Dolores Umbridge was at her desk, finishing an afternoon cup of tea, when her door opened and Narcissa Malfoy walked in.

"No, don't get up, Dolores," Narcissa said, a gracious smile on her face. "This won't take but a few minutes of your time."

"I understood you had fled to Bulgaria," the woman said, squinting at her guest.

"A lovely country but I missed my own. You are, I understand, the primary author of the Protective Custody Act?"

At Umbridge's smug little nod Narcissa tipped her head and, wand suddenly out, said, "Crucio."

"I have been assured anything I do today will be granted a full and unconditional pardon," Narcissa said as she stood and watched the woman writhe at her desk. "I thought at some length about what I wanted to do you and decided one second of agony for every day my son spent in your Detention Center was, while hardly sufficient, a practical compromise between punishing you and having to spend time today managing a major portion of our coup."

Dolores Umbridge had slipped to the floor and gasped, her mouth reminiscent of a fish, as Narcissa stood there.

Ron and Hermione stood in the doorway, both providing cover and waiting for Narcissa to be done. Later Ron would say, "The creepiest thing wasn't how she tortured that woman. It was how she never raised her voice, never seemed even the slightest bit agitated. She tortured that woman to death with about as much of an emotional upset as if she'd discovered a bit of lint on her scarf. Less, probably."

"Draco's the same way," Hermione would say with a shrug and, at Ron's look, she would add, "The more deeply he cares about something the less he shows it. It's not that they don't feel, they just… they're both very private. Most of the time."

When Dolores Umbridge died Narcissa frowned a little. "She didn't even last the full time. How disappointing." She tucked her wand away. "Well, I supposed I shouldn't be surprised she didn't have the personal fortitude to withstand a little suffering." She looked at Ron and Hermione. "Shall we? There's still plenty of the building to secure and a forced confession and abdication to extract from Shacklebolt."

"After you," Hermione gestured towards the door and Narcissa exited the room.

. . . . . . . . . .

Years later Hermione would ask, "How did you manage to coordinate all those portkeys anyway?"

Narcissa Malfoy would smile and say, "The Bulgarian Minister of Magic became very fond of me during my stay in his country."

"You…" Hermione would stare at the formidable woman – by then her formidable mother-in-law - consciously keeping her mouth from falling open.

"…will use any means to achieve my ends. Exactly."

. . . . . . . . .

The square was filled with children. Older ones walked alone, younger ones held their mother's hands. The youngest were carried, many by older siblings. They'd appeared en masse, as if out of nowhere, and walked towards the Ministry.

"What's going on?" People asked, sticking their heads out of shops and cafes.

"It's the exiles," someone said, "they've come back. They're marching on the Ministry."

"They're all children," someone said, hands over her mouth. "I thought they were only rounding up dangerous… these people are children. That's not right. Who decided that was okay?"

. . . . . . . . . .

The older exiles, people more useful at waging war than as propaganda, went right to the Ministry and were let in by the people already in place on the inside.

Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, myriad Weasley siblings – they'd all popped into the Ministry early in the morning. No one would think to prevent them from tromping in, and tromp in they did, cheerfully waving at workers they knew, making people smile at the bumbling young adults stopping by for a visit.

They smiled right until those bumbling charmers seized and secured the hall.

"This is a coup," Harry said, "Everyone just stay calm and do as we ask and no one gets hurt."

"A what?" one woman asked.

"We'll be ousting Shaklebolt," Ron explained, "and putting our own man into place. Unless you decide you want to be hero and sacrifice yourself for the man, nothing will change for you. New Minister, that's all. Couple of minor legislative changes."

Lavender Brown waved her wand above her head like some kind of demented tour guide. "If you would all just follow me down to the cafeteria you can wait it out there. We don't want anyone to get caught in accidental crossfire."

There was a certain amount of minor grumbling, and one man who lunged from the group, wand extended, having apparently decided to take the 'hero' option and defend the current administration.

Hermione shot him down. "Anyone else that attached to Shaklebolt?" she asked. Everyone else decided that a day spent drinking tea in the cafeteria was vastly preferable to death.

"Really," one woman said as she walked past the rebels, "as if I care who's running the place. As long as I get my paycheck, I'm happy."

"Everyone out?" Ginny asked shortly after that and Ron nodded.

"We're good," he said. "Let the snakes in."

Blaise and Draco met in the main lobby and gave each other quick, stiff hugs. "You made it," Draco said, his tone clipped, giving nothing away.

"First out, courtesy of Saint Potter, than back, thanks to your mother." Blaise nodded. He looked across the room to where Hermione Granger was standing, directing a flow of people, each being sent to secure a different part of the building. "Not that it matters, of course, but I approve."

Draco looked at him, eyes narrowed. "Really?"

"Invite me to the wedding," Blaise said and Draco relaxed, albeit only marginally.

"It's good to have you back," he said. "The noble brigade are fine and all, but the level of earnest sincerity is sometimes enough to choke a man."

"They get shit done, though, don't they?" Blaise was still watching Hermione.

"They do," Draco conceded.

"She must really love you," Blaise muttered, "to wage a bloody war for you."

Draco shook his head at that. "She'd have done it if she still hated me. When she gets an idea in her head you either start helping or get the hell out of her way."

"She still loves you though, doesn't she?" he pushed and when Draco shrugged he smiled and pushed harder. "What's she like in the sack?"

"Mind your fucking mouth, Blaise," Draco said, voice totally pleasant and his friend laughed.

"So it isn't all about power and liberation and all that shite; you do love her. I thought you probably did."

"You're such an arsehole."

"Can I be best man?"

Draco rolled his eyes but muttered, "Of course, you fucking prat. Who else would I ask? Potter?"

. . . . . . . . .

It turns out that if you hand-raise a tiger you can train him to attack your enemies. It also turns out that tigers grow up and become less malleable. The Ministry had had a tiger by the tail and, unaware of this, had let go.

That had been a mistake.

. . . . . . . . . .

They'd planned the coup for a day the Wizengamot was meeting, for a day they'd all be within the Ministry at once.

The members of the Wizengamot didn't have a chance. Yes, they were older then their opponents, yes they'd lived through two wars, but they'd lived through them as politicians, as scholars, and now they fought people who'd been raised to battle, who'd been honed into weapons by adults who should, perhaps, have asked themselves what, exactly, they planned to do with all these dangerous children once the war was over.

The children – the honed weapons - won. Easily.

Ron and Pansy finished securing the bulk of them, locked them into one hall. They were disarmed and sat, shaken, facing their captors.

"Now," Narcissa Malfoy said, a line of snakes at her back, "You will vote to rescind the Protective Custody Act."

"We will not," one member protested. "You can't just come in here and demand we pass whatever laws you want."

Narcissa killed him. She had, after all, been promised immunity. She'd also chipped a nail while dealing with Umbridge and was feeling a bit put out about that. Plus, of course, these people had turned her son into a slave and they were bloody well lucky she was only making them pass laws. She'd wanted to kill them all but had been talked out of it by Hermione and Harry, who'd pointed out mass murder was not a good way to kick off a new regime.

Still, she did manage to kill the one member stupid enough to protest her legislative suggestion. Two down, she thought.

The vote to rescind the Protective Custody Act was, after that, immediate and unanimous.

. . . . . . . . . .

"Are we done, Mistress mine?" Draco asked and Hermione, gritting her teeth, handed him the parchment containing the original Act. Ron later said to Lavender, after several drinks, that he'd never seen a look so feral on any human face before, and he never wanted to again.

Draco, almost vibrating with hatred, looked at Hermione, looked at the paper in his hand, and began to tear it into smaller and smaller pieces before tossing them to the stone floor and igniting them.

"We're done," she said, when the fire burned itself out and only ash remained. He shuddered and grabbed onto her, hid his face in her hair and murmured, so quietly only she could hear him, "Thank you. Just... thank you."

. . . . . . . . . .

The head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement eyed Draco Malfoy. "My niece was deemed to require protective custody," he said, "and my sister." His tone was very casual as though they were discussing the weather, as though a near army of Aurors weren't standing behind him, wands drawn. "I told my sister not to marry that bastard, told her more than once, but she wouldn't listen. It was love, she said." The man shook his head. "He was an idiot; I still wonder how he was accepted as a Death Eater. You'd think there would have been recruitment standards."

"Why didn't you take them in," Draco asked, not moving.

"The brother-in-law of a Death Eater wasn't considered 'trustworthy' enough," he snorted. "Not even after decades of service to my government. I wasn't even allowed past the door of the detention center due to my 'conflict of interest'."

"I'm sorry," Draco said and the man shrugged.

"She wrote to me once she was safely tucked away in Bonn. She had some interesting stories to tell."

"Really?" Draco still hadn't moved and the man smiled and sheathed his wand.

"It's a pleasure to welcome you, Minister." He held out his hand and, slowly, everyone behind him lowered their wands as Draco Malfoy shook their boss' hand. "I look forward to working with you."


. . . . . . . . . .

Luna and Blaise had been assigned to secure the Department of Mysteries. This had proven to be the easiest part of the entire day as the sum total of resistance was one research scientist who came out and, standing in the hallway outside the entrance to the research labs, demanded to know what was going on.

"It's a coup," Blaise had said, wand leveled at the man.

The man had ignored the wand, didn't even seem to notice it, and had glared at Luna. "Does the new administration have any intentions of cutting research funding?"

"I don't think so," she'd said

"That Delicious person – "

"Dolores," someone had muttered behind him, coming out to see what was going on.

"Whatever. She cut our research funding by half. Do you have any idea how much that set us back? How are we supposed to stay competitive with the rest of the wizarding world if we're working with outdated equipment and have to lay off half our staff?"

Blaise looked at Luna, wholly amused, and had shrugged. "I think I can guarantee a return to previous funding levels if you support the new regime," Luna had said, her voice clear in the dingy hallway.

"Done." The man had turned to go back to his work and, when they went to follow him, waved them off. "Go do something else. No one wants you underfoot down here. We're working."

. . . . . . . . . .

Kingsley Shacklebolt found himself on a balcony looking out over a square filled with children and journalists as five different wizards pointed wands at him and Draco Malfoy stood at his side.

"I have decided to step down," Shacklebolt said, along with "deeply ashamed of my role in the Protective Custody Act" and "Want to spend more time with my family."

Narcissa and Hermione had had great fun writing the speech. Hermione had come in with a rough draft and Narcissa had deftly crossed things out and added encoded language that the returning exiles would understand. The result was a masterpiece of self-recrimination and pleas for forgiveness, spiced up with praise for the next generation of leaders.

"I can't read this," the man had protested, holding the parchment out in front of him. "This is practically falling on my sword!"

"You could literally fall on your sword," Pansy had suggested, her wand jabbed perilously close to his testicles. "That would be an acceptable alternative. I'd even hold the sword for you."

"You'll do it or you'll have died tragically in the coup," Hermione had said, not even looking up from a conversation with Harry, "and another member of the Wizengamot will laud your achievements and mourn your death even as they pass the responsibility for government to Draco."

"You can't threaten me like that," he snapped, glaring at her. At that she'd looked up, briefly, and snorted.

"I just did," was all she said. "Choose, and make it quick, or we'll let Pansy have her way with you and move on. We're on a tight schedule, we'd like to get all the workers out by five so they can go home to their families, and no one has time for your dilly dallying."

Now he stood, giving his speech and planning a long, restful trip to the country, far away from the bloodthirsty rebels standing just outside of the view of the crowd.

"He wants to spend more time with his family? I thought he was single," one reporter said, squinting up at the man as he introduced the new Minister, chosen by a unanimous vote in the Wizengamot just that afternoon.

The photographer standing next to him snorted. "He is. I bet he doesn't last the month but has some sort of unfortunate accident. Chokes on a pretzel, falls off a cliff, gets eaten by a rogue tiger. Something."

"So you're telling me you don't think this resignation is wholly unforced?"

Both men looked at one another and laughed. "Did you ever think Harry Potter would push Draco Malfoy into office?"

"That might explain it." He pointed up at Hermione Granger, war heroine and political crusader, who'd slipped onto the balcony next to Malfoy and wrapped an arm around his waist. She waved to the crowd with her other hand and, as the couple waved down, the cheers and screaming from the children standing in the street, from their mothers, muffled any comments Draco Malfoy might have made.

"They're a fucking storybook perfect symbol," the photographer said, lifting his camera. 'Pureblood prince turned slave turned rebel with the golden girl of the last war at his side. It's like someone designed it to tug on heart strings."

"Go figure," the reporter said, and both men laughed again.

"Cynic," the photographer said and the reporter shrugged.

. . . . . . . . . .

"When will the wedding be?" someone yelled out from the square and Draco looked at Hermione, who, to his utter amusement, had a look of dumbfounded confusion on her face.

"Well," he called back down, "I haven't exactly asked her yet."

"Get on it," someone screamed and with a grin Draco picked up Hermione's hand, the smirk in his eyes only mostly hidden.

"Hermione Granger," he said, the words formal as the square hushed, "I hated you as a child and resented you when you rescued me from slavery. I admired you before I liked you, but fast on the heels of admiration and liking came love; I have never respected, esteemed, or adored anyone as I do you and I would be humbly grateful if you would do me the honor of – "

"Yes," she said, then shoved her other hand over her mouth. "I'm sorry," she muttered, "I interrupted you, I shouldn't have…"

"No, it's okay," he said, pulling her to him, "you gave me the right answer," and, to the sound of rising cheers and whistles, kissed her in front of an audience of returned exiles, reporters and other interested onlookers.

"Brightest witch of our age," she got out between kisses, "right answers is what I do."



And they all lived happily ever after.










(except Shacklebolt, who, tragically, was killed by a tiger while on holiday with Narcissa Malfoy. Narcissa was fine, though she was overheard to say "three down.")

. . . . . . . . . .

A/N- Thank you, everyone, who has read and followed along on the one-shot that somehow ended up as three.