The Council of Magical Law used to do all the trials for supporters of the Dark Lord, but this time the Dark Lord had taken over more than he had before, so there were many more trials this time, and the Council of Magical Law couldn't handle them all. Almost every single witch and wizard who had worked at the Ministry at all in that past year were being tried under the new government, and many of the Hogwarts students and some of the professors were as well. Rumor had it that only Mudbloods and members of the Order of the Phoenix were not required to go to trial.
Most trials were still being conducted by the Council of Magical Law. The "Death Eater Trials," on the other hand, were being conducted in front of the full Wizengamot. The Wizengamot was trying all Death Eaters, and also people such as Dolores Umbridge, who weren't Death Eaters themselves but had been eager to do what they could for the cause.
A witch or wizard getting a letter requesting an appearance before the Council of Magical Law would most likely get off with nothing more than a small fine or a short prison sentence. Getting a letter from the Wizengamot, on the other hand, meant Azkaban for life. There had been no exceptions to that rule. To nobody's surprise, all three Malfoys were being tried by the Wizengamot.
They were brought into Courtroom Ten by six Aurors and led to three chairs in the middle of the courtroom. Draco had heard about these chairs, although he had never seen them before, and they terrified him. But he made sure to not let his hesitation show, and sat down, refraining from flinching when the chains bound him so tightly to the chair that he could barely move.
Minister Shacklebolt was sitting in the middle of the front row, with Mr. Weasley on his left and another Weasley on his right. Draco wondered if anybody had noticed that although the War had supposedly been fought to make Mudbloods equal to purebloods, the three wizards with arguably the most powerful positions in the new government were all from old pureblood families. Blood traitor families, yes – but they had the purest blood nevertheless.
Minister Shacklebolt started. "The accused being present, let us begin. Are you ready?" he called down the row.
"Yes, sir," said someone sitting at the end of the front bench, picking up a quill.
"Disciplinary hearing of the fifteenth of July," said Shacklebolt, "into offenses committed under the Ministry of Magic Code, the Regulations Concerning Wizard Criminals, the International Ban on Dark Magic, the Ban on Unforgivable Curses, the Ban on Abductions, and the Regulations for the Health and Safety of Students by Lucius Abraxas Malfoy, Narcissa Cassiopeia Malfoy née Black, and Draco Lucius Malfoy, residents of Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire. Interrogators: Kingsley Wilfred Shacklebolt, Minister of Magic, Arthur Septimus Wealsey, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement; Percy Ignatius Weasley, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister. Court Scribe, Audrey Lucy Touchstone. Is there a witness for the defense?"
"No," said Draco's father.
As if a witness for the defense would help anything. Everyone knew the trial was just a formality. Nobody who had been an actual Death Eater had managed to get anything less than life in Azkaban. Draco wasn't sure where the Wizengamot was getting its information from, but they seemed to know exactly who was a real Death Eater and who was Imperiused and who had been supporting the Death Eaters without being one.
Shacklebolt picked up a parchment and began reading. "The charges against Lucius Malfoy are as follows:
"That he did knowingly and deliberately abscond from Azkaban before completing his lifelong sentence in the early morning of July the second in the year nineteen hundred and ninety-seven, which constitutes an offense under section four of the Regulations Concerning Wizard Criminals, 1978:
"That he did knowingly and deliberately hold Charity Faith Burbage prisoner in his home in Wiltshire between the dates of July the second and July the third in the year nineteen hundred and ninety-seven, which constitutes an offense under clause two of the Ban on Abductions, 1854:"
How in Merlin's name did they find out about that? The only people there besides the Dark Lord were Death Eaters, and Draco's mother. But Draco hadn't heard of any of the Death Eaters giving information.
Of course, Draco wouldn't necessarily have heard if a Death Eater was giving information – the Ministry would likely keep it quiet for a while – at least until they had all the information they wanted.
Draco tuned out Shacklebolt's words as he considered. Who could have given the Ministry information? The Malfoys were some of the last Death Eaters to go on trial – the rest were either on the run or in Azkaban (or dead, but Draco tried not to think about that).
Shacklebolt was still reading the charges. "That he did knowingly, deliberately, and in full awareness of the illegality of his actions, having previously been put on trial before the Council of Magical Law on similar charges, serve the aforementioned Lord Voldemort as one of the Dark Wizards known as Death Eaters during the same time period, which constitutes an offense under section eight of the Regulations Concerning Wizard Criminals, 1978, and also under section one and under section twenty-six of the International Confederation of Wizards' Ban on Dark Magic:"
There it was, 'section twenty-six of the International Confederation of Wizards' Ban on Dark Magic.' Colloquially called the 'Death Eater Law': no being a servant of a Dark Lord.
Draco ignored Shacklebolt again. He hoped his own list of charges wasn't quite as long. Shacklebolt was going on and on.
Draco wanted this to be over. He hated this anticipation – he really didn't want to go to Azkaban.
He didn't want his parents to go to Azkaban either.
But that seemed unlikely, considering Shacklebolt was still reading: ". . . That he did knowingly and deliberately hold Harry James Potter prisoner in his home in Wiltshire on the same date, which constitutes an offense under clause two of the Ban on Abductions, 1854:"
People reacted to that. They tended to react to anything having to do with the great Harry Potter.
"That he did knowingly, deliberately, and in full awareness of the illegality of his actions, having previously been put on trial before the Council of Magical Law on similar charges, permit torture by use of the Cruciatus Curse on Hermione Jean Granger in his home in Wiltshire on the same date, which constitutes an offense under clause two of the Ban on Abductions, 1854, and under paragraph F of the Ban on Unforgivable Curses, 1717."
The charge was clinical, dispassionate, and barely anyone listening reacted at all. Funny, that. Draco personally couldn't forget it, and he was the one on trial.
"You are Lucius Abraxas Malfoy, of Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire?" Shacklebolt finally finished, putting down the parchment.
"I am," Draco's father answered.
"The Wizengamot should note that Lucius Malfoy was not in possession of a wand after July the second, nineteen hundred and ninety-seven."
Well, it was nice of them to mention that.
"Do you deny any of the charges against you?" Shacklebolt asked.
As if, with those three interrogating them.
Draco's father answered, "No."
"Very well," Shacklebolt started. He picked up a second piece of parchment. "The charges against Narcissa Malfoy are as follows:
Draco paid vague attention as Shacklebolt read. The charges were basically the same as for Draco's father, except she wasn't being charged under the 'Death Eater Law,' since she wasn't officially a Death Eater.
And she didn't want to have the Dark Lord live in her home, or to have prisoners in her basement and blood on her floors. It wasn't fair that she was being tried for mistakes that her husband and son had made.
"That she did knowingly and deliberately hold Harry James Potter prisoner in her home in Wiltshire on the same date, which constitutes an offense under clause two of the Ban on Abductions, 1854:"
People reacted to this. Again. As if it was possible for Draco's father, but not Draco's mother, to hold someone prisoner in their shared home. This was ridiculous. He couldn't believe these idiots were going to be judging him.
After reading some more, Shacklebolt finished. "You are Narcissa Cassiopeia Malfoy, of Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire?"
"I am," Draco's mother said.
"The Wizengamot should note that Narcissa Malfoy was not in possession of a wand after March the twenty-fifth in the year nineteen hundred and ninety-eight. The Wizengamot should also note that she lied to the aforementioned Lord Voldemort to save the life of the aforementioned Harry Potter on May the second in the year nineteen hundred and ninety-eight."
There were shouted exclamations at another mention of Saint Potter's name. Shacklebolt waited for them to quiet down before continuing.
"Do you deny any of the charges against you?" Shacklebolt asked Draco's mother.
"I do not."
And then it was Draco's turn.
"The charges against Draco Malfoy are as follows:" started Shacklebolt, picking up a third piece of parchment.
"That he did knowingly and deliberately serve the Dark Lord Voldemort as one of the Dark Wizards known as Death Eaters between the dates of June the nineteenth in the year nineteen hundred and ninety-six and May the second in the year nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, for a total of twenty-two months and fourteen days, which constitutes an offense under section eight of the Regulations Concerning Wizard Criminals, 1978, and also under section one and under section twenty-six of the International Confederation of Wizards' Ban on Dark Magic:"
Draco's throat felt tight. He had been so excited to follow in his father's footsteps. He only caught snatches of the rest of the charges against him. ". . . knowingly and deliberately cast the Imperius Curse on Rosmerta Maia Sirona . . . Imperius Curse on Hogwarts student Kaitlin Anne Bell . . . an opal necklace cursed with Dark Magic into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry . . . hospitalization and near death of the aforementioned Kaitlin Bell . . . poisoned mead to Horace Edwin Francis Slughorn . . . hospitalization and near death of Ronald Bilius Weasley . . ."
Draco swallowed. Two of his judges were Weasleys. Draco kept his eyes on Shacklebolt, ignoring the sick feeling in his stomach.
"That he did knowingly and deliberately attempt to cast the Cruciatus Curse on Harry James Potter on May the sixth in the year nineteen hundred and ninety-seven . . ."
The Wizengamot reacted to Potter's name again. These were the Death Eater Trials. Did they think all of Potter's conflicts had been with the Dark Lord himself?
". . . Death Eaters into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry . . . mauling of William Arthur Weasley . . . death of the aforementioned Albus Dumbledore . . ."
Another Weasley hurt because of Draco. His father should be proud. He could almost feel the glares of the two Weasleys on either side of Shacklebolt, although he kept his eyes firmly on Shacklebolt.
". . . the Cruciatus Curse on Thorfinn Harald Rowle . . ."
Images assaulted Draco's mind. Rowle screaming and begging. . . . With a massive effort, he ignored the images, and then realized something: Only Death Eaters knew about that. How in Merlin's name did the new Ministry find out?
". . . Cruciatus Curse on Antonin Marcus Dolohov . . ."
Some Death Eater had definitely turned informant without anyone knowing. But who? The Malfoys were some of the last Death Eaters to go on trial, and an informant would have gotten a reduced sentence, which nobody had gotten yet.
Shacklebolt put down the parchment. "You are Draco Lucius Malfoy, of Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire?"
Draco took a moment to make sure his voice would be steady. "Yes."
"The Wizengamot should note that Draco Malfoy was under seventeen years of age until June the fifth, nineteen hundred and ninety-seven," Shacklebolt said, looking up at the rest of the room. Then he turned back to Draco. "Do you deny any of the charges against you?"
"No," Draco answered.
After a bit of pause, where Shacklebolt took a drink of water, and everyone shifted around a bit in preparation for the next part of the trial, Shacklebolt said, "Very well." He paused. "The Wizengamot should also note that much of the information leading to the successful conviction of every Death Eater that has been brought before us was provided by Draco Malfoy, in remorse for his actions."
What?! Draco stared in shock at his parents. They were both staring at him in shock. But then Draco realized what had happened. His mother had always been a good actor: she was trying to keep him out of Azkaban.
Could he let her? Azkaban terrified him. He didn't want to go. But his mother – he didn't want her to go either. And she had never wanted to follow the Dark Lord, unlike him. All she had ever done was try to keep him safe.
"That's a lie," Draco said, almost before he realized he had come to a decision.
The younger Weasley blinked. "Excuse me?"
"I didn't send you the information. It was my mother."
Everybody looked at Draco's mother. She shook her head. "It wasn't me."
"Do you have any proof that what you say is true?" Shacklebolt asked Draco.
Draco hesitated, then shook his head. "No."
"If you don't take credit," Shacklebolt commented, "then nobody will benefit from helping the Ministry."
There was a pause. "It was me," Draco muttered finally. He certainly wasn't about to let the Ministry's good will go to waste.
He turned and glared at his mother. How could she do that? Didn't she know he didn't want her in Azkaban either? And his father didn't want her in Azkaban, either! Surely he was just as upset about it as Draco was? But his father just sat there, staring forwards.
But then Draco saw his parents exchanging a long glance, and understood – they had planned it together. His father agreed with this plan.
Shacklebolt shuffled some more papers. "A witness for the defense has stepped forwards." He nodded at someone behind Draco, and Draco heard the doors to the chamber open.
The gasps that went around the room should have told Draco who it was before Draco could see him, but it was so unbelievable that Draco had a hard time believing it even as he stared at the back of a very familiar head of messy black hair: What was Harry Potter doing at Draco's trial?
"Witness for the defense, please state your full name for the record," Shacklebolt said.
"Harry James Potter."
There was another gasp around the room, as if everyone thought they had been mistaken about the Great Harry Potter being in front of them, and then everyone started cheering.
Draco didn't understand – it wasn't as if this was the first time Potter had been in front of the Wizengamot this summer. But he supposed that Potter was just so famous that people cheered no matter where he went or how many times they had met him (although he noticed Shacklebolt and the Weasleys weren't cheering – apparently they saw Potter so often they had gotten sick of him).
Once the cheers had mostly died down, Shacklebolt said to Potter, "You may begin when ready."
Potter smiled around at his admirers before starting to talk. "I'm not here to say that the Malfoys haven't done horrible things. But they did those horrible things because they felt they had no choice. Voldemort threatened them, so they all feared for each other. Voldemort was living in their home, and none of them had any control over what went on there. Even when Voldemort was travelling out of the country, Bellatrix Lestrange was in control of what happened in Malfoy Manor. She was the one who ordered everyone imprisoned, and she was the one who tortured Hermione."
"That's Hermione Jean Granger, Touchstone," Shacklebolt interrupted, looking at the court scribe. Touchstone rolled her eyes. Draco agreed. As if anyone didn't know who 'Hermione' was – she was almost as famous as Potter.
"Draco hesitated in identifying me when I was captured," Potter continued. "Even though he knew who I was."
Draco's father glanced over at Draco with an odd expression. Draco couldn't make it out. Was he mad at Draco for lying to him and possibly ruining any chance at getting back in the Dark Lord's good graces? Or was he pleased that Draco's hesitation might help him stay out of Azkaban? Or was he simply confused as to what Draco's motivations were?
"Narcissa lied to Voldemort, telling him I was dead even though she knew I wasn't. Even though it saved my life, the only reason she did it was to save her son – which is what motivated all three Malfoys to do what they did, whether it helped Voldemort or helped us. They didn't care, as long as they all survived. And while that doesn't excuse their actions, it also means they shouldn't be thrown in Azkaban. Show them a little mercy – they've learned their lesson about serving Dark Lords."
Shacklebolt nodded. "Thank you, Mr. Potter. Are there any questions from the Wizengamot?"
"If I may?" asked a stately-looking witch in the Wizengamot. "Why would You-Know-Who – sorry, V- Voldemort – feel the need to threaten them? He clearly trusted Lucius Malfoy enough to lead the attack in the Department of Mysteries in June of 1996. Why would he assume Lucius's wife and son were any different?"
Potter nodded. "Yes, he did allow Lucius to lead that attack. But Lucius failed and got himself and others locked in Azkaban. After that, he gave Draco Malfoy the impossible job of killing Albus Dumbledore, and though he broke Lucius Malfoy out of Azkaban, he immediately took his wand away. The Malfoys were disgraced before him, and they knew the only way to stay alive was to get back in his favor. That's why they did what they did."
"Mr. Potter?" another Wizengamot member asked, this one a rumpled-looking male. "You say they had no choice, but everyone always has a choice. They could have chosen to do what they could against You-Know-Who, but instead they continued to work for him."
"It's true that everyone always has a choice. Narcissa chose to lie to Voldemort's face, saving my life. She waited until the very end, but remember that Voldemort was living in their home. The Malfoys chose to follow him this past year because it was the easiest path, the path that would allow them to survive. Lucius and Draco were cowards – but we're not putting people in Azkaban for being cowards."
There was a silence. "Does anyone else have anything to add?" Shacklebolt asked.
Nobody said anything.
"Very well," Shacklebolt continued. "Mr. Potter, you are free to go."
Potter nodded politely at the Wizengamot before turning to go.
Shacklebolt took another drink of water before speaking again. "In light of the information we have heard today, I recommend that we allow Narcissa Malfoy and Draco Malfoy to go free, with a warning that any further lawbreaking of a similar nature will be punished severely. All in favor?"
One by one, members of the Wizengamot raised their hands, until there was a clear majority. Even Shacklebolt and both Weasleys raised their hands. Draco was surprised. Potter held more sway than Draco expected.
The chains holding Draco and his mother to the chairs undid themselves. "You are free to go," Shacklebolt said.
They left the courtroom in silence, although Draco couldn't help but look back at his father, who was still chained to the chair. He hoped his father wouldn't go to Azkaban again. He had just started recovering!
"Why would you tell them I was the one who gave information?" Draco burst out as soon as the doors closed behind him. "You could have said it was Father, and then they'd have let him go! I didn't need any more help after Potter's testimony!"
Draco's mother grabbed him. "Yes, Potter's testimony was enough. But he didn't inform us that he was going to speak for you, and your father and I refuse to see you in Azkaban, no matter what we have to do."
"You shouldn't have . . ."
"But we did," Draco's mother said matter-of-factly. "And we'd do it again."
"But what about Father? What's happening in there?" Draco knew he sounded like a little kid, but he couldn't help it.
"The Wizengamot will be debating his sentence." His mother smiled at him. "I wouldn't worry too much, Draco. Lucius made certain . . . arrangements beforehand."
Draco knew what that meant: bribes. "I thought it was impossible to do that anymore?" The new Ministry was committed to wiping out corruption.
"It's more difficult than it used to be, certainly. But the new administration is focused on Death Eaters right now, not Wizengamot members with financial troubles." Draco's mother smirked. "Lucius will be fine."
There didn't seem to be anything more to say after that. Draco paced back and forth, while his mother stood primly near the wall opposite the courtroom door, both of them waiting to see what decision the Wizengamot would come to.
Finally, the doors opened and Draco's father came out. There were no Aurors surrounding him. He answered their questioning looks with what was almost a smile. "I'm not allowed a wand for five years, I'm never allowed to leave the country, and any law-breaking will get me thrown in Azkaban."
"But you're free," Draco's mother whispered.
"Yes, I'm free."
Draco smiled for the first time in a long time. It was finally over.