A/N: Below, you will find the Matron’s version of what has happen in this story. Please keep in mind, while reading, that she lied about her activities when the Aurors took her sworn statement and now that she’s on the witness stand, she must tell the absolute truth, however gruesome and deranged it really is. Also, I’ve tried to show that while there are certain aspects of the law that have changed for the better in the years since Harry’s hearing in 1995, not everything has and there’s still a lot of prejudice lurking in the attitudes and procedures followed by the Wizarding court.
I will end my remarks by thanking my pre-beta team of RSS, RebeccaRipple and Miz636, for all your helpful comments and suggestions. You three are really great to drop everything to get my chapters back to me in a timely manner. The two people I am very appreciative of are Mutt n Feathers and Rosina Ferguson. These two ladies were the reason I was able to write the format of the trial the way I did; they sent me links to specific websites where I could find the information I needed to make the trial believable and helped me with terminology and sometimes confusing facts. Thank you both for your help. To Aggiebell, I thank you for fighting your family’s computer hogs to beta this chapter on the family desktop when your laptop is ailing. I hope you can get it fixed soon. And to my readers, I hope you’ll like the chapter enough to share your thoughts with me. I enjoy responding to your reviews and learning what you think about my story.
Aftermath: Part 5
0800 hours, Friday, 12 March 2021
Dwayne Campbell, the Matron’s solicitor, was finally able to begin calling his witnesses after the three-day parade of non-stop witnesses for the prosecution. As he rose from his seat, he looked a bit scared and very uncomfortable, as if his client intimidated him.
“I have only one witness to call,” Mr Campbell said, his reedy voice just barely audible.
Beside Harry, Ginny stuck a finger in her ear and then whispered, “Where did the Matron find this bloke? He’s very hard to listen to.”
“I don’t know,” Harry replied. “All I know is that Campbell is the fifth solicitor the Ma— erm, the defendant was assigned to. She fired all the others.”
“Can she do that?”
“Yes, but it’s frowned upon if a defendant goes through more than three. I think the Wizengamot gave her special dispensation because they wanted to get the trial over and done,” Harry replied. Then, he sighed. “It’s going to make some of the more high-profile trials difficult to move swiftly through the court process in the future, though, since certain people will think they can have the same treatment showered on this defendant.”
Ginny nodded. “Will that make extra work for your department?”
Harry shook his head. “Technically, no, as long as the documentation and evidence stays within this building,” he answered. “All of the defendant’s counsel had to view the evidence within the Evidence Office and had to sign for copies of the individual statements taken by my department. If it stays that way, nothing should be lost in future.”
Their attention was called back to the scene in front of them by the clanking of the chains that bound Shirley Gorman to the defendant’s chair. She stood slowly and followed the Usher to the witness’ chair.
“Mrs Gorman, will you tell the court about your early relationship with Healer Payton Stilwell,” squeaked Campbell.
Campbell seemed almost afraid as he asked, “Mrs Gorman, aren’t you going to defend yourself? Try to prove yourself innocent of the charges?”
“I refuse to tell the court anything, you idiot!” Shirley Gorman screeched.
Interrogator Bailey banged his gavel. “Mr Campbell, you will restrain your witness or she will be removed,” he instructed.
“Mrs Gorman, please keep your voice down,” Campbell pleaded.
“Why should I?” she yelled. “They already think I’m mad; I might as well have some fun being uncooperative.”
“Usher!” called the Interrogator as the spectators began whispered conversations. “Please notify the court medi-wizard that we are in need of a Calming Draught and a bottle of Veritaserum.”
“Don’t make her take a Calming Draught or Veritaserum,” pleaded Campbell, “it’ll make her say things not in her sworn statement and it took me four days to get her to cooperate long enough to write it down!”
“Overruled,” said the Interrogator. “I want to hear what she has to say for herself. She has the right to her time in the witness chair.”
The Usher was back with the medi-wizard in no time, and Harry thought the man must have been stationed right outside the door just waiting for the chance to be of service, he entered the room so quickly. Silence filled the courtroom as he poured a cup of potion, tapped the cup with his wand and walked over to the witness chair. Mrs Gorman took one look at him and tried to bat the cup from his hand as he held it out to her. The liquid sloshed, but didn’t spill and Harry smiled, knowing that the medi-wizard had charmed the cup to pour only if the rim touched flesh steadily for at least five seconds.
The medi-wizard tried again as the defence counsel pleaded with his client to cooperate. When she just glared at him, he nodded, smiled, and murmured something to her. Finally, she opened her mouth and drank the potion. A few seconds later, the medi-wizard was able to tip the woman’s head back and prepared to administer the Veritaserum.
“Your Honour,” he addressed the Interrogator, “please count the number of drops I administer.”
The drops were counted and the medi-wizard left. “Mr Campbell, please proceed,” instructed Interrogator Bailey.
Mr Campbell hastily stepped in front of the witness chair. “Mrs Gorman, will you please describe your relationship with Healer Stilwell?” he asked nervously, obviously wanting to get this over with and not allowing the potion time to work.
“That rat? I’ll tell you, you nincompoop,” the Matron spat, earning her a scowl from the Interrogator. The Veritaserum began to take effect and she continued in a much more docile tone. “In 1997, I’d been working as a Potioneer on the Injuries floor at St Mungo’s Hospital for two years when a young Healer-in-Training joined the healing staff in the Non-Magical Injuries Ward. He was nothing to look at, but he was nice enough, better than some of the trainees who had passed through the Injuries Floor. The patients seemed to like him, too. It surprised me that he stayed on after his rotation through the injuries wards was over because most healers go for curing the more spectacular maladies found in the other wards. I asked him why he stayed and he told me that he thought his place was healing the mundane, everyday injuries most adults can fix with a spell or two, but are afraid to try. Besides, he wanted to do it better and faster than the Muggles he’d grown up with. That caught my attention and we started taking our breaks together.”
“So you became friends. What happened next?”
“One night, I think it was in March of 1998, Payton and I were having coffee together when we started talking about work and what frustrated us about it. He told me about how aggravating it was for him to mend a patient’s bones, but not give the person back his or her use of the affected limbs because the spinal cord was damaged. He said that someday he would find a way to help the paralyzed get their mobility back. He just knew there was a potion or combination of potions that would do that, he just didn’t think they’d been invented yet.
“What he said about wanting to really cure his patients made me think he was sincere. At the time, I had been working with that same problem from the potions perspective on my own.”
Campbell interrupted his client, “When did you have time to experiment?”
Shirley Gorman looked annoyed at the question, but continued her recitation. “The head of my department had this thing for ‘innovative potions’ and was always going on about how great it would be for our floor to make some sort of big breakthrough that would bring fame and fortune to the hospital. He gave each of us Potioneers an hour or more of free time each day to work on a project of our choice. I had chosen nerve-regeneration potions, mostly because the other Potioneers scoffed at the idea of helping paralysis patients, and was well on my way to making a workable potion when Payton and I had our conversation. Over the next couple of weeks, we continued to talk about the problem and I eventually told him about my experiments. One thing led to another and about a month after our initial conversation, I agreed to work with him.”
“When was that?”
“April of 1998.”
“Why did you agree?”
“The hospital had been getting more and more patients whose backs were broken by the Death Eaters, either through the Cruciatus Curse or other violent spells. The Non-Magical Injuries Ward was overflowing with patients who were leaving just as immobile as when they arrived and the ward staff was becoming frustrated with the course of treatment they were using, especially Payton and the Healer-in-Charge. You can imagine how excited Payton was when I told him about my potion experiments.
“In those early days before the war ended and even six months afterwards, Payton and I researched and brewed our way through four or five different versions of my basic potion. We tested them on nerve fibres we obtained from cadavers until we finally had one that looked promising enough to offer to a couple of desperate patients. We had the patients sign a standard hospital form pertaining to experimental treatments and Payton administered the potion.”
“Both patients died because we didn’t know the best way to administer the potion to living patients.”
“Were there lawsuits?”
“No, because both patients had signed the forms and because they were near death anyway, their paralysis was so great. We just put them out of their misery a bit faster than normal.”
A ripple of comments flew through the courtroom at this and Harry almost didn’t hear the next question.
“Didn’t it bother you that the patients had died?”
“It did Payton, who wanted to cure them, but not me. I couldn’t have cared less about the patients: I hadn’t obtained the results I wanted, so I let the failure go and went back to experimenting.”
“Why did you choose them instead of healthier patients?”
“If the patients’ nerves had regenerated even a little, they would have found some relief from their injuries. These people were desperate, willing to try anything, even a completely untested potion.”
“What did you do next?”
“Payton and I went back to the cauldron and began a new potion. We also started spending more and more time together both in the lab and out of the work environment. In his own way, Payton was very attractive to me and I enjoyed spending time with him.”
“Were you in love with him?”
“Possibly. We were spending enough time together that the relationship was becoming intense. However, we were determined to find a potion that would be more successful than the first one. It took us another two years and three more unsuccessful potions, but we persevered and began clinical trials with an oral potion in July of 2002.”
“This is the potion that eventually became the standard treatment for paralysis patients in the Non-Magical Injuries Ward?”
“Yes, the one whose royalties were stolen from me.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I’ll tell you why,” Shirley said, scowling. “Because Payton Stilwell hogged all the credit!”
Campbell scurried back to his table and picked up several periodicals. “I beg to differ with you,” he squeaked, walking back towards the witness chair. “These articles all give you equal credit for the potion.”
Shirley Gorman reached for the magazines and newspapers. She held up the top one, a Medicinal Potions. “This is from September of 2003,” she said. “The author did get this one correct and so did the writers of the articles in Today’s Potions, The Creative Potioneer, and The Healing Potioneer.” She held up a yellowed copy of The Daily Prophet. “This is the article I was looking for.”
“What’s it say?” Campbell interrupted his client. “Who’s it by?”
“I was getting to that,” the Matron scowled. “It’s from January of 2004 and is written by Rita Skeeter.”
In the gallery, Harry couldn’t suppress a quiet groan as memories from his fourth year and the character butchering he’d gone through with this particular reporter came to mind. Beside him, Ginny reached over and rubbed his back.
“This can’t be happening,” he whispered. “I thought she was killed by that enraged goblin she accused of stealing from Gringotts.”
“I think that was one of her last articles,” Ginny whispered back. “I think she died in 2005.”
“She did, but no matter what happens, it’s as if she wants to haunt me!” Harry sighed.
Ginny rubbed his back one more time as they returned their attention to Shirley Gorman.
“Handsome Healer and Unattractive Potioneer Team Up,” she said, reading the title of the article. She looked up at the courtroom. “I have never been unattractive! This witch is wrong!”
Interrogator Bailey cleared his throat. “Please stick with the facts, Mrs Gorman,” he said.
Shirley Gorman continued as if she hadn’t been reprimanded. “This Skeeter witch interviewed both of us for about fifteen minutes. She spent five minutes with me, sticking her long, painted nose into my cauldrons and making comments about my job. She never even asked me about the history of the nerve-regeneration potion or what made it successful as the other reporters did.”
Harry nudged Ginny. “That’s so Rita’s style,” he commented.
Ginny nodded. “I know.”
Down on the floor, Campbell had retreated to the defence table. “How long did she spend with Healer Stilwell?”
“About ten minutes, all the while followed by that horrible green quill of hers. She made him tour the ward, telling her about what the potion was doing for each of his patients. She calls him a ‘miracle worker’ and a ‘saint’ for staying in the NMI ward with the hopeless cases and sending most people home rather than to the graveyard!”
“How is this reporter’s wording upsetting to you?”
“I quote, ‘Payton Stilwell has done wonders for the Wizarding community in the last year. The potion he developed, with a little help from a hospital Potioneer, and uses in his ward, heals the paralyzed patient…’” Shirley looked up. “The way she worded her article gave my so-called partner nearly full credit! That’s what upset me then and what is upsetting me now!”
“Because I become ‘hospital staff’ or his helper in every subsequent article written about the ward’s healing success rate! None of the articles between 2004 and 2011 ever mention my name! And because of that, he receives all the money, all the Floo calls from healers around the world wanting to buy the recipe, all the praise every time a patient walks out of the NMI ward; even St Mungo’s only gives me a few Knuts every time a patient gets a dose of my potion. It’s as if the hospital has forgotten me and my work!”
“Didn’t you and Healer Stilwell patent your potion? If you did, wouldn’t you still be receiving money any time someone buys the recipe?”
“No, we didn’t. Twenty years ago potions weren’t patented, like they are now. You need to know what you’re asking before you ask me a question!”
“I did read the history of Wizarding patents! I thought you’d have applied for one for your potion,” Campbell whinged. He sighed. “Is there another reason you’re so resentful?”
“Payton Stilwell didn’t correct anyone! He took all the credit and was paid for fifty or more articles and he didn’t give me anything! I resent the fact that he hasn’t defended me, his partner, or even acknowledged that I’m not receiving the royalties I’m due!”
“Have you talked to Healer Stilwell about this?”
“Yes, and he always swears that he always gives me credit. I don’t believe him because I don’t see the monetary results. If I was given the recognition, the Galleons I know I’m owed, I would be happy!”
Campbell scurried back to his table and shuffled through an untidy pile of scrolls until he found what he wanted. He turned back to his client and handed her the scroll. “Would you read this and then tell the court what is written there, please?”
Mrs Gorman scowled, but complied. “It’s a listing of interviews Payton Stilwell has given about the potion,” she said, sounding as though she was gritting her teeth. “It seems that since these were written for the healing community only the authors were given commissions and Stilwell didn’t get paid for any of them.” She threw down the scroll. “Stuff and nonsense!” she nearly yelled. “Payton Stilwell was paid for those interviews! Every single one of them! Whoever gave you this information is lying!”
Campbell stood before her, cringing, and squeaked, “Why would they lie?”
“Because Payton Stilwell bewitched them into paying him!” she shot back.
The Interrogator rapped his gavel sharply. “Mr Campbell, please stop antagonizing your client and let her finish her testimony.”
Campbell nodded, mumbled a meek, “Yes, Your Honour,” and then added almost defiantly, “She wouldn’t be saying these things if she hadn’t been given the Veritaserum.”
“Mr Campbell, not another word out of you that has nothing to do with your questions,” instructed the Interrogator.
Again, the defence lawyer nodded towards the Interrogator. He cleared his throat and then asked his client, “So instead of fighting for what you’re entitled to, you chose to leave the country?”
“Yes, because after seven years, Payton’s marriage to my former best friend—which I didn’t approve of—and being fed up with the British Wizarding world, I finally decided to do something for myself when Payton successfully healed one of the Death Eaters’ victims after being paralyzed since the Battle of Hogwarts and didn’t say a thing about my involvement in the development of his potion!”
“Were you resentful because he didn’t love you, that he loved another?”
“Hell, yes! We’d spent so much time together I was sure he loved me. When he married Yolanda in 2010 I was crushed.”
“So where did you go and what did you do with yourself?”
“I spend the next four years learning to be a Matron at the Dressler Teaching Hospital in Dresden, Germany. I came back to London in 2015 and applied for a Matron’s position at St Mungo’s and was assigned to the NMI ward.”
“Did Healer Stilwell know you had been assigned to his ward?”
“No, he didn’t because I’d married while I was in Germany. I used my married name when I applied for the Matron’s position.”
“Is your husband in the gallery today?”
“No. He died of heart failure in 2014.”
Ginny leaned over and whispered in Harry’s ear, “How convenient. Want to bet she had a hand in that?”
Harry looked over at his wife. “It’s not part of the case, so I don’t want to know about it,” he answered. “And no, I won’t bet with you because you only make a wager when you’re absolutely certain of something.”
“Spoil sport,” she said, pouting and Harry reached over and patted her thigh.
Down on the courtroom floor, Mr Campbell was continuing his questions. “We heard testimony from Kasey Oswald and Alison Morven about how the three of you became friends and eventually took over a dilapidated house in the Forest of Dean—” He stopped abruptly because Shirley Gorman was shaking her head and muttering. “What did you say?” he asked.
“I said, we didn’t take over the house, you moron! I own it! It’s mine! It’s been in my family for generations, hidden magically until I took down the enchantments,” she explained in an impatient tone. “I’d been living in it since I’d come back from Germany. Don’t you listen?”
Campbell ignored his client’s question. “Oh. So… What led you to go to such lengths to experiment with the potions?” he squeaked, seeming to dismiss this piece of information as Shirley Gorman stuck a finger in her ear and jiggled it as if playing for time.
“Revenge,” she finally said. The look she threw towards the witness gallery where Payton Stilwell was sitting would have incinerated him if looks could kill, Harry mused.
Campbell called out, “Your Honour, I want this statement stricken from the record. The Veritaserum is making my client say things that are not true.”
“Overruled,” the Interrogator said. “The statement will not be stricken from the record. Mr Campbell, resume your questions.”
Looking outraged, disgusted and fearful all at the same time, Campbell asked, “R—r—revenge?”
“Yes. I left Britain in order to learn new ways of hurting Payton Stilwell, sneaky ways that would hurt him as much as he’d hurt me,” the Matron said matter-of-factly. “I told you he didn’t stop the reporters from giving him all the credit for the nerve regeneration potion and the success he attained with most patients and how he pushed me aside and married my best friend! I wanted revenge and I was successful at it. I made some of his patients die with my potions; I used other patients as guinea pigs to find better, sneakier ways of sickening or maiming future patients so he would fail to treat them properly. The house in the Forest was the ideal place to brew new potions and experiment on the Muggles who needed killing because they made the world a dangerous place. Oh, we had fun that first year!”
“Wh—what do you mean?”
Shirley Gorman smiled as she said, “We played the children’s game of ‘tag the naked Muggle’ in the nearly empty rooms.”
At this, a great, collective gasp rippled around the courtroom. Mrs Gorman glanced up before continuing, “Alison, Kasey and I would magically lock the doors and charm the clothes from the night’s entertainment. Then two of us would hide in different rooms while the other would lead the Muggle up from the dungeon and then disappear after telling him that if he could get out of the house he was free to leave.”
“But… but the Aurors found evidence of blood as well as potions…”
Shirley smiled, and it made Harry shiver to look at her expression. “We ‘tagged’ the Muggle by magically flinging metal at him: the Muggle was always ‘it,’ never one of us. We played until we were out of potion and then we settled back to watch it work. Death by poison is so much fun to watch!” Shirley’s face took on a gleeful expression. “I pretended every Muggle we tagged was Payton Stilwell.”
Harry glanced in Healer Stilwell’s direction; the healer looked slightly green around the gills.
“The—the Aurors found t-t-torture equipment in the cellar. Was that part of your game of tag?” stuttered Campbell.
Mrs Gorman rolled her eyes. “Of course not. Not every night’s entertainment was taken up with the game. Several of my associates and quite a few derelict wizards needed to be disciplined for either not joining me or for interfering in my experiments at the hospital.”
“You’re talking about Mark Huntley?”
Shirley Gorman was silent for a moment. “Perhaps,” was all she said.
After a pause and nothing more from his client, Campbell switched subjects. “How—how long did it take you—No, why did you dig the pit in the cellar?”
Shirley cocked her head to one side, looking thoughtful. “We had to bury the dead Muggles somewhere, so we just laid them out on the cellar floor and covered them with the dirt we dug up.”
“But why make it so deep?”
The defendant rolled her eyes at her counsel. “Come on, after burying fifty people the hole was nice and deep. When it came time to lure the Aurors to the house, it was just a matter of digging the second pit and covering it with slabs of rock so I could work from underneath and not be seen by the night’s entertainment,” she said.
“What was your… erm, plan?” Campbell mopped his brow, clearly uncomfortable with what his client was admitting.
“The Aurors had been getting too close recently, scaring off the Muggles and magical beggars whom I usually used in my treatments. I decided to let them closer because I wanted to observe how a healthy person responded to my treatments. You see, the non-magically seriously injured always ended up in my ward, so it went without saying that I would be able to monitor the Auror’s progress. Most of the time, the Muggles and beggars just gave up and died. I didn’t think an Auror would.”
“Did you have a specific Auror in mind?”
“No. I decided I would be happy with whoever fell into my pit.”
“Please describe what you and your assistants did that night.”
Shirley Gorman was thoughtful for a moment. “We met at dusk and cleaned up the cellar as if we were having an ordinary evening, except that we shortened the staircase and weakened the bottom step. We knew we’d be able to Apparate within the house, even if the Aurors cast anti-Apparition spells to keep us inside. Then, we waited. The Aurors broke into the house just after midnight and began searching for us. I was already stationed in the pit. The others were hidden where they could easily see the fun.
“The door to the cellar finally opened, the Aurors came down the stairs and the one in the lead stepped on the weakened step. As he fell, my assistants distracted the other Aurors with spellfire.
“In the meantime, the Auror fell awkwardly and didn’t land quite where I wanted him to. I had to levitate him into place, magically disrobe him from the waist up, insert the needles, redress him and then tell two of my assistants to try to escape, all in less than three minutes. It all took much longer than I’d planned, but the evening seemed successful anyway when my last two assistants and I Apparated away.”
“The Aurors stated that they caught Kasey Oswald and Allison Morven when the two abruptly stopped duelling. Did you do anything to make them stop?”
“Ah, you’re referring to how I communicated with them through the modified Imperius Curse,” Shirley said, sounding smug. “A bit of genius on my part, I think. The original curse was only a one-time command or suggestion. My version allowed me to cast the curse once and then contact the Imperiused person through the spell’s link indefinitely, relaying new commands remotely.”
“What do you mean by ‘remotely’?”
“Tim Dawson had found a way to trigger a spell to work from a distance while he was working at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. He explained it worked like a Muggle remote control toy. Unfortunately, he was unable to copy all the data I needed to make the spell work right away because he was discovered by the shop’s owner.” She stopped speaking and glared in George’s direction.
“Did that stop you from finishing the spell your way?”
“Absolutely not. It’s a brilliant piece of magic that allowed me or one of my assistants to be far away from a victim when we cast the trigger spell. The enchanted needles we used then ripped and tore their way through the victims’ organs or they inflicted terrible, unexplainable pain. The resulting screams were wonderful!”
“Was Auror Potter one of these victims?”
“Yes. I inserted a number of enchanted needles in his spinal cord the day he left St Mungo’s,” Mrs Gorman said, sounding quite pleased with herself. “I also had decided to see if an exploding projectile would stop a person’s heart, so I inserted one in his left lung and instructed Tim Dawson to go to The Groves and cast the triggering spell several times to move the projectile into place.”
Harry couldn’t help it; he shuddered violently and rubbed his lower back as his heart started to pound and he began to hyperventilate. The Matron’s dispassionate recital was just too much to take in all at once.
Concerned, Ginny leaned over and whispered, “Shall we leave for a bit?”
Harry nodded and felt his wife stand up as the defence counsel tried to get his client’s words stricken from the record due to the Veritaserum. He concentrated on calming his mind while she enlarged his wheelchair on the courtroom floor and then gently levitated him down the steps.
“Mrs Potter,” the Interrogator interrupted the defendant’s testimony, “does your husband need a healer?”
“No, thank you, Your Honour,” she said as they paused by the door. “Would you have the Usher check on us in ten minutes, please? We’ll be outside in the corridor.”
The courtroom door closed behind them, blocking out the Matron’s testimony. Harry backed his chair against the stone wall of the corridor and leaned his head back against it. The cool stone felt good to against his head, its solidness calming him a little.
Ginny took his hand in hers. “Breathe with me, Harry,” she encouraged. “In… Out… In… Out… That’s it. Shirley and her associates will be locked up forever after this. Don’t let her vindictive torment haunt you.”
“I’m sorry,” Harry whispered between deep breaths. “I thought I was ready to hear that. Eloise said she thought we’d learn the truth if Veritaserum was used.”
Ginny bent down and gathered him in her arms. “There’s no need to apologize, love. She frightened me, too,” she said as Harry pulled his wife into his lap and hugged her properly.
“Thank you for being here with me,” he murmured in her ear. “I’m not sure I could have lasted that long without you beside me.”
“Oh Harry,” his wife sighed as she pulled him closer. His head rested just above her heart and he could hear its strong, steady beating. The sound calmed him; his own heart ceased its racing and he could breathe more easily now.
The door to the courtroom opened and the Usher stepped into the corridor. “Mrs Potter, Auror Potter, Interrogator Bailey wants to know whether you require assistance,” he said.
Harry released his hold on Ginny. As she sat back, he said, “I’m fine, sir. Tell him we don’t require assistance and that we will be back in shortly.”
“Very well. I’ll come back in five minutes,” the Usher said. He turned on his heel and went back inside.
“Ready to go back in?” Ginny inquired. She slid off his lap and kissed his forehead.
Harry sighed and ran a hand through his hair, making his wife smile at the gesture. “Yeah, I am,” he said. Then a thought occurred to him. “I’m surprised Draco hasn’t stormed out yet. As hard as it was for me to listen to the reasons for becoming a human pincushion, it must be doubly hard to hear the reasoning behind the kidnapping of your child.”
As he finished speaking, the door to the courtroom was yanked open and Draco Malfoy strode through it, the expression on his face thunderous. He pulled up short when he saw Harry and Ginny.
Ginny walked over to him and put a hand on his arm. “How are you?” she asked.
Draco closed his eyes and sighed. “I’d forgotten you two were out here,” he said. He glanced at Harry who smiled encouragingly at his friend. “It’s hard to listen to, you know?” he continued. “I managed to get through it, but just barely.”
“Is Asteria here?” Ginny asked, concern lacing her voice.
“Yeah, she’s inside with Scorpius. He did better than I did listening to that woman. She’s truly sick and I don’t know whether she’d be better off in St Mungo’s or Azkaban,” Draco ranted, stepping away from Ginny and beginning to pace in front of her and Harry.
“I’d rather see her in Azkaban,” Harry said quietly.
Draco and Ginny stared at him. “Why?” they asked simultaneously.
“Would you rather she went free or, if there was the possibility she might escape her guards, that she have access to potions and patients, or be stuck on an island in the North Sea? Personally, I want her as far away as possible from anyone she has the potential to harm,” Harry told them with conviction.
Draco resumed his pacing. “Is there any possibility the goblins would let her off early for good behaviour if she was sentenced to Azkaban?” he asked.
“Not a snowball’s chance in H–E–double wands,” Harry said, grinning as he used James’ favourite way of spelling the forbidden word. Ginny giggled behind her hand. “The changes they have made at the prison are more advanced than anything the Ministry ever did when they employed the Dementors. Or even during your dad’s time there.”
“I’m glad you think so. I just hope the Wizengamot feels the way you do,” Draco said with a shiver. “I know for certain there are a few dissenters on the jury who would rather institutionalise Gorman, Morven, Oswald and the other assistants caught in the cave at St Mungo’s than subject them to the depravity of prison. They’ll try to push their preferences.”
“Not with Hermione on the jury, they won’t,” Ginny said. “You know how persuasive she can be, and I know for a fact she’s researched both incarceration options thoroughly. She’s already told me that the best place for Gorman and her associates is Azkaban. She might not be the one leading the jury, but you can bet she’ll be bending lots of ears in order to protect the hospital, its patients and the Wizarding public.”
Draco nodded, looking mollified. “I hope the jury rules for incarceration, then. She’s guiltier than I was when Dobby caught me with my hand in the biscuit tin at the age of four,” he said.
Before Harry could respond, the door to the courtroom opened and the Usher stepped out. “Mrs Potter, gentlemen, Interrogator Bailey is just about to send the Wizengamot to the jury room,” he said.
Harry began pushing his chair towards the door. “Thank you,” he said, “we want to hear what he charges the jury with.”
Hermione’s eyes had been roving the courtroom non-stop since Shirley Gorman began speaking and she was nearly out of ink from all the notes she’d been taking. The people within the courtroom were fascinating to watch and because of where her desk was, Hermione could see nearly everyone in the Wizengamot, the galleries and on the floor. Those she couldn’t see by just turning her head, she could view in a special mirror she had in plain sight on her desk; the mirror was magically linked to a second, nearly invisible, mirror which she was flying near the ceiling. There were several of these in the courtroom, and each of their controllers had been given a specific space in which to fly them.
Now, as Shirley Gorman described the reasons for wanting to kill the Auror who fell into her pit using the remote spell and projectile combination, Hermione aimed her flying mirror at a group of Wizengamot members who she knew were apt to oppose her when they went to the jury room. To her surprise, their faces looked slightly green in colour, their expressions nauseated. She smiled to herself. Maybe, just maybe, trying to put Shirley Gorman in Azkaban won’t be so hard after all, she thought as she made note of this.
She had been quite concerned when Harry and Ginny had left the courtroom. Harry had looked as if he were in great pain, an expression she hadn’t seen on his face in months, and she was grateful that Ginny was with him. Hopefully, when they returned, the defendant would be through giving testimony.
She moved her mirror again when the subject switched to Brian Nelson’s attack. The young wizard was leaning forward in his seat, his chin resting on his fists. His angry expression told her he couldn’t believe he’d been used as a guinea pig just because his attacker wanted more data for her twisted experiments.
Hermione moved her mirror a third time in order to watch the Malfoy family during the discussion of Scorpius Malfoy’s kidnapping. She couldn’t see Draco or Asteria from her seat because they were sitting behind a rather tall wizard whose size reminded Hermione of Hagrid. Draco came into view. He was sitting rigidly with his eyes locked on Shirley Gorman, his face expressionless, his grey eyes stormy. Beside him, fourteen-year-old Scorpius had his head on his mother’s shoulder. She had her arm protectively draped around his shoulders and they were both staring at the woman who had caused their family so much pain. Hermione was secretly glad that Draco and Asteria had let their son attend today, if only for the reason of giving him closure to a very scary week of his life. If she had to guess, Hermione thought it would be Draco who left when he couldn’t take the warped reasons for Shirley Gorman’s actions any longer; if it had been Hugo who had been kidnapped and Ron sitting and listening to the defendant’s perverted testimony, her husband would have sat through only as much as he could stomach without becoming extremely angry all over again. Her guess was correct; several minutes later, during a lull between questions, Draco silently stood up and left the courtroom. Shortly after that, the Usher walked to the door and stepped out.
As Shirley Gorman was led back to the defendant’s chair in the middle of the courtroom floor, her counsel nearly sprinted back to his table and stood next to it gulping several glasses of water. He looked terrified, sick enough to vomit, and thoroughly disgusted at the horrible things his client had just revealed. Ginny smirked to herself; from what Hermione had said the day before the trial began, the defendant should have stuck to her original statement, which had denied everything she was accused of doing. However, the use of the Calming Draught and Veritaserum had produced a truth much more accurate than Gorman’s statement, and Ginny understood why the Interrogator had allowed her to continue contradicting her submitted statement.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the Wizengamot,” Interrogator Bailey now said, addressing the august body behind him, “You have heard the defendant’s testimony and the prosecution’s refusal to cross-examine the witness. We will now move to the defence’s closing statement. Mr Campbell…”
Mr Campbell grabbed a small piece of parchment and stood behind his table, as if having it in front of him gave him courage because of the visual space it provided between him and the rest of the court. The parchment shook visibly as he began speaking.
“Although the prosecution’s case against my client is full of solid evidence, much of what was presented in the last few days has been hearsay. I call your attention to the Pensieve memories of Timothy Dawson, the deceased Matron’s Assistant at St Mungo’s Hospital. He is not present in the court and even though experts have certified that the memories have not been tampered with, I am doubtful of the truth they represent. We have also heard from four witnesses who admitted to being under the influence of the Imperius Curse. In years past, this curse has been used by the guilty to be proven innocent of all charges because they were not responsible for their actions. I highly doubt the Imperiused witnesses used by the prosecution are reliable.” He stopped, poured another glass of water and gulped it down.
“I have one more objection to the conduct of this trial,” he continued. “My client was forced to ingest a Calming Draught and after that three drops of Veritaserum. I have maintained throughout her testimony that what the potion was making her say was not the truth, but a hallucination, since nearly everything she said contradicted her sworn statement given to the court.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the Wizengamot, I implore you to take pity on my client, who has been forced to endure a tragic life and has been accused of multiple despicable crimes against both Muggles and wizards. She is not guilty of the charges.”
He sat down abruptly, took out a handkerchief and began mopping his brow with it.
Ginny nudged Harry. “Are you convinced she’s not guilty because of that speech?” she asked in a whisper.
Harry ducked his head, turning it in her direction as he murmured, “Absolutely not. She’s been guilty from the get-go and no fancy posturing by that incompetent twit will set her free.”
“Glad we agree, Harry,” Ginny said smugly as she returned her attention to the Interrogator who was now standing and facing the Wizengamot.
“Thank you, Mr Campbell,” he said. “The prosecution will now summarise what we have heard in the last few days.”
Eloise Midgen stood from her chair and began reading from a long scroll. She talked about the various witnesses for the prosecution—Healer Stilwell, Harry, Ron and the Aurors, the Matron’s four associates, Scorpius Malfoy and Brian Nelson—and then reminded the court that there had been only one defence witness, Shirley Gorman herself. Next, she restated the laws which she was accused of violating.
When she was done, she sat down and looked pointedly at Interrogator Bailey who said, “I now charge the Wizengamot with the consideration of the evidence provided and based on that evidence, you will decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the charges against her. Remember, you don’t have to find the defendant innocent. You may now retire to the jury room to begin your deliberations.”
Hermione heaved a silent sigh of relief and cancelled all the spells she had cast; she heard a tiny click as her voice recorder transmitter shut off and saw her flying mirror descending from its place near the ceiling. When it settled on her desk, she picked it and the receiving mirror up and locked them in a drawer. Then, gathering her notes, she followed Andromeda into the Wizengamot’s meeting room.
“I’m glad that’s over,” Andromeda whispered, as she and Hermione found seats at the back of the room.
“I wonder how long this will take,” Hermione mused. “I was watching Parkinson, Goyle and Selwyn during the last part of Gorman’s testimony and I think they were rather repulsed by what we heard.”
“It may not take as long as we think, then,” Andromeda said quietly as the spokeswizard called the Wizengamot to order.
“Before we begin discussing the evidence, I would like us to take a silent vote to see where we stand as a group. Please point your wands at the board behind me and cast the appropriate spells for guilty or not guilty for each of the charges,” he instructed.
Hermione raised her wand and cast her ‘guilty’ votes. Instantaneously, the board registered the results: 47 guilty, 0 not guilty for every count against Shirley Gorman. Incredibly, the vote was unanimous! Silence descended on the room as everyone stared at the board.
“We… we have a decision,” stammered the spokeswizard. “I will inform the Usher.” Abruptly, he stood up and went to the door. He conferred with the Usher on the other side and then waited a moment or two more before saying, “We are to go back inside.”
Harry sat up straight as the Wizengamot re-entered the courtroom and silently took their seats so soon after leaving. He couldn’t believe the jury had made its decision so quickly; no one in the courtroom had had time to even leave their seats! Those in the galleries began whispering amongst themselves.
The Interrogator rapped his gavel, calling for silence. The prosecution counsel stood up. “Do you have a verdict?” he asked.
The Wizengamot spokeswizard rose slowly to his feet and answered, “We do.”
The clerk flipped a page in his notes and asked, “Do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?”
The courtroom was silent as the spokeswizard replied, “We unanimously find Shirley Gorman guilty of stalking Healer Payton Stilwell; guilty of causing bodily harm to Mark Huntley, Auror Harry Potter and Brian Nelson; and guilty of kidnapping Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy.”
Harry closed his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. It was nearly over. All that remained was the sentencing.
The Interrogator now said, “Shirley Gorman, in light of unanimous guilty verdicts on all charges, I now sentence you to life in Azkaban Wizarding Prison. You will be taken there immediately to serve out your sentence for the rest of your natural life. You are further ordered to pay compensation to the following people: Healer Payton Stilwell, ten thousand Galleons; Mark Huntley, three thousand Galleons; Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, five thousand Galleons; Harry James Potter and Brian Nelson fifteen thousand Galleons each.”
Harry glanced at the other victims of the Matron’s treachery. Payton and Mark looked relieved. Scorpius and Brian seemed shocked at their good fortune and were grinning at each other, even though their parents just looked tired.
The door to the courtroom opened and eight goblins strode in. They surrounded the defendant’s chair as the chains rattled open, allowing Shirley Gorman to stand. As she was led away, the occupants of the galleries began to cheer loudly.