Elusion

Chapter 62

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Summary: Madness is not a state of mind. Madness is a place. What happens when Harry stumbles into it and gets trapped there? A Harry Potter version of Alice in Wonderland but a thousand shades darker.

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The corridor burst to life and the hushed whispers turned into full blown shouts of excitement as the reporters rushed towards him. His gaze scanned the line of prisoners…yup that was exactly what they were as they were dressed in the grey and white striped Azkaban uniform, outside the courtroom. Harry forced his hands into the pockets of his jeans and put up his most nonchalant expression. Rabastan had mentioned that Voldemort had apprehended some of the important order members and most of them had been his so-called friends. He had forgotten that bit of information over everything that had happening for the past two weeks and Voldemort hadn't brought it up either.

Judging by the way he was being swarmed by reporters, Harry figured that this hearing was a big deal and that made him a bit anxious. Harry couldn't discredit Voldemort in front of all these reporters and he would have to be on his most professional behaviour. Harry smiled leisurely and started walking while a thousand questions were thrown his way. He was aware of Bella's gleeful cackles. Was she expecting him to have an emotional breakdown at the sight of his long-lost friends? They weren't his friends…Not anymore and even though Harry cared about some of them, he didn't feel much more than that at the moment. As he was passing the line of prisoners, he felt the weight of several gazes upon him. Did they still expect him to save them? Bella's juvenile insults towards the prisoners made Harry halt in his steps and he spoke loud enough so that everyone could hear him but not so loud that it would be classified as shouting,

"Shut up, Bella."

Bella quietened almost immediately and even though he could feel her glare burning a hole at the back of his head, he didn't care. He spotted Rabastan waiting at the entrance of the courtroom with a look of disapproval on his face. Harry shrugged casually and pointed at Bella and the death eater still trailing after him with the tray in his hand. Rabastan's expression softened and a faint smile graced his features before disappearing. Rabastan led him inside the courtroom and up to the highest bench. The Wizengamot was all present and Harry felt several judgemental glares being shot his way. He was good at ignoring them and followed Rabastan to the front where three chairs were placed. Normally the middle one was occupied by Voldemort and the right one was occupied by him but Harry figured that since Voldemort wasn't here to preside over the hearing, that middle chair was his. He plopped down on it and signalled the death eater to place the tray in front of him on the table. Rabastan occupied the seat to his left and Bella was about to sit down on the seat to his right when Harry spoke,

"Nope. You're not sitting there."

Bella looked like she was going to throttle him. Harry turned to the death eater who had been carrying the tray and spoke softly,

"Come and take a seat."

The man hesitated and his gaze lifted towards Bella. Harry laughed softly,

"Don't worry, her bark is worse than her bite."

Bella was about to lunge at Harry when Rabastan jumped to his feet,

"Bella, don't do anything that you'll have to regret later."

Rabastan nudged the death eater towards the chair,

"Go on, sit."

The death eater sat down hesitantly. Harry patted him on the shoulder and turned back to Bella,

"Do you know why I didn't let you sit?"

Bella was gritting her teeth so Harry continued talking,

"First off, that's my chair. Voldemort gave me his, so I can give mine to anyone I want. Secondly, you came here to make sure that I finished my meal, by your own discretion. I distinctly recall that I didn't invite you. So, you can stand there and watch me finish my meal and then you can leave."

Harry picked by a sandwich from the plate and turned to Rabastan,

"Can we get started now?"

Rabastan nodded and ordered a nearby death eater to have the prisoners brought in. Harry finished his sandwich in two bites and took a large gulp from his glass of pumpkin juice. The cool, sweetness helped the constant bitter taste in Harry's mouth. Harry picked up another sandwich and watched as the prisoners were seated on the lower benches. The golden chair in the center of the room remained unoccupied. Harry took a bite from his sandwich and after swallowing it asked Rabastan,

"So, how is this supposed to work? Are they all supposed to have a separate hearing or are they all going to be judged at once."

Rabastan bowed his head,

"The Dark Lord has left everything up to you."

Harry snorted,

"This is a recipe for disaster."

Harry heard a soft, barely audible chuckle leave Rabastan's lips as he pushed a thick file towards him. Harry opened it and began flipping through the pages. It had details on each and every prisoner. Harry flipped to the end and found what he was looking for…the charges. It wasn't anything Harry hadn't expected, Treason, Conspiracy against the government etcetera etcetera. Someone from the Wizengamot spoke,

"My Lord, shall we begin the hearing?"

Harry didn't miss the hint of annoyance in the tone and looked up from the file. He knew the entire Wizengamot shared the sentiment and he took another bite of his sandwich just to spite them further. After swallowing and finishing the rest of his pumpkin juice, he downed his potions and pushed the tray away,

"Get out, Bella. Your job here is done."

Bella stormed out of the courtroom and Harry leaned back in his seat,

"We can start now."

Harry signalled the death eater to refill his glass and cast a glance around. The arrangement wasn't very different from the day he'd had his hearing here more than a month ago. But the tables had turned. They had there to support him that day…today they had no one to support them. He knew the protocol but he was going to damned if he followed it today. He didn't need a written list to announce their names,

"Arthur Weasley, Molly Weasley, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Nymphadora Tonks, Mundungus Fletcher, Fred Weasley, George Weasley, Ron Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan, Cho Chang and Hannah Abbott."

Harry paused and covered his mouth with his hand as he coughed. Rabastan pushed the now refilled glass of Pumpkin juice towards him and Harry took a sip,

"The main charge against you is treason against the government. I believe there is no need for introductions since you all know me so well but even then, I'll give you a brief overview of who you're dealing with. The interrogators for the day comprise of myself, Harry Potter, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic and Rabastan Lestrange, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement."

He leaned back in his seat and surveyed the crowd in front of him. They looked hopeful and that irked Harry,

"If I had this my way, this trial would have taken place before you were carted off to Azkaban but as you may have heard, I was absent when you were taken under custody. Nevertheless, it's taking place now and justice will be done."

He flipped back to the start of the file and spoke,

"I might not be following the usual protocol but there's supposed to be a witness for the defence."

Kingsley Shacklebolt spoke in his deep voice that resonated throughout the courtroom,

"We were not given the opportunity to have one."

Harry pulled out the heavy leather-bound tome from underneath the table that contained all the rules and regulations of the Wizengamot and checked the index for rules regarding the witness for the defence. He flipped through the book, found the correct section and a quick scan told him everything he needed to know,

"Do you want a witness?"

It was Mr. Weasley that spoke,

"Yes. We do."

Harry spoke,

"The rules suggest that in the absence of a witness, whomever is presiding over the hearing may or may not appoint one. Since that's me, I'm going to go with may not because a witness is not necessary. There is no case to be argued here and I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty of things."

Several protests from the Wizengamot made Harry smirk and Harry heard Rabastan whisper,

"Harry, you can't just spare them all."

Harry picked up the rule book and dropped it heavily on the table. The loud thud that reverberated through the courtroom was enough to silence everyone. He addressed the Wizengamot,

"I believe there are more civilized and coherent means to voice your opinion. The last time I checked, shouting wasn't one of them."

Harry didn't miss the joy that was on the faces of the inhabitants of the lower benches. That was their mistake. He hadn't said anything about sparing them. A stern voice from the Wizengamot spoke,

"You cannot simply dismiss the charges due to your personal affiliation with the accused."

Harry reclined back in his seat and spoke calmly,

"Firstly, I can do whatever I want. This court is my domain today and my word is law. If you believe otherwise, you are free to take the issue up with Voldemort. Secondly, I haven't said anything about dismissing the charges so you might all need to have your ears cleaned or maybe old age is finally settling in and there's simply no way for you to salvage your hearing."

The joy he had seen earlier was gone replaced by dread and a little hopelessness. He addressed the prisoners now,

"As I was saying, the charges are very clear and I believe they are true to some extent based on my past experience with the order. However, I'm not averse to giving second chances and therefore I have decided to give you a choice."

He leaned forward, rested his elbows on the table and interlaced his fingers,

"If you are willing to denounce Dumbledore and allege your loyalty to Voldemort then I will free you this very moment. If you still choose to side with him then it will be back to Azkaban for you."

That name left a bitter taste on his tongue and Harry's eyes forced themselves shut as a shiver ran down his spine and flashback of all the torture he had endured played on the forefront of his mind. Harry felt a familiar warmth course through him as Rabastan leaned closer and rested his hand on his thigh. Harry opened his eyes and saw an extremely troubled expression on Rabastan's face. Harry flashed him a reassuring grin but the concern didn't fade from Rabastan's eyes and his hand remained on his thigh. Which was good because the heat from Rabastan's palm was anchoring him to the present and keeping him from drifting back into those dark moments,

"Have you made a choice?"

For a moment, there was no reply. Finally, the twins rose to their feet and spoke,

"We're ready to leave the old fool."

Luna joined them and Harry smiled genuinely as something akin to joy flooded his heart,

"That's absolutely wonderful."

Harry saw the disgust and disapproval in Mrs Weasley's eyes and soon enough it was apparent on everyone's faces, everyone that wasn't Fred, George or Luna. Hermione spoke,

"Harry, have you forgotten everything Professor Dumbledore did for you? Have you really forsaken his kindness?"

Rabastan's hand on his thigh was the only thing keeping him from getting up and telling Hermione exactly what Dumbledore had done for him and all his kindnesses. In fact, he was more than willing to show her his scarred back and his lifeless hands. But that wouldn't sit well with the reporters present in the courtroom and he had vowed that he would remain on his best behaviour. He smiled despite all the rage that was burning him up inside and spoke in a voice that was cool and uninterested,

"I haven't forgotten anything. In fact, I remember it all far more clearly then you do."

Hermione crossed her arms over chest, the perfect picture of self-righteousness,

"Professor Dumbledore is working to fix all this, Harry. This…All of this isn't right…This isn't a government, it's a tyranny. Voldemort is a monster and he is oppressing the people."

Rabastan's fingers were practically digging into his skin now and Harry could feel himself shaking with rage. He pulled his elbows away from the desk and felt them ball into fists underneath the table. Rabastan gripped his wrist with his other hand and began stroking soothing circles on it with his thumb. It was difficult to get the words out and Rabastan understood that and spoke in a smooth voice,

"I propose a vote…All those in favour of sentencing the accused to serve ten years in Azkaban raise their hands."

A sizeable amount of hands went up in the air. Rabastan continued to soothe Harry with his thumb and announced the sentence,

"You are hereby sentenced to serve ten years in Azkaban. This conviction is non-negotiable and non-appealable."

Rabastan paused and then spoke,

"Fred Weasley, George Weasley and Luna Lovegood, you are hereby cleared of all charges and free to go."

Harry rested his head on the table and closed his eyes. Rabastan announced,

"Court is adjourned."

Harry ignored the sounds, the voices, the shouts for mercy, the angry insults and the conversations as the prisoners were led out and the Wizengamot began filing out of the courtroom. When everything was silent, Rabastan spoke,

"Harry."

Rabastan's voice was soft and warm but it did nothing to cool the storm brewing Harry's chest. Harry rose to his feet, picked up the tray and tossed it down where it landed with a loud clatter. The half-filled glass of pumpkin juice caught his eye and he flung it to the floor too where it shattered into a million tiny pieces. Harry was looking for something else to throw when he was wrapped into a tight embrace. The warmth that enveloped him was more than enough to throw him off the edge and a choked sob escaped his lips,

"Rabi…"

Everything felt like it was falling away and Harry held on tight to the one thing that felt solid amidst everything, Rabastan…Rabastan's infallible love and affection…Rabastan's undying loyalty,

I've got you…I've got you, Harry…"

The storm brewing in Harry's chest finally broke loose and it rained. Harry cried over Rabastan's shoulder uncontrollably,

"It's all over…You're fine...Everything's alright."

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