The Gunpowder Treason and plot

Why do you name your phoenix after an old terrorist anyway? Characters belong to Rowling.

Cornelius Fudge awoke with a start. Apparently he had fallen asleep by his desk again, as happened increasingly often these days. He looked around, still uncertain whether he was asleep or awake. Outside the window, the November night was dark, and inside the ministry it was dark too. It seemed like he was the last person in the building, yet again.

With a tired sigh Cornelius got to his feet and walked out of his office, down towards the atrium and the fireplaces. He didn't relish having to explain for his wife that he had fallen asleep at work again. She made no secret of that she worried for his health - and occasionally, he did so himself too. But these were troubled times and the wizarding community expected him to... Suddenly, he looked up from his musings in surprise. He heard voices in the empty ministry. Happy, singing voices.

To his astonishment, the minister saw none other than Albus Dumbledore himself strolling down the empty corridor. By his side flew his phoenix, and on his head sat - Cornelius had to look twice to convince himself - the Sorting Hat of Hogwarts. They were reciting something together - the Hat and Dumbledore - and when they entered the atrium, he could hear the words.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot

He stood as rooted on the spot, unable to move, unable to speak, staring in disbelief at the odd sight. A large barrel floated in the air, following Dumbledore like a puppy, and the phoenix circled it playfully. The headmaster nodded politely at Cornelius, but neither he nor the Hat interrupted their reciting.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes (The phoenix bobbed up and down in the air, squeaking excitedly)
'Twas his intent
To blow up the King and the Parliament
Three score barrels of powder below
Poor old England to overthrow
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match

A cold fear gripped Cornelius heart. This was what he had been afraid of. This was just what he had suspected all along. Dumbledore was here overthrow the ministry! He tried to run, tried to scream, but it was as if he was stuck in glue. He could only helpless watch as Dumbledore propped up the barrel - which had the words "Gunpowder" written on its side with neat, read letters - against the Fountain of Magical Brethren, and went on with the reciting.

Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let the bells ring
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, God save the King!

Dumbledore and the Hat cried in chorus, and the phoenix squeaked with them.

Hip hip Hoorah!
Hip hip Hoorah!

Dumbledore stood by the statue, arms outstretched, smiling excitedly with his whole bearded face. The phoenix had perched itself on top of the statue, and the Sorting Hat jumped up and down on his head. Dumbledore silenced, but the phoenix and the Hat took no notice of it, but carried on with the next verse.

A penny loaf to feed ol'Pope
A farthing cheese to choke him
A pint of beer to rinse it down
A faggot of sticks to...

"Er... I think that will be quite enough," Dumbledore quickly interrupted. He smiled an apologizing smile at the frozen Cornelius.

"That part is a bit unsuitable, after all. Ah, however, let us go down to the business at hand. The powder seems to be applied, so perhaps you would like to provide the match, Fawkes?"

And he inserted a fuse in a little hole in the top of the barrel, and the phoenix flew down towards it, and Cornelius watched in transfixed horror. He knew that as soon as the phoenix lit the fuse, and the spark reached the gunpowder, he was going to die, and the ministry would be in ruins, and that was what Dumbledore had planned all along, and he had tried to tell people but no one - NO ONE - had believed him and now the phoenix had lit the fuse and Dumbledore only stood there, with a twinkle in his eyes and...

"NOOOOOO!!!"

Cornelius awoke with a start, sweat poring down his face. He looked around in the dark room, for a panickly moment not knowing where he was. But then he felt the familiar blankets, the familiar smell and felt his wife stirring by his side. She looked up at him with sleepy eyes.

"The same dream, dear?" she mumbled, and he nodded, still out of breath after the scream. She gave him a hug.

"It's just a dream," she assured him. "You have so much responsibility so it follows you into your sleep. It's nothing to worry about. Just try to relax."

He nodded again and put his head down on the pillow. Everything was under control, he told himself. He had made sure to root out Dumbledore's most obvious allies in the ministry and the Wizengamot. The Daily Prophet was in his pocket. Dolores was stationed at Hogwarts and kept a close watch over Dumbledore and his minions. He was safe he tried to assure himself. Safe! Dumbledore couldn't get him.

But it still took a long time until the Minister of Magic was able to go back to sleep.


Authors Note: Bonfire Night is celebrated in United Kingdom in memory of the failed attempt by Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators to blow up the Houses of Parliament on the evening of 5 November 1605. The song is part of the celebration.