Chapter 22: The End
Dumbledore and Lupin were thanking every body for their help and generosity and the crowds were getting to their feet to make their way to the exits.
"What in the name of Merlin is going on?" demanded Fudge.
"Just endeavoring to contribute well," Lucius replied smoothly, and turned to look at "Nott" with an oily smile. The smile dropped off his face as he realized what he was seeing.
"I still don't know if all this was such a good idea, Lucius," Wormtail said in a piping voice. The potion had completely worn off and, in his excitement, the little rat had obviously forgotten to take it. "I mean, I don't know how you talked him into it in the first place, he always says he needs me nearby. Are you sure he really wanted you to bring him a cake?"
Lucius went stark white and pulled out his wand. Wormtail, seeing this, ducked suddenly as six stunning spells shot at the place where he had been standing. Fudge, frightened, hit the floor. "You... you... DEATH EATER!" he shouted as though betrayed.
Lucius reached for Wormtail, suddenly his only leverage. The miserable excuse for a wizard did what he was best at, though, and quickly turned himself into a rat, making for the nearest exit with stunning spells firing rapidly behind him. As the rat made it out of the arena, there was an enormous bang of apparation, and Wormtail vanished.
Lucius turned his wand on Fudge, only to find it flying from his hand and into the stands. He realized who had done this and turned to look into the black eyes of his fellow Death Eater and saw nothing in the dark gaze that looked back at him, nothing, not even anger. It shook him to the very core.
He was relieved, however, to see that Snape held his cake in the other hand. At least there was a good chance the Dark Lord would get the chocolate he required, even if Pettigrew showed up without the bubble bath… Lucius stopped himself, wondering how he could have possibly be concerned over what an apple-scented bubble bather would do to him.
"Summon the Dementors," Scrimgeour snapped over his left shoulder, "haul the evil sod back to Azkaban and may he rot there."
Dumbledore himself bound Lucius in anti-apparation chains and anti-transfiguration charms. "Now you see," he said to Scrimgeour.
Scrimgeour nodded sharply. "What will you do?"
"A vote of no confidence is going to have to be placed before the Wizengamot in emergency session tonight."
"Dumbledore, no!" Fudge shouted, but even then he cowered under his seat. "I didn't know. Please!"
"I warned you, Cornelius. Several times I told you all of these things. You know all of Britain has requested this vote, and you know what I told you when you chased me from Hogwarts two months ago. Your choices have brought you to this place, not I." He was gone, then, leaving Fudge and his bound erstwhile ally to their separate grief.
Harry looked enormously relieved as he conjured up a chair to watch the rest of the commotion. Lupin came behind the curtain at last, his face pale. "I am going to shoot myself if I don't come off these charms soon," he said in a chipper, friendly voice.
Harry grinned back at him. "Hermione says we can't risk it, they have to wear off. Is Mrs. Weasley ok?"
"She got four requests for cakes before people even left," said Lupin. "And three owls with more. She'll probably be deluged as the rumor spreads."
"Oh. Well, I hope she can still use these," he said.
"Use what?" asked Arthur, coming over to look at them all with poorly disguised delight.
"I... err... I... um..." Harry stopped. "I bought her a present," he whispered, and handed Mr. Weasley the "anonymously purchased" hotel stay. "Don't tell her. Just tell her someone gave them in exchange for a cake."
"But she won't know where to send the cake," said Arthur, trying desperately to find a way to refuse the gift without hurting the boy in front of them.
"It's ok, Dad," said Ginny, coming up beside them. "I'll make it for him." Ginny took Harry's hand in her own, and Harry grinned up at her, then expanded his chair into a seat for both of them.
"I wanted to get her something, Mr. Weasley," said Harry, his green eyes shining with sincerity. "She's given me so much. You all have. She doesn't have to know it came from me. She doesn't NEED to know it came from me. But I need to know she had something from me and enjoyed it."
Arthur sighed. He loved the boy as much as any of his sons. How could he refuse such a sweet, kind gesture? It would, after all, be for both of them, and Harry knew it as well as Arthur did. "Very well, son. We'll just keep it to ourselves."
Harry grinned at him, his green eyes lighting up in triumph.
Dumbledore hid in the shadows with McGonagall at his side, watching the scene with brimming blue eyes. "Now that," he said to her in a small whisper, "was worth every minute of this Bake Sale, don't you think?"
She smiled up at him serenely. "So what do I have to do?"
"I dunno," he mused. "I suppose I could have you clean Fawkes' cage." His eyes held a teasing twinkle.
"Not in the contract," she replied, dryly. "Unless you want me to transfigure Phoenix droppings into sherbet lemons, you're out of luck."
His laughter was a musical rumble, a rarely heard but merry, puckish thing. When he finally managed to stop, she was still gazing at him with haughty, but sparkling eyes. He drew himself up, the very picture of wounded innocence, and said, "Why, my dear Minerva, what a thing to suggest."
And that, folks, is the end. Read, review, let us know how we did. And enjoy Deathly Hallows in all its glory this hallowed eve.