Disclaimer: "Harry Potter" and every one of its characters belong to JK Rowling! I own only this plot.
Summary: In the future, Voldemort is no longer the terrible threat that begins to loom over the horizon. How can the survivors of the war believe the truth they have been told - a truth that condemns someone they loved and honored? A story of love, faith, loyalty and the legacy somebody left behind ...
Note: Set in the future.The trio are all 21 years old, and I think some of this story might be A/U.
Chapter One: The Sphere and the Murderer *
It was a very cold night. The rain splattered drops of pure ice onto the young Auror as he hurried through the London streets towards the Ministry of Magic. He was hooded so that few people would recognize him. He knew he would be welcomed happily into the Ministry, but today, he wanted to be an unknown shadow standing in the background of the magical court proceedings.
He entered the Ministry, drawing his cloak and coat tighter around him, knocking stray droplets off his shoulders. He barely even felt the cold. With a heavy sigh, he glanced around, keen green eyes taking in the crowds of witches, wizards and magiocal reporters wandering about in anticiptation for the proceedings to begin. The young Auror knew why there was such muted excitement everywhere. Four years before,right before the final battle with Voldemort, there had been the dreadful murder of Aberforth Dumbledore, the brother of the renowned Albus Dumbledore, and of course - there had been a magical outcry. Today, Dumbledore had finally announced that they had found an eyewitness to the scene of the crime: a witch named Scarlett Fetcherly.
The Auror thought the name was oddly familiar, but couldn't quite place it. Maybe she had fought with Dumbledore's Army during the battle. So many had fought, so many had died, so many people's lives had been destroyed irreparably ... he couldn't even keep track of it all.
And so they were all here today, to finally see if Scarlett Fetcherly could bring justice for Aberforth Dumbledore and all the people who had loved him. To top it all off, the Ministry had discreetly hinted that Miss Fetcherly had also discovered information in that incident which involved the rising of a Dark Lord far greater than Voldemort had ever been. This, of course, was terrible news ... and everyone wanted the murderer of Aberforth caught and hanged before he or she had the chance to bring about the dreaded Rising.
Everyone was living in the hope that it wasn't already too late.
A sudden elbow in his ribs alerted the young man to the fact that he was no longer alone amongst the crowd. Glancing sideways unobtrusively, he caught the end of a clumsy stumble over the edge of frayed robes, and felt his lips twitch. "Careful," he warned gently. "All our trouble to stay anonymous tonight will go to waste if you expose trip and expose that distinctive hair."
"Point taken." A snigger answered his comment, and the other Auror, of about the same age, lifted his hood enough to give his companion a grin. The first young man winked, and the two fell silent for a while, looking about as if they were bored and awaiting the beginning of the proceedings.
The first young Auror exhaled as he looked around at the eager, buzzing faces and voices. Most of these people didn't have a clue about the horrors and devastation war and evil could wreak upon their worlds ... most of them had been untouched by tragedy during their time. Some were even relatives of the old Death Eaters, either innocent of those sins, or repentant now that they had fallen. The young Auror had known far more than his share of tragedy, and he knew that if he unmasked himself here, he would be buried with interrogations that he couldn't bear.
The last thing he wanted to do was rake up memories of his past. It hurt, to remember the people he had lost to death, to tragedy ... even to the horrors of their own memories. Some of the people he loved more than life itself had disappeared into the mist, in an attempt to forget their own pain and bitterness, and he wished more than ever that he could see them all again.
"Would either of you like a lemon drop?" A low, husky voice asked quietly at the young Auror's shoulder. "I hear they're Dumbledore's favorite"
Both young Aurors turned around, grins breaking across their faces as they heard a voice they had almost forgotten. Hidden beneath a discreet hood and cloak was a faintly lined face they knew all too well, capped by graying brown hair, with warm brown eyes smiling at them.
"It's good to see you again." A hand came out of the cloak to shake each of the others'. "I missed you both."
"Is - ?" He left the sentence unfinished.
The two young men exchanged regretful glances that conveyed both longing and sadness. "I don't think so." The green-eyed Auror responded quietly. "I don't think she'd come back just for this."
"For all we know, she may not even know - who knows if she gets the Daily Prophet these days?" The other added, with a sad shrug.
At that moment, Dumbledore, looking just as benign and ageless as ever, appeared at the doorway of the grand courtroom and announced that the proceedings were about to begin. There was a natural bustle and ripple of excitement, but the press and reporters were left behind, of course. The three hooded men got through with a flash of their offical badges, given to them by Dumbledore himself, and they found themselves in the circular, intimidating courtroom. The full Wizenmagot sat in their places, grave and kind expression flitting about the room as the others took their seats around the center pit where the suspects and witnesses were brought forward.
There were about forty other people in the room, other than the magical court members, when the grand doors closed, magically shutting off all outside sound and chaos. The first young Auror cracked his knuckles tensely, awaiting the coming of all their fates.
Scarlett Fetcherly was summoned from the doors beyond.
She was a tall woman of about thirty, with incredibly shrewd eyes and a keen gaze that struck the three men in the balcony as very perceptive indeed. With just the right mixture of timidness and courage on her expression, she walked proudly forward, impressing everyone with her determination and hauteur, and took the seat Dumbledore indicated for her.
"Good afternoon, Miss Fetcherly," The head wizard of Wizenmagot said austerely, "Thank you for agreeing to come forward today."
"I would have come forward sooner, sir, had I been in England to hear of the news of which I dismissed as a child's prank three and a half years ago." Scarlett responded with dignity. "Unfortunately, I left the country that very day for a sabattical, and I ignored the Daily Prophet for far too long. For that, I am immensely sorry."
The green-eyed Auror heard a familiar snort from beside him. "What a load of crock."
"Let us begin the questioning. Professor Dumbledore, you may proceed."
"Thank you, Mr. Biggs." Dumbledore said graciously, rising from his chair with fluidity. "Miss Fletcherly, I understand four and a half years is a very long time for someone to remember details, but can you tell us where you were, and when, when the events in questions took place?"
"I was returning from Diagon Alley by the Knight Bus," Miss Fletcherly responded promptly and smoothly, "On the evening of Friday, May 14th 1998. It was around, I'd assume, a quarter to nine or thereabouts."
"And what were you doing?"
"I had just gotten off the Knight Bus, and I was walking down the street towards my home. As I passed an alley, I caught sight of movement in the shadows. I think the asthmatic grunts of somebody was what initially caught by attention."
"Can you tell us what happened then?"
"I heard snatches of conversation. I distinctly heard a hoarse voice say, 'You and your brother's other fools ... you will lose this battle. I have fooled you all for so long ... so long! How can you defeat V-Voldemort when you cannot even see through me?'. I stopped at once, startled. Then I heard the asthmatic voice choke out, 'Give me the Sphere. Give me the Sphere.'."
"Did you find out what this Sphere was, Miss Fletcherly?" Dumbledore asked gently, his eyes flashing a second of pain at the description of his brother's death.
Scarlett nodded. "I think - I think I heard the hoarse voice laugh and say rather manically, 'Give you the Sphere of Pagnon! You must be mad! It will give me power! When the alignment comes about, it will give me the power to access powers far greater that V-Voldemort's are!'. Then he kept laughing, and I saw a flash of purple light. I fled then, uneasy and unwilling to be seen in such a position."
"How could you mistake that for a child's prank?"
"I couldn't see how anyone could access powers greater than You-Know-Who's!" Scarlett responded in anguish, wringing her hands exaggeratedly. "I thought it was bravado talking, and that it was probably all a joke to frighten some asthmatic old wizard. I didn't see anything else to it."
There was tension in the courtroom. Everyone had heard Scarlett's story of the Sphere of Pagnon. If this weapon existed, and would enable one to access such fearsome powers at a certain time that the killer had obviously known all about, they would be no hope for any of them!
"Now, Miss Fletcherly, I'll ask you a simple question," Dumbledore said, his voice radiating reassurance and power in an impressive way. "Were you acquainted with my brother, Aberforth Dumbledore, before the night in question?"
Miss Fletcherly shook her head. "No, Professor Dumbledore, I was not."
"Could that also be a reason for why you assumed what you saw was an illusion, a 'child's prank'? Because you did not recognize the victim?"
"That's very likely, sir, but I think another reason was this: the killer, Professor Dumbledore, was rather well known for having a penchant for mischief and pranks." Scarlett Fletcherly's voice was positively smug and almost malicious in its vindictive pinpoint of a murderer.
Dumbledore paused for a long, straining moment, and then he asked quietly: "Who was the man you saw with Aberforth Dumbledore, Miss Fletcherly?"
A ghost of a smile lit up Scarlett's icy black eyes. "His name was Sirius Black."
The young Auror stiffened horribly. Beside him, he heard the older man draw in breath sharply. There was considerably unrest in the courtroom at these words. The head wizard stirred angrily, and shook his head with a semblance of calm fury.
"Impossible!" He snapped. "Preposterous, Miss Fletcherly! Sirius Black was not a murderer, no matter what the wizarding world may have thought just months prior to his death. You cannot be serious about what you are suggesting!"
"I was acquainted with Sirius Orion Black in Hogwarts," Scarlett replied calmly, "And I had no trouble recognizing him at all. That was why I thought it such a prank. It was typical of Black, but it turned out that it was not a prank after all!"
Dumbledore's blue eyes were grave with worry. "I fear we must not let this leak out to the press - at any costs. Sirius Black died a hero on September 21st 1998, after loyal service to me in the battle against Voldemort. He was murderered by the Dark Lord himself! I see no reason for believing he was a murderer!" He sighed heavily. "Miss Fletcherly, are you sure?"
"Quite positive, Professor Dumbledore, sir." Scarlett said meekly.
"Thank you, Miss Fletcherly, you are free to leave now." The head wizard murmured weakly, clearly as staggered as the rest of the court.
She left gracefully, her head high, her cold black eyes burning with something like proud satisfaction. When the doors had closed behind her, there was a ripple of surprise and disbelief and horror amongst the assembled magical folk, and the young Auror felt his fists clench in incredulity and anger on the armrests of his chair. Dumbledore sank into his own chair, and looked up at the witches and wizards expectantly.
"Dumbledore, what do we do?" Mr. Biggs demanded in agitation. "Sirius Black - a murderer? We must prove Scarlett Fletcherly's statement true or false! However, I fail to see how she could be wrong, so we must take Black as a guilty personality. We must also find the Sphere of Pagnon, because with Black now dead, he must have hidden that treacherous weapon!"
"I understand the situation perfectly, and know what must be done, Mr. Biggs," Dumbledore said with admirable calm. "Indeed, it seems improbably for Scarlett to have been wrong, and of course the Sphere of Pagnon must be found. But on no account must this revelation be allowed to reach the reporters. Guilty he might be, but I will not have a dead man's legacy stained this way."
"Of course, of course," Mr. Biggs said hastily, "But how do we go about finding this wretched Sphere? And what is it?"
"Leave it to me to discover any information about the Sphere." Dumbledore said. "As for the location of it, it is naturally a matter to be taken up by the Wizenmagot."
Mr. Biggs was clearly at a loss. "Well - well - we must find the people who were once very close to Sirius Black! He may have taken somebody into his confidence, if not as an accomplice in his betrayal then merely as a holder of his secret in regard to the fact that he had the Sphere. Miss Fischer," he addressed a witch in green robes who was flipping through a magical sieve file already, "Who would you determine closest to Black?"
"Professor Albus Dumbledore is a possibility," the witch responded, reading from some obscure list, "But I fear not, seeing as he stands before us, clearly as baffled as we are by his revelation. Even closer I would say were Remus Lupin and Harry Potter. Certainly, they can be located and would be willing to give any information they may have!"
"Excellent," Mr. Biggs said, exhaling heavily, "And find the young, powerful witch who saved so many lives during the battle - Hermione Granger. I believe she and Black were on intimate terms at one time."
Dumbledore stood up, and his intelligent blue eyes glanced meaningfully, and briefly, in the direction of the three, hooded, shell-shocked men in the balcony before he said, "If you don't mind, Mr. Biggs, I suggest you leave the duty of finding these three witnesses and bringing their information before you - to me."
Silently, he bowed and swept out of the room. Slowly, the court proceedings were adjourned, and the witches and wizards filtered out of the room quietly, whispered murmurs of shock and disgust and indignant anger floating about.
The three in the balcony did not move.
Finally, the older of the three men slammed his fist against the armrest of his chair and said sharply, "I won't believe it! Sirius was not a murderer! After everything, after all the times he saved our lives and the magical world, after the way he gave his life up, after all we went through to bring him back from the Veil in your sixth years - how can they expect us to believe that he was going to betray us all with a Sphere of Pagnon?"
"How can we deny Scarlett's testimony, though?" The red-haired young Auror whispered sadly.
It with with despair, doubt and disbelief that Harry Potter, Remus Lupin and Ronald Weasley stared at each other for a long time, before they remembered the trauma that lay in store for the third witness mentioned in the case ... and it was with stricken silence that they slowly left the Ministry of Magic, finally separating briefly and melting away into the unsuspecting London crowds.
A/N: A new kind of story, I think! Please, please review because I'd appreciate any feedback about what you guys think of this idea! Should I go on? Let me know ... -->