It’s the trials. The biggest clean-up after the second wizarding war has been done and now they are dealing with the remaining death eaters. Quite a number of them died during the final battle, some committed suicide in their holding cells to avoid Azkaban and luckily less than we feared could escape the country. I was asked to watch the proceedings as I know the most about the Dark Lord and his organisation (at least according to them, I would think higher members of the Order of the Phoenix would have been better). So now I am witnessing my 14th trial since the beginning of it all. Up until now every person put to trial has received a relatively just punishment. The court is now sentencing a young woman who I forgot the name of to seven years in Azkaban in the top layer (the easiest confinement; no dementors, no dark hallways, acceptable food and so on). Thought so, from her testament under Veritaserum it became clear that she was a minor pawn who did little more than legwork and has never killed anyone. I yawn while she is led out of the room.
Close to dozing off I suddenly look up when I hear whispers start in the round. And I immediately straighten up when I see why. There in the doorway is the person for whose trial I have been waiting the whole week. Draco Malfoy. The only Malfoy who will stand trial at all. Lucius was killed in the final battle, even though no one was sure what both he and his wife were doing on the battlefield since none of them had a wand. Narcissa was hit by a stray curse (most likely from a fellow death eater) as well. She isn’t dead, but her mind is wiped, leaving little more than hallucinations. That makes Draco the last survivor of his family. I am sure the weeks since the battle haven’t been easy for him. Having to grieve his father and look after his mother until they took him into custody and transported her to St. Mungos.
But nonetheless he is standing straight, ignoring each insult or other exclamation thrown at him. I scowl at watching the masses curse Draco for things he hasn’t done. Most of those accusations should be directed at Lucius, but since he is dead his son has to take up the role of scapegoat. But he doesn’t so much as twitch, just walks on with an expressionless face. But I still notice the exhaustion and probably physical pain in his posture. He moves too stiffly, his skin is way too pale (making him looking worryingly like a ghost; causing a shiver to run down my spine as it reminds me of our encounter in the toilet in sixth year), there are rings under his eyes and his hair is unkempt and dried out. To the public he might look as impeccable like always, but to me who has known him for seven years he looks awful. Especially when I have seen those silver eyes glint at me aggressively so many times and now they are cold and empty. By now he has reached the chair, sitting down with his usual grace and crossing his shackled arms. He looks more bored than anything.
“Draco Lucius Malfoy?” the judge asks in a booming voice, even he is displaying his displeasure at the young man.
“Yes,” is the simple answer, grey eyes focusing on the compact figure.
“You know why you are here?”
“I guess so, but I would like to have the charges told me directly as is my right,” he responds calmly.
Gesturing to his assistant at the side the judge starts to read out a very long list of various crimes. I am pretty sure Draco did not commit even a fraction of them. Murder in more cases than I would like to say; I don’t think Draco is capable of killing anyone. Torture and any other cruel deed you can do; I don’t believe that either. The minor crimes that follow after, like for example vandalism at muggle buildings; that I can believe. But if you ask me they just refuse to let the Malfoys (who were considered the epitome of death eater during all of Voldemort’s regime) get away nearly unscathed again, no matter whether it is actually just or not. That makes me really angry. It is like the society didn’t learn at all from the two wars.
Draco takes in everything calmly until the judge fixes on him, “What do you say to that, accused?”
He takes a deep breath, “While I agree with you that I am guilty of minor war crimes I must disagree on the first accounts. I have never killed any person, neither have I tortured as many as you try to pin on me. Not that I did it voluntarily to begin with. Also your accusation of… rape is completely wrong. I would never lower myself to that,” his eyes are strong as he gives his answer.
“You have the Dark Mark, do you not?” his nod earns him a scathing look from the judge, “Show it.”
A frown crosses Draco’s face, “That was throughoutly checked when I was taken into custody. There is no need to prove it again.”
“That was not a question, prisoner,” a councilmen growls.
One of the guards who brought Draco in steps forward. A big hand grabs the thin forearm harshly, dragging the blonde to his feet. With little regard to the expensive clothes and his prisoner, the burly man rips the cloth covering Draco’s left arm away, revealing the morbid tattoo marring the pale skin. I see the boy press his lips together but otherwise he doesn’t protest, instead lets himself be shoved back into the chair after there have been started enough enraged murmurs in the rows around the room. My hands clench under the bank and an irrational urge to protect the thin blonde in front of my eyes wells up inside me.
“There is no denying you are a Death Eater, boy,” the judge spits, reminding me uncomfortably of uncle Vernon, “In fact, as a Malfoy you belonged to you-know-who’s inner circle. And you want to tell me that you never killed anyone?”
“I never murdered,” Draco insists, his voice and gaze strong, even though he is now hiding his left arm in his robe.
It earns him malicious snickers from all around the room. Murmurs about him being a liar and only wanting to save his skin drift to my ears. He ignores it even though I’m sure he can hear them.
“I don’t think anyone would believe you this,” the judge snorts, “But you have a chance to prove it, don’t you? Will you let us question you under Veritaserum?”
For a moment silence falls and I hope he will agree because he could prove that he is indeed innocent this way. On the other hand I am not even sure if I would trust the court to accept that testament if he gave it.
“No,” he answers to my surprise, “I am well aware of the consequences but that is something I will not allow.”
I groan. Stubborn, proud Malfoy. No matter what kind of embarrassing secrets he’s keeping he should just accept it, but no, he has to be difficult. He turns his chances of getting away from here with little punishment into non-existent. Not that he is the first death eater to refuse it, but still. They will use this to pin as much on him as they can, so he will never see the sun in his life. The judge smirks.
“Then we will have to believe the reports of eyewitnesses and what other death eaters told us about you. That makes you guilty of all charges,” he explains nearly gleefully.
Draco sighs and shakes his head, but he looks resolved to accept whatever is in store him. I even can’t help but admire him for it. Where did that whinny boy go who spent weeks complaining about a fall from his broom. Something must have changed him quite a bit.
“Is there anyone who wants to speak up for Mr. Malfoy?” the judge asks, not expecting anyone.
But to everyone’s surprise I stand up, “Yes, I want to.”
Immediately silver eyes fix on me. Slight surprise is visible on his face but nothing more and he covers it up fast. Instead he stares straight ahead again. I smile at the back of his head and get down from my seat into the witness stand. This is my best try to spare Draco worse punishment.
And so, I retell the whole story. From how pained he looked in sixth year over whenever I would see him in a vision, he would do nothing that could be considered bad. That he saved my life at Malfoy Manor by not identifying me. What I will only later realise is that he could have ended the war at this point, with the dark side winning, should he have chosen to identify me. But he didn’t and I am not drawing that conclusion yet. So I continue on over our escape from the Manor and how he didn’t fire any curse at me in the Room of Requirement even though he had more than enough time to do so with my back turned to him. He didn’t even fight in the final battle. I saw him walk away from the fight after all.
Through the whole story, Draco’s eyes have remained frozen, only narrowing briefly when I talk about the Manor. The judge has become more pissed with each sentence I said (and reminds me even more of Vernon due to it now). He is even glaring down at me while I am finishing my speech with the statement that I don’t believe Draco capable of killing anyone. Some whispers have started among the spectators and not all are immediately condemning Draco as far as I can hear. As I nod and leave the witness stand, I catch those silver eyes for a moment and he gives me a nearly unnoticeable nod but I smile back brightly.
The judge glares angrily and after asking whether there is anything else and a short discussion with his fellow councilmen he turns back to the bored looking Draco, “The court will now announce their decision.”