Disclaimer: I don't won Harry Potter or any character from the series.
Defending Sirius Black
A Visit to Gringotts
"Vernon, what will we do?" A desperate Petunia Dursley asked. "I won't have this freak growing up anywhere near our Dudley."
"Calm down, Petunia." Vernon replied. "Remember what you said about those freaks having a bank in their world?"
"Yes. Gringotts they call it." Petunia answered. "Why do you care?"
"The boy's parents must have left some money in that bank." Vernon explained. "If we have no choice but raise their child, we might as well be paid for this. If we're lucky, they might even point out someone who'd take the boy from us."
Not believing they'd be that lucky but always welcoming some extra money, Petunia told Vernon how to reach Gringotts and how a pub named The Leaky Cauldron serves as a gateway between the normal world and the freaky one. Later in that day, despite Petunia's warning that Vernon might be unable to find The Leaky Cauldron since it wasn't someone from 'their lot' who told him about its location, he went there and found out the concealment doesn't seem to know, or care, about how the muggles learn about it. At first, the patrons were surprised that someone so obviously muggle could enter without a wizard guiding him but eventually reasoned he must be someone allowed to know about the Wizarding World. A bartender, whose name Vernon assumed to be Tom because of what Petunia told him about The Leaky Cauldron, asked him "Welcome to The Leaky Cauldron. May I help you?"
"Yes. I'd like to go to Gringotts." Vernon answered.
"Right this way, Sir." Tom replied and then tapped his wand at a brick wall, opening it and revealing Diagon Alley. "Go straight ahead until you find a marble white building. That's Gringotts. Beyond that you'll find Knockturn Alley but it's not safe going there."
"Thank you." Vernon said with rare politeness as he entered Diagon Alley.
"You're welcome, Sir." Tom replied. "Have a nice day."
As Vernon Dursley walked towards Gringotts Bank, he noticed several things that disgusted him but he internally admitted he feared it to be worse. He also found some sort of relief at learning there are newspapers in the Wizarding World, even if he didn't imagine himself reading anything with "Prophet" at the name. As he reached his destination, Mr. Dursley stopped to read the bank's poem.
"Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there."
While Vernon Dursley wasn't one who approved of imagination, he believed that poem to be a good way to discourage thievery. Already knowing he'd find goblins inside the bank but now knowing what a goblin looked like, he mentally prepared himself for the worse before entering. Once inside, Vernon Dursley felt some relief and walked towards a goblin that seemed to be a teller. "Excuse me."
"Yes?" The goblin sneered.
"My name is Vernon Dursley and I'd like to know if my sister-in-law and her husband had any accounts in this bank." Vernon explained his reason to come to Gringotts.
"And what are their names?"
"Lily Potter née Evans and James Potter." Mr. Dursley's answer shocked the goblin and anybody else within earshot.
"Follow me, Mr. Dursley." The goblin replied. "Anything regarding such important clients as James and Lily Potter requires special care." Inside a private office, the goblin introduced Vernon Dursley to another goblin. "Good morning, Mr. Dursley." The other goblin said. "I am Griphook, manager of the Potter accounts. I've got word you claim to be related to James and Lily Potter."
"That's right." Vernon replied, wondering how important and wealthy James Potter was among the freaks.
"May I see a proof of your identity, Mr. Dursley?" Griphook asked, worried Mr. Dursley might be some imposter trying to cheat the Potters out of their money.
"Certainly, Mr. Griphook." Vernon replied, showing his identity card.
"Muggle, that document might be enough for your world, but I'm afraid we'll need a drop of your blood here." Griphook replied and then noticed Vernon's reaction. "Don't worry, Mr. Dursley. We can magically close the wound."
Vernon then provided the goblins with a drop of his blood and soon the name 'Vernon Dursley' magically appeared in front of them. "Mr. Dursley, your sister-in-law and her husband were some of our clients but I fail to see how it is of your concern."
"My wife and I are raising their son." Vernon explained, shocking Griphook, who quickly grabbed a copy of James and Lily's will. "Mr. Dursley, according to the Last Will and Testament of James and Lily Potter, you and your wife should only become Harry Potter's guardians as a last resort."
"Albus Dumbledore said Petunia and I were the only family left that could take him in." Vernon explained and then showed the letter Dumbledore left with Harry, which also explained about a supposed protection Harry couldn't keep anywhere without someone blood related to his mother.
"Well, I suppose it's not possible to contest the validity of these wards without a magical guardian available." Griphook commented. "And all three guardians appointed by James and Lily Potter are unavailable."
"What happened to them?" Vernon asked.
"Sirius Black, who happens to be Harry Potter's godfather, is in Azkaban Prison." Griphook explained. "As a lycanthrope, Remus Lupin would never be allowed to raise a wizarding child and Peter Pettigrew is dead."
"You say this Black fellow is in prison. What's he been charged with?" Vernon asked.
"Accessory to the murders of James and Lily Potter; accessory to the attempted murder of Harry Potter; and the mass murder of Peter Pettigrew and 12 muggle bystanders." Griphook casually answered.
With some effort, Vernon Dursley managed to hide his disgust at how casual the goblin sounded while mentioning crimes of that nature. "Considering when James and Lily were murdered, I assume the magical government hasn't found the time to try anyone accused of being their murderer's accomplice." Vernon commented.
"You're right, Mr. Dursley."
"When will the trial take place?" Mr. Dursley asked.
"It won't." Griphook casually answered. "Bartemius Crouch, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, decided a trial for someone so obviously guilty would be a waste of time and money."
"WHAT?" This time Vernon Dursley didn't even try to hide his disgust. "Is there anything that can be done to fight this injustice?"
"Sirius Black betrays relatives of yours, leading them to their deaths and to your nephew becoming an orphan and you call it an injustice when he's left to rot in prison for this?" Griphook asked.
"How can anyone be sure of his guilt if he's not allowed to plead his case in a trial?" Vernon asked.
"Crouch says the evidence against Sirius Black leaves no doubt about his guilt." Griphook replied as he produced a file. "However, if you want to judge for yourself, you can read the records of his case and, if you still have doubts, Sharpclaw, the manager of Sirius Black's accounts, will gladly help."
Upon reading the file, Vernon Dursley was surprised it was so small considering what he expected from a list of evidence to convict an accused mass-murderer. "The evidence against Sirius Black is circumstantial." He stated. "They believe there's no way James and Lily's murderer would have found them without Sirius Black's help just because they assume he was their Secret-Keeper. And the mass-murder charge? They just assume he caused the explosion that claimed the victims' lives. There's not even any solid proof that Peter Pettigrew died in that explosion. And they deliberately took what could be a case of Survivor's Guilt for an admission of guilt."
"If that's how you feel, Mr. Dursley, I'll call Sharpclaw." Griphook replied. "Meanwhile, since you and your wife are raising Harry Potter, I suggest you read the records of the accounts his parents left behind."
Accepting the suggestion, Vernon Dursley read the records and was surprised with all those numbers. He found no stipend for helping Harry before Harry turned eleven but he assumed James and Mr. Black already had some agreement of sorts. As Sharpclaw arrived, Vernon explained his reasons to believe Sirius Black might be innocent and Sharpclaw, defending Sirius Black's interests, helped him to put it in legal language. "Thank you for your help, Mr. Dursley." Sharpclaw said. "I was afraid I'd never find a legal way to force Crouch to allow my client to plead his innocence."
"Everyone who's accused of being a criminal should be allowed a trial." Vernon commented. "How can the magical government refuse this?"
"As the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Bartemius Crouch can refuse the courtesy of a trial to anyone except in one of the following cases: 1) The Minister of Magic opposing the decision, which wouldn't happen in Mr. Black's case, since Minister Bagnold is a politician who doesn't want to increase Crouch's already big chances of replacing her as the Minister; 2) The Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, Albus Dumbledore, opposing the decision, which won't happen since he shares Crouch's opinion; 3) A majority vote from the Wizengamot, which is unlikely to happen because practically everyone assumes Sirius Black guilty or simply wouldn't help either way; 4) A surviving victim expressing doubts regarding the accused one's guilt; which we'd have to wait until Harry Potter became an adult since Muggles aren't allowed to speak on behalf of underage wizards and witches and Harry is the only known surviving victim; and 5) A close relative of a non-surviving victim expressing doubts and that's where you qualify as the husband of Mrs. Potter's sister."
"Good." Vernon commented. "What do we do now?"
"Now I'll notify Bartemius Crouch and, once it's done, the Ministry of Magic will have sixty days to either submit Sirius Black to a trial or dismiss the case against him." Sharpclaw stated. "Today is the 2nd of November, 1981. Sixty days later, it'd be the 1st of January, 1982. Since that day is a holiday, the deadline would get a one-day extension, allowing for a trial at the 2nd of January, 1982. I advise you and your wife to be prepared, for Crouch is likely to do anything to discredit anyone defending Sirius Black."
"Thanks for the warning, Mr. Sharpclaw." Vernon replied. "Should I leave now so I could warn my wife?"
"Not yet, Mr. Dursley. I'm about to call Crouch and I don't want you to miss it." Sharpclaw then threw some dust at a fireplace and shouted. "Minsitry of Magic! Office of the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement!"
Then, to Mr. Dursley's shock, a head appeared in the fire. "Who's calling me?"
"It's Sharpclaw, Mr. Crouch." The goblin answered. "Your presence is being required here regarding Sirius Black's case. There's a new development."
Crouch then came out of the fireplace. "Will you finally allow the Ministry to seize the murderous traitor's vault, goblin?"
"No." Sharpclaw answered. "I'm here to inform you that Vernon Dursley, husband of the sister of Lily Potter née Evans, is expressing doubts regarding Sirius Black's guilt and, therefore, you have sixty days to either hold a trial for Mr. Black or release him."
"What?" An outraged Crouch replied. "He can't do that! He's a muggle!"
"There's no law stating the non-surviving victim's relative to express doubts must be magical, Mr. Crouch." Sharpclaw replied. "When will my client be tried?"
"Provided I can't avoid that without releasing him, I'll make it start as late as possible so the Dementors of Azkaban will have time to prevent him from remembering whatever story he might have fabricated to lie his way out of his deserved punishment." Crouch stated.
"That'll be the 2nd of January, 1982, then." Sharpclaw casually stated and then handed Crouch a parchment. "Please sign here to state you've been notified of the circumstances preventing the Ministry from convicting Sirius Black without a trial."
Crouch then looked at a man he assumed to be Vernon Dursley. "Dursley, I don't know what you're up to but I'll make you pay for making me waste time with a trial for an obviously guilty person."
Please review. The name Sharpclaw is one I made up for the story. If there's another character named Sharpclaw in any previous Harry Potter story, it's a coincidence. What do you think of Vernon Dursley defending Sirius Black?