but that was in another country

Edgeworth strode down the corridor, conscious that the other people in the courthouse were avoiding him, and grateful for it. Today had been the day of von Karma's execution. Whatever Edgeworth now knew about the man, and however much he hated him for it, there were still things that he couldn't forget.

Still in a bad mood, he turned the corner and ran into a young woman. They both went down.

"Oh!" she gasped. She was very young, and dressed in old-fashioned black clothing. "I'm so sorry! I must apologise! Please do forgive me --"

"Think nothing of it," Edgeworth said through gritted teeth as he got to his feet and brushed off his clothing. He looked at her again. "Are you with Wright's friend Maya Fey?"

She blinked. Now that he looked more closely at her, he could see that she was a teenager rather than a child. Her hair was held back in a tight bun, and she had the look of someone who had been ill or seriously injured recently. "Um, I don't think so, sir. Why do you say that?"

"Your outfit," Edgeworth said. "The girl's a miko of some sort, isn't she? I thought maybe you were from her village. If you're not with her, then what are you doing in this area?"

"Oh, I just came to collect someone, sir," she said earnestly. "My name's Hinamori Momo. I had to make sure that he went on to where he was going."

"I see." He finished adjusting his ruffles. "And have you met him yet?"

The girl nodded. "Yes, sir. I saw him on his way, and I was just coming back now when I ran into you. I am so very sorry . . ." Her lower lip wobbled.

"There, there," Edgeworth said with an effort. "It's nothing important. I'm sure I'll survive." He hesitated. "Is anything the matter?"

The girl looked down at her toes and shifted from foot to foot. "No, sir," she said in deliberately bland tones.

A year ago, he would have accepted that and forgotten about it. Six months ago, he would have accepted it to spare her pride. But now, the memory of Wright and of the accursed nuisance that the man had made of himself in saving Edgeworth's life proved an unexpected burden. "Really?" he said dryly. "Sometimes it helps to tell a stranger about things."

She looked up, and there was something in her eyes that suggested how very much she wanted to talk to someone. "Really?" she said hopefully.

"Really," Edgeworth said. "After all, I know nothing about the situation or the people involved. I have no interest in prejudice. Only in the truth."

The girl swallowed. "Well, yes, sir. There is something the matter."

"And what is it?" Edgeworth asked, deliberately gentling his tone.

"At . . ." She picked her words deliberately. "At the place where I work, sir, the person who I work for, that is, the -- the team leader I'm directly under -- he seems to have done something wrong. He caused a lot of confusion and misdirected a lot of people into -- into thinking that everyone else was their enemies, and then he left and took two other people with him, and before he left, he -- he hurt me."

"Attacked you?" Edgeworth demanded. "That's criminal!"

"He didn't kill me!" the girl objected.

"Even so." Edgeworth found himself shifting into the proper attitude of a prosecutor. "Are you suggesting that it was right of him to attack you?"

The girl deflated again. "I don't know, sir. I only know what the other people have said they heard him say."

"Which was?" Edgeworth pushed.

The girl swallowed. "That he was going to take over -- that is, take over the company -- and that he was only using me all along. That he only had me as his vice-cap -- um, as his subordinate, because he thought he could use me and because I admired him and trusted him."

Edgeworth was silent.

"Mr Edgeworth . . ." the girl began, then trailed off again.

"You know my name?" he asked.

"Oh yes. Um, the person I was here to meet mentioned you. Quite a bit." She shifted her weight again. "But -- I suppose, what I want to ask is -- I know that he, the person who betrayed me, I know that everyone says he's evil. But he was always kind to me. He helped me. He taught me. He was always right, till this. It's hard to believe that it was all a lie."

Edgeworth folded his arms. "I had a mentor," he said, "who I trusted implicitly. I always believed that he was right when he said that the guilty should be punished, and that all men were guilty of something. When I found out that he . . ." He found it difficult to actually say the words. ". . . that he was guilty himself, I felt betrayed. But he did many good things, even if he also did evil ones. He brought many criminals to justice."

"But he betrayed you," the girl said.

Edgeworth nodded. "But that, in itself, does not invalidate the good that he had done."

"Then what would?" the girl asked. "Because if you trust someone -- if you trusted them -- then surely . . ." She swallowed. Tears stood in her eyes. "How am I supposed to know who to trust now?"

Edgeworth looked down at her bent head. "In the courtroom of life, Miss Hinamori, we all seek for the truth. We must examine the evidence, listen to the testimony of witnesses, and then finally make a judgment. My mentor von Karma did many good things, but in the end he killed one person, arranged the death of a second, and would have had a third," he did not say me, "condemned for murder. He showed no remorse. He would have done it again if he could. Based on this truth, I can only choose to move forward. You say that you were assaulted, that your company was betrayed, and that other people have attested to his own words. You must decide what to do next, but whether you accuse or defend the man who betrayed you, the truth must be your guide."

She swallowed again, and looked up at him. She didn't look comforted. "Thank you, sir," she said jerkily. "I'm sorry to have made you go over those things again."

"It is not important," Edgeworth said. "If it helped you, then . . . I am glad that it helped."

She nodded. "Mr Edgeworth? There is one thing I want to say?"

"What's that?" he asked.

"I think that whatever else happened, whatever else he did -- your mentor was proud of you. In the end. Even in spite of what happened. There were moments when he was glad to have you as his protégée."

Edgeworth blinked. "What do you mean by that?" he demanded.

"Excuse me," the girl said, and slipped past him at a run, sandalled feet quiet on the carpet.

"Come back!" Edgeworth called. He strode after her (prosecutors did not run), but she had already reached the bend in the corridor and vanished round it. When he got there, she was gone.

A polite girl, if a little strange. He hoped that she found what she was looking for.