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Law Lession 201B - Age Does Matter

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Law Lession 201B - Age Does Matter
Harry Potter/Highlander

by Corwalch

Harry stood in the dark drafty dungeon that was lit only by torchlight staring at the shadowy figures on the high benches at the far end of the room. He knew this room from Dumbledore’s Pensieve. He’d seen the Lestranges and Crouch Jr sentenced here in it.

“You are late.” A cold male vice announced as Harry walked down the aisle between the rows of empty benches.

“Sorry about that,” Harry apologized. “I wasn’t told the time had been changed.”

“That is not the fault of the Wizengamot. We sent the owl this morning. Take your seat.” The man with the cold voice gestured to the chair standing in a pool of light.

Harry took a look at the seat and gulped when he saw the chains covering the arms of it. He’d seen those chains wrap around Barty Crouch’s arms binding the Death Eater in place. “Thanks, but I will stand.”

“Sit down!” a grating female voice snapped.

“Not in that chair.” Harry told the group in front of him. He might be expelled by the end of all this given he had no one here to defend him, but if he was going to be then he was going to go with dignity. He had no doubt that Adam had been right when he said that the Ministry needed to render him powerless. Fudge had stacked things in his favour because he needed to do something to disgrace Harry officially so that his claims that Voldemort was back would be ignored and the easiest way to do that was to expel him. Harry had seen how little regard the Wizarding world had for those who had been expelled from school and how little opportunities they had. He had no doubt that if Hagrid had completed his education, he would’ve gone on to get a Mastery in handling dangerous creatures which would’ve opened all kinds of doors for the gentle half giant.

“Let’s just get on with it,” the forbidding looking grey haired woman wearing a monocle sitting on Fudge’s left decided. “He is not being tried for a capitol crime therefore he can stand if he wishes.”

“Very well,” Fudge decided not to press the point since at the end of the day the boy would’ve been reduced to a non-entity as far as the magical world was concerned and no one would believe his claims that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was back. “The accused finally being present I believe we are ready to proceed. Do all agree?”

There was an eager chorus of “Yes’s” and “Ayes” from the fifty or so people ranged along the high bench.

And Harry heard a resounding, “Yes, sir.” From the bench in front and recognised the voice as Ron’s brother Percy

“Disciplinary hearing of the twelfth of August,” Fudge began and then stopped as with a loud groan the doors at the back of the room opened once more.

As a slender man with messy brown hair walked into the pool of light near the chain wrapped chair, Fudge demanded, “Who are you and how did you get in here. This is a closed hearing.”

“I am Mr. Potter’s solicitor Adam Bronson.” The man announced calmly. “It is fortunate that I was in the Ministry on other business when I heard of the change in time and location of the hearing, otherwise the Wizengamot would’ve been in violation of its own laws and statues for failing to notify all participants of the hearing in a timely fashion.”

“Hem hem,” the woman with the grating voice wearing pink robes and a ribbon in her hair interrupted. “They were notified in a timely fashion.”

“And you are?” Adam asked.

“Delores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic.” She announced. “I know those owls were sent out in plenty of time to notify participants of the change in time.”

“And are you willing to swear an oath on your magic to that?” Adam asked, bringing a slight grin to Harry’s face as the tables seemed to be being turned on one of Fudge’s lackeys. While he hadn’t known Adam that long and hadn’t been able to see him for the last few weeks, he trusted the man and was glad to have him here.

“Now see here, Mr. Bronson,” Fudge interrupted, “You have no call to impugn the honour of this court.”

“Actually yes I do, because I fire called my office when I heard about the change in time and as I was speaking with them the letter informing Mr. Potter of the change in time and location for the hearing arrived. By my calculations it was sent out at precisely the same moment Mr. Potter entered the Ministry with his companion Mr. Arthur Weasley of the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Department, that is hardly adequate time, given that if he had been with me waiting for the original hearing time of ten am you would have railroaded a guilty verdict through without him being able to mount a defence. I would hate to think this august body was being used to destroy the life of a young wizard for political gain.”

Amelia Bones had noticed the look of surprise and then relief on Potter’s face when the man had announced who he was and why he was there. She hadn’t heard from Susan that Potter had a lawyer, so she asked, “Mr. Potter, is Mr. Bronson indeed your solicitor?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Harry affirmed.

“Mr. Bronson, I will look into the matter of the notices being sent out. It is not the intention of the Wizengamot to in any way deny a citizen of Magical Britain a fair hearing.” Madame Bones assured the solicitor after giving Delores Umbridge a dry look. “Now since Mr. Potter is represented by council shall we proceed?”

“Yes, yes,” Fudge stammered and took up where he left off with the reading into the record and he was once more interrupted this time by the arrival of Albus Dumbledore claiming to be a witness for the defence.

“Actually,” Mr. Bronson spoke up. “The Headmaster of Mr. Potter’s school was not present at the alleged instance of under-aged magic and therefore he can not be a witness to it.”

The twinkle in Dumbledore’s eyes dimmed slightly. “I misspoke, I brought a witness to the incident.”

“Are you referring perhaps to the Squib, you have living in the area, Arabella Figg?” Bronson asked. “While she could testify to some extent, it is a well known fact that the Wizengamot would discount her testimony as they do not view Squibs as magical citizens even though they can if they wish enter places like Diagon Alley.” That claim set the members of the Wizengamot members to muttering angrily as the solicitor continued. “Where as I, who was speaking with Mr. Potter in the park in Little Whinging with regard to certain legal matters on August second, am a full fledged wizard and did indeed see it.”

“Can we get on with this hearing?” Fudge demanded. “Dumbledore we will give consideration to your witness if needed when the time comes. The charges against the accused are as follows: that he did knowingly, and with full knowledge of the illegality of his actions, given he had previously received a warning for the use of under-aged magic outside of school, cast the Patronus charm in an area inhabited by Muggles and that he further did it in front of a Muggle on August second at twenty-three minutes past nine in the evening. A clear and direct violation under paragraph C of the decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery Act of 1875 as well as in violation of section thirteen of the International Confederation of Wizards Statute of Secrecy.”

“I dispute the charges.” Bronson spoke up.

“On what grounds?” Umbridge demanded to know. “The monitoring spell on Mr. Potter’s wand quite clearly reported to the office that monitors underage sorcery that the spell was cast. You can not dispute public record.”

“I do not dispute that the spell was cast.” Bronson agreed. “As I said I was there when the incident happened. Mr. Potter did indeed cast the spell that produced a Corporeal Patronus…”

Madame Bones’ voice cut across what Bronson was saying. “Mr. Potter you produced a fully corporeal Patronus?”

“A what?” Harry didn’t understand what she was talking about.

“Your Patronus was fully formed, not just vapour or a wispy shape?” Madame Bones clarified her question.

“Yes ma’am, it was a fully formed stag, just as it has always been.” Harry told her puzzled by why she seemed so interested.

“Always been?” The monocle almost dropped as the grey haired woman’s eyes widened. “You’ve produced a Patronus before?”

“Yes, ma’am, I produced my first one when I was thirteen.”

“Who taught you?” Madame Bones wanted to know.

Professor Lupin during my third year.” Harry told her. “I needed to be able to defend myself against the Dementors around the school since they seemed to be very interested in me, so he taught me.”

“Impressive,” Madame Bones complimented him. “A difficult spell to do as an adult.. to be able to do it at thirteen.”

“Can we get back to the matter at hand?” Fudge demanded. “Mr. Bronson, given that the accused has just admitted to casting the spell, why are you disputing the charges?”

“The charge is for under-aged sorcery and my client is not under-aged.” Adam told them.

“Mr. Potter, you are fifteen are you not?” Fudge asked him.

“Yes sir,” Harry answered calmly.

“He is under-aged, Mr. Bronson, therefore the charge stands.” Fudge announced with a smile on his face.

“Mr. Potter’s physical age is not in question.” Bronson countered firmly. “But he is still not under-aged in the eyes of the law, given that Ministry Officials Bartimus Crouch Senior and Ludo Bagman, the heads of the three Magical schools in Europe and this august body have all declared him to be of age.”

“No we have not!” Delores Umbridge protested.

“Actually Madam, you have.” Bronson smiled a shark-like smile. “Last year, Mr. Potter was forced to compete in the Tri-Wizard tournament, a contest with a binding magical contract that clearly stated the participants must be of age. After Mr. Potter’s name came out of the cup, given he was legally under-aged, the drawing could have been declared null and void and the Goblet reignited and the drawing done over again. That was not done. Ministry Officials Bartimus Crouch and Ludo Bagman said he had to compete, thereby declaring him of age in the eyes of the Ministry. While Headmistress Maxime and Headmaster Karkaroff, originally protested his inclusion, they did not prevent him from participating. Headmaster Dumbledore did not protest at all. Therefore all three of the Heads of the magical schools in Europe declared Mr. Potter to be of age. And last but not least we come to today. Mr. Potter is being tried in front of the entire Wizengamot which can only be done for magical citizens who are of age. It is against the law in magical Britain to try a minor in front of the Entire Wizengamot. If the person is not of age and the member’s of the Wizengamot do sit in judgement of them, they will lose their magic. So either Mr. Potter is of age, or if you wish to contend he is not, then this hearing must end unless you all wish to lose your magic.”

“Either way,” A blonde woman sitting a few seats tot eh right of Umbridge pointed out, “he did knowingly practice sorcery in front of a muggle when he cast that patronus spell. If he is to be tried as an adult, the penalty is far more severe.”

Bronson’s smile got even wider, showing more teeth. “Actually that muggle is exempt from the secrecy statutes because he is Mr. Potter’s cousin, Dudley Dursley and Mr. Potter has resided in their home since he was taken there by Albus Dumbledore after his parent’s deaths in nineteen eighty-one. By the laws of the International wizarding Confederation, those are the only muggles magic may be practiced in front of. Now is this hearing going to continue, because I should tell you that if one more question is asked in this venue it will constitute you trying an adult wizard for a crime they can not be guilty of… under-aged magic?”

Harry was surprised when they quickly declared him not guilty and Adam’s smile got even bigger.

As Dumbledore approached them intending to separate Harry from this man, he overheard the man tell Harry, “and with that decision they have legally documented you are of age in the records. If they had just closed the hearing and returned the case to the department of magical education and magical law enforcement you would’ve still been a minor. They don’t realise what they’ve done yet.”