Chapter 133

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I don't own anything you'd recognize.

"Does the defense have any opening remarks?" Judge Toller asked.

"Yes your honor," Hermione answered as she stood.

Judge Toller nodded. Hermione strolled to the center of the courtroom and began in a loud, confident voice. "Your Honor, Opposing Council, May it please the court?"

Both Conway and the judge nodded. "Severus Snape is the perfect suspect for this case. He allegedly had motive, he allegedly had the means and he allegedly had the opportunity. He also has an unsavory past. In fact, he was such a perfect suspect the People did not feel a need to investigate anyone else. No, they found their perfect suspect in Mr. Severus Snape.

Yet, most things in life aren't perfect, are they? There are always loose ends, things which require further explanation. There are always a few lingering questions. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I can assure you that there are far more than a few lingering questions in this case. I'll even go further! There are far more than a few serious questions the prosecution needs to answer.

Was Severus Snape upset when he found out about Rita Skeeter's project? Yes. Did she ask Mr. Snape completely inappropriate questions and threaten his sense of privacy? Of course she did! Did they fight? Yes! No one is denying those things! But was Mr. Snape angry enough to risk his freedom in order to silence her? No!"

Hermione moved closer to the jurors. Her voice was calm and controlled, yet passion inflamed her eyes. "Mr. Conway mentioned a few moments ago that my client was a former Death Eater. That statement was not entirely accurate; for most of his time spent with them he was pretending to be a Death Eater in order to infiltrate and spy on them. That's how he was able to save the Wizarding World. While he was with them, he learned everything about them from their ideology to their murder methods. Now I've lived among Death Eaters. I fought against them. I've heard about how they kill. Let me explain something about them: Death Eaters do not leave evidence! Let me repeat: There. Is. No. Evidence. No fingerprints, no magical signature, and definitely no body!

Ladies and gentlemen, think about this: why would Severus Snape take Rita's book and leave Rita's body? Certainly removing a body would be a higher priority for a so-called experienced killer.

Also, why is there a fingerprint? Can you really imagine Mr. Snape, former Death Eater spy, forgetting to wear gloves to a murder scene? If he did, then I'm less interested in how he murdered Rita Skeeter and more interested in how he managed to remain undercover so long without being detected!"

She paused as a few jurors nodded in contemplation. She continued, "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Snape did want to suppress Rita's biography; that's why he wrote Lucius Malfoy to ask if there was a way to prevent its publication. Someone who was ready to commit murder wouldn't incriminate himself by seeking ways to stop publication; he'd spend his time quietly planning the murder. You'll hear from Lucius Malfoy, and he will tell you about this letter as well as the character of Mr. Severus Snape.

You'll also hear from Tatiana Stravinsky and her boss, Mr. Ratsburg, a local hotel owner. Tatiana will discuss the state of Rita Skeeter's room before the murder, and Mr. Ratsburg will explain how difficult it would have been to get past his security.

Now," Hermione continued, "The defense has launched a separate investigation. We have found another viable suspect, a suspect we believe killed Rita Skeeter. His name is Ares Philips. His motive was just as, if not more, powerful than Mr. Snape's motive to kill. You see, Ares Philips wanted to write a book on Severus Snape. Rita Skeeter crushed that idea though. She stole his plans and wrote hers before Ares could even finish his interviews. When he found out, he was livid! He was enraged! He was so enraged that he began to have thoughts, murderous thoughts, thoughts which involved the death of his once best friend, Rita Skeeter!

Who will testify to this? Well, we have not one, not two, but three witnesses who will testify to this motive! Three witnesses will discuss Ares' rage, and one will even tell you the conspiracy they had to murder Rita Skeeter!"

Hermione paused as the jurors looked at her with stunned expressions. "Ladies and gentlemen," she began before pointing to Severus. "That man over there is Severus Snape. Yes, he can be cranky, and yes he can be snarky, and yes, he has made some bad decisions in his life. Still, Mr. Snape has a great capacity to care, as he has demonstrated with his godson's children. He also took on the responsibility of spying on the Death Eaters at great peril to himself. These facts are not to be ignored! These facts are not to be tossed aside in favor of a haphazard explanation! These facts deserve to be kept in mind!

Throughout this trial you will have doubts. You may even have doubts now. Listen to them! Don't ignore them! Remember that the prosecution must prove Mr. Snape's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Hold the prosecution accountable for answering your doubt. If you are not satisfied with their explanation, then consider if you can really find the man who saved the Wizarding World guilty of murder against your reasonable judgment.

Thank you."

Hermione sat down with a satisfied smile. Judge Toller smiled and asked, "Would the prosecution like to call its first witness?"

"Yes your Honor," Conway answered as he stood up. "The prosecution calls Miss Luna Lovegood to the stand!"