AN: This is a new story, but I promise to write on others shortly. This picks up after the last chapter in the Deathly Hallows, but before the Epilogue. I know the author gave interviews about what happened to the characters, but this story only takes into account stuff that happening in the seventh book without the Epilogue. If you criticize me for other info, I will not listen because I don't care about what happens outside the books.
Oh, and I make no promises about keeping Snape where he ended in the seventh book. Just to warn you for later chapters
WARNING: Spoilers for The Deathly Hallows in this story.
Disclaimer: Do not own, make any money, or get anything besides enjoyment in writing.
Enjoy, and tell me what you think
Harry fidgeted as he sat in his chair, his hand twitching against his robes and trying not to look at the hourglass clock for the third time in five minutes. When would it end? It felt like he had been sitting for hours – his back was stiff, his legs were nearly asleep, and his injuries hadn't completely healed yet, thank you very much!
"List of crimes begins as such," Arthur Weasley's voice, cold and clipped, rang through the room. "Conspiring with Voldemort, blackmail against the Ministry, extortion of funds from Gringotts, and recruiting of magical creatures for Death Eater support. Witnesses for the defense?"
Harry peered out to see if there was one person who might speak up. Not a person moved, so Arthur Weasley continued,
"How does the defendant plead?
Harry glanced to the man at the dock, some miserable fellow in tattered robes, sweating fearfully and glancing around in desperation.
"I was tr-tr-tricked," the man stammered, looking up at Arthur Weasley.
"Guilty or not guilty?" Mr. Weasley demanded, his eyes flashing.
Harry winced at his harsh tone. Every since Fred's death, Mr. Weasley had changed from the friendly, cheerful father to a stern judge of the Ministry on a zealous crusade to hunt down and punish every Death Eater and Dark Lord supporter on the face of the earth. He had hand-selected the jury – Augusta Longbottom, Andromeda Tonks, Amos Diggory, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Mundungus Fletcher, and Harry. For the last two weeks, they had tried Death Eaters, one right after another.
Harry sneaked a look at the line of waiting defendants. The line went around the floor of the courtroom and out into the hall, a miserable queue of men, women, and teenagers guarded by fierce-looking wizards.
"Not guilty," the man on the stand claimed, still shaking.
Mr. Weasley's eyes narrowed. "If found guilty, your false plea will result in six extra months in Azkaban."
The defendant blinked, and then he looked right at Harry, fear in his eyes.
Harry looked away. He knew what it felt like to stand in this room and be tried. Not three years ago he had been the same place, with everyone gazing down at him with cold disdain and Umbridge prattling on and on. But Dumbledore had been on his side. And he had only feared he would be thrown out of school. These defendants were worried about something much worse than never returning to Hogwarts.
Arthur Weasley began reciting off another list, citing evidence that put the defendant in the right time and place to have association with Voldemort. Harry did not like listening to the evidence. It sounded so damning, but it could be circumstantial. After all, he himself had been at the same time and place with the Dark Lord, but Harry knew that Mr. Weasley wouldn't listen to such reasoning.
"The prosecution calls Mr. Harry Potter," Mr. Weasley said.
Harry jumped, but remained seated. For the first dozen times, he had gotten up to give testimony, but now he found it easier to stay seated.
"Does Mr. Potter recognize the defendant?" Mr. Weasley asked, his hard eyes on Harry.
"Er," Harry stared at the pitiful man. Harry did not recognize him, and even if he had, Harry wasn't sure he would have said so. The first day of the trials, he had identified three Death Eaters he saw the day of the last battle, fighting for Voldemort. Not even an hour later, the Death Eaters had received the Kiss from the Dementors. Worst of all, Harry had to watch the execution, standing beside Mr. Weasley and McGonagall while the condemned were lead forward. After that, Harry asked to be excused from the executions and hesitated before giving evidence that would seal the fate of the prisoners. Not that he didn't think the Death Eaters shouldn't be punished – he had willing given testimony against Goyle Sr. and not flinched when the Kiss was sentenced.
But Harry knew without a doubt that he was best on the battlefield, risking his life in the fight against evil. These bureaucratic trials, conducted without mercy, made him feel uncomfortable. It was one thing to fling curses in the heat of a battle; it was another to see people in the stand and know he was condemning them to death.
"We're waiting," Mr. Weasley prompted.
"I've never seen him before," Harry answered truthfully.
He could almost feel the disappointment in Mr. Weasley's gaze, but the man rallied,
"Very well. We will proceed with the evidence. We ask the defendant – why were you in the vicinity of the graveyard that night in question when your home is obvious twenty miles away and you have no family near the area?"
Harry glanced away as the defendant gave stuttering excuses, none of them sounding very legitimate. Mr. Weasley drilled him for the next twenty minutes until the man nearly broke down into tears. Then Mr. Weasley called for the verdict. He went down the line, Mrs. Longbottom – guilty, Mrs. Tonks – guilty, Shacklebolt – guilty, Mr. Diggory – guilty, Fletcher – guilty, Mr. Potter? Mr. Potter?
Harry gulped. He saw all of the jurors looking at him, eyes of people who had lost loved one. Mrs. Longbottom, her daughter and son-in-law. Mrs. Tonks – a daughter and son-in-law. Mr. Diggory – a son. Shacklebolt and Fletcher– a friend in Mad-Eye. Harry closed his eyes for a second before whispering,
Mr. Weasley turned back to the stand, coldly triumphant. "The verdict is guilty. Sentence . . . your wand broken and six years in Azkaban."
Harry looked away again so he would not have to see the defendant's look of despair. As the days wore on, Harry wished he could attend the trials blindfolded so he never had to see the agonized expressions of the prisoners. Why couldn't the Death Eaters have all died on the battlefield? Anything other than this slow, torturous trial that went on and on and –
A loud gong sounded from above the courtroom.
Mr. Weasley frowned, but announced, "Five o'clock. Court is adjourned until nine o'clock tomorrow morning. Prisoners will go back to the cells for a meal before they are locked up again."
Mr. Weasley slammed his gavel on the table before him, the noise resounding through the room.
Harry wanted to sign in relief, but he kept his face blank as he stood and followed the other jurors out of the courtroom. Behind him, Harry could hear the struggles of the man condemned to Azkaban. The defendant was pleading for mercy, but Harry stared down at his shoes and kept walking, closing of his ears as best he could.
The other jurors wandered off, but Harry paused to take off his robes and hang them up in the private chambers reserved especially for the jurors. He turned to see Mr. Weasley watching him. The man seemed less than pleased with the clothes Harry wore under his robes – khaki pants and a blue sweater, but Mr. Weasley only said,
"How is Ron doing?"
"Oh, great," Harry replied, glad to find something he could talk freely about. "He loves his new job, and Hermione's working hard in the Auror training. We always thought she would become a teacher, you know, but she's doing really well in her –"
"Good," Mr. Weasley nodded tersely. "Tell Ron we expect him home for supper tomorrow night. Come by Floo powder."
"Oh, sure," Harry said, nodding. "But wouldn't you like to –"
But Mr. Weasley was already heading for the door, and Harry trailed off uncertainly. He never quite knew what to say to anyone anymore.
He sighed again and then sat down in one of the armchairs, draping one leg over a chair arm and sinking back into the chair carelessly. He hated sitting in that hard chair for hours. Three hours in the morning, an hour for lunch, and then four more hours of trials. Absolute torture.
Harry reached for the tray that held an assortment of chocolates and teacakes. He would like a cold glass of pumpkin juice about right then, but he settled for chomping on the sweets and twisting his neck back and forth to stretch out the cricks.
The door swung open, and McGonagall strode in, her black robes fluttering against the floor.
"Professor!" Harry said around a large piece of chocolate and tried to sit up, yanking his leg down.
Her lips almost twitched indulgently. "Mr. Potter, we are not at school," she told him crisply. "You are welcomed to lounge as long as you like. And it's no longer professor."
"Minister of Magic," he nodded respectfully.
"I suppose that will do," she sighed. "I was looking for Mr. Weasley. Have you seen him?"
"He just left," Harry motioned to the door where she had just entered. "Barely a minute ago. Is everything alright?"
"Good as it can be," McGonagall nodded shortly. "I'll leave you to your food, and good evening."
"Prof- Minister," Harry jumped out of his chair, "I was wondering if I could have a word?"
"Of course," she turned back to him, her expression just like the one she had worn in class when she asked him a question and he took too long to stammer out an answer.
"These trials," he shifted nervously. "I just can't – I mean, I want to do my part. But I can't keep – they just take so long – it's there anything else I could do?"
She pressed her lips together, and he knew she wasn't pleased. She had a right to feel that way. He knew he looked childish and ridiculous. She had not been Minister a month yet, and already she had a dozen people working for her and she was rebuilding the magical community and instituting new laws plus remembering those who had died for the cause. And Harry was complaining that he didn't like his part in the new regime.
"Mr. Potter, I cannot change anything," she replied, her eyes piercing right through him. "We all must do our bit. I am sorry you cannot have another job, but this one is best suited for you as you are a witness as well as a good judge of character."
A picture of Snape flashed through Harry's mind, and he wanted to deny her statement, but he stayed silent.
"You can best serve us here you are."
"Yes, Minister," he said glumly, but tried to look accepting.
"Very good. See that you continue giving the position your utmost attention." McGonagall paused, her expression softening for a moment. "I know it's hard, Harry. For all of us."
And then she swept out of the room.
With nothing left to do, Harry gathered up some more chocolate and cakes before heading down the hall down the Floo networks. He avoided the halls where he might see the prisoners dragging themselves back to their cells under the cold eyes of the guards all dressed in navy blue. The prisoners had to stand in line everyday for the trials, even though they were never able to get to more than ten or eleven defendants each day. But everyone lined up to wait, no exceptions.
Harry ducked into his network before anyone could notice him. A lot of people wanted to stop and talk to him on a regular basis, sometimes to ask his opinion, sometimes to inform him of new changes, sometimes to gossip about nothing. In the large entrance hall where Fudge's profile had once hung and the fountains had boasted statues of humans in misery, new statues had been carved. Harry had hoped they might make a collection of portraits of those who had fallen in the fight, including his parents. Instead, they had put up a twenty-foot stone carving of the last battle with all the fighters looking like they were climbing up a rounded rock. The fighters were scrambling, wincing, and stumbling. Ron's likeness was there along with Hermione, Neville, and Ginny. McGonagall was towards the top, her stone expression fierce and deadly. But at the top of the carving, in long sweeping robes with his wand brandished savagely and his face a picture of murderous rage was Harry himself.
The first time he saw the carving, Harry had stared in horror at the likeness at the top. Did his face really look like that, deadly and brutal? After that first awful viewing, he went to find Mr. Weasley and explain there must have been some mistake. Mr. Weasley confirmed that there was no mistake, and the carving was there to stay. Harry had avoided that hall ever since, preferring to take the long way around just so he didn't have to see himself and his terrifying expression.
His network flared to life, and a second later, he ducked out of the fireplace at 12 Grimmauld Place.
"Master is home!" Kreacher declared, his eyes lighting up as Harry stepped into the kitchen.
"Heloo," Harry smiled. "Sorry if I'm late. Stopped to talk to McGonagall."
"No apologies," Kreacher insisted. "Master should talk to anyone Master wishes – oh, what does Master have?"
Harry glanced down to the chocolates and teacakes he had wrapped in a napkin to take home. "Just some –"
"Oh," Kreacher shook his head, "Master will ruin his dinner. Master may have whatever he wants, but Kreacher feels that Master should not have so much sugar so close to supper –"
"They're for you," Harry quickly thrust them down the little house elf. "All for you."
Kreacher raised huge eyes up. "Oh, Master is too, too, too kind! Kreacher cannot believe the kindness of Master."
"Well, Master does what he can," Harry shrugged. He loved living with the house elf who continued to keep the house spotless and insisted on waiting on Harry hand and foot though Harry protested that he could do some things on his own. "Where's everyone?"
"Ah, Miss Hermione is the library. Mr. Ron is not home yet," Kreacher replied as he gazed down at his handful of food with delight.
Harry smiled as he walked towards the library. He found himself giving Kreacher little gifts nearly everyday. Coins that ended up in his pockets, candy he snitched regularly and got caught eating, even his ticket stubs from times he decided to ride the tube. The only time it had not been a success was when he thought Kreacher's tea cozy had gotten filthy and he handed the house elf a large shirt to make himself a new outfit. Kreacher had burst into tears and sobbed out why had Master decided to send him away. Harry had spent nearly an hour trying to console the house elf and promise him that Master would never make him leave and that the shirt was only a loan which meant Kreacher still belonged to Master, now and forever. The house elf had finally calmed down and kept the borrowed shirt as clean as he could.
Harry rapped his knuckles against the closed door. "Hermione?"
"Come in," she replied.
Harry opened up the door and stepped into what had once been a sitting room with the Black family tree on the walls. But after agreeing that Hermione could store her books there, Harry came home one day to find shelves of books and chairs and tables in the room with Hermione alphabetizing a long row of books.
"Look," she had held out her arms, "we have a library!"
Harry had been leaning towards using part of the room as a monument to Quidditch, even going as far as to buy several large posters of his favorite teams. But he had said nothing, letting her keep the room as a library. He put the Quidditch stuff in his own bedroom upstairs and had hung all the posters over his bed which Ginny said looked stupid.
Harry opened the door. "I'm home."
"Good," Hermione nodded, glancing up from her book. "Ron should be in shortly."
"I still don't understand how he got a job at Olivander's," Harry settled in a comfy armchair. "When did he have time to learn about wands?"
"Probably when he broke his," Hermione replied breezily.
"He was twelve," Harry objected. "What did he know about wands then?"
"I don't know," Hermione turned a page. When it became obvious that Harry wasn't leaving, she put her book down. "What is it?"
"Long day at the office," he replied. He raised his feet to prop them on the seat of another chair, but caught Hermione's eye and lowered them reluctantly.
"Can't even sit in my own house," Harry grumbled.
"How are the trials coming?" Hermione asked, ignoring the last bit.
"Rough," he admitted. "I never thought there were so many of them. They just keep coming – this line that never ends."
"Thanks to the last year," Hermione nodded. "People who would never have been associated with Death Eaters before joined them to keep their lives. Now, we are in charge, and those same people are charged with crimes."
"It's not right," Harry insisted. "They were just trying to protect themselves and their families. Why should they be punished?"
"Is Ron's dad still – you know?"
"He's ruthless," Harry confessed, staring down at his hands. "So cold – I never thought he would be so bad. I barely know him any longer."
"Everyone really has changed," Hermione said softly. "This past year at Hogwarts hardened everyone. Students before who were just children, nice and kind, are now bloodthirsty. I never imagined the Auror training would be so competitive. My year of Aurors will be savage when they get finished. They already know every dark spell, every curse, every way to make an enemy suffer. It's quite frightening sometimes."
"At least you got in," Harry muttered.
"Harry!" she scolded. "You will get in. They want you to be involved with the Ministry for now."
"I begged them to join the Aurors," Harry stated. "I pleaded with them, and what was their excuse?"
"Harry, it's very difficult to –"
"'You did not complete your final year at Hogwarts, Mr. Potter!' I couldn't get in because I ran to save my life. And I fought the biggest fight ever against the worst group of evil doers, but that's not as good as a year studying. So no Auror program for me. But they let you waltz right in."
Hermione reached over to squeeze his hand comfortingly. She did not point out that the omission for her entry had been due to her outstanding performance in every subject on the Auror test. Harry was grudgingly grateful for her small kindness of silence.
"Hey-ho!" Ron's voice called out from the hall. He burst into the library without knocking and raised an eyebrow when he saw Hermione and Harry. "What is this? My girlfriend groping my best friend? Traitors!"
Hermione laughed as she rose to greet Ron. She wrapped her arms around him, and he lifted her off her feet to kiss her warmly. Their kiss went on for three seconds, four, five, six . . .
Harry turned away with a heavy sigh. "And I have no one!" he gestured tragically to the empty air beside him.
With a loud suction noise, Ron pulled back from Hermione. "Don't be glum, mate. You'll see Ginny tomorrow."
"Still don't see why she couldn't live here," Harry grumbled, spinning the round globe that stood beside his chair.
"Look, mate," Ron frowned, "I might not mind you being with my sister. But you are not going to shack up with her and ruining her reputation."
"But you two –!"
"I already ruined her reputation," Ron jerked his head towards Hermione.
"Ron!" she pulled free to smack him on the arm.
"What? We lived in a tent together for months. Everyone thinks you're spoiled goods. But I still love you."
"You're horrible," Hermione announced, trying to hide her smile. "Harry, stop spinning my globe. You'll break it. Let's go to dinner and we can all discuss our day."
"Do you ever want to strangle her?" Harry asked as he and Ron followed Hermione towards the dining room.
"Yeah, but snogging makes up for it," Ron whispered back.
Harry laughed as he followed his family into the dining room where Kreacher was setting out a wonderful supper.