An Alternate Chain of Events

Chapter 13 - The Trials of Sirius Black

Chapter Thirteen - The Trials of Sirius Black

About two hours after she had left their house Mary McDonald burst back into the Potter's living room. James and Lily were lounging on one sofa while Harry sat in a chair laughing with them. All three of them jumped and drew their wands when the door flung open.

"Merlin, McDonald!" James exclaimed. "You nearly gave me a heart attack."

Mary ignored him. "Sirius has been arrested."

"WHAT?" All three Potters exclaimed.

"He attacked Lucius Malfoy, James you need to go down to the Ministry and reason with Fudge, explain the situation." Mary pleaded.

"Did he do it?" Harry asked.

Mary looked uncomfortable. She shared a dark look with Lily and James. "I don't know." Everyone, including Harry, translated that to mean "most likely."

"Right, I better go." James ran upstairs to get changed out of his pyjamas and was back down in a flash, in which time Lily had sent messages to Remus, Andromeda and Dumbledore. "I'll let you know as soon as I know anything." He kissed Lily and tried to leave, but Mary followed.

"It'll be better if it's just me for now." James tried to stop her. "Stay here with Lily and Harry and I'll let you know what's going on." He squeezed her arm and disapparated.

"I hate that he's grown up and level headed now." Mary fumed. "The old James Potter would have let me storm in there with him."

Mary flopped into James vacated seat, Lily and Harry resumed theirs and no one spoke.

A silver phoenix burst into the room and carried Dumbledore's voice around the room. "I am most sorry but there is nothing I can do."

"What does he mean there's nothing he can do?" Harry exclaimed, shouting directly at the disappearing Patronus. "He's Dumbledore! He can do anything. He means he won't!"

"Sit down, Harry." Lily replied wearily, she too was disappointed by Dumbledore's reply but she understood what it meant. "Dumbledore can't help him if he's guilty. He can't override the law."

"It's going to go to trial." Mary shared an agonised look with Lily. "For merlin's sake Sirius!" Mary dropped her face and hid it in her hands. Lily patted her back consoling, shaking her head at a startled Harry.

"Where the bloody hell is Remus?"

"Ah Mr Potter, I wondered when you'd get here."

Upon his arrival at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement at the Ministry, James had run straight into Amelia Bones.

"Madam Bones, what's going on?" James could sense the hive of activity by the amount of notes flying through the air at alarming rates. Two interview rooms were in use, one had the blinds drawn, and in the other James could just about make out Sirius through the window. He was sat with his head in his hands.

"Mr Black performed an abusive scorching hex upon Mr Malfoy at 8.43 pm this evening. The magical law enforcement squad arrested him and he has been detained here." Amelia spoke very matter-of-factly.

James heart accelerated in panic. Sirius had definitely done it and had definitely been arrested. "Malfoy's pressing charges?"

"Yes." Amelia nodded curtly, she was not a supporter of Lucius Malfoy, despite what Fudge said. "Mr Malfoy and his wife, who witnessed the event, are giving statements currently. James, there's no loophole, he's going to be tried and convicted." Amelia wanted to make this very clear because she'd been searching for loopholes herself. The laws were too well written, as she knew from writing many of them.

James ran a hand through his hair in distress, he was thinking very quickly. "Will it be a full Wizengamot trial?"

"Yes." Amelia nodded.

"Will you need character witnesses and witnesses to his state of mind at the time of the attack?"

"That would be very helpful." Amelia nodded encouragingly, she added in a low whisper. "James, the more respected the witness the more help it will do."

James nodded appreciatively. "Dumbledore," he whispered back. "Moody?"

Amelia shook her head slightly.

"Scrimgeour?"

A junior in the office walked past and Amelia nodded her head subtly. "There's no way out of a guilty verdict I'm afraid, but," Amelia added hopefully. "Provide a good case and there should be a reduced sentence, Malfoy's not the only one with friends inside the Ministry."

"Thank you Amelia."

Amelia smiled at him. "For what?"

James smiled back and nodded. "Can I see him?"

"Not at the present time, you will be notified of the trial date."

The door of the interview room closest to James opened and Lucius Malfoy strutted out, closely followed by Narcissa who kept her head down. James noted that Malfoy did indeed look a mess, he must have wanted to be put on show to build his case before getting himself healed. He gave James a smirk before trotting straight past him and out the door, Narcissa didn't look up once.

Andromeda had been in fits of worry ever since Sirius's arrest. Both Tonks and Ted had had to stop her from going down to the Ministry on more than one occasion.

"Mum! You won't help matters." Tonks had firmly held her back. "He won't thank you for it either. Just stick to the plan. We're going to the Potter's house tonight, to talk over the case details for tomorrow."

Andromeda flopped down on a chair defeated. "Ok, I won't go."

"Good." Tonks threw her bag over her shoulder, spilling out various items and recollecting them. "I've got to go. I'll see you tonight."

She disappeared just as Ted came into the living room.

"I told you that girl was no good!"

"Yes Andromeda," Ted said wearily, "I know, but there's nothing we can do about it."

He sat next to his wife and wrapped an arm around her. "Have you heard from Narcissa?"

"No! And I've sent her at least a dozen owls. This isn't like her." Ted looked dubious but Andromeda continued. "No Ted, you're wrong. Narcissa loves Sirius, she's always protected him, I don't see why she's abandoning him now."

"Because he attacked her husband," Ted pointed out. Andromeda was too blinded by family love to realise that Narcissa was first and formerly a Malfoy now.

"Is there still nothing from Remus?" Harry asked Lily, while she went over papers at the kitchen table.

She looked up at him, struck by how tall he suddenly seemed and how less childlike. "I don't think my messages are even reaching him," Lily sighed.

"He wouldn't be able to speak on Sirius's behalf anyway, would he?"

"No." Lily said sadly. "Was the discrimination bad at school?"

"At first," Harry said honestly. "Even Ron was a bit wary. But after the first lesson he was pretty much a legend, only the Slytherins had a problem and they weren't getting the laughs from any other house." Harry watched Lily smile at this. "Did it change your opinion of him when he told you?"

Lily thought about it for a second. "Yes." Harry looked shocked at Lily waved him down smiling. "Let me explain."

When Lily arrived in the prefects carriage on the Hogwarts Express at the start of her fifth year, she couldn't have been more delighted to find Remus Lupin already sat there with the other new prefects from the other houses.

"Hello!" Lily beamed sitting down next to him.

"Hello," Remus replied smiling. "I thought you'd get the prefect badge."

"I'm delighted you did!"

Remus smiled wryly. "I didn't have much competition."

"Maybe Frank . . ."

"He stands less of a chance than I do of exercising control over James and Sirius."

Lily rolled her eyes. "That can be exclusively your duty this year."

Remus chuckled, "so how was your summer?"

The rest of the meeting flew by and they were given their schedules for patrolling the corridors.

Lily and Remus walked together down the train. "James is going to be so jealous of all the time I'm spending with you."

"Remus," Lily said warningly. "The foundation of our friendship is built on not discussing James Potter."

"I thought it was a mutual love of sugar quills?"

"That too." Lily laughed. They arrived outside the boys' compartment, Sirius, Peter and James didn't look up, they were too deep in discussion. "They don't look happy."

"They're not." Remus said darkly and Lily looked intrigued. "It's a long story. I'll see you at the feast Lily."

"See you later," Lily replied distractedly. "Don't forget about tuesday."

"I won't," Remus smiled. "See you outside the common room at eight sharp." He turned and disappeared into his compartment.

James had barely registered Remus's presence before he saw a flash of red hair disappear down the train.

At eight O'clock the following tuesday Remus waited outside the common room, conversing with the Fat Lady and waiting for Lily so they could start their rounds. He'd resolved that tonight he'd have to tell her.

"Sorry!" Lily burst out breathless. "Am I late? I was cracking on with that potion essay and I lost track of time. Alice had to remind me and she only knew because she just came back from her date with Frank."

"Lily, relax." Remus held her by the shoulders. "It's only just eight. Shall we start?"

Lily laughed. "Sorry, yes, let's go."

Remus bid the Fat Lady goodbye and they walked down the bright corridors.

"So are Alice and Frank official now?"

"I think so." Lily beamed. "They saw each other loads over the summer."

Remus chuckled. "So she's met his mum?"

Lily looked bemused. "I guess so, why?"

"I'll let Alice tell you."

"Oh Remus, don't be cryptic." Lily tugged his arm. "What's up with Frank's mum?"

"She's not for the fainthearted. I bet she liked Alice, otherwise she would have badgered her away."

"She can't be that bad."

Remus shook his head. "She is." And he told Lily about the time the boys had visited Frank's house over the summer of second year and Mrs Longbottom had chased them from the house with a rake, much to Frank's mortification. "And we've never been back. We go to James's in the holidays now."

Lily laughed. "I would have loved to have seen that. I'll tell Alice to beware when looking at Mrs Longbottom's collection of fine china." Lily looked sideways at Remus who was chuckling, he had dark circles under his eyes. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine," Remus said automatically, he cursed himself, he was supposed to be telling her tonight and he was still lying. He took a gulp, "actually Lily, I'm not."

Lily stopped and looked with concern. "I thought you looked peaky, why don't you go to the Hospital Wing?"

Remus began walking again. "That won't help. Lily, I need to tell you something, and I really don't want you to think badly of me."

"I could never think badly of you," Lily began but Remus looked unconvinced.

"I'm a werewolf." He hadn't meant to blurt it out, but it wasn't an easy thing to say. "I just don't know when it'll conflict when our schedule, you see, and I trust you and I didn't want to lie to you."

Lily hadn't had a chance to respond, she waited for Remus to stop rambling and hugged him. The nearby portrait of some drunk monks wolf-whistled.

Remus hadn't expected her to react like that. When Lily pulled away and looked at him he said. "I'm sorry."

"Remus you have nothing to be sorry for," she squeezed his arm. "You're even more impressive if you ask me. You just have a little problem." She had suspected this, even though she had hoped that it wasn't true, and she was touched that Remus had confided in her.

Remus felt an enormous sense of relief. "You sound like James, he calls it my furry little problem."

To her annoyance, she felt her respect for James rise from the floor. "So the boys know?"

Remus gave a warm smile. "They figured it out years ago. They're not all bad, you see."

"We'll agree to disagree." Lily shrugged. It was a moot point between them.

"You should go easier on them. I bet you a galleon that I can make you feel bad for Sirius."

"I'll absolutely take that bet, Lupin." Lily held out her hand for him to shake it. "What could possibly be wrong in the rich, handsome pure blood's life?"

"Well you've hit the nail on the head actually," Remus couldn't believe how easily she had taken his news, and how they were acting like nothing had happened. "How much do you know about his family?"

"Not a lot." Lily shrugged. "Just that they're one of the oldest. His brother's in Slytherin, right?"

"Right." Remus nodded. "All of Sirius's family, bar one cousin, have been in Slytherin house, they're one of those families, you see. Sirius hates them, and the feeling is, sadly, quite mutual. He wants to come to James's for Christmas with the rest of us, but his family won't let him because they think that the Potters are filling him with dangerous ideas about equality, and have forbidden him from going to his house."

"That's appalling."

"Isn't it? So Sirius says that he'd rather spend Hogwarts here alone than go back to them."

"But isn't he going to have to go back eventually?"

"He's talking about running away so he doesn't have to."

"That's mad. It's too dangerous out there to run away!"

"Lily, I don't mean as in go rough." Remus's mouth twitched. "I mean move in with James's family, his mum and dad aren't thrilled about Sirius doing anything against his parents wishes, but they're not the biggest fans of his parents either."

"Is this what they were talking about on the train?"

"Yup."

Lily nodded, "I'll pay you when we get back to the tower."

And if she felt sorry for Sirius then, that was nothing compared to how she felt now.

"Are you sure you don't want me to come tomorrow?" Harry asked for the one millionth time, being Harry Potter had to have it's benefits somewhere, why not with Sirius?

"No." Lily said firmly. She and James had discussed it thoroughly and they thought Lily talking about Sirius's role in Harry's life would be good enough. "I know you want to help him, but trust me, it's for the best if you're not there." Lily looked at Harry, who was stood arms folded and unconvinced. "We don't want you to see him like that either, Harry, it's going to be awful enough as it is."

Harry sat down opposite her. "Ok mum. I'll go to Ron's as planned."

"Thank you." Lily turned back to sorting through her papers that outlined Sirius's charges and each individual speaker.

"Can I stay while you discuss everything tonight?"

"No Harry, you're going to Ron's tonight." Lily replied without looking up. "We're going so early tomorrow it makes more sense for you to go tonight." She looked up at his unhappy expression. "Come on, you're normally dying to go to Ron's."

"Nothing about this is normal." Harry pointed out to her. "School's going to be awful, I can just picture Draco Malfoy's smug face now. I hope that he threatens me about Sirius again."

"What are you talking about?" Lily said sharply. "He threatened you about Sirius?" Harry told her about how Malfoy had warned him to tell Sirius to stay away from his family and hexed him. "Why would he do that?" Lily asked bewildered.

"I don't know and I thought it best not to ask Sirius."

"Good decision." Lily agreed, but she was still bemused.

"Malfoy's mum's his cousin, isn't she? We thought it had something to do with that."

Lily nodded absently. "Her sister's coming over tonight, I'll ask her."

"Will you let me know what she says?" Harry asked suspiciously.

Lily smiled warmly. "Of course I will." She checked the clock. "Have you got your things together?"

"Yes mum, I'm only going for a few days, I don't need much." Harry and Lily both got to their feet.

"You're going straight from there to the World Cup," Lily and Harry gave each other a commiserating look. Sirius's problem meant that the World Cup no longer seemed like the best thing in the world.

"I'm going to try and write to Remus, he should come home." Harry said resolutely as he walked backwards from the table to the door.

"Take a bash at it, remind him you're mad that he missed your birthday."

"The happy occasion that it was," Harry said darkly and Lily smiled sadly. Harry looked at the clock. "I didn't realise that was the time, they're expecting me." He dashed out of the room to fetch his bag.

Lily went to the fireplace to wait for him, he was only moments. "Have fun! Try not to worry too much." She gave him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, (she couldn't believe that they were the same height now).

"I'll try," Harry said drily.

"We'll write tomorrow." Lily assured him. "Tell Molly and Arthur thank you."

"I will mum," Harry squeezed her shoulder. "And tell Sirius-" Harry wasn't sure what he wanted Sirius to know.

Lily just nodded in understanding, saving him from finishing his sentence.

Harry pinched some powder, stepped into the flames and was gone. He didn't feel it was important to tell her about the strange dream he had the night before.

When Harry emerged out of the fireplace at the Burrow a whole greeting party was assembled for him. Mrs Weasley was the first person to sweep him up from the rug.

"Harry, dear, how lovely to see you. How are you?"

"Fine thank you, Mrs Weasley." Harry replied, catching Ron and Hermione also looking anxiously at him.

"Good." Mrs Weasley said automatically. And giving Harry one last sweeping glance, Mrs Weasley went to busy herself in the kitchen.

Harry found that Fred, George, Hermione and Ron were still staring at him anxiously.

"I didn't know you'd be here, Hermione." Harry said conversationally.

"Well I knew you were coming so I thought I'd pop over early, we're going to the world cup in a few days anyway." Hermione said quickly.

"And you've been reading the papers," Harry deduced with a sad smile.

"You can't really miss them mate," Ron explained.

Harry hadn't been permitted to see any of the numerous articles about Sirius that had appeared in the prophet since his arrest. Mary, who had recently gotten a job there, told them that Lucius Malfoy was bribing the editor to keep the profile of the story so high. Apparently the stories were so horribly exaggerated that they made Sirius out to be unstable and dangerous, ironically none of them mentioned Lucius Malfoy's dubious history.

"Did he do it, Harry?" George asked, Harry was actually relieved that someone had asked him directly, he nodded.

"Blimey," said Fred whistled and smiled wistfully. "Thought so, you can't really blame him though, imagine wiping that smug expression off Lucius Malfoy's face."

"FRED!" Mrs Weasley reappeared in the living room looking furious, Ginny peered out from behind her, too nervous to be with the others now that Harry was there.

"Oh come on mum, you don't like him. Think about what he did to Ginny!" Fred defended himself and Ginny went bright red and disappeared back into the kitchen.

"He's looking pretty smug again now though," Harry said glumly, and he sank into the couch.

"Do you know why he did it?" Hermione asked, as her and Ron sat either side of Harry. Fred and George were still staring avidly, even Mrs Weasley couldn't tear herself away from Harry's answer.

"No." Harry shook his head. "We haven't seen him since it happened, he refused to see my dad." Harry sighed. "I guess they'll find out tomorrow."

Mrs Weasley sighed and returned to making dinner, Fred and George patted him on the shoulder before returning upstairs to their bedroom.

"Are you alright?" Hermione asked tentatively.

Harry shrugged. "I'm doing better than my dad."

James wasn't doing well at all. He was sitting fidgeting on the hard wooden bench outside the courtroom the morning of Sirius's trial, he hadn't slept at all the night before.

"James," Lily said grabbing his hand to stop it from moving. She was concerned about what James would do when Sirius was convicted, it was vital for Sirius, as well as for himself, that James stay as calm and collected as possible.

The other person who looked as sick as James was Andromeda. Ted was holding her hand, and trying to console her the best he could, but it was useless. Waiting until they were called into the courtroom was torturing them all.

Clip-clopping footsteps echoed down the long stone corridors as Mary ran towards them. "Sorry I'm late." She gasped as she plonked herself down next to Lily. "My editor tried to drop an interview on me at the last minute."

"I don't know how you can even work there," James grumbled from Lily's other side. He didn't turn to look at her, his eyes were planted sightlessly at the wall in front of him. He hadn't felt this hopeless in a long time.

"I know it's not ideal," Mary replied nettled. "But, at least I can try to get the other side of the story across. The Prophet's not the enemy, James."

James looked up in horror and opened his mouth but Lily cut across him.

"Now isn't the time." She looked to them both. Lily was feeling more uneasy by the second, they hadn't been down here since they'd attended the trial that convicted Bellatrix Lestrange and her accomplices for what they did to Frank and Alice. Now Sirius was going to be kept with the monsters, he didn't deserve that, despite what was written in the law.

Dumbledore swept past them, decked in his Wizengamot finery, with one hand on the door to the court room he turned to them. "It will start soon." There was no twinkle in his blue eyes, they looked resigned and melancholy.

Finally, after what felt like centuries of waiting, Sirius was led past them, accompanied by two young members of the law enforcement department. He was drawn and defeated, his dark head was bowed so that he didn't have to look at any of those that had come to defend him.

James's hand tightened it's grasp around Lily's. How could this be happening? It was all backwards, Sirius was being convicted for attacking a Death Eater, the world had gone mad. He looked to Lily, who was equally as horrified, and they all filed into courtroom.

Sirius was sat in the dark wooden chair in the centre of the circular room. To his utter humiliation, the chains bound themselves around his wrists, what did they think he was going to do? They'd taken his wand away weeks ago.

Sirius collected himself and lifted his head up, as dejected and hopeless as he felt, he could not bear to let Lucius Malfoy see him cower, he would face all of this with his head held as high as he could. Above him, Lucius Malfoy's smile was so wide and complacent that any remorse Sirius may have felt about his actions quickly vanished, that evil bastard deserved it, he deserved a lot worse.

Sirius shifted his gaze to Narcissa and his stomach began to ache from her betrayal. She was not looking at him, but directly across from her eye line, at the stands where his friends sat opposite her. After all the meddling she had done in his life from behind the scenes, how could she stand back now? Sirius wanted to believe that it was down to Lucius, that it was blackmail or something more sinister, but his hope was not high, he was resigned that Narcissa had finally picked a side.

A group of Death Eater cronies surrounded the Malfoys, they all looked perfectly respectable in their expensive robes, even though it wasn't that long ago they were all scattered and hiding, petrified, trying to avoid the place where they now stood so smug. To complete the awful picture, Severus Snape was also present, he was stood next to Narcissa, he watched Sirius with the most curious expression. Sirius attributed this to Snape's delight, their schoolboy animosity was no less that it ever had been or would be.

The shuffling of papers, clearing of throats and scraping of seats made Sirius drag his eyes away from the plaintiffs and towards the Wizengamot.

"Sirius Orion Black," Fudge boomed, "You are here today accused of performing the scorching hex on Lucius Malfoy on the 17th June at 8.43 pm at the Malfoy residence. The Wizengamot will interview witnesses and those that can testify to your character before deciding on a sentence." Fudge looked at him severely. "Do you have anything you wish say before we begin?"

"No." Sirius said horsely. How had he gotten himself into this ridiculous situation?

Lucius Malfoy went first. Fudge questioned him kindly about the attack and the after-effects, which Lucius described in great detail and emphasis. Dumbledore and Madam Bones threw in a few questions about the circumstances and whether the attack was unprovoked.

"I'm afraid I don't know what you mean, Professor." Malfoy said the last word with such obvious contempt when he addressed Dumbledore.

"I mean, Lucius, what were you discussing immediately before the incident? I'm trying to ascertain the circumstances." Dumbledore replied politely, but he was looking at Malfoy very sombrely.

Lucius tinged a very subtle shade of pink. "Black had come into my house, uninvited, and accused me of brainwashing my wife. When I politely asked him to leave, he attacked me."

Amelia Bones listened intently. She doubted very much whether Lucius Malfoy had ever done anything politely. "Do you remember Mr Black's exact words?" She asked, staring at Malfoy through her monocle.

Lucius did everything he could to hold back a sneer, but the ghost of one was still visible. "No, they escape me."

"Very well." Fudge cut in, pushing his glasses up his nose. "Mr Malfoy's not on trial here, Amelia. Thank you for your testimony, Lucius."

"Minister," Malfoy dipped his head to Fudge as he returned to his seat.

Madam Bones looked back to her order of proceedings, she glanced sideways at Fudge who was humming very subtly under his breath, completely unconcerned by the events. "The Wizengamot call Mrs Narcissa Malfoy, witness to the attack on Mr Lucius Malfoy, her husband."

Narcissa stood up gracefully and walked down the stone steps and on to the witness platform, feet away from where Sirius was chained. She had an oddly blank expression that Sirius had never seen before. Narcissa was a guarded person by nature, Sirius had always been able to tell when she would be receptive to him and when she wouldn't, but now, her face wasn't open or shielded. With a lick of disgust, Sirius realised it reminded him of Emilia's face after the Dementors had finished with her, that horrible look of emptiness and that made it undeniable that she was gone. As he watched Narcissa closely, it seemed to Sirius as though she wasn't present, like a light had gone out in her eyes.

"Madam Malfoy," Mrs Bones addressed her, "in your own words, can you please tell us what happened on that evening?"

Narcissa began immediately. "Mr Black arrived at my home when Lucius wasn't home, I didn't want to let him in but he forced the door, and I was too intimidated to ask him to leave." It was a curious blend of half-truths and lies, Sirius doubted whether he ever had or could intimidate Narcissa. "He seemed disturbed," that much was true but he'd had good reason, "I thought I could talk him round until Lucius got home, Mr Black's my cousin and I thought I could appeal to him, but he was determined to see Lucius." Sirius was curious to see where Narcissa was going with this, it was like she was opening her mouth but Lucius was there speaking through her. "We've been estranged for a long time, and Mr Black suddenly decided that Lucius was the cause and that I'd been brainwashed by him. He was acting mad and was hardly making sense, he was very - fri - n- fright - n -frightening." Something odd had happened to Narcissa's face as she struggled with the last word, her eyes flashed suddenly and then dulled just as quickly when she finally said 'frightening'. "I was relieved when Lucius arrived, he tried to tell Black that he was being ridiculous and that he should leave. Lucius told me to leave the room so that I wasn't in danger, so I began to leave but just as I was on the other side of the door I heard commotion, and when I returned, Lucius was on the floor with burns all over him, while Black stood above."

"What did you do next?" Madam Bones asked.

Narcissa looked at her blankly.

"Madam Malfoy," Madam Bones repeated after a considerable pause. "What did you do when you discovered your husband under this hex?"

Narcissa continued looking blankly at the Wizengamot for another moment. "I don't remember. It was very distressing."

Madam Bones frowned and made some notes on her parchment, Fudge did not notice anything amiss.

"Madam Malfoy, when the Law Enforcement Squad, who were summoned by your husband, arrived on your premise, Mr Black was not there, but back in his own home. Is this correct?"

"Yes."

"Do you not think it odd that one moment Mr Black is casting a dangerous hex on your husband and the next he has left, with you quite unharmed, according to your statement?"

"No."

"Please elaborate."

Another blank stare from her grey eyes. "He was acting mad, he came to his senses after he attacked Lucius and left."

"I thought you didn't remember what had happened?"

Narcissa looked devoid of human presence again. Sirius tore his eyes away from her to look at Lucius who looked visibly agitated, and it seemed, worried. As Sirius looked back, he caught Dumbledore also staring curiously in Lucius's direction.

Narcissa was saved from answering by Fudge. "Madam Bones, this woman has clearly witnessed an inordinately stressful ordeal."

"Indeed." Amelia Bones replied cordially, but she remained unconvinced. "Very well Madam, if you have nothing further you would like to add, you may return to your seat."

Narcissa nodded and walked slowly back up the steps, her long dark robes trailed behind her, and she resumed her seat between Snape and Lucius. Lucius looked visibly relaxed.

"Dumbledore, I believe you would like to speak next on behalf of Mr Black." Madam Bones noted.

"Thank you, Amelia." Dumbledore stood up, sticking out against the mass of berry robes that made up the Wizengamot. "I, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, have known Sirius Black since he was eleven years old, he was a bright and talented pupil and later played a vital part in the demise of Lord Voldemort-" there were many hiccoughs and shudders rippling around the circular room - "at great personal risk. Sirius is a good man who has never shown outward signs of cruelty." Dumbledore's face remained quite serious but he gave Sirius an encouraging nod. "There is an event which the Wizengamot should take into their consideration of Mr Black. A week prior to this incident, Sirius's former fiancee, who he cared deeply for, was attacked by Dementors on the Hogwarts grounds, under the set of circumstances which you have all previously heard. His altered mental state following this tragedy should be considered at all times during this trial. Thank you." Dumbledore sat down, Sirius looked up at him but Dumbledore was looking at Narcissa and Lucius again, Sirius remembered that Dumbledore had seen Narcissa on the Hogwarts grounds that night, and that they'd spoken afterwards. He wondered what Dumbledore knew and whether Narcissa had confided in him.

"Thank you, Dumbledore, that will all be taken into consideration." Madam Bones nodded.

The next person to be questioned was Rufus Scrimgeour and no one knew what to expect, he was their wild card.

"He's a good investigator, catches a lot of criminals, the department's better for him." Scrimgeour said gruffly in his usual blunt manner, much to James and Sirius's shock.

"I know from my own experience Rufus, that Black has trouble taking orders and has a hot temper. Would you say this was true?" Fudge asked him, clearly impatient with Scrimgeour's positive review.

Scrimgeour thought for a moment, his bushy face furrowing, before agreeing.

"Don't you think that Black's authority as an Auror has been undermined by his involvement in this incident?" Fudge pressed on.

"That's rather leading Cornelius," Dumbledore commented mildly and so quietly that only those closest to him on the Wizengamot could hear.

Fudge blushed an unpleasant puce colour. "What I meant to say was, what impact do you think this incident will have on his authority as an Auror?"

"The issue of his authority, and his reputation come to that, has more to do with a leak to the Prophet, Minister, and a leak that has spilled exaggerated truths and otherwise blatant lies. The Auror department stand by Black, and so do I. I don't know what he does in his personal life but he's damn good at his job. He's helped re-home a lot of dangerous people to Azkaban, it's my personal opinion that he doesn't deserve to join them."

"Thank you, Mr Scrimgeour." Amelia Bones cut in before Fudge could try another approach.

Scrimgeour gave Sirius an encouraging nod as he left, at least Sirius took it to be encouraging.

Andromeda was next to be questioned, they grilled her about her relationship with her cousin and their family history. Andromeda could only plead that there had always been animosity between Sirius and Lucius and that she was certain that the attack couldn't have been unprovoked. Madam Bones treated her very kindly but Fudge, and a good few others, didn't take her testimony very seriously. Sirius gave her a small smile as she sat down, but all she could do was look on him in horror.

After Andromeda was Mary, "No we don't live together in that capacity, we're old school friends and his affection for Emilia was very real despite the circumstances."

Then Lily, "He's always been a loving and generous Godfather to my son Harry, he's helped protect him in spite of danger," she dared a glance at Fudge this time and for once a testimony in Sirius's defence was getting through to him, his fleshy face softened as Lily spoke as a mother. "Sirius is a very integral part of our family, his role in this incident can only have been in reaction to something." Malfoy glared at her but Lily held his gaze, keeping her head high.

Finally, it was James's turn. He froze in his seat for a moment, feeling his palms sweat and his stomach churn.

"James," Lily gave him a little nudge, she took in his face and how terrified he looked that Sirius's fate hinged on his words.

James stood up, his legs felt like jelly, and strode to the witness platform. He looked to his left and caught Sirius's eye, they understood each other perfectly without saying anything, James would try and Sirius would be grateful, regardless of the outcome.

"James Potter," Fudge began, "works in the Auror office along with Mr Black. He would like to speak on Mr Black's behalf."

"Mr Potter, how long have you and Mr Black been friends?" Madam Bones asked.

"Twenty-three years." James replied promptly. "We met on the Hogwarts express."

"How would you describe your relationship?"

"He's my best friend." James shot him a sideways glance. "He moved in with my family when we were sixteen and since then he's been my brother."

"So you're very close," Fudge deduced and James nodded. "So close that your relationship may blind you to his less desirable qualities."

"No." James shook his head. "We're so close that I know exactly what his worst faults are, and being dangerous definitely isn't one of them."

"Would you say a temper is a fault of Mr Black's?" Fudge continued.

That was a difficult question for James, quite honestly being hot headed was one of Sirius's worst qualities but not in the sense Fudge was suggesting. "We all have a temper in the Auror office, it's necessary sometimes to get the job done."

"You didn't answer the question Mr Potter."

"I'm trying to establish that a temper isn't a fault in all situations. Yes sometimes Sirius has a temper, but that shouldn't condemn him, we've been through a lot of intense training since the academy, we learnt to control our tempers a long time ago, and if Sirius lost his temper with Malfoy, there was no way it was unprovoked." James spat the last part of his sentence. He was moving dangerously near to the topic that he must not bring up, he must not call Malfoy a Death Eater, it would be as good as locking Sirius up in Azkaban himself.

"What would have provoked such a reaction out of Mr Black, then, if it was not spontaneous?" Madam Bones asked.

"Without being present I couldn't say for certain, but taunts about Emilia would be my guess." James glanced at Sirius and the corner of his mouth lifted, confirming James's theory.

Madam Bones nodded and wrote something down before looking back to James. "How would you describe Mr Black after Emilia's attack?"

"He was devastated." James replied.

"Do you think his mental state would have been impaired?" Fudge asked.

"I think it was definitely affected."

Fudge sighed and scribbled on his parchment. "Very well, Mr Potter, you may go."

James did so gladly, he was relieved he hadn't made anything worse at the very least.

"Hem, hem." A high pitched voice was heard from beside Fudge.

"Do you have something to say Dolores?" Fudge asked graciously.

"It's just a tiny, little, detail." Umbridge simpered, she was wearing that absurd pink cardigan she sometimes swanned around the ministry in. It clashed horribly the Wizengamot robes. "I would like to ask Severus Snape to speak about Sirius Black's attempt to murder him as school boys."

"Dolores," Dumbledore stood up immediately, from below where Sirius was bound Dumbledore looked so tall and impressive that everyone else shrunk a little. "It was schoolboy idiocy, and certainly not attempted murder, I've already addressed this issue and we agreed that it was not pertinent to hold a thirty-four year old man's sixteen year old self against him."

"I agree with Dumbledore," Madam Bones said solemnly. "It is not relevant to the matter at hand."

Umbridge sat down without saying another word, her toad like face was glowering at Dumbledore.

Dumbledore and Snape shared the briefest of glances. Snape's face was set in to an ugly expression, it may not have been relevant to the case but he hadn't forgotten.

"In that case, that just leaves Mr Black," Fudge declared. "Do you have anything that you would like to say?"

Sirius thought about this very carefully, "I'd gone to their house to discuss something with my cousin, Mr Malfoy interrupted us and said something very disturbing about- about Emilia - while I was grieving." Sirius struggled through. "I was not in my right mind at the time of the incident, and I regretted it very much afterwards."

It killed Sirius to defend himself, to acknowledge his wrong-doing and apologise to Malfoy, but he wasn't stupid, it was his best chance and more important than his pride. Sirius ignored Lucius to look at Narcissa and found her vacant. Maybe something more untoward really had occurred.

"Very well." Fudge said, his voice clipped and unaffected. "The Wizengamot will retire for one hour and return with your sentence."

This was it. Sirius looked up to James and Andromeda, the hopelessness of his situation was written all over their faces.

Thank all of you so much for your lovely reviews! I've had so much fun writing this and I'm so grateful and delighted that you're enjoying it!

As you might have noticed I've been adding more memories into the story as I go on, sooo excuse my shameless self promotion but I've written a whole separate one-shot story about an event in James, Lily and co's sixth year at Hogwarts. Please have a peek! And thank you for reading.

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