A/N: Welcome to Chapter Three of Renaissance! Thanks to my reviewers and anyone who is following the story, and I am sorry for the slow updates. They'll probably only get slower, since I start work in about two weeks and I'll be gone through August, so updates will be sporadic at best. Still, the next couple of chapters are written and just need editing, so they'll be up eventually. This chapter starts the beginning of Harry's trial. I realize that the wizarding court system probably wouldn't run like this, but I took some creative liberties and set it up similar to an American court system, with lawyers, witnesses, the prosecution, and the defense. I think it's written the way it is because I was reading a lot of Jodi Picoult while writing it--she's fantastic and so are her trial scenes--and it's definitely more dialogue-based than action-based. It's also longer, almost twice as long as the second chapter, which I'm quite proud of. Anyway, enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the single character you don't recognize, and he's an idiot at that, so that's not saying much.
When the door to his holding cell swung inwards and Zacharias Smith walked in, Harry got a bad feeling again. He and Smith had never gotten along, and his year-mate--who worked as an Obliviator--had absolutely no reason to be standing in his cell. Without a word Smith pointed his wand straight at Harry, his lips tugging into a cruel, smug smirk.
"Smith, what the hell—?" Harry felt the shields of his mind being bombarded. He instantly clamped down, strengthening them, but the attack continued. The Legillmency was clumsy, nothing at all like Voldemort or Snape, but it was brutal, battering at his mind like a ram. And Harry had never been good at Occlumency, especially not after years where his skills had gotten rusty.
He felt a kick to his side, then another, and curled up in pain, opening his eyes. He lost concentration for a second and the former Hufflepuff broke into his mind. It was only for a few seconds and then the attack was gone. Harry opened his eyes, staring up.
"I demand the right to meet with my client."
Harry heard Hermione's voice echo down the hallway and sat up. He heard a lower reply that he couldn't make out and then his friend's voice again.
"By the seventeenth code set by the Wizengamot in 1951 all lawyers have a right to meet with their clients and cannot be prevented from doing so, no matter how highly-accused their client is. Furthermore, if you do not move out of my way I will slap you with a lawsuit so hard that your head will still be spinning a year from now, when you are sitting on a street corner because no one will hire you!"
Harry grinned. He heard the click of her heels on the stone floor and she appeared around the corner, her cheeks flushed. The snarl on her face fell into a frown of worry when she saw him and she rushed over to his cell.
"Harry! Are you alright?"
He stood with a groan, working the kinks from his neck. "I've been better, 'Mione."
"I'll get you out of here. I promise."
He shook his head. "Don't promise things that you can't deliver, Hermione." His eyes flickered to the guard and she followed his gaze, her body stiffening.
"I'll try my hardest, then."
He approached the bars to his cell but was stopped by a voice. "Mr. Potter, you will maintain a distance of three feet from Mrs. Granger-Weasley." Dawlish said. Harry's face contorted and his hands curled into fists.
Hermione faced him. "Harry is my best friend as well as my client. He wouldn't hurt me."
"And his victim was his wife. It's for your protection, Mrs. Granger-Weasley. Even without his wand he's still dangerous."
"You're assuming guilt before there has even been a trial!"
Dawlish sneered. "I assure you, Miss, that this trial is a mere formality. Mr. Potter is as guilty as they come."
"I'm going to prove otherwise." Hermione said, her eyes flashing as she squared her shoulders.
The Auror bowed his head. "No offense, Mrs. Granger-Weasley, but that is impossible." He walked away and she glared at his retreating back.
"Sit down, Hermione." Harry said, shaking his head. "And tell me how bad it is."
She conjured a chair and sat, clenching a vanilla folder in her hands. "I'm not going to lie, Harry. It doesn't look good. No one can account for your whereabouts between twelve and the time you were arrested. The last spell performed by your wand was the Cruciatus. And…." She trailed off.
"How is Ginny?"
Hermione shook her head, her face pale. "She's…bad. She doesn't like to be touched; they've had to use calming potions and stunning spells just to examine her. And she screams." Her eyes were haunted. "Oh God, Harry, I never want to hear her scream like that again. Ron hasn't left her side."
"Emma and JJ?"
"Mrs. Weasley's taking care of them right now, so that she doesn't have to think about Ginny."
He closed his eyes, sitting on the metal cot and lowering his head into his hands.
"Harry, I will get you out of this." Her voice was strong and confident, unwavering, and he wanted so badly to believe her.
"You don't know that, 'Mione."
"I know you're innocent. I'll bring up character witnesses, and use Veritaserum to verify your story. There's no way to trick Veritaserum, Harry. No way in the world."
He looked up at her and tried to smile.
"I wish I were so sure."
He was brought into the courtroom shackled like a common criminal. The steel was cold and chafing against his bare wrists, and with every move the metal clanked.
The room was packed; every spare inch filled with whispering, staring people. He was only too aware of his filthy clothes and his unwashed hair, and he shrank under the scrutiny of the masses, feeling small. Hermione was waiting at the front of the room for him, her lips pressed together into a thin line, looking as professional as they came.
A flash of a camera went off and he winced, knowing that his face would be spread across every paper in England the next day, full of comments on his innocence or his guilt, which ever came to be decided.
Scanning the crowd he spotted the flaming red hair of his in-laws. Mrs. Weasley was crying; he could see the heaving, choking breaths even from his current position. Ron was pale and had bags under his eyes, but his look as he gazed on his best friend was one of supreme confidence. Luna and Neville were also there, next to the Weasleys, and he could see the steadiness of their gazes. Draco Malfoy was a little further away, looking as regal and collected as ever.
A sharp shove from one of his guards propelled him forwards. He was shackled into place next to Hermione and stared at the arrayed Wizengamot before him. He saw Umbridge, Roger Davies, Fudge, and tens of other familiar faces.
None of them were friendly.
The Minister of Magic, a severe man in his early forties named Harland Ashby, banged his gavel and silence fell in the room. "Harry James Potter, you are being charged with one count of torture, one count of using an Unforgivable, and one count of plotting against the Ministry of Magic. How do you plead?"
"My client pleads non-guilty to all charges." Hermione said, in a clear and ringing voice.
There was muttering in the courtroom and Harry leaned closer to Hermione.
"Plotting against the Ministry?"
"They're claiming that you've gone dark, Harry." She whispered back.
He closed his eyes.
He'd been right. That nagging little feeling hadn't just been paranoia.
Merlin, how he wished he had been wrong.
"Very well. We'd like to call Mr. Norton Dawlish to the stand."
The Auror took the stand, his eyes cold as he looked at Harry.
"Mr. Dawlish, can you tell us of the events that occurred on April 13th?"
"We received information of an Unforgivable being cast and reports of screaming coming from the home of Mr. Potter. Upon arrival we found him with his wife, who was screaming uncontrollably. Investigation into the matter revealed that he had cast a Cruciatus Curse."
"And Mrs. Potter's condition?"
"Tortured into insanity, like Frank and Alice Longbottom." Harry looked to the crowd, where Neville flinched at the names of his parents. Luna caught one of his hands in hers, squeezing it gently, and Neville's shoulders seemed to square, his chin jerking up. He caught Harry's gaze and smiled tremulously.
"The wand that cast the Cruciatus was definitely Mr. Potter's?"
"Mr. Potter could not give an alibi for his whereabouts. He informed us that he had been stupefied and woke up to find Mrs. Potter in her current condition. No one can verify his story, and no one had seen him since noon that day."
"Mrs. Granger-Weasley, you are free to question the witness."
Hermione stood, walking to stand in the middle of the courtroom.
"Mr. Dawlish, how long have you been an Auror?"
"How many times have you had interaction with Mr. Potter?"
"Not many. Four or five, perhaps."
"Do you have any vendetta against Mr. Potter?"
"Didn't you threaten him during his questioning? Tell him that you would make sure he never saw his wife or children again?"
"The proof is there that he tortured his wife, ma'am. I'm a family man myself and I suppose I got a little angry."
"So the proof is there?"
He nodded. "Without a doubt. The wand, the hours that are unaccounted for."
Hermione paced the courtroom floor. "Did you ever think to check Mr. Potter for fading residue of a spell?"
"I don't understand the question."
"Did you think to check to see if there had been a spell cast upon him, such as a Stupefy?"
"Did you ever consider that his wand may have been used by someone else in order to cast the Cruciatus?"
"That's highly unlikely."
She smiled without humor. "Is it really? I know of an incident in which it has occurred before. Bartemius Crouch Jr., an escaped Death Eater hiding with his father, Bartemius Crouch Sr., used a stolen wand—Harry's wand, actually—in order to summon the Dark Mark into the sky at the 1994 Quidditch World Cup. The spell was later blamed on the Crouch house-elf, Winky. Testimony of the truth was later given by Crouch Jr. under the influence of Veritaserum to Severus Snape, Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore, and Minerva McGonagall."
Dawlish glared at the brunette, who smirked up at him, predatory.
"Now, you said that there was no one to back up Mr. Potter's story as to his whereabouts."
"Is there anyone who saw him walk out of the Ministry of Magic?"
"Is there anyone who saw him walk into his home?"
"Then how do you know that's what happened? How do you know he wasn't Stupefied, like he said, and dumped into his home with a wand that had already been used to Crucio his wife?"
Dawlish leaned forwards. "There is no one to prove that he did, Mrs. Granger-Weasley. But, more importantly, there is no one to prove that he did not."
"We would like to call Dr. Martin Monroe, an expert on the Rise and Fall of Dark Lords, to the stand."
Hermione hissed from her position next to Harry; he looked over to see her frowning. She caught his eye. "They're trying to make you out to be the next Dark Lord."
He felt sick, his stomach churning, and he gripped the table with white-knuckled hands. He felt her hand on his shoulder. "Don't give up, Harry."
He nodded and turned his gaze to the small man with wire-rimmed glasses taking the stand.
"Dr. Monroe, can you state your credentials to the court?"
"I graduated in the top of my class from Hogwarts in 1955. I've been researching the Dark Arts and Dark Lords for over forty years, and I'm the author of The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts. I have studied extensively the rise and fall of Grindelwald and of You-Know-Who."
Harry and Hermione exchanged glances, both remembering their first ever conversation. She closed her eyes. "If I had known that book was going to come back and bite me in the arse…." He shook his head.
"Why is it that even a so-called expert on Dark Lords can't say his freakin' name?"
Hermione's eyes lit up. "Harry, I think you just gave me an idea."
"Is there something that all Dark Lords have in common?"
"Ambition. They have a thirst for power that eventually leads them to turn to the Dark Arts."
"And how do they begin their descent to the Dark Arts?"
"They normally appear light and, as they burrow further and further into the Dark Arts they become corrupted and are revealed as thus. Their first act of murder or torture usually occurs at a relatively young age, in the early twenties. They are also strongly adverse to competition, intent on wiping out those of a similar power level." The so-called expert explained.
"Does Mr. Potter show some of these same signs?"
"In my opinion, yes." There was an intake of breath from the crowd. "He showed no qualms about taking the lives of Death Eaters, and no remorse in the aftermath. He is very young and has already killed and presumably tortured. He is clearly a powerful wizard, and the temptation to use that power must be very great. One might wonder why he was so vehement in his pursuit of Voldemort, and if, perhaps, his apparent desire to rid the Wizarding World of evil was actually a desire to destroy his competition."
Harry was gripping the table so tightly that he thought it might just splinter in his hands. His skin was pale, his eyes blazing. He wanted to stand up and scream at them, but two things held him down. One was Hermione's worried, pleading gaze for him to remain calm. The other was the knowledge that if he made any kind of outburst they would turn it against him, using it as proof of how dark he was.
He clamped his mouth shut and concentrated on trying to set the man on fire with his glare.
"Thank you, Dr. Monroe. Mrs. Granger-Weasley, the floor is yours."
She stood, and from the way she moved Harry could tell just how angry she was.
"Dr. Monroe, could you please tell me Lord Voldemort's name?"
The people of the courtroom flinched as she said the dreaded name.
The man frowned at her. "You just said it."
"His real name. I'm sure you, of all people, know that Lord Voldemort is just an anagram of his real name."
He shifted uncomfortably on the stand.
"I don't know his name."
"Yet, you call yourself an expert on Dark Lords?"
"I am an expert on the rise and fall of Dark Lords."
She nodded dramatically. "Doesn't part of researching the rise of a Dark Lord include knowing their true identity? Ah, but never mind. So you know when Voldemort—whose real name is Tom Marvolo Riddle, Dr.—committed his first murder?"
He shifted again. "He's killed so many people that it is hard to decipher who, exactly, was first—."
"His first murder was that of his father, Tom Riddle, followed shortly by the murder of his paternal grandparents. But perhaps those details aren't important to you. You said that Dark Lords possess great ambition, correct?"
"Yes." The man said firmly, obviously glad to be back on safe ground.
"So, by your proclamation that Mr. Potter shows signs of becoming the next Dark Lord, you are implying that he too is very ambitious?"
"Yes. He is a quickly rising Auror who commands great power already."
"Are you aware that Ministry of Magic asked him to become Minister after his defeat of Voldemort?"
The man's mouth dropped open. "N-No."
"Harry turned it down. His reasoning was that he wasn't interested in holding such a powerful position and that he wanted time to heal from the trauma of the war. That's another thing you mentioned, Dr. Monroe. That Harry 'showed no qualms about taking the lives of Death Eaters, and no remorse in the aftermath.'" She stopped her pacing and looked up at him.
"Dr. Monroe, have you ever faced down a Death Eater?"
"Have you ever faced someone who was intending to kill you?"
"So you have no idea what it feels like to be in that situation, do you?"
"I have, Dr., and let me tell you this. When someone is trying to kill you, you don't stop and think 'oh, maybe I should use a less serious spell so that this person can get up in five minutes and kill me then'. Especially not when that person has killed people that you know, friends of yours. You do what you have to."
"Have you ever met Harry Potter?"
"Have you ever spoken to any of his friends?"
"Have you ever spoken to anyone who knows him as more than a passing acquaintance?"
"Then how have you come by your conclusions that Harry is the next Dark Lord? From second-hand stories, trashy articles written in tabloids?" She stared up at him, disgust written all over her face. "So much for theory based on reputable sources, Dr. Monroe. No further questions."
"We'd like to call Marietta Edgecombe to the stand."
Harry and Hermione looked at each other as the red-haired woman came out and took the stand.
"Could you tell us who you are?"
"I'm a reporter of the Daily Prophet. I was a year above Potter at Hogwarts, and I was in Dumbledore's Army during my sixth year."
"What is Dumbledore's Army?"
"It was a secret organization that Potter and his friends created to undermine Professor Umbridge. They said it was to teach us defense against You-Know-Who, but I think it was for Potter to start recruiting a secret army. They made us sign a parchment that kept us from telling anyone about it."
"Why did you join?"
"My friend, Cho Chang, wanted to and she dragged me along. But I knew it was wrong, so I told Professor Umbridge."
"And what happened?"
"Potter got caught and dragged up to the Headmaster's office. But they hexed me, because I told someone."
"How did you feel about Mr. Potter in school?"
"He always made me nervous, scared. He didn't respect the teachers and he went around talking Parseltongue and saying You-Know-Who's name. He had fits sometimes, where he would fall to the floor, and he got really angry sometimes, just started yelling."
"It's like she's reading from one of the Daily Prophets during fifth year." Harry whispered.
Hermione was glaring daggers at the woman. "I should have spelled that 'SNEAK' to stay on her face permanently."
"Miss Edgecombe, did you know Ginerva Potter?"
The woman nodded. "Yeah. We both work at the Daily Prophet, and I knew her in school. I told her a couple of times that Potter wasn't good for her, but she always told me that I didn't know what I was talking about." She cast a venomous look at Harry. "Now I wish I'd tried harder."
"Thank you, Miss Edgecombe. Mrs. Granger-Weasley—." Hermione was already on her feet.
"Miss Edgecombe, what do you write at the Daily Prophet?"
"I'm a gossip columnist."
Hermione nodded. "Gossip. Isn't it true that seventy-six percent of the Daily Prophet's revenue during the Second War was generated because of gossip concerning Harry Potter?"
The woman looked hesitant. "I guess so?"
"Isn't it also true that having Harry Potter convicted of torture and assault would give the Daily Prophet material for the next hundred issues?"
The woman shrugged. "Maybe?"
Hermione narrowed her eyes. "Do you consider yourself a pretty woman, Miss Edgecombe?"
"Y-yes…." The woman stuttered.
"It must have been hard during your sixth year when you had the word 'SNEAK' written across your face in pimples for a month, after you sold out Dumbledore's Army."
The woman's face twisted and Hermione continued on.
"Doesn't that give you a nice reason to resent Harry Potter? Because he made you a laughing stock in school, showed everyone what kind of person you really were? Wouldn't it make you the happiest person to not only secure your job for the next ten years, but also get revenge against Mr. Potter? Isn't that right?"
Hermione shook her head.
"No further questions." She walked back to Harry.
"Hermione Granger-Weasley, you are brilliant."
"That girl has always pissed me off."
"We will take a ten minute intermission before continuing, after which the Defense will call their witnesses."
Harry turned to Hermione. "Who are our witnesses?"
"Ron, McGonagall, Neville, Malfoy, and you."
"He owes you a life debt, remember? And I wanted someone who isn't quite your friend for a nice little contrast. It would be easy for your friends to lie in your defense, but even though you and Malfoy are on good terms, he wouldn't lie just to cover your arse and he won't hail you as some miraculous savior."
They were approached by two flaming-red heads, one of them missing an ear. "Hey Harry, how are you holding up?"
Harry smiled up at the two twins. "Okay. Hermione is keeping me entertained, at the very least." The twins grinned at their sister-in-law.
"You are amazing—,"
"—never seen anything like it."
"Seriously, Hermione, how you took down—,"
"—that arrogant, git of a Dr.—,"
"—who actually kind of reminds us of Percy—,"
"—and the way you destroyed that bitch—,"
"—brilliant!" They finished together, and both Hermione and Harry were smiling.
"Thanks, Fred, George. I have to admit, that sticking it to Edgecombe was awesome."
"It was art, Hermione."
"How are Ron and Neville doing?"
"They're both afraid that you're going to do to them what you did to everyone else."
She rolled her eyes. "Go tell them that they're idiots. We're on the same side!"
Harry looked up at the twins. "Who is taking care of Emma and JJ?"
"The Wives." George said.
The Wives—short for the Weasley Wives, a nickname coined by Fred and George—consisted of every person who had married into the family. Fleur, Tonks, Penelope, Angelina, Katie, and Hermione. Sometimes, jokingly, Harry was included among the Wives as well, the only 'Weasley Husband' of the group.
"The Wives and the Offspring are all at the Burrow. We figured that Emma and JJ would be more easily distracted if they had their two-hundred cousins all running around them."
"The poor Wives." Harry said, grinning slightly. They certainly had their hands full with the entire third generation of Weasleys: Bill's two, Charlie's one, Percy's one, Fred's three, George's two, and his two.
The gavel banged and they all jumped. "The intermission is over. Please clear the floor and let there be silence." Fred and George hurried back to their seats. Ashby looked at Hermione. "You may proceed with your Defense."
A/N 2: I think I mentioned before that this was AU, but this is just a reminder. The reason why, say, Fred is alive, and Tonks has married into the Weasley family is because certain things happening in the cannon-universe did not happen. And because I want Fred alive, since he's one of my favorite characters.
Go on. Push that little blue/purple button. You know you want to. Everybody's doing it. ^^