinklepuff.
"Mister Malfoy, the time for you to speak has ended, so you are out of order," Hinklepuff said, the shadow of a smile tugging at the corners of her lips.
Malfoy glared at her, then spun around and made for the door.
Draco scurried after him and Malfoy gave Umbridge a significant look as he passed her.
"With all the business completed, I call this hearing to a close."
Harry and Ron cheered and rushed forward to hug Hermione. Hagrid collapsed into his chair, breaking into huge sobs of relief, while Dumbledore and Scamander did their best to comfort him. They were all so caught up in their celebration that only Dumbledore noticed Umbridge slip from the room.
Damn that Hinklepuff woman! Umbridge thought to herself as she marched down the corridor. I bet she thinks that that was oh so clever. Well, I'll show her. It's still forty-five minutes until business stops for today. I'll just need to go and… professionally manage… Wyeford before he countersigns the order. I just hope I don't have to promise too much in exchange.
Umbridge arrived at the lifts and jammed at the call button with her short fingers, tapping her foot impatiently while the lift arrived. She entered as soon as the grills opened, glaring at the young wizard who went to follow her in until he stepped back. She pressed the button for level four, but just before the grill could shut, somebody jumped in with surprising grace.
"Oh, hello again, Dolores," Dumbledore said, straightening his robes.
"P…professor? Shouldn't you be with your students?"
"Professor Hagrid is with them," Dumbledore replied amiably.
Umbridge wrinkled her nose at the mention of the half-giant staff member, but said nothing and faced the grill, silently willing the lift to hurry up.
Just then, there was a terrific screeching of metal and the lift shuddered to a halt.
"Wh… what happened?" Umbridge asked frantically.
"We appear to have stopped," Dumbledore said curiously.
"Yes, I can see that," Umbridge spat out. "Can't you get us moving again? Or at least out of this blasted box?!"
Dumbledore drew his wand and hummed and ahhed for several moments.
"Well?!" Umbridge demanded.
"Hmm, yes. We are definitely stuck," Dumbledore said.
Umbridge growled in frustration. "Nevermind, I'll get out of here by myself." She levelled her own wand at the metal grill. "Bom…"
Suddenly, Dumbledore was gripping her wrist tightly. "I wouldn't recommend that, Dolores," he said seriously. "We don't want to upset the Suspension Charms, do we?"
Her eyes widened, but then she wrenched her hand out of Dumbledore's grip.
"What do you suggest then, professor?"
"Oh, I know how to get us out of here," he said. Then he drew himself up to his, not inconsiderable, full height and bellowed loudly, "HELP!"
Umbridge covered her ears, but Dumbledore ignored her and kept shouting for almost a whole minute.
"Hello?" came a muted voice from outside. "Is there anybody in there?"
"Yes!" Umbridge cried. "This is senior undersecretary Umbridge! Get me out of this lift!"
"Madam Umbridge?" the voice said again. "What's happened?"
"Oh my!" Dumbledore said loudly. "Is that Eleanor Hornbook? We haven't spoken in years!"
"Professor Dumbledore, is that you? What are you doing in a lift with Madam Umbridge!?"
"Oh, nothing like that!" Dumbledore said, chuckling, while Umbridge stared at him in panic at his implication. "It's just a happy coincidence that we got stuck together."
"Nevermind that!" Umbridge shouted. "Go and fetch me Wyeford!"
"I need Richard Wyeford, now!
"You need a rich wife, found?"
Umbridge screamed and slammed her hand into the grill.
"I think it would be best if you went and fetched one of the boys from Magical Maintenance," Dumbledore said loudly.
"Right, I'm on it, professor," Eleanor Hornbook said. "It was nice to speak to you again, sir."
"Oh, the pleasure was all mine, my dear lady."
"She'd better hurry if she knows what's good for her," Umbridge muttered under her breath.
Internally, Dumbledore smiled. It didn't really matter how much Miss Hornbook hurried. It would take a while for the boys in blue to repair the sabotage that Dumbledore had performed and by his recollection of Richard Wyeford, he was not the sort to stay at work a minute past leaving time, which was now only forty minutes away. Now, just how should he while away the time?
"You know, Dolores," he said. "This reminds me of the time when you were a third year, no, a second year. Oh, weren't you just as cute a button then. Anyway, you had managed to get yourself stuck in a broom closet, of all the places…"
Oh yes, Dumbledore thought, observing Umbridge's expression. This was a great idea.
"I'm sorry, Madam Umbridge. What was that?" the secretary in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures said.
"Wyeford… Take me to him… Now," Umbridge said, between laboured breaths, having run up three flights of stairs.
"Well, I'm sorry, madam, but Mister Wyeford left for home twenty minutes ago. If you'd like to leave a message… hey!"
Umbridge marched past the girl and went straight to the department head's office. She rattled the doorknob and, when she found it locked, jabbed her wand at it.
"Hey, you can't just…" the secretary witch said, chasing after her, but Umbridge was already looking through Wyeford's desk.
"He received a committee recommendation an hour or so ago, where is it?" she demanded.
"I don't know what's going on here, but you can't break into the department head's office and…"
"Do you want to keep your job in the Ministry?" Umbridge interrupted her. "Do you know how difficult I can make things for you? Maybe your floo needs to be shut off for maintenance. Maybe you need your Gringotts vault audited."
The young woman quailed before the angry witch.
"Now tell me what I want to know!"
"Every… everything was sent off to the records department just before he left. I think he sighed off on everything, though."
Umbridge gave an inarticulate scream of rage, before pushing past the secretary and rushing out of the department.
"I'm sorry, Dolores, but I can't really justify an entire Wizengamot session just to overrule a minor department issue. Surely having the beast declared as dangerous was what you wanted, anyway. No need to get upset about that, is there?"
"Of course, Minister Fudge," Umbridge ground out behind clenched teeth.
"Now get on out of here, Dolores," Fudge said with a broad smile. "We can't have our best undersecretary overworked, can we?"
Not trusting herself to speak, Umbridge turned and left the Minister's office.
Newt Scamander had been persuaded to join them in returning to Hogwarts, where, by the time they had arrived, lessons had finished for the day. Harry, Ron and Hermione decided to join Scamander and Hagrid as they inspected the various creatures that Hogwarts kept. Hagrid and Scamander kept up a non-stop exchange of information and anecdotes about the creatures they saw, which Hermione followed with wide eyes, wishing that she had brought a quill and parchment to make notes with.
When the sun set, Hagrid insisted on feeding everyone dinner at his and Scamander readily agreed before the three children could make excuses, but they were saved from Hagrid's cooking by the arrival of Dobby. He was wearing a fresh tea towel, stamped with the Hogwarts crest, bearing a full platter of sandwiches, courtesy of Professor Dumbledore, who reported, via Dobby, that all their business in the Ministry had been successfully carried out. He regretted that the business of the school kept him away, but he hoped that they would enjoy their celebrations without him.
At the conclusion of their dinner, Hagrid proposed a toast to Hermione, who had saved both the day and Buckbeak. Hermione found, to her horror, that Hagrid had filled their cups with Firewhiskey! It took much goading from Harry and Ron, but eventually she did down her cup, causing steam to billow out of her ears.
Finally, by the light of their wands, they joined Hagrid in his nighttime feeding of Buckbeak, though Hermione did point out that they were technically in breach of a Ministry edict. She did go and pat down Buckbeak's feathers though, after bowing respectfully, of course, though she steadfastly refused to go flying.
"I may step up to save a hippogriff's life in a legal battle," she said. "But I would never, ever, ever want to fly on one!"
This is stupid; don't read it.
"As my final witness," Hermione said. "I call Miss Hermione Granger!"
"You can't call yourself as a witness, you silly girl," said Malfoy.
"Oh, but she isn't!" said a new voice from the door. They all looked and saw a second Hermione standing there, posing dramatically with her hands on her hips. There was a glint of gold around her neck.
"What is this?!" Malfoy demanded.
"It's a secret, but I can assure you that I am Hermione Granger," the new Hermione said as she settled into the witness chair.
"And so am I," the original Hermione said.
"Hold on," said Harry, "there's something funny going on here."
"I'm not going to complain," Ron said, wiggling his eyebrows.
"Wait," Harry whispered to him. "This takes place during Prisoner of Azkaban. You're a few years too early to like her that way."
"Oh, right," Ron muttered. "I mean, 'goodness, and I thought one of them was bossy enough!'"
"Much better," Harry said, flipping Ron a thumbs up.
"You can't possibly allow this!" Malfoy complained to Hinklepuff.
She shrugged. "Eh, why not?"
"Thank you," both Hermiones said.
"Now, Miss Granger."
"Yes, Miss Granger?"
"What were you doing during the lesson in question, Miss Granger?"
"Well, Miss Granger, I was participating as a student."
"And what else were you doing during the lesson, Miss Granger?"
"I was observing under an Invisibility Cloak, with a camera and a dictation quill."
"How could you possibly have been doing both things at the same time?" Malfoy asked.
The two Hermione's just gave him a scathing look in response.
"Why don't we have a look at the camera and dictation quill evidence?" Hinklepuff suggested. Hermione handed over a sheet of parchment and several large photographs that showed Draco Malfoy flipping the bird the bird.
"Under the weight of this new evidence I am forced to free Buckbeak and instead order the execution of Dolores Umbridge."
"What?" Umbridge spluttered. "Why me? It was the boy who instigated this whole circus."
"Because, Dolores, while you do get what's coming to you in the Order of the Phoenix, in the Deathly Hallows, nothing seems to happen to you at all. And let's face it, sending innocent Muggleborns to be tortured in Azkaban at the orders of Voldemort is way worse than annoying some students. Would you like to do the honours, Dumbledore?"
"What? You actually expect me to do something? Canonically, I let my lovable, but bumbling, gamekeeper-cum-professor try to defend a legal position with only the help of three teenagers, despite the fact that I have some sort of government position and, as we see in the Order of the Phoenix, I'm pretty good at making legal arguments. Why would you think I wanted to do something now?"
"Wait!" cried a third Hermione Granger, as she ran in. Ron fell out of his chair. "You can't execute her! It turns out that the entire magical government is run by petty, conniving, power hungry psychopaths, who use their tiny specks of power in order to make themselves feel important. As she's the biggest one of them all, the government will collapse in the next thirty minutes without her."
"We'd better be executing something," Macnair said, running his thumb along the edge of his axe.
"How about Malfoy?" Harry spoke up. "He conspired to release a basilisk in a school full of children, including his own son, by the way. I'm not sure that losing a House Elf is just punishment for, what is essentially, attempted murder on a mass scale."
"Come to think of it," Ron said. "Doesn't he escape punishment at the end of Deathly Hallows, too?"
"It's not clear in canon," all three Hermiones said.
"Do either you or Draco ever even renounce the tenets of blood supremacy?" Harry asked. "You do marry a pure-blood, Draco."
"So do you and Hermione!" Draco objected.
"That reminds me," Ron said. "Try and hold on to that Time-turner until we're adults, Hermione."
"Well, I never!" Hermione One said, but Hermione Two blushed at him and Hermione Three gave him a sly wink.
"What's even the point of this authorial aside?" Umbridge complained. "We've all known for years about the problems in the books, haven't we?"
There was a chorus of yeahs.
"But we still love the books anyway, right?"
There was another round of yeahs.
"Actually," said Scamander. "I usually skip over the Grawp stuff in the Order of the Phoenix." Hagrid gave him a wounded look.
"Whatever!" Umbridge continued. "There have been millions of people tearing apart every little inconsistency and error in these books for the last twenty-five years! Nothing would withstand that level of scrutiny!"
"The Lord of the Rings did," Harry muttered.
"First of all, it's unfair to compare Rowling, a single mother writing on the back of a baby wipes packages, to J.R.R. Tolkien, the Oxford Professor and master of the English language. Second of all… does the Balrog have wings?"
"Of course, it does!","no!"
Instantly, wands had been drawn.
"It says the Balrog spread out its wings directly in the text!" Hermione Two said.
"Read the whole section!" Hermione Three said, staring her down. "It says 'like wings'. It's a simile!"
Ron and Harry were wrestling in the background and Dumbledore was duelling Scamander and Malfoy simultaneously.
"What I'm trying to say…!" Umbridge cried, bringing the conflict to a stop. "Is that by tearing apart a tiny plot point, in a book series a hundred times better than anything that we could ever create, and pretending that we're so clever because of that is incredibly conceited."
"So what?" Harry asked. "It okay if we're admit that we're stupid?"
"If there's one thing that this omake has proved, it's that the author is an idiot!"
"But can we still make fun of 'A Cursed Child'?" Ron asked.
"You can make fun of anything written after 2007," Umbridge clarified.
"Hang on!" Scamander spoke up. "That relegates me from an action movie hero to a name mentioned only once in the books!"
"Do yer even wan' ter be associated with 'em films?" Hagrid asked.
"Jacob was a charming character," Scamander argued.
"The Qilin?" Malfoy asked.
"Okay, that was pretty stupid, but still…"
"That is enough!" Hinklepuff yelled. "I declare this omake over!"
"Wait, if we're discounting everything after 2007," said Dumbledore. "Am I still gay?"