Harry Potter and all characters, etc. belong to J.K. Rowling, not me.

The Time Meddlers

Chapter Thirty-One – Taking Back the Ministry

It was a grueling two weeks for all that had volunteered to help take back the Ministry from the clutches of the Shadow of Pain. The ninety-six people went through an extremely abridged version of Auror training concentrating just on fighting while Timothius Caladron and Bartholomew Headon, the Wizengamot members who fought Amelia Bones at every turn, were locked up in their quarters under house arrest at Hogwarts. The Minister had realized that those two were Umbridge's most-valuable-players, whether they knew it or not, and that nothing would be accomplished while they were free. She was too ashamed to admit she'd considered killing them. If she had legal trouble after the war for this, she'd gladly face the music. The two weeks of seemingly non-stop defense training was over, and they were about to leave for the battle.

Bones smiled grimly as she surveyed the army gathered in front of her in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. It was made up of a large variety of people. Some of them had spent time in a concentration camp. Others were in their fifties. The youngest people she'd knowingly allowed in her army were sixteen. Cedric Diggory would officially be going with that army, along with his mother, but unknown to the Minister, the D.A. would be following as backup. Tox and Sky were with the Minister's group, and had specifically volunteered to fight Umbridge. Had Amelia known their physical ages, she'd have rejected them. However, all she knew about the pair was that they were good in a fight and had rescued her niece from terrible torture.

"First of all," said Amelia, giving her version of a pep talk, "I want you all to know that I'm proud of each and every one of you." She took a deep breath. "I'm not going to lie to you. Some of us will die during this battle. Others of us will be injured. If any of you have any doubts, now's the time to back out. I won't blame you." Nobody left. "What we're doing, we're doing for Britain and the whole world. Umbridge won't be satisfied staying here forever. We're going to stop the Shadow from causing pain to anyone else – once and for all!" There was cheering before portkeys that had been charmed by Headmistress McGonagall were distributed that would take them near the Ministry. As they activated, the huge room suddenly became empty.

"They're gone," reported Susan Bones, who'd watched from the Entrance Hall. Her aunt wouldn't even let her in the room for fear she'd try to sneak to the battle.

A voice came from the small mirror the girl had spoken to. "Then get up here so we can leave."

"Be there in five minutes," she replied before putting the mirror in her pocket and running up the stairs toward the Astronomy Tower. The D.A. would be invisibly riding brooms to London, to help if needed.

-TM-

As soon as Bones' army arrived, Tox and Sky took out their wands and stood back-to-back, surveying the alley where they'd landed. Harry grinned beneath his hood as he recalled the first time (and many times since) he'd taken a portkey and fell over. He'd improved much since those days. The rest of the army was similarly searching for enemies, but none appeared to be there.

"Proceed with caution," commanded the Minister. Everyone knew the way to the muggle entrance that Amelia had fled from when the Shadow had taken the building, so they didn't need directions. What they did need was the device that Tox and Sky had brought – a home-made muggle bomb. They'd actually brought several, although the plan itself called for only one. They silently approached where the booth had been located, only to find that it wasn't there anymore. In its place was what appeared to be a bathroom.

"That's odd," commented Harry as he examined the sign on the door that indicated that it was unisex.

"Well, I'm going to open it and see what's in there," declared Hermione. "It's probably just a different design for the entrance."

"If you say so," replied her boyfriend. With that, she opened the door to reveal that the walls of this loo had been painted pink while the toilet and sink were red. Sky performed a spell with her wand and the toilet vanished, revealing a floor with a large square that was the same size as the phone booth had been.

"How utterly revolting!" commented Hermione. "It appears that the intention was for each person to flush themselves into the Ministry building."

"It makes sense," replied Harry with a grin. "After all, since Umbridge took over, the Ministry is worse than a sewer and everything they tell the people is worth sh…"

"Language," chastised Sky with a smirk. "Let's plant the bomb." It didn't take them long to set up the muggle bomb and leave. Then they put even more notice-me-not charms around that area than were already there. After the bomb went off, destroying the walls of the bathroom, the time-meddlers, along with Amelia's group, went to inspect the results and were quite satisfied with the large hole that led directly to the atrium of the Ministry of Magic.

"I'm going in first," declared Tox, so Sky levitated him down while he cast a shield charm in front of him. Amelia would levitate Sky down in two minutes and then everybody would join the same way.

When Harry/Tox landed, he was immediately bombarded by spell-fire from the guards, who were on full-alert thanks to the explosion. He poured his magic into keeping his shield up while he pulled several small things out of his pocket and tossed them at the ten people bombarding his ever-weakening defense. When he heard someone shout, "Avada Kedavra!" he crouched down and rolled out of the way. However, before he could return fire, the devices he'd tossed activated, spraying them all with a potion that produced boils on every piece of flesh it touched. In the confusion while they were in agony, Harry started fighting back. He'd reducto'd the heads off of five of them before they could even react.

The Shadow Warriors that remained started firing like mad while Tox kept moving around as fast as he could, which kept the spells from hitting him. One advantage that his training had given him that almost no pureblood realized was that exercise allows one to move much faster and last much longer in a fight – even a magical one. As he was moving, he kept firing at the enemies, who were getting more and more fearful. He shot one, then two, but missed the third, who in turn shot a Crucio at him, which managed to become the first spell that hit him. He fell to the floor in pain.

However, the torture curse didn't last very long because Sky chose that moment to enter the building and shouted, "Sectumsempra!" while pointing her wand at the mercenary who was afflicting her partner-in-time. The man fell to the ground, bleeding to death from multiple wounds.

As soon as he was released from the painful curse, Harry started shooting spells at the remaining Shadow Troopers, and soon the room was empty. Hermione pointed her wand up the lift and shot sparks, signaling everyone to come in. However, the time-meddlers didn't wait for Amelia. They had their own mission – to find and kill Delores Umbridge.

-TM-

When Amelia's group arrived in the atrium, no one was surprised to see the dead bodies. Cedric commented, "It looks like we can find Tox and Sky by following the trail of corpses," but no one laughed.

Amelia stated, "You all know the plan. One floor at a time while our friends find Umbridge," before marching toward the staircase. They'd all realized that using the lift would put them at the mercy of whatever precautions the enemy had taken early on in the planning phase, so the stairs were the only reasonable way to go. They slowly crept down the first flight of stairs to the Administrative level, where, among other things, the Minister's office was located. However, no one was foolish enough to believe that Umbridge was still in her office after that explosion.

What they did find was a group of other administrative personnel waiting for them, all pointing their wands. When the first one fired an Avada Kedavra, pandemonium ensued. Amelia fired lethal spell after lethal spell as she dodged what was sent her way. She mostly stuck with reducto's, bone-breaking hexes and strong cutting spells, just as she'd advised her group to do. She'd told them that this wouldn't be a time to show off their vast knowledge of spells. That would make them hesitate as they thought about which one to use. Muggle guns keep firing the same kind of bullet over and over to great affect. They weren't putting on some fancy show – they were fighting for their freedom.

Dodging another killing curse, Amelia moved to the left and shot a cutting hex at the one that had attempted to kill her. She did her best to ignore the sound of someone behind her falling as she kept on fighting.

At the same time, Cedric Diggory got hit with a bone-breaker spell on his left hand. Although he was in tremendous pain, he kept fighting, thankful that he wasn't left-handed. He saw one of his companions get hit with a killing curse before shooting a Reducto at the killer.

By the time the spells stopped firing, nine of Amelia's people were dead. All thirty of Umbridge's people on that floor had also perished. The Shadow of Pain was nowhere on that floor. While Cedric was fixing his broken hand, Amelia spoke.

"This obviously wasn't the worst we'll face. My guess is that their purpose was to delay us while the real resistance prepares. You may want to take a spare wand. I doubt any of them will need theirs again." She indicated the corpses that now littered the floor.

-TM-

Not believing for one second that Umbridge would be in her office, Harry and Hermione practically flew down the stairs to Level 10 while staying disillusioned. "I just have a feeling she'll be there," stated Harry. "Besides, if she's not there, we'll work our way back up while Amelia's group works their way down."

Hermione had agreed to the plan, and so they opened the door to the dreaded tenth level, where, in another timeline, Harry had once stood trial thanks to Umbridge. He thought it would be fitting if he killed her in the same room he'd originally met her, if his feeling was correct.

As soon as the door opened, both time-meddlers felt a chill. The large courtroom seemed unusually cold to both of them as they stepped forward. Suddenly, Harry found himself reliving the worst moments of his life. Starting with Voldemort killing his mother and progressing through every horror he'd experienced in his first timeline, Tox found himself losing hope. He didn't notice when thirty Dementors came out of hiding and glided toward him and his love.

Sky was doing no better. She'd seen almost as many horrors from the war as her boyfriend had and was losing her balance while the Shadow of Pain stood up from the center chair among the Dementors she commanded, her own feline Patronus walking around her. She pointed her wand toward the center of each of the two active groups of Dementors, easily dispelling their disillusionment charms, revealing the two cloaked figures. "Hem, hem," she began.

The sound of her annoyingly high-pitched girly voice broke through Harry's despair, allowing his anger to win him back some control. Imagining the evil toad's death at his hand, Harry pointed out his wand and shouted, "Expecto Patronum!" Prongs erupted from Tox's wand, running at all the hideous monsters for a few moments before being joined by Sky's otter. Together, they backed the Dementors into a corner.

"Well, well, well," said the Shadow of Pain, who was wearing a pink robe while pointing a wand held in her right hand at them, "Tox and Sky, I presume?" When they didn't respond, except to glare through their cloaks she continued. "We weren't formally introduced at our last encounter, you see. You've been very naughty." At this moment, she lifted a cup with her left hand and took a sip. "Would you like some tea?" she asked sweetly. "It's quite good." Both Harry and Hermione were disturbed that she'd be drinking tea at a time like this.

"I'm gonna kill you!" declared Harry as he silently sent a Reducto at her.

"How utterly uncivilized," the Shadow commented as she easily dodged. "I'm afraid you must learn your proper manners. Attack!" At that moment, about twenty dwarves stood up from among the Wizengamot seats, where they'd stayed hidden, waiting for their signal. Each of them had an ax in his hand as they rushed down toward the intruders.

-TM-

On the second floor of the building, Amelia and her people were in over their heads. They'd arrived to find the hallway empty and cautiously stepped in. The moment the last of her people had exited the stairway, the elevator opened, revealing twenty people who started shooting lethal spells immediately.

Amelia hadn't even noticed the other Shadow Warriors joining the fight from every room on that floor until the Auror fighting next to her fell forward, dead from a shot from behind. She wasn't sure how many enemies they were facing, but she did know they were outnumbered. She dodged an Avada Kedavra before firing a bone-breaker hex at her attacker's head, ending his life.

When Harry Potter had talked him into forming a defense group at school, Cedric Diggory had no idea that he'd one day soon be fighting side-by-side with his mother at the Ministry building, hoping to free his home country from the grip of an insane terrorist. Yet, here he was, dodging another bone-breaker. He'd learned earlier that day that spell hurts. He shot a Reducto that missed his target and put a hole in the wall. Before he could fire again, a cutting spell hit him in the left leg. It was only the fact he fell that let him avoid the killing curse that someone else sent his way. As Cedric watched in horror, the green beam of light that had been meant for him killed his mother. He didn't even hear the leader of the Shadow Warrior group announce, "We have you surrounded. Surrender or die."

-TM-

"Reducto!" shouted Harry while pointing his wand at an approaching dwarf. "I don't think these are the same type of dwarves Snow White met."

"None of them looks sleepy or dopey," agreed Hermione while pulling something out of her pocket.

"Maybe we can change that," replied Tox as he emulated his girlfriend's move and then tossed one of his bombs at the approaching dwarves. Sky tossed her bomb toward the other side of the room.

The explosions happened within seconds, killing all the dwarves that hadn't escaped the Wizengamot seats yet, leaving nine alive and running toward them. Umbridge had been hit by some shrapnel, but she quickly drank some Elixir of Life to heal her injuries. Before the magical creatures reached the couple, two more had been eliminated, leaving seven dwarves with axes surrounding the time-meddlers.

Harry decided that he'd fight fire with fire. When he was twelve years old in another time, a dwarf brought to Hogwarts by Lockhart had knocked him down and forced him to listen to Ginny's Valentine's Day poem. Now, although physically he wasn't much older, his body was in much better shape. Consequently, he felt he could fight his attacker. He quickly pulled back his left fist before punching the nearest one in his chest. However, the resulting cry of pain wasn't coming from the dwarf – it was coming from Harry. They were wearing some metal armor.

"Fine," shouted Tox, wishing he could cradle his injured hand. "Reducto!" he screamed as he basically exploded the monster next to him due to the close range. He ignored the guts that were now covering him as he did the same to another dwarf after dodging its axe blade.

It was only a few minutes later that Harry and Hermione, covered in dwarf insides, emerged the victors to see the Shadow pointing her wand at them. She shot an unfamiliar spell at Hermione, who barely dodged in time. It was so close that it singed a small part of her robe.

Harry began shooting bone-breaker after Reducto at the cause of all the suffering in Britain while Hermione was doing the same, but the woman, energized by the Elixir of Life, was dodging everything they sent while occasionally shooting at them.

Shaking her head sadly as she fought, she scolded in her 'teacher' voice, "Such bad behavior. Look at the mess you've made. I'm afraid I will have to punish you."

-TM-

"Toss me your wands and you might survive the day," ordered the man wearing a black ninja-like outfit. As he looked at the surrounded group that was beginning to surrender their wands, he stopped in recognition. "Ah, Former Minister Bones. The Shadow has been hoping to see you. She has special plans for you. But I don't think she'll mind if I give you a little taste of what's in store. Crucio!"

Amelia Bones, who had just tossed her wand away in surrender, was now fighting the urge to fall down under the pain of the torture curse. Sweat was falling from her forehead while her eyes were closed in concentration. Just when she was about to give in and fall, there was a loud explosion somewhere behind her.

"What's going on?" shouted the tormentor as he released the curse and looked over the Minister's head. She glanced around as well to see about fifty Shadow Warriors dead on the floor bleeding. Body parts were everywhere and there were holes in the floor and walls. It was obvious that a bomb had been tossed. Bones looked beyond the explosion to see a large group of children, her niece at the front, smirking at her.

"I knew you'd need help," Susan commented just before sending a nonverbal hex at one of the significantly reduced number of enemies. In less than a second, Amelia pulled her recently acquired spare wand from her pocket, turned back around, and shot a strong cutting spell right through the head of the man who'd been torturing her.

With the new reinforcements for her side, minus the enemies the reinforcements had killed with the bomb (supplied by Tox and Sky a few days before), had turned the tide of the battle. Instead of being vastly outnumbered, they were the ones outnumbering their enemies. It didn't take long before all the Shadow Warriors were killed.

-TM-

In the meantime, Tox and Sky were fighting against the magically enhanced Shadow of Pain. While it was true that Umbridge was successfully engaging her enemies, she was moving around in a dangerous direction for herself. It only took a few minutes for Harry and Hermione to come up with a strategy. With nonverbal communication that they'd been able to do for years – just a small gesture with the hands or eyes – they'd decided the best way to end the battle with a witch who heals from every bit of damage you do to her. At the moment, they wished they could do the killing curse, but they didn't want to try a spell they hadn't actually used before in the middle of a fierce battle. Instead, they simply both shot banishing spells at the same time at their foe.

While Delores Umbridge was flying backwards into the group of Dementors that was still being held back by Tox and Sky's Patronuses, Amelia Bones and her group stepped through the doorway. There hadn't been anybody on the other floors of the building. Obviously, they'd already hit Amelia's group with everything they had.

"No!" shouted Umbridge when she realized that her so-called allies were about to find out if she had a soul or not. Harry wondered if she actually believed that the Dementors wouldn't Kiss her. It was a terrible sight to watch her tattered soul sucked out by one of those foul creations, and over a hundred people witnessed it.

The Dementor that was holding Umbridge dropped her empty husk to the floor. Amelia, pointing her two wands at the beast (while everyone else was doing the same), said, "Do you remember me? I'm the Minister of Magic." The Dementors all nodded. "Go straight back to Azkaban without bothering anyone. You can Kiss all the guards, but don't bother the prisoners until I've come and released the ones that don't belong there."

The completely disloyal creatures who obeyed whoever they thought was more powerful complied. Bones' group parted to make way for them to depart. Sighing, Amelia commented, "I wish I knew how to kill them, but I don't. I'll have to leave for Azkaban soon. Then I'll start freeing the camps. I'll still need everyone's help that's willing – even the underaged help, just for today." After taking a deep breath and smiling, she declared, "We've won!" to the cheers of everyone present. After the cheers had ended, she looked around before asking, "Where'd Tox and Sky go?"

"They never stick around long after their job is done," said Susan with a smirk. She'd seen them disillusion themselves.

"But I wanted to thank them, and find out their real names so I can give them Orders of Merlin."

"They're not in it for the rewards. They just fight for what's right."

"They didn't tell us their real names either," commented Cedric grimly, "but I'm sure they'll come back if needed." He had partially healed his leg and was limping.

Hermione whispered in Harry's ear, "I don't rightly know their real names, but I've heard them called, the Time-Meddlers."

He grinned and replied in a whisper, "Hi-Yo Hedwig away."

As they quietly slipped out of the room, they distinctly heard Luna Lovegood, who was part of the D.A., hum the William Tell Overture.

-TM-

The next few days passed in a blur as magical England was reclaimed and many awards given out. While Timothius Caladron and Bartholomew Headon tried to get Amelia in trouble for locking them up, none of the other remaining Wizengamot members would support them. They'd successfully ruined their political and social lives with their behavior. While they didn't go to Azkaban, they had absolutely no friends or allies.

Minister Bones worked tirelessly to restore and improve the government while life began to get back to normal – with the refugees moving out of Hogwarts and back to their homes, businesses beginning to reopen, and of course the funerals for those that had died.

With the war over and Hermione's father released from the hospital in Ireland, Harry Potter and the Grangers returned to England. The family had arranged for their house to be rebuilt, and so it was in the process of being done. The vanishing cabinet that had been inside it was now nothing but ashes, as were most of their possessions. They were staying in a flat Harry rented for them. When they needed extra space, they could easily use his apartment/trunk.

Susan Bones was the only one who knew that her friends had returned to the country every day in disguise. Since Harry didn't want to be in the spotlight, the trip provided the perfect alibi so no one would think they were cowards. Hermione's parents had barely escaped an attack and were hospitalized in another country for safety, so naturally their daughter and her boyfriend, who considered them family, had stayed with them. The war was over before they had a chance to help.

Hermione had considered throwing a big birthday party for Harry, but felt that the timing was wrong considering that some funerals were still going on. Harry was glad Cedric survived and recovered from his injuries, but was saddened that both his parents were killed within a month of each other.

"I know it's cruel," said Hermione, "but statistically, this war was better than the Voldemort war we prevented. A lot less people died. Much fewer people suffered. And those that suffered did so for a much shorter time period. It's not a perfect solution, but we still did save many lives."

"I know," replied Harry. "I just wish I hadn't screwed up and caused all this."

"I know," responded Hermione, "but today is your birthday and I'm not going to let you mope around."

And so, the Grangers and Harry enjoyed his birthday while the time-meddlers determined to focus on the good their time-meddling had produced, rather than the bad. They continued their training and tried to keep constantly vigilant, because they never knew if another threat would arise.

The End

-TM-

I hope you've enjoyed the story, and I'm sure that, as happens in every other story I write, most people will think I rushed the ending. I think the problem is that I'm not very good at writing endings. I apologize for that, but at least I finished the story.

I couldn't resist a nod to the Lone Ranger, my dad's favorite show. For those who don't know, the William Tell Overture is the theme song for the Lone Ranger. It's interesting that more of that series is available on dvd in the UK than in America. Specifically, only half of the color episodes from the last season are available in America while all of them are in Europe.

I'd originally planned to end the story with someone singing the 'Wizard of Oz' song, 'Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,' but really couldn't fit it into the scene.