The fact that the Ministry was full of brainless idiots and they could still take Sirius away from him had been playing on Harry's mind ever since he had found out there was a trial date. However, when Draco found the reference they had spoken about he felt much better. When Draco contacted his mother, who called in a few favours and a folder arrived by owl before tea time, it was even better.
Unfortunately they couldn't share the information immediately, they had to wait until the prearranged meeting later in the day. Sirius, Remus and Dumbledore were in conference, preparing for the trial when the couple descended on them.
"We know how to make the court believe," Harry said as soon as they were admitted; "and they won't be able to say anyone is playing with words or half truths."
"What have you found?" Remus asked.
"They won't be able to argue if they see it for themselves," Draco said.
That caused more frowns from the older men in the room.
"But pensieve memories are not admissible as evidence because they can be tampered with," Dumbledore said calmly.
"Not thinking of using a pensieve," Harry said openly, "thinking of using me."
He placed the copy of court records he had in his hand on the desk so the others could see it.
"It seems to be common knowledge that Veritaserum does not have the same effect on Hecatemae," he continued quickly, "but what no one was very clear on is what it does do. This tells us and it also gives us a precedent for using me the same way."
He let the other three read what Draco and he already knew. The transcript was of a court case from a little over one hundred and fifty years previously where the prosecution was casting doubt on the defendant's testimony. The wizard in question had the good luck to be a close friend of Hecatema Jennifer Cotton who had offered her services to sort out the rather serious misunderstanding. She had proven, to the court's satisfaction, that Veritaserum, while not causing her to speak the truth, did cause any projection she made with her mind to be perfectly accurate.
Harry had been quite interested to see that the transcript mentioned that Jennifer's primary area of research was mental projection, but he had decided to find out exactly what that meant at a later date when he wasn't quite so busy. He knew he could project; he had done it in DADA last year with the Boggart and the mirror and he was willing to do anything to help Sirius.
"Harry," his godfather said gravely, looking up at him, "this would make you a conduit for some horrible things, you can't do this."
It was not exactly an unexpected reaction.
"Sirius," he said firmly, "if they see it they cannot dispute it; do you know what it would do to me if those morons decided that they were right all along and tried to send you back to Azkaban? And don't say there's no way they would, because we all know that justice has little to do with what goes on in the Ministry. Fudge is only interested in a political victory, which mean he wants you to be guilty. This is for me as much as it is for you."
There was no way Harry was going to let anyone's sensibilities stop him in this.
"And are you sure you can do it, Harry?" Dumbledore asked reasonably.
"I have been in someone else's head before and the DADA class from last year can tell you how I can project," he replied honestly. "I'll need to practice, but, yes, I'm sure I can do it."
"But will the court allow it?" Remus asked.
On that Dumbledore was the only expert and Harry looked to his mentor.
"They will have no choice," the headmaster said ; "the Wizengamot has acknowledged this method of giving evidence, they cannot rescind this without due cause."
Harry did not want to have to push this, but Sirius still appeared worried by the whole idea. He was about to launch into a whole argument of why his godfather should accept this when Draco placed a hand on his back.
[Just wait and don't let him look away,] his lover advised evenly.
Without giving any indication that Draco had spoken to him, Harry did as he was told and made sure that he kept Sirius' gaze. This was important to him and he was ready to do anything to help his godfather and he tried to make his expression reflect this.
"You really want to do this?" Sirius sounded unsure that Harry was serious.
"Yes," he replied honestly; "I want to be sure you will be free."
Now his godfather looked away as Sirius cast his eyes around the rest of the room; Harry knew he already had the others' support. If Sirius gave his consent no one else would argue.
"All right," his godfather said eventually with a reluctant nod, "but how are you going to practice? No offence, but I don't think you want to be in my head straight away."
"We haven't figured that bit out yet," Draco admitted.
* * *
Harry had wanted to launch straight into practicing the first part of what he needed for the trial: the mental projection. That part at least was easy and he could start with Draco. However, Draco had insisted that they ask Madam Pomfrey first because, although they weren't banned from doing magic completely, this could be considered strenuous.
Luckily, when they had explained what they intended and why, Madam Pomfrey had agreed. She had also cleared them for classes the next week, although Harry was grounded and not allowed on a broom just yet.
Harry had practised by taking images from Draco's mind and showing them in a small mirror on the table. It took him a while to perfect it, but given that when his soulmate opened his mind to him it was almost as if the thoughts were his, having Draco help was the easiest way to start. Remembering the Boggart incident had not been hard and, as with many things magical these days, recreating it was nowhere near as difficult as it would once have been.
Once he had that down (it had taken a day) he needed to practice with someone else, which was a far more difficult proposition.
"I'll do it," Ron said as Harry finished explaining about how the next stage was going to work to their group of friends.
Harry looked at his best friend in surprise; he had not expected a volunteer quite so fast.
"What?" his friend asked as if his last pronouncement was as simple as the weather.
"I just expected it to be harder than that," Harry said honestly.
"Look, Mate," Ron said supportively, "I trust you and I'm sort of a logical choice. There is no way you can use Sirius for your first try because if you get it wrong, Merlin knows where you'll end up; it's coming up to full moon so Remus isn't the best candidate; our Slytherin friends wouldn't let you near their heads if you paid them, no offence."
"None taken," Pansy replied with a rueful smile.
"I'd rather not know what Hermione thinks," Ron continued, "since some things are best left to the imagination, which leaves me."
"You might have trouble finding anything in there to project," Draco drawled with a laugh, "but he's right."
Ron threw a scrunched up piece of paper at Draco for that remark, but he was grinning.
"Okay," Harry said, "thanks."
"When do we start?" Ron asked.
"How about tomorrow, since it's Saturday?" Harry suggested.
Harry just nodded.
* * *
Draco stood away from Harry and Ron, in the corner, just observing. He had no doubt in Harry's abilities, but he was all too aware Harry tended to push himself far too hard. He was not going to allow that.
"It's not exactly Legilimency," Harry said after having set up his mirror on the table and sitting Ron down on the stool in front of it, "but it ends up with the same result. You concentrate on what you want me to project in the mirror and I try and extract it."
"What should I think about?" Ron asked.
"Anything that is a strong memory," Harry replied.
"Preferably something pleasant," Draco added for good measure.
Ron had the gall to grin at him. He looked back coolly.
"I'm watching you, Weasley," he said for good measure, which made Ron grin even more.
He mourned the days when he had been vaguely terrifying to Gryffindors.
Technically Harry had never deliberately been in someone else's head except his. Every time it had happened it had been accidental, but Draco was perfectly sure Harry could make it happen deliberately. Harry was not a practiced Legilimens, he could not dig deep, but the surface thoughts would be no problem for him.
"Okay," Ron said, "I've got one."
"Here goes," Harry said and placed his hands on Ron's shoulders.
As ever, Draco felt Harry's magic shift and he quieted him mind so he would not distract his soulmate from what he was doing. Harry's jaw was set, there was a small frown between his green eyes as they stared directly at Ron's forehead. It was an expression of supreme concentration.
For a few seconds nothing happened. It was as if time had all but come to a stop, until, suddenly, Harry moved. Looking away from Ron, he pointed his wand at the mirror and cast the not-quite-a-revealing charm. A picture appeared in the reflective surface.
At first it was blurry shapes, but then it resolved. Draco recognised Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross and then he saw a scrawny, confused looking boy standing around looking lost. With a start he realised it had to be the first time Ron had ever laid eyes on Harry.
The image moved as Ron must have moved, but then it shuddered and disappeared.
"Bugger," Harry said.
"I'm impressed, Mate," Ron said, "didn't think you'd get anything out of my thick skull on the first try."
"Count me astounded that we now have proof there are thoughts in that brain at all," Draco added his own two knuts.
"I couldn't keep the connection," Harry complained.
"That's why you're practicing," Ron said and grinned, which was exactly the right way to handle Harry, Draco was impressed. "A Galleon says you'll have it by lunch time."
"Tea time," Draco put in his own bet, "I don't want him pushing too hard."
He knew Harry's peculiar subconscious would take that as a challenge and he was pretty sure Ron was right. This was one bet he wouldn't mind losing.
* * *
Harry had, in fact, managed to produce a stable projection from Ron by lunch time on Saturday. They had then spent a good portion of the afternoon practicing before Draco had called a halt to proceedings. They reconvened Sunday afternoon. There was one significant difference, on the table was a vial of Veritaserum from Snape.
"Now we make sure this stuff actually works," Harry said as they set up the same way they had done the previous day.
"What do you want to do first?" Ron asked.
"A control," Harry decided. "We'll do it the same as yesterday to begin with. Then we'll see if I can change what I'm projecting."
Ron nodded and settled himself into a comfortable position on the stool. Harry stared at his friend, not, as some might expect, straight in the eyes, but right in the centre of Ron's forehead. He really wasn't sure why that spot worked, but it gave him no distractions and he wasn't going to argue. Next he placed his hands on Ron's shoulders and did not immediately sure up his mental barriers to block out the feeling of Ron.
It was an alien thing to do and he had to let his mind get used to the idea again. He would definitely not have enjoyed doing this with anyone but a close friend. As it was the sense of Ron was warm and familiar and his instincts came into line.
Next he opened his barriers a little bit more, only this time very specifically. He pictured it like boring a hole through his mental shield between him and Ron. Bit by bit he made the hole bigger until the memory Ron was concentrating on resolved in his head. He held it for a moment, allowing his mind to get used to the idea, and then he turned and cast the revealing spell on the mirror.
Ron had chosen his birthday party at The Burrow from when he was small. Harry could feel it was a very fond memory. He would have smiled if he hadn't been too busy concentrating.
He let the memory play out as little Ron ate a huge slice of his mum's best cake, before he broke the connection.
"Good," he said, "I think I've got it. Now to the next part, let's see if I can alter the projection."
"Okay," Ron agreed.
They set up again and Harry went through the same procedure, this time, however, when he cast the spell he concentrated on one single aspect of the memory. It popped up in the mirror once again, only this time Ron's cake had a huge dollop of whipped cream on top, with sprinkles. The change was small, but it was significant.
"That's weird," Ron said and the memory dissolved as he lost concentration. "Mate, if it wasn't you, I think I'd be worried."
"That was a little easier than I would like to admit," Harry agreed. "Now I know why some things aren't allowed as evidence. Time for the Veritaserum then."
Now Draco walked over from his observation corner. They had agreed he would administer the potion and they had the antidote on hand in case Harry had an adverse reaction.
"Three drops only," Draco said while pouring a small glass of water.
As Draco added exactly the right dose it was more than clear to Harry why his soulmate made such a brilliant potion's master. Every movement was precise.
"Here," Draco said and handed him the glass, [and let me know if you feel anything strange immediately.]
[Of course,] Harry replied and downed the adulterated water.
He felt the tingle of magic as he did with all potions these days, but that was about it. Other than that he didn't feel any other effect.
"What's your name?" Draco asked.
"Merlin," Harry replied.
"Right, well now we know all the stories are true," Draco said. [What's your name?] he asked silently this time.
[Harry Potter,] Harry replied, even though he tried to say 'Merlin' again.
"Any mental projection then," Draco decided and Harry had to agree.
"I take it you two are talking behind my back again?" Ron asked.
"Harry couldn't lie to me mind to mind," Draco explained.
"I thought he couldn't lie to you anyway," Ron pointed out.
"Well he can lie," Draco replied, "I just know if he is."
It was a fine distinction, but one Harry was pleased about because it proved all the theory was spot on so far.
"Okay," he said, "let's do this."
First of all he projected exactly what he was seeing in Ron's head, like the control. However, when he tried to repeat the experiment and alter the memory he was projecting he just couldn't seem to get his mind to play ball. No matter how hard he thought about it, he could not project anything into the memory. He tried four times.
"That's enough," Draco finally said and Harry broke the connection instantly, stepping back from Ron.
It was only then he realised he was feeling rather tired.
"The Veritaserum must be having more of an effect than we can see," Draco concluded, "it's making you use far more energy than before. Here, take the antidote."
Harry did not argue and downed the vial Draco handed him. The Veritaserum had been virtually tasteless, but the antidote was vile, not that, that surprised him. Any potion that did good was always horrid.
"Ugh," he said and decided that sitting down would be a really good idea. "Guess I'm going to have to practice some more before I'm ready for the trial."
"Count me in," Ron agreed.
"You're not allowed to over-do it," Draco warned, "or you'll have the wrath of Madam Pomfrey down on all of us, not to mention my wrath."
"I just need a bit of a sit down," he promised, "and maybe a biscuit."
Only as the antidote kicked in did he realise he was a bit peckish. It was probably going to be advisable to stock up on supplies before he did any more projecting.