1994-11-13: Coram non Judice

Participants:

Holly_icon.gif Sirius_icon.gif Umbridge_icon.gif Tonks_icon.gif McGonagall_icon.gif Jilly_icon.gif Jack_icon.gif Edwin_icon.gif Dumbledore_icon.gif Alistaire_icon.gif Christian_icon.gif

Scene Title Coram non Judice
Synopsis The trial continues before the Wizengamot.
Location Ministry of Magic, Level 10
Date Nov 13, 1994
Watch For n/a
Logger Holly

Resplendent in their plum robes, the Wizengamot settle into their places and designated benches. Umbridge is already present, standing at the podium and better prepared this time. Or so she thinks. For her own 'protection', she's ordered a pair of Aurors to stand ready on either side of her.. Seeing as there's a mass murderer on trial, she was threatened with the Dark Mark the last time, and she's a hateful old bat who likes to wield her power like a shiny toy. While waiting for the proceedings to get under way, she goes through the papers in front of her, prepared with questions, and even names of her own to call if necessary.

—-

The Tonkses are again present, though it seems like Nymphadora's in a bit of an agitating mood, as her hair's a nice shade of violet for the proceedings. The clothes are decent though, as if her mother wouldn't let her out of the house in anything but 'acceptable'.

—-

The Nobles are also here in force again. Separate again. Liam and Michael head to the Elder's spot among the Wizengamot, and Jack moves to sit in a similar place, near Tonks and the others he's sat with before. The glares are less noticeable between the two boys, as though they've decided to focus on the task at hand instead of the mutual animosity.

—-

Arriving with no fanfare and promptly this time, Albus Dumbledore is able to get into the courtroom with minimal fuss and politely thanks the wizard who offers him a seat in the front row, nearest to the accused and his former colleagues on the Wizengamot, and he nods with equal politeness to the Wizengamot as a whole when those who still believe in him make eye contact or wave or whatever, smiling briefly when one of Umbridge's opponents on the legal panel pointedly saves a seat next to him for their missing member, although a brief shake of the old headmaster's silver-crowned head indicates he will not be resuming his position there. And then, while he waits for the hearing to resume, he twiddles his thumbs absently.

—-

As he was for the previous encounter in this courtroom, Edwin is lingering near a wall like some sort of great skulking beast, wand at the ready but not pointed at anything in particular. The onlookers that have already arrived and those that are still wandering in get the bulk of the Hit Wizard's attention for now, his gaze falling on each and every one of them in a casual search for anything appearing outwardly suspicious. He's almost disappointed that there isn't.

—-

Holly has no place among the Wizengamot. Instead, she's on the floor, right about where she was last time. She's waiting patiently, and while she's well-aware of the fact that Sirius Black is a loose cannon, she's positive that his testimony will go well. They're prepared for this. And she's also prepared - she hopes - for when Umbridge attempts to make the illogical leap from 'murderer' to 'unregistered animagus.'

Unfortunately, she was unable to acquire permission for Sirius to actually take the stand during the trial this time. To her disappointment, he's going to be in chains again… But at least he'll look good in his new robes. Hopefully, there won't be anymore Dark Marks delivered to Umbridge, and the ugly toad will have learned not to open her mail in the courtroom.

Seriously. How disrespectful.

"If it pleases the Wizengamot, the Defense is ready to begin. If you'll allow Mr. Black into the courtroom, we'll be starting with his testimony."

She's glad to see that there are familiar faces here again in support of the accused. Hopefully, the Dementors won't make an appearance, though this time, Holly's pretty sure that the vast majority of people are prepared.

—-

Standing opposite the two bully-ish Aurors who are there for Umbridge's 'protection', Alistaire Phoenix keeps his gaze shifting all over, scanning for anyone misbehaving on any side of the good guys/bad guys/misguided guys aisles. Once more, he picks out how the Wizengamot act, whether in approval or disapproval of the Acting Minister's behavior, but he remains silent. And when he spots Jack nearby in the crowd, he casually inches closer to the other's position, so as better to gossip amongst themselves, giving Tonks an appreciative eyebrow and grin at her choice of hair color.

—-

Only Umbridge can make a smile appear wholly unfriendly, such as the one she's giving down at Holly on the floor. There are no Dementors in the courtroom as of yet, but the session is still young. As for denying Holly's request? Umbridge was all too pleased to sweetly say no. He's a convicted mass murderer, he'll not be unfettered. Besides, they've already got their safehouse, and saying no makes Umbridge happy. That's what matters.

"About time," Umbridge says in saccharine tones before bringing the gavel down hard on her podium. "Let this trial begin on the thirteenth of November. Guards, if you will escort the accused in." She's still careful to not put a name on the accused. That's humanizing the situation.

—-

At Umbridge's announcement, Black is escorted in. His mood is more upbeat than last time. Not quite cheerful, nor smug, just, prepared. He's also looking far better than the last appearance, what with his new dress robes that alternate between the House colors of Gryffindor. The guards see to it that he's placed once again in the chair and bound with the chains. Expected, but still unwelcomed, a sour look crosses Sirius's face as the precaution is made. Once secured, he glances around, making eye contact with a few people. Jack, Tonks, Andromeda, Holly, Dumbledore..

—-

There is a second familiar face for a great deal of the patrons of the proceedings, coming just moments behind Albus Dumbledore. Minerva McGonagall, with her usual closed expression and cool gaze settled comfortably behind those glasses. Dark green robes, with a high-necked collar that seems to give off a slightly more imperious air than usual. Not one for messy business, especially today; Minerva has taken a seat near Dumbledore, hands clasped rather stiffly on her lap and posture always remaining straight.

Only when Sirius is escorted out does she actually make a subtle movement to look out and catch any gazes that may pass in her direction- mister Black's being one of them as he looks towards Albus first.

—-

If nothing else, Holly can only hope that this trial sparks some courtroom reform for the Ministry of Magic in this country. Even if it just gets people thinking, that's better than the stubborn bunch of ignorants that exist now. Umbridge's unprofessionalism isn't so shocking today as it was during the first phase of the trial, and so Holly won't even dignify her with a look of any kind.

Once Sirius is in place, she takes the few steps necessary to reach him. "Just remember what we talked about. Let's knock this one out of the park," she says quietly, so that only he and those standing close to him can hear.

It's only now that she looks at the Wizengamot, assessing their expressions, and attempting to determine whether or not they might be more open to testimony today. "Minister Umbridge, Honourable Wizengamot, let it be noted in the record that the testimony of Sirius Black is starting. Mister Black." She turns from Umbridge. "We'll be going back to before the murder of Lily and James Potter. Is it true that only a Secret Keeper could have known where the Potters were living? And, at some point, were you asked to be the Secret Keeper for the Potters?"

—-

Jack will reciprocate the motion, scooting a little closer to Phoenix. The better to make snarky remarks in relative peace, that is. He also gives Sirius a quick nod, and then turns his attention to the Minister and Holly. He does catch the Professors coming in out of the corner of his eye, and his expression relaxes a little more. Cool. His favorite teachers.

—-

Toward the back of the circular room would be the curly haired post mistress. Jilly sits with her arms crossed, watching the proceedings without her usual good humor or optimism. Why she's here could be anyone's guess, but it doesn't look like she's there for support. Or for curiosity as to what may happen to the accused. She looks somewhat official, however, wearing a pair of robes without paint stains on them - or near enough anyway - and her normally unruly hair pulled back into a bun. Strands of hair still escape, but she's never been one to look tidy. Even when she tries.

—-

Well, there's Sirius. Tonks glances around, and the grin from Alistaire prompts a handwave. But she's soon to turn her attention back to her cousin. Her brows arch at the spiffy new threads. Maybe there was some truth to Rita's 'notoriously handsome' statement after all. Tonks then decides to look around for some people who she feels may be a threat. Edwin's quickly located, and the pair of Auror's near Umbridge is also eyed. Dawlish, you sell out.

—-

Dumbledore nods quite respectfully upon spying the arrival of Professor McGonagall, and when Sirius meets his gaze, the old wizard nods once, an encouraging expression on his face for a few moments before turning his attention to Holly and her first question for Sirius. He lifts his chin, his blue eyes dimming slightly as his thoughts return to that tragic time.

—-

Sirius refuses to look at the Wizengamot just yet. It's his way of snubbing them. Generally speaking. He's certain some of them are quite fair, but looking that way also means seeing Umbridge. He'd rather not do that just yet. Instead, he glances at Holly as she asks her question, then, still looking straight at her, he answers, "It is true that only the Secret Keeper would know where the Potters were staying, and yes, I was the obvious choice to fill that role.. and to answer your question, yes, I was asked to be their Secret Keeper."

—-

There's the obligatory murmering through the ranks of the Wizengamot at the first question, and then the answer. Umbridge leans over her podium, and is careful to not show much glee. Seeing as he didn't exactly say he /was/ the Secret Keeper. Darn this American, knowing what she's doing. Settling back, Umbridge's eyes dart to where Edwin is standing, before her gaze is back down onto the floor. Exercising patience for now, she lets Holly get in the line of questioning before she herself will hijack the floor.

—-

Liam is also pleased at the way he answers the question. He scribbles something down on the everpresent piece of parchment, and listens carefully, giving his father and brother a look and then returning to it. It's not certain whether he's taking real notes or drawing hideous caricatures of the accused.

—-

Tonks, knowing the story, leans forward, resting her elbow on her knee and her chin against her fingers. Andromeda of course, gives a disapproving look at her daughter's lack of proper posture, but, sigh.

—-

Holly will wait for the reaction to Sirius' statement, as it is information that nearly everyone believes to be true - Sirius Black was the Secret Keeper for the Potters. "As Secret Keeper, only you would have been able to divulge the location of the Potters. However, you claim that you were not the one to tell You-Know-Who where the Potters were living, is that correct? Please tell the court what happened."

—-

Edwin doesn't catch Umbridge's glance because he's busy staring at Sirius with a blank and unreadable expression but a whole lot of tension in his stance. He frowns the slightest bit when the man in the chair starts to give his testimony, the prelude to an outright scowl that never really makes it to his face - to give such an open sign of his disdain would be unwise, at least for the time being.

—-

Alistaire glances over at Jack again at the question and its subsequent answer, but he remains silent, ever watchful in the sort of way Mad-Eye Moody would approve of, but twenty times more handsome and subtle. And then he furrows his brows and looks to Sirius to see what the truth will out, or at least what Sirius has to say. He obviously knows what the key point is here, whether Sirius was or wasn't Secret-Keeper, but doesn't know which it was… yet.

—-

"That also is correct, as Secret Keeper, I had access to that information." At the way Holly phrases the next line of the questioning, Sirius can't help but frown and look.. well.. hurt. Not to mention he's not able to turn off the grief he still feels. "No. I would have died before I sold out my best friend, his wife and their child.. my godson." He takes a steadying breath, and recounts his tale. "Everyone knew how close James and I were. It was only logical that I would be the Secret Keeper. With this in mind, I talked James and Lily into using someone else at the last minute. There was so much mistrust amongst us, because that's what You Know Who did, does. That's how he works. Planting seeds, turning people against each other.. we didn't even tell Dumbledore. It was kept between James, Lily, myself.. and Peter Pettigrew."

—-

Umbridge was starting to disguise her boredom (already) by going through her papers, one elbow propped on the podium. At the dropping of the name there, her elbow slips and she almost falls off balance, save for Dawlish acting quickly in supporting her squat frame. "Hem, hem," she calls out, that little cough echoing through the chamber and she can't help herself, but say rather girlishly, "How convienent of you to place the blame on a dead man."

—-

When his name comes up in conversation, Albus Dumbledore nods gravely to Sirius' statement and then interjects, "Madame Minister, I was indeed not told of the switch, hence my previously-given evidence to the Ministry citing Sirius as the Secret-Keeper… which I understand was a rather large reason as to why Sirius was convicted without an actual trial back in 1981. I hereby retract any statement alleging that Sirius Black was James and Lily Potter's Secret-Keeper, a poor assumption which has indeed proven the Muggle saying about assumptions."

—-

There's a bit of a murmuring from the Wizengamot as they speak amongst themselves at Sirius' revelation. Even more so as Dumbledore retracts previous testimony on the matter!

—-

Tonks blinks for a moment, then looks over at her mother. "Make an ass out of you and me," Andromeda murmurs, apparently having heard the saying first hand. Tonks still looks confused. "Spell 'assume'," is all the older woman shall state, finding it incredibly distasteful. The rumble of the wizengamot attracts both their attentions, wondering what's about to come. Umbridge just gets a sour look from the younger Tonks.

—-

The process thusfar is watched as carefully as anyone else, when it comes to Minerva's attention. Rapt, centered, and silent. As Holly and Sirius exchange, her features darken around the edges in remembrance, and as Sirius closes out the branch of questions, those darkened lines soften in what can be noted as earnest curiosity. Light green eyes swivel towards the podium when the woman behind it clears her throat, shading in a very mild moment of agitation before moving to Albus as he offers the polite interjection. McGonagall's lips curve up at the ends only enough for the closest figures around her to notice.

—-

Umbridge's nostrils flare just a little as she breathes hard as Dumbledore speaks up. Bollocks. This is /bollocks/ and she will not stand for it! At the breaking out of murmuring, she raps her gavel harder than necessary. "Quiet!" A stern glare is given to those behind her before she announces, "Professor Dumbledore's retraction is so noted. The defense may continue." With this charade.

—-

Don't rise to that, Sirius, her look seems to say. Dark brown eyes meet her client's for a moment, and then she offers a grateful look to Dumbledore. "Your comment is noted, Minister, and let Professor Albus Dumbledore's statement be placed on the record, as well," and then she continues. "Honourable Wizengamot, Peter Pettigrew was known at Hogwarts for being a friend to James Potter, Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin, as testified previously by Mister Noble. It is a well-believed fact that Mister Pettigrew was destroyed by a powerful curse, and it is also believed that the person who committed this atrocity is my client. However, I seek to show that my client, beyond any shadow of doubt, was not guilty."

She turns back to Sirius. "Mister Black. You allege that Peter Pettigrew was used as the Secret Keeper instead of yourself. Despite the fact that he was your friend at Hogwarts, can you tell the court exactly what you believe may have caused him to turn to You-Know-Who, rather than remain loyal to his friends?"

—-

Jack listens, not having heard the specifics before. He'd heard Sirius wasn't guilty, but didn't know all the little bits and pieces of the proof. He testified because he did know the man, but hearing what happened is heartening. He leans forward, setting his non-dominant elbow on his knee. His right hand's still in his pocket on the wand.

—-

Alistaire actually grins at the Acting Minister's gavel-banging, and chuckles at Dumbledore's Muggle reference, nodding over his shoulder to Andromeda when she tries to explain the quote. However, he's still playing the role of protector and peacekeeper, watchful and waiting, hand on the wand in his pocket just like Jack.

—-

Someone needs to take that gavel and hit Umbridge with it, Tonks expression seems to say. She tries to watch the Wizengamot, trying to guage how they feel about it by their expressions.

—-

An expression of gratitude is flashed from Sirius to Dumbledore. Much to his credit, he doesn't rise to Umbridge's bait. He's better prepared mentally, which isn't to say that he can't be set off. "That I can't begin to guess. Everyone had their motives for following You Know Who." He'd much prefer to call evil by its proper name, but Holly had a point in advising against it. He also cannot keep the growl out of his voice as he discusses Peter. Not even time can heal this wound. "Yes. I suggested Peter over myself. I vouched for him, and I was prepared to do all I could to distract the Death Eaters, to take their focus away from Peter. He was our friend, this was our fight together. We had his back, we thought he had ours as well. We were wrong. Since you weren't here during that time, I'll explain as briefly as I can. Anyone here can attest that during the war we were scared. We were losing friends, family members, acquaintances, left and right. People were disappearing. You Know Who was forceful and sneaky in his recruitment. A lot of people joined with him because they wholeheartedly believed in his stance.. Bellatrix Lestrange for one." And the name is said with undisguised contempted. "Others were pressured, bullied and threatened into joining his side. If anything, I suspect it could be for those latter reasons that Peter turned on us."

—-

A rather loud snort of disbelief following Sirius' latest little speech can be heard from the corner of the courtroom that Edwin has edged himself into, though the man himself gives no sign that he made the noise or even heard it. Instead he continues to stand at the ready, hands clasped over one another in front of him with his wand held tightly in the lower hand. This is such a ridiculous farce. All Sirius really seems capable of doing is whining.

—-

Edwin isn't the only one looking on and listening with disbelief. Umbridge completely shares Edwin's stance on this matter, and if only they had been able to put a stop to this mess by other means before now. "That's all good and well," Umbridge says with a tiger-like smile, "But we have /no/ proof that Pettigrew was the Secret Keeper over yourself. I still say it is rather convenient when he cannot defend himself against such a vile accusation." She's still driving at this point, doing what she can for the moment to continue keeping doubt in the air.

—-

Jack nods slowly, remembering that time. He gives a little shiver, and catches Alistaire's eye. There's an understanding there from their earlier discussion — not the failed one in Hogsmeade, but the more profitable one in the Leaky. He purses his lips and contiues to listen. He jerks his head sharply toward the snort when Edwin does so. That's … downright rude. When Umbridge speaks, he frowns.

—-

Sitting in one of the Wizengamot tiers with his eldest son, Sir Michael Noble watches the proceedings. His expression - though it started carefully neutral - is slowly shifting to something akin to disgust. "Well and good," he mutters to Liam in a mildly snarky undertone. "The phrase is well and good." Not the other way around. Catching Jack's gaze, Michael follows it to that stringy Auror, a puzzled frown highlighting the lines on his high forehead. What's that all about, then?

—-

"To word it in a more neutral turn of phrase," one of the Wizengamot states, probably someone who's taking the case seriously, "Where is the proof that Pettigrew was the Secret-Keeper and not Black? Will it be presented?"

—-

"Minister Umbridge, Honourable Wizengamot, if you'll be so kind as to allow us to procede, we will soon be providing your proof. We seek to establish the circumstances behind this proof, though, so you will be left with no doubt in your minds." As it stands, Holly has the silver bullet in her notebook - the same as she showed Sirius previously.

"Thank you, Mister Black," she says gently. Holly knows this is hard for him to relive. "Honourable Wizengamot, I wish to now backtrack several years to a point when Mister Black and Mister Pettigrew were still attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In order to fully understand how things came to pass, we need to examine their friendship in full detail. This court is aware that Remus Lupin…" She hesitates after saying the name, because she feels like she's giving away a secret that isn't hers to tell. "…Was already a werewolf when he attended the school. As his friends, Mister Black and Mister Potter, along with Mister Pettigrew, sought to help their friend in his time of need. Sirius — Mister Black, can you tell the court the method you chose to do this?"

—-

The name of said werewolf causes Tonks to sit up straight. Immediately she's looking around, wondering if he'll be called to testify, but it seems instead they're just going to talk /about/ him. Nah, she's not as disappointed as she looks, really. Again, this is stuff Tonks is already aware of. HOwever, Andromeda seems confused. It seems there might've been a few holes Tonks chose not to fill when she tried to explain things.

—-

"I apologize for being long-winded just then, but as you can see.. thanks to the Ministry, I've had a long time to think about this." Sirius says in as polite a manner as he can manage.. it also sounds sarcastic to those who know him well. As much as he wants to slap back at Umbridge, he lets Holly do that, seeing as the woman keeps getting more points in his book. She was right to explain this is a game to him. Makes things a bit easier to swallow. "Remus tried hard to keep that from us and with good reason, yet he didn't count on us being willing to support him regardless of his condition. So to answer your question Miss Maplewood, we became animagi."

—-

Alistaire catches Tonks' sudden move out of the corner of his eye and a slightly amused eyebrow rises, although he remains quiet for now, his expression showing no surprise at Black's revelation. The year-mate of the infamous quartet keeps his own counsel for now, although he's still scanning the entire courtroom, observing reactions and keeping two brown eyes out for any sudden movements.

—-

This new bit of information is scribbled down furiously by Umbridge as she declares, "A lawbreaker from the off then. No regard for the rules. This is noted, as becoming an animagus is restricted and becoming one illegally carries a mandatory sentence in Azkaban. Flagrant disregard for the law." There is a distinct note of glee to her voice however. One more item to add to the list of crimes! Her words are also directed to the Wizengamot behind her, as if they were incapable of hearing it the first time around from Black's mouth. "Now, aside from being illegal, if this is relevant to the matter, continue. If not, we need to keep this proceeding moving along."

—-

"Minister, please. We are /trying/ to hear testimony," Another of the Wizengamot says. "We're well aware of the legality of the issue, there is no need to repeat it to us."

—-

Rightfully so, Sirius Black's admission- and by proxy, the other boys'- gets a slight mental rise out of Minerva McGonagall. James, she could have come to expect, but apparently Sirius and Peter too? Right under her nose? Becoming an animagus is certainly no easy feat, barring willpower and determination. That was obviously the driving force, provided the truth of the matter. Physically, her only change seems to be a rigidness to the shoulders and a familiar, scornful look for the sake of keeping her own image true to form.

—-

That's not a revelation to Jack, so he gives a grin, remembering the shock he got seeing the transformation. He glances around the room to see who is surprised and who isn't. He especially gives Liam and Alistaire a look. They were, after all, near the same age as that bunch. He leans back keeping his gaze roving for a while, both to keep aware for trouble, and also to continue to gauge reactions.

—-

The source of the dissenting voice amongst the Wizengamot is given an icy stare by Umbridge. Oh yes, she's taking note of who's next to go. "Silence," she snaps.

—-

She's prepared for this backlash, and the reason for the short arraignment becomes clear. "As the Court knows, werewolves are drawn to humans on the night of the full moon, in order to pass along the curse that created them - or to kill. However, the curse will allow a transformed werewolf to interact with other animals, despite violent tendencies. To a student, this must have seemed like a fair way to deal with the problem that their friend, as a werewolf, was having. Certainly at the time, these students did not understand the implications of becoming animagi. Did not understand why it was illegal to be one without being listed on a registry. As this was an incredible feat for students under the age of eighteen to undertake, I respectfully request that the court consider this matter to be completely separate from the one at hand. That is, Sirius Black is not on trial for being an unregistered animagus, as these charges were not presented in his arraignment." Plus, she's sure that being an unregistered animagus doesn't carry a penalty of a prison term in Azkaban, despite Umbridge's proclamation.

"Mister Black, as you stated, you chose to become animagi in order to help your friend, Remus Lupin, on the night of the full moon. You evidently had a plan." At this point, Holly removes the newspaper clipping from inside her notes, though it is not yet presented. "Please tell the court what happened. What you ended up becoming."

—-

Dumbledore lifts his chin once at Sirius' public statement, and he glances over at McGonagall and gives a tiny shake of his head to indicate he didn't know either at the time. And when Umbridge demands silence, he unfortunately has to cough, right before Holly speaks at length and murmurs an apology coughing out of turn.

—-

By chance, Tonks manages to catch McGonagall's reaction, as faint as it is (Hey when you're Moody's pupil you learn to read the little things). She doesn't laugh, as much as she wants to. She's trying to be serious here. Besides, the more she focuses foreward, she won't have to deal with the Black Look of Death Umbridge is probably getting from her mother. Umbridge has /no/ class, none at all.

—-

Sirius knew damn well what he was doing, even at the young age. As per Holly's instructions, he keeps that tidbit to himself. "Correct. We were twelve at the time, and that was our plan. To become large animals so that we could be with Remus during the full moon, to keep him in check and to protect ourselves. Just in case. The magic chooses the form, based on personality, purpose," he stares across at McGonagall. Hi professor! Then he continues, "The form I can transform into is a large black dog. Not that I wish to out James, but to show that yes, we had a plan and a purpose.. he could turn into a large stag. Animals large enough to help keep a werewolf in check."

—-

Pale grey-blue eyes, small in a face that has seen many such meetings, dart between Umbridge and the few Wizengamot members speaking out. Turning to the most recent out-speaker, Michael offers a small smile and a gentle, subtle wave of his hand. If they speak out as individuals, it gives the "Minister" the ability to pick them off one by one. Better to hold peace and overwhelm her when their voices really count. It would be quite a difficult feat to replace a majority of the Wizengamot at once - even for Delores Umbridge. As the tale - in all its complexity - begins to unfold further and further, the Noble patriarch leans forward in his seat, intent on each detail as it is presented. The smallest things could have significance, after all. The Headmaster's cough must inspire a psychosomatic reaction, for soon afterwards, Sir Michael sneezes quite violently. Apologies are murmured to those around him, but the incident does allow him reason to cover a smile that would connect him with his only daughter in a heartbeat. Just because he's quiet doesn't mean he isn't…aware.

—-

Throughout the whole trial Jilly listens with rapt attention, but without much change in facial expression. She does not like Umbridge - is there anyone who does? But that doesn't mean she thinks that for 13 years she's been misled and that this man is innocent. What's put before her is a testimony and she'll see about what she believes of it.

—-

Liam is floored, and angry. He watches his father, and understands what he's doing, but he sits figeting nervously. That's not right. Black should have been punished ages ago for that. It's illegal. He scribbles harshly on his parchment, and sets the quill down, glaring down at his fellow Gryffindor.

—-

Ugly splotches of color form on Umbridge's face. They're there for a brief moment before she forces herself into her normal composure. Just because this is slipping out of her control for the moment, doesn't mean she can't bring this back under her direction later. Yes. All is not yet lost.

—-

A stilling hand is placed on his son's thigh, the Elder Noble sending Liam a warning glance before returning his attention to the floor.

—-

McGonagall catches the glance from Dumbledore in time to give off a rather displeasured aura. Tonks should be able to see it too, considering. Those boys. Oh, if only they were still in school, Detention Forever. And that is the exact moment that Sirius happens to look over, as it so happens; if Minerva could ever seem intimidating while sitting across the room, now is certainly one of those times. This will pass soon, yes, but for now that bit of her pride remains jittery. The only complaint she doesn't really have- is that they were all in her house, ahem.

—-

Pieces of a puzzle Edwin didn't even know existed are now suddenly coming together, and the Hit Wizard gives Sirius a sharp look of nearly-open hatred when the man reveals the result of his animagus transformation. A large black dog? Like the one in the alley while he and Septima were speaking about sensitive material? That must be how the man came by his foul little (accurate) suspicions. Now in quite a mood, Edwin's hands tighten, knuckles going white while his lips thin dangerously. There will be words between himself and the convicted. Eventually.

—-

Tonks is actually amused at the reactions, yes, even Professor McGonagall's though she looks /really/ scary over there. Never in all of her misadventures at hogwarts did she ever earn that teacher's ire to that extent. Ahem.

—-

Alistaire's eyes sweep the Wizengamot and he has a mild jolt at seeing /that smile/ on Michael's face, and he glances at Jack curiously. However, that's more for later, although he keeps darting looks toward the Noble patriarch and finally shakes his head and returns to his watchful stance. Even he's affected by the aura of Minerva McGonagall in that he totally can't look in her direction as if expecting his own eternal detention to be promptly announced the second he meets that feline basilisk's gaze.

—-

The reaction she expected comes from all sides, and Holly can't help a small smile. "Obviously, you were able to keep Mister Lupin from hurting anyone, as, it is noted, he has never harmed another human being. Sirius Black and James Potter did Hogwarts a great service while they were in attendence, as they successfully prevented the accidental injury of any student there." Not the entire truth, but the entire truth is irrelevant, and won't help Sirius.

"Notably, you have not yet mentioned Peter Pettigrew and his role in all this. Was Pettigrew also able to become an Animagus, Mister Black?"

—-

"No. He never harmed a soul, and I'm glad that we were able to be with him, to help Remus keep more of himself during the full moon." Sirius shifts best he can with those serpentine chains that hardly let him breathe. Staying comfortable is rather difficult with them around him. "As I said before, the purpose and personality of the wizard or witch comes into play. James and I could become large animals. We also required a small animal to help.. so Peter was able to take the form of a rat."

—-

A rat. Jack can't hold back a snort of laughter. He'd imagined a small animal with a name like 'Wormtail'. But a rat. That's just too funny. He shakes his head, and covers his mouth and shakes silently with laughter. Oops.

—-

Alistaire chuckles low in his throat at the description of that hanger-on as a rat. "Suits him," the stringy Auror remarks with a nod. He spent 7 years in the same dorm room with that guy, so this, while a revelation, isn't a surprise in any way.

—-

Umbridge does /not/ like where this is going. The Ministry had every right to lock Sirius away and to throw away the key, and this sets back that right.. The other cases that will have to be opened and re-evaluated. This American has triggered a nightmare! One that /will/ be remedied, no matter how many people she will have to terrorize. She leans over to murmur in hushed tones to her secretary, a mostly trustworthy underling.

—-

She heard that, Jack. Tonks looks over her shoulder and gives him a smirk. But as she had already known, she's turning her attention back to everywhere else. Umbridge's reaction doesn't settle well with Tonks, but she'll try to find her cousin's eye and give him a smile of support, regardless. And then go eyeballing the crowd for anyone who'd look like they might be happy to help Umbridge in…whatever.

—-

That string-bean Auror again… Catching the man's less-than-subtle glances in his own direction, Sir Michael allows a moment of puzzlement to cross his expression. A mental note is made to corner the man after the proceedings. His second son's outburst would earn a sharp look, but the Elder is having trouble with his own reactions. A rat. How…awkward. His own memories of the Pettigrew boy are few and vague at best, but a rodent seems oddly appropriate. As Umbridge leans over, he does the same, whispering in his Heir's ear. "Who's the lad she has down there taking her notes?" It's not a face he recognizes, which gives him pause in and of himself.

—-

Holly's eyes narrow almost dangerously, a smile curling on her lips. "As this court is well-aware, on the night twelve Muggles were murdered, my client faced off against Peter Pettigrew on the streets of London. Mister Black, please tell the court what happened at that point."

—-

Liam can't remember the man's name. "Two years ahead of me. Hufflepuff. Unremarkable. Complete…" He leans in closer, whispering a word or two to his father, denoting the man's aptitude for following orders (extremely high). He watches his father look between his idiotic younger brother and Phoenix, his eyes narrowing slightly. He scribbles a note to find the man's name for his father, then returns to hear Black's story.

—-

Edwin is openly sneering at this point thanks to certain almost-overwhelming feelings of rage and hatred. It's kept sort of under control in that he's not currently lunging to murder the defendant, but that might only be a matter of time. Rat doesn't necessarily mean evil, either - rats are intelligent, affectionate little creatures! His fingers twitch lightly and tighten around the handle of his wand.

—-

Sirius casts a quick glance to Tonks and Andromeda, both ladies getting a faint smile from him. When Holly speaks again, his attention is back on her, and what she asks of him. "That night I got a bad feeling about things, I went to check on Peter. Finding him gone from his home, I rushed to the Potters. I didn't have time to let the Ministry know what he was. Being an animagus, and a rat at that.. he could have been anywhere. Took me a day, but I caught up with him. Before I could do anything, he was apparently ready for me. He shouted his accusation, and I did not see that he had his wand behind his back the whole time." Most likely still blinded by grief and uncontrollable rage. "Pettigrew faked his death and blew apart the street corner. He purposefully left behind a fragment of himself. His finger. I thought him dead, like everyone else, until last year."

—-

Just like the rest, it comes as no surprise to Minerva as to the nature of Peter's transformation. Like Edwin, she knows that rats can be companion animals, but when it boils down to symbolism and Peter's propensity towards rodent-like behaviors- that's a hard thing to shake. She keeps her eyes on the proceedings, gaze traveling after a moment to the Wizengamot and 'Minister' Umbridge until Sirius goes into his explanation of that night where under assumptions- placed his fate in the hands of the still frightened Ministry of the day.

—-

Nodding once to Liam, Michael lets a small, proud smile quirk his lips upward. No matter what his shortcomings, the man is a wonderful help and will be a capable head of their family when the time comes. It's only a moment, though, before Sirius' tale completely captures his attention. It may be that he oversteps himself, caught up in a story that gets better and better, but it's Michael's voice that rings out clear in the room. "What changed your mind about that assumption, Mister Black?" His voice is not unkind, but he is careful to rein in the majority of his emotions - whatever they may be - lest Umbridge come down hard on him next.

—-

A sharp look is thrown towards Edwin, steady there. You'll have your chance. Although Umbridge isn't exactly trying to convey that by her expression. She's finding herself at a loss for words as she glares down at Sirius and Holly. The man was in /prison/, locked away from the outside world. HOW could he have gotten any information? Or even come to the conclusion that Peter was still alive?

—-

Tonks thins her lips. She does manage to catch Edwin's expression though just barely. He's managed to weasel himself into a corner, so it's really hard to see anything but glimpses. Having Sirius' accusation firmly in her mind, she makes it a note to let her fellow Aurors, or at least, the ones she can trust, in on the secret. However, a question gets her attetnion and she's again regarding Sirius.

—-

Christian stands guard at the entrance of the room. His hands are clasped behind his back, and a casual glance would seem to suggest that he is relaxed. Anyone looking at his face however can notice that he is on edge. His intense gaze surveys the room like a constantly passing searchlight. Though not directly involved, Christian's presense can certainly be felt.

—-

Jack may know part of this, but as it's all unsubstatiated rumors, he stops laughing very quickly, though he does give Alistaire an amused smile. He leans forward, propping his head up with his left arm on his leg again, and listens intently to the story.

—-

Alistaire pointedly starts not looking at the Elder Noble, wearing a mildly worried expression, like he's expecting to get attacked or asked his intentions. Meanwhile, he takes a moment and slowly pulls his wand out of his pocket and conjures a pitcher of water and a pair of glasses for Sirius and Holly. Then he returns the wand to his pocket.

—-

The water is appreciated, and while Sirius is chained, Holly will take the moment while this news is sinking in to pour him a glass and hold it to him. If he'd like to drink, he may. Following that, she'll accept the water herself, before going back to the scrap of paper in her hand. "The only part of Peter Pettigrew that was found was his finger. However, it seems illogical that a spell that would completely vaporise the rest of a wizard would leave only a finger behind. Pettigrew escaped that night.

"After cutting off his own finger, he easily escaped as a rat - a small creature known for being able to hide." Unfolding the paper, she will hand it up to the Wizengamot. It's not her only copy, either, just in case Umbridge sees fit to destroy it. "You'll notice in this portrait of the Weasleys that there is a rat on the shoulder of one of the boys - this rat is missing a finger. In fact, taking into consideration the differences between human and rodent anatomy, it's the exact same one that was found on the street after the attack. Minister, I allege that Mister Pettigrew killed those twelve muggles, framed Sirius Black for their murders, and then escaped, leaving my client to take the blame."

—-

"Scrubbers or something." Jack remembers hearing the rumors, at least of arguments about a rat. It's funny what you hear when you listen at the ministry cafeteria. When he's there often enough. He watches the interplay between his friend and his father, and the smirk returns. It's kind of fun watching Alistaire squirm.

—-

Sirius doesn't answer Michael immediately, not without instruction from his lawyer. He's still not fond of this 'game'. But Holly has a copy of the Prophet on hand, the front picture and headline to use as to present doubt. The offer of water is met with a shake of the head. He'll do without until he can hold the damn thing with his own hand. "That article appeared in the Prophet last year. The same day Minister Fudge was visiting Azkaban. I saw it in his hand, and knew that was Peter. I had seen him transform countless times and knew what he looked like, as I knew James's form, and he knew ours." Which explains the maddened murmuring in the night following Fudge's visit.

—-

Tonks seems to nod at this turn of events. HOpefully that will help cast Reasonable Doubt for the Wizengamot. IT might not be enough to get Sirius completely off the hook, but it might be enough to actually just get him out of the situation. A pardon's not as great as being declared innocent, but it won't get someone sent back to Azkaban. There's a murmur to her mouther as she poses a very whispered question about using the wand evidence.

—-

Umbridge refuses to look at the article. No. She's not going to even look at the picture. She lets someone else take the paper from Holly's hand to get passed around.

—-

There is a hand that snakes out, snapping the article from the Minister's view. One witch glances at it, and it's passed. Then again, and again. For some the article lingers, others doe the same as Umbridge. Murmurs in the Wizengamot do begin, discussing this curious turn of events.

—-

Puzzle pieces fit together so, so nicely. Even so, sometimes the most incredible tales are the truth, and this all makes almost too much sense. Folding arms over his chest, Michael turns to catch Jack's eye, raising a single brow in a familiar questioning expression. A silent question; does his son buy all of this? As the paper is passed around, he takes a good long look. Sure enough, the rat's missing a finger - and if memory serves, it is the right one. That's incredibly eerie. Incredibly so. Hastily he passes the thing on to Liam, lips pursed so that they almost disappear. Barring Jack's dissention, it seems the Noble Elder - and by extension, the Nobles themselves - have slipped around to stand in Sirius' camp; subtly of course.

—-

The incredible turn of events takes it's toll on Jilly, as well. She's not quite sure what to make of all this new information, previously never told in public. Just because a rat is missing a finger doesn't mean it's the same person. She's seen many pigeons and rats with missing appendages and that didn't make them Peter Pettigrew. Arms still crossed in front of her, she frowns slightly, but doesn't whisper to anyone else next to her or make gossip in any sort of way.

—-

Liam takes the paper rather harshly from his father's fingertips and gazes at the picture. He sees those red-headed kids, but doesn't see the… Oh. There it is. The rat. So the rat's missing a finger. Doesn't prove it's Pettigrew. His frown changes to a look of interest. They're both Maruaders… maybe it's time to switch tactics. Especially with that look on his Da's face.

—-

"Minister Umbridge. Though I would usually ask if you would like to cross-examine the witness at this point, I would like to delay that temporarily, in order to call forth a witness who can testify as the the forms an animagus would take, based on their personality." Holly gives Sirius a quick pat on the shoulder. See? Thinks are going well, and she didn't have to silence you. Good dog. Very good dog. "If the court approves my request, I'd like to call Professor Minerva McGonagall to the stand."

—-

Christian remains stoic as the evidence is given. He carefully watches everyone around him, judging their reactions. He takes a slow breath, but doesn't say anything.

—-

Jack does indeed buy this. He gazes at the stand, watching it happen, hoping to get a glimpse of the newspaper.

—-

Normally Tonks would consider Umbridge's show of temper a victory, but instead she just frowns. There's going to be trouble. They're getting ahead, they're doing it.. and it's all going to go south somehow. Tonks, normally optimistic, is now anything but. Fortunately, her mother's the epitome of calm and collected next to her.

—-

Dumbledore shows no surprise regarding the revelation of the picture and watches Umbridge refuse to look at the news clipping. However, he catches the subtle change in the Nobles amongst the Wizengamot and gives Michael the faintest of nods as McGonagall is summoned to speak.

—-

Sirius shows no sign of triumph at the emotion and reactions within the courtroom. It's premature, and could only lead to trouble. Holly's hand on his shoulder is met with a nod of his head. He looks to his cousins, then to McGonagall as she's called forth.

—-

Scabbers? No wonder Crookshanks was so hellbent on catching that thing at all hours of the night. That cat was a genius. McGonagall gives Umbridge's podium a frown as she deigns to pass over looking at evidence, eyes following the clipping across the hands of the Wizengamot.

As Holly calls her testimony, it is a sparse second after the motion is granted until Minerva gathers herself to her feet, moving out from the rows of seats in accordance. Hands folded in front, the tall witch in the dark green robes steps forward without a hitch; her eyes drawing over Holly and Sirius as she passes. There is a glint there, somewhere- pride and reassurance, however wordless it may be.

—-

McGonagall gets a very frosty glare from Edwin as she moves past him, his eyes tracking each step of her progress and not leaving her even once. He seems intent on ignoring the man chained to the chair for now, and might even be pretending he doesn't exist especially since Umbridge is being so generous - relatively speaking - to the defense team. This entire trial is a mockery despite the unpleasant amount of circumstantial evidence that is piling up on Sirius' side of the argument. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned witness intimidation?

—-

Alistaire's attention is mostly focused Umbridge and her thugs, particularly the two Aurors bracketing her. Like Tonks, he's not relaxing just yet. They've only just begun unraveling this whole mess, and all hell could still break loose at the drop of a hat or wand… When his fearsome former Head of House takes the stand, he actually /grins/ with anticipation, a highly toothy grin.

—-

It's an honour to have Hogwarts professors here, as Holly's return gaze states. It's not said aloud, but she's more honoured to be in McGonagall's presense than Umbridge's - the Minister is literally a joke to anyone with an ounce of sense to them. "Professor McGonagall. I'm going to ask you several questions regarding your relationship with the students previously mentioned in testimony, as well as animagi. Please answer truthfully, to the best of your ability. First, can you please tell the Court as to your encounters with the students James Potter, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew?"

—-

Oh.. there could be witness intimidation on Umbridge's part. She's just got other plans and ideas as to how to deal with this. With those plans whirling through her mind, she's not even listening anymore. That's why she has a secretary and the court scribes.

—-

Years of practice makes Minerva quite certain that Dolores is not listening. Perhaps this could be a good place to test her hearing- but only in passing, perhaps. We shall see. Professor McGonagall is also quite aware of the eyes on her, and so her presence does not slip one inch, dignity-wise. Her dark-haired head nods once to Holly in affirmation of the plan, and when the question comes, the answer begins as if this were a class. And in some ways, it very much is.

"As Transfiguration professor and their Head of House, I had several years to first become accustomed the four while they attended school. Most of the time, very talented students, obviously- yet as all boys tend to be, troublemakers as well. As they aged, however, they did grow to be rather fine young men. Or so it would have seemed, at the time." Her lips thin on her face as she thinks about what Sirius had to say about Peter. "I will, however, stand by the fact that during their years at Hogwarts, the boys were devoted to each other." And now she knows more about why, Padfoot.

—-

Sirius doesn't look apologetic, professor. If he had it all to do over again, he wouldn't have acted differently. Considering his background, how happy he was to have friends that were closer to him than his own brother? Amazing he wasn't more of a hellion. Besides, their grades and talents were a matter of pride for Gryffindor.

—-

Tonks is just quiet, trying to fighure out the point of McGonagall's testimony. though she can't help but feel like she's back at school. It wasn't that long ago for her, after all!

—-

Jack sits still, just listening to the teacher. Transfigurations was one of the classes he liked pretty well, and he liked his Head of House as a teacher apart from that. So, he just listens carefully, hoping to possibly learn something even now.

—-

"And you were never aware that the boys planned to become animagi to aid their friend, is that correct?" Holly doesn't hesitate before moving on, though she'll wait for McGonagall to answer. "You, yourself have a particular affinity with transfiguration, Professor. You are a registered Animagus, and have been for some time, if my memory serves me correctly. As you're familiar with the process, can you perhaps describe it in short for the Wizengamot? Please include any inclination for a wizard's animal form to take on the characteristics of his or her personality."

After all, there's a reason Peter became a rat, just like Sirius becomes a dog, and James became a stag. Certainly rats are viewed in some cultures as being clever. But in others… there is a stigma attached to them.

—-

It's a testament to the talent of the four boys that they not only kept it quiet from McGonagall, but from /Dumbledore/ of all people. How many students can boast that feat? Not many to be sure. Still quiet, Sirius turns his attention to McGonagall and her responses.

—-

A small smirk plays at the corners of Michael's mouth as Minerva takes the stand. He has rather fond memories of the older witch, having been there for her very first two years of teaching. His posture relaxes a little, unconsciously mimicking the pose he commonly struck as a cocky student. Yes, she does have that effect on people.

—-

Minerva is grateful in the end, for the fact that the Marauders were there for each other- and for a great many reasons, of course. "That is correct." Her light brogue confirms that aura from earlier, but there is a growing point of pride behind her glasses when she answers on the animagi.

"Only very skilled wizards are able to become Animagi, and the process itself is long and very difficult. The fact that all three boys managed- and kept the secret for this long- is a testament to that devotion." And now, something that sounds straight out of the textbook. "Animagi can only take on the form of one specific animal. The form is not chosen by the wizard, but determined by their personality and inner traits. Thus, one's animagus form is a reflection of one's inner nature. And as noted by the defense and seen by members of the Wizengamot-" Minerva's gaze travels over the lot of them. "If an Animagus undergoes a major physical change, such as the loss of a limb, the form they adopt will also reflect that. Also, an animagus in animal form will retain the lifespan of an ordinary human being, which explains the reasoning behind two of the Weasley children having had ownership of a rat with a ridiculously long lifespan during school. Thirteen years is quite a long life for a common rat." And with that last part, she also happens to back up the claim that Peter Pettigrew escaped and went into hiding. Inches away from also mentioning the half-kneazle chasing him around- and the fact Scabbers disappeared at the end of last year.

—-

Umbridge's expression grows unreadable as a mask seems to form over her face. She may be an ignorant bigot, but she's no moron. She can bully the witness and the Wizengamot all she likes, but with these testimonies? This is looking worse and worse for the Ministry. There may be a way to spin it still. She could now ask ridiculous questions about how she knew that particular rat had been around, but obviously McGonagall isn't /that/ clueless about what goes on in her own House. Although.. "So, are we to understand then McGonagall.. that you have seen that particular rat from the picture with those students in your House?" Just to confirm.

—-

"Professor, Minister," Dumbledore lightly corrects Umbridge. "And I have seen the same rat as well, if that is of any help to you and the esteemed Wizengamot." His words are polite and genteel as usual, his hands still absently twiddling their thumbs.

—-

Dumbledore's assurance seems to be enough for Elder Noble. Watching his Jack perk up across the room, Michael follows the response with a question of his own. "With respect, Minister," he nods towards Umbridge once. See? He remembered his manners this time! "But if we are to assume that Pettigrew is indeed the rat in the photograph, how is it that he became the Weasley family pet? Surely such upstanding citizens as Arthur and Molly wouldn't knowingly harbor a murderer in their house." There's utmost respect in his voice as he speaks of the large ginger family.

—-

As terrifying as McGonagall can be, she is positively /awesome/. Tonks grins here. Then of course comes the questioning about the rat, who's seen it and is it really Pettigrew, ad nauseum. Tonks'll just be satisfied to see that Umbridge can't can the trial now.

—-

Christian waits quietly. His eyes go back and forth between each person as they speak.

—-

Despite the fact that Holly has been extremely thorough, there's always points that she's missed. Namely, the fact that the rat in the picture - as testified by McGonagall - was in the school for many, many years, after a common rat would have died. The smile on Holly's face grows for a moment, before it once again becomes more neutral. "In some cultures, the rat is seen as a clever creature. But as we see them in the Western world, they are often considered dirty animals, associating with garbage - the term 'ratting out one's friends' comes to mind, and, as Professor McGonagall has stated, the rat in question was quite old. Too old to be anyone or anything other than Peter Pettigrew."

Turning from McGonagall, she briefly checks the Wizengamot for their reactions. "I have one more question for you, then, Professor." Holly pauses as Umbridge asks her question, and she doesn't indicate in any way that it should not be answered. After this, she goes on. "You will recall that I contacted you previously to ask for your testimony at trial. At that point, you relayed to me that you were with Harry Potter on the night his parents - Lily and James Potter - were killed. Is there anything you can tell the Wizengamot about that, as it relates to Sirius Black?"

To answer Michael Noble, Holly turns to him, overstepping Umbridge purposely. "As Pettigrew was an unregistered Animagus, no one had any reason to assume he was anything other than an abnormally long-lived rat."

—-

Umbridge gives Dumbledore a /glare/. If she hadn't already quietly had him removed from the Wizengamot, she'd be doing that this evening in retaliation. No Albus's word means nothing to her. Her lips thin into a narrow line. The very picture of a non-believer. "Then we will have to call upon the members of the Weasley family." Obviously by her tone, something she does not want to do.

—-

Alistaire stirs briefly as Umbridge has another go at those opposing her, but still remains ready for any misdeeds. And again he seems to be avoiding Michael Noble's gaze, giving Jack a mildly uncertain look, absently rubbing the back of his neck and muttering, "Blimey."

—-

"Miss Maplewood," Sirius says since he can't sneaky signal for a moment with her. "A word please?" Oh so polite this session, isn't he?

—-

As Professor McGonagall answers, Holly makes her way over to Sirius' chair and leans down so she can hear him, while also listening to McGonagall's testimony.

—-

And certainly not clueless to Dolores trying to spin anything into something worse. Probably tried it in school too, eh? She looks to Dumbledore and the Elder Noble in turn, taking it in before answering.

"As far as I am aware, there was a claim that the rat was bought from Diagon Alley out of the usual crop, the Weasleys as a gift for their son before school. Truth be told, Scabbers was more of a ride-along than a companion animal as the years passed. The boys claimed to own him, but the creature would always be running about the school at all hours. Most of all during the last year- not to mention that a half-kneazle housecat had been intent on chasing him the entirety of the term." And all of them know the smarts of those sorts of animals, after all. She does not want to name any more owners than she must.

As the professor answers to Umbridge and the Wizengamot, her attention then turns to Holly at the next question. Her chin lifts, brows knitting in silence. After a moment, Minerva speaks once more. "In bringing the young mister Potter to safety, Rubeus Hagrid-" Another person that Dolores will not want in 'her' courtroom. "-had come upon mister Black surveying the damage to Godric's Hollow, as well as wanting to enact his role as godfather. Under orders, however, Hagrid was to bring the boy elsewhere. From the account I was given, it would seem that he was genuinely distraught at the time."

—-

Satisfied with the answers he's been given, Michael nods to Holly and Minerva before settling back in his chair. Attention is caught by the mini-conference between client and lawyer, but he says nothing further. Instead, he takes the opportunity provided by this momentary lull to seek out that odd Auror from earlier. The stringy one. He's awfully squirmy…

—-

There's a rub of her face, and Tonks just sighs. Getting the Weasleys in on this would just make things take longer, and that won't be good. Otherwise, Tonks continues to just watch things. Casually of course.

—-

Edwin has taken it upon himself to wander away from his self-appointed corner by now and is edging along the wall of the courtroom, leaning down here and there to growl threatening things into the ears of onlookers who may have their wands out or who just look too darn happy with the way the current testimony is leaning. There's no bite to his bark - yet - but it is being done nevertheless if only to make sure that everyone in the (let's just say it) audience is well aware that the Ministry still has power and knows where they live. He can't do anything about McGonagall's story, but he can sure as hell distract the witnesses to the court proceedings.

—-

When Holly leans over, Sirius then shakes his head. McGonagall mentioned what he was going to remind Holly of. "Nevermind," he murmurs before he clears his throat and dares to speak out of turn, "That half-kneazle was a rather intelligent animal. Knew that I wasn't a real dog, knew Peter wasn't a real rat. Took me some time to convince him we were after the same thing… and how do you think I managed to order that Firebolt for Harry, Professor McGonagall? The kneazle delivered the order to the post office for me." He's sure that's been eating at her. When talk returns to that night, Sirius's expression darkens as he remembers. The pain, the grief, there's no hiding he still feels it keenly. Perhaps things would have gone differently that night had he of been allowed to take Harry. There's just no way to know now.

—-

Listening to McGonagall's testimony, Jilly leans forward just a bit, resting her elbows on her knees. It's not an obscene sort of interest, it's merely an attempt to work out what is going on here. She's not one of those people who look happy about the turn of events, but she doesn't look upset over it, either.

—-

There will always be more to add to this case. More witnesses; this Rubeus Hagrid saw Sirius on that night, and should thusly be called to witness at some point, should they need more witnesses in Sirius' favour. The owner of the half-Kneazle must be determined, too, to see if he or she could report anything out of the ordinary. To this end, for the first time, Holly lifts her notepad and takes down some scrawlings of her own. There's a pause in her writing as Sirius speaks, but as he's not being particularly offensive, she doesn't stop him.

"Thank you for your time, Professor McGonagall. At this point, before I call my next witness, I would like to give the Minister the opportunity to cross-examine both Mister Black and Professor McGonagall. Please ask any questions that you'd like."

—-

Crossing her arms, Umbridge looks down, and possibly much to the surprise of some, "Proceed with your next witness Miss Maplewood." There's no smugness now. As she waives her right to cross-examine at this time, her eyes dart over to see what Edwin is up to. Seeing nothing wrong with his behavior, her attention is back to the floor.

—-

Alistaire spots Edwin going about his skulking thing and clears his throat once and shakes his head pointedly. He works for the Ministry too, after all, and he gives a reassuring expression to those Edwin is talking to, while then directing a hawkish look toward the obviously anti-Sirius Ministry official.

—-

Tonks frowns. So far Umbridge has waved her right to question almost exclusively. Either she's trumped, or she's got an ace up her sleeve. Edwin's noted and that just causes Tonks to look downright annoyed.

—-

Christian's eyes move to Edwin. For the first time during this trial, his face betrays emotion. Frustration, disapproval. He looks very tense, but he keeps his mouth shut. He continues to face forward, choosing not to interrupt the proceedings.

—-

Ah, the Firebolt. That has been something in the back of her mind, and a single blink of recognition is given to Sirius as he brings it up. And there is no doubt in Minerva's mind that Sirius still feels that same grief as he did so many years ago. A young, pained man went into Azkaban, and an older, still pained one came out. Perhaps moreso.

Where's that smug look now, Dolores? Oh yeah, there it is- on Minerva McGonagall. She has successfully shaken the barrel of monkeys, in her eyes. A nod is given to the skillful American before Minerva rises from her seat now that her role today is played, and the witch makes her way back across the court to where she had been sitting. Albus gets a hopeful nod as she sits down again, and the expression also serves as a soundless 'Thank you', for those bits of verbal support earlier.

—-

That was… unexpected. Holly's eyes narrow briefly in curiosity as Umbridge denies her chance to question the witnesses. Something is going on here, and despite the success of this trial so far, Holly's starting to get the idea that things are going to go very wrong. Even so… She'll continue. "Again, thank you, Professor."

"This next segment shall relate to the murder of Balthazar Kittison, the referee at the Quidditch All-Star Cup. This only requires one witness, who can testify that Sirius Black was not at the cup at all. Ms. Jillian Gale, will you please come forward?"

—-

Jack listens quietly, a few things making sense in his mind. Although, most of them have to do with how the Marauders accomplished a couple pranks. Totally irrelevant to the situation at hand, but the thoughts leave Jack smirking, and reveling in happy memories. Then, they mention That Night(TM) and Jack perks up again. He frowns, and then listens. He wants to know this part. Where was Sirius when he was supposedly at the cup?

—-

Ah! Tonks leans back and points a bit at Jilly when she finally stands up and makes her way over. Yes, she's pointing out Sirius' 'cute postmistress' there. Andromeda just blinks then rubs her forhead. The words 'Aunt Walburga will love that' can easily be made despite the words not being audible. Really, Sirius, a /post-mistress/?

—-

Sirius /almost/ feels bad for the Postmistress here. He duped so many people the past few months since coming back, hiding in plain sight, and he even gives Jilly an apologetic look as she's called upon. She was kind to him, and he's not about to forget that. So she thought he was nothing more than a stray.. that's not the point.

—-

Edwin happily ignores the looks of censorship he's getting from various Ministry peers, because what he is doing is totally condoned by the Minister. He is in fact now lingering by a rather aged witch with thick spectacles who seems utterly terrified of him, since his wand is subtly directed towards her and what is probably her grandson sitting beside her. Her crime? She totally smiled McGonagall's way when the professor came down from the stand. Edwin saw it. And now he is seeing the postmistress, who may also end up in an uncomfortable situation opposite the Ministry some time soon.

—-

The calling of her name startles her somewhat. Though Jilly was asked to be here - it's the only reason she would have come - she still wasn't quite sure why. Smoothing down her robes, she stands, looking nervous and glances around those assembled. Tucking some hair back into her bun, she makes her way forward. The look that she's given by Sirius isn't acknowledged as she's pointedly not looking at him. As she makes her way forward, she takes a seat and waits to see what's next.

—-

Dumbledore nods as McGonagall returns to her seat, and he seems guarded still, even as yet another witness is brought forward, most of his attention on Umbridge right now. He's clearly waiting for the other shoe to drop, and apparently biding his time until it does. But he gives Jilly an encouraging and soothing look, even if he hasn't seen the postmistress in awhile.

—-

This testimony shouldn't take too long, Holly hopes. And it will give Sirius his chance to shock and awe as he so loves doing, if Holly gets her way. As Jilly takes the stand, Holly smiles. "Just tell the truth," is her only oath that she's asked of any witness so far. "Ms. Gale, you did not attend the Quidditch All Star Cup, is that correct? And can you tell the court how you did spend your night?"

—-

Frowning sternly in Edwin's direction, Michael clears his throat. "Hitwizard Gifford, is there a reason that you are hovering over our observers and distrupting our proceedings?" Holly is given an apologetic look for the interruption, but there is an Order to Things that must be preserved if justice is to be served.

—-

Oh! It's Jilly. Jack smiles at his former flame and gives her an encouraging nod. He leans back, and listens to what she has to say. When Da speaks up, he turns to him, and gives him an approving look. It might not be for the same reason, but every little bit helps.

—-

"Mr. Gifford," Umbridge calls sweetly as it seems, damn the Nobles, her lackey has been caught on to. The sweet tone, and referring to him is hopefully enough to tell him to stop being so obvious.

—-

AT least someone called the damn man. Tonks had thought about it, but Umbridge'd probably use that to oust her right then and there. She shakes her head and leans back. "Pathetic," she grumbles under her breath. She barely reacts to the sharp elbow of doom from her mother that suddenly finds purchase in her side.

—-

"No, I did not." Though she's not normally very formal, when standing in front of the Wizengamot that's not the case. Jilly stays respectful and formal. However, she's interrupted by Michael and she doesn't continue until everything's squared away. "I had to work. The Post Office doesn't close because there's a big match on. I kept the match on the wireless for the customers. I don't really follow Quidditch, but most of them do and it's easier to have it playing than having to recount whatever might have happened in the few minutes they needed to post something."

—-

Liam frowns at his father, and leans in, whispering something to him, something about 'what are you doing?' except, probably in much more polite, respectful words (respectful, at least). He watches the Hitwizard, wondering what he did wrong. In Liam's opinion, he's held back.

—-

Sigh. It really is a different era, what with the Wizengamot being all uppity and under the impression that they have power. Without a word Edwin continues onward, leaving the poor old witch alone to resume his slow stroll along the courtroom's perimeter. He doesn't even look upset about being called off thanks to Umbridge's vocal intervention, but he will certainly be keeping a growing list of names in mind for an after-trial report.

—-

Alistaire's grin is quite infectious in a good way when Gifford's called to task by two members of the Wizenwhatzit, and that grin is directed briefly over his shoulder to Tonks for a low-pitched grumble. By the time he turns around, he catches Liam's frown and muttered comments to the elder…aaaah, Noble, and Alistaire once more resumes his constant scanning of the room. He's apparently keeping his own list as his eyes track Edwin's continued perambulation.

—-

The interruption causes Holly to briefly look around the courtroom, spotting the Hitwizard-slash-Death Eater. At least Umbridge does one reasonable thing and calls off her dog, and Michael receives a tight smile. Thanks!

"Did you have any company while you were working that night?" Holly goes on to ask. She doesn't mention specifically what she's looking for, since she doesn't want to be accused of leading.

—-

"A few customers." Jilly frowns and crosses her arms in front of her. "And a dog." This is what they've come down to. After listening to the other testimonies and thinking it through, she's pretty sure she knows where this is going to lead up to. It's the logical conclusion if she was called to the stand by the defense.

—-

Jack is about to snap his fingers, but catches himself in time. "You sly dog." Yes, pun intended. He whispers his words, so as not to be heard except perhaps by Alistaire and maybe Tonks nearby. He chuckles, and continues to watch.

—-

Oh she does indeed hear Jack, and Tonks turns this impish smirk towards the cursebreaker. But she says nothing more.

—-

Christian turns around and cracks open the door behind him. He exchanges a few words with another wizards outside, who walks in to take up his position. Christian quietly moves to walk along side Edwin. He whispers something under his breath to the other Hit Wizard, then carefully strides over to the opposite side of the court. His gaze now perminately fixed on the other Hit Wizard.

—-

When Liam leans in to hiss whispered questions about his methods, Michael lays a firm hand on his son's arm and turns to look his Heir in the eyes. Quietly, so that only those nearest would hear him, he instructs his son. "There is an order to things, Liam. If we stick to that, we'll see justice served. Lose that and we're no better than a witchunt." There's a gravity to his quiet voice that he hopes will impress the importance of this lesson.

—-

Good, the dog. This is what she was looking for, essentially. Bearing witness to Sirius' location when the referee was murdered is extremely important, as they can get this charged dropped immediately. "Minister Umbridge. I once again ask you, for the sake of providing further evidence in this trial, to allow Sirius Black to stand. I find it a perfectly acceptable compromise to leave the chains around his legs, however, in order to provide the confirmation I'm looking for, I need him to be able to have his upper body free."

—-

Liam listens to his father, and knows all about order. But he doesn't see how that's appropos here. As the Heir, however, he's developed the 'smile and nod' thing, and so does just that. He has heard these lessons before, both from his parents and from school.

—-

Poor woman. Used by the defense, now testifying that Black was in fact not responsible for the murder and the Dark Mark at the Cup. This is not looking good for those testifying for the accused. Umbridge would of course look at things this way. As if it were all /their/ fault. She considers Holly's request briefly. Then, "Mr. Gifford, if you would remove the chains and stay by the accused? If this is for him to give us his.. Animagus form.. We can take this time to notate his markings and description." Eyes narrowed, she waits now.

—-

Once again, Jilly finds what's coming next to be an obvious conclusion. With her arms still crossed and a bit of a frown on her face, she looks over at Holly and then, finally, at Sirius for the first time since she took the stand.

—-

Jack watches, waiting to see Padfoot again. It was a real shock the first time he saw the transformation, now it's just funny. He smiles, hopefully carrying encouragement to his old school friend.

—-

Edwin appears totally unconcerned with whatever was said to him by Christian, but the older man does send a sidelong glance after the other Hit Wizard when the man wanders away. Upstarts. Everyone in the Ministry is an insolent young upstart these days, and it really makes a Death Eater long for the golden age of Voldemort's reign of terror. He's distracted from his musings and idle fantasies of murder by his name being called, and his head quickly snaps around so he can stare at the Minister for a few moments before nodding curtly and striding towards the front of the courtroom, the soles of his shoes clicking lightly to mark his way until he arrives at Sirius' side. Something is muttered under his breath too quietly to be heard by anyone but the man in the chair as his wand comes out and taps against the chains, which loosen their grip and then withdraw from the animagus on trial.

—-

Once Sirius is unchained, Holly says simply, "Mister Black, if you will."

—-

Someone near Alistaire's position mutters the word 'suck-up' as Edwin proceeds to do Umbridge's bidding, and the Auror now has his wand out visibly, although he doesn't point it at anyone in particular. Tense without seeing ready to fly off the handle, the tall man watches expectantly.

—-

Tonks frowns at what Umbridge says. Something just does not settle well about Umbridge knowing the little details of Sirius' form. Of course, changing now means hsi conver's one hundred percent blown. He'll no longer be able to hide as Padfoot. She still looks optimistic though, as the chains are removed and Holly gives the cue. If Jilly identifies him as the dog, he /should/ be completely cleared for Cup mess. Next to her, Andromeda draws a breath.

—-

Another apologetic look is given towards Jilly as he rises from his seat. Sirius ignores the crude comments muttered at him by Edwin, doesn't even give the man a look. "Miss Gale, my apologies," he says, addressing the postmistress. He had /no/ idea anything was going to happen at the cup. Who did? Beyond those responsible? Not making anyone wait any longer, he transforms into that great black Grim of a dog with grey eyes.

—-

And there he is. Hi Padfoot. Jack smiles, remembering that the man owes him a drink or two if he wins this. He glances over at Jilly, unsure how she's going to handle this.

—-

Michael hasn't lived this long by being an idiot. He's learned to recognize his son's 'nod and smile' routine by now and while he doesn't approve, now is Not The Time. Oh, look! It's a large, black dog with…hey wait just a second! That dog almost perfectly matches a description given in casual conversation by a certain blonde daughter of his this past summer. "Padfoot…" he mutters under his breath, turning a rather impressive scowl on Jack. Oh yes, there will be Words, boy.

—-

Dumbledore hardly bats an eye when Sirius transforms, but then he's seen the animagus recently in that form. His blue eyes shift to Miss Gale, ignoring any shrieks of 'THE GRIM!!!' coming from the seriously old wizard sitting two rows and to the right of him, although he takes one long pinky finger and jiggles it in his ear until the wizard faints, or rather, passes out in a manly way.

—-

For a purely studious purpose, McGonagall is at attention when Sirius is called to transform into the dog. As soon as he does, a sly look crosses her eyes. "…The Grim." Hah. She mutters only loud enough for Dumbledore and perhaps the closest people to hear her. And then that poor fellow over yonder- oop, there he goes.

Now some of the student activity from last year at Hogwarts seems to be coming to light, bit by bit. Minerva has ears- and never wastes listening, even when it comes to rumors and idle chatter about classes. And Hogsmeade for that matter- has she not seen that very same dog acting the stray? Oh, that Sirius Black.

—-

Umbridge glares down, commiting a few things to memory about the dog's appearance. Being the Minister, she'll leave it to someone lower on the food chain to go down there to notate measurements and other details about the man's animagus form. "Consider yourself now on the registry, Black." Because it will be notated immediately after this session. "And this information will be published."

—-

Tonks just adopts her best look of innocence. Lalala. And there's an eyeroll from the young auror at Umbridge. She couldn't contain it this time. From Andromeda, she just shakes her head, still finding a lot of this hard to swallow.

—-

There's a wide grin on Jack's face, until he turns just a bit and sees the expression on his father's. Oh, dear. He gives a sheepish grin, and looks back toward Sirius "Press woulda outted him anyway." He says, quietly. Even if there's no visible press here, there's always someone who'll sell to them.

—-

Holly's seen Padfoot before. Tonks' recognisable pooch from the first few days she moved to Hogsmeade. There's a small quirky smile for the giant dog. Alas that Mo almost killed him, then Sirius wouldn't be here to stand trial at all! It might have solved quite a few problems, to be honest. "Ms. Gale, is this the dog that you allowed into the post office?"

—-

Despite the shrieks and the fainting, Jilly doesn't move from her spot. In fact, she's rather rooted there. Though she looks startled and pale, that doesn't translate into hysterics. Since he's already transformed, she won't answer his apologies. Instead, she simply stares at him. Yes, she knows this dog. She fought Lupin about taking better care of it, offered it food from her house and scratched him behind his ears. The very idea leaves her a little nauseous. However, she answers the question, softly, "Yes. It is."

—-

The large black dog looks up at Jilly, unable to stop himself from giving 'puppy dog' eyes. There's even a slow wag of the tail. He's trying to ignore the Ministry headcases who are furiously notating details about him, although some look amazed. It's not everyday someone is outed as an animagus. Very rare, that. He doesn't transform back, just yet.

—-

This must be the first time Alistaire's seen Sirius in his animagus form and /knew/ it was Sirius, for there's a bit of a gobsmacked expression on his face before he slaps his forehead with the heel of his hand, blurting out, "Of /course/! It all makes sense now! That's why you were acting like that!" But then he realizes he's spoken out of turn and ducks his chin with a slightly boyish, "Sorry."

—-

Oh look, an outburst from that stringy Auror over there. For a moment Sir Michael seems puzzled, but the scowl isn't long in returning - with renewed force, mind you. The only diference now is that it's evenly divided between Bouncy Auror Number One and Spitfire Son Number Two.

—-

The reactions are all priceless, from the calls of 'IT'S A GRIM' to Alistaire's speaking out of turn. And that, dear Wizengamot, seems like an excellent place to end the night. "I believe that, given the scope of testimony held tonight, it might be wise to adjourn again, so that everyone has time to consider the facts we heard tonight. I will ask again, though, Minister Umbridge, if you wish to cross-examine any of my witnesses at this point." It seems odd that, despite her protests before, Umbridge now has nothing to say. It leaves Holly feeling uneasy. She's never held trial when the prosecution wasn't all too happy to ask their own questions.

Walking over toward Sirius, she gives his head a pat. It's a little weird. Even so, she's quite pleased with how the trial went tonight, despite Umbridge's odd silence. "You did a good job," she states quietly.

—-

Don't do that.. not in front of a room full of people. Gah. Sirius transforms back as Holly makes her request to adjourn and the Ministry officials are finished with him. He looks straight ahead… /after/ throwing a briefly smug look at Edwin.

—-

Dear god, did the lawyer just - she totally did. When Holly pats Sirius Edwin just stares at her like she's been snogging a muggle in the middle of the trial, eventually shaking his head ever so slightly. Sirius' return to his natural form is met with a scowl and crossed arms. Be smug all you like, Black, but justice is not blind in this Minister's regime. It's crosseyed.

—-

Expression no longer dark and filled with loathing. Umbridge now looks thoughtful. She's no moron and can see that everything together makes sense. Too much sense. "I think we can adjourn and resume testimony for the next date to be determined. There will be no cross-examination at this time. Mr. Gifford, if you would please see to the accused's escort back to holding." She slams down her gavel then rises to her feet. "Court is dismissed."

—-

Dumbledore rises to his feet as soon as court is dismissed. "I hope Peeves hasn't set the place on fire by the time we get back," he says to McGonagall as he gestures gentlemanly for his colleague to depart the courtroom before him. Witches first, after all.

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