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Chapter 12 The Trial of Peter Pettigrew

 Harry thought a lot about the contents of the Prophecy over the next few days. He felt many things when he thought about the words he heard in the Blacks’ living room. He was afraid, but it seemed like it was controllable fear. He now knew the truth, all the cards were on the table. He had to say goodbye to his illusions of a normal life, but he knew that it was for the best. Harry realized Dumbledore was right that Ron, Hermione and Ginny would want to know about the Prophecy, but he hadn’t be able to bare himself to tell them. He didn’t really know why. He knew his friends wouldn’t abandon him and would always want to stand beside him and help him. He just didn’t want to see the looks on their faces when they heard he would either be killed or become a murderer. Harry now knew what the members of the Order had meant when they told him what Voldemort was trying to do. He wanted to know the contents of the Prophecy, and now he did. He was still protected by his mother’s sacrifice, Harry knew. Voldemort wouldn’t be able to harm him, but how literally would he take the Prophecy? Either must die at the hand of the other. Voldemort would think he would have to kill Harry himself. He knew he was safe for the time being.

More urgent was the upcoming trial for Peter Pettigrew. He would have to appear before the Wizengamot for the crimes Sirius was sentenced with. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Remus Lupin were all called in as witnesses  for the prosecution. Sirius would be called in too, but officially, the Ministry still had no idea where he was.

When the day of the trial came, Harry and Ron got dressed more carefully than they usually did. When they arrived downstairs in the kitchen, Hermione was already there, looking slightly stressed. Ginny had gotten up early too to wish them luck. They would use the fireplace to Floo directly into the Ministry of Magic. Mr Weasley would accompany them on his way to work. When they were in the middle of breakfast, Sirius walked into the kitchen. He looked extremely pale and looked as if he had been up all night. Harry thought his godfather had to be the most nervous of all of them. Today’s trial would determine the rest of his life. If Pettigrew was found guilty, Sirius’ name would be cleared and he would finally be able to live as a free man.

When they were walking to the fireplace, Harry patted Sirius’ back and said: “Don’t worry, with the evidence they have, Pettigrew has to be convicted.”

Sirius merely nodded and managed to produce a small smile.

Harry grinned and said: “Well, see you later. We’re off to clear your name.” And without further ado he followed Ron into the fireplace to the Ministry.

“The trial is in Courtroom 5”, Mr Weasley said, after they registered at the reception. “I’ll walk you guys there.”

The group took an elevator and made their way downstairs. When they stopped the female voice that announced which level they were on merely said: “Department of Mysteries.” They walked down the hall and descended the stairs that led to the courtrooms.

When they arrived at Courtroom 5, Mr Weasley said: “Here we are. Good luck, all of you. Don’t forget to stop by my office before you go back.”

Harry, Ron, Hermione and Lupin walked into the courtroom and saw the entire Wizengamot was already present, as was Peter Pettigrew, who sat on a chair in the middle of the room, bound in chains. Albus Dumbledore was one of the three people on the front bench and when Harry saw him he became more relaxed. Dumbledore’s presence worked as a reassurance. If Dumbledore was here, it couldn’t go wrong.

While Harry and his friends were waiting for the trial to begin, he noticed that the opposite side of the stands was occupied by a delegation from the press. He recognized Rita Skeeter, who was looking extremely eager with parchment and quill ready before her. He nudged Hermione and nodded in her direction. Hermione’s eyes narrowed as she recognized Skeeter. She probably also hadn’t forgotten about the article she had written about Harry before the first task of the Triwizard Tournament.

The wizard next to him, in the middle of the front bench had stood up and Harry recognized him as the new Minister of Magic. On his right side was a witch Harry had never seen before.

“Trial against Peter Pettigrew for Death Eater activities and murder. Interrogators: Rufus Oberon Scrimgeour, Minster for Magic. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. And Amelia Susan Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.” Scrimgeour paused and took a parchment of the pile that lay in front of him. “The charges are as followed: the murder of twelve muggles on November 2, 1981 and passing information to He Who Must Not Be Named during the first wizarding war, most significantly the whereabouts of Lily and James Potter. How do you plead?”

Pettigrew shifted uncomfortably onto his chair, but the chains prevented him from moving too much. “Not guilty”, he said.

Lupin made an unbelieving noise beside Harry. “I can’t believe he’ll still try to weasel his way out of this”, he said. “The Aurors have taken precautions so he can’t turn into his animal form, so he must know the Ministry knows he’s an Animagus.”

Scrimgeour looked at Pettigrew with raised eyebrows. “Very well”, he said. “I believe it is time for our first witness.” He bent his head to Dumbledore for a moment and nodded. “The witnesses will be interrogated by Albus Dumbledore, on his own request”, he informed the members of the Wizengamot.

Dumbledore stood and said with a loud, clear voice: “The Wizengamot calls to the stand: Remus John Lupin.”

Lupin stood and descended the stands. He received a seat between the court and the accused with his back to the press, so he would have both the Wizengamot and Pettigrew in sight.

Dumbledore walked towards him. “You were in the same group of friends during your time at Hogwarts as Mr Pettigrew?”

“I was.”

“And so were James Potter – one of the supposed victims of Pettigrew and father of Harry Potter – and Sirius Black, who was convicted of the crimes Pettigrew faces trial for today?”

“They were”, Lupin answered.

Dumbledore continued to interrogate him and Lupin told the Wizengamot everything about the school time of the Marauders. How his friends had found out that he was a werewolf. How they decided to become Animagi to help make his transformations tolerable and how he had lost everything the night Harry’s parents were killed.

Next, Harry, Ron and Hermione were called together. Dumbledore smiled reassuringly at them. “Mr Potter, Mr Weasley, Miss Granger, can you please tell us what happened when you first met Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew, in human form, that is.”

Harry, Ron and Hermione told everything that happened from the moment Sirius dragged Ron into the passageway under the Whomping Willow up to when the Dementors tried to kiss Harry, Hermione and Sirius by the lake. They knew that didn’t explain the fact that Sirius had managed to escape that night, but fortunately no one elaborated on that. Apparently, nobody thought that two thirteen year old kids would be able to defy the Ministry of Magic.

“So Peter Pettigrew confessed that night that he was the one who led Voldemort to Lily and James Potter and he was the one who killed all those Muggles?”, Dumbledore asked. The three of them merely nodded. Dumbledore looked at the court. “I think we have made our case. Three people have testified the confession of Peter Pettigrew and their story has been confirmed by Remus Lupin. It is clear that these people have absolutely no reason to lie about the facts that have occurred that night.”

Scrimgeour looked at Dumbledore and said: “I do believe that Pettigrew has committed this crimes, Albus. But he pleads not guilty. We will have to come up with absolute proof.”

Dumbledore nodded. He turned to Pettigrew and said: “Mr Pettigrew, would you care to roll up your left sleeve and show your arm to the Wizengamot?”

Pettigrew paled. “What? That is totally unnecessary!”

Scrimgeour looked irritated. “Mr Pettigrew, please roll up your left sleeve.”

Pettigrew scowled and slowly rolled up his left sleeve and exposed his left fore-arm to the whole room. There, clearly visible, the Dark Mark was branded. Scrimgeour stared at him with a look of absolute disgust on his face. “Well, look at that”, he said. “Not only working for He Who Must Not Be Named, but apparently even part of his inner circle.” There were a lot of murmurs among the members of the Wizengamot and the press until Scrimgeour called for order. “The case has been made and it is time for the Wizengamot to form a verdict. Those in favour of conviction?”

Harry looked at the members of the Wizengamot and he was pleased to see that almost the entire body had their hands in the air. Scrimgeour merely nodded as if he hadn’t expected anything else and said: “As Minister for Magic, I pronounce the punishment of life-long imprisonment in Azkaban, for various murders and Death Eater activities during the first wizarding war. Those in favour?”

This time about three quarters of the members of the Wizengamot raised their hands and Scrimgeour turned to Pettigrew. “You will be brought to Azkaban immediately. Your wand has been confiscated when you were arrested and will be snapped in two.”

Dumbledore cleared his trout loudly to attract the attention of the court. “The matter of Sirius Black?”

“Oh yes”, Scrimgeour said. “That was clearly a big mistake of the Ministry. His name will naturally be cleared and when he hears the news he merely has to stop by the Ministry to arrange his affairs and he will certainly receive a full pardon. He will however be held liable for being an unregistered Animagus”

He looked at Dumbledore meaningfully and Harry realized Scrimgeour knew that Sirius wasn’t as far away as most of the people thought. He didn’t know if Dumbledore had trusted Scrimgeour with the information or if he had guessed it himself, but he knew the new Minister of Magic wasn’t a fool like the last one was. If that was a good thing or not, would have to point out itself.

Harry suddenly received a blow on the back of his head and he realized he was still staring at Scrimgeour. He looked to his right and saw Ron grinning broadly at him.

“Don’t hit him, Ronald!”, Hermione said disapprovingly.

Harry suddenly realized what the outcome of the trial really meant. “He’s free”, he muttered. He couldn’t believe it. Sirius would be a free man again. Of course he had been out of Azkaban for two years now, but he had always been on the run. He wasn’t able to lead a normal life as he had to hide from the Dementors. But now that Pettigrew was finally convicted for his crimes, Sirius was a free man. He would be able to live a normal life again and Harry would be able to move in with him. Sirius had proposed it to him when they had first met, but then Pettigrew had escaped and he had been forced to flee. Now there was nothing that would stand in his way to move in with his godfather, his father’s best friend. Harry felt a wonderful warm feeling wave over him.

But suddenly he realized that it wasn’t at all that sure if he would be able to move in with Sirius. He knew that Dumbledore would have to give his permission. He looked at Dumbledore who was talking to Scrimgeour and Madam Bones. Ron and Hermione were walking back to Lupin, but Harry walked towards Dumbledore. Not held back by the fact he would be interrupting a conversation between three of the most important members of wizarding society, he bluntly tapped Dumbledore’s shoulder. “Can I talk to you, sir?” Scrimgeour gave him a disapproving look, but madam Bones gave him a friendly smile. Dumbledore walked with Harry until they were out of earshot.

“What can I do for you, Harry?”, Dumbledore asked politely.

“I was wondering, sir. Sirius’ name will be cleared now, right?” Dumbledore nodded. “Well, I was thinking.. Will I be allowed to move in with him, now?”

Dumbledore looked at him rather surprised. “Of course, why would you not be? He is your godfather and your legal guardian, Harry. Your parents had arranged it so that if something happened to them, he would be the one to take care of you. But if you want to make other arrangements, I’m sure Sirius will – “

“No!”, Harry shouted, causing several heads to turn their way. “I mean, no”, he continued more silently. “I want to move in with him. I just thought you might think I would be safer at the Dursleys..”

Dumbledore smiled. “Yes, Harry. Whenever you stayed at your aunt and uncle’s house you were perfectly safe. But that was only because your mother’s blood lived there. The combination of her sacrifice and my protective enchantments made sure that no one could harm you as long as you could call it your home. But now that Sirius’ name has been cleared and you would in theory be able to live with him, I very much doubt that you would still call Privet Drive your home. Grimmauld Place does not have the protection of your mother’s blood, Harry, but the house is very well protected. Plus we have produced the Fidelius Charm when we chose it as the Order’s headquarters so I do not think it would be less safe than your aunt and uncle’s house.”

Harry didn’t think he had ever felt this happy before. He would be living with his godfather, the best friend of his parents. He would never have to go back to the Dursleys.

After stopping by Mr Weasley’s office to tell him the outcome of the trial, the group Flood back to Grimmauld Place. Harry grinned when he looked around the gloomy kitchen. It wasn’t the most cheerful place, but they would make it a home. Sirius was sitting at the wooden table with his cousin, Nymphadora Tonks. When they appeared in the kitchen he stood up immediately with an anxious look on his face. When he saw Harry beaming at him, his heart leapt. “Did he - ?”

“You’re free”, Harry said. Sirius pulled his godson in a tight embrace. “Well, I’m moving in”, Harry grinned. “You’re stuck with me now.”

Sirius grinned broadly. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The next day Sirius went to the Ministry of Magic to turn himself in for questioning. It had not even been two hours when he was already back at Grimmauld Place, his name cleared. Now a free man, Sirius finally had his life back.

“The truth is never pure and rarely simple.” – Oscar Wilde

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