Judge and Jury
'HE GOT OFF! HE GOT OFF! HE GOT OFF! - '
'Supper's almost ready!' Molly called quietly up the stairs a few days after the hearing, trying not to wake Mrs Black.
As Harry stepped through the kitchen doors, he was assaulted by a tall, slim, brown-haired someone, whose cheeks were wet with tears. 'Oh, Harry!' she cried mournfully, squeezing him tight. 'I am so sorry!'
For a moment, Harry didn't respond; didn't move to wrap his arms around her in reciprocation. After awhile, he said coolly, 'Hello, Elizabeth.'
He felt her body stiffen, and her grip around his shoulders loosen somewhat.
'Harry?' Elizabeth moved back slightly, but still held on to his shoulders, trying to catch his eyes. 'Can we talk?'
He followed her sullenly up the staircase and into the library they had just finished cleaning. Once the door was shut, she said, 'Harry, we have to talk.'
'Oh, now you want to talk? Now that you've played judge and jury on my place at Hogwarts? Now that you've just disappeared after the hearing? Now that I've been saved from the Dursley's, where I was stuck, without news, for almost a month? Alright, Elizabeth,talk.'
His words visibly stung her, and she seemed to tremble slightly under his steely gaze. 'Harry, please, let me explain –'
'No. I'm tired of adults trying to explain everything away. How about I explain something to you. I was stuck at the Dursleys' with no contact with anyone from the wizarding world. And then I get attacked by dementors, and almost expelled from the only home I've ever known. No news from Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, or you. I know you could've gotten something to me, Elizabeth, don't deny it. People are always on about how powerful you are – how about you use that power for something useful for a change, instead of just stupid little tricks, trying to entertain us. And then you use that power that you could have used to get a message to me to disappear after my trial! So, Elizabeth-' he spat out her name, ' - explain to me how you can make that better.'
Her eyes glistened with unfallen tears, and her mouth opened, trying to form words that wouldn't come out. She croaked a few times, and finally said, 'I can't, Harry. You just don't understand –'
'Oh, I don't understand, do I? Well, then, why don't you explain it to me!'
'I can't! I can't tell you because I promised Albus I wouldn't!'
'Here we go again with Dumbledore!'
'Harry, he's just looking out for your well being!'
'I'm fifteen, Elizabeth, and I've been through more than most of the people in the Order!'
'Don't you think I know that?!' she screeched, throwing her hands up in fury. 'Did I not tell you the first time I saw you at the Quidditch World Cup that I had watched you grow up? Both Dumbledore and I have watched you closer that you could even imagine! I know about everything, Harry! I know you want to help, and I know how frustrating it is to be in the dark, but –'
'You do, do you? Somehow, I don't believe that.'
'Do you think they would let me help in the Order after everything? Do you really think they would let me in on everything that's going on?'
'Of course – you're the great Elizabeth Holmes! Why wouldn't they want you to help fight Voldemort?'
'Because,' she sighed in painful resignation, 'I would freeze up if I ever had to face him.'
A silence spread between them.
'What do you mean, you would freeze up?' Harry asked slowly, still standing a great distance away, fighting his better judgement to run at her and hold her.
'You've just started to see Voldemort in your nightmares, and when the dementors come too near you hear your mother's screams. I can remember clear as day the night he murdered my parents, the night he tortured me until I was almost mad with the pain; the night he came to kill you. I'd dream of it every single night since that first night, Harry. If it weren't for Severus bringing me a Draught of Dreamless Sleep every night since he found me in the library all those years ago, thrashing around in my sleep, I would still be dreaming it. And when I forget to drink it, I wake up in a cold sweat, tangled beneath the sheets, gasping for breath. When you think of Voldemort, you want revenge. All I have when I think of Voldemort is the fear a muggle child has for the boogeyman. Power doesn't mean bravery, Harry – I'm positively terrified of him. The only thing, I think, that would stop me from freezing at the sight of him, Harry, would be if you were in danger.' Tears streamed down her cheeks, and Harry could see she was reliving every painful moment as they ran through her mind.
His better judgement got the better of him, and he strode across the room and gathered her small frame into his arms. He was silent for a moment, until, - 'What were you doing asleep in the library?'
She chuckled, and said, 'When I was nine, I was reading, and I fell asleep from lack of sleep – the nightmares, you know… Madam Pince didn't notice me, I guess. It was almost one in the morning when he found me. If it weren't for him… I don't know what would've become of me.'
'So that's why - ?'
'Yes, Harry. That's why I care for him so much. Why I trust him. He saved me from myself, and has kept me safe for every moment after that. He understood my pain, and what I had been through. He even helped me see you a few times over the years. I doubt you would remember. The first time, you were seven, at the park near your aunt and uncle's house.'
'I… I do. You came and sat on the swings with me.'
She smiled and nodded. 'That's right. I swore that day, Harry, that when I was able, I would ensure you were never lonely again. That you never wanted for anything. And I still hold true to that. No matter how it may feel sometimes, know that I am always – always –working to make life better for you. Nothing is more important to me. Nothing.'
'Elizabeth – '
'Do you know how scared and angry I was when Dumbledore told me what had happened? I was ready to hunt Mundungus Fletcher down and beat him to within an inch of his life – I'm still ready to do that, goodness knows. He's just lucky you're not harmed. He would be a dead man already if anything had happened to you.' Cupping his cheek in her hand, she finished, 'You're my dear little brother. Don't you think I would do anything to keep you safe?'
'Well, yes. I just thought...'
'Thought I fell down on the job?'
Harry laughed, and nodded. 'Yeah. That's a good way to put it.''Well, it'll never happen, Harry,' she replied, smiling. 'I have very good balance.'