As the aged Headmaster made his way to face Harry in the center of the Great Hall, Harry removed a piece of parchment from his left pocket. He had to make sure that he hit all of the right points, in the right order. Wizard-kind weren't all that capable of rational thinking, and they needed to be guided to reach a valid conclusion.
Harry addressed the students and staff of Hogwarts, almost dismissing Dumbledore even though the man stood right in front of him. Harry reviewed the four elements that define a Dark Lord and showed how they applied to their Headmaster; the pursuit of political power, the use of lies and half-truths, the disregard for their followers' wellbeing, and using the law for their own ends while refusing to be governed by the law. Harry then aired the chain of reasoning he shared with Hermione – that Dumbledore has plotted for Harry's death and cannot be trusted. Each time that Dumbledore attempted to speak, Harry raised his voice and overrode him, carrying on with the damning chain of reasoning.
"It is clear that Mr. Dumbledore is convinced that I must die in order to defeat Voldemort. The most convincing way for him to reach that conclusion is if I was the subject of a prophecy. I will note at this point that Mr. Dumbledore, in his capacity as Headmaster, has forced me to study Divination, even against my own express wishes, and exceeding his own authority as Headmaster. This lends credence to my theory about being the subject of a prophecy."
Harry cleared his throat – this next part was a little shaky, and he has to present it as fact. "Prophecy never names its subjects directly; in all the prophecies we were given to study – and these were the clear ones – the people involved were described by actions, relationships, and titles, never by name. The most likely description of my adversary is by the title 'Dark Lord', which is why I funded the essay contest this year. As I suspected, the title of Dark Lord applied equally well to Tom Riddle and Albus Dumbledore; in fact, the only way that Dumbledore can truly be called the 'Leader of the Light' is if you regard light and dark as sides on a chess board, not as moral labels. I believe that the Dark Lord I am to defeat is Albus Dumbledore."
As expected, the entire room exploded in cacophony. Harry waited until he could be heard again. Dumbledore himself stood waiting, patiently observing, and, no doubt, seeking an opening for rebuttal. Harry purposely ran the fingers of his left hand through the hair on the back of his head. Scarcely a second later, he felt the magic that had so freely flowed in the Great Hall, thicken. Hermione caught the signal. Good.
"The other thing you should all know about our Headmaster is that he is correctly described as one of the most powerful wizards to ever live. He is not, however, particularly intelligent." Again, Harry had to wait for the competing sound to disperse. The Headmaster remained standing in front of the staff and students, now clearly befuddled at what was going on. "Dumbledore has attempted to leverage his power as a substitute for intelligence, and has perfected legilimancy – mindreading – to a degree that has been unknown before in history." Harry paused, struck by an errant thought. "Or maybe it has – Binns was never too clear on that." The more alert students chuckled. "He has been using his immense magical power to, in essence, borrow the brain power of everyone in his presence, and use your thoughts for his own ends. Right now, I have a magical device preventing all uses of mind magic within this room, and you will notice that our Headmaster is confused and does not seem to understand the implications of what I am saying."
Just about everyone looked over the figure of the Headmaster in their midst and agreed with Harry's diagnosis.
"I believe that when needed, Dumbledore has planted his desires in our minds, bending us all to his whims. He was also swayed by the plans and emotions of those he used most heavily; Professors McGonagall and Snape, and our feckless leader, Minister Fudge." Harry ignored Umbridge's startled objection. "Dumbledore's actions have rarely been coherent, most likely because his actions were planned by different brains with different aims."
The crowd was edging away from Dumbledore, leaving him in the center of a widening circle. Harry would bet money that he didn't understand why all of the staff – and a large majority of the students – were regarding him with suspicious, hostile gazes.
"These are weighty … allegations, Mr. Potter. What proof do you have of these crimes?" asked McGonagall.
"If Dumbledore were able to think coherently without assistance, he wouldn't have gone catatonic when mind-reading became impossible within this Hall," Harry replied. "I suspect that he is suffering from a combination of spell backlash and atrophy of his personal mental abilities. The logic is sound – Albus Dumbledore cannot be trusted with any decisions more weighty than keeping himself in lemon drops. He is a moral coward, poor judge of character, and his tenure as Headmaster is a present danger to the lives of all students at Hogwarts, as he is incapable of defeating threats to his charges. His presence in our government is an active threat to the lives of all Wizards on this island."
Dumbledore was clearly attempting to understand what was going on… and not having much success, judging by the expression on his face.
"And with that, I believe that my prophesied defeat of the Dark Lord is complete."
The Great Hall filled with noise, everyone turning to their neighbor to debate Harry's reasoning. Harry moved over to where Hermione was standing, in the company of Neville, Susan, Hannah, and Luna. Hermione reached out and grabbed Harry's left hand, wrapping herself around his arm.
"Wow," Neville said. "Who knew you had it in you? Are you sure you're not a 'Claw?"
"Not at all, Neville," put in Luna. "The Ravenclaws really aren't able to think clearly, as a rule. They just like to do well in classes."
"Um, Harry, are you sure about everything you said?" asked Susan Bones. "Because the DMLE should really know about all that."
"They do," he replied. "Nothing I pointed out is new information. Everyone knows how Dumbledore handled the aftermath of Voldemort's activities in the 70's. We all know what it takes to repent and provide restitution. We all know, now, what constitutes a Dark Lord. And we know how many people died at the hands of death-eaters that Dumbledore allowed to walk."
"What about Dumbledore's illegal legilimancy?"
"Oh, yeah – that's new. But since I proved it, everyone in the castle has now been warned and can take precautions."
"But what about justice for everything he's already done?"
Harry's grew a wry smile. "You really listened to the entire thing?" He shrugged. "Do what you want. I'm not an Auror. He's been revealed to the public, and can no longer work in secret. My part is done."
"Really?" asked Hermione and Neville simultaneously.
"Well, I'll be adding all that to the end of my book on Dark Lords. It is the real point of all that reasoning."
"Aren't you going to do anything about Snape?" asked Hannah.
"Not until he does something that needs a response," replied Harry. "Which should be about one heartbeat into my next Potions lesson, actually." The rest chuckled.
"Ah," murmured Hermione. She let go of Harry's arm and said, "Draco's coming."
Harry turned as Draco strutted up to the group and said, "Actually, it's a good thing that the Half-Blood and the Mudblood should take up togeth …ARRGH!" Harry had quickly and efficiently pulled his air pistol from his right pocket and shot Draco in the left shoulder. Crabbe and Goyle, following Draco, moved towards Draco (and therefore Harry), and were also shot for their trouble. All three had their right hands clamped over their left shoulders, blood dripping down their arms.
All too quickly in Harry's opinion, both McGonagall and Snape arrived to rescue their students. "Mr. Potter, what is going on here?" On seeing the injured Slytherins, she immediately snapped, "Mr. Longbottom, please use Miss Bones and Miss Abbott to get these three to Madam Pomphrey. Mr. Potter, what injured these three?"
As Neville organized the students (conscripting Luna into the effort) to move the injured to treatment, Harry replied calmly, "Each were hit by a small pellet of lead moving quite quickly." Hermione's eyebrows rose a bit and he muttered out the side of his mouth, "Mach 5."
Hermione swallowed a snort and laughter as Harry went on defensively, "The smaller the pellet is, the faster it has to go!"
Professor Snape exuded menace and deadly promises as he intoned, "You will explain this to my satisfaction, Potter. Now."
Harry kept his face impassive. "Mr. Malfoy came over throwing insults. I retaliated. I am not responsible for Mr. Malfoy's lack of preparation for any reaction that he may have encountered."
"You shot my students!" Snape's volume was steadily increasing.
"Professor Snape …" As Snape carefully looked at Harry, their eyes met, and then Harry's eyes flicked down. Following Harry's gaze, Snape realized that he was looking right down the barrel of the pistol held at Harry's waist.
"You have spent the last fifteen years energetically striving to be the most hated person in Hogwarts. I have just removed any possible protection that Dumbledore could provide you … and Voldemort's protection is no longer available to you as well. I believe that you have more urgent matters to attend to than shielding your godson from the natural consequences of his actions."
Turning to Professor McGonagall, he added, "I will, of course, be willing to serve any punishments that are equally levied upon Mr. Malfoy." Somewhat dismissed, Snape turned and left the Great Hall.
The transfiguration Professor's eyes narrowed. "Mr. Potter, your reaction was completely out of proportion to Mr. Malfoy's provocation."
"Quite," he admitted. "And my reactions will continue to eliminate threats to my friends or myself. I have had enough experiences with the protective hand of the staff in this castle, and I am unwilling to let threats grow to the point where I have to kill once again. I will address them forcefully and immediately from now on." He pointedly returned his pistol to a pocket inside his robes.
Professor McGonagall sighed, "I cannot have you as a threat to the students, Mr. Potter." She rubbed her eyes tiredly.
Harry straightened. "One. I will not act first. Students that do not provoke others have nothing to fear. Two. Each and every student here is capable of causing fatal injury. I used a method I was certain would not be fatal; they can be healed by Madam Pomphrey quite easily even though their injury serves as a warning against escalation in the future. I believe my response was quite measured."
Ms. McGonagall's eyes remained in their narrowed position. "You have just declared yourself to be 'a clear and present danger' to the students of this school, to use your own wording. You claim that you have the right and obligation to escalate a conflict from verbal to actual physical harm." Professor McGonagall's gaze was stern, uncompromising, and made Harry feel small – and somewhat ashamed. "You. Do. NOT. I have the responsibility to insure the safety of all the students here, and you have declared yourself to be a danger to them. Abandon that course of action or be expelled, Mr. Potter."
Harry paused in indecision. Hermione again latched onto Harry's arm, and tugged it a little.
Harry eventually sighed. "All right, Professor. But that means that you are responsible for my well-being. If you cannot deal with issues while they are small and controllable, I will have no faith that you will be able to handle issues when they become larger or more urgent. At which point," he gave Professor McGonagall a pointed look, "all bets are off and I will again take up the responsibility for my own safety."
The transfiguration Professor nodded. "Agreed, Mr. Potter." She turned to deal with rising voices coming from another group of students.
Hermione had been taking in all of Harry's words while clasping his arm in a firm grip. "I'm beginning to like the way you think, Harry."
That was the moment that the universe changed.
-= Epilogue =-
Severus Snape was never seen again in the halls of Hogwarts. There was a minor emergency when he abandoned his contracted responsibilities in the middle of the school year, but the new Headmistress (one Pomona Sprout) seemed to feel that invoking the contractual penalties was a sufficient response. Potions Master Snape found himself afflicted with an unusual mental impairment: whenever he attempted to brew a potion for the use of another person, he became completely unable to remember any of the procedures, skills, or properties needed to do more than heat water. When a magical contract contains a non-compete clause, it is apparently quite enforceable.
Professor McGonagall was implicated in many of the misdeeds of Albus Dumbledore, and was not invited to take up his vacated position at Hogwarts. She also relinquished her position as Deputy, and became even more taciturn as a Professor and Head of house. As a direct consequence, several years after the Fall of Dumbledore, Gryffindor House was regarded as the house you went to when you had no other choice. The House of Slytherin was no longer the clubhouse of the pureblood, and Draco Malfoy's children were in for a sharp and painful lesson.
Albus Dumbledore was put on trial for the mismanagement of his various positions, and insisted upon standing as his own counsel for the trial before the Wizengamot. Dumbledore's confidence in his eventual acquittal was unshaken, up until he faced the Assistant Counsel for the Prosecution, one maniacally-grinning Harry Potter. As the small trinket preventing mind magic was activated on the desk of the Prosecution, he tried to change his plea to guilty, but was incapacitated by spell backlash. He never regained lucidity, and was housed at St. Mungo's for the two years that it took for his body to acknowledge that his mind was dead.
Harry and Hermione were an inseparable couple for the remainder of their educational careers, and after. Frustrated by her repeated refusals to take their oaths, the Unspeakable department of the Ministry attempted to forcibly induct one Hermione Potter-Granger into their organization, just as Harry was putting the finishing touches on his Hit-Wizard training. This may have been a mistake. Mr. Potter forbore striding through the doors of their inner sanctum, choosing instead to make his assault through the thinly-defended walls.
None of the former Unspeakables have chosen to divulge precisely what happened, but Luna Lovegood reported in the Quibbler that the permanent removal of this department from the Ministry of Magic coincided with a rush order from the Potter family to triple the size of their estate library, already somewhat overlarge with the inclusion of the Black and Riddle collections.
Would-be practitioners of Dark Magic frequently chose to move their base of operations away from the British Isles upon learning that first, the Potter clan strongly desires to be left alone and second, the Potter clan does not depend upon the protection of the DMLE. One horrified survivor reported that he was treated to several months of forcible remedial education by a "brilliant, but scary" witch. He had to endure a scathing review of the errors of logic, research, and practice in his Dark ambitions followed by testing to insure that the lessons were appropriately absorbed. Only after he passed all his tests with an "EE" or higher was he released with an appropriate vengeance levied upon him, which he (blushingly) refused to divulge.
In the early days of 2176, the Unified Habitats of Trans-Lunar Space attempted a magical assault on Earth, their stated intentions being to control all magical practice throughout the Solarian System. Earth's single transmission, "We have a Potter, and we're not afraid to use her," was enough to bring an unconditional surrender less than four hours later.
Author's Note: Finally found the fic from where I swiped the last line. Check out "Too Many Travellers" by Inusitatus - it's sooo much better than my stuff.