Chapter 1 - The Starting Point
The Minister had not treated this meeting as one of his usual weekly chats about the ongoing status of legislation and staffing which were her primary assignments. For one thing, he had meet her at the door and escorted her to her seat; that had not happened since the initial interview and promotion from Undersecretary of the Department of the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. He had also cast additional privacy and non-interference spells on the office which bespoke of the seriousness of the conversation.
Minister Fudge had wasted no time after pouring her a cup of tea and resettling himself behind his desk. "We haven't done enough yet Delores."
"In what regard Minister?"
"I think we can dispense with the titles for this afternoon Delores. I do realize how valuable you are to me." Delores Umbridge noticeably perked up at this salutation. She felt she had earned this confidence and trust from Cornelius Fudge for all her efforts at suggesting policies and procedures that would enhance his status and power in the Wizarding world. But then she saw Cornelius Fudge frown "We must do more about Potter and Dumbledore. They are still out there undermining our position about the events that happened at the end of the Tournament at Hogwarts. And that impossible story that Potter made up."
"Who's to believe the rantings of a rule-breaking, attention seeking teenager who was found with a dead body?"
"Anyone who thinks that the Boy-Who-Lived has any role to play in the current world. While he supposedly did have a role in eliminating You-Know-Who all those years ago, this 'tale' of an impossible resurrection is just rabble rousing at least and, at worse, seditious in nature. We can't have the public and the very foundations of magical society, the Old Families, losing faith in the Ministry to keep them safe."
"In you keeping them safe Cornelius."
"Quite, although I would like to think it is a group effort here under my direction to promote the well-being of the people that are important to us."
Umbridge pouted and then smiled. "We have had many articles printed in the Daily Prophet outlining that malcontent's history of rule-breaking, disregard and outright hostility for the junior members of pureblood families. The statements alone from Lord Lucius and Draco Malfoy should have turned even Potter's allies against him."
"But he still hasn't taken back his outrageous lie. Either he is mentally unstable and delusional or he has a misplaced confidence because he has put one over on Dumbledore."
"I don't yet understand why he could defy your orders Cornelius. He even objected to administering the Kiss to that escaped Death-Eater, Crouch Jr. Did he not understand how letting that person exist would only flaunt and embarrass the Ministry further as Sirius Black is still at large?"
"I am still of the belief that Black had something to do with the escape of Barty's son. There has to be some link because they were both followers of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named."
"That makes perfectly logical sense to me. I do wish the DMLE would do their job and collect that enemy to the Ministry."
"I keep pushing them Delores but their answers are still the same old lame tale. 'We can't find him.' But the problems with Amelia Bones will have to wait until another day. Now where was I?"
"I have a very bad feeling about the wizard. He has too much power - heading up Hogwarts, the Wizengamot and being the Supreme Mugwump at the ICW. I fear he covets more."
"What doesn't he have ye- Oh Merlin, you're talking about the Ministry!"
"Yes. Who knows what types of things are being taught to all those impressionable young wizards and witches. Fearful things, independent beliefs that would undermine the infallibility of the Ministry to run things as they should properly be. Dumbledore has the support and backing of who knows how many graduates of Hogwarts. He could call for action and a virtual army would appear at our very doors the next morning."
"I never thought he could inspire that type of following and revolt but you really suspect him of having designs on taking over the Ministry?"
"I cannot come to any other conclusion based on this wild tale of the re-coming of the Dark Lord. And Dumbledore's rescues and support of Potter. But I have no proof. Yet."
"You have an idea of how to get this proof you need?"
"Yes I do and that is where you come in Delores."
"You need only ask Minister... Cornelius and I will do gladly whatever you want."
"There is a small risk involved in this but I will give you all the protection and power I can so that your mission will succeed. Potter and Dumbledore need to discredited and everyone at the school evaluated, the teachers and the students. We must erode the confidence and support Dumbledore has there. And make sure that the students need not ever question the leadership or authority of the Ministry. That mean breaking Potter, discrediting him and making him a supporter of our administration"
"And the Minister of Magic" Umbridge added.
Fudge smiled smugly in acknowledgement. "You are to become the new Defense against Dark Arts instructor."
"Yes Delores. There is a search every year for a new person to hold that position. None have come forward this year to apply so the Ministry will come and save the day. It was actually Lucius Malfoy that gave me the idea for this. He complained that it was always Dumbledore's choice to pick the instructors for the Board of Governor's to approve. This year we are going to bypass Dumbledore and go directly to the Board itself to approve you."
"That's wonderful Cornelius. A brilliant idea that will confuse and upset the headmaster."
"And that is just the beginning. You are to investigate and uncover the professors that are helping Dumbledore promote those muggleborn and half-bloods at the expense of the Old Families. Discourage Potter from spreading any more of his lies and make sure that the students pose no threat to the Ministry."
"That is a lot to accomplish for one person."
"I have every confidence in you Delores and you will have my full support and authorization in what you decide to do. I am giving you these last two weeks to prepare yourself and your lesson plans for the upcoming year. Feel free to work at home or at your office here in the Ministry and I would like to hear your plans before you actually start."
Delores Umbridge stood up and the Minister came around the desk to shake her hand and press a sideways hug upon her. "You must succeed in this assignment. The Ministry and I personally are counting on you."
"Thank you Minister Fu… Cornelius. You can count on me to remove any doubts about the Ministry and you. And to take care of Potter and Albus Dumbledore. I will go home now to begin preparations."
Umbridge left the office to head home. She stopped only long enough to owl a formal Ministerial request to Flourish and Blotts for a list of all the training texts that had been published about Defense.
It was very, very late when the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic finished her planning. She had been reading over the list from the bookstore and had narrowed her choices down to two very harmless instruction manuals on the theoretical uses of spells for defense. She would not actually teach any spells to these students; the theoretical knowledge would have to suffice until the practical part of the exams.
Delores Umbridge fell asleep thinking about the changes she would make and how warmly she would be received at Hogwarts…
Dumbledore paused in his announcements and the newly introduced Professor Umbridge stood up from her seat and cleared her throat yet again. Dumbledore reluctantly retook his seat at the teacher's dais.
"Thank you Headmaster for those kind words of welcome. It is lovely to be back again at Hogwarts. And to see such happy little faces smiling back at me. It will be a pleasure getting to know you all, and I'm sure we'll become very good friends."
"I'm sure you must have a lot of questions about me and the level of instruction you are all going to be privileged to receive in this year's Defense against the Dark Art class. Let me assure all of you that I have your best interests at heart and you will be very well informed at the end of the year."
"The Ministry of Magic has always considered the education of young wizards and witches to be of vital importance. The rare gifts…"
Delores could see the anticipation building in the faces of the future voters… err, students as she continued to speak of the need to embrace the long established traditional values that were taught to their parents, grandparents, and other relatives and the need to study all changes before being totally implemented. The faces before her grew rapt with attention and Delores could see the hopefulness as she spoke of the things that she and the Ministry required in teaching from the staff and learning from the students. Delores expounded at great length of the kind of stability she was seeking to impart and the need to discard some of the erroneous methods and practices of the somewhat questionable instructors that held the position before her.
"…because some changes will be for the better, while others will come, in the fullness of time, to be recognized as errors of judgment. Meanwhile some old habits will be retained, and rightly so, whereas others, outmoded and outworn, must be abandoned. Let us move forward then, into a new era of openness, effectiveness, and accountability, intent on preserving what ought to be preserved, preserving what needs to be perfected, and pruning wherever we find practices that ought to be prohibited." (Chapter 11, Order of the Phoenix)
Dumbledore clapped politely at the end of her speech and Delores noted that the students seemed universally shocked and awed as hardly anybody thought to give her the applause she deserved for such a rousing speech. Before the Headmaster could resume his announcements, a voice was heard from out of the middle of the students.
"Excuse me, Professor Umbride, I have a question if I may?"
Delores looked up in shock, a slim boy had stood up from the Gryffindor table a little nervously as the students around him looked at him.
"I believe one of your new students would like you to answer a question Professor Umbride, sorry, Umbridge."
There was a flash of chuckles across three of the House tables and Delores got to her feet to stare at the impertinent teenager. "It's Professor Umbridge, and I would like to know your year and name before I answer your question."
"I am most sorry Professor Ummmmmbrine. I am a new fifth year and my name is Harry Potter."
A smile rose to Delores' face. 'The brat identified himself before she could even ask about him. What a wonderful opportunity to humiliate him right out of the box.'
"Your pronunciation is still a little off Mr. Potter but I will attempt to answer your question. What is it?"
"Well, I don't mean to sound stupid or ignorant and maybe it's because I haven't been exposed to a lot of politicians. Could you tell me what you actually said?"
Delores' eyes flew wide open. The boy had said something totally unbelievable. Delores looked down the table to the other professors but they had their eyes firmly fixed on the student that was standing. Professor Flitwick had a hand over his mouth to hide his shock. Or could that possibly be a smile?
"What part did you not understand Mr. Potter?"
"Pretty much everything after you spoke about the Ministry of Magic considering the education blah, blah, blah."
"Me also." "Likewise." Same over here." Similar calls began ringing out from all corners of the Great hall.
'Defiance, that's what it is' Delores thought. She would nip this in the bud. "Were you not paying attention Potter? Is this the type of malingering I should expect when you show up for class?"
"No ma'am but if you are going to talk like that there won't be many students taking notes."
"To relieve your concerns Mr. Potter, I don't think you will be taking many notes in my class as it will be mostly reading and essays about the material you will be reading on the theories of magic."
"Excuse me Professor Umbearable, but we spent the first two years of our education here learning the theories and principles or magic. If we're simply going to do that all over again, I probably should drop your class."
A red-haired boy stood next to him stood up. "I'm with you Harry."
"You will be taught properly. And it's Professor Umbridge. Umbridge. U-m-b-r-i-d-g-e."
A slim blond witch stood up at the Ravenclaw table. "Fourth year, Luna Lovegood. I expect Miss Umbridge that you aren't going to teach any of us anything all year as I see a swarm of plumgeared hytoxals have taken up living in your blouse; they are notorious for loving the color pink you know. It's too bad the Dementors you sent after Harry didn't see the evilness that was inside you. Harry, I'm going to withdraw from DADA also and I think I will ask father to write a column about a return of my and your tuition because the Ministry has bollixed things up this year." With that being said, the young witch picked up a cup of pudding and walked out of the Great Hall spooning some into her mouth and humming.
Harry Potter exploded at his place at the table. "You're the one that sent the Dementors? Goodbye. Headmaster, I will return to school when that b-witch has been sacked.
Stamping her foot, Delores Umbridge tried to regain control. "Sit down Mr. Potter this instant. Or you will be expelled!"
"News flash Humbreath, excuse me Professor Humbreath – I'm leaving anyway. And heading for the Daily Prophet. They're always ready and willing to interview me."
Delores tried shouting and threatening Harry Potter, but he removed his robes, threw them on the table and walked out. A bushy-haired brunette witch who had been sitting beside Potter ran after him. A few red-haired wizards were following directly behind them and then all of the Gryffindor table turned their backs on Delores Umbridge and walked away.
The Head Boy rose from the Hufflepuff table. "We are loyal to our classmates. If you aren't teaching them then there's no reason to stay in school either."
A flummoxed Umbridge shot a spell at the Head Boy but he blocked it with a shield spell and suddenly there were fifty wands pointed at the Senior Undersecretary. Delores looked around and saw that the four heads of houses had also pulled wands on her. Dumbledore was shaking his head. "The feast is over. You are all excused."
Delores Umbridge watched as the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw students departed the hall followed by about a third of the Slytherin table. The rest of the Slytherins were looking around a little confused until one of their number piped up. "Wait until I tell my father that we're getting the House Cup this year and it's all because of our new professor."
Professor Snape just pointed and the rest of Slytherin House left for the dungeons. The professors lowered their wands although Hagrid got up from his seat and took a menacing step toward her.
"Congratulations Professor Umbridge" said Professor McGonagall. "You've managed in ten minutes to do something no other witch in the thousand year history of our school has done. Close it down before classes resumed."
The sound of the Great Doors being ripped opened turned Hagrid from attacking Delores. She cast a glance toward the boy coming at her and her wand wavered in her hand. Harry Potter had a determined look on his face and his magic was rolling off him in visible waves. The rest of the faculty took a step back and Dumbledore just reached for his goblet of wine.
Potter stopped four feet away. "You were at my trial and among the first to stand and accuse me. I offered to take Veritaserum or show you my memory but you dismissed me like a piece of something you found on the bottom of your pretty pink shoes. I have.."
Harry took one step forward and his voice lowered. "one.."
Another step forward and another softening of his voice. "..thing to say.."
Another step forward and Harry's voice was just above a whisper. "..to you."
A final step and Harry was staring at the witch eye to eye. Delores forced herself to bring her wand up although it was hard to think with the intensity of those green eyes flashing at her.
Delores Umbridge jumped backward…
… and fell out the chair at her desk. Delores' heartbeat was racing and she looked around wondering where she was. This wasn't Hogwarts!
As she regained her feet, the Senior Undersecretary settled back into her chair and reheated her cup of tea with her wand on the third try. As she brought the cup up to her mouth with slightly shaking hands, Delores wondered whatever had caused her to have such an upsetting dream. It was almost a nightmare but Delores Umbridge knew that Harry Potter wouldn't dare speak out against authority like that, especially a Ministry appointed professor.
Delores Umbridge went to bed and tried to put the bad dream out of her mind.