A few hours later, Cornelius Fudge sighed heavily as he sat behind his desk in his Minister's office. More and more reports of You-Know-Who sightings kept flooding in and appearing on his desk. The reports stood towering over him. He couldn't believe it. Could it be that all these people were around the bend claiming that they saw You-Know-Who? Or was Dumbledore right and You-Know-Who was back? A shiver quickly ran down the length of his spine. He hoped it was the former rather than the latter. If it was the latter, then there went his political career.
"Forgive me for bothering us, sir, but Auror Shacklebolt is requesting a meeting with you," a familiar voice spoke behind the stacks of reports.
"Ah, yes, thank you, Mr. Weasley. Show him in," Fudge replied. He sighed and rose walking around the towers of papers so he could actually see Shacklebolt when the dark-skinned Auror arrived.
"Forgive me for bothering you, Minister. However, I had thought you'd like to be informed that I have placed Undersecretary Umbridge into custody."
"You did what?" Fudge screeched. He had to have heard the Auror wrong. There was no way that…that he heard Umbridge was under arrest. The dark-skinned wizard on stood there ramrod, which made Fudge sigh. So, he did hear that right then. "I see, and what are her charges?"
"Ordering and administering Veritaserum on children without proper consent or notification to their parents, using blood quills on students during detentions, and abusing the power of office, Minister," Shacklebolt answered calmly with his hands behind his back. "She has already admitted her guilt on all three charges. She also informed me that she was the one to give the order for the Dementors to patrol in Little Whinging."
Fudge grimaced slightly. This was definitely not boding well for him. Why did he choose Umbridge of all people to go to Hogwarts? The guilty feeling gnawing at his inside then started to make its presence known again, and he clearly remembered why. But it seemed that Auror Shacklebolt wasn't going to let it go without it said, though.
"Undersecretary Umbridge also admitted to a personal indiscretion between you and her."
"Yes, well, I assure you that it is—"
"Perfectly true, sir," Shacklebolt responded without any malice. "Her experience at Hogwarts has taught her that honesty is truly the only way. However, I care not what you do behind closed doors, Minister. I am only here to relay the charges and a message from her."
Cornelius Fudge drew himself up to full height. What could that horrid woman want to tell him now? She had practically ruined him if any of this got to the press. He then smiled inwardly. Well, he just would have to make sure that didn't happen. He could do it. He was after all the most brilliant politician the Wizarding World had seen. Just look at how the public took to his claims that Dumbledore was an old coot and that Harry Potter was a lie.
"Undersecretary Umbridge would like me to relay to you that you are wrong."
"I'm wrong?" Fudge repeated with a slight tremble. That little message could mean anything. After all, he knew it was odd to be messing around with her since he was a married man. However, he guessed that wasn't what she was talking about here. He watched the Auror who stood at attention, waiting for Fudge to dismiss him from the room. "How many people know about this? About Umbridge's confessions?" he asked.
"Auror Tonks and me, sir," Shacklebolt answered stoically.
Fudge turned his back to the well-trained Auror. So only two people knew about this, well, that'd bode well for Fudge. He closed his eyes. He really didn't want to do this, but he wasn't going to commit political suicide by allowing Shacklebolt to leave his office. Thankfully, there were wards all around the room so no one would know what had happened. Drawing his wand, he drew in a slow even breath. It was for the Wizarding World he told himself. They needed him. Whirling around, he opened his mouth to murmur his spell, only to have a stunner hit him instead. He slammed hard onto the ground and stared up at the ceiling until Auror Shacklebolt walked into his view.
"Sadly, I had thought you'd try this," Shacklebolt coolly spoke staring down at him. "I cannot allow you to do that. The truth must come out because people, good people, are dying every day that you continue to spin the news your way. He is back, and the public will finally know the truth by evening."
The next morning, Harry sighed heavily as he sat at the Gryffindor table. He could feel Ron and Hermione's eyes on him, which no doubt meant they were still trying to figure out what happened yesterday. Truthfully, Harry didn't know what happened. Of course, he remembered S—Professor Snape rushing out of the Great Hall more ticked off than a little kid who can't get candy. However, he didn't know what had happened afterwards.
Harry's mind still reeled over the fact that he called the older wizard his friend. Since when was S—Professor Snape his friend? Harry then sighed. He was trying harder to show the man respect now, but his calling the man by his last name had become a habit, unfortunately. Harry was determined to break that habit. Something about last night unsettled him. He wasn't quite sure what it was. Perhaps it was because he saw the professor behind his mask for a few moments. Then again, it could be because he interpreted the man's facial expressions last night towards him as one of caring. Harry wasn't about to admit that to the older wizard, though. S—Professor Snape probably wouldn't be too thrilled with him over that, which was for good reason.
"So, Harry," Ron softly started to say.
"Don't even ask me, Ron. I'm not going to tell you anyway."
"But something did happen, though," he replied before throwing a quick look towards the stoic dark robed professor at the High Table. "Did it have something to do with Umbridge being in the Hospital Wing? Fred said that they're keeping her under lock and key in there with Aurors."
"Yeah, it somewhat had to do with her." Harry then glanced towards his plate. "I'm not going to tell you, so don't even try it, Ron."
Loudly, the doors clanged open as someone walked into the Great Hall. Harry didn't even so much as glance at the person. He truly didn't care. He sighed heavily and started to eat his breakfast. His oatmeal was a bit dry, but it was still edible. He heard some intense whispers around him. He then sighed when Ron hit him with his elbow and motioned with his head towards the High Table. Twisting himself around, Harry glanced up there to see what was going on. His eyes widened at the sight. A familiar witch in dark robes with brown hair was walking with her head up high towards the professors. He had seen the witch before. She was at his trial, and she had stuck up for him. Harry quickly looked at Hermione. What in the world was going on now? If this was the Ministry's latest attempt to destabilize Hogwarts even more, they were going to be in for a rude awakening when the students revolted.
Harry watched the woman say something very hushed towards Dumbledore. It made him feel a bit better to see that the Headmaster wasn't upset about whatever she was saying. He then noticed that Professor Sinistra looked like she was having a panic attack. No doubt, she probably thought they were after her. No one had told Snape or Harry otherwise yet. When Dumbledore rose a few seconds later before he accompanied the woman back out of the Great Hall, Harry's heart leapt up into his throat.
Glancing towards Snape, Harry noticed the usually cold man lightly touch Professor Sinistra's hand for a split second before rushing off after the headmaster. To everyone else, it'd look like he merely brushed her hand by accident, but Harry understood that touch was intentional. He wasn't sure quite yet of Snape's meaning with the touch, but he guessed it probably was just to comfort her. Harry's heart thumped loudly in his ears. He could barely hear anything else in the Great Hall. Closing his eyes, he decided. If those idiots from the Ministry were going to take Sinistra away, then he was going to make damn sure that they learned all about Umbridge and her ruling her at Hogwarts. No more would an innocent suffer because of Harry.
Standing up from the Gryffindor table with his mind made up, Harry darted off towards the doors. He didn't give a rat's arse if the Ministry thought he was a liar. He had evidence. Well, evidence that he was probably suicidal since he knew Professor Snape rushed after the Ministry official too, which meant the man would see the new scars to the back of Harry's hand. It'd be worth it, though. At least that was what Harry hoped.
If he didn't already know that it was impossible to apparate in Hogwarts, Harry would swear Snape did. The man wasn't anywhere in the Entrance hall. Harry, however, didn't let this stop him. After all, they'd probably head to Dumbledore's office, which was where Harry went. He barely even noticed that he had given the right password on the first time because he focused so intently on getting there before the Ministry decided. He rushed up the white marble phoenix steps and burst into Dumbledore's office. Not even giving them a chance to speak, Harry spoke first.
"Don't listen to a word Umbitch says! She's a liar, and she used a blood quill on me. I have proof." Harry quickly pushed up his sleeve and showed it to the trio in front of Dumbledore's desk the back of his hand. He made sure to avoid Professor Snape's eyes.
"Forgive me, my boy, but Professor Umbridge is not claiming any differently." Dumbledore then held up a hand when Harry went to speak. "She has freely admitted this to the Aurors, Harry, and is willing to accept her fate." His twinkling blue eyes then glanced over the rim of his glasses. "Professor Sinistra has been absolved of all threats. You need not worry about her."
"Then why are you all up here?" Harry's stomach then clenched when no one answered right away. "Oh, no, please tell me…"
"Cornelius Fudge has stepped down as Minister," the Ministry witch spoke evenly. "I am here to ask Professor Dumbledore if he'd replace him."
"And I'm denying her request, respectfully, of course," Dumbledore replied with a soft smile. "Forgive me, Amelia, but I am rather enjoying my tenure as Headmaster of this fine school. Over the years, I have learned that students and professors have a way of surprising you every now and then." His eyes darted towards Harry and Snape briefly. "You could take it of course. You are a sensible young woman," he said flashing a smile towards her.
"I too like where I am, Headmaster." She then sighed. "Would you have any people that you think the Ministry should consider, Headmaster Dumbledore?"
"Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt," he answered. "Now, I'm sure you have much to oversee, Amelia, as I do myself." Once more, his twinkling blue eyes rested momentarily on Snape and Harry. "I shall inform the staff at once that the Ministry has rescinded their health decrees, but I do believe we should keep some of the healthy foods." The witch only nodded before quickly walking out of the office. "Now, my boys, there was something you wished for?"
"No, sir," Snape and Harry replied.
"Then by all means, consider this crisis adverted." Dumbledore then waved his hand effortlessly towards the familar and now empty bowl that usually held his sweets. Exactly two seconds later, the bowl filled with the little yellow candies. "Lemon drop, my boys?" Both Harry and Snape groaned before walking away.