Nudity, love triangles, pregnancies and death, coupled with Quidditch, deceit, injustice, adventure and mystery. Sounds like another tranquil year at Hogwarts. Join me for Hogwarts Too Exposed - A ...
The Naked Truth
"I wonder what prevented the judge from concluding the hearing this morning?" Ron asked as he studied the breakfast menu. "What are you having to eat, Honey?"
"Just tea, I can't even consider food right now," Samantha responded as she stared sadly out the restaurant window. "What are we going to do if they take Timmy from us?"
"That's not going to happen," Ron said forcefully, wishing he actually believed that as strongly as his voice made it sound. "The judge has to see through Malfoy's lies."
"I'm so frightened," Sam said, fighting to hold back tears. "It's like a terrible dream, but one I can't wake up from. I miss him so much now, I can't imagine what it will be like if...." Sam couldn't bring herself to say the words. "If only I could wrap my arms around him, I'd never let him go."
"We'll get him back," Ron said, praying he was right. "Your testimony will refute the lies Malfoy told and having Harry and Hermione as character witnesses will certainly hold a lot of weight. They're the most revered witch and wizard in the world, and thank GOD, Tonks is willing to go on the stand and refute Ander's fabrication."
"I like Tonks," Sam said candidly. "Her being a Metamorphmagus takes a little getting used to, but she has a good heart. It was a blessing that she was there Friday night."
Ron nodded his head in agreement. "Here come Harry and Hermione," he said, as the couple entered the hotel restaurant. He motioned for them to join Sam and him.
"We were just about to order," Ron said as Harry and Hermione were seated.
"I only want tea," Hermione said. "My stomach feels like its being jostled about."
"Are you nervous about testifying, too?" Sam inquired.
"It must be that," Hermione answered, reluctant under the circumstances to divulge that she was pregnant and likely suffering from morning sickness.
They had only just placed their breakfast order with the plates when a house elf entered the restaurant with a rucksack of Daily Prophets. When he approached the table, both Ron and Harry purchased a paper, although neither glanced at the front page, laying them aside instead to concentrate on their meals that had just appeared.
"That's one thing men have over us," Hermione laughed to Sam. "No matter how upset they may be, they can always eat."
Sam smiled, nodding her agreement, as she picked up Ron's paper. "Oh my God!" she shrieked. "Hermione look at the front page."
Hermione picked up Harry's paper. She was speechless; she couldn't believe her eyes. She handed the paper to Harry, a dazed expression on her face.
"But how?" Harry said, his face now looking as confused as Hermione's. "No one was on the beach that night with a camera.
"The rain," Hermione said suddenly realizing what must have happened. "Remember Emily thought she saw lightning and that it was about to shower? The flash was most likely made by a wizardcam."
Harry shook his head in frustration. "Old Bullchip is going to rip us apart. Some character witnesses we are, naked on the front page of the Prophet."
"It gets worse," Ron said, regretfully, as he finished reading the article on page two of the paper Sam had handed him. "This Rita Skeeter want-to-be is encouraging the Board of Directors to discharge both of you."
"Just because we're nudists?" Hermione asked, appalled, as she reached for Harry's paper so she could read the article. When she finished, she slammed the paper down on the table. "I used to think the muggle world was guilty of bigotry, but wizards are worse. Muggles, elves, giants, werewolves and now even naturists; is there any group wizards don't have a prejudice against?"
"I know what you mean," Sam said desolately. "I always loathed the way my grandparents always looked down their noses at everyone as if wizards were better than any other creature on earth and that they were the best of the best because they were purebloods."
"Then you're a pureblood?" Hermione asked, rather stunned. "I never would have expected that you...."
"I'll take that as a complement," Sam said, bursting in. "Other than Ron and his family, I find most purebloods have a propensity to be rather full of themselves. That's why I'm inclined to not publicize that I'm one."
"But you're American." Hermione added. "It's rare for an American witch or wizard to be pureblood."
I know," Sam answered, seemly embarrassed. "That's why most of my relations act snobbish the way they do. Fortunately, Mom and Dad had a lot of contact with muggles as they grew up and, therefore, didn't fill my head with any pureblood-wizard superiority baloney."
The more she got to be acquainted with Sam, the more Hermione liked her. She was about to ask her more about her family tree when she become aware that Ron and Harry had their heads together, whispering animatedly about something in the Prophet; both looking rather horrified.
"What are you two going on about?" Hermione asked.
Harry looked at his loving wife, not sure at all how to break the news that would bring her world plummeting down about her.
Harry looked intently at Hermione not wanting to speak, but knowing she had to be told. "Hermione," he said adoringly. "I'm afraid we have a much greater challenge facing us then how the Hogwarts Board feels about us being nudists." Reluctantly, he passed the Daily Prophet to Hermione. "Read the advertisement at the bottom of page two."
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Hermione looked up from the Daily Prophet, her face as white as the paper on which it was printed. "But how?" she asked in astonishment. "Harry, I would never pose for such pictures."
"Of course not," Harry said forcefully, knowing this to be a fact. "Perhaps they're manipulated photographs, your head on another person's body."
"That only works with muggle photos," Hermione answered, deep in thought. "If you try that with a wizard photograph, the head has a propensity to float away from the body." Hermione thought for a moment. "Harry, the pictures must have been taken while we were at Cap d'Adge."
"Obviously, but how and by who?" Harry asked concerned.
"Harry," Hermione asked, wondering if possibly.... "The day you met me at the pool, the first day I revealed myself, when you first came down the steps, did you notice anyone near me?"
Harry tried to think back. At first, he had difficulty distinguishing one day's events from the other, sort of like Binn's goblin wars. "That was the day you fell asleep waiting for me and those young girls splashed you, wasn't it?"
"Yes," Hermione said, encouraged by Harry's memory.
"The pool area was practically empty that morning," he remembered. "Our girls were up at the far end of the pool with some of their friends, and the young girls that splashed you had just gotten in at the other end. There was no one seated anywhere near you. Actually I remember being astonished that all the chaise lounges were empty. There was no one near you. "
Then suddenly it came back, "But that pervert was just leaving the pool area headed for the beach," Harry said, disgustingly. "You know, the guy that tried to take close-ups from the rear as the girls exercised."
"It had to be him," Hermione said. "Harry, I think he was a wizard."
"A wizard?" Harry said in amazement as Sam and Ron waited for an explanation.
"If you recall, I left our room with the concealment charm on. Harry, I never removed it. That whole day while we played tennis and volleyball, I had absolutely no idea the charm had been removed. I only found out late that afternoon when Jamie finally told me. All this time I thought either you or one of the girls removed it, but now I bet it was he. He removed the charm and snapped a few pictures of me as I slept, and then slithered off when the little girls appeared, just before they splashed me awake."
"It makes sense, but how would he know about the concealment charm?" Harry asked.
"Harry's right," Sam agreed. "To the normal passerby, you would have appeared to be wearing a swimsuit."
"That's just the point," Hermione elucidated. "If he was a wizard, then he surely recognized Harry and me. I sincerely doubt he guessed that I was using a concealment charm. He probably just muttered 'Finite Incantatum' to remove any charms I might have been using such as an anti-photographic charm."
"Unfortunately, he got to photograph quite a bit more of you than he expected," Ron said, meaning to be supportive, but not coming off at all like he intended. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean...."
"It's all right Ron, I understand," she said, placing her hand on Ron's, "but because of those photographs, I'm worried that Harry and I have become more of a detriment to your case than an asset. Perhaps it would be best if we didn't testify," Hermione said sadly, knowing she was leaving her best friends down.
"I was afraid you two might be thinking something to that effect," Seamus Finnegan said grimly, having heard Hermione's comment as he approached the table. "May I join you?" he asked, but didn't wait for an answer before enlarging the table and adding a chair.
"Sure," Ron said, but only after Seamus was already seated.
"Needless to say, we could have done without this revelation today," Seamus said, not smiling. "But we still need you to testify; for you not to do so would be disastrous."
"I'm not sure I understand," said Hermione.
"Bullchip has the witness list," Seamus stated. "He would jump all over the fact that you were pulled as character witnesses. He'd make this," Seamus held up the /Daily Prophet/, "out to be something sordid, and we'd have no opportunity to refute him."
"So you think Hermione and I should still testify, despite the article?" Harry asked.
"You have to," Seamus said alluding to Ron and Sam. "They need your help, and it gives you a forum to defend yourselves."
"It shouldn't be necessary for them to defend being naturists," Sam said, frustrated.
"Not in a perfect world, but ours is far from perfect," Seamus added.
Ron looked at Seamus questioningly. "How does it give them a forum?"
"After that article, I expect the courtroom to be a sea of reporters today," Seamus replied. "We have to use that to our advantage. First, we have to show how badly you and Sam have been wronged by bigotry in our legal system. Our priority, most certainly, is to see Timmy returned to your custody, but, in the process, perhaps we can help Harry and Hermione achieve a vote of confidence."
"Sam, I'm going to alter the order of testimony," Seamus stated. "I'm going to have Harry and Hermione go before you and then finish with Tonks, and instead of submitting the balance of proof to the judge before hand, let's wait until Bullchip cross-examines you. I think it will be more effective."
Four pairs of eyes studied Seamus. He seemed confident. They all prayed that he knew what he was doing.
Jamie, Emily and Caitlin were still the topic of conversation when lunch arrived and probably would be for sometime to come. The picture that had been in the Daily Prophet was still being passed about the Great Hall, although there weren't nearly as many copies remaining as there had initially been. It seemed that eager male students had destroyed most copies of the paper, attempting to charm away the floating black bars that hid features they were most longing to see.
The school in general, and the Slytherins in particular, was stunned when word finally circulated that Gryffindor House had been aware that Caitlin and Jamie were nudists since last Halloween. Not only had the house members been aware, but also they had all seen both girls totally nude and not a one had said a word. Even the Hufflepuffs, known for their loyalty, were significantly impressed.
Emily and Kim had been encouraged to return to the Slytherin table by Tony and Doris, but the tension was apparent. The four sat at the end of the table nearest the staff table along with Marta, Becky and the hand full of others that had shown support for the naturists that morning. Empty chairs represented an invisible wall between them and the majority of Slytherin House.
Undoubtedly, not all of Slytherin House hated them, but most were evidently afraid to cross the likes of Dick Bancroft and his cronies. Tyler Bancroft in particular seemed extremely unhappy with the present seating arrangement.
Jamie was engrossed in conversation with Alex when the hand of the Headmaster, tapping her shoulder, startled her. "How did your classes go this morning, Miss Zacherley?" He asked. "I hope the students aren't giving you problems because of the picture that appeared in the Prophet."
"Actually, they've been much more dutiful than I expected," Jamie said with a smile. "One Ravenclaw student did suggest that I'd have no problem keeping their attention if I taught in the nude."
Headmaster Snape was taken aback. "And how did you respond?" he asked. "I hope you deducted points."
"No," Jamie said. "I told him that it was an excellent suggestion and that I'd be quite comfortable teaching unclothed, but that I'd rather not be the only one nude. He turned quite red and dropped the subject when I suggested he get naked first."
The Headmaster looked at Jamie with surprise and then grinned. "I'm not sure if the Board would quite endorse your methods, but I like your modus operandi," he said and then turned to Caitlin. "Are you being harassed in any way young lady?"
"No, Sir," she replied. Matt and Randy sat protectively on either side of her. "I'm concerned about Emily, however."
"Yes," Snape said as he looked concernedly toward Emily. "Slytherins are certainly not known for their empathy. I shall talk to her."
"Professor," Jamie said as the Headmaster turned to leave. "What will happen to Harry and Hermione?"
"Unfortunately," Snape answered sadly, "the fate of Professors Potter and Granger lies in the hands of the Hogwarts Board of Directors, another group not known for having a great deal of compassion." He turned and headed toward the Slytherin table.
Caitlin looked at Jamie, her eyes filled with panic. "They can't discharge them. They're the greatest witch and wizard of the century."
"Of the twentieth century," Jamie said despondently. "We're now in the twenty-first century, and wizardkind has a strong tendency to forget the past and only judge people on their current contributions. That picture made Harry and Hermione an embarrassment to, so called, 'proper' magical folk."
Caitlin had tears in her eyes as she watched Headmaster Snape talk to Emily and her handful of supporters.
"Look at this place," Hermione whispered to Harry as the judge entered. "The gallery is crammed to capacity."
"They're here for the freak show," he said spitefully. "Where else can you see monsters, whores, nudists and perverts on the same stage."
"Harry," Hermione said in shock, "Ron isn't a monster nor is Sam a whore. And although we're nudists, we most certainly aren't perverts."
"Tell them," he said, indicating the throng overflowing the courtroom balcony.
Judge Jones surveyed the crowd, an angry expression on her face. "Let it be known from the very beginning that this is a court of law and not a circus," she said with severity. "I will not be the least bit hesitant to clear all visitors should there be any inappropriate behavior." Her demeanor left little doubt that she meant every word.
She turned her attention to Seamus Finnegan. "Will the defense please call their first witness?"
Ebenezer Bullchip was expecting Seamus to call Samantha first and was surprised when he heard the name Harry Potter being announced.
As Harry approached the witness stand, the room was filled with whispering which ended abruptly when Judge Jones pounded her gavel.
"Professor Potter," Seamus began. "You and Ron Weasley have been mates since age eleven. Is that correct?"
"Yes," Harry responded. "We met on the Hogwarts Express our first year and instantly became friends."
"And how long have you known Samantha Bowman?" Seamus asked.
"Almost a year," Harry answered. "Hermione and I both immediately took a liking to her."
"By Hermione, I assume you're referring to your wife, Professor Granger?"
"Have you had the opportunity to meet Timmy and see him interact with Ron and Sam?" Seamus questioned.
"Yes," Harry responded, a smile coming to his face. "We've had dinner at their place a number of times. Sam's done a wonderful job of raising Timmy on her own and now... Well, Timmy has come to think of Ron as his Dad, and I know Ron loves him equally."
"I realize you're no expert on the subject, but in your opinion, are Sam and Timmy in any danger living with Ron?" Seamus asked.
"I'm not what some would call an expert, but I've personally known two werewolves. That gives me more first hand knowledge on the subject than most people possess. In my judgment, a werewolf is not dangerous except on the three nights of the full moon, and with proper precaution, they are no danger even then."
"Do you feel Mr. Weasley takes proper precautions?" Seamus inquired.
"Yes, I do. Ron loves Sam and Timmy. He would never do anything to harm them."
"No further questions your honor."
As Seamus took his seat, Ebenezer rose and approached Harry acting as if in awe.
"Professor Potter, it is indeed a pleasure to meet the wizard that defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named," Bullchip said, hypocritically.
"There were three of us at hand," Harry said modestly. "I wouldn't be sitting here today if not for Hermione and Ron."
"Ah yes," Bullchip said, a grin appearing on his face. "The great Potter humility, I understand you've always shunned the spotlight; preferring your privacy. Is that correct?"
"I never felt I was a hero or celebrity; in fact, I was extremely lucky to survive many of my encounters with Voldemort. I appreciate the honors that the magical world has showered on me, but now, I'd just like to teach and raise a family."
The spectators had as one shuddered when Lord Voldemort's name was mentioned. Even now, six years after his final demise, the name was still feared.
"Yes, I imagine privacy is necessary when one has a perversion for adolescent girls."
Before Harry could speak, Seamus had jumped to his feet. "Your Honor, may I approach the bench please?"
"Yes," Judge Ebony Jones replied disgustingly, evidently expecting something of this nature. "Both counsel please approach the bench."
"Your Honor," Seamus said, "Harry Potter is not on trial here. Life as we know it would not exist, was it not for him. I feel plaintiff counsel is out of order."
"Defense chose to call him as a witness despite the disclosures in this morning's Prophet," Bullchip barked. "Someone giving testimony as a character witnesses should be of unquestionable character themselves."
Judge Jones stared at Seamus. "You had to expect this when you put him on the stand. Barrister Bullchip has the every right to question his worth as a character witness, but..." she looked sternly at Bullchip, "if you want to continue this line of questioning, I expect it to be in a more civil, respectful manner."
As Finnegan returned to his seat, Bullchip again faced Harry. "Professor Potter, are you a nudist?"
"Yes," Harry responded. "Not to the degree that my daughters are, but our family did go to a naturist location for holiday this year."
"Would you please explain what you mean by the comment 'not to the degree as your daughters'?" Bullchip asked.
"The three girls were nudists before they became part of Hermione's and my life. Jamie and Emily were raised as nudists by their parents."
"Do you expect me to believe that these children are responsible for you turning to this decadent life style?"
"I don't expect you to believe anything I say." Harry responded sharply. "It's quite obvious to me that you are both bigoted and arrogant. As for the life style being immoral, there is nothing morally wrong with my daughters preferring to be naked rather than clothed. What's depraved is that bastards such as you see them as objects of lust rather than the innocent children they are."
"Professor Potter," Judge Jones said in an admonishing tone. "I will remind you that this is a court of law and such language and outbursts are out of order."
"I apologize to the court," Harry said, purposely excluding Bullchip.
Bullchip, however, had no more questions for Harry. Ebenezer preferred to have the upper hand, keeping his witnesses on the defensive. With his outburst, Harry had managed to turn the tables and make Bullchip appear to be the dirty old man. Ebenezer decided to let the defense move on to the last three witnesses, all women and much easier, he found, to manipulate.
"Hermione Potter, please take the stand."
As Seamus approached Hermione, he gave her a reassuring glace. "Hermione, what is your opinion of Samantha Bowman as a mother?"
"In my opinion, Sam should write a book on how to raise a child. Timmy is a beautiful, well-adjusted boy. Now she has Ron's help, but for two and a half years, it all fell on her shoulders. She's amazing," Hermione said, sincerely meaning ever word.
"What about Ron?" Seamus asked. "Do you think he'll make a good father?"
"He already has." She looked tenderly in the direction of Malfoy. "Draco may be Timmy's birth father, and I'm sure in his heart he wants what is best for Timmy, but taking the boy from Sam and Ron is just wrong. Timmy thinks of Ron as his father; in the last year they've developed an incredible bond. Although I know Ginny would love and take care of Timmy, she could never take Sam's place. Timmy has a mother and father that love him. He is in absolutely no danger in that house. If our legal system truly wants what is best for the child, then he should be returned to Ron and Sam post haste."
"I would imagine you were rather shocked by today's paper?" Seamus asked sympathetically.
"You always were one to understate a situation," Hermione said with a smile.
"Your personal life should be a private matter; it shouldn't factor into this hearing, but I'm sure opposing counsel will bring up the picture in today's newspaper. Would you like to explain briefly how you and Harry ended up nude on that beach?" Seamus asked.
"I'm not sure how brief I can make it," Hermione said with a smirk, "but I imagine that picture is what brought all the sudden attention to this hearing." As Hermione gathered her thoughts she reviewed the gallery where, much to her surprise, she saw even the Minster of Magic, Emma Wrong, seated.
"I was raised by rather prudish English standards, as I'm sure most of you were. I never saw my parents naked, nor did they see me that way once I was capable of washing and dressing myself. Even living in a dormitory environment for seven years, I managed to maintain my modesty. Then, someone wonderful entered my life. Although the sufferer of horrible physical and mental abuse, she was still pure of heart and, amazingly, had retained her innocence.
"My life started to change the day Caitlin became my daughter. Our first evening as mother and daughter, she informed me that she was a nudist and asked permission to be nude whenever in our quarters. I most certainly had misgivings, but it seemed so important to her that I agreed. It took some getting used to, but in time I adjusted. Her not wearing clothes seemed innocent and certainly harmed no one.
"Caitlin encouraged me to give naturism a try in the privacy of our accommodations. I resisted at first, but it seemed so significant to her. The magical mirror in my bedroom had reflected some quite happy futures, all showing us together and nude, so I gave it a try.
"By the time Harry and I started sharing quarters, I had come to feel quite relaxed and natural being nude in the safety of our living space. Then tragedy struck. Jamie Zacherley's parents were killed, and she and her sister became part of our family. It was Jamie who had introduced Caitlin to the naturist way of life originally. Emily and Jamie were raised as nudists.
"The girls helped Harry plan our holiday this summer, and the little imps tricked us into going to a nudist resort. At first, Harry and I basically tried to make the best of it, but by the end of our holiday, we were both converted.
"Is that where the picture that appears on the cover of the/ Daily Prophet/ was taken?" Seamus asked.
"Yes, although the photographer was hidden," Hermione answered. "We were unaware the photograph existed until this morning when we saw the newspaper."
"Thank you. No further questions," Seamus said, satisfied with Hermione's testimony.
"Your witness," Judge Jones said to Ebenezer Bullchip.
"Good morning," Ebenezer said in the usual sickeningly sweet chauvinistic tone he used with female witnesses. "Would you mind if I called you Hermione?"
"I most certainly would," Hermione said sternly, shocking both Bullchip and the audience gathered. "The use of my first name is limited to family and friends. You may refer to me as either Professor Granger or Mrs. Potter."
Ebony Jones covered her face in order to hide an amused grin; Ebenezer cleared his throat loudly.
"You seem extremely youthful to be a Professor?" Ebenezer questioned. "How long have you been teaching?"
"This is my seventh year on the Hogwarts staff," Hermione responded proudly.
"Assuming you're allowed to continue it," Bullchip said, brutally. "Do I understand you correctly? You blame three young girls for you and Mr. Potter now living a depraved and sinful life style?"
"I blame no one for my actions," Hermione responded vehemently. "The girls introduced me to naturism, but I espoused it of my own free will. As for being depraved or sinful, there is absolutely nothing sullied about the naked body. Naturism is a pure, wholesome lifestyle. It's only the thoughts and actions of some people that are depraved. I'll tell you what is sinful. It's sinful that a mother's child has been ripped from her arms because of baseless vicious bigotry. I can understand Draco wanting to have contact with his child, but you trying to obtain it for him through lies and by slandering innocent loving people is despicable."
Bullchip was momentarily taken aback by Hermione's volley, but swiftly regained his equanimity. "Professor Granger, you are here as a character witness. Do you really feel that someone who has just appeared nude on the cover of the Daily Prophet and is about to be totally exposed in a filthy rag like Playwizard Magazine is of proper moral quality to be vouching for someone's else's character in a custody hearing?" Bullchip asked, his words cutting as sharply as a knife.
Hermione took a deep breath and looked to Harry for moral support. He gave her his best 'you can do it' smile. "I came here today to support two people I adore very much; two loving parents that have been dreadfully victimized," Hermione said, her sincerity evident, "but it seems that in order to vouch for their character, I must first defend my own. And in order to do that, I find myself in the unenviable position of defending naturism, a lifestyle that up until last year I myself would have ridiculed.
"There is nothing decadent or dirty about the naked body. Certain acts and poses most certainly can be offensive, but nudity itself is not immoral. Our society finds a naked baby precious, and a nude two year old scampering across the lawn adorable. When and why does nudity suddenly become forbidden and immoral? Suddenly parents are frowned upon if their little girl runs topless at age six. Heaven forbid a boy and girl that age being bathed together.
"I doubt that I will ever be as comfortable with my body as my girls; they'd have no problem appearing in this court before all of you totally starkers, and its not because they are exhibitionists. It's because they're comfortable with their bodies. Comfortable doesn't mean beautiful or proud, it simply means unashamed.
"On holiday, we saw men and women, boys and girls, of all sizes and shapes, but all nudists. I can't explain why, but naturists just seem more accepting of a person. Maybe it's because it's hard to put on airs when you're naked. No one is judging you because of your designer dress. It's an exhilarating feeling, and you being naked hurts absolutely no one."
Hermione hesitated for a moment and then, looking Bullchip directly in the face, she said, "But you're not a nudist, nor are you a werewolf, and I'd be willing to bet you're not muggle born. Anything different is dangerous and immoral isn't it, Mr. Bullchip? Anything different should be shunned or, better yet, destroyed."
Ebenezer stared angrily at Hermione. She saw him for exactly what he was and he didn't like it. "No further questions!" He said furiously.
As Hermione left the stand, Ron turned to Seamus. "How do you think Harry and Hermione did?"
Seamus smiled, "Considering the circumstance they were dealing with, I doubt they could have done much better. It's down to Sam and Tonks now." He turned to Samantha. "How are you feeling, Sam?"
"I'll be okay," Sam said nervously. "That old prejudiced bastard isn't going to shake me."
"Good girl. Now hold on to these envelopes, but don't give them to the judge until Bullchip brings up the subject."
"But what if he doesn't?" Sam asked.
"Trust me, he will," Seamus responded. "It will work out much better if we wait for him to open the gate."
"Samantha Bowman, please take the stand."
Ron squeezed Sam's hand, and then she left his side, determined to win back her son.
"Samantha?" Seamus asked once she was seated. "We've heard Draco Malfoy's version of how you met. Could you please give us your version?"
"It was the beginning of July, 2000. I had just finished college and was out job hunting," Sam started.
"Excuse me," Seamus interrupted, "but you're a witch. Why would you attend a muggle university?"
"The magical world in the United States is rather different than here," Sam continued. "Although they have three schools of wizardry and witchcraft, they are all much smaller than Hogwarts, and the wizard population, although about equal to that of Britain, is spread over a much larger area. The part of the country I lived in offered very few jobs in the magical world; therefore, I needed to have an advanced muggle education to obtain employment.
"What type of employment were you seeking?" Seamus Finnegan asked.
"I wasn't particular," Sam said. "I was just in quest of something temporary to give me an income until I began teaching fulltime in the fall. My college degree was in elementary education, and I had already been hired as a first grade teacher starting in September."
"So you were just out of school, had already secured employment in your field and were simply looking for summer employment when you met Draco Malfoy," Seamus reviewed.
"Yes, but when he approached my table and asked politely if he could sit with me, he introduced himself as Cedric Diggory," Sam answered. "I had initially refused, but he looked so lonely, and then I noticed his ring with the Hogwarts seal. I had heard so much about Hogwarts and the chance to talk to a recent student of the school was impossible to turn down.
"I found him extremely captivating. We must have spent two hours talking, comparing schools. In America, we aren't divided into houses. I found myself enthralled in his stories of how he was a Quidditch champion, and how he had been bullied by students from other houses, especially Gryffindor."
Hermione leaned over and whispered in Harry's ear. "It sounds like he got his story rather mixed up."
"I doubt he'd pick up many girls if he told them the truth; that he was a twit," Harry answered.
"I honestly found myself attracted to him," Sam said, hopeful her candor would not upset Ron. "Cedric was so kind and polite. When he asked if I had the time to show him around, I jumped at the opportunity. We had a wonderful afternoon together, after which he offered to take me to dinner. I didn't want to see the evening end and, as a result, was ecstatic when he asked if I was busy the next day.
"We met for breakfast and spent the entire day together. He treated me like a princess. No one had ever made me feel so cared for before. I didn't want the day to end, but worse, I dreaded the approaching weekend when he would be leaving. When he asked me to go back to his room, I was scared. I knew what might happen, but convinced myself that I could maintain control.
"I'd never gone further than light petting, so I was confident that I could stop, but I had never been alone with anyone like Cedric."
Ron sat holding his head, his stomach churning. Of course he'd known Sam had sex with Malfoy, after all Timmy was living proof, but he had blocked it from his mind. Now he was hearing all the details, and it was as if Draco was taking her at this instant as he helplessly watched.
"I couldn't stop. At the time, I didn't want to stop. I had lost my virginity, but it didn't upset me because I knew Cedric loved me. He had been so tender, so patient, so loving.
"I woke up the next morning in his empty hotel room. While I slept, he had dressed and packed. There was a note on the nightstand with a one hundred dollar bill attached./ For services rendered./
"I lay on the bed for what seemed like hours. There seemed no end to the tears. How could I have been so wrong about a person? I ripped the note and the attached money into a hundred pieces. A few weeks later, I realized I was with child."
"What did you do?" Seamus asked sympathetically.
"First, I told my parents," Samantha answered. "That had to be the hardest thing I've ever done. They were supportive, but I knew I had let them down. Then I buried myself in my work. For a time, I hated all men; I thought I'd never love anyone again. Then, Timmy was born.
"When I looked at him, I broke into tears. He looked so much like his father. How could I hate someone who had given me such a beautiful child? I convinced myself that if Cedric saw the baby, he'd want to be part of his life and that, maybe for Timmy's sake, he would marry me.
"I worked for the next year saving everything I could. In June of 2002, I hugged my parents good-bye, and Timmy and I came to Europe to find his father. I spent the next year searching, but to no avail. Every lead turned up a dead end. Timmy's father was not to be found. Every trail led to another Cedric Diggory who had died long before Timmy's conception.
"Finally in the summer of 2003, I gave up my search and settled in Hogsmeade with my son," Sam said in conclusion.
"And that's where you met Ron Weasley?" Finnegan questioned.
"Yes," Sam said as she looked to Ron. "That's when I found true love; not only for myself, but also for my son. Timmy thinks of Ronnie as his dad and Ron, I now realize, couldn't love Timmy more if he were his natural son. I have two wonderful men in my life; I can't envision existence without either of them."
Seamus nodded his head in agreement as he said to the judge, "I have no more questions."
As Ebenezer Bullchip approached Sam he took a handkerchief from his pocket and mockingly pretended to wipe tears from his eyes. "That was certainly a heart rendering story; did you and counsel spend the entire weekend rehearsing it?" he asked wickedly. "Quite a twist on the true facts that Professor Malfoy presented, but then he's a pureblood and you're...." he hesitated seemingly lost for the proper term. "You're some what, shall we say, less?"
"Your honor," Sam said tentatively, "I would have preferred not to submit this as evidence, but since Barrister Bullchip feels lineage is the only judge of truthfulness, I have no choice." Sam handed Judge Jones an envelope sealed by the International Ministry of Magic.
The warning embossed on the large envelope startled Judge Jones./ For the eyes of Judge Ebony Jones only, anyone else attempting to open will be disemboweled. Contents will vaporize five seconds after reading. Divulging the specifics of the enclosed will result in a total mind wash./
Never had the judge been handed such an intimidating document in the course of a hearing, especially one dealing with a matter as ordinary as child custody. She apprehensively broke the seal and removed the parchment. Her eyes studied the page carefully and then she dropped it to her desk. She looked at Sam with trepidation as the envelope and parchment disappeared. The occupants of the courtroom were mesmerized. Ebenezer Bullchip just stood staring, his mouth open.
"Obviously, the information I have just been made aware of is something that can not be divulged in its entirety to this room. All I can say is that Miss Bowman is pureblood and her ancestry dates back to and beyond the founding of Hogwarts."
Ebenezer looked as if he had been stabbed in the heart. "Very well," he said nervously. "Never the less...." Bullchip seemed to be rattled and stumbling for words. "You make the claim that Professor Malfoy took your virginity at age twenty-one. I expected you to lie and deny that you were a prostitute," he smiled and shook his head, "but really, Ms. Bowman, don't you think you're going to extremes? Of course, I'm sure you expect us to take your word, or can you prove you were a virgin in July of 2000?" He looked at her smugly.
"No," Sam said, but not the least disconsolately. "I can't prove it beyond May of that year." She handed Judge Jones another envelope.
Ebony Jones seemed relieved that this envelope contained no seals or warnings of jinxes. She read the enclosed document and then said, "Ms. Bowman has just handed me a medical report from her gynecologist that confirms that her hymen was indeed intact at the time of her examination on May 31, 2000."
Seamus smiled at Ron, "That's two, let's hope old Ebenezer goes for three."
But Ebenezer did not. Samantha Bowman was chipping away at Draco's testimony, and Bullchip decided it was best to remove her from the stand before she did any more damage. "No further questions," Ebenezer said cantankerously.
As Sam was about to leave the stand, Judge Jones stopped her. "If you would Ms Bowman, I'd like to ask you a few questions. I notice you have one more envelope in your possession. Does it contain information pertaining to this case?"
Sam handed the letter to the judge. "It's only a letter from Mr. and Mrs. Amos Diggory in which they state that a girl fitting my description contacted them with a ridiculous story concerning their deceased son being the father of her child."
"I see," said Judge Jones. "That would indeed seem to confirm that not only did you search for your son's father, but also that you were misinformed as to his correct name. Tell me, why once Draco Malfoy asked you to marry him, did you refuse? Was that not your original purpose in coming to England, hoping to find Timmy's father and have him marry you?"
"Yes, that was the goal of a naÃ¯ve young girl," Samantha answered, sorrowfully, "but once I realized he lied to me about his name, I understood that our whole encounter had been a charade. He had absolutely no feelings for me. I was simply a vessel he had used for satisfying his sexual needs. You can't marry someone simply because you have conceived a child together; a marriage can only endure when there is love. I know that now because I've experienced true love. Ronnie will always be there for Timmy and me."
Sam broke into uncontrollable tears, but she had held out long enough to present her case.
Judge Jones excused her as Seamus helped her to her seat
"Barrister Finnegan, I understand that you have one more witness?" Judge Jones asked.
"Yes, I'd like to call Auror Nymphadora Tonks to the stand."
Harry couldn't believe his eyes when a very attractive brunette with wavy shoulder length hair stood up and approached the witness stand. She was impeccably dressed and every eye in the courtroom was on her.
"Is that really Tonks?" Harry asked Hermione in amazement.
"That's Tonks," Hermione answered with a smile, "a Tonks that realizes the importance of this trial and wants to be taken completely seriously."
"I understand you prefer to be referred to by your surname only," Seamus asked.
"So would you if your fool of a mother had called you 'Nymphadora,'" muttered Tonks.
Judge Jones unsuccessfully tried to suppress a smile.
"Tonks, I understand you were a member of the group that took Timmy Bowman into protective custody, is that correct?"
"Yes, unfortunately I was a part of that staged travesty of justice," Tonks responded.
"Ms. Tonks," Judge Jones said, "I want to warn you that making unfounded charges against a ministry office could put your job in serious jeopardy."
"Thank you, your honor," Tonks responded. "But I'd rather be unemployed than take part in another scheduled attack against innocent people."
"Tonks, what leads you to believe that the charges of child abuse were unfounded," questioned Seamus.
"Because the original orders to pick up the child were issued Monday, but we were instructed not to carry them out until Friday. If serious child endangerment were suspected, we would not have deferred. Also, Sergeant Anders was scheduled off on Friday, but reported just for that case. That's highly irregular."
Judge Jones gave the impression of being extremely alarmed by Tonk's testimony. Ebenezer Bullchip seemed to be squirming in his seat.
"In your opinion, was excessive force used in carrying out the mission of the group," Seamus asked.
"Most definitely," Tonks responded. "Initially, Sergeant Anders goaded Mr. Weasley into attacking him by his refusing to allow a naked Miss Bowman to cover herself and then referring to her as a whore who had probably slept with half of England. Then, instead of a simple stunning or restraining spell being used on Mr. Weasley, he was twice thrown across the room, once actually through the wall, which rendered him unconscious and caused a fractured shoulder."
"Was Samantha Bowman manhandled in anyway?" Seamus answered.
"Yes," Tonks answered quickly. "She was grabbed by the hair and thrown to the floor inside their apartment, and then she was again thrown head first to the street outside. That time, she suffered a concussion and cuts to the forehead. Anders ordered us to portkey with her lying naked and unconscious on the street. I'm currently under suspension for disobeying that order and not departing with the others."
The court gallery was chaotic. Judge Ebony Jones was appalled. She pounded her gavel demanding silence which came, but not until she pounded and shouted again.
"No further questions, Your Honor."
"No questions," Ebenezer muttered, his face in his hands.
"We will take a thirty minute recess," Judge Jones declared. "After which, I will render my verdict. I suggest that during that break, members of the gallery refresh their memory as to the proper decorum suitable in a court of law."
Sam stood, petrified as the judge enter the courtroom. This was it. In a few minutes, she would know whether her future would be one of happiness or one of despair. The testimony today had appeared to go rather well, but there was no reading Judge Ebony Jones' face. Had she seen through the lies and bigotry, or was she blind to the truth and as prejudice as most of wizardkind seemed to be?
"I take the welfare of children extremely serious," Judge Jones began. "The human offspring is the frailest of all creatures and requires the nurturing of caring parents well into their teens. Sometimes, even the most loving parent can unwitting create a volatile situation that puts their child at peril."
Sam hung her head and closed her eyes, fearing her worst nightmare was about to come true.
End of Chapter 11
As always, I would like to thank those of you who took the time to review. Those reviews are what encourage my writing desire.
Thank you also to my betas: Amber, Paul and Peter. You wouldn't want to read a chapter before they performed their magic.
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