Chapter Seventy-One: The Beginning
"It's absurd," the witness for the Left observed calmly.
"What's absurd is the current administration allowing dangerous demi-humans to run roughshod over good people, decent people!"
"And is this an example of your goodness? Your decency?" The Left's witness was not the sort to raise his voice, ever, but his steady, even delivery and deep, serious tone were what many considered worse than any amount of shouting. Besides, the Right's man had offered enough loud-voiced protest to wear the tactic out. A calm, serious man was a novelty to the Twelve at this particular trial. "The term recognized by the United Coventry and therefore the diplomatic community of the world is 'semi-human.' To imply by use of the diminutive prefix 'demi' that beings whose ancestry or trait makeup is not entirely sapien are of lesser humanity than common homos sapiens is simply bigotry and ignorance of the first degree."
It was amazing how calm the man was. One of the Twelve was actually slack-jawed.
"Call 'em whatever you like, Mr. Tyler, mixed humans are not entirely human. They don't deserve to be treated as full humans because they are not!"
"It strikes me that what this Court really requires is a definition of the term 'human,'" John remarked mildly. "The entire question at hand is one of semantics."
"Oh, look, the werewolf's been to school!" the Right's attorney mocked. "Your Honors, I will not allow an educated dog to muddy the waters of this Court any further with unintelligible political doubletalk. I move to dismiss the witness!"
"Overruled," the Thirteenth gently boomed. The current Thirteenth, a position also known as Moderator General, was a stout, African-American man in his late fifties with a voice like distant thunder. He did not vote with the Twelve except to break a tie, and instead kept order within the Supreme Court so that the Twelve could observe proceedings without mental interruption. "Mr. Tyler is entirely intelligible and until such resolution is passed to strip demi-humans of the right to testify before the courts of our nation, it shall not be abridged. Any further epithet on your part towards the witness, his condition, or his character will result in your being found in contempt of court. Continue, sir." John nodded politely.
"It is my opinion, and the opinion of several philosophy students I have known, that the true meaning of 'humanity' lies not in the test tube of blood, nor in the genealogy, but in the spirit." The Right's attorney rose and John grinned slightly. "I refer not to the 'spirit' as recognized by religion, but by the state of mind and tendency of action which all beings possess, in whatever form."
There was a soft mumble from the court reporters. This testimony, they could tell, was to be of great import.
"We refer to the actions of war criminals, to atrocities, as 'inhuman.' The true word, professors of language argue, is 'inhumane.' I offer the hypothesis that either term will do. To act humanely is to act as a human. A good human would not slaughter another before the eyes of his children. A good human would care for the wounded, guide the lost, and offer assistance to any of his brother humans whenever it was asked of him. A good human, faced with a raccoon in the road, would swerve, so as not to strike the animal. A dumb animal, think of it. The raccoon is not the pet of the human whose car is headed toward it. The raccoon does not aid the human, as do the bees with their pollination and honey, as the cows with their milk, or as the horse with his strength. The raccoon is not a companion, as the dog or cat. In fact, to many humans, the raccoon is a pest. Some humans, in thinking of rabies, fear raccoons. And yet, the good human swerves in the road. He does it without thinking. Is it because the raccoon is smaller than he is? Is it because he does not want his grillwork splattered with a corpse? Or, can it perhaps be that he has been taught since childhood to do what is right? What is humane? What is human?"
"I object, your Honors. Sem- demi-humans cannot teach their children to be human. They are not entirely human themselves."
"And again, your Honors, I beg the Court to consider the matter in terms of this new definition." John's voice had finally raised. "To be human is not to have only human ancestors. It is not to have a human body at all times. It is to act, to think, and to exist as humans from the dawn of their evolution have striven to be. It is to possess that humanity which we define as humane. There are pure homo sapiens who do not. There are men who kill other men for no other reason than their skin color or their lifestyle or their country of origin. There are wizards who kill other wizards because of their ancestry. And there are men who claim such pride in being human that they seek to destroy what they look upon as threats to the gene pool." Raised? John's voice was echoing through the chamber, louder than the voice of any attorney past or present. His true fury had finally been roused. "The specists are so 'human' that they will commit atrocities, betray humane instincts, and act so far below the basest of what we call animals, that I scorn to accept them as human. Your Honors, there is more humanity in the part-veela who writes checks to charities, in the hag who feeds the birds, in the goblin who walks miles to correct a six-Knut error in banking, in the werewolf who goes to war to defend the very humans who wish her dead –than there will ever be in the specists who brought this suit before you!"
The Thirteenth raised his gavel to call for order, and then set it softly down. The entire chamber was too shocked, too awed, to have required it.
"N-no further questions," the Right's attorney gasped.
"Mr. Roark, your witness," the Thirteenth announced.
Roark was amazed. His hands shook as he stood up from the defense table. He knew why that Southern fool had called John Tyler as a witness. Tyler almost never spoke and it was widely believed that he didn't do it well. It was also believed, since his wife was so well known as a firebrand, that he was meek and mild. But Guy Roark had known Tyler at the Corey Academy.
"Mr. Tyler, is it true that you were once assaulted by specists in Tennessee?"
"What was the extent of your physical injuries?"
"I had a sprained ankle and some lacerations."
"Of your comrades?"
"My brother George's leg was broken, my brother Richard cut his arm and my brother Paul was beaten with a whip and had to have over fifty stitches on his back."
"Is that all?"
"No." John bit his lip a little. "My best friend split her knuckles on both hands."
"She –er…fought our assailants."
"And where is that best friend now?"
"She's my wife, sir."
"And," Roark savored the question, "was she a werewolf then?"
"The defense –no, we do not rest yet." Roark actually grinned. "What brings you to the United States, Mr. Tyler?"
"I was seeking medication for transformative insanguinide preeclampsia when I was subpoenaed to testify here."
"And do you regard that as an inconvenience?"
"Because…" John looked reddish and Roark relished it. "My wife is expecting our first baby and I'd like to get back soon."
It was perfectly spoken. John looked shy, blushed, and yet still managed to exude pride and anticipation. It was the way any expectant father would have replied to such a question. It was human, and Roark knew that those present and seeing the trial on TV, reading about it in papers, and hearing it on the radio would all respond to it. No matter what the Twelve decided, the future of demihuman rights would be decided on favorably by public opinion, by way of the media.
"No further questions, Mr. Tyler. Have a safe journey."
"I don't believe I just saw that," Hermione remarked. She was watching the new TV in Minerva McGonagall's office, channel WABC, with Severus, the Headmistress, the Minister of Magic and the witness in question, who had come in looking for Severus and been pressed to stay. The TV had cut to commercial after the film showed John leaving the courtroom, and John in the present tense was blushing furiously. "John, you're…"
"The greatest orator I've ever seen," Severus observed in awe.
"For the most taciturn man in Hogwarts, you can certainly put people in their place."
"And I thought little Cassie was the political activist."
"So did I," a voice announced from behind the large couch Minerva had Transfigured to watch the trial. It was Cass herself, still looking peaky, but with an incalculable radiance beneath. "Darling…" In the length of a blink, John was at her side.
"I couldn't tell you…until I'd already done it…and then…"
"You wouldn't have needed to. I always knew you could."
The couple who proved daily that the terms 'lover' and 'spouse' were not mutually exclusive were just leaning toward each other when the commercials ended. Albus made a soft sound.
"Er…would you care to see the Court's decision? It may affect you both especially."
"Yes," Minerva agreed ardently. "The next war may be foretold by what those twelve judges say in the next five minutes."
"Well," Cass grinned, kissing John briefly before replying, "you'll have to tell us about it later, then."
"If we aren't busy."
"After all, I'm rather sick of wars."
With that kind of thinking, none of the three couples bothered to watch the rest of the news. It may have affected the future, but it didn't affect the 'now,' and no version of CNN could compare to the fond practice of affection.
Besides, the next war, like so many, would be the next generation's fight.
Late that night, John had another of his weird moments of prophecy. Half-asleep herself, Cass just managed to scribble it down on a bit of scrap parchment before curling back against him and drowsing back to somnolent peace, in spite of the baby's apparent fondness for dancing.
'NONE KNOW THE TRUTH OF THE FIRST. NONE KNOW THE TRUTH OF
THE SECOND. THE THIRD IS KEPT FROM HER TRUTH.
THE SECOND'S TRUTH IS FOUND IN BLOOD AND VIAL. THE FIRST'S TRUTH IS FOUND IN SPELL AND GROWTH. THE THIRD'S IS GIVEN BY SHE WHO WAS MOST HURT AND MOST HEALED BY IT.
WHEN ALL THREE TRUTHS ARE KNOWN, THEN SHALL ALL BE IN READINESS. THE LOVER, THE KNIGHT, AND THE TEACHER ARE ALL OF A BLOOD WITH THE THIRD. THE PALADIN, THE LOVER, AND THE KNIGHT ARE THE MATES FATE HAS CHOSEN, BUT HEARTS MUST CHOOSE AS WELL.'
"Hearts and knights and paladins…no more King Arthur for you two, loves," Cass mumbled, dropping the parchment absently next to her night table. "G'night, family."