Sirius Black Vs. The Wizengamot
Author's Note: Wow, the previous chapter got the most reviews since the very first chapter of this story. Makes me very happy, especially since it was close to not being a part of the actual story! Thanks for the response to this story!
If you've read my story "Vanishing Cabinet of Time", you might recognize portions of this chapter.
Friday, January 1st, 1993 – Morning
Sirius Black was laying on the cot in the small holding cell he was currently residing in. It was brighter, warmer, and there were no Dementors or prisoners screaming mad things now and then. So it was far better than the cell he had been in for the past eleven years and two months. And yet... Sirius wished he was back in the prison cell.
Ever since he had been taken away from his cell, two question was gnawing on his thoughts. The first was 'how was he going to die'? Would he be given the Dementor's Kiss? Would he have to walk through the Veil of Death, located in the Department of Mysteries and used for executions? Or would it be death by firing squad, hurling a barrage of Killing Curses at him?
The second was 'how long did he have left in this world?' Every time he heard footsteps passing by his cell, he thought that was the end. However, the only visitor he had was an Auror – likely a rookie, whose duty was a guard for the holding cells – who had given him dinner the previous evening. Dinner was a fish sandwich with cheese, veggie sticks and a glass of water. Not exactly his choice 'last meal', but it had been delicious, definitely the best meal he'd had in over a decade.
Thinking of dinner, only made him wonder if he was going to get breakfast, or if the fish sandwich dinner really was a last meal. Probably so. Why waste breakfast on a 'dead man walking'?
There were those footsteps again. Would they stop at his cell, or would they keep on go – the footsteps stopped. Right outside his cell.
"Get up, Black!" a voice grunted.
Sirius gave a sigh, and it was a sigh of relief. One of his questions was answered, and the second would come soon. The end was coming, he knew. No, not the end. Just the beginning of the next great adventure.
He moved to his feet and stood in the center of the cell. He held his arms together in front of him, and they were soon bound with magic-blocking cuffs. When the cell opened, Sirius stepped out and followed the guard down the corridor, as another guard walked behind him. Before he knew it, the guard in front of him stopped and opened a door. The door did not lead out of holding cells, but into a small room.
"Go on," the guard said.
"Why here?" Sirius asked.
"You really think we're going to let you go to St. Mungo's?" the guard asked, "Get in there before I decide you're not cooperating."
St. Mungo's? Sirius knew he had to have heard that wrong. However, when he stepped into the room, he was quite shocked to find that it was set up like a hospital room. A woman, dressed in Healer garb, was standing near a hospital bed.
"I see execution chambers have changed in the last decade," Sirius muttered.
"Execution chamber?" the Healer echoed; she huffed and looked over Sirius' shoulders, toward the guards behind him, "Did nobody care to tell Mr. Black why he is here?"
"My order was to bring him to you, Ma'am," the guard said, "That's all I know."
The healer sighed, "Sit down on the bed, Mr. Black. Execution! Really?! Do I look like an executioner?!"
Confused, Sirius walked over to the bed and sat down.
"Mr. Black," the Healer said, "You're not here because you're scheduled to be executed. You're here, because the Minister of Magic wants to make sure you're relatively healthy and sane to stand trial tomorrow morning."
Sirius gaped. "Trial?! You're sure?"
"That's what they tell me," the Healer said.
"Well, what took them so long?" Sirius asked, "I didn't get a trial to begin with!"
"I'm afraid that is all I know, Mr. Black," the Healer said, "Now calm down and let me do my job."
Sirius' mind went into overdrive. He was getting a trial? What did that mean? Did it mean he could soon be a free man? They wouldn't go through all of this trouble if it meant they were preparing for his execution...
Saturday, January 2nd, 1993 – Morning
Twenty-four hours later, Sirius Black was walking through the corridors of Level Ten of the Ministry of Magic, escorted by four Aurors.
Earlier that morning, he had another meeting with the Healer, his third in as many hours. As she had during the previous two meetings, she had given him several potions, including Nutrient Potions. On top of the breakfast he had eaten, and the three square meals he had the previous day, he was feeling rather spoiled. But he was also feeling healthier than he had in years. However, the Healer had told him that – if he gained his freedom that day – he would be spending some time in St. Mungo's so he could become fully recuperated from his time in Azkaban. He had surprised himself when he could find no reason to argue with that.
After he had breakfast, he had been allowed to take a shower. It was his second in two consecutive days, and he was feeling cleaner than he had in over a decade. His body no longer showed signs of the grime and stench of Azkaban. He had also been given an outfit which made him look almost proper for a nice stroll throughout the Ministry!
However, even though he had been – well, there was no better word for it – pampered in the past twenty-four hours, he couldn't ignore the thoughts gnawing at his mind. He was getting the trial he should have had twelve years ago. But what if the Wizengamot still found him guilty? Would they send him back to Azkaban, or execute him?
No. He couldn't think like that. There had to be reason he was getting a trial now. He just couldn't figure out the reason. His memory wasn't too grand, a side-effect to his years in Azkaban. What was he forgetting? He hadn't spoken to anyone about his trial, aside from the Healer, and she couldn't tell him much other than the fact that he would be getting one! He didn't know if he was going to have to defend himself, or if someone would be there by his side. There were just too many questions on his mind, and there wasn't time for answers.
As Sirius and the Aurors arrived outside one of the courtrooms, he saw a woman standing there. She looked familiar to him, but it had been a long time since she had seen him, so he couldn't be sure.
"Amy?" Sirius asked, hoarsely.
"I told you a long time ago never to call me that, Black," Amelia Bones said.
Sirius laughed, shakily. Amelia Bones had been one of his classmates in Hogwarts, along with James, Lily and his other friends. He and Amelia had even dated for over a year at one point, but she had broken it off. He was not ashamed to admit he had been rather heartbroken, but in the end, he had decided it was probably better for the both of them.
He recognized the garb she was wearing.
"So, it looks like you got your dream job," he said, "Head of the Department of Law Enforcement?"
"Yes," Amelia said, "But today I am the one that is going to keep you out of Azkaban."
"You're my solicitor?" Sirius asked.
"Indeed I am," Amelia said; she then looked at the Aurors. "Two of you may leave. Two of you remain here, but give us a bit of space. Mr. Black and I need to talk for a moment before we enter the courtroom."
Two of the Aurors left, while the remaining two moved a few steps away, but remained vigilant as they looked at Sirius.
"Harry Potter, my godson," Sirius said, looking at Amelia, "Is he here?"
"No," Amelia said, "He's at Hogwarts."
"Why's he still there?" Sirius asked, "It is – what – the day after the New Year? Isn't it Christmas Break? Why isn't he celebrating with his – with – whoever raised him. Who did raise him?"
"Lily's sister," Amelia said.
"Lily's sister?" Sirius asked, "I thought – my memory must definitely still be affected. I thought Lily forbid her sister from raising Harry in – in case something happened – to – to her and... and James."
"She did, Sirius," Amelia said, "It was ignored. I'm looking into that, believe me. I only discovered this recently. James and Lily's Will was only opened very recently."
"Why wasn't it opened years ago?" Sirius asked.
"That is a long story," Amelia said, "The reason you're here today is because the Will was opened. Until it was opened, nobody knew that you had participated in a Godfather Ritual with James and Lily."
Sirius' eyes widened. Of course! Was this the key evidence that could give him his freedom? He had all but forgotten that until Amelia had brought it up. He reached through his memories trying to think about the Godfather Ritual.
"I tried telling the Aurors about the Ritual when they arrested me!" Sirius said, "I thought I'd be able to tell somebody during interrogations, but the next thing I knew, I was in Azkaban. No interrogations, no trials! Nothing!"
"I know, Sirius," Amelia said, "And I'm sorry. It will all be cleared up in there. The Godfather Ritual also threw doubt into your other crimes – the murder of Peter Pettigrew and those Muggles."
"I didn't do any of that!" Sirius said, "And that rat is alive! Or he was the last time I saw him!"
"I believe you," Amelia said, "But you'll need to tell that to the Wizengamot. You'll need to tell them all of it."
"I'll definitely tell them," Sirius said. "I should have been able to tell them years ago!"
"I know," Amelia said, "So there's your defense, Sirius. Godfather Ritual, and your story of what happened in 1981. Can you remember the whole story?"
"I – yeah, I think I can manage," Sirius said.
"Good," Amelia said, "Sirius. I should let you know. Remus is also here."
"Moony?" Sirius asked, on his lips a genuine smile that hadn't shown up in several years, "Really? How is he?"
"He looked pretty good," Amelia said. "Once we're done here, I'm sure he'll be happy to talk to you."
Sirius then frowned. "If I'm found innocent."
"I will do my best to see that it happens," Amelia said. "You ready to go in?"
Sirius nodded. The two Aurors moved behind him, and Amelia waved her wand toward the doors of the courtroom, which opened. Amelia led Sirius into the courtroom, and he was instantly greeted by the flashes of cameras, and buzzing of murmurs from men and women sitting in the chairs on either side of the aisle in which Amelia led him down. Sirius looked around, almost in disbelief at the size of the crowd that was there.
He began searching for Remus Lupin, and anyone else he might have recognized. Then he found Remus. Even though it had been over eleven years since he had seen him, Sirius still recognized him, even though he was much older than Sirius had seen him last. His dirty-brown hair had flecks of gray in it. He looked pale, and had what appeared to be a relatively fresh cut on his face – Sirius remembered that the full moon had been recent, and Remus was obviously still recovering from it.
Remus' expression looked emotional, but he was also frowning with half-narrowed eyes. Sirius shivered as he looked at his friend's face. He frowned as he turned away from Remus. Did his friend believe what the Ministry had believed – that he had betrayed James and Lily Potter, and their son? That he had killed Peter Pettigrew, and several Muggles?
He'll know the truth soon, Sirius thought to himself, Everyone will.
Sirius turned his attention away from Remus, and the rest of the onlookers, and followed Amelia toward the center of the courtroom. They arrived at a table with two chairs. Amelia pointed to one of the chairs and Sirius sat down in it. Amelia then sat down in the chair next to him. The Auror escorts stood off to the side.
"Am I being tried by the whole Wizengamot?" Sirius asked in a low voice.
"There are three trials going on this morning," Amelia said, "Yours is the first. All three will be in front of the entire Wizengamot."
"Three trials," Sirius said, "I'm guessing the media and crowd aren't all here for just me then?"
"Believe it or not," Amelia said, "Yours is the least significant trial of the morning. If – when – you're found innocent, and you're up to it, you might want to stay around and watch the other two trials. Can't say anything about them to you, due to your current situation, but you might find them very interesting."
Sirius nodded. He was about to reply when a door opened to on the far right side of the courtroom. He watched as the members of the Wizengamot entered into the room. He narrowed his eyebrows when he recognized Lucius Malfoy. He couldn't believe that rotten Death Eater wasn't in a cell in Azkaban. And he was a member of the Wizengamot to boot!
Sirius' eyebrows narrowed further when he saw Bartemius Crouch. The man had been the Head of the DMLE back then, and it was he whom Sirius blamed most for being sent to Azkaban. Bartemius Crouch had never even spoke to him between the time of his arrest and his arrival at Azkaban.
When everyone in the Wizengamot was seated, Sirius noted the man in the very center of the front row, where the Chief Warlock usually sat. Sirius did not recognize the man.
"Who is the man seated in the Chief Warlock seat?" Sirius asked Amelia in a low voice, "Where's Albus Dumbledore? I thought he was the Chief Warlock?"
"That is Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge, Sirius," Amelia said, "He is standing in as Chief Warlock. There's been some recent changes, which you'll likely know about before the end of the day if things go well. Just know at the moment Albus Dumbledore is no longer the Chief Warlock."
Sirius nodded. "Cornelius Fudge. I don't recognize the name. Was he a Department Head at the time of my arrest?"
"Heavens no," Amelia said, "Back then he was the Junior Minister of the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. He only succeeded Millicent Bagnold a couple years ago."
Sirius held back a snort. That was little more than a glorified paper-pusher. He wondered how the man became Minister. Popularity, likely. But with whom was he popular? The Light Alliance or the Dark Alliance? He would have to ponder that thought later, because Cornelius Fudge had smacked the gavel, claiming everyone's attention in the courtroom.
"We have a long morning ahead of us," Fudge said, "Let's not lengthen it unnecessarily with interruptions. Ladies, gentlemen, and media, I ask that you be respectful during the proceedings. Those who rudely interrupt the proceedings will be removed from this courtroom. Media, all questions are to be asked after the proceedings."
He paused for a few moments to let this message sink in. Then he continued.
"So begins the Criminal Trial of Great Britain versus Sirius Orion Black, on this, the second day of January in the year nineteen ninety-three," Fudge said; he was not looking at Sirius – instead he was looking at a sheet of parchment in front of him. "In the early days of November, in the year, nineteen eighty-one, Sirius Orion Black was arrested and sent to Azkaban Prison without so much as a trial.
"If I was in charge at that moment in time, that would have never happened. All citizens of our society deserve the privilege to stand trial before spending any time at Azkaban. Sirius Orion Black, in the year nineteen eighty-one, you were charged with conspiracy to commit the murders of James and Lily Potter, and their son Harry, and the murders of Peter Pettigrew and twelve Muggles. How do you plead?"
"Not guilty, on all accounts," Sirius said, clearly.
"Scribe, take note of the 'not guilty' plea," Fudge said. "Madam Amelia Bones, as you are sitting beside the defendant, I believe I can safely assume that you have volunteered to stand on behalf of Mr. Black's defense. Is this correct?"
"It is, Minister," Amelia said.
"I accept this motion," Fudge said, "Madam Bones, you are aware you forfeit your vote?"
"I am aware," Amelia said.
"Very well," Fudge said, "Scribe, take into account of Madam Bones' decision, as well as the fact that I am putting my name in the voting ballot in her stead. Madam Amelia Bones has been named as Sirius Black's Solicitor. Representatives for the Wizengamot – Interrogators: Stand-in Chief Warlock, Minister of Magic Cornelius Oswald Fudge, Rufus Scrimgeour, Head of the Auror Department, Bartemius Crouch -"
As Fudge rambled off a few more names, Sirius leaned over to Amelia and whispered something in her ear. She nodded and stood up as soon as Fudge finished.
"Minister," she said, "The defense has objections toward one of the Interrogators. Bartemius Crouch was the acting Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement at the time, and my client blames him partially on the events surrounding his arrest. He contests that Mr. Crouch may not be capable of impartiality in these proceedings."
Crouch opened his mouth, obviously to object, but Fudge raised a hand to stop him.
"I find that I agree with the defense's objection," Fudge said. "Bartemius Crouch will no longer be an Interrogator for this trial. His replacement will be Dolores Jane Umbridge. Do you accept Madam Umbridge?"
"I do, Minister," this was said by a lady who resembled a toad; it was said in a sweet voice that made the hairs on the back of Sirius' neck stand up on end.
"Scribe, please take note of the change, "Fudge said, "Bartemius Crouch will still be allowed to vote at the end of the trial. Are there any other objections?"
Sirius shook his head. In truth, he wanted to remove a few members of the Wizengamot from the proceedings – such as Lucius Malfoy – but he knew it was quite likely that objection would be overridden.
"No more objections, Minister," Amelia said.
"Very well," Fudge said. "You may begin your defense, Madam Bones.
"Thank you, Minister," Amelia said, "To begin, I wish to focus on the second listed charge – conspiracy to commit the murders of James, Lily and Harry Potter. In other words, Mr. Black was believed to have taken part in leading the individual – whom we will name 'You-Know-Who' from now on – to commit the murders of James and Lily Potter, as well as assaulting their son, Harry James Potter. I have incontrovertible evidence that makes it impossible for my client, Sirius Black, to have been associated with this particular charge."
She removed a scroll of parchment from her folder, and unrolled it. She then raised it in the air, so that everyone in the Courtroom could see it.
"In my hand," she said, "I have a copy of the Final Will and Testament of James and Lily Potter -"
Gasps and buzzing were heard around the public, media and Wizengamot.
" – recently made public for Harry James Potter at Gringotts, London Branch," Amelia continued. "Harry Potter gave me permission to obtain this copy of his parents' Will for these exact purposes. In turn, Keeper Ragnok the Sixth, guardian of the Vaults and accounts of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Potter, presented me with the copy."
Sirius heard a small noise from the woman called Umbridge. He wondered what that was all about. He was really starting to dislike this woman. Something told him she might cause him plenty of trouble during the trial.
"In the section labeled Guardians, as requested by James and Lily Potter," Amelia continued, "for their son, in the event that they were unavailable or deceased. It reads, and I quote 'Sirius Black – Godfather by right of 'The Godfather Ritual'. Family friend and ally.'"
More gasps and buzzing were heard around the room.
"I am sure most of you know what the term 'Godfather Ritual' means," Amelia said, "But I will clarify. A Godparent Ritual is made between parents and Godparent to ensure that the Godparent does not have any ill will toward the parents and child in question. If the Godparent desires any ill will, the ritual will demand satisfaction – their very life. Therefore, betrayal is impossible. Sirius Black would have been a corpse the moment he betrayed James and Lily Potter and/or their son, Harry."
"Hem-hem!" Umbridge piped up.
"The floor recognizes Dolores Jane Umbridge," Fudge said.
"Thank you, Minister Fudge," Umbridge said, in her poison-sweet voice, before turning to Amelia, "Madam Bones, I must question the proof of that paper in your hand. Never before today has there been any hints that the dearly-departed Potters ever made a Final Will and Testament. How do we know this isn't something the Goblins of Gringotts or... someone else... did not fabricate?"
"As I am sure you know," Amelia said, "All Final Will and Testaments require a human witness to the penning of the Will. At the bottom of this Will, there are signatures. James and Lily Potter signed their names as the creators of the Will. Keeper Ragnok the Sixth signed his name as Gringotts Official Witness, and the official human Witness is none other than Albus Dumbledore."
There were even more gasps and reactions. This time it was loud enough for Fudge to slam his gavel.
"Quiet!" Fudge ordered the Courtroom, before looking back at Amelia, "I'm sure Albus Dumbledore's involvement with the Will can be cleared up later."
"Given that the signatures were written with a standard Blood Quill," Amelia said, "which is legal when used at Gringotts during times like the penning of a Will, I think we can easily trust that this information is the truth."
"I agree," Rufus Scrimgeour said.
"As do I," Fudge said.
"Albus Dumbledore was the Chief Warlock at the time of my client's arrest," Amelia said. "He knew about my client's involvement in a Godfather Ritual. Yet my client has been in Azkaban ever since his arrest."
"I think it can be agreed upon that Albus Dumbledore should answer for this," Fudge said, "But this is not the time for that. However, this does certainly take into question Mr. Black's involvement in You-Know-Who's attack on the Potters."
Sirius whispered to Amelia, who nodded and turned back to the Wizengamot.
"I turn the remainder of our defense over to my client," Amelia said, as she sat back down.
"Allowed," Fudge said, "You may begin, Mr. Black."
"Thank you, Minister," Sirius said. "On the day Harry Potter was born, James asked me to be his son's godfather. I accepted with a warm heart and, admittedly, moist eyes. Three days later, Lily and baby Harry finally came home from St. Mungo's. There was a private celebration, a 'welcome home, Harry' if you will amongst friends and family. Afterward, James and Lily took me aside. We performed the Godfather Ritual with Harry.
"During the Ritual, I swore on my very life that I would never betray James, Lily and Harry Potter. It was easy to do, since I had already sworn such several years before, for James, and later for Lily when she became a part of the large, unofficial family. Madam Bones is correct to say that I would have been a rotting corpse had I betrayed James, Lily and Harry. Not because of the ritual, but because I would have harmed myself before ever thinking about doing the same to them."
"Any questions regarding this?" Fudge asked the Interrogators.
"Yes," Rufus Scrimgeour said, "There is knowledge that James and Lily Potter used a Secret Keeper to hide their safe house. It was believed that you were the Secret Keeper. Is this fact?"
"No, sir," Sirius said, "I was, of course, James and Lily's first choice for Secret Keeper. But that made me the obvious choice. I knew that. The night they asked me to be their Secret Keeper, I came up with a solution instead. Peter Pettigrew should be their Secret Keeper. Nobody would suspect they would use him. They agreed, though I know the action was not an easy one."
"Are we to believe that Peter Pettigrew betrayed James and Lily Potter?" Fudge asked.
"Whether or not you believe it, it is fact," Sirius said, "It is true."
"So that is why you killed him," Scrimgeour, "You believed you were seeking vengeance."
"I admit to pursuing him," Sirius said, "I admit that I wanted to kill Peter Pettigrew that evening. However, I could not."
"You could not?" Scrimgeour asked, "You're telling us that have evidence that differs from several witnesses who swear they saw you murder Peter Pettigrew and twelve Muggles?"
"I did not murder Peter Pettigrew," Sirius said, "The last time I saw Peter Pettigrew, he was alive and well!"
There were gasps, murmurs and buzzing around the Courtroom. Fudge slammed his gavel.
"Silence in the Court!" Fudge said, "I will remove people from this room if I have to!"
It took ten seconds for silence to reign again. All eyes were on Sirius Black. Several members of the Wizengamot were glaring at Sirius.
"If I may," Umbridge said, "Correct me if I am wrong, but did I hear you correctly, Mr. Black, when you said Peter Pettigrew is alive and well? If that is true, then why has he never come forward? Why has nobody ever seen him? Why did he never relieve his mother, Patricia, of the burden and knowledge that she had to live to see her baby boy die, before her own untimely death? What proof, what evidence do you have of your statement?"
"To answer your first question," Sirius said, "Peter Pettigrew is a coward first, and a Death Eater second. He remained in hiding all these years because he didn't want anyone to find him. He is quite capable of hiding very easily if he wants."
"Please explain that," Scrimgeour said.
"Peter Pettigrew is a Rat Animagus," Sirius said, "However, he is unregistered. Or he was the last time I saw him. If he faked his death, then he is likely still unregistered."
"How do you know this?" Scrimgeour asked.
"Simple," Sirius said, "and I admit this with full knowledge that it was a crime. In my fifth year at Hogwarts, myself, James Potter and Peter Pettigrew all successfully became Animagi. Unfortunately we did not register. As I said, I know that is a crime. James was a stag, and I am a black dog, my appearance similar to that of the mythological creature known as the Grim. Peter Pettigrew is a common garden rat."
"Mr. Black," Scrimgeour said, "If you could, please transform into your Animagus form, just for proof for the Wizengamot to see."
He looked at Amelia, who nodded once.
"Aurors," Scrimgeour said, "Please remove the shackles around the defendant's wrists. Make one wrong move, and it could very well be your last, Mr. Black."
Sirius nodded and stood up. He waited as one of the Aurors removed his shackles. Then he circled around the table, and transformed into his Animagus form, also known as Padfoot. He sat there for a moment, letting the Wizengamot look at him. Then he transformed back into his clothed, human form.
"Thank you, Mr. Black," Scrimgeour said, "Please be seated after the Aurors place the shackles back on your wrists."
Once the shackles were back on his wrists, Sirius returned to his seat.
"Mr. Black," Dolores Umbridge said, "I have a question for you. I would love to hear your answer."
"I will do my best to answer," Sirius said.
"You admit you are guilty of being an unregistered Animagus," Umbridge said, a large smile playing at her lips, "How are we supposed to believe you at all that you are not guilty of any of the other crimes you're accused of?"
Before Sirius could open his mouth, Amelia immediately stood up.
"Objection!" she said, "Minister Fudge, in my honest and educated opinion, Madam Umbridge is simply treasure hunting for guilty votes from members of the Wizengamot."
Umbridge scowled loudly. "Ridiculous. I have never in my life -"
"Sit down, Dolores!" Fudge ordered; Umbridge pursed her lips and shrank back into her chair. "I happen to agree, Madam Bones. Watch your questions, Madam Umbridge or you will be removed from this courtroom."
"Let us continue," Fudge continued, "Mr. Black, you have given us evidence that you are indeed an Animagus, which does help give evidence to the fact that Peter Pettigrew may havebeen an Animagus, a rat. But past evidence still continues to support the fact that Peter Pettigrew is dead. I would say he was 'dead and buried' but there was no body found to bury. Merely a finger. Do you have evidence against this?"
"Yes," Sirius said, "I will tell you another story. It starts and ends with a young man's mistake. The night of James and Lily's death, I went to their house. As someone who knew the Secret, but was not the Keeper – therefore could not tell anyone the Secret if they were not a part of it - I could visit their safe-house from time to time, and send post to their residence.
"Earlier that evening I went to visit Peter Pettigrew at his flat. But he was not home. I was very worried. I wondered if he went to visit James and Lily, so I went straight there on my motorcycle. What I saw tore a hole in my heart that has not healed. A large hole was in the roof of the house, right over Harry's nursery. Smoke was billowing from the hole as well as various windows. The door was wide open. Before I could go inside, Rubeus Hagrid stepped out the door, holding a little bundle in his arms. The little bundle was my godson, Harry.
"Hagrid told me not to go inside the house. Said it was an awful, terrible sight. Said James and Lily were dead. I told Hagrid to give me Harry. If James and Lily were dead, then it was my responsibility as Godfather to raise Harry. But Hagrid said no. Hagrid said Albus Dumbledore had given him orders. He was to take Harry away, to Dumbledore. I told Hagrid again, it was my duty to raise Harry as Godfather. Hagrid refused again, said I had to take it up with Dumbledore. I promised I would do just that. I lent Hagrid my motorcycle, and before I knew it, Hagrid and Harry were gone. There was my first mistake. Letting Harry go. It left me alone.
"Alone in my head, alone to my thoughts. Alone to walk into the house and find the bodies of two of the greatest people I will ever know. That, too, was a mistake, to look upon them. It filled me with rage and guilt. Guilt that I had not accepted the role of Secret Keeper. Guilt that I hadn't gotten there sooner. Guilt that I didn't realize Peter Pettigrew was the rat he had always been. Rage filled me. I left and Apparated straight back to Pettigrew's flat. I yelled and roared for Pettigrew to show his traitorous face. Then I see him coming up the road.
"Another mistake was the fact that I had caused a scene. Muggles were starting to gather, but I only had eyes for Pettigrew. I was seeing red. I yelled at Pettigrew and whipped out my wand. Pettigrew yelled at me 'How could you, Sirius? James and Lily! You killed them!' I knew that moment that Pettigrew had a part to play in their deaths. James and Lily had just died. Nobody had time to tell Pettigrew they were dead. He must have been there with – with You-Know-Who.
"My next mistake was that I did not go into the confrontation with a clear head. If I did, I might have prevented what happened next. Pettigrew took out his wand, and next thing I knew, the street exploded and there were dead Muggles and crying and screaming. I was blown back due to the explosion, and landed pretty hard. But I was able to see Pettigrew. He was alive. The rat had killed Muggles, but had survived the explosion. And then, to my shock, he pointed his wand at his hand, and lobbed off one of his fingers. Then, as I had witnessed it several times before, his body contorted and he shrunk and transformed into his rat Animagus. Last thing I saw of the rat was him running into the sewer through the destroyed street.
"When the Aurors found me, I was experiencing all kinds of emotions. I am told I was laughing. Maybe I was. Laughing at the incredulity that Peter Pettigrew had outsmarted me at last."
"That is quite the story, Sirius," Fudge said.
"It is true," Sirius said, "Every word. I may not have murdered Pettigrew, but I wanted to. I may not have murdered those Muggles, but I wasn't able to save them either. For nearly twelve years, I lived with the guilt in Azkaban. Dementors wouldn't take it away. Nor would they take away the rage I felt for Pettigrew."
"Rage?" Scrimgeour asked, "How are we supposed to believe this rage, and hatred for Pettigrew did not make you hatch up this story?"
"Believe what you want," Sirius said, "If I was given Veritaserum, I would be repeating the same exact story."
"That will not be necessary," Fudge said. "Madam Bones, do you have any more evidence?"
"No, Minister," Amelia said, "I believe the evidence presented is enough."
"Interrogators?" Fudge asked, "Are there any more questions?"
Scrimgeour shook his head, and after a long moment, so did Umbridge, even though she was glaring at Sirius and Amelia.
"Very well," Fudge said, ""There will be a ten minute recess while the Wizengamot decides their vote. Wizengamot, I am declaring a motion for Silent Vote. Therefore, in front of you, there is a strip of parchment. Write down 'Innocent' or 'Guilty' and tap your wand on it, so that it may be tallied up. Ten minute recess."
Sirius turned to Amelia, and said in a low voice that only she could hear. "They don't want a closing statement?"
"Most of what we could say in the closing statement would simply be a repeat of what was said," Amelia said, in a equally low voice only Sirius could hear, "It is unnecessary."
Sirius nodded. "So? What do you think of my chances?"
"If the Wizengamot listened to the evidence given," Amelia said, "We should expect you to be cleared of all charges. You may have a charge for that Unregistered Animagus bit, but the time you spent in Azkaban was more than enough for that. I think it all comes down to what the Wizengamot decide."
"Perfect," Sirius muttered, "I suppose there is still a load of corruption in the Wizengamot? They still have their own agendas?"
"You know I can't comment on that, Sirius," Amelia said, though she couldn't hide a grin.
Sirius chuckled hoarsely, then he cleared his throat. "So my Godson opened James and Lily's Will. I scarcely recall James discussing that. Is Harry now the Head of his House?"
"He is Lord Potter, indeed," Amelia said, then she grinned, "You also might be interested to know that he has a girlfriend."
Sirius laughed. "Already? He's – what? Twelve? Definitely my Godson!"
Amelia smiled, then she frowned. "Sirius? Why didn't you tell me you were an Animagus?"
"Marauder secret," Sirius said, "Lily knew, but James only told her after they were engaged. Regular ol' girlfriends weren't allowed to know. I did want to tell you, but James told me I couldn't tell you unless I put a ring on your finger. Probably a good thing, since – well, you know -"
Amelia nodded. "I can't argue with that point. Do you think Pettigrew is still alive?"
Sirius grunted and shrugged. "Who knows? He's dumb enough to die stupidly, but cunning enough to survive. Damn rat should have been a Slytherin. He represents them perfectly."
Amelia nodded. "Alright. I promise I will open up a full investigation on Peter Pettigrew. If he's alive, we'll find him."
"Good luck," Sirius muttered.
"Sirius," Amelia said, "You will not look for him yourself. Scrimgeour was right. You still have a lot of rage inside concerning him. Confronting him could only end up with you back in Azkaban, or worse."
"At least I'd be in Azkaban for something I did do," Sirius muttered.
Amelia sighed. "Oh, Sirius. You still refuse to listen to me when I have a good point."
Sirius snorted softly, but did not argue her point. No more was said between them as they waited for the votes to be given and tallied up. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the last vote was submitted. The tension in the room was palpable. As soon as Fudge smacked the gavel, the room – which had been full of the buzzing which had been common since before the trial had even begun – hushed almost immediately. Sirius inhaled and exhaled as he stared at Fudge.
"Recess is over," Fudge said, "Has every member of the Wizengamot submitted their vote?"
"They have, Minister Fudge," a witch sitting next to the Court Scribe said, "And the votes have been tallied."
"May I have the decision, please?" Fudge asked.
The witch walked over to Fudge and handed him a piece of parchment. Fudge studied the parchment for a moment, his expression so unreadable that Sirius couldn't figure out the result, or what Fudge's reaction to it was.
"In the case of Sirius Orion Black," Fudge said, clearly, "By a vote of twenty-six over fifteen. The defendant... has been cleared ofall charges."
"YES!" Sirius' voice raised above the rest of the room.
As soon as the shackles were removed from his wrists, he jumped from his seat and gathered a rather surprised – and emotional – Amelia in a hug, before backing away awkwardly. Several members of the audience clapped, and to Sirius, it was a beautiful sound.
"Silence!" Fudge barked, after a minute, and slammed his gavel, "The next trial will take place in ten minutes. Aurors! Please collect the next defendant!"
The two Aurors who had escorted Sirius inside the room nodded, and proceeded to leave the courtroom.
"Sirius Black, may I have your attention?" Fudge asked.
The room quieted as Sirius turned to Fudge.
"Yes, Minister?" Sirius replied.
"On behalf of the British Ministry of Magic," Fudge said, "and myself, I'd like to apologize to you. it seems a grave wrong had been committed against you all these years. Congratulations, Lord Black, you are free to leave of your own accord."
"Thank you, Minister," Sirius said.
The fact that he didn't verbally accept Fudge's apology was heard loudly around the room. Fudge was obviously doing his best not to show any negative reactions. Obviously the man had been trying to lead some kind of agenda here that might lengthen his stay in office.
"Meet with me after the trials are done today," Amelia said, turning to Sirius, "We'll talk about what happens now."
"Yes, ma'am," Sirius said, grinning.
"Congratulations, Sirius," Amelia said, "You may either leave the courtroom, or stay for the next trial. Whatever you want. You're a free man now and can do whatever you wish."
"Sounds like the next trial will be pretty big," Sirius said, "I think I'll stay. Pardon me, Amy, I need to go see my good friend."
Amelia rolled her eyes at the nickname, and moved out of the way. Sirius walked down the aisle between the rows of chair, and stopped when he saw Remus standing near a row of chairs. Remus appeared quite emotional as he looked at Sirius. Remus looked lost for words, but Sirius realized what the man might have been thinking.
"If you thought me guilty," Sirius said, "Then I forgive you."
Remus blew out a sigh of relief. "Thank you, my friend. That means a lot to me. Even if I don't deserve it. It will take me some time to repay you for all the bad things I thought about you this past decade."
"We'll work through it together," Sirius said.
Remus nodded, and smiled slightly. Then Sirius heard someone clear their throat. He turned and saw a woman who looked a lot like Bellatrix Lestrange. He had to stop himself from saying anything harsh, as he realized this person was actually Bellatrix's sister, Andromeda – his favorite cousin. She was standing and looking at him. Her husband – Ted, Sirius recalled – was next to her, also standing.
"Andie," Sirius said, as he stepped into the row of chairs, "You've gotten more beautiful over the years."
"Oh, Sirius, you old dog," Andromeda said, with a sniffle, as she engulfed him in a hug, "It is so good to see you. Thank goodness that the good people of the Wizengamot won over the nasty ones today. It doesn't always happen, but it does when it counts."
"I hear that," Sirius said; he backed away and turned to Ted, shaking his head, "Ted, been looking after my favorite cousin for me?"
"I never take my eyes off her if I can help it," Ted said, with a smile.
"Shall we sit down?" Andromeda suggested, "The next trial should be quite interesting."
"I keep hearing about this trial," Sirius said, "But no one has told me who the defendant is. Who is it?"
"You'll see," Ted said.
"Oh, come on," Sirius muttered, "Remus?"
"Don't ask me," Remus muttered, "I'm still not sure I believe it myself."
Sirius huffed and sat down between Remus and Andromeda.
"So... how are things?" Sirius asked.
"Well," Remus said, "If everything goes well by the end of the day, you're looking at not one, but two new staff members at Hogwarts."
"What?" Sirius asked.
"I received a letter from Minerva McGonagall to replace her as the Transfiguration Professor," Remus said.
"Minnie?" Sirius asked, "What? Is she retiring?"
"Not exactly," Remus said, mysteriously.
"I have been asked to be the new Potions Professor," Andromeda said.
"I thought you were a Healer," Sirius said, "Or did that change in the last decade?"
"I was a Healer," Andromeda said, "But I can't refuse this new job. It is something I thought of doing for years."
"We're both meeting with Minerva later today," Remus said, "If all goes right, we'll be starting tomorrow night."
"Tomorrow?" Sirius asked. "In the middle of a term?"
"Yeah," Remus said, "Should be interesting..."
"I thought you would have been more suited for Defense Professor," Sirius said.
Remus shrugged. "The job is still cursed. Transfiguration may be a temporary post. I could be asked to be next year's Defense Professor. If so I'd take it."
Sirius nodded, trying to take it all in. "So the two of you will be seeing Harry every day."
"I'm sure you would be allowed to see him before the summer holidays, Sirius," Remus said.
Sirius nodded. "Will have to speak to Dumbledore about that. Hey, where is the old codger? I thought he'd be here."
He didn't notice Remus and Andromeda trade glances. Before anyone could answer him, the doors opened again. Sirius turned, as did everyone else in the room. Sirius' jaw dropped as he saw the man being escorted into the room, with shackles binding his wrists.
It was Albus Dumbledore.
Four words summed up Sirius' reaction at that point. "What the bloody hell?!"
-grins- That was a fun ending. I'm sure my readers have several questions regarding this chapter. Most of them will likely be answered as the story continues.
Next chapter: Albus Dumbledore's trial, with a surprise witness! The chapter will likely take a few days to write. I want it perfect, because I know you're all waiting for it. Don't be surprised if it takes a week to update!