Title: Fall- back
Chapter twenty- two: Mrs Malfoy
Summary: After the war Harry moves to Lima, Ohio to try and live a normal life as just another invisible teenager. You know what they say about best laid plans, though. KH/HP
Disclaimer: Anything you recognise…. Isn't mine. Though I probably wish it is. Now I'm sad.
AN: I did worse. No, I did horrible. The only thing I can do is tell you all how wonderfully happy I am that I'm still getting notifications in my email of people following this story or placing a review. I'm so very thankful you haven't all abandoned me!
Truth is, I worked all summer. Like, all of it. 40 hours a week and I didn't go on holiday. I'm still tired and university and my internship are only adding to that. But, y'know. It's for a good cause: my wallet. For real, though. I'm saving up for studying abroad. Transatlantic abroad. I'M GOING TO AMERICA DEARIES! Well, if I've got the money and the clearance to go. So, we'll see about that. But I'm about 95% sure it's happening so…
Okay, enough of me talking. Here's the next instalment. Again, I'm so very sorry for the wait and I can only hope that you wonderful people will forgive me.
On Friday morning, Harry woke up. This, in and of itself, was not unusual. What was unusual though, was the fact that he was not alone. As he peeled his eyes open, the wizard slowly became aware of someone else lying next to him in bed. Determined not to freak out by this, he calmly turned to whoever was lying next to him and found himself looking into a set of familiar warm brown eyes.
"Good morning, Harry," Hermione whispered, before using his awake state to her advantage and shuffling in closer so she could lay her head on his chest.
"Morning, 'Mione," Harry answered, before softly laying a hand on her head to stroke her hair. "What does Ron have to say about you sneaking into my bed when I'm all asleep and vulnerable?"
"Oh, shut up," she grinned, before continuing: "Funnily enough, he hasn't exactly seen you as a threat to our relationship since you started dating Kurt."
"I suppose it's time to prove him wrong then," Harry teased in return, only to receive a soft slap on the chest.
"Stop it, you," the curly haired witch said, before the smile slipped from her face and she buried her face deeper into his chest. "It's today."
Harry allowed his own smile to fade away, as well. "I know," he whispered.
Hermione angled her head so she could look up at him a bit. "Are you sure about this?"
"As sure as I can be," the wizard replied. "I need to do this."
"Everyone will know who you are, though," Hermione said. Harry snorted. The witch glared at him and continued: "I know you feel like everyone already does, but that's not true and you know it. The wizarding world is smaller than it has been in centuries. The muggle population has never been larger. The whole world is going to know your name now. Are you sure you're ready for that?"
"I'm not," Harry responded honestly. "You know I've never liked the attention. But I can't let Mrs Malfoy go to Azkaban either. She was only in it to protect her family. She saved my life."
Hermione sighed. "I know."
"What time is it?", Harry asked, unable to see his alarm clock since his friend's hair was blocking the view.
Hermione turned her head to look at the clock.
"Half past two," she answered. "You've got another forty- five minutes to get ready, then we really have to go. The trial starts at eight o'clock, so it's out of the way as soon as possible. Kingsley still wants to go over what you're going to say, so that he won't have to look surprised in front of all the Wizengamot and I think it's better for you to already be inside of the ministry before all the press arrives."
"Probably wise," Harry agreed, ignoring her mutter of 'of course it is'. He then continued: "I don't much fancy finding myself at Rita Skeeter's mercy again."
"Somehow, I don't think she'll be much trouble," Hermione predicted. "If heard right –and I'm sure I have- dear old Rita has been banned from writing for any sort of journalistic paper for at least the next fifty years."
"Was she now?"
Hermione hummed. "Indeed she was. I do believe someone owled the ministry about her illegal Animagus abilities. Coupled with the fact that she's obviously been stark raving mad for the last few years, it was no wonder they banned her from being able to influence the public."
"Stark raving mad, huh?" Harry asked, grinning at his friend's use of a phrase her boyfriend liked to use.
"Well, I suppose having to live in a small glass jar for over a year will do that to a person," the witch replied offhandedly. Harry wondered when he had stopped caring about trivial things such as having control over another person's life and only smiled at her, happy she made her point clear to the annoying bug.
"I suppose it would," he said, before unceremoniously shoving her out of his bed. "Now, out. I need to get dressed."
"Now remember Harry," the redheaded Weasley family patriarch said, resting his hand on Harry's shoulder. "You're only there to tell your side of events, you're merely there to testify on the Malfoys' behalf. The court can't order you to do anything other than that. Do you understand?"
"I understand, Mr Weasley," Harry answered, taking the time to recollect his thoughts. After getting ready for the day and having a brief breakfast with Teddy and Remus, the latter of which looking distinctly worried at Harry having to go to the ministry with the war still fresh in people's minds, Hermione had nearly thrown Harry into the burning fireplace to get to the ministry on time, Harry finding out international floo travel was even less pleasant than regular floo travel (he already dreaded having to go back in the afternoon to pick up the Hummel- Hudsons and do it all again).
They had met with Kingsley almost immediately after arriving in the ministry, where Harry and the minister had gone through a list of questions he would likely have to answer on the stand. After about an hour and a half of doing this, Kingsley had seemed pleased and had announced him ready to testify. Afterwards, Harry and Hermione had made their way down to the department for the Misuse of Magical Artefacts where they had met up with Arthur Weasley to settle in for the wait. After a while, Ron had come tumbling out of the fireplace to join them. Now though, they were all waiting in the hall outside courtroom ten, the same courtroom Harry had once had his own hearing in. Something told him the trial today would be a whole lot different from his own.
The hearing for Mrs Malfoy's case had already been going on for half an hour with the three of them (Mr Weasley had been called back to his office fifteen minutes in, something to do with tap dancing grandfather clocks in a shop in Hammersmith) when Harry turned to his best friends.
"Thank you for being here," he said to them, "You didn't have to be here."
"Of course we do," Hermione replied immediately, Ron nodding beside her. "We'll always support you."
Harry smiled at her, then looked at Ron. "I mean, I know you're not fully with me on this, so it means a lot."
"'Mione talked some sense into me," Ron shrugged, throwing a fleeting grin at his girlfriend, " and the truth is, if I had been in Malfoy's shoes, I don't know if I would have done things any differently."
Harry looked at Hermione, who was smiling proudly at Ron.
"I don't know what you're doing to him," he said, "but keep it up. He's growing up, that one."
"Oi, shut it," Ron said, but he was grinning.
Before Harry could respond or Hermione could scold the both of them for behaving improperly outside a courtroom, the door to courtroom ten opened a fraction and a young Auror (from the look of his robes) came peeking around the corner, drawing their attention.
"Mr Potter?", the man asked. Harry nodded and the man's eyes predictably slid up to the young wizard's forehead briefly. He then said: "They're almost ready for you now."
"Thank you," Harry nodded, before smiling at his friends and following the man inside. He distinctly heard his friends whisper a 'good luck' before the door closed behind him.
The courtroom hadn't changed all that much since Harry had had his own hearing there over three years ago. It was still dark and gloomy and the benches on which the Wizengamot sat still looked intimidating, and even though Harry knew he wasn't the one accused of any crimes today, he still didn't feel very comfortable entering the room. The Auror told him to wait in the shadows at the side (out of sight of anyone there, but still very much able to see what was happening in the room for himself) of the room for a bit until he was called to the stand. Then, the Auror wished him luck and bid his leave, seeming to surprise both himself and Harry when he actually bowed before leaving him behind. Harry watched in bemusement as the Auror seemed to scold himself as he walked off, shaking his head and with his shoulders slumped. Harry decided he'd made the right choice when he chose to go to Ohio instead of remain in the Wizarding World directly after the war, if people were going to be treating him like that.
During the short time between being led in and called on, Harry took in his surroundings. The Wizengamot seemed fewer than they had been when he himself had sat in the chair of the accused. The members looked weary and downtrodden, as if they had had more than enough of their jobs and were only there out of loyalty. Harry figured that was to be expected after having had to send so many people off to Azkaban in such a short period of time.
The members of the Wizengamot were all sat on the benches directly in front of the chair in the middle of the room. The two rows of benches on both the left and right side of the room were filled with reporters. Beneath the right layer of benches, a table with equipment was set up, a short stocky man trying to man all of it by himself. Some of the equipment looked Muggle, so Harry figured this man was the person making sure the final trials of the war were broadcast to the rest of the world.
In the middle of the room, the chair of the accused was sat. In it was Narcissa Malfoy, looking nothing like the stately woman Harry remembered her to be. Her hair no longer shined with the brilliant glance it used to have and her eyes were dimmed. Her posture, while still immaculate in her pride, was slumped ever so slightly. The heavy chains that hung limp throughout Harry's own trial were strapped tight around her body and arms. She was the visage of a proud woman who had given up somewhere along the line. Harry decided he didn't care for that look very much.
Across the room, the Wizengamot –who had been speaking amongst themselves, arguing about something Harry decided he probably didn't want to know about- straightened up, speaking to Mrs Malfoy:
"The list of offenses listed against you is very long, indeed, Mrs Malfoy," Kingsley spoke, and Harry saw her nod in a defeated manner. "As you know, most of the offenses are unforgivable and should automatically land you back in your cell in Azkaban for the foreseeable future. None of the witnesses you had listed for yourself were deemed reliable enough, being either family members or Azkaban inmates themselves."
"I'm aware of that," Mrs Malfoy replied, her voice still haughty even in her defeat. "And I'm fully willing to accept-"
"Hang on, Mrs Malfoy, I wasn't done yet," the minister interrupted her, causing her to look at him strangely. "As I said, none of your witnesses were deemed reliable enough. Someone else has stepped forward, though. He was deemed reliable and willing to testify on your behalf."
Mrs Malfoy sucked in a breath. "Who would..?" she started, but then seemed to think better of it and just nodded.
"If you would?" Kingsley asked, looking right at Harry and beckoning him forward, asking him to come out of the shadows and into the spotlight. The moment Harry walked into view a gasp went through the gallery of reporters and cameramen started to frantically get their camera's ready again. The Wizengamot, for their part, had been of course given a list of character witnesses and were not as surprised. When Harry passed the chair, he heard Mrs Malfoy let out a faint 'oh my'. A short witch dressed in burgundy robes pointed Harry to where he was supposed to stand.
"Your full name, place of birth and current residence for the register, please," she said in a kind voice.
"Harry James Potter. Godric's Hollow, Wales. America," he replied, raising his eyebrow when the witch looked as if she was going to ask for a more precise place of residence. She glanced up at Kingsley, who nodded, and then dropped the question she was obviously going to ask.
"Mr Potter has been kind enough to come all the way to London for this, so let's not question him on where he's been, shall we?" Kingsley said, a threat thinly hidden in his voice. Harry stifled a smile.
"You may begin your questioning, Madame Bones," the minister said. A middle-aged witch with light brown hair stood from her chair.
"Mr Potter," she said primly, "are you aware of the offenses Mrs Malfoy has been charged with?"
"I am, Madame," Harry replied.
"Do you realise that whatever testimony you lay down today, she will not get of scot- free?"
"I do, Madame."
"Very well, then," the witch said, "I'm curious to hear what you have to say. Tell us why you're here to testify on Mrs Malfoy's behalf."
Harry was a little taken aback. Both Kingsley and Mr Weasley had predicted a lot more questions from the Head Auror (for Madame Bones had replaced Kingsley when he had taken up the mantle of minister, Harry remembered) before he could give his testimony. He didn't hesitate before speaking, though.
"Without Mrs Malfoy, I don't think we would have won the war."
The bold statement caused a whole lot of mumbling amongst the Wizengamot and nothing short of an uproar amidst the reporters. Kingsley only tossed him a smirk, non-verbally conveying that he thought it a strong opening, but doubted that he could follow through. Harry smiled back angelically, like he had seen Ginny do on numerous occasions.
"Please explain to us what you mean by that, Mr Potter," Madame Bones requested, after having calmed down both the Wizengamot and the reporters with a few stern looks.
"I'd be happy to," Harry smiled congenially. He dreaded having to talk about the night of the battle and his encounter with Voldemort in the forest, because he knew he couldn't tell them the whole truth. Getting hit with a Killing Curse and surviving once was bad enough, but twice? Besides, before he left for America he had sat down with Ron, Hermione and the portrait of Professor Dumbledore and together they had decided that both the Horcruxes and the Hallows would best remain a secret. Too bad none of them had foreseen Harry willingly testifying in a court case.
"The night of the battle of Hogwarts, I went to meet Voldemort in the forest," he started explaining, carefully choosing his words. He sighed at some shudders at Voldemort's name. "Spells flew, and at one point he thought he had killed me-"
Gasps filled the courtroom, not allowing him to finish the sentence. He could've sworn he heard someone whisper a 'poor boy', but shrugged it off.
"Right. Well, he sent Mrs Malfoy to check if he had actually killed me, which was the biggest mistake he could have made. I say this, because Mrs Malfoy is a mother. Her son was in the thick of the battle in Hogwarts and she was concerned about his safety."
He saw Madame Bones nod near invisibly, and he suddenly remembered her niece Susan having been at Hogwarts during the fighting. Glancing around, he saw more witches had a slightly sympathetic look on their faces.
"She crouched down beside me, checked my pulse and my breathing. I felt her fingers stiffen on my throat as she realised I wasn't dead. She laid her head near my face as if to better check for my breath and whispered a single word: 'Draco'."
He looked at her over his shoulder to see her lips had curled into the ghost of a smile, her eyes a bit glassy as if she was remembering the night as well.
"I tried not to move as I whispered he was safe. And he was, as far as I knew. I had seen him not too long before. She then stood up, masked the expression on her face and turned to face Voldemort. She then spoke the second word I had heard her say all night: 'Dead', and he believed her. They all did."
He laughed bitterly for a second. "Nearly threw an impromptu party, they did. Poor Hagrid was in tears. You know the events that happened next. They've been repeated ad nauseam in the Prophet and in earlier trials, I'm sure."
"While that may the case, Mr Potter," Madame Bones said, "there are still some details that are not clear to us about that night. After you seemingly leapt to live again, there was something about a snake that only very few people seem to know the significance of, and I have to admit we're curious."
"With all due respect, Madame," Harry replied, "I'm not here to talk about Nagini. I'm here to speak on the behalf of Mrs Malfoy, not a pet snake."
His reply got a few titters from the audience, but the Head Auror only nodded curtly.
"Very well, then," she said. "Is there anything you'd like to add to your statement?"
Harry pretended to think about it, then nodded. "Yes," he said. "Yes, there is. I would like to add that Mrs Malfoy acted bravely on behalf of her only son. I'm no fool, I know she didn't do it because she cared for me, or any such sentimental reason. She behaved like a proper mum should. In fact, she acted just like mine did. She did everything she could to make sure her son was safe. And I think she should be commended for that, not vilified."
With that, Harry decided to rest his case. The witch smiled a little half smile at him and said:
"Very well, Mr Potter. You may leave the stand and take a seat in the witness stands if you please."
"Thank you Madame," Harry replied with a nod and left his spot to take a seat in the bleachers.
He watched with a grin on his face as the jury seemed to fall apart in multiple fractures and sat back in his seat. He had had his say, and no matter what the verdict would be, he could walk away with a clear conscience knowing that the entire Wizarding World and large parts of the Muggle population have heard the truth.
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