Hello Lovely Readers!
I know! I'm sorry! Please don't kill me for leaving you with such a hanger! It wasn't intentional, I swear. My computer actually packed a sad on me and then my internet died and then I had a massive tantrum over the last two months because I couldn't write and then my brain decided to start working again and I stole dad's computer xD Now I have a funky new laptop that my Grandparents got me for Christmas, so BIG SHOUT OUT TO THEM!
As always R&R, even if it's just to tell me how much of a bitch I am for making you wait haha
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Witnesses: Part Two
When the murmurs and the stir of the room finally died, Rabastan stood from his seat and walked to the centre of the room where the witness was now seated in her chair. He had to take a deep breath before starting the routine that he and Hermione had talked over previously. It was show time, no room for mistakes or mishaps. He either got this right, or his client would die. His innocent client would die.
"Miss," he said quietly, "Would you please remove the glamours from your face so that the court may see what you really look like."
The woman did as she was told and pulled her wand from her pocket. As her features began to change Rabastan saw how some people in the room suddenly realised who they were looking at. Their eyes widened or they gave audible gasps. Most of these signals came from the Wizenagmot themselves, particularly those who had survived both the first and the second war. Two particularly loud gasps came from the stands where Rabastan could see a father and his daughter looking down upon her with tears in their eyes, their dream like states suddenly abandoned for shock and grief. Others however, were completely oblivious to her true form and looked on as though she had done nothing at all.
"Would you please state your full name for the court?" He asked her.
"M-my name," she said, stuttering slightly, "Today is Nora Green. My name prior to 1981 was….Aemilia Lovegood."
That was when the gasps really came. The realisation of who was really sitting before them seemed to hit the courtroom and once more they were in turmoil. However they seemed more eager to hear what her story was rather than make noise because they silenced themselves just as easily as they had started. McGonagall didn't even have to ask them nicely.
"Mrs Lovegood," Rabastan said after a while, "Would you please raise your left sleeve to bare your forearm to us."
She was hesitant.
"I assure you that anything you say or do within this court will not result in prosecution," he told her calmly, "You are protected here."
She looked up at McGonagall as though asking for confirmation.
"He is right, Mrs Lovegood." McGonagall nodded, "Anything said here stays here and can not be used against you lawfully."
Aemilia closed her eyes for a few moments, suggesting that the judicial aspect was not really what she was worried about but did as she was told none the less. As the green mark became visible to the rest of the room there were no shocked whispers or murmurs, merely a stunned, disbelieving silence.
"I ask now that Mr Draco Malfoy comes to check the validity of the mark," Rabastan said to the court.
"Why is that?" McGonagall asked.
"Because the only other former Death Eaters in this room are myself, Mr Lucius Malfoy and Severus Snape, all of whom are for the Defence and could be deemed as biased," Rabastan explained, "Mr Draco Malfoy grew up around the marks and the dark arts. Even if he does not have one himself, he would still be able to tell if one is real, imprinted by the Dark Lord or a fake. This way the Prosecution can not accuse us of falsifying evidence."
McGonagall thought about it for a few moments.
"Very well," she said, "Mr Malfoy, if you will…"
Draco stood up rather quickly and moved over towards Aemilia swiftly. He took her arm harshly in his hands and looked down at the squirming serpent on her forearm for a long time and then poked it with his wand. She winced at the contact of the wood on her skin but did not complain as he continued to examine it thoroughly. Finally, after five minutes of poking and prodding he stepped back with a look of confusion in his eyes.
"It's real," he said, "The Dark Lord placed this on her arm."
Rabastan was half expecting him to lie to the court and tell them that it was a fake but was more than grateful that the boy had some semblance of honour left within him. Lucius too sighed in relief as his son returned back to his seat. He had thought for sure that his hatred for his father would overwhelm his dignity and reduce him to deceit. He couldn't be gladder that he was wrong. Maybe there was hope for them yet?
"Now that your mark has been verified, I ask now that you tell us how it came to be on your arm," Rabastan asked Aemilia, "Start from the beginning, leave nothing out and I will only ask minor questions along the way."
The woman took a deep breath and looked up at her former husband and her daughter for the briefest moments before nodding.
"I married straight out of Hogwarts," she stated, "To a man who I believed was the love of my life, Xenophilus Lovegood. He was kind and generous and…quirky, everything I'd ever wanted. But as the war raged on, things became more and more difficult. In addition to worrying about our safety, the price of every day living began to rise and it wasn't like we had a lot of money to begin with…"
"What did you do?" Rabastan asked her.
"With my spells business going under and with what little money Xeno was making at The Quibbler, I had to take up an extra job," she told him, "I started work at Borgin and Burkes on May 15th in 1977. It wasn't exactly my ideal job but it was the only one going that I was able to get. I was over qualified, yes, but all other jobs seemed to be filled at the time or didn't offer the kind of money that I needed. Borgin and Burke were very generous to their shop assistants back then, though I think that might have been due to the danger the place attracted at the time. Death Eaters were their main source of income, looking for objects and spells that they could use to further their cause. It wasn't long however, before Borgin and Burke asked me to start inventing for them. They had apparently heard of my spells business and wanted me to start working for them as a magical engineer."
"You charmed dark objects for them?" Rabastan asked.
"I also created spells and potions that I am very ashamed of," she nodded with a sigh of regret, "If I could go back and change it all…But they paid me handsomely for it and soon enough, Xeno and I were living comfortably again. Our mortgage was paid off, we were free of any debts, Xeno had enough to take over The Quibbler and by 1979 we were planning on starting a family. Unfortunately by that point the Dark Lord had heard of my talents and decided that my working at Borgin and Burke's wasn't enough."
"He sought you out? Asked you to join him?" Rabastan asked.
"Not directly at first," she said, "He sent a few of his Death Eaters in one afternoon while I was getting ready to close up for the night and they told me of his wishes. They gave me twenty-four hours to think about it."
"Did you think about it?"
"I did," she sighed, "While I didn't believe in what he was trying to do I knew there was a very real chance that he would win. There's a reason why I was a Ravenclaw and not a Gryffindor after all. But in the end my conscience won out and I told them no. I went home that night to find my house in flames and-"
Her voice broke. This was where the tragedy of her life began where it had all gone completely and utterly wrong. She managed to pull herself together, just barely.
"The Dark Lord stood before it," she whispered, "His wand in one hand, a potion in the other…and my husband at his feet. He was unconscious and bleeding from his head. The Dark Lord then told me to kneel before him and reveal my left forearm. I just-just stood there at first and looked at him and then Death Eaters came out of the shadows and grabbed me, forcing me to the ground and ripping my sleeve…"
She gave a couple of great heaves as she remembered the event and tears began to spill from her eyes. Lavender pulled out a few tissues she had been carrying around with her and gave them to Rabastan who then handed them to Aemilia.
"What happened?" He asked her quietly, some emotion leaking into his own voice.
"The Dark Lord burned his mark into my arm," she whispered and sobbed, "The pain was almost too much to bare…I'd never screamed so much in my life. Then he poured the potion on it and if I had been frightened before, I was more terrified than ever now. The moment it touched my skin it was like I lost all control of my body. I knew who I was, I could still feel and think and see but I wasn't in control. I-I could feel his voice inside my head, whispering, taunting, encouraging. He was a blot of darkness in the back of my mind from then on, pulling my strings like a puppet and her master. And he truly was my master then. I had no choice but to do as he ordered."
More tears escaped her eyes as she fought furiously for control. As Rabastan looked around the room he could see that she wasn't the only one. Luna was staring down at her mother with more sadness and regret than he had ever seen in the girl and Xeno had a few tears of his own. He then looked over at Potter who was looking at Aemilia with so much empathy…He too knew what it was like to be controlled by the Dark Lord, to have his presence inside his mind.
"From then on, I lived with him and his Death Eaters," Aemilia suddenly continued, "I invented things for him at his bidding, all the while completely unable to control my actions. He had me do things that I would never have done if I had control of my body and mind, no matter how desperate for money I was. Death Eaters sometimes used me as a whore or target practice when I wasn't working, sometimes both at the same time and being under his constant control made me a rather…willing participant. There were sometimes days where he allowed me to have my body back but in those days I was often too weak to try and escape…Sometimes he would take control of me and not allow me to remember what I had done during that time. When I was lucid I would see scratches or marks on my body that hadn't been there the last time I was in control or the last time he let me watch…"
"What did you do on the days that you were lucid?" He asked, a sudden fear in his voice. This was the part that would put him in the spotlight, the part that would see him and his daughter in the papers for a while. But it was necessary. They needed to see her as a human being, desperate, devalued and broken if they were going to win this. She needed to be believable and this was the only way to do it.
"At first I just…cried," she whispered, "But then I found out that there were others who had been in my position, either because of the mark or the imperius curse and I sought comfort from them…You in particular, Mr Lestrange. You and I often had the same days where we were in control of our bodies and we were often placed in the same cells day in and day out…"
There were a few murmurs from the crowd at this though nothing terrible. They were still reeling from the fact that she was even there. He remembered how widely her death notice was published all over England…
"The Wizenagmot recognizes Professor Horace Slughorn," McGonagall suddenly said.
"Mr Lestrange, is it really appropriate for you to be questioning someone you have had…intimate relations with?" He asked, seemingly have responded to the meaning of Aemilia's testimony immediately.
"Well considering the other Law Enforcer just got thrown out of the courtroom, I don't really have a choice," Rabastan rolled his eyes before turning back to his witness. "Can you please recount for the court, your final days of imprisonment?"
"They were cold," she told him after dabbing her eyes a bit with her tissues, "Very cold. The only reason I remember is because he allowed me to remember. I had just finished making a rather bizarre potion that he had requested, something about a permanent version of the Polyjuice potion…I don't really remember much of that…"
Rabastan looked meaningfully over to Harry and Severus who looked at each other at the same moment. They had all spotted the same thing in her testimony and filed it away for further investigation.
"I didn't even know what the date was, but I found out later that it was October 31st," she continued, "He had left for the evening and I was sitting in my cell when all of a sudden I felt a giant pressure on my brain. I thought at first that someone was secretly torturing me but it didn't feel like the cruciatus curse."
"How so?" Rabastan asked, "What was the difference?"
"The cruciatus curse targets every portion of your body with intense pain, both on the skin and under it," she told him, "This was just in my head and it wasn't stabbing the way crucio does. It was more pounding than anything else. And then just as suddenly as it had started it stopped. Out of nowhere I felt my arms and legs begin to work, my mind suddenly return to a conscious and functioning state…I knew by some miracle that I was free."
"You knew that the Dark Lord was dead?"
"No," she shook her head and whispered, "He wasn't dead. I don't know whether it's a side effect of the potion or not but no matter where he is now, dead or alive, I can feel him. Back then I could still feel his presence in my mind but dormant. Like he was sleeping, waiting for a chance to strike. As soon as I got the chance, I ran from the hellhole I was kept in and went to find out what had become of my husband. I made sure that I left Borgin and Burke's for good after that and never touched the subject of Magical Engineering again. I went to work in Azkaban Prison, guarding the very people who had imprisoned me and in 1982 I gave birth to my daughter, Luna."
"I'm sure this is a question that is on everyone's mind at the moment," Rabastan said softly, "So please, try to put aside your pain and answer honestly for me. Why is it, that you decided to fake your own death."
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, cleaning her cheeks with the tissues once more before opening them and looking at him again.
"While I was at the prison, not only did I see many of my captors inside the cells but also many of those I came to call friends," she told him, "Yourself included. I did as best I could to keep you out of trouble, including inventing a charm that allowed you to stop seeing the dementors while you were in there. It seemed though that…As much as I loved Xenophilus back then, and even still do now, I had developed feelings for you. This, you already know of course but I suppose it is necessary to tell the rest of the world?"
He gave her a brief nod.
"We began an affair," she told the courtroom, "An affair that seemed to keep us both sane as we tried to live in a world without the Dark Lord and yet with the knowledge that he could come back at any moment and rip everything apart once more. His presence was constantly in the back of my mind, wanting, waiting for an opportunity to cease me again and use me for his own selfish purposes. We drew comfort from one another once more, as though we were back in that tiny cell again, hoping that our lucid days would last longer than they ought. Xeno had no idea…until now. I guess it was a combination of that fear…and another that made me decide to fake my own death. It was in 1990 that I found out I was pregnant again with my second daughter, Aria, and it was not Xeno's child."
There were louder murmurs at this and a few flashes from the cameras of the media but Rabastan paid them no mind.
"What did you do?" He asked her.
"I began to pretend that I was inventing again, spending hours in the basement doing nothing and yet pretending to do something. Three weeks after I found out about Aria's existence I made an explosion, made sure that Luna witnessed it and then ran away. After I gave birth to Aria, I left her with a few of your relatives and gave them specific instructions to come to the prison and see you and get to know you and once you were released and cleared of all charges, she was to be in your custody. I altered my appearance after that and reapplied to be a guard. I was there to watch her grow, every single time she came to visit you."
There was a pause as she calmed herself one more time and then looked directly at him.
"In 1995," she whispered, "Fourteen years after the Dark Lord fell, I felt him rise again. That same pressure on my skull that I had experienced when he was defeated in 1981 came back at full force and I knew that he was back. But for whatever reason, he didn't reach for me again. It wasn't until a year later, when Lucius Malfoy was brought in, a long with several others, that I found out that he still believed me to be dead. His connection to me had been partially broken during his resurrection and so it only told him where I was and not my condition. He thought that I was rotting in the Azkaban cemetery and no one had bothered to tell him that I had "died" in my own home."
"How did you come across this information?" He asked her quietly.
She looked over in Lucius' direction with sympathy and he looked at her with the same expression. Through out her entire testimony his icy glare had slipped away and he had looked at her, listened to her with more emotion on his face than he had ever displayed in the courtroom before.
"When Lucius Malfoy was taken to prison for the battle in the Department of Mysteries," she said, "I went to his cell. Whispers had reached the prison about how he had changed drastically over the past year, how he was becoming cold and indifferent towards his child and his wife, how he was doing things he had never done before. I thought at first that he was simply reaping punishment for not looking for the Dark Lord during his absence but then I heard about how he had gone to the Department of Mysteries and thrown spells that had been…cruel, unyielding. Through out my time with the Death Eaters in 1979 and 1980, he was the only one who didn't use me as some toy. He was the only one who abstained from torturing me or abusing me. When he was loyal to the Dark Lord, it was strictly for business and never some sick twisted pleasure like the others. I knew then that he had been controlled during that battle."
"Objection!" Draco suddenly rose from his chair, "This is hearsay!"
"Mrs Lovegood lived through being controlled, she would know the signs when she saw them!" Rabastan protested.
McGonagall thought about it for a few moments.
"Objection overruled, Malfoy," She said. Rabastan then turned back to Aemilia.
"What did you do then?" He asked.
"I went to Malfoy's cell," she said, "I saw the mark on his arm, saw that he was probably lucid for the first time in months…I unlocked his cell, walked inside…and I held him."
"You held him?"
"He'd had his body hijacked for the past eleven months," she told him, "He had said and done things against his will, things that were now impossible to repair…He was in pain and I knew that pain all to well."
"Just to clarify," he said, "You can attest, in all honesty, that you knew for a fact that Mr Malfoy had been acting against his will at the Department of Mysteries?"
"Yes," she said, "And every battle after that. After hearing everything that he had supposedly done, hearing tales from other Death Eaters…there is no way that he was in control."
"Thank you, Mrs Lovegood," Rabastan said to her before returning to his seat. Lavender then wrapped her arms around him and told him how proud she was of him, and how she didn't care about his adulterous ways. He couldn't help but smile at that and watched as Aria walked up to him. It pained him to see tears in his little girl's eyes but he knew they needed to be shed. She walked up to him and hugged him, burying her head beneath his chin and staying in his lap for the rest of the trial.
"Your witness, Mr Malfoy," McGonagall said. Draco stayed in his seat for a few minutes and appeared to be contemplating all that had been said. He tapped the tip of his quill against the desk and looked at Aemilia with a sense of concentration and scrutiny, as though he were searching for the truth behind her eyes. Something in her story had affected him greatly, Rabastan realised. Something she had said caused a change in his demeanour and character, in his view of the world he lived in and his objective had now changed…
She stormed inside her house, throwing her trial bag to the floor and slamming her fist against the wall. Not once in all her years had she ever been this angry, not once in all her years had she ever been this frustrated or irritated or down right mad! She wanted to kill Draco for what he had done! For the first time in her life she was seriously contemplating out in out murder and she hated him for it! She had never hated anyone in her god damn life!
She breathed heavily as she moved through out the house, towards the kitchen and finally into the liquor cabinet where she found her favourite brand of firewhiskey. If this screwed up week didn't warrant a drink, then she didn't know what did.
And there she sat, thinking, waiting, hoping. She mused over all that had happened in the past twenty-four hours, how much had changed. Her perception of so many people had been altered, her life had been forever changed and there were so many questions that needed answering that she simply didn't have the tools to address.
Her career was ruined.
Her friend was now her enemy.
Someone was trying to kill her.
Three of the worst things that could happen to anybody and she was sitting there, wallowing in self pity. Where was her Gryffindor pride? Her courage? Her strength? She was the smartest witch of her age for Merlin's sake! Why couldn't she think her way out of this mess?
The answer was simple.
She was scared.
Not for herself, but for Lucius. The same thing that made her a brilliant Law Enforcer was now her biggest weakness. She cared for him deeply and it was clouding her judgement, stilling her thoughts and blinding her to what was really important. It was once her greatest asset, after all if you care for something or someone enough then you will do just about anything for them. You would kill for them, die for them, forsake everything that you are. That was what allowed her to bend the rules for her clients, to go out of her way for them. Even when she was defending Narcissa and Severus, back when she couldn't stand the sight of either of them, she felt something for either them or their cause and that was what had driven her to defend them so valiantly. It was what had driven her so hard for Lucius as well and now she was backed up into a corner because of it. All she could think about was how she had let him down, how her mistakes and lack of self control had now cost him his life. She had no illusions about what the Wizenagmot would do to him once he lost. They would throw him to the dementors and not blink an eyelash. And even if by some miracle she was wrong, it was more than likely that the psycho who had a serious obsession with Voldemort would get him.
She suddenly lost her thirst as she gazed down into the seemingly bottomless glass before her. Drinking wasn't going to help her. She needed to somehow expel her fear for Lucius and her anger with herself and start thinking straight again if she was going to undo the damage that had been done. She stood up with a sigh and poured the contents of the glass down the drain, watching it swirl in the sink before disappearing forever.
She needed to think. Badly.
She walked upstairs to her office with a heavy heart and a wilting soul and sat in her chair behind her desk with her head in her hands. Where could she start? What problem would she try to deal with first? There were so many she was facing that it almost seemed impossible to pick a place to begin. That was when she took out a quill and a piece of parchment and began to map it out…
Ex-D.E murderer on the loose – Draco possibly involved.
My suspension – Draco involved.
Sabotage of Lucius' case – Draco involved.
When she broke it down like this, it didn't seem so much of a weight. As she looked down at her list she saw that the only link between all three events was Draco Malfoy, something that she had known for a while now. She just hoped that she was wrong for once in her life about the level of involvement he really had. While she was angry with him, she couldn't help but worry and hope that there was something she could do to help him. He had been there in her hours of need over the last three years, buying her a drink when she needed it, offering her a hand when no one else would bother.
As she looked down at the list she realised that the most important to deal with was the Death Eater who threatened to kill them all. There were only a certain number of them left in the world now and very few of them would have the guts to try and pull something like this now that their master was gone. Either they were insane or just plain stupid. She made a list of them as well and any attributes she could remember from reading a few personal files a little while back.
Amycus Carrow – Too much of a coward and magically incapable of anything higher than a bad levitation spell.
Yaxley – Possibility, but not definite. Magically strong, adept at concealment.
Jugson – Magically capable but hasn't got the brains to pull it off. If he is involved, he'll have to have a partner who put him up to it.
Then the idea occurred to her and she wrote it down.
More than one?
It was certainly possible. It wouldn't have surprised her if a few of them had banded together in their exile to get back at Lucius by destroying his defence. But was it a strong enough motive? So far, they only seemed to be coming after her and making Hermione's life a misery, they hadn't touched Lucius or his case. Either way, the fact that there could be more than one meant that Amycus was back on the table. She then began to list the others…
Macnair – Definite possibility. Magically capable, malicious enough, quite talented with torture.
She paused at his name. He was definitely nasty enough to attempt something like this and was an absolute fanatic when it came to the Dark Lord, seconded only by Bellatrix Lestrange. But why would he do it? Why would any of them do it? The same argument of motive kept floating around inside her head and until she figured out what it was she had a feeling that she wasn't going to figure out her assailant's identity.
Then another question came to mind. Where was he hiding? She didn't know why, but she had the distinct feeling that he was close. Then again, he would have to be in order to get through the wards to Kingsley's home and to Azkaban to get to Bellatrix. It would have been no problem for him to find Avery, especially if they had access to the same privileges that Lucius did through his mark. It was just sheer luck that she had been there at the time he had decided to attack and kill her witness.
She suddenly heard the roaring of flame from downstairs and frowned. As she looked up at the clock she saw that she had only been home for a half an hour at the most, which meant that the others were at least another hour away. Who could possibly be visiting her in the middle of the day? She got up from her desk, leaving the paper where it was and laying down her quill before venturing back downstairs to her living room where she saw someone she definitely did not expect and she frowned in confusion.
"What are you doing here?"