Harry Potter and the Trouble With Neurotypicals 24

Harry Potter and the Trouble With Neurotypicals: Book Three.
Or, "Aspie Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban."

Note: I do not own this. J. K. Rowling does. This is just fan fiction. No money is being made. Not by me, anyway.

Note 2: There may be a few bits and pieces lifted word-for-word from the canon material. I tried to do that as little as possible, though. And the more this deviates from canon, the less that will happen. But some descriptions and things like that are too good to skip or try to reword.

Note 3: Between this being long, my having had to rewrite parts of it, and the fact I had a cold for two weeks starting on the ninth, that's why this has taken so long to get done.

Part of the reason for the rewrite is funny, even; I was so caught up in writing one night, despite being tired, that I actually got to a point where I couldn't remember where the prosecuting attorney was going with his argument. It's a pity, too; the PA was a bit of an evil badass, not wanting to give up despite overwhelming evidence of Sirius's innocence, but he only got as far as he did because I was too tired to realize he was fighting a losing battle.

Also, I apologize if this is based a lot off American TV trials, I've never been part of an actual trial, except for being present at the sentencing part. Almost was a witness for one, but they never called me up, so I don't even have any real trials, American or British, from which to gain experience.

Chapter Nine: The Trial of Sirius Black

With a slight pop, a short, fat, and pleasant looking woman in navy blue robes appeared at the gates of Hogwarts. In the same instant she appeared, she shouted “Expecto patronum!” and a wolverine made of silver light came barreling out of her wand, ready to tear into the dementors she'd been expecting were there. When it found there weren't any, it turned its head both ways as though to make sure, then bared its teeth in frustration and winked out.

“So Fudge finally recalled them, did he? Good,” she said to nobody.

The gates of the school were, of course, closed, as it was past midnight. She re-conjured her wolverine patronus and sent it up to the school with a message, then stood there humming a jaunty tune as she waited.

A few minutes later, she spotted a familiar face coming down to open the gates.

“Lilith Pennyroyal? What are you doing here this late?”

“Professor Sprout, I'm here on urgent business. I must speak with Dumbledore at once.”

“Well alright. But you know you could've flooed into his office.”

“It's not that urgent. Plus, that would be quite rude to do without being invited first.”

“True,” Professor Sprout said, opening the gates. “Well come on in, Lilith.”

She did, and as soon as the gates were closed behind her, the two women walked together up to the castle.

“So, Professor Sprout, how's my old House doing?”

“Oh, we're getting on as usual. How are you? I hear a lot about you, you know. It's always amusing to hear tales about you, people either love you or they're terrified of you. Or both, now that I think of it.”

Ms. Pennyroyal laughed. “I guess I'm doing Hufflepuff proud, then?”

“Quite. But you didn't answer my question.”

“Business is good. I keep getting angry letters from the old pureblood law firms, but it's not my fault if they're losing business to a law firm owned and operated by a half-blood and a Muggleborn.”

“How is Valerie, anyway?”

“Quite well. She and her wife are expecting their first child soon. Eight months pregnant, and Valerie has hardly slowed down at all at work.”

Professor Sprout chuckled. “Oh yes, that sounds like Valerie alright.”

“Well,” Ms. Pennyroyal said when they got to Dumbledore's office, “it was fun catching up, Professor, but I have business to attend to.”

“Of course. Hope to see you later.”

Lilith turned to the gargoyle as Professor Sprout left and said, “Lilith Pennyroyal with urgent business for Dumbledore. Tell him it concerns You-Know-Who.”

The gargoyle nodded, but didn't otherwise move. She waited, examining her nails as she did. Soon enough, the gargoyle moved aside, and she got on the moving staircase, but climbed up it as it moved because she was too impatient to just stand there.

“Come in,” said a tired voice as she knocked on the door. She opened it and saw the headmaster, still old, wearing a nightgown and cap with a fuzzy puffball on the tip, which drooped comically. Both were white with little printed blue stars.

“You said you had urgent business with me, Lilith?”

Lilith considered Dumbledore. It was hard to read the man, but she'd had years of practice. She'd been the foremost troublemaker in this school until James Potter and Sirius Black had arrived, after all.

“Is this room secure from eavesdroppers?”

Dumbledore waved his wand a bit, then said, “It is now.”

“Good. You might want to sit down.”

Dumbledore's blue eyes twinkled. This was just like her, after all; telling him to sit down in his own office, herself sitting in a chair in front of his desk without being invited to do so first.

“I'll get right to brass tacks, Dumbledore. The cleaners Sirius Black hired to make his parents' house habitable by humans again found what we believe is one of Voldemort's horcruxes.”

Dumbledore looked both scared and excited, to Lilith's expert eye.

“You found one of them?”

She blanched, her jaw dropping. “Wuh-One of them?! He has more than one?”

Dumbledore chuckled darkly. “Lilith Pennyroyal, speechless. It's a shame it took something so grave to achieve the effect. Yes, he had more than one of them. I take it you know occlumency?”

Lilith recovered her wits and snorted derisively. “Of course I do. What kind of solicitor would I be if I didn't?”

“A very poor one, of course, which I know from your reputation that you are not. With that in mind, then, I can say I believe he made at least three horcruxes.”

Three?!

“Or more. I knew, when no body was left behind at Godric's Hollow, that there had to be at least one horcrux, but when I found one of them, and found that it had been weaponized, I grew very disturbed.”

“A weaponized horcrux?! What did it do?”

“It was a diary, which tricked a young girl into giving enough of herself to it that it began to possess her. It almost killed her and resurrected itself before it was destroyed by young Harry Potter and his friends.”

Children destroyed a horcrux?!”

“Yes. They should really not have been down there, but they figured out what the monster was and, well... they did have adult supervision, after a fashion. They took Gilderoy Lockhart down there with them.”

She snorted derisively again. “That idiot? They must've taken him down as a human shield, then.”

“Perhaps. Anyway, back to business. What makes you think the horcrux that was found is one of Voldemort's?”

“It's a large gold locket with an S on it. Slytherin's locket. I heard Tom Riddle, AKA Voldemort, was related to Slytherin via his mother.”

“Correct. I would ask where you heard that, but I imagine it's confidential client information?”

“Yes.”

“Where is the horcrux currently?”

“At the Ministry, awaiting confirmation you have a means of destroying a horcrux.”

“I do. During the fight with the Tom Riddle from the diary horcrux, Harry Potter and his friend Antigone both got swords from the Founders in the Chamber of Secrets, from the Sorting Hat I sent them, once I realized where they'd gone. Since I couldn't get into the Chamber, I sent Fawkes.”

Lilith remembered. She'd seen Dumbledore's phoenix often enough before.

“They killed the basilisk, and later I was able to go down into the Chamber and strip the basilisk's body for parts, the money going into the school's coffers.”

“How did you get down there? I heard only a parseltongue could get in there.”

“Luckily, some words in parseltongue have been saved inside of runes over the centuries. Once I knew where the entrance of the Chamber was, it was simple enough to use a Speaking Stone programmed with the parseltongue word for 'open' on the entrance and subsequent doors.”

“Okay. But what's the relevance of stripping the basilisk for parts?”

“Ah yes, that. I saved some basilisk venom for my own use. Some of which I poured into the sword of Godric Griffindor. Being goblin-made, it was not destroyed. In fact, it imbibed the basilisk venom, and is now a useful weapon against horcruxes. I did not do the same to Slytherin's sword, not knowing enough about its history to risk attempting it.”

“Slytherin had a sword too? Doesn't really sound like him.”

“Oh, of course it was like him. The Founders were alive at a time of war between the magical and Muggle worlds. A flaming sword would have made an excellent weapon against superstitious Muggles in a time when Christianity was spreading across Europe. Slytherin himself may not have needed the weapon, but he could have given it to a student who was less proficient at magic as he was, or else as a back-up weapon if his wand was lost.”

“Interesting. Anyway, should I call for the horcrux to be brought to your office to be destroyed?”

“Yes, we should get to that as soon as possible.”

She took a small mirror out of a pouch on a belt around her robes and spoke into it.

“Valerie, send the Auror over with the locket.”

“Right away, Lilith.”

A minute later, green flames appeared in the fireplace, and Kingsley Shacklebolt stepped through, holding a locked box in his hands.

“Bring it here, Kingsley. Yes, set it on the desk. I shall get the sword now.”

Another minute or two later, they had the locket laying on a steel plate to protect the desk. Dumbledore had secured the locket with a spell and stood ready with the sword in hand. Shacklebolt had the Speaking Stone in his hand, ready to activate it.

“Now!”

Shacklebolt activated the Speaking Stone, and it hissed in parseltongue. Responding, the locket opened up, a small and ugly eye inside. Mist came out of the locket and formed into the appearance of a 14-year-old girl with blond hair and eyes the same distinctive blue as Albus Dumbledore's.

“Albus! You--”

Dumbledore interrupted the apparition by stabbing the eye with the sword. The horcrux screamed, the apparition and the mist it was made of disappeared, and all that was left of the locket was a smoking ruin.

“Was that--”

“It is done,” Dumbledore said tersely. “Kingsley, dispose of its remains for me. Don't let Voldemort find out it has been destroyed. I believe there to be at least one more horcrux we haven't yet... that we haven't destroyed yet.”

Kingsley nodded, and used his wand to hover the remains of the locket back into the lock box.

“Lilith, you are dismissed. You may leave by the Floo once Kingsley has left.”

Without waiting for her response, he put the sword of Griffindor back into place, his whole body tense. He was upset about the apparition, clearly, and she wasn't going to ask, so she waited. Soon, she was exiting via the green flames.

“Pennyroyal and Reece law firm,” she said, disappearing in a whirl of green flame.

~

Monday afternoon after classes, Harry, Antigone, Ron, and Hermione went down to Hagrid's hut to see how he was doing. Harry was surprised Hermione was coming, as she looked exhausted and dead on her feet, and she'd been stressing out more and more with each passing week since January, but she'd insisted on coming along. When they got there, they knocked on the door, and they could hear Fang barking, but Hagrid didn't answer.

“Hagrid! Open up! It's Harry!”

They knocked and shouted a few more times before a voice from behind them startled them.

“I'm o'er here, yeh lot.”

“Hagrid! We...”

Harry had trailed off because Hagrid wasn't dressed in his normal garb, nor was he wearing his horrible hairy suit and ugly yellow tie. He was in proper formal robes, which were black robes under a long navy blue suit jacket with silver buttons. He was also wearing a black tie made of what looked like silk, and large black shiny leather shoes with white spats. But oddest of all, his hair was sleekly slicked back like Draco's, but Hagrid's normal salt-and-pepper color. Also, his beard was trimmed up to look nice and even.

“Wha ch'yall starin at, yeh lot?”

You, Hagrid!” Harry said.

“How...? Why...?” said Antigone. “Why're you dressed like you're going to a formal ball?”

“Sirius got me a new s'licitor. Yeh shoulda seen the look on 'er face when she saw me in meh other suit, looked like she couldn' decide whether ter laugh or cry. She took me shoppin' today before the hearin' fer Buckbeak. Wanted me ter look smart fer the hearin'. Tailored suit an' robes, this is.”

“Your hair, Hagrid! How...?”

“Sleakeazy's Hair Potion. She musta bought out the whole stock they 'ad. Ne'er seen a clerk so pleased as that before.”

He grinned, and a bit of his hair popped up from its potion prison. However much they'd used on him, it was clearly losing its effectiveness.

“She tried me on some Muggle hair gel first, seein' as I'm, well, my hair's resistant ter magic, but it didn' work. Musta used a whole gallon of it on meh hair, an' it jes kept poppin' back up, so Sleakeazy's it was.”

“Well, you look nice. Very nice.” Hermione said.

“Amen to that. You clean up well, Hagrid.”

“Thanks, Antigone. Anyway, glad yer all here, I got great news!”

“What is it?”

“Buckbeak got off! Took Ms. Pennyroyal all afternoon, arguin' with the Committee fer the Disposal o' Dangerous Creatures, makin' lots o' arguments, citin' loads o' old cases relevant ter the case, collected eyewitness accounts, too, of the day it happened. Exhaustin', it was, and I was scared an' nervous even with the Calming Draughts she gave me, but we got through it, and Beaky gets ter live!”

“Congratulations, Hagrid!”

“That's amazing!”

“Yay!”

Hagrid sniffed, wiping a tear from his eyes with a white lace hankerchief. “Thanks, yeh lot. I dunno what I'da done without Sirius gettin' me the help o' Ms. Pennyroyal. Anyway, yeh wait out here, I gotta go change inter somethin' more comfy before I let yeh in.”

They nodded, and he went inside, with cries of “Back, Fang! Back!”

Harry turned to the others.

“Eyewitness accounts? So that's what that thing with the memories was, last Friday.”

“What thing with the memories?” asked Antigone.

“This short, fat woman with a strangely familiar face came around the school last Friday collecting memories about the Buckbeak incident with her wand. She pulled something white and thread-like out of our heads, and put them in these glass vials she had.”

“Oh yeah, I recognize that now,” Antigone said. “My dad told me about that, it's a way of collecting evidence. There's a spell that can make copies of memories so they're viewable by other people in something called a pensieve. It's pretty cool magic.”

“That does sound pretty cool. I bet those pensieve things are expensive, though.”

“Oh yeah. They cost a fortune. You could probably buy one, Harry, but most people could never afford one in their lives.”

Hermione looked fascinated, and as they waited for Hagrid to finish, she asked Antigone a bunch of questions about it until he finally opened the door and invited them in again.

~

It took his solicitor until the end of May to get Sirius's case sorted out at last so he could have the criminal trial he'd been denied the first time. On May thirtieth, he had a trial for the first time ever. Harry, Ron, and McGonagall had been ordered to attend to testify, and since they also had to go in to talk with Ms. Pennyroyal in her office on Diagon Alley the day before, they got both days off while someone took over McGonagall's classes. But as Ms. Pennyroyal mentioned on that first day, the trial could take two days or even longer, maybe even a week.

Harry's second impressions of her weren't much different from what his first impressions had been; he was unsure if this woman was up to the task of being Sirius's solicitor, even though she'd won Hagrid's case, as she looked far too kind and gentle to be effective at her job. Though the pattern of her movements regarding her briefcase and its contents testified that she at least knew how to file paperwork. And the way she talked with them all day seemed to indicate she knew what she was talking about, even if a lot of it went over his head.

Ron didn't have any nice clothes to wear for the trial, and Harry's nice clothes were Muggle and wouldn't be suitable for this situation, so Ms. Pennyroyal got them both some semi-formal robes for the trial. They weren't anywhere near as spiffy as Hagrid's had been, but then, they were just witnesses. The rest of the trip, aside from lunch at a restaurant in Diagon Alley, consisted of Ms. Pennyroyal and an Auror collecting Pensieve memories from all of them concerning the recent Peter Pettigrew incident, and other relevant memories.

Because they were all going together with Dumbledore, McGonagall came and got them after breakfast and escorted them to a changing room for them to get ready for the trial, then up to Dumbledore's office so they could all Floo to the Ministry. Harry almost didn't fit in the fireplace at first because his knapsack was in the way; he'd brought it because Ms. Pennyroyal had explained that the witnesses weren't allowed in until it was their turn to testify, and not allowed to leave the Ministry except for lunch in case they needed to be brought back up on the stand, so there would be a lot of waiting. Harry had brought some books and other things to entertain himself and Ron with.

When they popped out of the Floo into the Ministry, Dumbledore took off ahead of them and McGonagall used her wand to siphon the soot off of their nice clothes. As she did this, Harry looked around the atrium of the Ministry in awe. Ron, for his part, looked unimpressed, even bored; doubtless, he'd been here loads of times with his father. But that didn't spoil it for Harry. The atrium was huge, a splendid hall with a highly polished, dark-wood floor. The peacock-blue ceiling was inlaid with gleaming golden symbols that were continually moving and changing like some enormous heavenly notice board. The walls on each side were paneled in shiny dark wood and had many gilded fireplaces set into them. Every few seconds a witch or wizard would emerge from one of the left-hand fireplaces with a soft whoosh; on the right-hand side, short queues of wizards were forming before each fireplace, waiting to depart.

Halfway down the hall was a fountain. A group of golden statues, larger than life-size, stood in the middle of a circular pool. Tallest of them all was a noble-looking wizard with his wand pointing straight up in the air. Grouped around him were a beautiful witch, a centaur, a goblin, and a house-elf. The last three were all looking adoringly up at the witch and wizard. Glittering jets of water were flying from the ends of the two wands, the point of the centaur’s arrow, the tip of the goblin’s hat, and each of the house-elf’s ears, so that the tinkling hiss of falling water was added to the pops and cracks of Apparators and the clatter of footsteps as hundreds of witches and wizards, most of whom were wearing glum, early-morning looks, strode toward a set of golden gates at the far end of the hall.

“Move it!” shouted someone as they almost ran into Harry and Ron, who had been standing too near the Floo. The two boys quickly moved away, following McGonagall, who checked their clothes for soot again.

Since they were visitors, but had not come through the visitor's entrance, they had to get a visitor's badge from the security kiosk manned by a badly shaven wizard in peacock-blue robes who looked up as they approached and put down his Daily Prophet.

“I’m escorting two visitors,” said McGonagall, gesturing at the two of them with bobs of her head.

In a bored voice, the wizard waved something like a golden television aerial over them each, directing Ron and Harry to hand over their wands temporarily to be registered. He did this by putting them on a strange brass device that looked like a set of scales with only one tray. The device printed out the details of their wands, including how long they'd been in use, and they got their wands back, along with visitor's badges that had their names and 'Criminal trial' printed on them.

The bored wizard had just noticed Harry's scar when McGonagall whisked them away toward one of the lifts with the golden grilles.

“How come you didn't need to register your wand, Professor?” Harry asked curiously as they headed toward the lift.

“Because, Mr. Potter, as the deputy headmistress of Hogwarts, I am a regular visitor here. They know me very well. Besides which, I have taught so long that most of these people would recognize me at once anyway.”

Harry nodded at this, and because of this, almost got knocked over when she suddenly stopped. Ms. Pennyroyal was waiting for them by the lift.

“Ah good, you're here. Follow me, please.”

They all got into the lift, and Harry silently watched the people and flying memos until they got down to the bottom-most level of the Ministry. The cool female voice that had been telling them the details of each floor said simply “Department of Mysteries” when they stopped and got off.

“As this is a fairly serious criminal trial, they're holding it down in one of the old courtrooms,” Ms. Pennyroyal explained. “Courtroom ten, in fact, and the lifts do not go down that far.”

True to her word, they had to go down a bunch of stairs until they got to a corridor where an unfamiliar wizard was standing guard over an open door, apparently stopping people to make sure only those here for the trial were allowed in. But once he saw their badges, he let them into another corridor, long and lined with benches and chairs.

Waiting at one of these benches was Professor Lupin.

“Harry, Ron, Professor McGonagall,” he said warmly, “come sit by me, will you?”

“Of course, Professor Lupin,” McGonagall said, and they did.

“Do you know why exactly they're having the trial down here, Lilith?” Lupin asked.

“Fudge cited the size as the primary concern. There will be a great many people here testifying, it seems.”

“Surely not that many?”

“Well, they also need the full Wizengamot for... certain kinds... of criminal trials. The charges are, after all, fairly serious.” The look on her face as she said this told them not to dare making serious/Sirius jokes.

“Anyway,” Ms. Pennyroyal continued, “you lot need to wait out here. There is a restroom down that way on the left. Don't go to the right, that door is usually locked. There is a drinking fountain down there as well if you need any water. Do not leave this corridor until I give you the go-ahead, you will need to be retrieved quickly when they call for you. They will wait if you're in the restroom, but do try not to take too long in there, okay?”

They all nodded their understanding.

“Good. Now I must go visit with my client. See you later!” She waved and bustled off.

The wait was boring and yet full of anxiety. Even with himself, Ron, and the two teachers there, not many words were exchanged, because everyone was anxious for how this would go. All of them knew that what they said in there would be critical to Sirius's freedom or lack thereof, and even though Ms. Pennyroyal was highly optimistic, that didn't mean they couldn't still say the wrong thing. Also, the prosecutor would be brutal, questioning everything he could, doing his best to get Sirius declared guilty, because that was his job. So Harry tried reading, but after a while he started noticing he was reading the same paragraph over and over again without taking in a word. It didn't help that Ron started playing Exploding Snap, so anxious himself that there were a great deal more explosions than usual. Harry put down his book and fidgeted with the necklace Luna had given him while he waited.

A dozen or more people came in a few at a time for several minutes, taking seats and relieving the monotony as they did, though once they were all settled, the most they contributed aside from even more tension was a few whispered conversations here or there.

Other people would come and go, probably clerks and other Ministry employees as well as solicitors. Ms. Pennyroyal kept coming in and out of both the corridor and the room the trial was in, often with other people, most notable of which was a pregnant woman dressed in the same navy robes as Ms. Pennyroyal. One time, Harry saw Ms. Pennyroyal come out of the room and almost run into an unfamiliar wizard, tall and dignified, with olive skin, black hair, and a goatee. Something about him reminded Harry of Lucius Malfoy, even though they looked nothing alike.

When they passed each other, he and Ms. Pennyroyal nodded at each other politely with forced smiles. As soon as he wasn't looking anymore, Ms. Pennyroyal's expression grew dark with dislike and a surprising intensity. Before, she'd reminded Harry of a much younger and cleaner Professor Sprout, but now she reminded him more of a plump, female Professor Snape. At least, until her expression went back to its previous pleasantness.

It was impossible to tell if the trial had even begun yet, as they hadn't seen a judge or any Wizengamot members going into or coming out of the room, at least not by the main entrance. It seemed they had some private entrance, and the main entrance was for solicitors and witnesses, as they never saw any sign of Sirius, either.

Harry was still fidgeting with his necklace when a new group of people came into the corridor, and went right straight into the courtroom. One of them stood particularly out of the crowd, a curly-haired blond woman in magenta robes and ridiculous jeweled spectacles like something out of the 1950's. Her fingers had red nails so long they were basically talons, and she clutched a crocodile-skin handbag.

“Rita Skeeter,” McGonagall told him when she noticed who he was looking at. “Horrible woman, rarely a kind word for anyone. Writes the most horrible garbage, yellow journalism of the worst sort. Works for The Daily Prophet. Don't let her corner you into an interview, Mr. Potter. Just politely decline to comment if she asks you anything.”

“Understood. Thanks, Professor.”

At the tail end of the reporters was a familiar cross-eyed man in canary-yellow robes, his hair white as bleached bone but faintly silvery. Xenophilius Lovegood almost walked by Harry without stopping, but then did a double-take and beamed at Harry.

“Harry Potter, nice to meet you again! Luna keeps telling me all sorts of good things about you.”

“Thank you, sir. You here to cover the trial for The Quibbler?”

“Yes indeed, young man, yes indeed. I am quite excited to see whether or not the Ministry has yet uncovered the truth that young Mr. Black is in fact Stubby Boardman, lead singer of the Hobgoblins. The friend of mine who has been investigating that story hasn't uncovered nearly enough in her research so far, but the Ministry has resources we common citizens don't, so I remain optimistic!”

“Ah, okay,” Harry said. “Well, I'm glad to know at least one trustworthy reporter will be in there to cover it. I haven't heard good things about Rita Skeeter.”

“Understandable, young man. She is, after all, a member of the Rotfang Conspiracy. I'd tell you about it, but I really must be going, now. Ta-ta, Harry!”

“Bye!”

Minutes passed, boredom set in. Time was doing this weird thing where minutes felt like hours, and time was getting harder to keep track of. But he knew from watching his watch obsessively that about ten minutes or so passed from the time the reporters went in to the time that Lupin was called in as the first witness.

Of course, that had been another brief blip in an otherwise boring day, and Harry went back to reading to try to pass the time. He ended up having to take one of the Calming Draughts he'd been given the night before, to use for the trial like Hagrid had at his hearing. This done, he was able to go back to reading.

He looked up when Lupin came back out and another wizard went in. Ron tried asking Lupin about it, and Lupin shook his head.

“We're not to discuss anything in there until after the verdict is handed out, Mr. Weasley,” he explained.

“Oh,” Ron said, who had apparently been reading a book about Quidditch, as he went back to it.

The rest of the day went much the same. An excruciatingly long time after Lupin came back from testifying, the court recessed for lunch, and Ms. Pennyroyal took them back to the restaurant in Diagon Alley for lunch before taking them back to the boring corridor outside the courtroom.

Hours more passed, and nobody was going into the courtroom via the only door Harry knew about. It was driving him mad, and he began to pace. He paced for an entire hour until, at three pm, Ms. Pennyroyal came out briefly.

“Given the agreed-upon lineup of witnesses for this afternoon, Professor McGonagall, you and the boys can head back to Hogwarts until tomorrow.”

“We have to come back?” Ron nearly shouted. He, too, had been pacing, but had stopped at her words. “We're not testifying today?”

“No, Mr. Weasley, not today. But yes, you'll all have to come back tomorrow.”

“Bollocks!”

“Mr. Weasley!” McGonagall snapped. “Do mind your tongue! We are still on school time, I can still take points from you if I feel I need to.”

“Sorry, Professor.”

“Well, see you three tomorrow!”

~

Neither Harry nor Ron were pleased to have to go back the next day, but they came prepared. This time, Ron had brought his wizard chess set, and he and Harry played chess while they waited. But almost as though the universe wanted to keep them off-balance, they only got through half a game when Ms. Pennyroyal came out.

“Harry, you'll be testifying this morning, in about half an hour. Because of that, and because there's nobody testifying ahead of you, you can come on in.”

“Do you have the photos of Pettigrew I gave you the other day in your office?”

“My business partner Valerie has them. Come on in, Mr. Potter.”

He sighed and got up, following her into the courtroom.

The courtroom turned out to be a large dungeon. The walls were made of dark stone, but the room was brightly lit by torches in brackets. The benches were all facing a chair with chains dangling from it, but another much more comfortable chair sat in front of it.

He saw Mr. Lovegood again, and they waved at one another. He wanted to sit next to the man, but Ms. Pennyroyal directed him away from there and over to a section of seating that was mostly empty, and well away from the press, especially Rita Skeeter, who was looking both predatory and disappointed.

Fidgeting with his necklace again, Harry waited for a half an hour in increasing anxiety. His palms were sweating, the parts of his body exposed to air were shivering with cold sweat. He took a Calming Draught, having forgotten before, and started to immediately feel better.

Everyone stood up all of a sudden, Harry rushing to stand, too. In filed Albus Dumbledore and fifty other people came in via an entrance in the back of the room, all wearing plum-colored robes – even Dumbledore. Every set of robes had an elaborately-worked silver W on their front. The Wizengamot witches and wizards spent several minutes talking and getting settled in their benches, which was the signal for everyone else to finally sit, too.

Once the Wizengamot members were settled, it didn't take long for Dumbledore – the head of the Wizengamot – to call the room to order with a few loud taps of a small black stone on some surface Harry couldn't see.

“Thank you,” he said. “I believe we can begin now. This is, of course, the second day in the 12-years delayed trial of Sirius Black. Are the solicitors for the prosecution and the defense ready to proceed?”

The olive-skinned man with a goatee and a smug aristocratic manner stood up. “The prosecution is prepared, Chief Warlock.”

“Good, good. You may sit down, Mr. Rowle. Is the defense ready?”

Ms. Pennyroyal stood up, barely any taller than when she'd been sitting down, and beamed warmly at Dumbledore with a smile that made Harry think of fresh-baked apple pie for some reason.

“The defense is prepared, Chief Warlock.”

“Excellent. You may be seated, Ms. Pennyroyal.”

She nodded and sat down.

“Would you please call today's first witness, Ms. Pennyroyal?”

Still beaming at Dumbledore, she stood again, nodding cheerfully. “Yes, Chief Warlock, I would be delighted to do that. The defense calls Mr. Harry Potter to the stand.”

She was looking in his direction, and naturally everyone else in the room followed suit. Harry chose to look at Dumbledore, who was twinkling at Harry.

“Would Mr. Harry Potter please come to the stand now?” Dumbledore said.

Harry nodded, and stood up so abruptly that he banged his knee on the bench in front of him and nearly toppled over, just barely managing to keep his balance. With that graceful beginning, Harry felt his cheeks turn hot as he skulked up to the big, reasonably comfortable-looking chair for witnesses. A sudden memory from a stolen glimpse of an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus about 'the dreaded comfy chair' made him smile a little as he went up, but he still felt like he was going to be sick.

“Please state your name for the record,” Ms. Pennyroyal said, her voice soothing to his frayed nerves.

Swallowing a lump in his throat, he said, “Harry James Potter.”

“Excellent. You're doing fine, dear. You look thirsty, would you like some water first?”

“Yes please.”

She conjured him a cup of water, which he drank greedily.

“Good. Now, Mr. Potter, do you swear on your magic to tell the truth to the best of your ability in these proceedings?”

“I do ind--er... I do swear by my magic to tell the truth to the best of my ability in these proceedings.”

“Wonderful! Now we may proceed, as it were. Are you ready?”

Harry nodded.

“Excellent. Now, in yesterday's trial, it came to light that one Peter Pettigrew, supposed victim of an attack by one Sirius Black and presumed dead, is in fact alive. Unfortunately, he appears to have slipped away somehow, which is a shame, because his incarceration would have made this whole ordeal so much easier. But we carry on. Mr. Potter, please tell the court, in your own words, what happened on Thursday the third of February?”

Harry closed his eyes, remembering, then opened them up and looked up at Ms. Pennyroyal's lips.

“Well, it's a little more complicated than that. There's backstory to it.”

“There's backstory to everything, Mr. Potter. We just need to know about the third of February, this year. But if you still feel you need to add backstory, please give us as succinct a summary of the backstory as possible.”

“Okay then. Well... okay, so first you have to know that I own a magical artifact made by my father, my godfather, and... and Peter Pettigrew, when they were all in school. It's called the Marauder's Map, and shows a map of the Hogwarts castle and grounds, and displays where everyone is, and their legal names. I'd been given it by someone I trust, on the day of the Hogsmeade visit just prior to the holidays.

“Then later, during the Yule holidays, in which I was staying at Hogwarts, I was looking at the Marauder's Map and noticed a name next to my friend Ron Weasley, but it wasn't his name. It was Peter Pettigrew. Now, I thought at first it was a glitch, because I thought like everyone did that Peter Pettigrew was dead. But, er... well, I guess I should have added that Sirius Black had sneaked onto the Hogwart's grounds in his animagus form of a large black dog. He and I had actually been acquainted for months, sort of. He was... well, I thought he was a stray dog, and he was so thin and pathetic looking, so I started feeding him. I even made him a dog house.”

Harry tried to ignore the talking that had arisen from this, as well as the scratching of several quills. He felt a headache start to form from all the noise.

“Ms. Pennyroyal, may I take a headache cure potion?”

She turned to Dumbledore questioningly. Dumbledore nodded. Harry gratefully swallowed one of his vials of potion. By the sound of it, several people were astonished that he already had one to hand.

“Ready to go on?”

“Yes.”

She gestured at him to go on.

“So yeah, he had plenty of opportunity to hurt me, but he didn't. It wasn't me he was after, it was Peter. But I'm getting ahead of myself. So, er... okay, so when I noticed Pettigrew on the Map, I was talking to Shadow – that's what I called Sirius when I thought he was just a dog – about the weirdness of it, and over the next few minutes, his agitation and oddly high intelligence even for a dog made me figure out who he was. He transformed, into a position where he was on his knees with his hands straight up in the air.

“Even though I'd been suspicious about the whole story of his supposed guilt for months, I was still wary. He did his utmost to validate my caution and to not come across as threatening. We, uh... he didn't feel comfortable so exposed in his human form out in the relative open of the copse of trees we were in, so I let him change back to a dog. We went to the Shrieking Shack, my wand on him the whole time, and I questioned him there, back in his human form.”

“Hmm... that was rather dangerous, wasn't it? You had no proof the name on the Map was genuine, no proof Sirius wasn't a killer.”

“Yes, it was dangerous. But I'd been hanging around him as a dog every morning and some nights after dinner for months. I wouldn't have stood a chance, he was so big and powerful as a dog. But he never made himself threatening, so on the strength of that, I trusted him enough to question him at wandpoint. Plus, I figured if I could handle Voldemort in my first year and again in my second year, as well as a giant basilisk in my second year, I could probably handle an unarmed man. It was a calculated risk.”

“Understood. So what happened after you questioned him?”

“His story made enough sense to me that I trusted him a little more. We tried making plans to catch Pettigrew, for most of January. It wasn't until I told my friend Luna Lovegood about the whole thing that events began to move forward again. She went with me to show the Map and Pettigrew's name to Professor Lupin, and he went straight to Dumbledore from there, with us. Then Dumbledore, McGonagall, Lupin, Luna, and I came up with a plan to catch Pettigrew. We began our plan the next morning. And that brings us to the third of January.”

Having finally gotten to the meat of his testimony, Harry retold the story of the details of that day, how they'd tricked Ron into bringing Scabbers in, how they and Ron and Minister Fudge had witnessed Pettigrew being put back to his human form, as much as he could remember from the interrogation of Pettigrew, how he'd left Dumbledore's office after that, how he and Dumbledore had gotten outside just in time to cast patronuses at the attacking dementors, and finally how the cage had fallen, Pettigrew got free by turning into his rat form, and how he ran off in all the chaos. He did not mention the prophecy Danzia had witnessed, as he didn't feel it was relevant.

Ms. Pennyroyal questioned him some more as the photos of Pettigrew that Harry had taken with Colin's camera were passed around the Wizengamot. Harry glanced at Rowle, and was pleased to note that he was looking displeased and a little ill, like he couldn't see a way to win if there were recent photos of the primary supposed murder victim.

When it was Rowle's chance to cross-examine Harry, the man stood up rather shakily, and took a moment to collect himself before approaching Harry.

“Mr. Potter, how is it that you just happened to have a headache cure potion on your person? Surely it isn't usual for someone your age?”

“Um...” Harry looked to Ms. Pennyroyal, who looked at Dumbledore. The headmaster didn't look pleased, but nodded for Harry to answer.

“Er, well... crowds and loud noises tend to overwhelm me. I get frequent headaches because of it.”

“I see. And how long has this been going on?”

“As long as I can remember. My guardians didn't believe my headaches were genuine. Not until I was in so much pain I got sick on their floors, anyway. Still, it remained such a difficult job getting any medicine from them that I eventually got a job mowing lawns for the neighbors to earn money to pay for pain relief medication.”

“Excuse me, but if I'm not mistaken, Muggles mow their lawns with machines that are extremely noisy. Wouldn't that be a bad choice of jobs for someone with sensitivities to sound?”

“The first time was very difficult for that reason, yes, but I earned enough to buy a pair of sound-muffling ear coverings in addition to pain relievers, and it was much easier from then on.”

“I see. And did your guardians ever take you to a Healer to find out the cause of these headaches?”

Harry laughed a little. “No, they never took me to a doctor – the Muggle equivalent of a Healer, not for the headaches. They only took me to the eye doctor to get glasses after I bumped into a few too many valuable things. Took ages for them to realize I wasn't lying about being nearly blind without glasses.”

“Chief Warlock, objection; what is the relevance of this line of questioning?”

“Indeed, I am curious too, Mr. Rowle. Is there relevance, or are you grasping at straws?”

Rowle actually paused to think, looking a little deflated by the time he was done. He looked around the room, including at Harry, then sighed.

“Sorry, Chief Warlock. I got carried away. The prosecution rests.”

“Understandable, Mr. Rowle. Does the defense have any more questions for the witness?”

“Not at this time, Chief Warlock.”

“Then the witness may leave the courtroom now.”

Harry nodded, got up, and left. As he got up, he noticed Rowle glaring at him and then at Ms. Pennyroyal, but Harry's experience with the Dursleys told him it was a glare that basically said 'I've been beaten and I know it. I'm not at all happy about it, though.' Which made Harry grin on his way out.

~

It was Ron's turn after his, and Ron seemed to take even less time than Harry for some reason. Of course, Harry rather suspected Rowle, who seemed like the kind of person who hated losing, had been trying some harebrained scheme to discredit his testimony, and that the objection to it had made him realize his plan was either flimsy or pointless or both. After all, the Ministry had veritaserum, and might have used it on Sirius. Plus, they had pensieve memories of Pettigrew from half a dozen or more witnesses which included the Minister of Magic himself and several aurors, as well as photo evidence of Pettigrew being alive. Harry admired Rowle for his dedication to his job, but there was so much evidence in favor of Sirius's innocence that Rowle wasn't going to win this one no matter what. At least, that's what Harry hoped.

After Ron, McGonagall was called in again for some reason. An hour after she returned, they had a lunch break. During the lunch break, Ms. Pennyroyal came to find them and told them all they could go back to Hogwarts for the day.

The next day they came in again, and this time waited until after lunch with none of them being called in to testify. Ms. Pennyroyal said it was unlikely they'd be needed, but she'd let them come in anyway because the overwhelming evidence of the pensieve memories from eight different witnesses and Harry's photos of Pettigrew was speeding things along nicely, and the verdict would likely be in at any point in the day.

And so it was at 4 pm on the afternoon of the third day of the trial that Ms. Pennyroyal called them in to hear the verdict. Everyone had filed out for a couple hours while the Wizengamot deliberated and watched the pensieve memories.

When they reconvened, and all the witnesses from the trial who cared to stick around were called into the courtroom to hear the verdict, Harry was very nervous for his godfather, despite how well it appeared to have gone. There had been parts of Harry's part of the trial in which he was certain that a few of the Wizengamot members didn't believe the whole story, including one short, ugly, toad-faced woman sitting next to the Minister, among others.

Sirius was brought out to sit in the creepy chair to wait for the Wizengamot members to finish deliberating. Its chains clinked a little but didn't bind him. When the Wizengamot warlocks filed into the room, Sirius looked anxious enough to faint or cry or something. Harry understood the feeling, sort of; he was feeling much the same way himself.

“We the Wizengamot have deliberated in the case of Sirius Black, and charges against him of turning traitor and giving up the Potters to Voldemort,” said Dumbledore. “And so now, the final vote. All those in favor of further imprisonment...?”

The toad-faced woman and a couple other people raised their hands.

“And all opposed?”

Nearly everyone raised their hands.

“In a vote of 51 to 3 against, I – Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot – do declare Sirius Black not guilty of all charges. Sirius, you are now a free man.”

Ron, Harry, Lupin, and Sirius all cheered. Even McGonagall gave a quick whoop of delight before returning to her usual decorum, though Ms. Pennyroyal just looked like a kindly aunt whose favorite nieces and nephews had come for a visit. Sirius ran over at once to hug Harry, who ran to Sirius so they met in the middle, Sirius hugging him with such fervor that he picked Harry up off the ground, the two of them cheering.

“Congratulations, Padfoot!” Lupin said.

“Come here, Moony, join our hug,” Sirius said, grabbing Lupin with his other arm and pulling him into a hug.

“Oh this is great. Now I can start getting my life back on track in a serious way.”

“That went well,” Ms. Pennyroyal said, grinning at them. “One little speed bump early in the first day aside. I knew Dolores Umbridge wouldn't budge, the horrid woman, and the other two weren't surprising either, but still, that went even better than I'd hoped.”

“A hug for you too, Lilith, if you don't mind?”

“Oh sure, go ahead then,” she said, accepting the hug with a little pleased smirk.

“Thank goodness there were no dementors,” McGonagall said.

“Yes. As I said, the Ministry is very contrite about the whole thing. They felt it best, especially seeing as he turned himself in when he saw Pettigrew had been captured, and let them take him in even after the rat escaped.”

Harry's attention was then drawn to Rita Skeeter, who was approaching them. Sirius, Remus, and Lilith all turned to look where he was looking. Before she could open her mouth, the four of them said, in unison, “NO COMMENT!” and then left together, pausing to add Lilith's pregnant business partner to their group first.

~

Because they were curious, and because Dumbledore knew they would be, the next Saturday Harry, Ron, and McGonagall used Dumbledore's pensieve to view the rest of the trial. He poured in some memories from several vials first.

“This will be a somewhat truncated version of the trial. There are parts of the trial with testimony that is classified, and other parts which are merely boring and unnecessary to watch. So with that in mind, here are the highlights of the trial.”

The three of them stepped forward and touched the surface of the pensieve.

They fell through the darkness and landed perfectly in the familiar black-stoned dungeon courtroom. The benches were mostly empty, but for the three of them, and they weren't really there, of course, this being a memory. Harry looked to where he'd been seated while testifying, but only the creepy chained chair was there yet.

It was boring, waiting there for people to filter in, even more boring than the wait at the trial itself had been, because now they knew the verdict and thus had no more anxiety about it. Some of the people Harry didn't recognize, and didn't think he would recognize later either, mostly people working either for one of the solicitors or for the Ministry, clerks and so on. Harry fidgeted with the necklace Luna had given him while he waited.

After who knew how long, Ms. Pennyroyal came into the room, talked to several people for a while, then sat down. Not long after she got settled, her pregnant business partner came in as well. Ms. Pennyroyal greeted the pregnant witch with a nod and a grin. When the pregnant woman sat down next to Ms. Pennyroyal, she got out her own briefcase and papers, and the two witches sat quietly discussing something that Harry presumed was his godfather's case. Being a memory, he could have gone over there to eavesdrop, but it didn't seem very important now.

A few minutes later, prosecutor Rowle – the man with the olive skin, goatee, and Malfoy-esque demeanor – came in. He, too, had a briefcase, and was wearing similar navy-colored robes. He sat about ten feet away from Ms. Pennyroyal and the pregnant witch. Ms. Pennyroyal glared at his turned back with the same intensity he'd seen earlier when they'd passed in the corridor.

The memory blurred, time skipping ahead, and when it went back to normal, everyone was standing except for them as Albus Dumbledore and the rest of the Wizengamot entered, everyone making so much noise talking that Ron woke up out of a doze and looked bleary-eyed at them.

While the Wizengamot wizards and witches got settled, more people came in. Rita Skeeter was most prominent among them. She opened her crocodile-skin handbag and pulled out an acid-green quill that she sucked on before setting it magically upright on some parchment. Harry guessed some of the others were reporters as well; they couldn't be witnesses, after all; he knew the witnesses had all been in the corridor outside.

Once the Wizengamot members were settled, Dumbledore called the room to order.

“Thank you,” he said. “I believe we can begin now. This is, of course, the long-overdue criminal trial for Sirius Black, who was held without trial for 12 years in Azkaban. Are the solicitors for the prosecution and the defense ready to proceed?”

Mr. Rowle stood up, but before he could speak, the door opened again, and in came Mr. Lovegood.

“My apologies, Chief Warlock,” Mr. Lovegood said, finding a place to sit down.

Dumbledore twinkled at Mr. Lovegood, but Rowle glared at the interruption, still standing. When Mr. Lovegood finally sat down, Rowle turned to Dumbledore and spoke at last.

“The prosecution is prepared, Chief Warlock.”

“Good, good. You may sit down, Mr. Rowle. Is the defense ready?”

Ms. Pennyroyal stood up as well, giving her familiar warm, friendly smile.

“The defense is prepared, Chief Warlock.”

“Excellent. You may be seated, Ms. Pennyroyal.”

She nodded and sat down.

“Please bring forth the accused, Auror Williamson.”

Harry watched Williamson leave the room through a third entrance. A few moments later, he came back in with Sirius at his side. Harry was heartened to see that Sirius hadn't been bound. When he sat on the chair, the chains clinked a little on their own, but that was all. Williamson went to stand over by the entrance.

“Sirius Black,” Dumbledore said with a neutral tone of voice, “you have been brought here in front of the Council of Magical Law to answer charges relating to the activities of the Death Eaters during the war. How do you plead?”

“I plead not guilty of all charges, Chief Warlock.”

“As I expected,” Dumbledore said with an upward twitch of the corners of his lips. “Would you like to give your testimony under veritaserum at this time?”

“Yes I would, Chief Warlock.”

“Auror Williamson, please administer the veritaserum.”

Williamson nodded, and retrieved a small vial from one of the Wizengamot members before dropping several drops on Sirius's proffered tongue.

Sirius's gaze unfocused, and he looked a lot calmer than he had been all of a sudden. Mr. Rowle stepped up and asked Sirius many questions about the night Harry's parents had been killed, and about any previous Death Eater activity he may have engaged in. And, of course, about the deaths of all those Muggles which Pettigrew had framed him for. The story matched everything that Harry already knew about. Rowle tried his hardest to pick it apart, but didn't get very far. After all, Sirius answered everything completely truthfully. It was hard to argue with a man under the influence of veritaserum answering 'no' when asked point-blank if he'd been a Death Eater or in any way working for Voldemort or any of his followers. Rowle did, however, imply strongly that there really was no proof he wasn't a Death Eater, beyond Sirius's word. He also called Sirius's character into question, though how this was going to help him when Sirius was under veritaserum, wasn't clear to Harry.

When the prosecution rested, Ms. Pennyroyal got up for cross-examination.

Her cross-examination wasn't terribly impressive to Harry. It re-emphasized some important points in favor of Sirius's innocence, but nothing new or dramatic was added. He was left underwhelmed, and confused at how she'd managed to get him off. Had the trial been that much of a breeze? The part he remembered of it, his own testimony, hadn't felt so easy to him.

When Sirius was done testifying, he was removed from the room. A much nicer chair was conjured for other witnesses.

Next up was Lupin, who was asked to swear an oath to be truthful, which he did, swearing by his magic that he would tell the truth in its entirety without leaving anything relevant out.

“Excellent, Mr. Lupin,” said Rowle, having stood up to question Lupin. “Now Mr. Lupin, is it true that you are currently working at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a teacher for Defense Against the Dark Arts?”

“That is correct, yes.”

“And is it true that you are a werewolf?”

There was a surge of voices talking about this turn of events. Which was weird to Harry, as this information had already come out in Sirius's testimony.

“Order, order,” Dumbledore said, tapping his stone for attention. “Professor Lupin, please answer the question.”

“Yes, it's true I am a werewolf.”

Muttering, now, much quieter this time, as though people didn't want to get brought to task again.

“And is it true that you were, in fact, bitten as a young child?”

“That is true, yes.”

“I see. And is it also true that you attended Hogwarts as a child anyway, despite being a werewolf?”

“Yes, I did. And precautions were taken at the time to ensure I wouldn't be dangerous to anyone during my transformation.”

“Indeed? So Headmaster Dumbledore let a known werewolf stay in a school full of innocent children for seven years, and now he has let you teach there as well?”

Lupin looked like he was struggling to remain calm. “Yes,” he said. “Your baited wording aside, that is correct in essentials.”

“Pardon me, Chief Warlock,” interrupted Ms. Pennyroyal, “may I speak?”

“Yes, Ms. Pennyroyal, you may.”

“Thank you. While I'm sure the esteemed Mr. Rowle merely wishes to clarify the facts in this matter, I would like to ask he refrain from using emotionally-loaded words such as 'innocent children.'”

“Agreed,” Dumbledore said. “Mr. Rowle, please watch your wording.”

Rowle glared at Ms. Pennyroyal, but nodded politely at Dumbledore. “Agreed, Chief Warlock.”

“Also,” continued Ms. Pennyroyal, “I would like to remind everyone present that werewolves are only dangerous and contagious during the full moon, when they are transformed.”

“Indeed. You may be seated now, Ms. Pennyroyal. Mr. Rowle, please continue.”

“Thank you, Chief Warlock. Now Mr. Lupin, so you admit to being a werewolf, and to having been to Hogwarts as a student?”

“Yes.”

“And you are now a teacher at the school?”

“Yes. You already asked that, and I answered. I'm sure you're aware by now that the Defense Against the Dark Arts post is said to be cursed. So if you are worried, Mr. Rowle, don't be. I'll be leaving at the end of the year. I really only agreed to the job because of the curse in the first place; after all, with every teacher in that position for the last 22 years being forced away by the curse via scandals or even bodily harm, there aren't many left who will take the job, and I did do very well on my Defense O.W.L.'s and N.E.W.T.'s.”

“I see.”

The rest of Lupin's question under Rowle went smoother for a while, Rowle getting the story from Lupin's point of view, all of it. Harry noted that Lupin and Sirius had both left out the little fact that they'd taken Lupin out onto the school grounds during the full moon, both making it sound like the three animagi had just spent time in the Shrieking Shack with Lupin in his werewolf form. Despite knowing the outcome already, Harry worried that this lie by omission would come back to haunt them.

At first, Ms. Pennyroyal's cross-examination mostly just reminded people of several important points, including that werewolves were only dangerous at the full moon. Then she asked him a number of questions about the measures taken to ensure he couldn't hurt anyone at school, and the details of the Shrieking Shack and the secret passage under the whomping willow were rehashed in detail. Then she asked about his school history, like grades, detentions (very few and far between, despite being friends with James and Sirius), and verified that he had been a prefect during school. Then she went through his history after school, including his work fighting against Voldemort, and an apparent lack of any incidents involving being a danger to others by being loose or discovered by errant Muggles.

When she was done, Rowle got up again and asked if she had any witnesses to verify Lupin's lack of incidents after school. She did, and soon, Lupin was stepping down, the witness's chair being filled by a member of the Magical Accidents and Catastrophes department, head of the Werewolf Task Force, who were the ones to deal with the aftermath of werewolf attacks.

That man's questioning and cross-examination went pretty well, and were followed by another equally good testimony by Rufus Scrimgeour, head of the Auror Office. Aurors were the ones who dealt with the werewolf attacks themselves, as opposed to the aftermath. Like the man before him, he was able to testify that there had been no werewolf attacks in any of the places Lupin had lived over the years. There had been one incident many miles away from one of Lupin's residences, but that had been proven to have been caused by an escaped werewolf child. Anyway, nobody had died or been bitten during the incident, just some very scared Muggles running away from what they'd thought had been a rabid puppy.

At this point, Dumbledore called for a lunch-period recess. Before the memory could skip forward, McGonagall pulled them all out of the memory for their own lunch period.

When they went back to the memory later, it resumed where they'd left off.

Several members of a group called 'The Order of the Phoenix' were called to testify about Lupin's anti-Voldemort work. First up – coming from the entrance of the room that Sirius and the aurors had used – was a very alarming-looking man, covered head to toe in scars, one leg made of wood, and two differently-colored eyes, one of which was artificial, bright blue, and never stopped moving, looking around at everything and everyone. It even occasionally rolled up in a way that looked like he was trying to see out the back of his own head.

“Mad-eye Moody!” Ron said. “He's a famous Auror, half the cells in Azkaban are full because of him. But he's retired now, and paranoid, they say.”

The man, his voice gruff and his mannerisms gruffer, testified as to Lupin's positions and activities for the Order. Occasionally the memory would skip ahead in his testimony, a bit like a skipping phonograph record or a spliced VHS tape to keep sensitive information from Ron's and Harry's ears.

Even Dumbledore testified, giving control of the proceedings temporarily to Fudge until he was done. His own testimony went much the same as Moody's had.

Harry thought it was ludicrous that Lupin had to defend his credibility like this, but he knew the testimony of a werewolf was never taken very seriously, and Ms. Pennyroyal wanted to make as strong a case as possible for him being a reliable witness.

And then, for reasons unknown, when Professor McGonagall was testifying, Ms. Pennyroyal finished off the questioning with questions about Sirius's sordid history of mischief in school. It went on for over an hour, making Harry more and more curious why she appeared to be working against her own client. He wasn't the only one, either; everyone in the room looked confused to some degree or another, but nobody objected to it.

When McGonagall left the room, Dumbledore turned to Rowle.

“Mr. Rowle, who do you wish to call for your next witness?”

Mr. Rowle grinned smugly, and said, “I would like to call Severus Snape as a witness.”

Uproar in the courtroom again. Even Ron and Harry were standing up, booing Snape as he came in via the Auror entrance, despite the fact nobody could hear them in this pensieve memory aside from McGonagall, since they knew this couldn't be good.

Once Dumbledore got the court back in order, Mr. Rowle swore-in Snape and turned to him with a smile.

“Mister Snape,” Rowle said, “Is it true that you work at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as Potions Master?”

“That is correct, Mr. Rowle,” Snape said with an slight smile that boded ill.

“And is it true you went to school with Mr. Remus Lupin?”

“Indeed I did,” Snape said, his expression turning sour.

“Did you two get along with one another?”

“No, we did not.”

“How would you characterize your relationship with Mr. Lupin?”

“Not good. He was friends with one James Potter and one Sirius Black, who both bullied me relentlessly in school.”

Harry glared at Snape at this accusation.

“And did Mr. Lupin join in this bullying?”

“No. But neither did he do anything to stop them. He did not even stand up to them, the coward.”

“How do you feel about Mr. Lupin?”

“Loathing. I despise the man.” His face looked angry and sour in equal measure.

“Just for not standing up for you?” Rowle said in a fake-incredulous tone.

“No. Something far worse.”

“And what was it that Mr. Lupin did to make you hate him so?”

“It is... a bit involved, the story.”

“Please, we are eager to hear the tale.”

Snape nodded. “I was very curious in school where Mr. Lupin went every month. I had gone so far as to follow him and the nurse when he was taken out to the whomping willow, which Black and Potter found out about. One day in our fifth year, Sirius Black told me how to get past the whomping willow to see what Mr. Lupin was up to in there, and not suspecting the danger, I went in after Mr. Lupin that night, thinking I would catch him at something embarrassing. James Potter, finding out what Black had done and knowing he and his friend would be expelled or worse if I died, took off after me and pulled me out just before I got inside the Shrieking Shack. But I saw Lupin transformed as a werewolf, so I knew what he was. The headmaster swore me to secrecy, but since it is now known he is a werewolf, there is no reason to keep that promise anymore.”

“So you're telling me that Mr. Black, at the age of 15, sent you, victim of his years of bullying, to a certain death or being turned into a werewolf yourself, and only the self-serving actions of Mr. James Potter saved you?”

“Yes, Mr. Rowle, that is correct.”

Ms. Pennyroyal stood up. “Chief Warlock?”

“Am I to presume you object to Mr. Rowle's use of emotionally-loaded words?”

“Yes, Chief Warlock.”

“My apologies, Chief Warlock,” Rowle said with a smirk. “Allow me to rephrase. Mr. Snape, is it correct that at the age of 15, Sirius Black sent you after Mr. Lupin on a full moon night, knowing full well he was a werewolf and that you could die or be bitten?”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“And is it also true that, upon hearing of what Black had done, James Potter saved your life in the nick of time?”

Grinding his teeth for a moment first, Snape finally answered, “Yes, Mr. Rowle, that is correct again.”

Mr. Rowle grinned and sauntered up jauntily to the front of the Wizengamot. “No further questions, Chief Warlock.”

The uproar of the crowd returned. Harry noticed Rita Skeeter's magical quill going so fast across the parchment it was in danger of catching something on fire. Then he turned to look at Ms. Pennyroyal, whose face was one of unsurprise and – strangely – unconcern.

Harry just felt confusion, now. Well, that and a headache from all the noise in the faintly echoing courtroom; it sure was a noisy memory. He downed one of the vials of headache potion he always carried with him, and tried to think why Ms. Pennyroyal seemed so unconcerned by testimony that undid all of her work bolstering Lupin's reputation and certainly made Sirius look like a murderer.

“Would Ms. Pennyroyal like to cross-examine the witness?” Dumbledore asked.

“Why yes, I would. Thank you, Chief Warlock.”

When Rowle saw the still-cheerful look on her face and the bounce in her step, he started to look worried, like he'd missed something and was trying to figure out what it was. But whatever was causing her to remain buoyant was not immediately apparent.

“Professor Snape,” she said to him with a sweet smile, making his own face falter like Rowle's had, “I'm curious to know the details of the conversation in which Mr. Lupin and Mr. Black were talking about sending you into the maw of a transformed werewolf. Will you enlighten us, please?”

Snape blinked, looking confused. He turned to Rowle, who looked just as baffled, and shrugged.

Turning back to Ms. Pennyroyal, he said, “I am not sure what you mean.”

“Well, you said Mr. Black told you how to find your way into Mr. Lupin's hiding place. You also said you loathed and despised Mr. Lupin. So clearly you must have overheard young Mr. Black discussing his plan for you with Mr. Lupin. I would like to hear the details of that conversation.”

“You are mistaken. I heard no such conversation.”

“Truly? Now it is I who am curious what you mean, sir.”

Snape, who looked like he'd just eaten a rotten egg, said carefully, “I never heard anything to indicate that... Mr. Black had ever discussed his plan with anyone.”

“Can you please describe for me, then, young Mr. Black's demeanor when he told you this?”

“His... demeanor?”

“Oh you know, where was he sitting, how was he positioned, where this conversation took place, and his apparent mood and body language when he told you how to get into the whomping willow passageway, that sort of thing.”

He looked to Rowle again, who looked confused himself and indicated with a wave that Snape should continue.

Snape sighed, and turned back to Ms. Pennyroyal. “As I recall, it was a study period. I was having a discussion with Lucius Malfoy about Mr. Lupin, wondering aloud where he went every month, and why it required going through a secret passage. Sirius Black was at a nearby desk, leaning back in his chair, his feet on the desk. I believe Mr. Peter Pettigrew was there as well.”

“Was Mr. Lupin present?”

“He was not present. He had just been pulled out of study hall, which is why I brought the subject up to Lucius.”

“What about Mr. James Potter?”

“He had a different class that period, I believe. Something on one of the upper floors.”

“Thank you. You may continue with your recollection.”

“Indeed. Well, Mr. Pettigrew and Mr. Black had been discussing something of their own, I believe, but stopped when I started talking with Lucius. As I said before, Black was quite at his ease, not doing any schoolwork, which was a common enough sight. He was one of those people who always managed to coast through school while the rest of us studied hard every day, or at least it appeared so to me and others I spoke with. Anyway, he was still leaning back in his chair as before when he told me, casual as you please, that if I was really so curious about where Mr. Lupin went, all I had to do was touch a knot on the base of the tree to freeze the willow long enough to get through the entrance, which is a gap in the roots. I used the information that very night, in fact.”

“Would you say that young Mr. Black was relaxed, perhaps even bored at the time, or would it be more correct to say he looked conspiratorial, perhaps conspiring with Mr. Pettigrew?”

“I would say he was relaxed and bored. I do not know what was said in his conversation with Pettigrew, but from previous experience with them and from Black's body language at the time, I would say Pettigrew was gabbling on about something that was supremely boring to Mr. Black. That Black was simply letting Pettigrew prattle on because he had nothing better to do. That is, until he overheard my conversation with Lucius.”

“I see. And did you see Mr. Lupin at any point between then and when you began to follow him later?”

“No, I did not.”

“Were there any other classes after that study period?”

“No. It was right before dinner.”

“Was Mr. Lupin present for dinner?”

Snape glared at her in annoyance. “No. I did not see him at all between the time he was pulled out of study hall and the time I began following him to the willow, as I already said. He was ill, probably in the Hospital Wing, because the school nurse accompanied him to the whomping willow, and it was from the Hospital Wing that I began to follow them.”

“Was Mr. James Potter at dinner?”

“Yes, he was at dinner. And before you ask, so was Mr. Black.”

Without any obvious changes to her expression or tone of voice, something about her pleasant demeanor turned predatory then.

“Are you saying that, to the best of your knowledge, Mr. Lupin had no idea Mr. Black was going to endanger your life by sending you after him on the full moon, likely did not even see Mr. Black himself after Black's conversation with you as he was ill at the time, and that in fact, Mr. Black's instructions to you were likely – by the sound of his demeanor – the result of a spur-of-the moment decision by a teenage boy who – according to Professor McGonagall's testimony – had a long history of making rash decisions and getting into trouble for them?”

If Snape had looked sour before, it was nothing to how he looked now, and Rowle looked even worse. “Yes,” Snape said, barely intelligible because he was saying it through teeth that were grinding audibly even from Harry's distance away.

She smiled sweetly. “Sorry, what was that? We didn't quite hear your answer.”

“I said yes. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Lupin did not know, could not have known what Black was planning, because Black's decision was likely a whim, and because I acted on his information that very night.”

“Oh you did? I see. Very enlightening, Professor Snape. And while I have you here, may I ask if you think 15-year-olds are mature enough to fully understand the consequences of their actions?”

Snape folded his arms, glowering. “No, they are not.”

“Yes, that does appear to be the consensus of most of society, since witches and wizards cannot be tried as adults until they are at least 17. No more questions, Chief Warlock,” saying that last with a musical quality to her voice, and sat back down.

“Thank you, Ms. Pennyroyal. We will now adjourn for lunch, if there are no objections.”

~

Next in the memory, they heard testimony from Cornelius Fudge, who had been present at the incident where Pettigrew had killed all those Muggles and faked his death, as well as for Pettigrew's unveiling in Dumbledore's office recently. Also testifying were Bartemius Crouch, who had been the head of the magical law enforcement back then. Then Dumbledore himself testified that though he'd thought 12 years ago that Sirius had been the Potters' Secret Keeper, the people subject to the Fidelius Charm were ultimately the ones to decide, and since the plan had been intended to try to fool Voldemort into going after Sirius to torture him instead, they wouldn't have wanted to let anyone but him and Pettigrew know.

Harry wasn't pleased that they had to rewatch his testimony, but Ron and McGonagall hadn't seen it. Harry then saw Ron's testimony, which had not been terribly interesting; mostly just verifying what others, like Harry, had said.

Everyone else who'd been present to see Pettigrew in Dumbledore's office, including the two Aurors who'd been present when he escaped, testified as well, but these ended up skipping a lot because they were boring and repetitive. When the memory started playing normally again, they saw Ms. Pennyroyal – looking very smug – use her wand to play part of Pettigrew's interrogation for the whole room, the large size of the pensieve she used to do it making him appear nearly twice life-size, as he told the room about the Dark Mark that Death Eaters were branded with. His image pulled up its sleeve and showed them the mark, which was a faint pinkish-red outline, but was just visible.

Still looking very pleased, she then called Sirius back to the stand. When he was sworn in again, she asked him to roll up both sleeves all the way. Several Aurors and several members of the Wizengamot examined his arms and then his naked torso for nearly 20 minutes with both eyes and wands before declaring he had no Dark Mark.

Then the memory stopped, since the deliberations would have been classified and boring anyway, and because they'd already seen the verdict. The three of them went flying up through darkness and landed upright back in Dumbledore's office.

“How the ruddy He—ck,” Ron said, catching himself in time, “did the Ministry not know for 22 years that Death Eaters have Dark Marks on their arms?”

“I asked Dumbledore about that myself when I spoke with him earlier, after he told me about it,” McGonagall said. “He said he believed there was powerful magic woven into the thing, that made it impossible to talk about or show to anyone who didn't already know about it, and that the only reason Pettigrew was able to tell them about it at all was the fact You-Know-Who is powerless and the Dark Marks nearly invisible now, as well as a double dose of veritaserum. Plus, of course, nobody ever thought to look on their arms. Who would have thought the clever You-Know-Who would have marked his followers so plainly? It's absurd and illogical to do so, after all.”

Whatever anyone was going to say next was interrupted when Ms. Pennyroyal came into Dumbledore's office.

“That was amazing, Ms. Pennyroyal!” Harry said. “I was confused for a lot of it, but looking back, I saw you were playing a game of chess with the whole affair. Tell me, were you by chance a Slytherin in school?”

She chuckled. “I don't know whether to be pleased or offended by that, Mr. Potter, but no, I was in Hufflepuff.”

“Really? Well it wasn't meant as an offense. I have several Slytherin friends, and they're great, so I meant it as a compliment.”

“Then that is how I shall take it, Mr. Potter. But you know, between you and me, the Hat did offer me Slytherin. And I might have taken the offer, too, if a very close friend of mine hadn't already been sorted into Hufflepuff.”

“Cool. The Hat offered me Slytherin, too. But my friend Hermione was in Griffindor, and given that House's reputation, I didn't fancy the complications being a Slytherin would bring me, so I chose Griffindor instead.”

“Ah, well, I am at least glad you made friends with some Slytherins. I had a few Slytherin friends myself, in school and later. Of course, the Slytherin/Hufflepuff connection goes back centuries, well before Slytherin started being viewed negatively after Voldemort began infecting it with his filth.”

They talked a little bit more, but Ms. Pennyroyal was there to see Dumbledore, so it didn't last long before they left to go tell their friends about the trial.

~

After Sirius's trial, they later found out in the papers, the Wizengamot had taken another hour to decide on a time for a trial for Peter Pettigrew in absentia. During that trial, in which Pettigrew was found guilty, they decided they would also repeal Pettigrew's “posthumous” Order of Merlin, which they did. Soon after that, wanted posters for Pettigrew began going up in places, and there was another front-page article in the paper about Pettigrew's escape.

Lupin did in fact resign at the end of the year, and wouldn't be coming back because Rita Skeeter spread to the whole country that Lupin was a werewolf, and the parents weren't happy with a werewolf teacher, even if most of their kids were. Sirius invited him to stay at his house for a while, convincing him only by saying, finally, that Lupin could pay rent once he got a job.

With help from hired hands and from Kreacher the house elf, Sirius had gotten his house ready in time to welcome Harry in, but of course Harry had to stay with the Dursleys for a week to recharge the blood protection wards. But he was very much looking forward to that. How Kreacher and Sirius had made up, Sirius didn't know, but Sirius planned to hire Dobby as well, since Kreacher was so old that he had maybe a decade or two left before he'd die.

They never did find out how Hermione had gotten to all her classes, and it didn't seem likely they would, as she had dropped out of Divination and Muggle Studies and so would have a normal schedule next year.

And so, Harry was very happy on the train back, despite Pettigrew's escape, because he was looking forward to having someone to call family, and really feel like they were family, for the first time in his life.

Endnotes: Ah, the end of another year. This story will continue in Autistic Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

I didn't notice until writing this chapter that I made a mistake in book 1, and said Ron got sorted into Griffindor before Harry did, which didn't happen in canon. Whoops! Oh well, I can fix it later.

In response to a message I received on FanFiction.net, I felt it necessary to repeat the information in that message here:

Yes, Autism Speaks is a hate group. Among other things, they're trying to find a cure for autism, and they have a long history of paying for the defense attorneys for parents who murdered their autistic kids, and of their board members talking about murdering their autistic children in front of their autistic children on video.

You can help stop them by spreading the word of them being a hate group, and send people here instead: http://autisticadvocacy.org/

Here's more information: https://thecaffeinatedautistic.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/why-...



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