The next two weeks were a busy blur of meetings with witnesses, piecing together Narcissa's and Draco's memories, and the overall strengthening of Draco's case. Now the day was finally here that Hermione had been both dreading and anticipating. The start of Draco Malfoy's trial.
Hermione arrived early to the Wizengamot, making sure everything she needed was in place. She hadn't been there more than ten minutes when Cormac McLaggen arrived, looking every bit as lecherous as she remembered.
"Hermione Granger . . . so we meet again," he said, blatantly eyeing her up and down.
"McLaggen." She nodded briefly.
"Come now, is that any way to greet an old friend?" He sneered. "Although I suppose you've had enough of 'old friends' these last few weeks, haven't you?"
"Draco Malfoy—even I know what he was like toward you at Hogwarts. Can't imagine why on earth Shacklebolt would have assigned you to his case . . . or why you would agree to it." He said the last words carefully, almost accusingly.
She sighed. "As you well know, McLaggen, I treat all my clients fairly and impartially. Draco Malfoy is no different."
"Really?" He licked his lips. "Well, I guess we'll see about that, won't we?"
Before Hermione could retort, he strode to the opposite side of the courtroom.
He really is the worst . . .
An hour later, the trial was about to begin. The Wizengamot had all taken their places, with Minister Shacklebolt in his residing position.
The viewing seats were filled to the brim, mostly with journalists and reporters, but Hermione guessed there were others there as well—namely enemies of the Malfoy family awaiting blood.
Harry, Luna, and Narcissa Malfoy were all seated in the row behind her. She turned and gave Harry a grateful smile.
"Witches and Wizards of the court," Shacklebolt's voice boomed across the courtroom. "Let's begin. Please bring in the defendant."
Two large doors opened on the left and Draco Malfoy was led in, still wearing his familiar Azkaban uniform with the addition of handcuffs and shackles around his feet. As he sat down in the lone seat in the middle of the courtroom, he caught Hermione's eye and she gave him an encouraging smile.
Draco swallowed nervously, then turned his attention back to Shacklebolt. Hermione noticed that he looked even paler than normal.
"Draco Lucius Malfoy, you're here today to face the criminal charges brought against you by the Wizard's Court of Law." Shacklebolt continued by reading Draco's charges one by one. When he was finished, he looked back at Draco. "Do you understand what you have been accused of?"
Shacklebolt nodded. "I will call the Prosecution Inquisitor to make his opening statement."
Cormac McLaggen strode to the front of the room, shooting a steely look at Draco, then a smug one at Hermione, and began. "Draco Malfoy was the youngest Death Eater to ever join their ranks. Now, the defense will have you believe that this fact, somehow, makes the defendant a victim. However, I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth."
McLaggen raised his voice. "Draco Malfoy entered so quickly into Voldemort's servitude because he was passionate about Voldemort's cause. He even bragged to his fellow classmates about being 'chosen' by Voldemort to accomplish a special task. A task that we know now was to be cold-blooded murder of one of the most esteemed wizards of our time—Albus Dumbledore.
"While Mr. Malfoy may not have accomplished the mission he so proudly set out to do, he did almost kill two innocent students in the process, and ultimately orchestrated the events that led to Dumbledore's death. Mr. Malfoy went so far as to endanger the lives of every student at Hogwarts by letting a band of Death Eaters—and a vicious werewolf—into the school the night Dumbledore died."
McLaggen glanced at Draco. "Finally, Draco Malfoy lived out his role as a Death Eater so well that he even took part in torturing members of his own cause." He returned his somber gaze to the Wizengamot. "That, my friends, is the type of monster we are dealing with here. One who is so depraved that he would even turn on his own ally at a moment's whim."
McLaggen took a deep breath. "So I ask of you, members of the Wizengamot, would you have a dangerous criminal like this released back into our society? Would you put to risk everything so many of us sacrificed to end the reign of Voldemort? As you well know, many Death Eaters are still on the run, just waiting for the opportunity to band together again and release terror upon us all, especially Muggle-born wizards and witches like dear Miss Granger here." Cormac paused a moment to shoot Hermione a winning smile before continuing.
"Draco Malfoy, who has followed in his father's footsteps since the day he was born, would only be too eager to take his place and lead the Death Eaters. As we progress through this case, I will prove to you exactly why you should put Mr. Malfoy in Azkaban where he belongs for the remainder of his life. Thank you."
McLaggen turned and walked back to his seat. Hermione resisted the urge to roll her eyes as he settled back in his chair with exaggerated casualness.
"Now, the Defense Inquisitor, please." Shacklebolt invited Hermione to make her statement. She smoother her skirt and patted her sleek hair, which was pulled up in a bun. She stood and headed toward the center of the room with her head held high.
Hermione cleared her throat and addressed the Wizengamot. "What the prosecution said is true, Draco Malfoy was the youngest wizard ever to take the Dark Mark and become an official member of the Death Eaters. However, the reason Mr. Malfoy chose to do this is much different than what the prosecution would have you believe.
"Upon his father's first imprisonment in Azkaban, Draco Malfoy was commanded by Voldemort to join his ranks in Lucius Malfoy's place and serve him loyally. The first task he required of him was, indeed, to kill Albus Dumbledore. The consequences for refusing or failing were simple: be killed and have his family be killed as well."
As she spoke, Hermione was careful to make eye contact with each member of the Wizengamot. "At only sixteen years old, Draco Malfoy was forced to make a choice so horrifying, most of us would pray to never be put in that position.
"I will not lie to you, most of the charges brought against the defendant are, in essence, factual. But what I have learned, and what I will share with you throughout this trial, is the reason Mr. Malfoy committed these crimes was not out of evil, but rather an instinct to preserve the lives of those he loved, and to survive himself."
She spread her hands. "Yes, Mr. Malfoy was indoctrinated with the cause of the Death Eaters at a young age. And yes, he was passionate about it at one time. But when the time came for him to act upon everything he'd been taught to believe, his heart was not in it. At that point, he did not want to serve Voldemort anymore, and he didn't want to murder or hurt anyone. He simply wanted to keep his family safe during a time of war.
"All I ask is that the Wizengamot keeps an open mind and looks at the facts throughout this case. Facts that will speak for themselves and show that Mr. Malfoy is not a danger to society, but rather, a potential asset. Thank you."
As Hermione stepped down after making her opening statement, the prosecution was invited to call their first witness forward.
McLaggen stood up and said, "The prosecution would like to request special permission to question Inquisitor Hermione Granger."
An audible murmur of disbelief spread throughout the courtroom over the fact that the prosecution was looking to question the Defense Inquisitor.
"Inquisitor McLaggen," Minister Shacklebolt said, "this is a highly irregular request."
"I understand. However, I have a very specific and grave reason for doing this. And to support my request, I would like to reference a case from 1956, the Wizengamot versus Josiah Trollwood, where the Prosecution Inquisitor was allowed to question the Defense Inquisitor, who was then proven to be acting under the Imperius Curse." McLaggen placed a sheet of paper in front of Minister Shacklebolt, who reviewed it.
"Permission granted," Shacklebolt said, folding his hands.
Hermione attempted to remain calm as she stepped forward, all the while wondering what McLaggen was playing at by calling her up there.
"Miss Granger," Cormac said smoothly, a hint of a smile playing around his lips. "Could you state your relationship with the defendant?"
Hermione pursed her lips. "As you well know, I am the Ministry-appointed Inquisitor for his defense."
"And tell me, have you only ever had a professional relationship with Mr. Malfoy?"
"No, I also knew him during my time at Hogwarts."
"I see . . . And what was your relationship like then?"
"It wasn't very good."
"Ah, no, I can't imagine it would have been, given the defendant's distasteful view on Muggle-borns." McLaggen tapped his chin. "However, I'm sure the court would like to know, just when did your romantic relationship with your client begin?"
A loud murmur rose throughout the courtroom as Hermione stiffened. "I beg your pardon?"
"Miss Granger, I have the testimony of three Azkaban guards stating that they saw you and Mr. Malfoy engaging in romantic behavior three weeks ago in the meeting room of Azkaban."
The murmur from the crowd now changed to gasps and outcries. Above the din, Hermione clearly heard Luna's voice exclaim happily, "Oh, how nice!"
"We do not have a romantic relationship," Hermione said indignantly, all the while knowing this was headed somewhere dangerous fast.
"Really? So, you deny that you were seen kissing your client? Interesting . . . Well, I have credible memories from the guards showing quite the opposite. Memories I would be more than happy to share with the court."
"That was nothing," Hermione insisted, although she felt her face flush.
"So, I take it Mr. Malfoy forced himself on you then? Hardly the behavior of someone we would want to reintegrate back into our society, now is it?"
"That's not what happened—"
"But then again, I also have the testimony of one guard saying you denied that Mr. Malfoy attacked you and that you were most adamant about not pressing charges."
"It was a misunderstanding—"
"So, you don't deny the accusation." McLaggen paused, looking grim, although Hermione knew he was relishing every second of her humiliation. "Miss Granger, I think I speak for the entire Wizengamot when I say such behavior will not be tolerated in our justice system." He turned to the Wizengamot. "Minister Shacklebolt, I formally request that Miss Granger be removed as the Defense Inquisitor of this case, officially investigated for misconduct, and Mr. Malfoy's trial be rescheduled until another Defense Inquisitor can be found for him."
Shacklebolt quieted the outcries in the courtroom and then boomed, "Request granted. Draco Malfoy's trial will be rescheduled once new representation has been found. Court dismissed."
A/N: So, what are your thoughts? I'm curious if anyone saw Hermione getting kicked off the case coming or not. What do you think is going to happen next? Let me know in one of your lovely comments!
If you're itching for a little more check out the chapter preview on my social media. (It opens with Narcissa being Narcissa XD). Links in profile or search me. Click for links: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and PINTEREST.
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