“Very well,” said Fudge. “The accused being present—finally—let us begin. Are you ready?” he called down the row.
“Yes, sir,” said an eager voice Harry knew. Ron’s brother Percy was sitting at the very end of the front bench. Harry looked at Percy, Expecting some sign of recognition from him, but none came. Percy’s eyes, behind his horn-rimmed glasses, were fixed on his parchment, a quill poised in his hand.
“Disciplinary hearing of the twelfth of August,” said Fudge in a ringing voice, and Percy began to take notes at once, “into offenses committed under the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery and the International Statute of Secrecy by Harry James Potter, resident at number four, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey.
“Interrogators: Cornelius Oswald Fudge, Minister of Magic; Amelia Susan Bones, Head of Department of Magical Law Enforcement; Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary yo the Minister. Court Scribe, Percy Ignatius Weasley—“
“— Attorney for the defense, Elle Woods,” said an echoing voice as the doors burst open. A young woman dressed in a pink dress and heels sauntered in. She flipped her blonde hair over her shoulder. Harry couldn’t have been more surprised at this turn of events. What was a Muggle lawyer doing in the Ministry of Magic? The others in the room seemed to be just as surprised as Harry.
“You’re... you’re not supposed to be in here, ma’am. Muggles can’t get into the Ministry!” Percy Weasley protested, eyes agog in shock. Elle Woods shrugged off Percy’s comments and placed her purse next to Harry’s chair.
“Now, what was this law you mentioned, Minister?” Elle Woods said to Fudge, paying no attention to the stares and mutters.
“Don’t say a word!” Dolores Umbridge shrieked. “I’ll deal with her!”
“I asked a valid question. If the plaintiff attorney doesn’t object and the judge agree with them, I am legally allowed to ask the question!” Elle Woods explained, marching right up to Umbridge. Harry watched the whole exchange in wonder. Not only was this Muggle brilliant, she knew the law, even if it was only the Muggle side of it. Nobody noticed Dumbledore slip in to stand behind Harry’s chair. Harry jumped when a small dog popped its head out of Elle Woods’ bag.
“How peculiar.” Amelia Bones murmured, slight smile on her face.
“Minister, if you will answer my question.” Elle Woods said, eyebrows raised and face set in an impenetrable mask.
“I—I—erm—“ Fudge stuttered.
“The law states that underage wizards and witches are not to use magic outside of school.” Dumbledore said, looking at Elle Woods through the half-moon spectacles that rested halfway down his very crooked nose. Elle Woods acknowledged him with a sharp nod and turned back to the Wizengamot.
“And what was the offense Mr. Potter committed?”
“We most certainly do not have to tell her! She should be Obliviated!” Umbridge screeched, stabbing a sausage finger at Elle Woods. Elle Woods didn’t bother to look at Umbridge. She was focused on Fudge and the rest of the Wizengamot.
“Harry James Potter received an official warning from the Ministry for using illegal magic three years ago—“
“Stop right there. What do you mean by ‘illegal magic’?” Woods questioned, shaking her hair out of her eyes and staring up at Fudge.
“You can’t tell me what he did? Shame.” Elle Woods said, voice cutting the conversation short like a knife through butter. Harry was shocked by this American Muggle’s ability. She had the nerve to shut down the Minister of Magic!
“And he conjured a Patronus on the night of the second of August.” Fudge boomed. Elle Woods turned back to Fudge.
“A Patronus, you say? Vivian told me about those. She said they were only conjured to ward off... was it dementia?” Elle Woods said, purposely messing up the word so as to make the Wizengamot more uncomfortable.
“Dementors. To ward off Dementors.”
“And what, pray tell, do these ‘dementiadors’ do?”
“Dementors suck the happiness out of a person. The Dementor’s Kiss will suck out a person’s soul.” Fudge explained. Then the witch with the monocle on Fudge’s left cut across him in a booming voice.
“You produced a fully fledged Patronus?”
“Yes,” said Harry, “because—“
“A corporeal Patronus?”
“A—what?” said Harry.
“Your Patronus had a clearly defined form?”
“Yes,” said Harry, feeling both impatient and slightly desperate.
“Ahem.” Elle Woods said, directing attention back toward her. “So, you’re telling me that this Patronus wards off a deadly creature.”
“Yes.” Fudge sighed, tired of this woman’s questions.
“Therefor, Mr. Potter used this Patronus in good reason.” Elle Woods concluded.
“Do you even know what a Patronus is?” Umbridge snarled.
“Sure I do.” Elle Woods replied, looking at Umbridge.
“Do you know how to cast one?”
“How hard can it be?” Elle Woods said, turning back to Fudge.
“Dementors in Little Whinging? Preposterous!” A wizard exclaimed.
“Why else would my client have produced the Patronus?” Elle Woods barked.
“He thought it would be a nice cover story. Muggles can’t see dementors, can they? Highly convenient, highly convenient... so it’s just your word and no witnesses...”
“Permission to call in a witness, Your Honor?” Elle Woods said over the din, unfazed. The room stopped.
“A—a witness?” Fudge asked in disbelief.
“We do, in fact, have a witness to the presence of dementors in that alleyway,” Dumbledore said, “other than Dudley Dursley.”
Fudge’s plump face seemed to slacken, as though somebody had let the air out of it. He stared down at Elle Woods and Dumbledore for a moment or two, and then, with the appearance of a man pulling himself back together, said, “We haven’t got time to listen to more taradiddles, I’m afraid, Dumbledore. I want this dealt with quickly—“
“No, no, no. You listen to what Mr. Dumbledore has to say.” Elle Woods interjected.
“I may be wrong,” said Dumbledore pleasantly, “but I am sure that under the Wizengamot Charter of Rights, the accused has the right to present witnesses for his or her case. Isn’t that the policy of the Department if Magical Law Enforcement, Madam Bones?”
“True,” said Madam Bones. “Perfectly true.”
“Oh, very well, very well,” snapped Fudge.
“Good. Because leaving Mrs. Figg outside would be very rude, don’t you think?” Elle Woods asked, escorting Harry’s neighbor into the room. “I’m terribly sorry that you had to wait outside, Mrs. Figg. Why don’t we go for tea after this?”
“Oh, that sounds delightful.” Mrs. Figg replied, looking around the room nervously. Dumbledore cast a chair for her. She perched on the edge of her seat.
“Can you tell me your full name for the record?” Elle Woods asked, planting herself in front of Mrs. Figg.
“Arabella Doreen Figg.”
“Can you spell your last name?”
“Thank you. Now, where do you live, Mrs. Figg?”
“I’m—I’m a resident of Little Whinging, close to where Harry Potter lives,” said Mrs. Figg.
“We have no record of any witch or wizard living in Little Whinging other than Harry Potter,” said Madam Bones at once. “That situation has been closely monitored given... given past events.”
“Please let Mrs. Figg finish.” Elle Woods said placidly. “Continue,” she told Mrs. Figg.
“I’m a Squib,” said Mrs. Figg, growing more confident. “So you wouldn’t have me registered, would you?”
“A Squib, eh?” said Fudge, eyeing her suspiciously. “We’ll be checking that. You’ll leave the details of your parentage with my assistant, Weasley.”
“Not only was that extremely rude, you interrupted me.” Elle Woods said to Fudge, glaring at him. Harry had to agree.
“Anyway, Mrs. Figg, can Squibs see dementors?” Elle Woods asked.
“Yes, we can!” said Mrs. Figg indignantly.
“Okay. What were you doing at the time of the incident?”
“I had gone out to buy cat food from the corner shop at the end of Wisteria Walk, shortly after nine in the evening of the second of August,” said Mrs. Figg at once, as though she had learned what she was saying by heart, “when I heard a disturbance down the alleyway between Magnolia Crescent and Wisteria Walk. On approaching the mouth of the alleyway, I saw dementors gliding along the alley toward what looked like two boys.”
“What did they look like?” said Madam Bones, narrowing her eyes so that the monocle’s edges disappeared into her flesh.
“Well, one was very large and the other one rather skinny—“
“She means the dementors, Mrs. Figg.” Elle Woods said gently. Madam Bones nodded.
“Oh,” said Mrs. Figg, flushing pink. “They were big. Big and wearing cloaks.”
Harry felt a horrible sinking in the pit of his stomach. It sounded like Mrs. Figg had only seen a picture of a dementor before.
“Big and wearing cloaks,” repeated Madam Bones coolly, while Fudge snorted. The dog in the bag growled. “I see. Anything else?”
“What did you feel?” Elle Woods whispered.
“Yes. I—I felt them. Everything went cold, and this was a very warm summer’s night, mark you. And I felt... as though all happiness had gone from the world... and I remembered... dreadful things...”
Her voice shook and died. Elle Woods put a comforting hand on Mrs. Figg’s shoulder.
Madame Bones’ eyes widened slightly. Harry could see red marks under her eyebrow where the monocle had dug into it.
“What did the dementors do?”
“They went for the boys. One of them had fallen. The other, Harry, was backing away, trying to repel the dementors. He tried twice and produced a silver vapor. On the third attempt, he produced a Patronus, which charged down the first dementor and then, with his encouragement, chased the second away from his cousin.” Mrs. Figg said confidently. Fudge fidgeted with his papers. Finally, he looked up and said, “That’s what you saw, is it
“That was what happened.”
“Very well,” said Fudge.” You may go.”
Elle Woods walked Mrs. Figg out and returned to staring accusingly at Fudge.
“Not a very convincing witness,” said Fudge loftily.
“I beg to differ, Minister.” Elle Woods said.
“I agree with Miss Woods,” said Madam Bones in her booming voice. “She certainly described the effects of a dementor attack very accurately. And I can’t imagine why she would say they were there if they weren’t—“
“But dementors wandering into a Muggle suburb and just happening to come across a wizard?” snorted Fudge.
“Oh, I don’t think anyone in here thinks they were there by coincidence, Minister. Since You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters are back, anything is liable to happen. Especially seemingly random dementor attacks.” Elle Woods announced, stalking right up to Fudge.
“The dementors remain in place in Azkaban!”
“Then let’s think for a minute. How did the dementors get to Little Whinging, then?” Elle Woods said, waiting for Fudge’s answer.
“Are you accusing the Ministry of setting dementors on the boy?” Umbridge asked in her high pitched girly voice. Elle Woods turned her attention to Umbridge.
“Who else has so-called ‘complete control’ over the dementors?” She said, mimicking Umbridge’s voice. Harry fought back a laugh upon seeing Umbridge’s scandalized face.
“Clause seven of the Decree states that magic may be used before Muggles in exceptional circumstances, and as those exceptional circumstances include situations that threaten the life of the witch or wizard himself, or witches, wizards, or Muggles present at the time of the—“
“We are familiar with clause seven, thank you very much!” snarled Fudge.
“Then we have to agree that Harry’s Patronus falls under this category. I believe this trial is over.” Elle Woods said with a flourish.
“You sit back down! Harry Potter already had two offenses before this incident!” Fudge roared.
“You pardoned both of them, Minister.” Elle Woods pointed out, picking up her bag.
“Wha—I—how did you know that?!”
“A good lawyer finds out all the information she can.”
“Yes well, I haven’t even started in what he gets up to at school—“
“—but as the Ministry has no authority to punish Hogwarts students for misdemeanors at school.” said Dumbledore, politely as ever, but now with s suggestion of coolness behind his words. “They also have no power to expel Hogwarts students.”
“Laws can be changed.” Fudge said savagely.
“Of course they can. And you certainly seem to be making changes, Cornelius. Why, in a few short weeks since I was asked to leave the Wizengamot, If has already become the practice to hold a full criminal trial to deal with simple matters of underage magic!”
“Seems a bit much to me. And I’m an American.” Elle Woods added. A few minutes of the wizards above then shifted in their seats. Fudge turned a deeper shade of puce.
“The court’s job is not to punish Mr. Potter for every single bit of magic he performed at school. He was charged with a specific offense and has presented his defense. All the defendant can do now is await your verdict.” Elle Woods said sweetly. Umbridge sputtered, angry with this Muggle law girl.
“All in favor of clearing the accused of charges?” said Madam Bones. Harry’s head jerked upward. There were many hands in the air, more than half! He tried to count them all, but before he could finish Madam Bones had said, “And those in favor of conviction?”
Fudge and half a dozen others raised their hands. Umbridge was among them, glaring daggers at Elle Woods while doing so. Elle Woods stood tall, hands on her hips, and glared right back.
“Very well, very well... cleared of all charges.” Fudge sighed.
“Wonderful.” Elle Woods exclaimed at the same time as Dumbledore said, “Excellent.” He pulled out his wand, causing the armchairs he had conjured to banish. “Well, I must be getting along. Good day to you all.”
He swept from the dungeon, not once looking at Harry.
“Come on. Let’s get out of here before that garish pink toad chases us down and charges you with another offense like talking back or something.” Elle Woods said, offering her hand to Harry. He took it and let her pull him to his feet.
“Thank you.” He said after a moment.
“It’s the least I could do. If any one of those guys give you trouble again, call me. I’ll make sure they get what’s coming for them.” Elle Woods said. Bruiser barked in agreement. Harry petted Bruiser’s head.
“It was lovely to meet you, but I have to jet. Hopefully we meet under better circumstances next time. I have an ugly frog to track down. She’s going to get an earful for disrespect and not obeying the rules of the court of law.” Elle Woods said, sauntering down another corridor. Harry wondered where she’d come from, how she’d gotten into the Ministry, and if she knew where she was going. He shook his head. He could figure that out later. For now, he had to find Mr. Weasley.