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Harry was surprised just how quickly Crouch was brought to trial. Only a week after his confession, Harry and Charlus were both sent notices to appear for the trial: Harry as an injured party (having his name entered into the tournament) and Charlus as both Harry's guardian and as a member of the Wizengamot. The trial was set for the following weekend. When Harry asked his grandfather about why everything was moving so quickly, he got a lesson on politics for him, Hermione, and a poor Ron who hadn't run away fast enough. At the end, Harry was asked by his grandfather to sum up.
"There are two main factors in the trial being scheduled so soon. One is because the British wizarding world is so small compared to muggle Britain. The smaller size means that the systems in place just aren't as complex, so it takes things a lot less time to move through the system. The other main factor is politics. This is an international incident because of what happened to Krum, so because of that the Ministry is most likely under pressure from at least the Bulgarian Ministry to get things done to a reasonable conclusion.
"However there are probably other groups that add pressure as well, such as the international Quidditch League who have the influence to shape public opinion of Britain's magical society. This means Minister Fudge is likely putting pressure on everyone he can to get this matter pushed to the front of the queue." Harry summarised the past thirty minutes of lectures from his grandfather.
"Excellent Harry! Now, we will need to go out and get you some formal robes that would be appropriate to wear in front of the Wizengamot. Hermione you as well, I intend to take you along too. It will be a good opportunity to teach you the intricacies of the wizarding legal system. Of course I will need to get permission from your parents first, but that shouldn't be a problem," Charlus told them. He then turned to Ron and asked, "Ronald, do you want to come as well? I can always ask your parents if they will give permission."
"No thanks. I have had plenty of lectures from dad about how trials work, after all his job in the Ministry is also part of the D.M.L.E., so trials are part of his job. I would just be bored out of my mind," Ron explained.
Hermione was excited for the opportunity to learn by actually seeing the system. It was one thing to learn this stuff from books, but that was more about laws and rights; seeing it in practice would provide a lot of context the books left out.
This weekend was the second round of the chess tournament and Ron was playing again, this time up against a Bulgarian. Harry and Hermione had agreed to come and watch, though chess really wasn't a sport for spectators. No matter that one of the seventh years had enchanted the boards with a Protean Charm so that they displayed the current layout of the pieces on a poster, making the game much easier to follow for the people watching. It was still a game where one person told their piece what to do, and then their opponent did the same. Sure, there was a little entertainment when a piece was taken and you got to see the little enchanted figures fight, but it still got repetitive quickly.
Hermione had actually brought a couple of books with her and had ended up lending one to Harry, a well-thumbed copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Hermione had obviously read it more than a few times before, and Harry was surprisingly hooked after the first few sentences. They looked up to see that Ron of course won his match against the Durmstrang competitor, who actually looked rather impressed with Ron's skill at the game.
On Monday morning Harry received a letter from Krum thanking him for the correspondence Harry had sent offering his sympathies. The letter was very formal and thanked Harry for not only the letter but for his recommendation that, if Krum wanted to get a legal representative to help sort out the mess he was in, Harry strongly recommended the services of Gripsack–Anne Twist. From Krum's letter Harry guessed he wasn't in the mood to be friendly. It didn't help Harry feel any better about the whole situation, but there really was nothing he had done to be blamed for or could do to improve the situation.
Hermione also received a letter from her parents that had a note giving their written permission for Hermione to be taken out of the school for any shopping that may be required and to attend the trial in the Wizengamot. Hermione's parents also wanted her to convey their thanks to Charlus for keeping her out of the shark-infested lake. Hermione hadn't actually told her parents about almost being used as bait in the task, so that proved that Charlus was making good on his promise to keep them informed, and they were apparently rather happy with his results.
They had taken the note to Charlus right after breakfast, and as Professor McGonagall was still in the hall watching the students as they started to make their way towards class, they had quickly headed over to give her the written permission as Hermione's head of house.
"Ah Minerva, can you wait up a second?" called Charlus over the sea of student heads.
The professor in question had looked around to see who called and nodded. It took a few minutes for the students to clear enough for them to reach the professor, during which time both professors had needed to shout at students for doing something stupid, from a Ravenclaw who was walking with his head in a book to a Hufflepuff who was dancing around her friends while going up the stairs.
"Charlus, what can I do for you?"
"I need to take these two out of the castle a few times this week," He put his hands on Harry and Hermione's heads to indicate he meant them and not Ron. "It will be outside of class time, a couple of evening trips and then all day Saturday. Maybe Sunday as well, depending on how long Crouch's trial takes."
When he mentioned the trial, Professor McGonagall nodded a little in understanding. "You will need written permission from Miss Granger's parents. I know you are her magical guardian, but Hogwarts policy is that muggle parents have equal rights."
He held up the note from Hermione's parents. "I already have that right here." He held it out for her. " What about Harry, do you need it in writing from me as well or is my word good enough?"
Professor McGonagall took the note and gave it a read through. "This is fine, technically you don't need to supply a written permission as Mr. Potter is fully your ward, but it would be easier for our records if we had a written note."
"No problem, I will get that to you at lunch." And with that Charlus followed a group of Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws who were on their way to his classroom. By coincidence the trio had Transfiguration first thing today, so they walked with their professor, after all they couldn't be called late if they arrived the same time she did.
Charlus took Harry and Hermione to Diagon Alley that very evening. His reasoning was that they had no idea what kind of backlog the tailor would have, so it was better to get in as early as possible. They Floo'ed from Charlus's office to the Leaky Cauldron and then went straight to Twilfit and Tattings, the more upmarket robe retailers in the ally. Charlus had taken charge, quickly laying out the specifications he needed; these robes were formal business not formal ball, and they needed to have the Potter crest on them. After that, Harry and Hermione were given free reign to choose things like cut or colour.
Bright colours were out, especially as it was a trial they were attending, and so was purple. "The robes that the Wizengamot members wear are purple, a hold over from when purple dye was incredibly rare and expensive. If you wear purple in the Wizengamot, for a trial or any other type of meeting, it is considered a declaration that you are gunning for a seat. Witches have a little more leeway in that they can get away with a purple accessory of some type without people considering a declaration, but if your robes are purple, or have a purple trim or even lining, it's considered a declaration of intent," Charlus answered when Hermione asked why they couldn't wear purple.
"Now, neither of you are Warlocks and are still in Hogwarts, so it would be assumed to be a mistake rather than a declaration. But, and it's a big but, it would tell everyone there that you're ignorant of the protocols and I would be considered to have failed to educate you," Charlus finished his explanation.
"That's not written in any of the law books I have found," Hermione complained.
"Technically there is no law enforcement of these rules. They are just accepted practice. Try Wizengamot Practice by Erskine Miggin*, it's the definitive rulebook that the Wizengamot uses if a rule needs to be checked or looked up. I have a self-updating copy in the Potter library if you're interested in borrowing it." Charlus said.
Hermione of course jumped at the opportunity, and with that settled they went back to choosing their robes. Harry had chosen a set in a more modern style in charcoal grey with (at Hermione's request) a green trim to match his eyes. Hermione also went with a more modern cut, only she went with a black material that also had a silver pattern embroidered into it that looked really good on her.
The order placed and paid for, the three made their way to Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour before they returned to the Leaky Cauldron and Floo'ed directly back to Charlus's office in Hogwarts.
Saturday eventually came around. Harry and Hermione met Charlus right after breakfast, and they were quickly joined by Krum, Karkaroff, and Dumbledore. They all made their way up to the headmaster's office and Floo'ed to the Ministry from there. When they emerged it was into a massive crowd of people. Not only had they arrived at the same time as everyone arriving for work, there was also the entire Wizengamot, their aides, the extra D.M.L.E. staff brought in to provide security for a full meeting of the Wizengamot. Add to that everyone who was there just to watch, from the press to concerned citizens, and it was like the main stage at Glastonbury. The lifts dinged often and did their work shuttling off the crowd one group at a time, and the group from Hogwarts waited their turn. As they waited, Charlus told Harry, Hermione, and a bored Krum who was listening in about the Ministry.
"The Ministry itself is actually a fairly new institution, only about six hundred years old. That's why places like Hogwarts have so much autonomy from the Ministry. Hogwarts is older, and the agreements it had with the Wizengamot and druid councils of the day were grandfathered in. The Ministry was constructed as a direct response to two factors. One, the wizarding population exploded from maybe ten thousand to maybe eighty thousand in a generation, meaning a more complex system was needed to police the laws and handle the day to day running of things. The other was the implementation of the International Statute of Secrecy. Because of the law, there needed to be trained witches and wizards available to go modify memories and keep magic a secret.
"Of course, the Ministry was originally a lot smaller than it is today. Over time, a bunch of groups got added to the Ministry as departments. For example, the Department of Magical Games and Sports was originally just a group of wizards who had set up a place where the different teams of different magical sports could challenge other teams. The Ministry also created other departments as needed, like Floo regulation when it became necessary. Over the centuries it grew to what it is now," Charlus explained, having the full attention of all three teenagers as there was little else to focus on.
Eventually it was their turn to take the lift, and Dumbledore set the controls to take them straight to the lowest floor, which contained the Wizengamot chamber, a number of courtrooms, and according to the voice in the lift something called the Department of Mysteries. The big event today was in courtroom one. According to Charlus, courtroom one was the largest; it had not only room for the entire Wizengamot to sit in judgement but room for the press and the public as well.
As Crouch had already admitted his guilt, the 'trial' today was more about determining how much impact his crimes had and to determine what exact form justice would take. Because of this, Harry and Krum were allowed to join everyone in the courtroom, or they would have been made to wait in a nearby lounge until they were called to give evidence. Harry and Hermione were allowed to sit with Charlus as they were members of his house, but Krum and Karkaroff had to go sit in the seats reserved for witnesses. While everyone was filing into the room, Charlus one more started explaining things.
"As you look around, you will see that there are forty nine regular seats for the sitting Warlocks of the Wizengamot. Seven times seven so it incorporates strong magical numbers." He then pointed to another area. "And over there are the thirteen spaces given to anyone who holds an Order of Merlin, First Class. It's rare that all of them are filled because we don't normally have thirteen living witches or wizards who have earned the honour. Something like ninety percent of the awards are given posthumously. Normally having thirteen means something really bad, like a war has happened recently," Charlus explained.
"What happens if there are more than thirteen people who have an Order of Merlin?" asked Harry.
"An Order of Merlin, First Class, as it's only the holders of First Class that can take a seat in the Wizengamot. If there are more than thirteen holders of the honour, then someone has messed up. Hopefully by giving them out way too much when they weren't deserved, or otherwise by letting something terrible come about where there were enough situations for fourteen people to legitimately earn one. However, if such a thing happens, then the seat priority goes to whomever has held the honour the longest." Charlus then went on to explain the procedure for a session like this and how it was different from a trial that needed to determine guilt.
Crouch was eventually brought in, and as Harry looked at the man the only impression he had was that he looked like he had given up. There was a lot of boring waffle that took them half an hour to say, which basically amounted to a pile of standard information that was required for Ministry records. It was all stuff like who the law wizards were, what was Crouch's full legal name, date of birth, and blood status. Even Harry and Hermione's names and information were taken down as witnesses. Harry could understand the need for a lot of the information to be on the record, and he felt a little sorry for the poor court scribe who was busily taking down that information, but it really was a mind-numbingly boring half an hour.
Once everything was recorded, Dumbledore knocked on the desk in front of him to get everyone's attention and addressed the courtroom. "Witches, wizards, and of course our esteemed Warlocks, as Chief Warlock this hearing is started. Defendant Crouch, I have parchment work here indicating that you pleaded guilty to the charges of 'aiding in the escape of a lawful prisoner, providing assistance and succour to an individual you knew to be a fugitive, attempted murder of eight individuals (three of whom were minors), grievous bodily harm, and repetitive use of an Unforgivable curse.' This is your last opportunity to change your plea to not guilty. Do you wish to amend your plea?"
"No Chief Warlock. My recorded plea will stand," Crouch said.
That had almost the entire courtroom staring at Crouch, stunned. There was absolutely no way that he was ever going to be free again for the rest of his life after an admission like that. Hell, he would be lucky if he didn't get the dementors kiss.
"Then it is my solemn duty to pronounce you guilty of all charges. You will of course spend the rest of your life in the maximum security ward of Azkaban, after your admission to multiple uses of an Unforgivable curse there is no lesser option available to you. However, your crimes as they are may require additional punitive measures to take place. To this end, I move this criminal hearing to a sentencing hearing. And seeing as the prisoner is being so cooperative, I ask that he give us a full accounting of the story from his own point of view," Dumbledore said as he moved the trial on.
Crouch did exactly as he was asked and told his story. He told them of his son rotting in Azkaban and his wife rotting away to a blood curse that was eating away at her body and spirit. He told them how his wife had begged for him to save their sweet, innocent boy from the Dementors. He explained that the more his wife advocated for their son, the more he had come to second guess giving his own son little more than a show trial.
He told everyone how he had eventually agreed, and how his wife had obtained Polyjuice while he arranged a deathbed visit between his wife and son, and how the two of them had switched places. He explained smuggling his son home and nursing him back to health, finding the Dark Mark on his arm, and then feeding him Veritaserum and discovering that not only was his son a Death Eater, he had enjoyed torturing the Longbottoms and was planning to continue his crusade now that he was free.
Crouch told the courtroom how he had planned to kill his son rather than let him go free; however, the promise he had made to his wife and the fact that it was his own son had meant that he hadn't been able to do it. He may be a criminal, a murderer, a traitor to wizarding Britain, but he was still his boy. So he decided that he would make sure his son fulfilled his lawful sentence, only as it couldn't be done at Azkaban anymore he would be kept at Crouch Manor in secret.
He explained how he kept his son under the Imperius Curse to force his compliance and to keep the world safe, as he wasn't strong enough to do anything more permanent. And then he told everyone about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named turning up at his house with Peter Pettigrew.
Immediately the whole courtroom was in an uproar, some screaming how it couldn't be true while others were screaming at Crouch calling him a liar. There was absolute pandemonium in the room as people started yelling not only at Crouch but other Warlocks who disagreed with them.
There was a sudden sound of an explosion and Dumbledore yelled, "Silence!" Immediately, the whole courtroom turned and gave the man their full attention. "This is the highest court in magical Britain. You are the Warlocks charged with the dignity of this country. I will not have you behaving worse than the school children who are present here. You will all have an opportunity to disagree if you want to, but it will be done in the orderly and dignified way of this body, not as a mob of hooligans."
Charlus, seeing an opportunity he had hoped for, stood up. "Point of order. We have someone here today who can confirm by the evidence of their own eyes that You-Know-Who is not as dead as we would wish. I would also like to add that Mr. Crouch here has already admitted to crimes that will see him spend the rest of his life as a prisoner, maybe even kissed after we deliberate on the matter of him helping a prisoner escape Azkaban. He has nothing to gain by misleading this body."
Director Bones also stood up from her seat. "I would like to echo the point that Warlock Potter has made in regards to Crouch's motivations, but just would like to add that Crouch has confirmed his belief that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named arrived at his house under the influence of Veritaserum. I am, however, legally required to remind this body that Veritaserum only makes an individual say what they believe is true. It is possible to believe something is true even if it is not, especially when you consider illusionary, Transfiguration, and mind-altering magic are all easily done by any reasonably competent individual. That being said, I can confirm that Crouch believes what he is telling this court."
A few of the warlocks looked bored at Director Bones's statement. Harry assumed it was because they had heard it so many times before that it just grated on their nerves. It was understandable, Veritaserum was extremely unreliable not because the potion didn't work but because it was too easy to make someone believe something else. That's why it was considered a really valuable investigation tool by the D.M.L.E. but was not accepted by the Wizengamot for a trial. At least, not for more than proving someone believes what they are saying.
However, the majority of people were looking around to see who it was that Warlock Potter was referring to when he said that someone there had seen Voldemort alive before now. More than a few eyes came to rest on Harry; some people were apparently intelligent enough to put together Harry's past and the fact that Charlus was the one who had said it together.
A few people started calling for whomever it was to stand and tell them. Harry hesitated for a moment and looked at his grandfather to see what he should do. Grandfather Charlus gave Harry a nod, so he stood up and waited a moment for everyone to stop speaking. "Um well… uh, yes I can confirm that Voldemort," the Wizengamot flinched when Harry said the name, "is still alive. There was an incident my first year at Hogwarts and Voldemort," a second flinch, "tried to kill me. He was hurt badly, he didn't even have a body anymore, but he was alive, he had magic, and he was looking for a way to get his body back."
There were a few gasps at that, and before Harry could say any more Crouch said, "That is what You-Know-Who wanted with me. He has a body now, but it's artificial. It's also small, fragile, and dying." Harry was going to start talking again, but Crouch pressed on so Harry sat back down. "He wants to use the tournament to capture Harry Potter and use him and his blood in a ritual that will restore him to a true body.
"They interrogated me about the tournament and how everything was going to work. It…it was hard. I tried to resist, but it was impossible. You-Know-Who broke into my mind and he learned everything, including where I was keeping my son, a follower of his that never abandoned him. I was put under the Imperius Curse and I was made to pretend nothing was wrong. They made me put Mr. Potter's name in the Goblet of Fire under the name of a fourth school."
"Their plan was to kidnap Mr. Potter during the first task. However I was fighting the Imperius. I couldn't go against an order, but I had a little freedom outside of it. My orders were to run the tournament and to make sure Harry was afraid, so I made a plan. My thought was if Mr. Potter died before the third task, then You-Know-Who wouldn't be able to use him for the ritual. If I killed Harry Potter, the magical world would be safe from the second rise of Voldemort. One kid to save hundreds of lives. However, the only way to do it was as a part of the tournament. I had the Department of Magical Creatures procure a mundane shark and then I modified it, they had no way of knowing that it wasn't an official part of the competition.
"I added a bunch of charms to make the shark attack any of the champions in the lake, and then I snuck the shark into the lake on the day of the task. It would have all been over, everyone would have been safe, but then Mr. Potter decided on a strategy I hadn't even considered. All the other champions got into the Lake and swam towards the hostages, but Mr. Potter summoned a boat and sailed right over the shark while it was more interested in hunting the other champions.
"It was a disaster. I tried to end the enchantments on the shark quickly to save the lives of all the other champions, as without Potter dying the other deaths were pointless. Yet I wasn't fast enough to do it before Mr. Krum lost his arm. Of course, then I was discovered, arrested, and taken to St. Mungo's where I finally got the help I needed to break free of the Imperius Curse."
There was silence after Crouch finished giving his side of the story. About half the people in the hall were now staring at Harry, who was just trying to think what he would do in Crouch's situation. He would try to stop Voldemort returning, he had done that before, but would he kill an innocent person to stop it? He didn't think so.
Some people started to ask what they were going to do about Voldemort, with a few even calling for Harry to be arrested and either killed or put somewhere secure. But before those voices could gain any traction, Dumbledore stood and got everyone's attention. "I will remind everyone that this is not a session of the Wizengamot but a sentencing hearing. We are here to debate what punishment should befall Mr Crouch."
The actual debate took almost two hours, with almost everyone having a different opinion. It was rather disturbing having to listen as Crouch's life was carved up and doled out to people. In the end it was decided that Crouch would spend the rest of his life in Azkaban, even if some people wanted him kissed. As everyone in the family was now a convicted criminal, it was decided that every asset that the family owned, save for a house elf, would be sold and the gold would be split between the victims, with Krum getting around 80% and the house elf.
Harry had needed to hold Hermione's hand and soothe her as they were talking about the house elf, the more they talked about her as an "it", the more it hammered into Harry and Hermione just how much it was straight-up slavery. Yet there was nothing they could do about it here, if they spoke up the best they could hope for was being thrown out of the courtroom. The only compensation they seemed to have was that Krum did not seem to be like Malfoy, and whoever this elf was they would have a much better time of it then Dobby had.
The remaining 20% of the gold from the Crouch assets would be shared between everyone that was in the lake with the shark. A few of the darker families tried to protest the Potter family getting a double share, but before Grandfather Charlus could say anything Regent Longbottom, Neville's grandmother Augusta, stood and reminded them that the entire Potter family was in danger and that Harry and Charlus were in fact different people.
As soon as the court was adjourned, Crouch was taken away by the Aurors, and a number of Warlocks all stood up and demanded an emergency section of the Wizengamot be called for tomorrow. There was more than enough support for that and the Chief Warlock could only agree to it.
Later that evening, Harry made his way up to the Astronomy tower, wanting to be alone. He was still thinking about everything he learned today, specifically about how he was the key to Voldemort's return. He kept thinking back to the decision he'd made when he was 11 when he decided to go after the Philosopher's Stone. If Voldemort came back, it would be so much worse for everyone.
Back then the decision had been easy. Hell, what did Harry have to lose? Sure he had a couple of friends, but he didn't have any family. Risking everything was easy when he didn't have a lot to lose and was acutely aware of the approaching summer where he would be sent to live at the Dursleys. Now, though, he had his grandfather, his godfather, and most importantly he had Hermione. He would never need to return to the Dursleys again, he had everything to live for. Even as he looked at the ground over the railing, he knew that he couldn't ever do it.
He stood there watching the moon rise, and eventually he heard someone coming up the stairs behind him. He didn't have to look around to know it was Hermione, her slightly laboured breathing and sound of her footsteps had given away that it was her already. Still he didn't say anything, he just leaned on the rail and watched.
Hermione placed an arm around him before asking, "Need to talk about it?"
Harry leaned into her a little and said "No. It's just the same old shit that comes with my life. I just needed some time to process it all."
Hermione bit her lip nervously before she mustered her courage and said, "Don't take this the wrong way Harry, but I can't help but notice you heard you were the key to Voldemort's restoration today, and now you're standing on top of the school's highest tower."
Harry sighed. Hermione really knew him too well. "I'm not going to jump Hermione."
Harry could feel her relax against him. "Good. Then what are we going to do?"
"I don't know yet, I just know that giving up or running away to hide are not the answers," Harry said, the two stayed there for another two hours just watching the moon and the stars until they were discovered by Professor Sinistra, who took ten points from each of them and sent them to bed.
*Wizengamot Practice by Erskine Miggin is based on a real book about the rules and procedures of the British Parliament – Parliamentary Practice by Erskine May. It is a book that details the acceptable practice for people in Parliament. No, I haven't read it, mostly because last time I looked, a copy cost £60 and that was over a decade ago so it's probably more expensive now. I used Miggin because it's a wizarding family name from canon.
Also please remember that Harry never met Winky in this fic as he was too distracted having his grandfather and godfather there.
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