The trial of Shirley Gorman, or the Malevolent Matron as the Daily Prophet had labelled her, was to begin its second day as Harry rolled into Courtroom Ten. The courtroom hadn’t changed much in the twenty-six years since he'd first been in it: the stone walls were still as dark and foreboding as they had been back in 1995, but several brightly lit chandeliers had been added to the torches on the walls which did away with the numerous shadows Harry remembered from that first hearing. Unfortunately, the door still clanged ominously behind those entering the room and the chair for the accused still sat in the middle of the polished marble floor, its binding chains at the ready.
Harry paused to take it all in again, acknowledging the ghosts of the past, even after all these years: Cornelius Fudge, Dolores Umbridge, Professor Dumbledore, Amelia Bones, and Arabella Figg—no matter how many times he entered this room, whether to testify for or against the defendant as the head of the Auror Department, or to sit in judgment in the Wizengamot, they never ceased to make themselves known to him. Yesterday, which had been taken up with the reading of the charges against Shirley Gorman and the prosecution’s opening statement, hadn’t been much different since he’d had to convince himself that the Interrogator standing behind the podium wasn’t Cornelius Fudge.
However, before the trial could even begin, there had been a big delay due to the discussion by and decision of the Wizengamot to allow Hermione Weasley, who represented the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, to sit in judgement as part of their body. The defence had been concerned that Hermione would be biased towards the prosecution side because she was so close to one of the victims as well as the Aurors. The same concern had been brought up about Bill Weasley, who had taken over his family’s seat several years ago when Arthur had stepped down upon his retirement from the Ministry, and also Draco Malfoy, who filled the Malfoy family seat. In the end, it had been decided that Bill and Draco would sit out because Bill had too many family members in various capacities involved in the trial and Draco was father to one of the victims. Both men had then taken places in the spectator gallery while Hermione remained with the Wizengamot.
At the end of the day, the defence counsel was heard complaining to the press about how unfairly they were being treated because Hermione Weasley remained on the jury. Much to Harry’s disgust, Tuesday morning’s Daily Prophet was trumpeting in the editorial section that the Wizengamot was biased against the defendant because of her presence. It seemed as if the paper wanted the best of both worlds: a criminal they’d given a moniker to and a way to make the Wizengamot look bad.
The courtroom was crowded, not only with what was left of the full Wizengamot, but with packed press, witness and spectator galleries as well. Last night at dinner, Harry and Ginny had agreed that she would arrive earlier than he did this morning to save him an aisle seat on the end of one of the spectator benches closest to the witness section.
“Harry, up here!”
Harry looked up to see Ginny waving at him from her place on the lowest level right next to the stairs to the witness and spectator galleries. It was very conspicuous seating, but Harry knew his wife had picked that location for two important reasons: one, Harry was a victim, and two, he couldn’t safely leave his wheelchair in the aisle—the prosecution wanted it left where all could see—so he had agreed to leave it on the main floor of the courtroom when he was seated in the gallery.
Ginny left her seat and came down to assist him, levitating both him and his chair up to the landing next to their seats. Harry made quick work of sliding onto the bench, after which Ginny brought the chair down to the main floor and secured it with a spell. Harry had a feeling his wife had left it where she did because from what he could see, the defendant couldn’t miss it from her seat in the middle of the room. If Brian’s chair joined his—and Harry expected it would—he suspected their presence would be a little unnerving, at least it would be to him.
“Have you talked to Hermione this morning?” Ginny asked as she took her seat again.
Harry shook his head. “No, but I did see Ron. He said she took the Wizengamot’s decision quite seriously and so far is dealing with the pressure well. Erm, he also told me they’re going to call Payton Stilwell first so he can explain his history with Mrs Gorman,” he told her.
“I see,” she murmured. “Oh, I saved three places one bench up for Brian and his family. Keep a close eye out for them, will you, Harry?”
“Of course, love. More strategic manoeuvrings by the prosecution?” he ask.
Ginny just grinned a calculating grin and tipped her head in the direction of the Wizengamot. “Miss Midgen wants the jury to be fully aware of the consequences of Mrs Gorman’s experimentation and all that entails,” she said.
Harry just nodded, his suspicions confirmed.
The other witnesses began to filter into the courtroom. Mark Huntley arrived first and upon spotting Harry and Ginny came over to greet them.
“Auror Potter, Mrs Potter, it’s so nice to see you,” he said with a genuine smile. “You both are looking much better than the last time we met.”
Harry shook the proffered hand while smiling sheepishly. “You have the disadvantage over me Mr Huntley,” he said. “I vaguely remember you from the NMI Ward and everything I learned subsequently was from Ron Weasley. I take it Ireland and the Irish division of The Groves is agreeing with you?”
Huntley smiled. “It’s beautiful there and the patients are so appreciative. I can’t thank Healer Stilwell enough for arranging the position for me.”
“Are you working with magical or Muggle patients?” Ginny asked.
“A mix, just like at the English hospital. It makes for an interesting day,” Mark said, smiling.
“And your health?” Harry asked. “Any side-effects from the Matron’s potions?”
Huntley’s expression darkened. “Some. You’ll learn about those when I’m up on the stand.”
Ginny reached over Harry and grasped Huntley’s hand. “I’m sorry you can’t be completely free from her,” she said looking between the two men.
“I have to look at it from the point that I’m luckier than Tim was,” Mark said. “I’m alive and thankful to be so.” He shook himself as if to rid his mind of something, then he asked, “How are your children? I thought perhaps your oldest son would have wanted to watch the trial.”
Harry spoke first. “We talked about it as a family and as much as James wanted to take part in the proceedings, we decided that it wouldn’t be fair for one to watch while the other two stayed at school. Besides, James has his OWLs coming up and he needs the time to revise.”
Mark grinned as he asked, “And will he use the time to revise?”
Ginny laughed. “He’d better. He’s trying to earn back the privilege of owning one of Harry’s school items, and he’s promised us he’ll stay out of the broom cupboards with his girlfriend in order to get it back.”
“Maybe his girlfriend will keep him on task, then,” Mark said as he looked over his shoulder at the witness gallery, which was filling up quickly. “I’ll talk to you later perhaps?”
“Sounds good,” Harry said as Mark left them.
George and Angelina Weasley stopped by next. As they passed, Angelina reached over and put her hand on Ginny’s shoulder. “Hang in there, kiddo,” she said, and Harry was surprised to see a single tear slide down his wife’s face.
“Thanks. I will,” she whispered as she dug in her hand bag for a handkerchief. Harry handed his wife his.
“What was all that about?” Harry asked as his sister-in-law went to sit with her husband.
“Girl stuff,” was Ginny’s answer.
They sat watching the crowd for several more minutes as the clock slowly ticked off the moments until the trial was scheduled to begin. Then, at the very last minute, Brian Nelson floated through the doorway in his new flying chair, followed by his parents. A murmur ran through the galleries as people noticed him. He ignored the murmurs, pausing as if looking for someone and then waving in Harry’s direction. Harry waved back.
“Thank you so much for saving us the seats,” Jocelyn Nelson said as she sat down behind Harry.
“Why don’t they want us to shrink our chairs?” Brian asked. “Everyone has to walk around them.”
Harry traded glances with Ginny as he answered, “I think that’s the point. Miss Midgen wants the Wizengamot to see the results of what Shirley Gorman has done to us and her other victims. If our chairs were conveniently tucked away in our pockets they wouldn’t have the same impact.”
Brian’s expression changed as he caught on. “Sorta like that saying, ‘out of sight, out of mind’?” he asked.
“That’s the general idea,” Harry said, happy to see his young friend had understood so quickly.
Further conversation was curtailed by the loud boom of the courtroom door closing. The spectators fell silent as movement on the floor of the courtroom signalled the start of the trial. Harry let his gaze wander, taking in the Ministry’s two barristers and the defendant’s lone representative, and remembering how Mrs Gorman had fought to represent herself for over a week before finally giving in and acquiescing to having someone sit at the counsel’s table for her.
While this was taking place, the court Usher opened the door again, admitting the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, the wizard who would run the trial and eventually mete out the recommended punishment, if Shirley Gorman was indeed found “guilty.”
“All stand for Lysander Bailey, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Interrogator for this trial,” intoned the court Usher as a portly wizard in ornate plum-coloured robes with the Wizengamot “W” emblazoned on the left chest took his place at the podium.
Harry felt conspicuous not standing as was required, but he had been assured by Eloise Midgen that the court knew he and Brian meant no disrespect because they couldn’t stand. Even so, he glanced back at Brian and found him peering raptly between Ginny and the woman next to her. With a rap of his gavel, Bailey signalled everyone to sit.
Next, the accused witch, surrounded by four goblins, was brought into the room. She wore the plain grey robes of someone who resided in Azkaban rather than the chartreuse robes of a healer that Harry had last seen her in. When she sat on the chair in the centre of the room, the chains on its arms and front legs immediately secured her with a loud, ominous rattle that sent chills up Harry’s spine.
Ginny patted his knee, but did not look at him, choosing to gaze at Interrogator Bailey instead. Harry took a moment to locate Hermione who was seated amongst the jury and whose attention was also centred on the wizard presiding over the trial.
“We are here today, Tuesday, the ninth of March, two thousand twenty-one, to hear testimony in the criminal trial of Shirley Yvonne Gorman,” intoned Interrogator Bailey. “Yesterday, eighth March two thousand twenty-one, we heard the charges read against the accused as well as the prosecution’s opening statement. Therefore, Miss Midgen, you may call your first witness.”
Eloise stood and said clearly, “Your Honour, I now call Healer Payton Stilwell.”
All eyes zeroed in on the witness section of the courtroom, where Healer Stilwell was seated in the middle with several other St Mungo’s employees. He rose and followed the usher to the witness’ chair, after which he was sworn in.
However, before Miss Midgen could begin her questions, Interrogator Bailey called her up to the bench. The two talked quietly and then she beckoned to her assistant who scurried to her side. A moment later the assistant crossed the courtroom and walked up to Harry and Ginny.
“The Chief Warlock requests that the two wheelchairs be taken off the courtroom floor,” she said quietly.
“I’ll get them,” Ginny said, rising from her seat and stepping over Harry.
The assistant murmured her thanks as Ginny moved quickly down the steps, shrunk the two chairs and brought them both back to their owners as Eloise addressed her witness.
“Healer Stilwell, what is your relationship to the accused?” asked Miss Midgen.
Payton took a moment to survey the courtroom, his eyes resting last on the defendant’s chair. “I have known and worked with the defendant for more than twenty years,” he began. “When I began my healer training in 1997, Shirley Gorman, who was at that time known to me as Shirley Higgins, was a Potioneer on the Injuries floor of St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. At the time, the Healer-in-Charge and I were treating paralysis cases with conventional potions and not having much success. I sought out Shirley’s help because I had heard she was experimenting with several types of nerve-regeneration potions. In April of 1998, she agreed to work with me and together, over the next four years, we experimented with several potions, one of which has become the main nerve-regeneration potion used in the Non-Magical Injuries Ward.”
“So it took you four years to develop a successful potion?”
“Yes. We began clinical trials in July of 2002 and officially began using the nerve-regeneration potion with every spinal cord injury case a year later.”
“Please describe what this potion does for your patients,” Miss Midgen directed.
“Without going into the chemical details, the potion stimulates severed nerves and causes them to knit together again, thus giving the patient back his or her mobility.”
“Is this potion guaranteed to work on every patient?”
“To some degree, it works for every patient, yes, but no two injuries are alike, so some patients have a lesser degree of success with the potion than others.”
“I see. Have you always worked with the defendant in a healer-potioneer relationship?”
“No. Shirley left St Mungo’s in late 2011. I didn’t hear from her for several years, as she left the potions lab rather angry with me. We had argued over the royalties from the potion’s patent as well as other recognition-related issues and weren’t speaking at the time. The next time I met her was in the autumn of 2015 when she was assigned to my ward, the Non-Magical Injuries Ward, as one of the Matrons.”
“How would you describe your relationship since her return?”
“Professional. When she was first assigned to my ward I didn’t recognize her name because she had married during her absence. It would have been inappropriate for us to have the sort of relationship we’d had before she left the hospital.”
“And what sort of a relationship was that?”
“Close friendship, at one time bordering on the romantic.”
“I see. Did anything become of your relationship?”
“No. I married someone Shirley did not approve of.”
The defence barrister suddenly surged to his feet. “Objection!” he called out, “On the grounds that the witness is speculating.”
The Interrogator turned to Healer Stilwell. “Please refrain from speculating on the defendant’s opinion.”
Healer Stilwell threw an annoyed glance at the defence barrister.
Eloise quickly said, “I’ll redirect.” She turned to her witness. “Healer Stilwell, did your wife and the defendant ever become friendly?”
“Camilla and Shirley were best friends when I met my wife, so yes, they had been friendly for a while,” Payton answered. “Camilla was training on the Injuries floor to be a Matron when I met her and we worked closely together on many occasions. Sometimes during the early years of our relationship the three of us would go to a nearby pub after work and I quickly discovered I was attracted to her.”
“Were you and Camilla sneaky about your relationship in front of Mrs Gorman?”
“Actually, we weren’t. Camilla thought Shirley would be happy for us and at first we thought she was. It wasn’t until we actually became engaged that Shirley began saying disparaging things about Camilla.”
“Why do you think she did that?”
“I confronted her several times about her comments, but she never gave me a definitive answer as to why,” Payton said. “She just became rather distant for a while when we were working together, treated me like one of her house-elves, referring to Camilla as ‘your fiancée’ or ‘your girlfriend’ instead of by name. She also stopped talking to Camilla unless it had something to do with a patient.”
“I see,” Eloise said. “Has there ever been a case where the potion didn’t work?”
Healer Stilwell paused, cleared his throat and then said, “Up until three years ago every patient I administered the nerve-regeneration potion to left my ward with greater mobility than when he or she entered it, and that included many spell-damaged patients who had been injured in the war against Voldemort.”
“Three years ago, several patients who were making very good progress toward a nearly complete recovery suddenly became ill and mysteriously died. It was as if these patients became allergic to the nerve-regeneration potion because their symptoms worsened after every new dose.”
“Did you find a pattern of any sort?”
“At first, there wasn’t one, but then my staff began noticing that the patients were most affected whenever Mrs Gorman was on duty. I changed the times the patients received their potions and the problem resolved itself.”
The defence counsel jumped to his feet again, calling, “Objection! The witness is introducing a correlation not yet entered into evidence.”
“Overruled,” intoned Interrogator Bailey. “The witness is stating a fact about what his staff observed.”
Grumbling under his breath, the defence counsel sat down.
Eloise continued her questioning. “Were there any other problems with the potion after that?”
“Not for a while. However, other departments began sending patients with mysterious paralysis to me about two years ago.”
“Please describe these patients.”
“Most of them were Aurors or Magical Law Enforcement personnel. I admit to being rather befuddled at the time by what was causing their problems. It took about three months and several deaths before it was discovered that the Aurors had been injured by flying shrapnel during duels with certain suspects. The same with the MLE personnel.”
Ginny surprised Harry by suddenly reaching over and taking his hand. “I’m thankful you weren’t one of those deaths,” she whispered.
Harry squeezed her hand. “I am, too.”
On the stand, Healer Stilwell was saying, “Once we—and by ‘we’ I mean the Healers-in-Charge of the various departments—learned about the pieces of metal and glass that were mostly lodged in the victims’ legs, we developed a spell for detecting foreign bodies to be used on any Auror brought into the A and E.”
“Did the spell cure the Aurors or help prevent illness or death?”
“No, it’s just meant to detect objects in the body that shouldn’t be there. Most of the time, we found that the objects extracted from our patients had been soaked in some sort of potion, usually a poison. The trick is to quickly find the antidote to the poison before the victim becomes too ill and dies.”
“So whenever an Auror is brought in to the A and E ward, the detection spell is administered?”
“That is what is supposed to happen.”
“I take it the spell isn’t always administered. Do you recall a time when it wasn’t?”
Healer Stilwell reached for the glass of water, which sat on the arm of his chair and took a sip before answering. As he did so, his eyes found Harry and then moved over to where Brian sat. “Yes, the most recent incident was on the morning of Monday, twenty-seven October two thousand-twenty. The victim was Head Auror Harry Potter.”
The reaction to this bit of news caused a murmur to rush through the spectators and Harry felt every eye fall on him. As an act of self-preservation, he tuned out Healer Stilwell’s testimony as he described what had happened that night and the subsequent five days. He refocused as Healer Stilwell answered another of Miss Midgen’s questions.
“I scheduled Mr Potter for transport to The Groves on Sunday, 1st November.”
“What is the normal procedure for preparing a patient for transport?”
Healer Stilwell smiled. “A bath.”
“Who administered Mr Potter’s bath that morning?”
“Matron Gorman and Matron’s Assistants Dawson and Huntley.”
“Did they report anything unusual happening while they were preparing Mr Potter?”
“His file states that he was given a bath and then levitated onto the trolley by his wife, Ginevra, who had requested a lesson in moving her husband magically.”
“Were there any problems during transfer?”
“What about Mr Potter’s first night at The Groves?”
Again, Harry let his attention wander, mostly because he didn’t want to remember how much he had hurt that first evening and then in the days that followed his operation to remove the needles from his back. He momentarily refocused when Miss Midgen produced the vial of needles and the projectile and the spectators’ murmuring became so loud that the Interrogator had to call for silence.
“Let us go forward a month to another case, that of Brian Nelson. Would you briefly describe his stay in your ward, please?”
“Brian was a fifteen-year-old student at Hogwarts who was injured during Quidditch practice late in November of last year. Madam Pomfrey, the medi-witch at the school, sent him to St Mungo’s when it became apparent that his spinal injuries were beyond anything she was capable of curing. Brian had been in my ward for several days, making good progress towards recovery while taking the approved dosages of the nerve-regeneration potion, when he woke up screaming one afternoon.”
One row above him, Harry heard Jocelyn Nelson sniff and her son whisper, “It’s all right, Mum.”
“Was there a reason your patient was screaming?”
Healer Stilwell gave a brief description of what had occurred. Then, he said, “When he screamed from the pain again, I watched him carefully; it was as if he was being tortured, which gave me the idea that he might have been assaulted by someone intending to injure him, just as someone had tried to kill Mr Potter. When I took a closer look, I discovered several infinitesimal dots on the sheet Brian was lying on.”
“Why were these dots questionable?”
“They were the same colours as the potions that had leaked out of the needles I found in Mr Potter’s spinal cord.”
“And what actions did you take after you discovered the dots?”
“I called Brian’s parents and the Aurors before administering the Foreign Body Detection Spell and discovering there were pieces of metal lodged in Brian’s spine that hadn’t been there the last time I’d examined him.”
“And when was that?”
“I had examined Brian, testing his reflexes and reactions to pain, early that morning.”
“I see. What happened next?”
“I was just about to order the preparation of the operating theatre when Brian began screaming again. Auror Weasley, who was with me at the time as a witness, cast some detection spells of his own and was able to arrest a suspect in due course.”
“And what of Brian Nelson?”
“He will never walk again, the damage done to his nerves by the needles inserted into his spinal cord is too great.”
As the crowd switched its gaze from Healer Stilwell to Brian, Miss Midgen said, “I have no further questions, but request that you remain seated for cross-examination.”
The defence counsel stood and walked around his table. “Healer Stilwell, how did you know the potions in the two sets of needles were the same?”
“I didn’t. The colours were similar and made me suspicious. If I hadn’t acted the way I did, my patient might have died and that’s the last thing I wanted.”
“I have nothing further, Your Honour,” the defence counsel said, looking up at Interrogator Bailey before sitting down at his table.
Miss Midgen rose. “I now call Auror Harry Potter.”
Harry released a tension-filled sigh and waited as Ginny stood and went down the steps to the courtroom floor, where she enlarged his wheelchair. She then pointed her wand at him, casting the levitation spell and floating him down the stairs. Harry followed the Usher to the witness chair and slid onto it, leaving his wheelchair conspicuously next to his seat.
“Mr Potter, you are head of the Auror Department. What sorts of problems have you had in the past two or three years with your Aurors falling ill after a duel?” Eloise asked.
“As Healer Stilwell described, our problems began sometime in 2017,” Harry answered. “Mostly, my Aurors fell ill after duelling with certain members of a group of smugglers as well as several contraband potions groups. We lost two Aurors who died unexplained deaths in the Spell Damage ward. At the time, their healer had no explanation for why his normal courses of treatment had caused such an outcome in two perfectly healthy wizards. Three months later, four more Aurors fell ill, but this time exhibited signs of being poisoned. Again the hospital personnel could not find a reason for their symptoms, but managed to find the right antidote in time to save the life of one of the Aurors. Even though the other three succumbed to the poison, they gave us detailed affidavits describing their duels. We learned from their statements that all three had felt a stinging pain in the back of their legs at some point in their duels. When the bodies were examined, the patho-wizard found recently-healed scars which concealed small pieces of metal and glass.”
“You were hurt in such a duel. What happened?”
“I was lead Auror on a contraband potions case eighteen months ago. We were duelling in a wooded area surrounded by bushes. I had my back to the vegetation and at some point during the duel I experienced a stinging pain in my left thigh. This was significant because at the time, I was facing my opponent and the attack was from the back. Suddenly, the wizard I was duelling Apparated away. At the same time, there was a second popping sound from the woods. I suddenly felt sick and had my partner go to investigate. I woke up in hospital a day later; I’d been poisoned, temporarily paralyzed, and nearly killed by the piece of metal lodged in my leg.” Harry stopped and glanced up at Ginny who smiled at him. He smiled back.
“What did your department learn from your duel?”
“That many of these people actually worked in pairs: one duelling and the other in hiding, waiting for the opportunity to throw the projectiles.”
“Mostly that whoever was making the poisons had an advanced knowledge of potions, because no two were the same; there was always something a little different, some component that was new. It was frightening to me and my Aurors to think that we were being used to test someone’s potions formulas.”
Miss Midgen paused, looking at her notes. “Let’s jump forward twelve months to last October. Tell us about the night you were hurt, please.”
Harry drank deeply from his glass of water, using the time to organize his thoughts. Then he described how he and his team had decided to raid the house, who had been on the six-Auror team, their assignments that night and what had happened.
When he was done, Miss Midgen asked, “What made you ‘take the point’ as you called it?”
“I’ve been on a fair number of missions, Miss Midgen, and when Auror Bones’ revealing spells failed to work, my instincts took over; I just knew there was something out of place. Therefore, I indicated I would take the point, going first down into the cellar.”
“What happened next?”
“The stairs ended about ten feet from the cellar floor, which was too long to jump and would require us to Apparate into the cellar. I was standing on the bottom step when it gave way with a loud crack and I fell much farther than I expected.”
“What I remember is indistinct, but it involved great initial pain as I struck the ground, the feeling that my clothes were being removed, and more localized pain in several places in my back. I think I blacked out after that.”
“I see. What is the next thing you remember?”
“Waking up in hospital surrounded by my wife and family.”
“Thank you, Mr Potter,” Miss Midgen said. “I have no further questions but request that you remain seated for cross-examination.”
She sat down as the defence counsel stood up.
“Mr Potter, you just said you could feel your clothes being removed after you fell. How is that?”
Harry studied the tiny little wizard with the squeaky voice. “There’s a certain sensation associated with magical clothing removal. I’ve had my Auror robes removed magically several times, mostly in hospital, and one never forgets the feeling of being warm one moment and much cooler the next. That’s how I know my clothes were removed that night.”
“I see. Do you remember anything else about being in the pit?”
“At the time, I was in too much pain to notice much. I’d struck my head rather hard and was fighting unconsciousness.”
“So you don’t remember what happened after your clothes were removed.”
“What I remember mostly is sensations; cold and heat; the feeling of magical movement, as if I was being positioned; mild and intense pain, especially in my back, that sort of thing.”
“All right,” the legal-wizard said. He looked up at the Interrogator. “I have nothing further, Your Honour.”
“Thank you, Mr Potter,” the Interrogator stated. “You may go. We will resume after lunch.”
Harry transferred himself to his wheelchair and rolled back towards his seat.
1305 hours, Thursday, 11 March 2021
Hermione sat at her desk in the Wizengamot gallery next to Harry’s empty one with a notepad on her lap, seeming not to be paying much attention to the testimony as her gaze travelled from one face to another. This was not true; she was paying attention, but not in the conventional sense, since she had the luxury of a dicta-quill in her office magically taking down the testimony through the voice recorder disk she wore on her lapel. The current page of her handwritten notes was almost filled with observations of the trial’s participants as were the fifty previous ones. Tuesday, she’d filled fifteen pages with the reactions of others to Healer Stilwell’s relationship with the defendant and the potions they’d developed together. She had a feeling this was a key to the entire case, the reason why the Matron had maimed so many people. She had filled another four pages with notes on Harry’s testimony, even though she knew a lot of it because of discussions she and Ron had had over the last year. However, there were things pertaining to the Aurors she hadn’t heard about because of Ron’s oaths of confidentiality and silence, oaths that every Auror took when he or she joined the Auror Department. The new information had helped her understand quite a bit of what the Aurors had gone through recently. Her notes on the testimony from Brian Nelson, Scorpius Malfoy, Mark Huntley, and Ron’s Auror team members filled sixteen more pages of notes taken Wednesday and this morning.
Now, as she listened to her husband describing the search for Scorpius Malfoy, she couldn’t help feeling extremely proud of him. This case had been the first he’d ever led and to hear him speaking so confidently on the stand, one would think he’d testified as lead Auror many times.
Ron suddenly cleared his throat while picking up the ever-present glass of water from the arm of the witness chair, making Hermione start and realize she hadn’t heard much of what he’d said over the last fifteen minutes, much less written any thing down. Stop that! she chided herself. You can ogle your husband tonight after the trial!
To be continued…
A/N: When I sat down to write this chapter, I found myself faced with a rather daunting task, that of deciding what to call the person presiding over the trial. As I pointed out to Aggiebell, the person presiding over the Death Eater trials in Dumbledore’s Pensieve and Harry’s own hearing are identified by name and not by title: in the 1980s trials it was Barty Crouch, Senior and at Harry’s hearing Cornelius Fudge actually ran the show… and both wizards had specific titles due to their jobs in the Ministry. I started digging through the various internet sites and discovered the title of “Interrogator”. The problem I now faced was that the “judge” in my trial was the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and how to interpret his role in the chapter because I also provided the defence and prosecution with lawyers.
What this long-winded explanation is meant to do is clarify why I’ve chosen to call the person presiding over the trial “the Interrogator.” As a writer, I know I have the freedom to give a character any title I want; however, since I’m working with someone else’s creation, I feel it’s important to stay true to titles they’ve established. So… whether the Interrogator asks questions of the witnesses or not, the title stays.
I’ve had a lot of help with the proceedings in this chapter and two of my pre-betas, Rosina Ferguson and Mutt n Feathers, have been particularly supportive. Thank you for listening, rebutting and providing valuable internet links which have enabled me to sculpt this trial into what it is.
I also want to thank Miz636, RebeccaRipple and RSS for taking the time to read, comment and suggest things that ultimately made this chapter the best it can be. You three rock!
I hope you have enjoyed the chapter enough to let me know your opinion. I look forward to replying to your reviews.