The Trial of Dolores Jane Umbridge
A/N and Disclaimer – All of the recognizable pieces of the Harry Potter universe belong to JK Rowling and various corporate interests. No infringement of those copyrights is intended, this is merely an intellectual exercise into 'what-if'. My sincere thanks to Ms Rowling for creating such a complex and entertaining framework and background. This story is 99 and 44/100s canon compliant with the exception of the Epilogue (Epilogue? What Epilogue?) and takes place in the summer and fall of 1999.
Chapter One – Opening Remarks and Points to Order
It wasn't the most spectacular trial following the defeat of Voldemort, nor was the defendant the most notorious, but the trial of Dolores Jane Umbridge was certainly one of the most anticipated, especially by that portion of the wizarding world known as Dumbledore's Army. Almost fourteen months to the day after the Battle of Hogwarts, those that wondered at the opening session of a trial before the Wizengamot on a Saturday smiled grimly when it was pointed out that last day of July was the nineteenth birthday of Harry James Potter. While coincidence does exist, no one really believed that to be the case here, least of all the defendant.
Streaming through the open doorway into the courtroom's visitor's chamber was a line of hard-faced young witches and wizards. Serious of demeanor and grim, they filed into the room and took up places around the gallery. All of them had been at Hogwarts during Umbridge's time there, and remembered the defendant clearly. While the offenses that she committed against them and the other students and staff at the school were not among the crimes she was charged with, most agreed that they had been among the first public victims of Umbridge's tendencies towards tyranny and oppression. Silently they filled all of the seats allotted to them, except for two. A pair of chairs sat conspicuously empty as they awaited the arrival of their designated occupants.
As the prisoner was brought into the lower chamber, it was apparent that her time at Azkaban had not been kind to her. While still toad-like in demeanor, she was more like a toad that was wasting away to a particularly unwholesome shade of greenish gray. Her hair was much greyer than it had been when she was the head of the Muggle-born Registration Commission, and a haunted look in her eyes dominated her face. Looking around at the witches and wizards of the Wizengamot, she surveyed the hard looks that they returned. The two solemn aurors that escorted her into the chamber seated her in the solitary chair before the dais and stood silently behind her.
Seated impassively in the center of the upper dais, the Minister of Magic watched the defendant with barely concealed loathing. Representative of everything that he was trying to root out of the Ministry, Kingsley Shacklebolt viewed Dolores Umbridge as emblematic of the attitudes that had allowed Voldemort and the Death Eaters to flourish in the first place, the petty evils and hatreds that had hemmed the wizarding community in for centuries.
Far more insidious than the overt evil of a Tom Riddle or even the veiled evil of a Lucius Malfoy, Umbridge was the noxious slime lurking unseen in the corner of an otherwise clean room that contaminated everything that she came in contact with. She was the smiling face that twisted the system to suit her own petty prejudices and insecurities. A mediocre witch at best, she feared and despised everyone who questioned the status quo that provided her with a position and place.
Looking up and seeing that the principle nemesis of Dolores was standing in the doorway to the chamber, he smiled grimly at the look of determination and utter ruthlessness on the face of Hermione Granger. Almost, the Minister felt sorry for Dolores Umbridge at what was about to befall her. Not quite, but almost.
Hermione stepped back from the doorway to Harry's side. "It's still not too late for Kingsley to add charges to the docket regarding the things she did at Hogwarts when she was there." Watching Harry's eyes, she reached out her hand and placed it on his, where the faint scars that proclaimed, 'I must not tell lies' could be barely seen. "I know we voted last night not to, but if you went forward, the rest of the DA would follow."
Shaking his head and smiling at her, Harry squeezed her hand in appreciation. "I still haven't changed my mind. If we go back to what happened our fifth year, it'll look as if this trial is a personal vendetta of yours, mine and the rest of the students."
Glancing into the room at the seats reserved for the surviving victims of Umbridge's campaign at the Ministry, Harry shook his head. "Those folks in there suffered at the hands of her and her minions. Really suffered. Hounded from homes and jobs. Families separated. Some forced to flee the country. Some we still don't know where they are. Others are gone, never to return." Looking back into her eyes, he pleaded. "I won't have them cheated of their due. Her venom and spite caused so much pain and suffering. You were there that day, you saw what those 'hearings' were like."
Shifting his arm and hugging her to him, he put his head against hers and whispered. "Besides, I know what you've got planned. Hermione you're a very vindictive witch and while I love you dearly, I'm very glad I've never gotten on your bad side for very long."
Looking a bit startled, she finally laughed. "Harry, I should have known that keeping a secret around you is next to impossible. I'm not 'vindictive' I'm merely protective. I agree that this is about bigger things than what happened to us, though if someone had stopped her that year, some of the things you're concerned about wouldn't have happened.
"I'm perfectly happy to allow Dumbledore's Army to collect its collective pound of flesh from this anonymously, but I promise you this Harry." Looking into the courtroom and fixing her gaze on Umbridge as the trial was about to start. "Before the final gavel sounds, that foul woman will know exactly why her world is about to come crashing to an end. She's sown the wind, now it's time for her to reap the whirlwind." Kissing Harry tenderly, she grabbed his hand and headed for the seats that were reserved for them.
As they slipped quietly into the chamber, the quiet hush was broken by the sound of chairs scraping on the stone floor. Every member of the DA, Dumbledore's Army, rose as one at the entrance of Hermione and Harry into the chamber. Almost in unison, they all cleared their throats in a "hem, hem" to the amusement of the rest of the spectators and then settled back into their seats.
Looking up at the entering duo, Kingsley tried to prevent the smile that was threatening to break through as he attempted to look sternly at them. Glancing at each other, they looked a bit sheepish as they shrugged their shoulders, trying to convey the fact that they didn't orchestrate that bit of courtroom theatrics. Looking towards their seats, they noticed Ron shaking his head and Ginny sitting there looking defiant as they made their way over to the open seats.
As the gallery settled down, once again, Percy Weasley looked up and saw that all of the participants of the hearing were in place. Glancing over at Kingsley, he took the resigned nod from the Minister as license to begin. He silently tapped his wand twice against the wooden block in the center of his bench and suddenly the sound of the parchment he was nervously rustling in his other hand became audible.
"The Wizengamot is in session. Today we will begin to hear evidence and testimony in the matter of the Ministry of Magic's inquiry into the actions of Dolores Jane Umbridge during the period of the first of August 1997 until the third of May 1998. All beings with knowledge of these actions are hereby called upon by the court to present themselves here to the court assembled to give testimony and evidence regarding those actions so that justice may be administered before these gathered witnesses."
Looking up into the gallery, and gazing at the two who had entered last, he concluded. "Fiat justitia, ruat coelum*". At the intoning of the ritual, a faint blue light ran around the chamber, like St. Elmo's fire, briefly illuminating all of the surfaces and entrances of the chamber, the indication that a capital case was being brought before the court.
Gazing impassively at the advocate before him, Kingsley addressed himself to Umbridge and her defender. "Honored Advocate, is the defense ready for this proceeding to begin?"
Standing slowly, the gaunt wizard rose from his seat and looked over at his client who was obviously straining to say something. "If it pleases the court, can I inquire as to why the defendant has been brought into the chamber silenced? Since the proceeding hasn't yet begun, she can't have done anything to disrupt the proceedings, which is the usual criteria for silencing a defendant before the court." Looking up at Kingsley with a resigned glare, Aloysius Carrenton waited for a reply that he knew would not be to his liking, but the law had required him to ask just the same.
Glancing to Percy, Kingsley silently inquired as to why. In turn, Percy turned his attention to the more senior of the two aurors that had accompanied the defendant into the chamber.
The auror, a younger woman in her late twenties but with an air of competence surrounding her, flushed a bit and spoke with an accent that marked her as having grown up in the narrow valleys of Wales.
"Sorry, Minister. We had to silence her and immobilize her a bit to get her into the courtroom. As soon as she set eyes on that lot," she indicated the students and former students of the DA with a nod and a smile, "she went into a frenzy. She accused us of bringing her here so they could torture her. She was cursing every student that had been at Hogwarts in recent memory, cursing Dumbledore and Scrimgeour, cursing you, but especially those three."
Nodding towards Harry, Ron, and Hermione, she flashed them a brief smile. "What with the session beginning and all, just never had a chance to remove the silence from her. Though from the looks of it, it was probably a good thing that we didn't." Nodding over to her companion, she sighed. "Take it off Robbie, might as well do the physical restraints as well so we can see what she's going to do, this time."
Her companion gave a resigned sigh and raised his eyebrow as he made a peculiar circular motion with his wand. Suddenly a stream of invective and objections pouring from the defendant's lips broke the relative silence of the chamber. Running on for several seconds, she apparently realized that she was actually speaking and she cut herself off as suddenly as the torrent of abuse had begun. Looking wildly around she focused on the sight of her three former students sitting together in the gallery and she lunged from her seat in an attempt to move in that direction.
Kingsley's voice rang out through the chamber, bringing Umbridge to an abrupt halt. "Advocate, please control your client before it becomes apparent that restraints will be necessary for this hearing to proceed in an orderly fashion. I will not have a repeat of the fiasco that marked the proceedings regarding Simon Nott."
Glaring at the advocate, Kingsley remembered the sham that the trial of Simon Nott had devolved down to. At every break in the proceedings, Nott would start expounding, in gory and gruesome detail, exactly what sort of vengeance he and the Dark Lord would extract upon every person in the chamber.
Never seeming to grasp the fact that Voldemort was in fact dead, Nott's calm assurance in being able to carry out his macabre threats was so unsettling that a couple of witnesses suffered nightmares for months following their testimony.
The poor clerk that had recorded the proceedings was required to spend several months on sabbatical on a ministry-leased island in the Bahamas at the insistence of his healers at St. Mungo's. Apparently, Nott continued delivering his dire pronouncements until the moment he set foot in the boat that carried him to Azkaban to begin a two hundred and forty year sentence. At that point he became silent and hadn't spoken a word to anyone or anything since.
Turning to his client, the advocate whispered in her ear. A resigned look came over her face and she stepped back to return to her place in front of the solitary chair in the lower lever of the chamber. Look up at Kingsley she opened her mouth to speak. Once again a chorus of "hem, hem" reverberated from the gallery before she began with a girlish "hem hem". Abruptly looking around she shut her mouth and glared as laughs circled the gallery.
Rapping his gavel on the surface in front of him, Percy was turning a bit red in the face. "The spectators to these proceedings are reminded of the rules of decorum for the Wizengamot. The court finds that the defendant is perfectly capable of speaking for herself and should be allowed to without interference or assistance." Ignoring the sharp look from the advocate, he asked politely. "Are there any motions from the defense before we go with the reading of the charges and specifications?"
"If it pleases the court," Carrenton answered, "there are several motions that I would like to present in open court for the record."
"I take it these are motions that have already been presented pretrial and the answer wasn't to your client's liking?" Percy was about to continue when he was interrupted.
"Hem hem" Clearing her throat, Dolores Umbridge ignored the laughter that accompanied her trademark pattern of speech. "This entire proceeding is not to my liking. Kingsley, I know you have to go through the formalities to appease those three troublemakers, but this really has gone on long enough."
Glaring at the Minister as if he were a first year who had gone on too long explaining why his homework wasn't going to be turned in, she continued in that sickening girly voice she affected. "I really have too much work waiting for me at the Commission to laze around anymore waiting for this nonsense to end."
Shaking his head, the Minister looked from the defendant to her advocate. "Advocate Carrenton, have you informed you client of the seriousness of the proceedings being convened against her?"
"I have, on numerous occasions." Shaking his head, the advocate tried to make unobtrusive shushing motions with his hand towards his client.
"And has she also been informed that the Muggle-born Registration Commission has been disbanded, dissolved and revoked?" Kingsley directed this question to the advocate, ignoring a cryptic "For the most part" addition from Percy.
"I've tried Mr. Minister…" as he was cut off by his client
"Hem hem. Kingsley, that's exactly the kind of thing we need to discuss. You can't seriously expect me to believe that all of the work and progress we were able to make at the Commission has been abandoned and forsaken. These are serious issues that need to be corrected before the muggle-born hound us from our homes and offices…" The rest of her comment was cut off by a sharp crack as the Minister slammed his hand onto the wooden surface in front of him so strongly that the crack of the oaken top of the bench being broken could be heard plainly.
"Dolores Umbridge. You have an advocate who is perfectly capable of presenting your defense. This is neither the time nor the place to discuss matters of Ministry policy, but I can assure you that this entire proceeding is about the work of your 'Commission' and what occurred during nine very shameful months. You will be given a chance to examine the evidence, question witnesses, and present your defense."
The look on his face became more and more dangerous and he swallowed twice and lowered his voice. "But if you seriously think that you will ever be allowed to continue with your vendetta against members of our society, you might just be, to quote one of my newest auror recruits, 'barking mental'. I'm going to encourage your advocate to consider having you evaluated by healers from St. Mungo's if you persist."
Looking sternly at her advocate, he apologized. "I'm sorry Aloysius, I'll have your pretrial motions entered into the record but I'm going to rule on them exactly the same, unless you have additional evidence or precedents to submit." Seeing the resigned shake of the advocate's head, he continued. "As for the bill of indictment, does your client wish to stipulate to the list or are we going to have to read the entire list into the record?"
"Mr. Minister, seeing as I'd like to start presenting my defense before the start of winter term at Hogwarts, we'll stipulate to the list of the bill of indictment and renew our assertion that my client is not guilty of any items listed since she was merely following Ministry policy at the time these events occurred."
"Very well. Mr. Weasley, will you begin presenting the case for the Ministry." And with that, the trial of Dolores Jane Umbridge began. A rather auspicious beginning, two minutes and twelve seconds elapsed before the defendant was silenced for the first time by one of her auror escorts for disrupting the proceedings.
A/N * "Let Justice be done, though the heavens fall."
A/N – The legal system in this story is a cross between those few glimpses we see in canon, the Scottish system with Advocates instead of Barristers and Solicitors, and a variant upon the Roman system, where the judge or presiding official is much more involved in the finding of the truth in the matter than in the traditional English/American systems. The combining of the legislative and judicial branches into one body, and having the executive presiding that canon depicts offers a myriad of ways for things to get 'interesting' in the course of a trial.