A/N: See, I told you I was still working on these. Birth Bond is up next, but might be a week or so before it gets posted. Sorry. Family activities take presidence. But anyway, enjoy. As always, thanks for the R/Rs.
Chapter 12: A Sirius Trial (Interlude II)
With nothing to do for the final three days of term, Harry and Ginny took advantage of the warm weather sitting in their spot by the lake. They were alone part of the time, just enjoying each other's company, the other times they were joined by their friends and family, Neville coming by quite often with Luna. Harry had pulled Neville aside after the first day, encouraging him to ask Luna out. The next morning at breakfast, even though he stammered a bit, Neville did just that. Harry and Ginny smiled as Luna joined them at the Gryffindor table holding Neville's hand.
On the other side of the spectrum were Ron and Hermione. No matter what any of them said to them, or did, they would not stop bickering. It was starting to grate on Harry's nerves as one particular bicker session started right after they came down for breakfast the last day before going home and had continued throughout the day. All over a stupid comment from Ron about not studying for the rest of the term since they didn't have classes. Hermione wanted to get a jump on her summer homework, so had asked if anyone wanted to go to the library after breakfast. On and on they went, round and round they bickered. It was enough to drive someone mad.
The twins stopped by to see Harry and Ginny as they reclined in the sun a few times. Ginny caught Fred looking a bit sad, and a bit miffed, a few times. Harry caught George looking a little guilty. Neither of them looking at the other, or speaking in their trademarked way. Both wondered what had happened. It was almost as bad as dealing with Ron and Hermione bickering constantly. As much as his best friends fought, seeing the twins this way worried both Harry and Ginny much more.
It wasn't until they were on the train home for two hours, that the twins showed up in the compartment they were sharing with Neville and Luna, as Ron and Hermione were doing their Prefect duties, that things came to a head. Fred sat next to Neville and Luna, George by Harry and Ginny. They didn't speak, just gave each other a cold stare. That was odd and out of character for them, and Ginny had had enough.
"Alright!" Ginny growled loudly. "What the bloody hell is up with you two?"
"Angelina dumped Fred after NEWTs," George admitted quietly looking ashamed. Ginny looked at him confused.
"To go out with George," Fred growled as he stared at his twin with a glare.
"Oh, Merlin," sighed Ginny. Harry groaned; it was worse than he had thought.
"Fred," Luna sat up, suddenly, tilting her head, staring into his eyes after he turned to her. "You weren't meant to be together. She is not your one."
"You…" Fred blinked, as he couldn't put in words what was racing through his mind.
"You do how know how creepy that look is, right?" George asked. Luna turned to him. Harry caught sight of Luna's eyes. They were glowing slightly. Harry looked at Ginny to ask what was happening, but she shook her head, placing a finger to her lips.
"You were meant for Angelina," Luna stated before turning to Harry and Ginny. "Your glow of love is almost blinding." Luna blinked finally, the glow subsiding before leaning back on Neville with a tired sigh. Fred and George looked from her to each other several times before nodding at each other.
"Treat her right, dear brother," Fred smiled lightly.
"I promise, brother mine!" George nodded. "We done fighting?" he added sheepishly.
"Yup," Fred grinned more like usual. "My time to move on."
"Thanks, Luna," they turned to her.
"No worries, big brothers," Luna winked as she snuggled closer to Neville looking tired.
"What was that?" Harry whispered to Ginny.
"Luna can see the aura of people, usually those that are meant to be together," Ginny answered quietly.
"Wonder what she'd see if she did that to Ron and Hermione?" Harry whispered to Ginny.
Ginny turned giving him a strange look. She opened her mouth to reply, but closed it again, looking thoughtful.
"That's actually a really good question," Ginny nodded finally. She turned to Luna. "Can you control that look you do, Luna?"
"Sometimes," Luna answered with a shrug. "Most times it just comes on like an eye itch."
"Would try and use it on Ron and Hermione?" asked Harry. "We're all sick and tired of the bickering. Maybe it would help them see past their differences."
"I'll try," promised Luna with a giggle.
Neville whispered in her ear, and she turned to have her conversation with him in hushed voices. Harry shrugged letting them be. He nuzzled Ginny's hair, inhaling her scent. Ginny giggled. Harry looked up with a goofy smile on his face. The twins rolled their eyes, before waving as they left.
An hour later, Ron and Hermione finally joined them, bickering as usual. Harry rolled his eyes at Ginny when they heard them coming down the corridor. Ginny giggled, but nodded at his annoyance. They heard Neville and Luna both sigh before the door to their compartment opened.
"You didn't have to scare the poor first year!" Hermione grumped as she sat down by Harry and Ginny.
"Oh, come on, Hermione! The little twerp deserved it," Ron shot back. "He threw a water charm at me!"
"That doesn't…" Hermione started.
"Enough!" Harry shouted. Both Ron and Hermione looked at him half shocked, half incredulous. "If you two don't stop, we are all going to go mad. I already have a nutter after me. I don't need you two to make me one as well!"
Ginny looked over at Luna, flicking her eyes to Ron and Hermione. Luna blinked a few times, her blue eyes taking on the slight glow again. She looked at Ron, then Hermione.
"I…you…" Luna blinked back tears as she turned, burying her head in Neville's shoulder.
"Luna?" Neville asked gently as the rest were stunned into silence. "What did you see?"
"They…" Luna gulped. "They have a love for each other, but…" she trailed off shaking her head.
Ginny moved over to her, pushing a stunned looking Ron down the bench, taking Luna's hand. "Luna, if you know something, they need to know. Just like you did for Fred and George."
"They wouldn't last if they got together…they would…" Luna couldn't finish. Hermione was staring at Luna. Ron was looking confused.
"Would what?" Ginny asked carefully as she held Luna's hand a little tighter.
"It would end their friendship, and…and…the one…for them would…not survive the…war…and…and neither…would…one of them," Luna finally managed. Ron and Hermione paled. Harry gulped. Both Luna and Ginny had tears in their eyes.
"You're sure?" Ginny gulped. Luna nodded. Ginny turned a pleading look at Hermione, trying to let her know how serious this was.
"Hermione, you know your one, you just haven't seen it yet…but then he hasn't either," Luna grinned.
"Luna, that doesn't make…" Hermione started, but stopped. Harry could almost see the wheels of her mind spinning as she thought about it. She gave a grim smile and nod to Luna, before she turned to the boy she had liked for so long. "Ron, we are friends, if what Luna says is true, we need to move on."
"She usually is," Ron admitted with a gulp. "She's been doing that to us for years. Only once was she wrong. But then, Charlie was always hard for her to read."
"Well, then," Hermione took a breath. "Friends we stay."
"Friends only," Ron nodded sadly. "I…uh…I need to use the loo," he told them as he stood and left.
Ron was still not back twenty minutes later. Ginny looked at Harry as she felt his concern rising. She nodded to him, but glanced at Neville. Harry nodded in understanding after a quick glance at the sad look on Hermione's face.
"Nev," Harry called quietly, flicking his eyes at the door. Neville nodded before pressing a kiss on Luna's cheek. Harry kissed Ginny lightly before standing. On the way out, Harry placed a comforting hand on Hermione's shoulder.
Harry and Neville found Ron sitting in the corridor by the very last door to the train. They sat down on either side of him, knowing he was trying to digest what Luna had told him and Hermione. Harry looked at his friend out the corner of his eye, seeing tear tracks on his cheeks.
"Better to know now, before it's too late," Neville told him sagely.
"Doesn't lessen the hurt I feel," Ron countered.
"No," Harry agreed. "But think for a minute, Ron, what if the one meant for Hermione is one of your brothers. How would your mum and dad deal with losing a son? Or you with losing a brother?"
"What if it was one of the twins?" Neville asked, thinking the same thing as Harry. "How would they deal with that?"
Ron sat in silence for minute considering their words. He dropped his head to look at the floor in front of him. Harry slung his arm around his shoulder, followed a second later by Neville's.
"We're here to help you, brother, when you're ready," Harry commented.
"Anytime, brother," Neville agreed.
Ron looked from Harry to Neville, seeing they were serious about this. "And if we can't help, I'm sure one of your other brothers or even Sirius or Remus would be happy to listen," Neville added.
"Or Gin or even your dad," Harry nodded. "Think about this, Ron: You can save a life or two just by a little heartache now, to avoid a lifetime of grief over a lost loved one."
Ron stared at Harry. If anyone knew what a lifetime of loss felt like, it was Harry. He considered his situation more logically and strategically. Ron put his life on a chess board, something he could understand. Mentally he ran the game as if the pieces were his family and friends, with the pawns being his emotions. As different choices played out, he realized how right Harry and Neville were. Sacrificing a pawn to take the king was better than having to sacrifice a queen or knight. The world suddenly became much clearer to Ron as he thought of it in chess terms, something Hermione had suggest he do a long time ago. Finally, Ron nodded.
"You're right," Ron took a deep breath. "Thanks…brothers."
"Knew you'd get there," Harry smiled. He stood, helping the other two up, before heading back to the compartment.
The next morning Sirius and Marlene led Harry and Ginny into Gringotts for the official reading of the Potters' will. Harry was barely keeping his emotions in check. If not for Ginny's presence, Harry knew he would have been a wreck. As it was, Sirius and Remus, who had met them at the bank, were in the same state. Tonks and Marlene both gave Ginny a knowing look as they tried to keep their men from completely breaking down. Arthur and Molly were the last to arrive. Harry wondered why they had been called to attend.
As they sat around the large conference table, three Goblins entered from a side door. Harry recognized one of them as Griphook, the Goblin who had first took Harry to his trust vault. The other two looked slightly older. The tallest of the three was clearly the one in charge of the proceedings as he sat at the head of the table flanked by Griphook and the other Goblin.
"Good morning, gentle beings," the lead Goblin's gravelly voice sounded gentile. "I am Director Morgog. To my right, our Inheritance manager, Grogel. To my left, Griphook, account manager for the Potter Estate. I see all parties are present. Grogel?"
"Director," Grogel nodded as he stepped forward, placing a thin folder on the table. "Shall we begin?" he asked as he pulled a parchment out of the folder and began to read.
In the event of our deaths, this document shall be our last will and testament.
I, James Potter, and I, Lily Potter nee Evans, do hereby set these things as our bequeaths to our friends, family, and acquaintances.
I. To our son, Harry James Potter, we leave you everything, except for the things in the following bequeaths.
a. We love you, son, and we will always be proud of you. Being a Potter, there is a redheaded witch out there waiting for you. Be happy and find the love of your life as I did with your mother. Dad
b. No matter what happens to us, Harry, remember to live. Remember to laugh. And above all, remember to love. You will find your redhead when the time is right. We love you. Mum
II. To Sirius Orion Black, we leave full custody of our son, his godson Harry James Potter.
a. Padfoot, I need not say it, brother, but I will; we love you. Look after Harry and Moony for us. Prongs
b. Sirius, you will do as we ask of you, or Merlin help me, I will come back and haunt you for the rest of your mangy existence! Lily
III. To Remus John Lupin, we leave you Vault 892. Therein will be found: Selected books from the Potter Library and a sum of one million Galleons.
a. Moony, pull your head together, and find the right witch! We love you. Prongs
b. Remus, put the Galleons to use, buy some new clothes, find a good witch, and live. We talked about this before, the right one won't care, if anything, she will love you more and want to help you like we have over the years. Lily
IV. To Marlene Black nee McKinnon, we ask you to look after our boys, yes, that includes Sirius and Remus, not just Harry. We know Sirius does not need the Galleons so we leave you the one million Galleons in Vault 893 to help you with looking after the three of them.
a. Marlene, please, make sure Moony does as we ask. James
b. Marley, please be the mother I cannot be to Harry. And I'm sorry, but the witch in charge of the other two immature gits, too. Lily
V. To Arthur and Molly Weasley, we leave you the contents of Vault 894. Therein you will find a letter to you explaining why and four million Galleons.
I. To the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, we leave for public record the name of our Secret Keeper, Peter Pettigrew. If we met an untimely end, he is the reason.
II. UNDER NO CIRCEMSTANCES, is Harry James Potter, our son, to be placed in the care of Petunia and Vernon Dursley!
"This concludes the reading of the will," Grogel stated.
Ginny held Harry close as he wept on her shoulder while Molly rubbed his back. Arthur looked on thoughtfully, but remained silent. Tonks had pulled Remus to face her as she stroked his cheek wiping away tears. Marlene wiped her own tears as she held a sobbing Sirius. She knew from the words of Lily's note to him that he was feeling a fresh wave of guilt for the things that had happened all those years ago.
"Lady Black, your key," Griphook stated, handing Marlene her new vault key.
"Thank you," she swallowed thickly.
"Mr. Lupin, your key."
"Thank you," Remus choked out, turning back to Tonks after taking it.
"Mr. Weasley, your key," Griphook handed Arthur the key with a nod.
"Thank you. May I get an escort down to the vault?" Arthur asked.
"Of course. This way, please," Griphook nodded.
Arthur stood, placing a hand on Molly's shoulder. She nodded at her husband as they exchanged a sad smile. Molly turned her attention back the young man her daughter was so in love with. She was curious as to why his parents had left them anything, much less so much. Molly knew her questions would be answered as soon as Arthur returned. She shook her head slightly, clearing the thoughts from her head. She pulled a handkerchief from her pocket, handing it Ginny. Her daughter smiled in thanks, turning to dry Harry's face as he heaved a shuttering breath.
"Better, love?" Ginny asked him quietly as she placed a gentle hand on his cheek. Harry merely nodded. She could feel his fear of his voice failing him.
Sirius and Marlene rounded the table, pulling them both into a tight hug. Molly whimpered as she stood, crushing all four of them in her arms. Harry gave a watery laugh as Sirius grunted with the brunt of the hug. Ginny looked at him with a giggle and knowing look. Marlene snorted slightly as Molly let go, causing Sirius to exhale in relief. They watched as Molly rounded the table, hugging both Remus and Tonks the same way. Sirius chuckled at the look of surprise on the werewolf's face.
"Wise woman, that Lily Potter," Molly nodded at Remus with a slight look at Tonks. "She knew exactly what she was talking about."
"She usually did," Remus allowed.
"You remember her words to you, Remus," Molly patted his cheek. "Don't let this slip away."
"I won't, Molly," Remus nodded. Molly gave him a smile and quick nod.
"Don't let him forget it either," Molly told Tonks.
"Trust me, I'm not letting out of my sight for a long time," Tonks smiled.
Arthur returned a few minutes later. He looked as if he had dried tears on his face. Molly joined him by the door, taking the letter from his shaking hand. As Molly read the letter, Arthur motioned Harry and Ginny over. He pulled them both into a hug, swallowing hard.
"They knew the Prophecy," he sniffed. "And they asked us to help you and Sirius any way we can. You have my word, we will."
"Thank you, Mr. Weasley," Harry swallowed.
"None of that anymore," Arthur smiled. "You are engaged to my daughter and it's high time you start calling us Arthur and Molly. We've known you for years and I think we can drop the formalities now because either way, we are family."
"Alright, Mr.…Arthur," Harry acquiesced. Ginny smiled at him before kissing his cheek.
Sirius stood in the middle of the courtroom waiting for the trial to begin as the Wizengamot filed into the raised seats in front of him. Rufus Scrimgeour, the new Head of the DMLE was the first of the tribunal of judges to preside over the case to enter. Sirius glared slightly as Dumbledore followed. He was still not all that happy with the old man. Last came the new Minister of Magic Amelia Bones. Sirius knew with her in charge he would get a fair trial from this.
"This session of the Wizengamot will come to order," Bones banged her iron sphere on the bench. "We are here for the trial of Sirius Orion Black. Mr. Black, you stand accused of thirteen murders, one wizard, twelve Muggles, and accessory to the murders of James and Lily Potter. On 1 November 1981, in the early morning hours, you were seen in the presence of said wizard and Muggles just before and after their deaths. Witness statements say, Peter Pettigrew named you as the Potters' Secret Keeper. Is this true?"
"Yes and no, Minister," Sirius stated. The courtroom erupted in loud shouts.
"Explain," Bones nodded after banging her sphere loudly to restore order. She had to bang it a few more times before it was silent again. She nodded at Sirius to continue.
"As to the 'yes', Pettigrew did yell that to the crowd that had gathered around us," Sirius paused as the murmurs began again. A swift bang from Bones ended them. "But, no, I was not the Potters' Secret Keeper!"
The crowd erupted in gasps and shouts. The voices growing louder into a chaotic flurry of sounds. Bones banged her sphere repeatedly to restore order. It took a full three minutes before the crowd settled down again.
"Do you have evidence to support that statement, Mr. Black?" Bones finally asked.
"I do, Minister," Sirius smirked a little at the look on Dumbledore's pale face. "First, I am willing to testify to this under Veteriserum. Secondly, I have here a copy of the Will of James and Lily Potter. Thirdly, I have a…key witness that can and will prove everything without a shadow of a doubt."
"Please present this Will you speak of," ordered Bones.
Sirius nodded as he stepped forward. He handed the scroll to Bones, returning to his place in the middle of the courtroom with a smug glance at a few of the council members. Bones read through the Will with wide eyes.
"That is a certified copy of the original from the Director of Gringotts himself," Sirius stated. "I must say that alone could have cleared my name a long time ago, however, some among you didn't want that." Sirius sent a warning glare to Dumbledore to dare him to argue.
"And your witness, Mr. Black?" Bones asked looking up from the parchment.
Sirius answered by turning to the door at the side of the stands. Remus and Tonks drug an unconscious Pettigrew to the chair Sirius was standing beside. Gasps and shouts exploded as the crowd recognized Pettigrew.
"Mr. Black, I believe will start with your witness," blinked a surprised Bones. "Auror Shacklebolt, revive and dose this man with Veteriserum."
Kingsley nodded and followed his orders. Pettigrew awoke looking around confused. Fear filled his eyes as he was forced to take a potion.
"I object!" Yaxley shouted. "How do we know this is even the real Peter Pettigrew?"
"Overruled!" Bones glared at him. "He has just been given Veteriserum. We will know soon enough. My question, Mr. Yaxley, is why are you so concerned?"
Yaxley sat down slowly without another word. Bones nodded to one of the Aurors to take note of the outburst for investigation. Pettigrew's head slumped forward, signaling the potion had taken effect.
"State your name," ordered Bones.
"Were you the Potters' Secret Keeper?" Scrimgeour called.
"Yes," Pettigrew slurred.
"Did you tell You-Know-Who where to find the Potters?" Bones asked in a disgusted tone.
"Are you a Death Eater?" Dumbledore asked.
"Were you present for his return?" Dumbledore asked hurriedly before Bones could ask anything else.
"Yes. I sacrifice my own hand to bring my Lord back," Pettigrew stated.
"Did you kill those Muggles and frame Sirius Black?" Bones ground out.
"I've heard enough," Bones growled. "Administer the antidote. Aurors take the witness into custody. A vote is needed. All in favor of clearing Mr. Black, raise your right hand."
All but six raised their hands. Bones took note of who they were, including Yaxley.
"Vote carries. Mr. Sirius Black, you are hereby pardoned of all crimes you were accused of. The Wizengamot will meet in private to discuss reparations to be paid to you for your wrongful imprisonment. Chief Warlock, I would like to see you in my office after this. We have much to discuss. This session is now adjourned."
With one more bang from the sphere, Minister Bones stood with a glare to Dumbledore.
Harry and Marlene were the first to reach Sirius, followed closely by Remus. The Weasleys all joined in the group hug in celebration.