Summary: Hermione wouldn't let Harry face the trial alone. She would research everything she possibly could. So when she finds out about Veritaserum, of course she's going to suggest it. When she learns that anyone can serve as counsel in a hearing, Fudge better watch out.
Mr. Weasley stumbled to a halt outside a grimy dark door with an immense iron lock and slumped against the wall, clutching at a stitch in his chest.
"Go on," he panted, pointing his thumb at the door. "Get in there."
Harry nodded, swallowed hard, turned the heavy iron door handle, and stepped inside the courtroom.
He gasped. He couldn't help himself. It was the same courtroom he'd visited in Dumbledore's Pensieve. Hermione entered directly behind him, forcing him to step forward.
In the high benches ahead of him were many shadowy figures. They had been talking in low voices, but as the heavy door swung closed behind Harry, an ominous silence fell.
A cold female voice rang across the courtroom. "You're late."
"Sorry," said Harry nervously. "I didn't know the time had changed."
"That is not the Wizengamot's fault," said the voice. "You were notified of the change. Take your seat."
Harry's gaze dropped to the chair in the center of the room. His footsteps echoed loudly as he walked across the stone floor. He sat gingerly on the edge of the chair, feeling rather sick.
He felt, rather than saw Hermione stand just slightly behind the chair.
"This is not an open trial, young lady, you must leave."
Hermione stepped forward. "I will be representing Mr. Potter."
"You are a child," said Fudge contemptuously from the front row.
"Surprisingly, according to the Great Charter of Wizarding England, that doesn't matter. I merely have to offer myself as counsel, which I have done."
Bewildered, Fudge look to Percy, who nodded stiffly with a look of disgust. "Very well, let the record reflect that Mr. Potter will be represented by a child—"
"Objection!" Hermione's voice rang strong throughout the courtroom, and Fudge started at the outburst.
"That statement is derogatory and offensive. The record should reflect my name, not my status."
A broad, square-jawed witch with very short gray hair and a monocle pounded her gavel once. "Sustained." She leaned forward slightly to better see Hermione. "Please state your name for the record, Miss."
"Thank you, your honor. My name is Hermione Jane Granger, counsel to Harry James Potter."
Harry tried to keep himself from grinning as Fudge turned an unflattering shade of purple.
"Very well," said Fudge. "The accused being present—finally—let us begin. Are you ready?" he called down the row.
"Yes, sir," came the eager voice of Percy Weasley.
"Disciplinary hearing of the twelfth of August," said Fudge in a ringing voice, "into offenses committed under the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery and the International Statute of Secrecy by Harry James Potter, resident at number four, Privet Drive, Little Winging, Surrey." He paused to allow Percy to finish writing.
As Fudge opened his mouth to speak once more, Hermione's clear voice rang through the courtroom again.
"Your honor, if I may, I have three questions relevant to the proceedings before we begin witness examination."
"Very well, continue, Miss Granger."
"Thank you. First, I ask that Minister Fudge be required to join my client on the floor, as it is obvious he will be acting as the prosecution for this trial. His remaining among the Wizengamot seems an obvious ploy to intimidate my client, not to mention the illegality of any counsel not being on the main floor."
"You are quite correct, Miss Granger. Minister Fudge, if you wish to continue in your capacity of prosecuting attorney, you must move to the floor."
Fudge sputtered, looking like he was desperately trying to figure out a way around the mandate. After a moment, he adopted a resigned expression and stood, nodding to Percy before walking down to the floor.
Harry caught the angry expression thrown at both he and Hermione before Fudge turned to face the Wizengamot. He suddenly understood why Hermione was determined to have him on the floor. Every action would be analyzed.
"You had other questions, I believe, Miss Granger?"
"Yes, your honor. My second question is why Mr. Potter was not informed through the proper channels that his hearing had been moved both in time and location."
"As I understand it, an owl was sent to Mr. Potter."
"That is true. However, law mandates that all persons involved in a trial or hearing be notified of any changes at least 6 hours in advance to ensure the owl will reach the recipient in plenty of time for travel adjustments to be made. As I understand it, an owl was sent approximately 20 minutes before the new trial time."
"Who sent the owl to Mr. Potter?"
Harry heard a lot of shuffling of feet before Percy Weasley announced, very quietly, "I did."
The old witch fixed her gaze on him. "And when was said owl sent?"
Percy Weasley gulped audibly. "This morning."
"Considering the trial was moved to 8 o'clock this morning, you could not possibly have sent the owl early enough to meet regulations. Why was the owl delayed when the trial was rescheduled nearly a week ago?"
Percy's response was inaudible.
"Speak up, boy!"
"M…Minister Fudge requested it be sent this morning."
The witch's stern gaze was now fixed on Fudge. "Is this so?"
"He…He must have misunderstood my request. I will have words with Mr. Weasley."
The witch nodded. "See that you do. Mr. Potter, you have my apologies that you were not notified in a timely manner."
"Thank you, your honor."
"Miss Granger, I believe that leaves you with one more question?"
"Yes, your honor, however, I suppose it is more of a request. My client would like to testify under Veritaserum."
The gasps that rippled around the room confused Harry. True, he wasn't sure what Veritaserum was, but he trusted Hermione, and was sure she would not steer him in the wrong direction. The horrified look on Fudge's face was also a good indicator that he should go with the idea.
The witch pounded her gavel. "Order in the courtroom!" Slowly the whispers quieted. "Miss Granger, that is a most unusual request. You are aware of precisely what Veritaserum does?"
"Yes, your honor. Considering the lies that have been printed in the Daily Prophet this summer about my client, we are eager to ensure that every person in this room believes him."
"Very well. Mr. Potter, do you agree with your counsel's request to have you testify under Veritaserum? Keep in mind it is the most powerful truth serum known to wizard-kind."
Harry nodded. Truth serum, that was definitely a good idea. "Yes, your honor."
"Very well. We will have a five minute recess to allow an auror to procure a vial of Veritaserum." As she pounded the gavel, everyone started muttering.
"Hermione, you're doing great."
"Thank you, Harry. You're doing pretty well yourself."
"I haven't done anything."
"Precisely. I was worried you'd have trouble maintaining a neutral expression. I wanted it to look as though we had discussed everything. I meant to do that with you this morning, but we didn't get a chance."
"It's ok, Hermione. I trust you."
"Besides, I've enjoyed watching you toy with Fudge." Hermione grinned.
A very short time later, the witch pounded her gavel again. "Order in the courtroom." She paused a moment to allow complete silence to descend. "Auror Tonks has returned with the Veritaserum. We shall proceed with the trial. Auror Tonks, please administer the Veritaserum."
Tonks strode forward from where she had apparently been standing at the back of the courtroom. "I hope you know what you're doing, Harry," she whispered. "Open your mouth please, Mr. Potter."
He did as requested. Tonks held a small dropper and carefully administered three drops onto his tongue. He could feel an odd sensation descend upon him, not unlike the Imperious Curse.
"Thank you, Auror Tonks," said the witch. Tonks nodded, and stepped back into the shadows. "We shall start with identifications for the record. Will the accused state his name and date of birth?"
"Harry James Potter. July 31, 1980."
"Thank you, Mr. Potter. Counsel for the accused has been identified. Interrogator: Cornelius Oswald Fudge, Minister of Magic. Head of Trial: Amelia Susan Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and senior member of the Wizengamot. Court Scribe: Percy Ignatius Weasley.
"The charges against the accused are as follows: That he did knowingly, deliberately, and in full awareness of the illegality of his actions, having received a previous written warning from the Ministry of Magic on a similar charge, produce a Patronus Charm in a Muggle-inhabited area, in the presence of a Muggle, on August the second at twenty-three minutes past nine, which constitutes an offense under paragraph C of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery, 1875, and also under section thirteen of the International Confederation of Wizards' Statute of Secrecy."
"Yes, Miss Granger?"
"On behalf of my client, I refute the second charge."
"Minister Fudge, such outbursts are not welcome in my courtroom." Fudge looked livid. "Miss Granger, on what grounds to you refute the charge?"
"The Muggle in question is my client's cousin, and, therefore, is fully aware of the existence of the magical world. It is, therefore, impossible for Mr. Potter to have violated section thirteen of the International Confederation of Wizards' Statute of Secrecy."
Madam Bones seemed to deliberate for a moment. "Mr. Potter, was the Muggle in attendance on the night of August the second your blood relation?"
"And this Muggle is aware of the existence of the magical world?"
"And has been since you received your Hogwarts letter?"
"Very well. Charge two is dropped."
"Now just one minute!"
"Minister Fudge, I have warned you about outbursts in my courtroom. If you cannot control yourself, I will have you removed and find a different interrogator."
With what appeared to be great difficulty, Fudge spoke. "My apologies, your honor."
"To continue. The revised charges against the accused are as follows: That he did knowingly, deliberately, and in full awareness of the illegality of his actions, having received a previous written warning from the Ministry of Magic on a similar charge, produce a Patronus Charm on August the second at twenty-three minutes past nine, which constitutes an offense under paragraph C of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery, 1875.
Madam Bones paused a moment, then lifted the paper she was reading from and appeared to read it again. "Mr. Potter, did you produce a fully-fledged Patronus?"
"A corporeal Patronus?"
"I do not understand the question," replied Harry.
"Your Patronus had a clearly defined form? I mean to say, it was more than vapor or smoke?"
"Yes. It is a stag. It is always a stag."
"Always?" boomed Madam Bones. "You have produced a Patronus before now?"
"And you are fifteen years old?"
"You learned this at school?"
"Yes, Professor Lupin taught me in my third year because the Demetors affected me so badly."
"Impressive," said Madam Bones, staring down at him. "A true Patronus at that age…very impressive indeed."
Some of the witches and wizards around her were muttering and nodding. Others, however, were frowning and shaking their heads.
"Objection, your honor. This hearing is not about how impressive the magic was," said Fudge in a testy voice.
"You are correct, Minister Fudge. We must proceed with witness examination."
"Thank you, your honor." Fudge stepped forward so he was standing directly to Harry's right. "Mr. Potter, you received an official warning from the Ministry for using illegal magic three years ago, did you not?"
"Yes." The nature of the question made it difficult for Harry to say anything else while under the influence of the Veritaserum.
"And yet you conjured a Patronus on the night of the second of August?"
"Knowing that you are not permitted to use magic outside school while you are under the age of seventeen?" Fudge sounded excited, almost gleeful.
"Objection! Your honor, Minister Fudge is badgering my client."
"I agree with you, Miss Granger. However, seeing as you will have the opportunity to ask any further questions you like in just a moment, I will allow Minister Fudge to continue his questions. Minister Fudge, I will remind you to adjust your tone."
"Very well, your honor. Mr. Potter," he said, in a more neutral tone, "Are you aware that you are not permitted to use magic outside school while you are under the age of seventeen?"
"Very well. As you have all heard, Mr. Potter willfully used magic outside of school in direct violation of paragraph C of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery." Fudge stepped back into the shadows, looking very sure of himself.
Harry noted that most of the witches and wizards were all shaking their heads and muttering. If he had not been under the influence of Veritaserum, he was certain he would feel angry and worried.
"Miss Granger, you may question your client."
"Thank you, your honor."
"Mr. Potter, in response to Minister Fudge's question, why did you receive an official warning from the Ministry for using illegal magic three years ago?"
"Because a house elf named Dobby used a levitation charm in an attempt to get me expelled from school."
Fudge snorted and muttered something that was sure to be disbelieving under his breath.
"May I remind the court that Mr. Potter is under the influence of Veritaserum and, therefore, cannot lie?" Harry didn't miss Fudge's face draining of color.
"To continue. Mr. Potter, why did you conjure a Patronus on the night of the second of August?"
"To save my cousin and myself from being kissed by Dementors."
That simple statement caused an uproar. Harry couldn't make out individual voices, but the general tone was one of alarm.
"Order!" boomed Madam Bones.
"Miss Granger, if you agree, I would personally like to ask a few clarifying questions of Mr. Potter."
"As long as I may object if the questions veer from the matter at hand."
"Then by all means, your honor."
"You mentioned Dementors, Mr. Potter?"
"Yes, your honor. There were two."
"You said you were attempting to save yourself and your cousin from being kissed?"
"Yes, your honor. When I conjured my Patronus, one of the Dementors was reaching for me. Once it had been chased away, I urged my Patronus to attack the other Dementor, it was crouching over my cousin trying to pry his hands from his face, which it was inches away from."
"That is serious, indeed. Very well, Mr. Potter, I have no further questions for you. Miss Granger, you may continue."
"Thank you, your honor. However, I have no further questions for my client. I believe we have proven, beyond doubt, that Mr. Potter's conjuring of a Patronus falls under clause seven of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery which allows underage witches and wizards to use magic in exceptional circumstances."
Harry chanced a glance at Fudge and thought he looked as though he might explode. He was suddenly thankful he was under the influence of Veritaserum, as otherwise he might have smirked.
"Very well, I believe we have heard all that we need to in this matter. Those in favor of clearing the accused of his charge?" said Madam Bones. Harry looked up. There were hands in the air, many of them…almost all! He didn't even bother to count.
"And those in favor of conviction?" There were a few hands, including a toad-like witch in the front row. Harry didn't understand how they could possibly believe him guilty.
"Very well, Mr. Potter, you are hereby cleared of the charge of performing underage magic. In light of evidence presented today, I also declare your record clear of both this charge and the warning sent to you in July of 1992. Auror Tonks will administer the antidote to Veritaserum, and then you are free to go." The pounding of her gavel rang through the courtroom.
Harry waited to receive the antidote, then stood, grinning. "Thanks, Hermione. You were amazing." He had to practically yell to be heard over the murmuring and Fudge's ranting about previous acts of magic, including when he had blown up Vernon's sister.
"Miss Granger, that was quite impressive." Harry turned to face Dumbledore, who was standing behind him. He hadn't even known he was present.
Hermione blushed. "Thank you, Headmaster."
Harry opened his mouth to say hello, but Dumbledore beat him to it. "I will see you both on the first of September. Enjoy the rest of your summer."
And without looking once at Harry, he swept from the dungeon.
A/N: Another plot bunny that just wouldn't leave me alone. I always wondered why no one suggested the use of a Pensieve or Veritaserum. Originally, I'd planned to keep the original story, but add one of those, but as I wrote, Hermione worked her way into it, and this developed. I really like it though.