Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter. My works of fiction are solely for the amusement of myself and those who read them.
Warnings: Slash. SS/HP and RL/SB with some others possibly. AU during and after the Ministry battle in OotP, HPB and DH did not happen.
Author's Note: This is a very odd story in my opinion. I hope to the gods and goddesses that it's at least decent. Constructive criticism is most welcome.
Late June 1996
Cornelius Fudge had always played the part of being an adept politician; this is exactly why he is currently holed up in his office in the Ministry of Magic, a group of elite Aurors standing guard outside his door. Cornelius had, despite his better judgment and sheer terror, aided Albus Dumbledore and his followers when V-the Dark Lord had raided the Ministry of Magic little under a month ago. The mad man had been driven off but the reports about how the Ministry had refused to acknowledge that said mad man had returned and now openly opposed him are currently the least of the poor Minister's worries. No, not only had Cornelius sided with Dumbledore, he had also gone and sided with an escapee from Azkaban, the known- framed murdered Sirius Black.
Cornelius had seen Black confront the supposedly dead Peter Pettigrew and try to hex the man into oblivion for betraying the Potters, let alone the fact that he set up Black to be framed for everything. Yes, the shouting Black was doing explained a lot. Cornelius would've left Black to kill Pettigrew freely and not gotten himself involved more than would need be to clear the man's name but his conscience, and the insane, disagreed.
Bellatrix Lestrange had snuck up behind Black and would've killed her cousin if it hadn't been for a very unnerving display of teamwork for all parties involved, participants and spectators alike. Harry Potter had gone and stupidly diverted the Dark Lord's attention from Dumbledore to himself, although the boy had caught Cornelius' eye the moment before. Cornelius had asked the gods for all the sanity in the world at that moment. The stupid teenager was standing between Lestrange and the Dark Lord. For reasons unbeknownst to himself, Cornelius had done something he had no need to have done. As Potter had jumped out of the way of the Killing Curse, the normally cowardly Minister of Magic had sent a purposely misaimed Stunning Spell at the psychotic Dark Witch. The Stunner caused her to jump back and directly into the Killing Curse. Cornelius had given Potter a curt nod and quickly went to Black's aid, binding their rat-like prey with a spell while Black prevented the scoundrel from shifting into his Animagus form.
In the meantime, the Dark Lord had fled in a rage at the realization of killing one of his most loyal followers. The Aurors and Order of the Phoenix members had quickly apprehended as many fleeing Death Eaters as possible while trying to tend to the wounded.
"Minister Fudge does not wish to be disturbed," the voice of one of Cornelius' Auror guards brings him out of his reflections.
"I have an appointment with him," a male voice almost like a bark snaps back.
"Let him in," Cornelius calls from his desk and Sirius Black walks into the room. "Black. I had forgotten you were coming today. What is it you wanted?"
"Just to make a request that would be favorable to both of us," Black states, the flicker of emotion in his blue eyes contradicting his calm demeanor. How the man could still be sane and not want to murder Cornelius for sending him to Azkaban still amazes Cornelius.
"Such as? Your name has been cleared and I personally ensured that the public would not doubt your reputation."
"It's actually two requests," Cornelius raises an eyebrow at this. "First, either give that blasted Rita Skeeter to Voldemort, throw her in Azkaban, or put a permanent Silencing Charm on her. You obviously haven't seen today's Daily Prophet if you're looking at me like that. She's a menace," Black takes a deep breath to calm himself and Cornelius makes a note to take today's Prophet out of the trash were it lay, unread. "Second, do something about the Prophet's articles. I heard from a reliable source that the Ministry has a good bit of influence over the paper that it chooses not to exert. You might want to reduce the amount of gossip and bullcrap in the paper before the public's faith in the Ministry is ruined."
"I'll take that as a warning," Cornelius nods in understanding. He would definitely take Black's words to heart now that he had an actual reason to do something about Skeeter. The woman really is a menace. "Why warn me though? I forewent the use of Veritaserum at your trial and sentenced you to the Dementor's Kiss back in '93." Cornelius felt it prudent not to ask how the man had avoided that fate.
"I warned you as a way of saying thanks for helping at the Ministry, for clearing my name, not that it matters because my family destroyed the name of Black generations ago, and for the Orders of Merlin you gave to the everyone in the Order, whether they were of age or not."
Cornelius nods at that. It was just easier to give recognition to all those who had contributed to severely weakening the Dark Lord. With any luck, and for once Cornelius agreed with Dumbledore on this, the Wizarding World wouldn't hear from the Dark Lord for a good while, a year or so at the least.
"Black, give a message to Dumbledore for me. Tell him I said that I was... that I was wrong and that he, Potter, and the Order have the support of both the Ministry and the Auror Core in any actions they take in the war effort. Also," Cornelius pauses to consider his next words carefully. Guaranteed the current Core head won't be happy but his second in command won't mind having a new chain of command to follow. "Sirius Black, Head of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black, I hereby reinstate you as a member of the Auror Core and promote you to Head Auror Rufus Scrimegour's second in command if you wish to rejoin. Kingsley Shaklebolt will be your second in command followed by John Dawlish. Should Dawlish be a problem, you have my permission to defy your superior's orders and beat the snot out of that idiot. You also have legal permission to visit your godson whenever you want and you may remove him from the care of him relatives if you wish."
Black stands there shocked for a moment before answering, "I'll consider it, Minister. I suppose we're giving each other second chances so to speak?"
"Yes, let's hope this starts a string of second chances that will help our world in the end."
Meanwhile, Albus Dumbledore is giving his end of term speech at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Surprisingly enough, Albus makes it a point to mention how pleased he is to be rid of that 'good for nothing toad Dolores Umbridge' and that he already has a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher chosen for next term.
Most of the students cheer loudly after a moment of shocked silence but none cheer louder than Fred and George Weasley. Their mother had dragged them back to the school once Umbridge had been fired for using 'unorthodox methods of punishment'. The Weasley twins had gotten a good laugh at the story of their tiny now former Charms professor Filius Flitwick 'accidentally' sending Umbridge into the swamp the twins had created outside her office.
The next day, Harry Potter and his fellow members of Dumbledore's Army, i.e. the Order of the Phoenix members in training, board the Hogwarts Express to head home for the summer. Harry and his best friend Hermione Granger would most likely be spending part of the summer either at the Burrow or at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place with their best friend Ron Weasley. The other DA's would keep in contact with them and had already promised to help the Order whenever necessary.
Author's Note: I know this part was rather dull but it's nothing more than a background chapter. Sixth year will be skipped over except for in memories since nothing really interesting occurs in it. The summer between fifth and sixth year will be mentioned though just because I do so love seeing the Dursleys squirm. Hint, hint.