A little gift for Ten Faced Paladin.
Ousting and Omens.
Needless to say, rumors soon flew regarding the events of the previous night, the notable absence of not Dumbledore, McGonagall, Hagrid, Vergil AND Umbridge, only serving to confirm the rumors, which set the students into a frenzy.
Even the Slytherins, as much as they loathed Hagrid for his ties to the Golden Trio and Dumbledore, had balked at the High Inquisitor's approach. An ambush on Hogwarts' Grounds? With Dumbledore in the castle? Disgraced and stripped of his position as Supreme Mugwump or not, the Headmaster possessed formidable clout, and with the number of witnesses the Toady had thoughtlessly brought with her, it was highly unlikely she'd be setting foot at Hogwarts again anytime soon.
Not that the students cared much for this, if anything, it simply gave them additional reasons to cheer, even the remaining faculty members looking decidedly pleased with the removal of the High Inquisitor, and judging by the quality of the food and the appearance of the dormitories, the House Elves were clearly over the moon too.
In short, by the time their final exam, History of Magic, rolled around at two-o'clock that afternoon, Harry would enter the great hall with his fellow fifth-years with a smile on his face, a smile that was, surprisingly, mirrored by Draco Malfoy, the two of them eyeing one another warily, before turning their attentions back to their facedown exam papers, feeling decidedly awkward.
There was a very good reason for this: On the one hand, the two had hated one another since Year one, a hatred that had worsened as a result of their rivalry as seekers and Harry's fame. However, against the threat of Umbridge, they had been united, somewhat, against a common foe, Serpents and Lions putting aside their differences to make the Toad's life HELL.
Now that Umbridge was gone, however, did that mean they were to go back to squabbling over pointless little things like who could fly better or whose father could beat up the other's? Harry highly doubted they' ever be FRIENDS, perish the thought, but this lack of enmity had been refreshing, a sentiment he KNEW Draco shared judging by the boy's lack of worry lines of late.
"Turn over your papers," Professor Marchbanks ordered from the front of the Hall, flicking over the giant hour-glass "You may begin."
What followed next would have been HELL had Harry, content in the knowledge that Hagrid was safe and Umbridge likely picking out her new wardrobe for Azkaban, not gotten a proper night's rest, followed by a good breakfast before a last-minute study session with Hermione and Ron. As it was, while he stumbled a little over names and dates, he at least had the facts straight, blazing through the questions, even the one regarding wand legislations, having read up on them in his bid to garner as much about Wizarding World Law in case Fudge tried to pull another fast one.
He was just pondering why the Wizarding community of Liechtenstein had contested Pierre Bonaccord's appointment as the first Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, something to do with Mountain Trolls apparently, when his vision swam, and he suddenly found himself walking along the cool, dark corridor to the Department of Mysteries again, his tread firm and purposeful, occasionally breaking into a run, so eager to finally reach his destination.
Once again the black door swung open before him, the youth finding himself standing in the middle of the circular room with its many doors once more, this time cutting straight across the stone floor and through the second, ignoring the patches of dancing light on the walls and floor and that odd mechanical clicking, focusing on the third door as he jogged towards it, passing through until he was standing once again in the cathedral-sized room full of shelves and glass spheres, his heart hammering desperately as he hurried along the aisle between rows 97 and 98.
Unlike last time, however, there was a shape on the floor at the very end, a black shape moving on the floor like a wounded animal, a sight which, to Harry's horror, filled him with a dark, indescribable pleasure.
"Take it for me." He ordered, in a voice not his own, a high, cold voice empty of any human kindness, a voice he recognized from that night in the cemetery "lift it down, now… I cannot touch it… but you can."
The black shape on the floor shifted a little, and Harry watched out of the corner of his eye as he raised his wand, which was held in a pale, long-fingered hand. "Crucio!" he hissed the man on the floor let out a scream of pain, attempted to stand but fell back, writhing, Harry unable to stop himself from laughing cruelly at the sight, raising the wand after a moment, the figure groaning as the curse was lifted, but remained motionless. "Hurry." He ordered once again "Lord Voldemort is waiting"
Very slowly, his arms trembling, the man on the ground raised his shoulders a few inches and lifted his head, Harry looking down into the gaunt, bloodstained features of his Godfather as he glared up at him "You'll have to kill me." The falsely-accused convict whispered his eyes defiant.
"Undoubtedly I shall in the end." said the cold voice admitted, and Harry knew this was not HIM speaking, but Voldemort "But you will fetch it for me first, Black. You think you have felt pain thus far? Think again, we have hours ahead of us and nobody to hear you scream…"
But Harry heard him, head the howls of his Godfather as Voldemort lowered his wand again, the boy letting loose a scream of his own as he fell sideways off his chair, and onto the cold stone floor, the shock of the impact snapping him out of his trance, his hand clapping over his burning scar even as the Great Hall erupted all around him. After recovering from his attack, the examiner assuring him it was simply a bout of exam stress, Harry had waited for Ron and Hermione to finish their exams, he having been excused since he'd already, technically, finished, filling the rest of the trio in on the events of his dream, his stomach clenching as he recalled Sirius' screams.
"I don't know how he got him…" he muttered, looking sick even as he said it "But I know exactly where. There's a room in the Department of Mysteries full of shelves covered in these little glass balls and they're at the end of row ninety-seven." He clenched his teeth in anger "He's trying to use Sirius to get whatever it is he wants from in there… he's torturing him…says he'll end it by killing him!"
He paused for breath as Ron and Hermione looked at him in horror, their faces so pale they could've passed for Voldemort's children, Harry struggling to get his breathing under control before speaking again "How're we going to get there?" he asked, scowling at Ron's look of confusion "The Department of Mysteries, how can we get there to rescue Sirius?" Harry said loudly.
"Harry…" Hermione began in a rather frightened voice "Calm down…think for a moment…How did Voldemort get into the Ministry of Magic without anybody realizing he was there?"
"How the bloody HELL would I know?" Harry Bellowed, regretting it instantly as his friend flinched back from his anger "Sorry Hermione, it's just…I SAW him torturing Sirius, but at the same time it was like I was the one doing it, like the night when Ron's dad was attacked by Nagini."
"I understand that." Hermione pressured, even as Ron flinched at the mention of the attack on his father earlier that year "But this just sounds so unlikely." She pointed out desperately. "Think Harry, how on earth could Voldemort have gotten hold of Sirius when he's been inGrimmauld Plac eall this time?"
"Maybe he wasn't IN Grimmauld Placeat the time." Ron reasoned, though even as he said it, Harry could feel doubt cross his mind, his breath steadying thanks to Vergil's meditation exercises "Sirius might've cracked and just wanted some fresh air. He's been desperate to get out of that house for ages -"
"But why on earth would Voldemort want to use Sirius to get the weapon, or whatever the thing is?" Hermione persisted, ever the voice of reason, Harry frowning as he realized it WAS rather strange that the man-who-refused-to-die would use his Godfather for anything.
"You know what, I've just thought of something," Ron muttered, his voice hushed in wonderment, as if he'd had the idea of the century "Sirius's brother was a Death Eater, wasn't he? Maybe he told Sirius the secret of how to get the weapon!"
"I'm sorry Ron but that just doesn't make sense." Hermione countered, sighing at Ron's frown at her dismissal "Think about it, Sirius told us himself that he and his brother drifted apart after he was sorted in Gryffindor, and even FURTHER when the man became a Death Eater. Why on earth would he tell SIRIUS and not Voldemort about the weapon? Not only that we've got no proof for any of this, no proof Voldemort and Sirius are even there."
"There's one way to find out." Harry muttered, earning a look from the other two, cutting off Ron's exclamation as he did so "We talk to an order member."
"B-But who?" Hermione asked, looking concerned "I mean, Professor's Dumbledore and McGonagall are gone…" she trailed off, eyes widening in shock "Gone to the Ministry! They left earlier today along with Hagrid and Professor Vergil, remember?"
"Bloody hell!" Ron exclaimed, his eyes widening in recollection, wondering how in the world he'd forgotten that "She's right Harry! We saw them levitating Umbridge and her lot onto the Express ourselves!"
Harry blinked, his emerald eyes wide with alarm as he realized he HAD forgotten that very thing, having gotten up early to work with his sword, which was up in the tower for the purposes of the exams, and had caught a glimpse of the irate high inquisitor, bound, gagged, and completely petrified for good measure, being handled down the steps by an all too eager Hagrid, a calm looking Professor Vergil bringing up the rear.
"So Voldemort CAN'T be at the Ministry, Harry!" Hermione insisted, her eyes wide as she said it "Think about it, even if he was, I don't think he'd be able to slip out beneath Dumbledore's nose as easily as he has Fudge's."
"So THIS is the Ministry of Magic." Vergil muttered, the blue-clad son of Sparda looking around at the political centre of the Wizarding world with a decidedly disinterested frown "I am, frankly, unimpressed."
"Yes, that's rather the look we were hoping for." Dumbledore chuckled, smiling at the man, his eyes twinkling as he stepped into the phone booth outside the closed tailor store which was actually the entrance to the Ministry "Come along."
Vergil quirked a brow, looking on in disbelief as McGonagall forced their captives forward at Wand Point, the injured men, bereft of their wands and handcuffed together to keep them from running, willingly complied, several of them eyeing Vergil warily as he stood to the side, hurrying as he turned his gaze on THEM.
"Minerva, follow through in a few seconds with Hagrid, Vergil and Ms. Umbridge if you would?" the man sounding quite pleasant despite being smothered in several trembling bodies "Now my good mr. Dawlish, if you'd be so kind as to dial six-two-four-four-two?"
Dawlish did so using his sole remaining hand, shooting terrified looks at Vergil even as the Son of Sparda looked on, intrigued by the novelty of it all. 'It's like those old superman cartoons.' He noted, snorting at the irony, remembering how he and Dante would poke fun at the man for flying around with his underwear hanging out, shaking such thoughts from his head as he stepped forward, following McGonagall and Hagrid, the latter of whom was holding the restrained Umbridge by her collar like the world's ugliest kitten, into the phone box, which he realized was enchanted to fit everyone, if a little snugly.
"Welcome to the Ministry of Magic." A cool female voice greeted after McGonagall had dialled in the proper code "Please state your name and business."
"Professors Minerva McGonagall, Rubeus Hagrid, Vergil…" she paused to regard the man in question, who simply quirked a brow "Last name withheld, and Ministery Undersecretary Dolores Umbridge." She scowled in distaste "We're here to report Ms. Umbridge for assault and attempted Kidnapping and Murder via the Killing Curse."
"Thank you," said the cool female voice, even as Umbridge's eyes rolled madly in their sockets, the toady clearly not liking her situation any "Visitors, please take the badges and attach them to the front of your robes."
Four badges slid out of the metal chute where returned coins normally appeared, McGonagall scooping them up and handing them mutely to Hagrid and Vergil, before pinning Umbridge's onto the woman's horrid pink sweater with a decidedly smug look, Umbridge's eyes roiling with hate as she did so.
'Not so fun when you're on the receiving end, is it?' Vergil mocked, noting the Toad's badge listed her name and the words 'Convict', whereas Hagrid's and his own had 'Witness' listed under their names.
"Visitors to the Ministry, you are required to submit to a search and present your wands for registration at the security desk, which is located at the far end of the Atrium." The cool female voice droned, the floor of the telephone box shuddering as the pavement rose up past its glass windows, the street sliding out of sight as blackness closed over their heads and with a dull grinding noise they sank down into the depths of the Ministry of Magic.
A chink of soft golden light hit their feet and, widening, rose up their bodies. Vergil gripped Yamato, cursing the cramped conditions and readied himself to summon some spectral swords as he peered through the glass to see whether anybody was waiting for them in the Atrium, only to see Dumbledore chatting with what appeared to be Shacklebolt, and several other Aurors, who were reading the prisoners their rights and searching them over for their wands.
"The Ministry of Magic wishes you a pleasant evening," said the woman's voice, the door of the telephone box bursting open, Vergil stepping primly out of it, followed closely by a relieved looking Hagrid and McGonagall, the son Of Sparda getting his first proper look at the Centre of the British Wizarding World.
They were standing at one end of a very long and splendid hall with a highly polished, dark wood floor. The peacock blue ceiling was inlaid with gleaming golden symbols that kept moving and changing like some enormous heavenly notice board. The walls on each side were panelled in shiny dark wood and had many gilded fireplaces set into them, from which a Witch or Wizard would emerge from every few seconds like clockwork, while on the right-hand side, short queues of wizards were forming before each fireplace, waiting to depart.
Halfway down the hall was a fountain. A group of golden statues, larger than life-size, stood in the middle of a circular pool. Tallest of them all was a noble-looking wizard with his wand pointing straight up in the air. Grouped around him were a beautiful witch, a centaur, a goblin and a house-elf. The last three were all looking adoringly up at the witch and wizard. Glittering jets of water were flying from the ends of their wands, the point of the centaur's arrow, the tip of the goblins hat and each of the house-elf's ears, so that the tinkling hiss of falling water was added to the pops and cracks of the Apparators and the clatter of footsteps as hundreds of witches and wizards, most of whom were wearing glum, early-morning looks, strode towards a set of golden gates at the far end of the hall.
"Ah, right on time." Dumbledore greeted, smiling at them as they approached, Kingsley and his men looking up, eyes widening at the sight of te restrained Umbridge "If you would be so kind as to escort Ms. Umbridge to a proper holding cell, Auror Shacklebolt, I believe we can find our way to Madam Bones' office ourselves."
'The old man's ENJOYING this.' Vergil realized, noticing the tell-tale twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes as Umbridge was hauled off by two burly Aurors 'Then again, I suppose when you get to his age, dragging other people's dirty laundry out into the open is as good as it gets.'
"This way, Professors." Shaklebolt instructed, the Auror turning to face them with a professional mask, which didn't quite hide his look of amusement "Madam Bones should be in her office, thankfully the Minister is in a meeting with the Wizengamot at the moment…"
"No doubt trying to pass yet another of his delightful Educational decrees." Dumbledore noted, twinkling manically, the look on his face so innocent Vergil couldn't help but snort, even McGonagall's lips twitching as they fell in behind the Auror. As they walked along, Vergil's eyes flicked constantly from side to side, taking in the numerous wizards around them warily, looking for any of Umbridge's supporters.
After all, if the woman had been able to muster up six companions, no matter how inept, in an attempt to spirit Hagrid away, who was to say there weren't MORE?
As they passed the fountain, a glint of silver and bronze caught Vergil's attention, the Son of Sparda pausing briefly to read the sign at the side of the fountain, before carrying on his way, determined to catch up to the others, following them to a desk to the left of the golden gates, where a badly shaven wizard in peacock blue robes looked up as they approached and put down his Daily Prophet. "Hello there Kingsley." The guard greeted, his eyes roaming over the group with a look on suspicion that was normal for those on guard duty "What's this then?"
"I'm escorting these people to Madam Bones," Shacklebolt revealed, his tone calm "It would seem they've come to lodge a complaint regarding Dolores Umbridge."
"Who hasn't?" the man muttered, and Vergil felt his liking of the man go up, just a little mind you, the man gesturing for them to come closer, passing a long golden rod, thin and flexible as a car aerial over their front and back. "Wands." He grunted, holding out his hands expectantly, Dumbledore and McGonagall willing handing them over, only for him to frown at Vergil and Hagrid "Well?"
"I'm afraid, due to a misunderstanding, that Hagrid no longer possesses a wand." Dumbledore supplied, his tone polite, though Vergil caught a look of anger in the man's eyes even as Hagrid tightened his grip on his pink umbrella's handle "And as for Professor Vergil, he does not NEED one."
The guard blinked, turning to look at Vergil, his eyes going down to the sword in the half-devil's hands, flicking back up to demand he hand it over, only to flinch, reconsidering immediately at the look in Vergil's eyes.
'Fudge ain't paying me enough for this.' He muttered, instead putting Dumbledore and McGonagall's wands on the scales, as was protocol 'sides, nobody ever checked that Axe Macnair was always lugging around…'
So saying, he wrote up the wands details, before returning them to their respective owners, offering them a polite nod before going back to his newspaper pointedly ignoring the cold eyes of Vergil as the man strode past, though he felt a chill race down his spine in the process.
Wands reclaimed, Shacklebolt led them into the smaller hall beyond, where at least twenty lifts stood behind wrought golden grilles, the Auror pushing his way to the front of the shortest cue, commandeering the lift on 'Ministry Business', the group sidling in without a word, the grilles slamming shut as Kingsely hit the button, sending them Onwards and upwards, the only sound the rattling of the lift chains, before the same cool female voice from the telephone box rang out again.
"Level Two, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, including the Improper Use of Magic Office, Auror Headquarters and Wizengamot Administration Services."
"This is it." Shacklebolt revealed, more for Vergil's benefit than anyone else, the group following the man out into a corridor lined with doors "Madam Bones' office is this way."
"Lead on, Kingsley." Dumbledore insisted, eyes-a-twinkle as they moved through the halls briskly, Vergil eyeing the doorways warily, still on the lookout for a sneak attack. He kept this up right up until they'd arrived at an ornate door with the name 'Amelia Bones, Head of Magical Law Enforcement.' Engraved on a plaque.
"Come in." a female voice called out, the door opening, allowing Vergil to get his first glance of the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, who turned out to be a middle-aged, square-jawed witch with a monocle and a serious expression "Ah Dumbledore…I've been expecting you…" she turned to the others "I see you didn't waste time…if anything you're EARLY."
"I believe that the sooner we get this formality out of the way, the less Cornelius will need to worry himself over." Dumbledore twinkled, earning a wry, grudging smirk from Vergil "After all, he's so busy lately."
"Busy making my life hell." Madam Bones muttered, scowling in annoyance "I hope you understand that by delaying my presence at the Wizengamot means I'll have less chance to refute some of those ridiculous edicts he's been throwing around?"
"Then let us not keep you." Dumbledore insisted, his features turning serious "Have you everything you require?"
Madam Bones quirked a brow, as if to ask the headmaster 'who do you take me for?' before getting to her feet, pulling out a quill which hovered over a roll of parchment without her having to hold it, before pulling out a large, silver bowl filled with water. "Start record." She ordered, pointing her wand at the quill, which began to move as she spoke "Witness Testimony of the Incident involving Chief Ministry Undersecretary Delores Umbridge, overseen by Amelia Susan Bones, Head of The Department of Magical Law Enforcement."
'It's like one of those recording sessions they do during crime shows.' Vergil noted, impressed at how far wizards were read to go without using technology, even as Madam Bones turned her attention to them, asking them to recount their tales 'Something tells me that by the end of today, Fudge isn't going to be very happy.'
Indeed he isn't.
Sorry if it comes off as short, but I figured Fudge's beatdown deserved a chapter in and of itself.