Chapter 3: Fallout
There was much talk during the next few days following Harry's interview, with most of the students just speaking in whispers. Most seemed to be afraid of getting on Umbridges bad side. But a few did ask him about it directly.
Mostly is was "Did you really…." and "Is your Godfather really Sirius…."
The big surprise didn't come however till the end of the week when he received a note during breakfast from Professor Dumbledore.
Please come to my office as soon as possible. I have some news that you should hear firsthand.
P.S. I like cockroach clusters.
Harry finished his eggs and then turned to Hermione. "What do we have first period Hermione?" "Charms." She replied without looking at her schedule.
"Good. Could you tell Professor Flitwick I may be late. Dumbledore asked me to come to his office first thing, and I don't know how long I'll be." She nodded. "And that if I am late I'll get a note from the Headmaster."
"Of course Harry. Did Professor Dumbledore say what he wanted to see you about?" Harry shook his head, "No, he just said he had some information that I should hear firsthand."
"Well you better get going then. The sooner you get there, the sooner you'll be back, and the less class time you'll miss. Don't forget we've got our O.W.L.'s this year."
Harry smiled. "With you to remind me, how could I ever forget?"
Harry got up from the table and started off to Dumbledore's office. Halfway there he passed Umbridges office and just managed to duck behind a suite of armor without her seeing him. He noticed she looked extremely upset about something.
When he got to the Headmasters office, he said "Cockroach Cluster" to the gargoyle guarding the door and it immediately leaped aside and allowed him to enter. He stepped onto the revolving staircase and soon found himself at Dumbledore's door. He knocked quietly.
"Enter." Came the reply from within.
Harry opened the door and with into the office. Dumbledore was standing next to his desk stroking Fawks head. Fawks let out a trill when he saw Harry.
"Ah, Harry. Thank you for coming. Have a seat my boy."
"Thank you Sir." and sat down in front of his desk.
"I suppose you're wondering why I asked to see you this morning?"
"Yes Sir I was. You said you had something to tell me?"
"Yes indeed. It has to do with the interview you gave last week."
Harry gulped. "Oh that….so….how much trouble am I in for it?"
"Oh no Harry. You misunderstood. You are not in any trouble. Cornelius on the other hand, is in a great deal of trouble. You're interview, and fact that you gave it under a wizarding vow has stirred up more trouble than you could possibly imagine. Cornelius can no longer say you're lying or that you are mentally unstable. Worse, for him anyway, is that everyone in the Wizarding world now knows it. There was a vote of non confidence called last night in the Wizengamot, and the minister has been sacked. Amelia Bones was then appointed temporary Minister of Magic until elections can be held in about a months time."
Harry looked at Dumbledore, shocked. "Sacked?"
"And it gets worse. Amelia's first action as Minister was to order an investigation into Cornelius's actions for the past year. She wants him investigated for dereliction of duty, corruption, bribery, gross incompetence, and whether or not he knew Voldemort was indeed back, or if he just didn't want to believe it, and for his sake I hope that's the case."
"Why Sir? Harry asked. "Doesn't he deserve everything he gets after all he tried to do to the both of us this summer. After Umbridge?"
"Harry, Cornelius is not a bad person. Not truly. Yes he made mistakes, and yes he cares more about the idea of being Minister of Magic than actually doing the job, and to that end he did everything in his power to silence what he saw as a threat to his position. But he doesn't deserve to die."
"What do you mean die? Surely the worst he'll get is Azkaban?"
"Only if the investigation finds that he didn't actually know Voldemort was back. Otherwise he'll likely find himself facing charges of high treason, and that is one of the few crimes, when committed by the Minister of Magic or the highest Ministry officials, that still carries the death penalty in our world."
"I didn't know that. I thought the worst they could do was chuck you in Azkaban for life."
"The penalty only applies to three people. The Minister of Magic. The head of Magical Law Enforcement, and the Chief Wizard of the Wizengamot."
"So that means you could also be subject to death if….if.."
"Yes. Were I convicted of high treason, it would cost me my life."
Harry looked shocked, and started to say something. But Dumbledore cut him off.
"You must remember Harry, that these laws were made when the Ministry was founded. They were put in place to help ensure that the people whose job it was to serve and protect the people did so. To that end, it was made so the law could never be changed."
"What does the law prescribe Sir, the veil?"
"Alas no. If Cornelius is charged and convicted of high treason, he will be taken and publicly be-headed, then have his head put on a spear in Diagon Alley as a reminder, and as a warning to all Ministers that come after. It is something that hasn't happened in over 400 hundred years."
Harry gulped. "So what happens now? At Hogwarts I mean?"
"Well Amelia has dissolved the position of High Inquisitor, and rescinded all of Delores decrees. She has also recalled her to the Ministry as she will be part of the investigation into Cornelius's activities."
Harry smiled. "Guess that's why she looked so upset when I saw her coming out of her office on my way here."
"Of course that does leave me with a major problem."
"Finding a new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. "
"Maybe Professor Lupin could be brought back? Or maybe an Auror like Tonks could be spared?"
"Rest assured my boy I will find someone suitable."
"Just as long as it isn't Snape."
"Professor Snape Harry, and no I wont do that to you. At least not this year."
Dumbledore said ominously.
"This year? What about next…"
"Oh look at the time," Dumbledore said his eyes twinkling. "You had best be off to class. I wouldn't want to worry Miss Granger that you won't be able to learn enough to pass your O.W.L.'s this year would I?"
Harry chuckled. "No Sir. She would be quite upset with you and me. Thank you for letting me know what was happening."
"Not at all Harry. You had every right to know what was happening. Also, don't worry yourself about Cornelius's fate. You did what you had to do, and sadly, you were the only one who could."
"That's the story of my life." Harry said sadly. "Have a good day Sir." And left Dumbledore's office.
The next few months went by in a blur for Harry. Fudge's fall from grace, all of which was reported in detail in the Prophet, Voldemort's return, as well as the shocking news that Sirius Black never got a trial, all came to a head one morning with the arrival of the Daily Prompted.
FUDGE AND UMBRIDGE CONVICTED.
By Rita Skeeter
Former Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge was convicted yesterday of corruption, bribery, and dereliction of duty. He was sentenced to life in Azkaban.
In a separate case, former Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, and former High Inquisitor of Hogwarts, Delores Umbridge was convicted of two counts of attempted murder of an underage wizard and an underage muggle.
She was sentenced to 60 years in Azkaban.
Umbridge admitted under Veritaserum that she had ordered two dementors to attack and kiss Harry Potter because he was spreading lies and becoming a problem for Minister Fudge. She also confirmed that Fudge didn't know beforehand that she did it.
As she was being dragged from the courtroom, she could be heard screaming that she did it "for the greater good."
The story though that Harry was waiting for, came a week, later:
SIRIUS BLACK CLEARED OF ALL CHARGES.
By Rodney Callbright
Accused mass murderer Sirius Black was cleared today of all charges stemming from the murders of thirteen people in muggle London and of betraying James and Lilly Potter to he who must not be named in October of 1981.
Black, was believed to have been the Potters secret keeper for the Fidelius charm they had used to protect their home. This turned out not to be he case.
The true secret keeper, was in fact, Peter Pettigrew. Former friend, and unknown to Black and both Potters, a Death Eater.
Mr. Black said in testimony that after he arrived at the Potter house and found them dead, he know that Pettigrew had betrayed them, and so went after him. He cornered Pettigrew in muggle London, but before he could curse him, Pettigrew blew up the street behind him, hitting a gas pipe and killing twelve innocent muggles. He then escaped in his animagus form of a rat. He whereabouts remain unknown.
Mr. Black was given compensation of 100,000 Galleons and an official apology from the Ministry.
When asked what he planed to do when he left. Mr. Black said, "I'm going to keep my promise to James and Lilly and look after my Godson. He's the most important thing."
Harry put down the paper smiling. He would finally get to be with Sirius. He wouldn't have to go back to the Dursley's ever again.
Sure there was still the specter of Voldemort lurking over the horizon, and in time he would deal with him, but for now. For right now. Life was good.
And to think, all it took was one little interview.