The very last thing that Harry wanted to do was get up on that stand where everyone in the courtroom could see him, where they would all hear whatever he had to say. He didn’t want this to be happening, but at the same time… At the same time he thought about all the things that the Headmaster maybe could have stopped, about Cedric and Sirius and everything else, everyone else who’d died since Voldemort had risen again, and he knew that this was as much his duty as stopping Voldemort was.
And that was absolutely his duty, no matter what anyone said. He understood that prophecies didn’t always come true, but he was pretty sure that Voldemort himself didn’t care about that. He wouldn’t stop until Harry had fulfilled the prophecy, or until he had failed and Voldemort killed him.
So, with his head held as high as he could, and after glancing at Fred and George just to make absolutely sure that their support of him was unwavering, Harry settled into the second witness box and tried to ignore Dumbledore, who seemed to be attempting to get his attention.
“Now Harry,” the Chief Warlock began. “I want to make it absolutely clear that you aren’t on trial. Nothing you say can, in any way, get you into trouble. Do you understand that?”
Harry swallowed. “Yes sir,” he said. He glanced around, wondering if there would be attorneys involved in this at all. There hadn’t been for Uncle Vernon, but that didn’t mean that things wouldn’t be different with someone like Albus Dumbledore on trial.
“Then, Harry, could you please tell the Wizengamot how you were treated during Albus Dumbledore’s tenure as your guardian?”
Harry blinked at him. “I didn’t know he was my guardian,” he said. Had Dumbledore been his guardian? He supposed it made sense, since he was the one who placed Harry with the Dursleys. But… he’d never checked up on him or anything, had he? Aside from having Mrs. Figg watch out for him, that was. At least, Harry was pretty sure that had been the reason for her presence.
“He never checked in on you with the Dursleys?”
Harry shook his head. Then, in all fairness, he said, “I think he was getting reports from Mrs. Figg, our neighbor, who looked after me sometimes when the Dursleys couldn’t leave me alone in the house while they were on vacations.”
The Chief Warlock looked away, scratching something on his parchment. Several other members of the Wizengamot were also scribbling. Harry was pretty sure that that was how they communicated during a trial, which seemed strange to him. This whole thing seemed very strange. Why didn’t Dumbledore have some kind of defense?
The Chief Warlock waited a moment, then asked, “Did you ever attempt to inform the Headmaster about how your family treated you when you were with them over the summers?”
Harry nodded. “I tried,” he said. He swallowed. “The Headmaster thought I was safest there, I guess. I told him how much I didn’t want to go back and asked if I could stay at Hogwarts over the summer, but he wouldn’t let me. And the Weasleys took me for a few weeks some summers, but never for the whole thing.”
Dumbledore jerked in his chair, and the Chief Warlock waved his hand at him. “You didn’t think to investigate the boy’s situation when he spoke to you?”
“There were wards at his house that couldn’t be transferred to anyone but his Aunt,” Dumbledore said, his voice sharp. “They provided him a protection that no other house could match. It’s, quite frankly, a miracle that the boy hasn’t been kidnapped from the home of the Weasley twins. Surely you understand how important—” His voice cut out as the Chief Warlock waved a hand once more.
“You could have checked up on the boy,” Locke said, practically growling. “Dumbledore, are you sure that you don’t want some kind of representation? I assure you, you more than have the funds to provide for it. And your representation would be permitted to speak when you aren’t.”
Dumbledore didn’t attempt to speak, but did scowl and shake his head.
That answered that; he’d refused representation. Harry couldn’t imagine how arrogant he was to have refused some kind of representation. Why would he do that? Did he really think that he wasn’t going to get in any trouble? Maybe he was right; maybe nothing would happen to him, and all of this would have been for nothing.
Harry shivered at the very idea. He hated having to be up here, but it wouldn’t be so bad as long as some good came of it. If it was for nothing, then… He dropped his gaze and hoped that his time on the stand would be over soon enough.
“Did Dumbledore ever instruct you in the management of your estate?”
Harry blinked at Locke. “No?” He didn’t know what Locke was talking about. “I didn’t… I have a vault, sir. I don’t have an estate. Do I?”
Locke visibly ground his teeth. He scrawled something on his parchment, and spent several more minutes writing back and forth. “Harry, it is the advice of the Wizengamot that you request a full accounting of your vaults from your account manager at Gringotts, sooner rather than later. There may be additional things that Dumbledore needs to be charged with.”
Dumbledore attempted to say something, but again, he was unable to. This time, Chief Warlock Locke didn’t invite him to say anything, and instead continued to scribble things on his parchment. Eventually, with a sigh, he said, “The Wizengamot has asked that I make an inquiry regarding your years at Hogwarts. They would like to know if you were kept safe there, while directly under Dumbledore’s care?”
Harry laughed at the question; he couldn’t help it. “Safe?” he echoed, incredulous. “You want to know if I was kept safe at Hogwarts?”
“I need you to answer the question, Harry,” the Chief Warlock said, his voice going very soft. “As honestly as you can, please.”
Harry couldn’t quite stop laughing, but he really did try. “My first year, the Headmaster stored the Philosopher’s Stone at Hogwarts, and I went through a maze to try and save it from Voldemort, who was possessing Quirrell. I burned him to death accidentally when I touched him. My second year, we had a basilisk loose in the school, being controlled by… by Voldemort’s ghost, I guess. I don’t know what you’d call that thing. My third year, there were dementors everywhere, and that was actually on the Ministry, but whatever. My fourth year, there was that damned tournament, the one that I never entered and that I begged to get out of, and nobody cared and I had to out-fly a dragon, and I got kidnapped, and our Defense professor who was supposed to be a good friend of his was an escaped Death Eater and nobody noticed, even when he demonstrated the Unforgiveables in class! And last year, last year…” He touched his hand, then held it out, even though he wasn’t sure if the Wizengamot could even see what it said. “Last year, a Ministry employee who was our Defense professor made me write lines with a Blood Quill and now I have a permanent scar there, all because I wouldn’t say that I’d lied about Voldemort coming back from the dead.”
He blinked away the tears that were trying to blur his eyes and looked down and away. “So no, Chief Warlock, I wasn’t ever safe at Hogwarts, but that wasn’t always the Headmaster’s fault.”
“What does it say?” the Chief Warlock asked. His voice was very soft, and very careful. “Your scar? The one from the Blood Quill?”
“It says that I must not tell lies,” Harry answered. He didn’t look back up. He didn’t think that he could. If he did, he was certain that he’d burst into tears, and he couldn’t let himself do that in front of so many people.
Silence reigned in the courtroom, and Harry fought the urge to fidget. He just stared at his hands in his lap and waited for the next question. But none came, and then George was in front of him, kneeling. “Let’s go sit down,” he said, his voice gentle. “They don’t need you to answer anymore questions right now.”
Harry had missed when that had been said, but he supposed that was understandable. He was pretty shaky, and he wasn’t sure about standing up. But George helped him, and supported him as they walked back to their seats. Ron and Hermione were giving him soft, warm smiles that made him ache, and he hid his face in George’s shoulder once he’d settled between him and Fred again.
The courtroom stayed silent, and when Harry glanced up, the Wizengamot were all writing furiously to one another.
He wondered what this meant for the trial, and decided that he didn’t have the energy to worry about it at the moment. Instead, he buried his face in George’s shoulder again and waited for the trial to resume.
Minerva, sitting in the back of the courtroom, took a deep breath as Harry was escorted off of the stand by one of the Weasley twins. She didn’t know which one; she couldn’t read their nametag, and she didn’t trust them to be wearing the right one, anyway.
Her stomach ached with a combination of horror and guilt. When she’d heard that Albus had been arrested, she was ashamed to admit that she’d been furious at the indignity of it. Albus was a good man, a great one, a man who only had the best of intentions for the world around him. He’d worked tirelessly for years to help as many people as he could, and Minerva had genuinely believed in his vision.
How could she not? Albus was so bright that he shone, and he drew everyone around him into the light.
She’d come to the trial sure that she was going to see Albus vindicated, sure that her student had been making up nonsense, that he was exaggerating. She didn’t dislike Harry, of course, she didn’t dislike any of her students, but she did believe him to be a bit of an attention seeker. How else could he always get into so much trouble?
It had just never occurred to her that… that he wasn’t really getting into trouble on his own, and that it was their jobs, as the adults…
It had occurred to her for every one of her other students. She never would have imagined letting one of them deal with Umbridge without her, and yet… and yet that’s what she’d done. Albus had assured her that everything had been fine, and she’d just… listened, even when she’d seen the evidence of the children treating their own injuries with things that would never quite do the trick. Treating injuries from a Blood Quill was the work of full Healers, after all, not the work for Murtlap Essence, which she’d seen them using.
And Moody… she’d known he was a problem. She’d gone to Albus, she’d told him about the incident with transforming Malfoy into a ferret, and Albus… he’d said it was fine, that he would talk to the professor, but why hadn’t she ever followed up?
Why hadn’t she ever checked on Harry after he’d been placed with the Dursleys, knowing what terrible people they were?
How many students had been tortured while she’d looked the other way?
Albus might have been the one on trial in this very moment, but Minerva wasn’t so sure that she deserved to escape this judgment. She was at least as at fault, and would not argue her innocence if she found herself brought before the Wizengamot because of all of this.
And if she was not, if she was able to maintain her position as Headmistress of Hogwarts, she vowed that she would do better. She would make the school as safe as she could, genuinely safe, for all students, not just those that Albus didn’t have plans for.
If Harry came back to the school, she would absolutely make sure that his next year was a peaceful one. She wasn’t so sure, however, looking at the way that Harry took shelter with the Weasley twins, that he would be up for returning.
Perhaps there was something she could do for him in the event that he didn’t, if he needed time to recover, which she could certainly understand. Maybe there was something that could be worked out with the professors to give Harry the time he would likely need to heal from all of this.
She made a mental note to start working on it, not because she didn’t want Harry to come back, but because she wanted him to have the option to heal, and as much as she wanted Hogwarts to be a place where he could heal, she didn’t know that he would be ready to return within the month that he had before school started. She would find options, and if it became necessary, she would make sure that she could present them to him.
It was the least she could do, considering her own culpability in this absolute disaster.
Harry couldn’t help but be embarrassed when he finally made himself pull away from George. He hadn’t meant to break down like that in front of everyone, and yet, he had. He felt like all he did anymore was have breakdowns and cry hysterically and make wild accusations, and even though he felt safer than he ever had, he couldn’t seem to stop himself from these fits of borderline hysteria.
At least it had happened in front of his Mind Healer, so that the man would have some idea of what he was stuck dealing with.
George rubbed his shoulder when he pulled back and gave him a gentle, soothing look. “It’s fine, Harry,” he said, like he could read Harry’s mind.
Harry didn’t think he was a Legilimens, but he supposed he never knew, right? “It’s embarrassing,” he muttered. He rubbed his eyes, which hurt, and turned his attention back to the court case in front of him.
“It’s natural to be upset,” Hermione offered softly, even as she watched as the Wizengamot scribbled to each other. “You’ve been through a lot, Harry; there’s nothing wrong with letting yourself take comfort from the twins.”
Harry flushed and muttered a quiet, “Thanks.” He really hoped that the subject would be dropped now, and fortunately, it was.
But only because the next person was being called to the stand. Harry didn’t understand why Dumbledore wasn’t getting the chance to speak for himself, but if Chief Warlock Locke really thought he was going to try intimidating the witnesses, then maybe that was why? It didn’t seem fair, though, that he wasn’t going to get a chance to defend himself.
Harry hoped that he was wrong, and that he would have a chance. Not because he wanted Dumbledore to get off, but because he wanted this to be fair, and he didn’t see how else it could be.
The next person settled on the stand, and Harry watched as Healer Cartwright settled onto the stand with great familiarity. He supposed that the crotchety old man was familiar enough with the process if he was commonly used by the Ministry to deal with victims of child abuse.
Victims of child abuse. Harry hated thinking about himself that way. But… he was, wasn’t he? As strange as it was, he was a victim. Him, the hero. He… didn’t like the way that made him feel, so instead he watched as Cartwright told the Wizengamot all about his injuries, about the nutrition potions and the way that he trembled when people touched him. As he told them about the Horcrux, which still made Harry shake to think about it.
He hated that everyone knew all those things about him now, hated the expressions of sympathy that members of the Wizengamot were casting in his general direction. He wished that he could tell them that he didn’t want their pity, but instead he kept his mouth stubbornly closed.
“Harry, do you want to step outside for a bit?” Mind Healer Abbott asked. He was watching Harry carefully; Harry could feel the weight of his gaze on him.
“No,” Harry answered. It would be better to know, he thought, than to wonder for the rest of his life what had been said about him.
“If you change your mind,” the Mind Healer murmured, but returned his attention to the trial taking place.
Once Healer Cartwright left the stand, Dumbledore was allowed to speak. “You can’t have removed the Horcrux,” was the very first thing he said, and he sounded utterly appalled as he said it. “You shouldn’t even know about it! I have reason to believe that the Horcrux is the key to the prophecy, and by removing it, you could all have—”
“So you did know that it was there,” Locke interrupted sharply. “Albus, have you lost your mind? I genuinely find myself wondering why else you would even consider leaving something so dark in a child. What were you thinking?”
“That it was worth it to leave it there if it would allow Harry to fulfil his destiny and defeat the Dark Lord!” Dumbledore snapped back. “What would you have done, Locke, if the choice was before you to sacrifice one for the good of many? Surely you can see—”
“I can see that if such a choice were to be made, then it should be made by more than one man, and it shouldn’t involve the sacrifice of a child!” Locke roared back. He slammed his gavel down and Dumbledore started to mouth something else, but no noise came out. “If we’re willing to sacrifice children just for a chance at a prophecy that may never have come true, then how are we any better than that monster out there?” He gestured at the nebulous out there with an all-encompassing sweep of his arm. “Next witness.”
Harry watched, startled and confused, as several of his teachers went up to the stand next, including Snape and Madame Pomfrey, all of whom reported bringing their concerns to Dumbledore about his home situation. Snape, surprisingly enough, seemed to have known Aunt Petunia and had been incredibly concerned that her hatred of magic would transfer to hating Harry, and he was apparently grieved to see that he was correct.
Harry didn’t even know what to do with that knowledge. Snape had known his Aunt? Did that mean that he’d known his mother? He felt like nothing made sense anymore, and just when he thought he started to understand what was going on, the sands shifted and he was lost again.
Harry hated it.
“You okay?” Fred asked him when a recess was called for lunch.
Harry was definitely not, so he shook his head, but didn’t say anything else. He was glad when they left the wizarding world for lunch again, because the entire Ministry seemed filled with people who wanted to know what was happening with the trial, and Harry wasn’t at all interested in fielding questions from people about it.
Hermione and Ron joined him, and distracted him throughout the short meal, but Harry found that he couldn’t be distracted too much. He didn’t want to go back to the courtroom. He didn’t want to listen to any more of the trial, but he also didn’t think that he had much of a choice.
When the meal was over, he sighed and let himself be escorted back, and found himself hoping that everything ended soon. He was tired of all of this, and wanted to start to move on. He didn’t think he could until everything had been resolved, but once it had…
He felt like there would be a huge weight lifted from his shoulders, and he was pretty sure that he was looking forward to that, no matter which way the trial went.
Fred had initially thought that the trial would take longer than the first day, but as the day wore on, and Dumbledore’s defense increasingly began to break down, he realized that it was going to be over far faster than he’d anticipated. That was good for Harry, but he hoped that the public didn’t take it as a sign that something was wrong with the trial.
On the other hand, in Fred’s eyes, everything was wrong with it, and Fred hated that Dumbledore was getting to do this, getting to air all of Harry’s secrets to the public before he was taken away to Azkaban forever. Because, Merlin help him, that had better be how this turned out. He didn’t want to know what he’d do to the Headmaster if he somehow weathered this storm.
But it didn’t seem that he was going to, judging by the way that the Wizengamot was steadily growing more and more grim, and by the way that Dumbledore hadn’t been allowed to speak at all between the final few witnesses.
In fact, there was very little discussion between the members of the Wizengamot at all, and when Locke finally put his quill down, it was with a grim expression of satisfaction. “Albus Dumbledore, we of the Wizengamot find you guilty on all counts. Have you anything to say for yourself before we sentence you?”
Dumbledore, finally freed to speak, sighed at them all, like he was disappointed in them. “I understand that you’re all doing as you must, but surely you can understand that I’ve only done the same. The Potter boy, while significant in that he is the focus of a prophecy, is insignificant in the scheme of things. His death could be used to serve the greater good, and could allow us to defeat Voldemort far more quickly than we might otherwise. It’s a necessary evil, but I don’t deny that it was evil. I regret that none of you seem to understand how necessary what I’ve done was, and hope that you don’t curse yourselves too much when Voldemort’s reign continues without the prophecy to stop him.”
Locke nodded along as Dumbledore spoke, and started to scribble once he was done, his gaze intent on his parchment. He waved a hand as he did so, and Dumbledore could no longer speak once more.
“What will they do to him?” Harry asked, his voice shaking.
Fred hated that his brother was so nervous again, that he was literally trembling because of all of this. “I don’t know,” he said honestly. He’d be surprised if they let him live, honestly, because of the kind of flight risk that he was, but he didn’t want to say that to Harry, not when he was still reeling from Dursley’s sentence.
“Probably something permanent,” George offered, and Fred shot his twin a dirty look. “What? I’m not going to lie. He’s too dangerous to let him just go to Azkaban. If Sirius could escape, then Dumbledore probably could too.”
That was a fair point, and Fred tipped his head towards his brother in acknowledgment.
Then Locke was speaking again, his voice filled with a curious sort of satisfaction. “Albus Dumbledore, we of the Wizengamot sentence you to having your magic stripped from you. Your wand will be snapped, and you will spend the rest of your life, whatever it may be, in Azkaban for your crimes.”
Dumbledore’s eyes widened as the temperature in the room dropped and Dementors surged in, followed by two Aurors. He tried to protest, but no sound came from his lips, and he was hauled off unceremoniously in silence, struggling and trying to protest the entire way.
Locke banged his gavel and said, calmly, “We’re adjourned.”
Beside him, Harry was staring with wide eyes after the Dementors, trembling a little, his skin pale and clammy. Fred, who’d been prepared for such an eventuality even if he’d hoped Harry wouldn’t have to deal with it, pulled a piece of chocolate out of his pocket and offered it to Harry. “Let’s get you out of here so that you can rest,” he said, once Harry had taken it.
It was a sign of how shaken Harry was that he didn’t even protest the order, and that he took the chocolate and ate it quietly as they left the courtroom, and then the Ministry, hopefully for the last time in a while.
Once they were outside, Ron and Hermione backed off a few steps. “We’ll come visit in a few days, okay?” Ron asked, watching Harry with quiet eyes.
Harry nodded, his motions still jerky, his eyes still a little wide. “That would be nice,” he said, a little more quietly than normal.
“See you soon, then,” Hermione said, and smiled at the twins before taking Ron’s hand and walking off.
“Let’s get you home, yeah?” George asked, and wrapped an arm around Harry’s shoulders, tugging him close.
Harry leaned into the touch. “Yeah,” he agreed. “I think I could use a nap.” He didn’t smile as he said it, but Fred couldn’t blame him. He was still trembling, after all.
“Let’s make that happen for you, then,” he said, and smiled at Harry. Home would make everything better, and now that the trial was over, they could really focus on getting Harry fully well again.
Of course, how they were going to do that when Harry had less than a month to go until Hogwarts started… but that was a problem for another day. Not one for today, when Harry could finally start to rest and really recover, now that the trials were all over and he was safe with them.
Fred wasn’t in the habit of borrowing trouble early, after all. He was much better at making it than borrowing it, anyway.