He went to help her stand but she leapt into his arms. The air was crushed from his lungs by the force of her embrace, "You did it! I knew you could! Oh, Well done Harry!" With that she pulled back just far enough to plant a wet and slightly sandy kiss on his mouth.
With Godric's bloody sword in one hand and his wand in the other he refrained from returning the hug with similar force. Instead he just kissed her back. After a moment they pulled back from one another and took stock of their situation.
What should we do with Fudge? Oh, and Peter.
We're going to have to leave them. We'll be lucky to find a working lift after Dumbledore's entrance. Hey what happened to the Auror that showed you the way down?
Don't know. The last I saw of him was when he showed me the way down the stairs.
Well, I left a manticore prowling the viewing area. Maybe they took each other out?
I'm definitely not that lucky!
We should wait for someone to come investigate you know.
No, I don't feel like explaining why Fudge is a raving lunatic without Dumbledore around.
Good point. We need to find out what happened to him.
Do you think he lived?
Yes, I would be very surprised if anything Voldemort did could actually kill him. I bet Fawkes took him somewhere to get help.
I hope you're right. Well which way should we try first?
Fudge made it down that way. Let's try there first.
Makes sense to me, all right.
Hermione walked toward the stairs. He called to her, "Hold on. Let me clean this up first."
He put away his wand then pulled a cloth from within his robes. He spent a minute carefully wiping most of the grime from Godric's sword. Then he sheathed it, threw the rag down and headed to the stairs where Hermione was waiting for him.
When he joined her she said, "Well the Auror didn't take out the manticore for us."
He looked up the stairs. Much of the roof had caved in. A trickle of blood on the stairs and a crushed hand poking from the rubble were the only evidence of the Auror's fate. There was a small shaft of weak light on the left side, leading straight up. On the right the passage was nearly clear. Above them they could hear the steady pacing of something heavy. With each step new rubble tumbled from above.
It looks like we can't go the way Fudge came.
But the other way leads to the same place.
No. Look, over there.
He looked where she pointed. Through the rubble to the right was the flicker of blue flames.
Now that's interesting. Where have I seen blue flames before?
I thought we were close to it. We're on the same level as the Department of Mysteries.
Well, we know our way out from there, c'mon let's go.
They walked quietly, so as not to draw attention from the manticore pacing in the ruined tunnels above. They climbed over the pile of rubble on the right side and into a new tunnel. This tunnel must have been behind the wall here. Well the wall that collapsed.
Hermione led, tugging Harry along by the hand. She felt him start to tremble and hoped he could keep it together a bit longer. Now was not the time to start memorializing fallen godfathers. When they reached the end of the tunnel they were indeed in the room of the veil, the room in which Sirius had died. She squeezed his hand and pulled him towards the door to the revolving room. He seemed steadier and calmer now. They reached the door and it opened at a touch. Two doors before them bore blackened scorch marks in the shape of an X. When the door closed to the veil room it too bore a similar marking. She was astonished that the simple spell she had used to mark the doors had marked them permanently. She heard a great rumbling and the walls began to spin rapidly. It soon stopped and she quickly eliminated the marked doors. She was surprised when Harry spoke up.
"Where's the way out?" The door to their left sprung open and a well lit corridor led off into the distance. They took off down the hall. When they came to the lifts all seemed in order. When they rang for one it came. They took it to the Atrium and there, finally, they found people. The room was full of witches and wizards. Many of them were members of the Wizengamot. All were milling about, talking heatedly, and no one seemed to be in charge. Silence spread out from where Harry and Hermione had emerged from the lift. Harry had blood spattered over much of him and his robe was cut and torn in several places. It was obvious to everyone that he had just been through a battle. For a moment nothing happened, everyone just stood there looking at them.
A large black man started pushing their way through the crowd towards them. When he got closer they could see it was Kingsley. When he finally reached them he looked very concerned when he asked, "What happened?"
Harry seemed at a loss for words so Hermione stepped towards him, "Harry passed his practical exam. Now he can teach at Hogwarts."
That answer seemed to confuse Kingsley even more. He shook his head and said, "No." He looked earnestly at them, "What happened to Dumbledore?"
Harry answered him, "We're not really sure about that actually. I saw it happen though. Voldemort shot him from behind. Silver light slashed through his chest from behind. I didn't see any blood or anything but Dumbledore collapsed immediately. Then Fawkes landed on him and they both vanished. I don't know any more about it."
Hermione picked up where he left off, "What happened? Did Fawkes take him to St. Mungo's?"
The crowd started murmuring, passing the information along to those who could not hear what was said. Kingsley thought for a moment then flashed them a thin smile. "Yes actually. Fawkes took him to Mungo's. He is unconscious but alive there now. How did you two get away?"
"We'd like to see Dumbledore and get home please. Can we talk about this later?"
Kingsley seemed to remember the crowd at that point, "Oh, sure. Sorry. Follow me." He turned and headed towards the fireplaces along the wall. Slowly at first the crowd parted. When they got there he called over their heads. "Tonks! Argest!" The two women pushed their way through the crowd to join them at the fireplace.
Tonks tilted her head and said, "Wotcher?"
"Go below and see if you can find Fudge, he may also need to visit Mungo's"
Tonks and Argest nodded and turned to head through the crowd. Hermione spoke up quickly, "Wait! There is a manticore on the loose down there. Near the Arena. It was on the south end, up on the viewing level when we left."
A ripple went through the crowd. They heard many people muttering. Kingsley looked around for a moment. "Kyle, go with them. Take whoever you need to capture the beast." He turned back to them, "ok let's get to Mungo's shall we?"
A moment later they arrived in the lobby of St. Mungo's. A nurse hurried over to them, wand in hand, "What happened to you dear boy? Oh, I'm sorry. Mister Potter. Are you all right? And Mrs. Potter you look quite burned. We need to get some salve on that quickly."
Kingsley interrupted the nurse, "We're here to see Albus Dumbledore. Can you tell us where his room is?"
She looked up at Kingsley, "The Chief Warlock is on the fourth floor sir. Room 445, but he isn't awake."
Kingsley smiled at her, "Thank you. Has he regained consciousness at all?"
The medi-witch shook her head sadly.
"Well thank you. I don't think Harry is injured at all, though Hermione does look a tad burned. We shall see to her injuries after we visit Dumbledore."
Harry and Hermione smiled at her and followed Kingsley towards the lifts. When the lift opened on the fourth floor they immediately heard Phoenix song. Fawkes was singing! The hall was packed with people. They followed the song. Apparently everyone on the floor had collected here. They all stood transfixed, listening intently. Kingsley had to forcefully move some people out of their way; when they reached the doorway to room 445. They entered the room and stopped in their tracks. Dumbledore was lying on the bed. He was very pale and barely breathing. Fawkes, wings spread wide was hovering above him tears slowly dripping from him onto Dumbledore's chest. Then three more Phoenix's appeared, all slightly smaller than Fawkes. They joined Fawkes song and hovered around him and Dumbledore. Time stopped.
When they could think again the scene had changed. Everyone was rubbing their eyes as though they had just awoken from a nights sleep. Fawkes was preening himself on the window sill. Dumbledore was sitting up in bed looking quite alive and healthy. "Good of you all to join me. I was getting rather curious. Now tell me what happened? The last I remember was a sharp pain in my back then blackness."
Hermione stuttered a moment then got on track, "We, uh Oh yeah. Voldemort hit you with a spell. It was a silver streak of light. Sorry I didn't hear the incantation, we were too far away. Anyway you collapsed immediately after that and Fawkes apparated here with you. Voldemort tried to kill me but I got caught in the Priori Incantatum with him. While we struggled Harry put Voldemort's soul back together. That broke the direct link between Harry and him. He vanished and we climbed out of the arena and made our way here. We found Fawkes singing over you and then three other Phoenix's appeared, they joined in the song and then I'm afraid I can't remember anything else until just now."
Professor Dumbledore was nodding his head slowly. He reached out and affectionately caressed Fawkes chest feathers, "Thank you my friend."
Fawkes cocked his head at him and let out a soft cry.
Professor Dumbledore nodded again and smiled at him, "Of course."
Fawkes vanished in a puff of flame.
"Nothing to be concerned about, now tell me again just what you did to Tom?" Before they could start talking Dumbledore looked around the room, "I am once again whole and well. Please leave the room for now." Reluctantly the medi-witches and wizards left the room. When they were gone the door closed and the four of them were alone, "Now where were we? Oh, yes." His wand appeared in his hand and he gestured; three chairs appeared behind Harry, Hermione, and Kingsley. "Please go on."
Harry, his voice full of concern spoke up first, "What happened to you sir?"
Dumbledore looked troubled for a bit then spoke softly, "I was trapped within myself. No that doesn't quite do it justice. I was trapped within a prison of my own failures. You see it was a mental trap, I was rendered unconscious but in a dream like state. I escaped by following Fawkes out of it. If I had been unable to escape I would have died there, with my body soon following." He paused then went on, "Now, tell me what happened with the test?"
"Well I assume I passed. I was dueling a mage while you were dueling Voldemort. I, I killed him then came towards you and Voldemort. That's when we saw him attack you. After Fawkes took you here Voldemort tried to cast the killing curse on Hermione. She cast something back at him though and just like when I was in the graveyard with him they got caught in. Oh, what's that called again?"
Hermione supplied the answer, "Priori Incantatum."
"Yeah, that. Anyway Hermione was in that with him. Remember, Belgarath? We asked him how to put two pieces of a soul back together. I just followed his advice and put Voldemort back together. Now we reckon he can be killed. Since I no longer have a part of his soul tied to mine."
Hermione picked up the tale, "Then Fudge came down and attacked Harry. He couldn't do anything to him. Harry froze him then we climbed out of there. Your entrance caused major damage to the tunnels and rooms down there. Anyway we found a new tunnel that lead to the room of the Veil. From there we came up the lift to the Atrium. Kingsley sent Tonks and several others down to get Fudge and contain the manticore. Oops I forgot the manticore. I think it was one of the things Harry was supposed to fight. When I went into the arena to help Harry; it got trapped on the viewing level. I think that's it really."
Professor Dumbledore thought for a moment, "Well done. I think we had better get back to the Ministry. Before someone thinks I'm out of commission." He stood and picked up his robe from the foot of the bed. He swung his robe about him and then pulled a tall pointed hat from an inner pocket. In a moment he was fully dressed again. Then he pulled the slightly rumpled feather out again. Tapped it once with his wand, said "Portus." Then he held it out to them. When they all touched it they were swept to the Ministry of Magic.
They arrived in the central atrium. The crowd was still there. Instantly there was a hush, everyone turned to look at them. Dumbledore spoke to the assembled crowd, "Yes I am whole and well. I call a convocation of the Wizengamot in chambers immediately. Everyone else, please remain here. Kingsley is in charge until we come forth." He turned to Kingsley and spoke softly for a moment then looked at Harry and Hermione and smiled before walking swiftly from the room. The elders of the Wizengamot followed him.
Kingsley quickly got the Auror's organized and stationed around the room in pairs. In case Voldemort had something else in mind for today. It was almost half an hour later when the doors of the lift opened and Tonks went out first, wand at the ready. Minister Fudge followed slowly behind her. He looked slightly dazed still.
Behind them Professor Dumbledore and the Wizengamot came up the stairs and silently filed into the room.
Minister Fudge seemed to finally gather his wits about him and he started yelling for Dumbledore. Professor Dumbledore completely ignored him however until the Wizengamot had all entered the room, some glancing at Minister Fudge. Then he calmly turned and walked over towards the red faced Minister of Magic, "Yes Cornelius, what is it?"
Dumbledore's calm manner seemed to enrage Fudge all the more. He was nearly foaming at the mouth as he sputtered, "WHA, WHAT DO YOU, WHAT DO YOU MEAN? WHAT IS IT? I'll tell you what it is? It's your resignation now! You hear me NOW! I WILL HAVE NO MORE OF YOUR INCOMPETENCE!"
Professor Dumbledore's expression did not alter in the slightest during the outburst. "I believe, Cornelius, that you have overstepped your authority for the last time. By the required majority, the Wizengamot has just seen fit to remove you from office."
Fudge looked as though he had just been pole-axed. He stood there, only his jaw working up and down signaling that he was still alive.
A few of the Aurors standing about moved a few steps closer to Fudge but stopped when Dumbledore looked up at them. "Do you doubt my words?" Not a single person spoke. The elder witches and wizards of the Wizengamot silently moved to array themselves directly behind Dumbledore. Fudge looked up at them and cringed. "I tried to let you lead the war against the Dark, Cornelius. Yet you would not listen. There is no Voldemort you said, he was killed years ago. You have seen him with your own eyes, not two months ago in this very room. Yet today we find Simulacrum within these walls. One the Chief Auror! How many good people must die for your pride Cornelius?" Dumbledore turned to the Wizengamot, "Eliza, how many Dark Lords have you seen?"
A quavery but loud voice answered, "There have been four in my lifetime, none worst than Tom."
Professor Dumbledore nodded at Eliza then turned back to Cornelius, "You see Cornelius. You are too young to remember them but certainly you have heard the stories, Professor Binns has been droning on and on about them for centuries. Forget not the past but learn from it. We have a war to wage once again. There is no room for half measures. We must act openly and decisively to stop Tom this time."
"But, but you can't do this!"
"Cornelius Oswald Fudge, I am the Chief Warlock and The Grand Sorcerer. The Wizengamot has voted; you are relieved of office. We hereby appoint Kingsley Shacklebolt the new Minister of Magic. May he lead us through this dark time and into the light."
The crowd clapped loudly, Kingsley sat down quickly on the edge of the fountain. Over the crowd's cheers Hermione heard Fudge muttering, "There is no such thing as a dark lord, there is no such thing."
** ** **
Lord Voldemort was laughing. This was the first time in nearly fifteen years he felt whole again. What a fool that boy was. He felt powers he had thought lost returning. Now he had truly been reborn!
A/N: Well there you go, it is done. I know there is more left to tell but we are out of time my friends. We shall see in a week what JKR has wrought. From there I would love to continue once again. It will however be a new world, the world she had lead us to. We shall see what new stories remain to be told from there.