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,” sh