Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe (inclusive of Hogwarts School, all recognizable characters mentioned all institutions, situations, events and happenings) is copyrighted by J.K. Rowling and her business partners.
"Words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart." -Shakespeare
The masses in the courtroom fell silent as the haggard Chief Wizard of the Wizengamot said in a deep resounding tone: “Bring in the next witness.”
Harry, Hermione, and Ron looked thoroughly out of place seated on the dais next to the aged Wizengamot members. For their involvement in ending the war and killing Voldemort two weeks ago, in August, they were given the temporary privilege of being given say in the judgment of the remaining Death Eaters. The accused, Severus Snape, sat before them, chained to a chair; his dark form listless and emaciated, his black hair hanging limply in front of his midnight eyes.
The large mahogany door swung open, creaking on it's hinges, and a female witness entered flanked by two muscular Aurors. A hundred or more eyes followed her progression to the witness stand. They observed her intently. She wore plain black dress robes which were neatly tailored to fit her petite frame. Her cream colored skin served to accent her full lips, absinthe green eyes, and silky raven curls.
“Blimey! Harry, isn’t she gorgeous?” Ron whispered to Harry as the woman passed the dais to take her seat on the raised witness stand to their right.
Harry nodded in agreement.
“Miss,” the Chief Wizard spoke, “could you please state for the Wizengamot your full name and age?”
“My name is Rowena Persephone Snape, and I am thirty-six years old.”
The air filled with tension and few contained their gasps of surprise.
“What is your relation to the accused?” the Chief Wizard continued despite the obvious shock of his peers at the identity of this woman.
“Severus Snape is my older brother,” she replied simply. Her voice was calm.
More shocked gasps escaped from the Wizengamot and those watching the trial.
“She…she’s his sister? He has a sister?” Harry asked Hermione.
For once in her life, Hermione did not have the answer. She sat for a moment with a look of wonder on her face akin to the one worn by Ron. When her mind regained itself, she looked intently upon Severus Snape. She saw him peer pleadingly at his sister, as if to apologize for being the reason she would be subject to questioning. Hermione detected compassion in the once cold Potions master and for a moment all his unattractive appearance fell away and she saw him, not as a heinous old bat, but as a man in suffering.
“Miss…Snape, are you aware of the crimes your brother has been charged with?” the Chief Wizard asked.
“The murder of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, unless I am mistaken,” she replied, looking briefly at Snape which caused him to cast his gaze downward.
“And you have evidence that can exonerate him of this accusation?”
“Yes. If I had nothing to testify I would not be here,” she replied, her voice ripe with a bitter undertone somewhat reminiscent of the one Snape used in Potions.
“Before you share that testimony, Miss Snape, would you care to take a controlled dose of Veritaserum to ensure the legitimacy of your account? It is a common procedure,” the Chief Wizard assured her.
A third Auror approached her with a small glass containing the crystal clear liquid. She grasped it precariously with her long delicate fingers. For a moment she starred at the contents of the glass in her hand, then she lifted it into the air, as if in a toast. Snape caught her gaze and looked up at her intently. She downed it in one elegant swig, all the while never breaking eye contact with her brother.
Hermione watched them both intently as the minutes passed for the potion to take effect. She compared Snape’s looks to his sister and found them to look quite similar. If his hair were shorter and his nose less prominent, Hermione could almost imagine him to be an attractive man.
“What am I thinking?” she thought, as she felt a blush creep into her cheeks. “There must be something wrong with me… I’m finding Snape to be attractive.”
The Chief Wizard ended her train of thought as he asked Rowena Snape to share her testimony.
“My brother performed the killing curse upon Albus Dumbledore on his request,” she began and her eyes momentarily flickered as her courage wavered ever so slightly, “Over a year ago, my brother entered into an Unbreakable Vow with Dumbledore. The agreement reached in the vow was that Severus should kill Dumbledore instead of Draco Malfoy, in order to save Draco from having that blood on his hands.”
“How do you know this for certain?” Dolores Umbridge asked.
“I was the binder of the Unbreakable Vow,” she replied, “Dumbledore asked me to bind them in the Vow.”
“Why would you agree to bind them in such an appalling agreement? Why would you preside over a contract for murder?” Umbridge retorted, rising from her seat on the dais.
“Dum…Dumbledore asked me,” her voice cracked and she appeared to be on the brink of tears, “I…I did not want to but I did it because Dumbledore asked it of me.”
“Perhaps then, you should be the one on trial,” Umbridge was fuming now.
Rowena Snape, visibly upset, cupped her hands over her face and silently cried.
“I reckon she went a little to far on that one,” Harry whispered to Hermione while casting a disgusted gaze at Umbridge. While slightly upset by the fact that Rowena Snape’s testimony could set Snape free, Harry Potter did not believe that Umbridge’s line of questioning was reasonable.
Below, Snape struggled against the chains restraining him to the chair. Hermione could not help but think he felt responsible for what was happening to his sister.
“Accuse me! Convict me! Do whatever you will, but let her be. There is no reason to make her feel pain. She has done nothing wrong!” Snape bellowed out to the courtroom.
Pandemonium broke out in the courtroom. Half the Wizengamot was on their feet arguing, and the crowd was growing uneasily restless. Snape used all his energy in an attempt to break free from his chains to reach his sister, and was subdued by a spell cast by one of the muscular Aurors. He slumped forward, unconscious. Hermione let out an audible gasp of horror.
The Chief Wizard shot up red sparks from his wand and regained control of the courtroom.
“Is that all you have to testify to, Miss Snape?” the Chief Wizard asked, his voice harried.
“Yes,” she replied in barely a whisper from behind her hands.
“Alright then, this court will resume tomorrow, whereupon the verdict for Severus Snape will be read,” he concluded.
Slowly, the witches and wizards in the audience filed out through the heavy mahogany doors. Rowena Snape sat still trying to calm herself before going to face the public outside the courtroom. Before today no one had known she was a Snape; she had worked long and hard to ensure it, as had Severus. She knew that she could no longer enjoy the anonymity she had become accustomed to.
Hermione Granger watched the assembled witches and wizards leave and she had no doubt in her mind that tomorrow's crowd would be twice as large. She watched as Severus Snape regained consciousness. He looked firstly to the dais with contempt and then to his shaken sister, and hung his head in shame. Hermione watched as Rowena Snape rose to leave, passing dangerously close to her brother. She appeared to whisper something to him, because the moment she left the room he began to cry.
“Bloody Hell! He’s crying like a girl,” Ron exclaimed, his voice louder than he anticipated.
Snape shot him a look that was as cold as ice, and immediately his tears were replaced by his usual horrifying glare.