A/N: This story started because of all of the things I was explaining about in my Adventures Made Known story. I came up with the idea of what if someone or something interfered before Fudge could appoint Umbridge as Headmistress of Hogwarts. They could make all sorts of changes that could be beneficial to the Light side and the ministry would be unable to do anything about it. I decided to see how Harry would do as a headmaster while still in fifth year. It would be somewhat like running the D.A. but on a much larger scale.
He would need help of course and more than just what Hermione and Ron could provide hence he creates two councils: one of students to give a first-hand point of view as to how the school is run and two, a group of adults that would help to make decisions regarding the impact on the rest of the wizarding world in general.
Please let me know what you think and leave me a review!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and all others associated with him.
Chapter 1 – Activating
Harry was in shock. He couldn't believe what had just happened. He decided to ignore the rumbling going on around him as he tried to process everything that he had already been through that morning.
Professor Umbridge had found out about the D.A. through Marietta Edgecombe, whose mother worked at the ministry in the Floo Regulations office. Apparently, Umbridge had either threatened her mom's job or Marietta believed in the ministry a little too much for Harry's comfort. Whatever the case, she had confessed that there had been a meeting of several students the night before- a group called Dumbledore's Army, or the D.A. for short. Hermione had sent a message through the coins at breakfast, scheduling a meeting for that very night, and Marietta had informed Umbridge right after breakfast the next morning.
They had seen her follow the Toad out of the Great Hall, but had hoped it was merely coincidence. They knew she was unhappy with going against the Ministry, but surely she wouldn't betray them? Things had been tense for the rest of the meal, but they wouldn't find out that they'd been turned in until half way through Transfiguration. It was Harry's first class of the day and Umbridge had gleefully burst into the classroom and demanded that Harry accompany her to the Headmaster's office.
When Harry, Umbridge and McGonagall, who had ended her class early and insisted on accompanying him as his Head of House, had gotten to the office, they had found it already full of people. Dumbledore had been sitting behind his desk with the usual twinkle in his eyes as Professor McGonagall had gone to stand stiffly beside him, lips pulled tight and her face extremely tense.
Harry had noticed Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic, standing there with a smug look on his face, seemingly pleased with himself. Percy Weasley had hovered next to him looking excited as he held a quill and roll of parchment, ready to record everything that was said.
As Harry had stepped further into Dumbledore's office, he had noticed two additional figures stationed at each side of the entrance. He had recognized Kingsley Shacklebolt, a tall black auror whom he had met the previous summer, but had never seen the other man. Of average height but tough-looking, the wiry-haired man had a look on his face that said he was trying to contain his glee but was unable to.
Cornelius Fudge had turned to look at him, face lit with immense glee when he had noticed who was standing there.
"Well," he said. "Well, well, well…"
Although Harry had felt his heart pumping harder than normal, the clear-headedness that was usually only achieved during battle had descended on him.
"Well, Potter… I expect you know why you are here?"Fudge had questioned with triumph in his voice as though Harry's answer didn't matter in the slightest.
"No, I don't sir." Harry had said with as much innocence as he could muster in his voice.
"I beg your pardon?" Fudge had looked confused, as though Harry had misread his line in the play they were currently performing.
"No sir, I do not know why I am here." said Harry as he had tried to maintain a confused look on his face.
"You don't know why you are here?" Fudge had repeated.
"No, I don't." said Harry who had finally started to lose his patience. He had seen Dumbledore smiling at him out of the corner of his eye.
Fudge had looked incredulously from Harry to Professor Umbridge.
"So you have no idea," Fudge had said, in a voice that had been filled with sarcasm, "why Professor Umbridge has brought you to this office? You are not aware that you have broken any school rules?"
"School rules," Harry had said. "No."
"Or Ministry Decrees?" Fudge had amended angrily.
"Not that I'm aware of." Harry had said as blandly as he could.
Although his heart had still been beating hard enough that Harry thought it would be seen through his robes, it had almost worth lying to watch Fudge's blood pressure rising and his face change colors. The problem was that he could not see how he was going to get away with these lies. If Marietta had really tipped off Umbridge about the D.A. then Harry, as the leader, was as good as expelled.
"So, its news to you is it," Fudge had said, his voice thick with anger, "that an illegal student organization has been discovered within this school?"
"Someone is running an illegal organization in the school," Harry had said in pretend shock. "I hope you catch whoever is doing that Minister! Ministry Decree number twenty-four clearly states that students have to get any type of organization approved by Professor Umbridge first."
Harry had watched as Fudge had sat there with a red face, opening and closing his mouth. He couldn't believe he had the nerve to say that! Harry had noticed McGonagall's lips twitch as though trying to hold back a snicker.
"I think, Minister," Umbridge had interrupted from beside him with a sickly smile on her face, "we might be able to move things along if I fetch our informant."
"Excellent Delores," Fudge had said, nodding, as he shot Dumbledore a nasty smile. "Glad I thought of it. Go ahead and get the girl and bring her in here."
Harry had tried to contain his nervousness as he watched Umbridge leave the room. There was no way that his lies were going to stand up if Marietta had told what she knew.
"There's nothing like a good witness, is there, Dumbledore?" Fudge had said as he looked around the office triumphantly.
"Nothing at all, Cornelius," Dumbledore had commented serenely, as he had nodded his head.
After several minutes of waiting, Harry had heard the door open behind him. He had turned to look and had felt his heart sink as he had seen Umbridge forcefully tugging Cho's curly-haired friend Marietta, as she tried to hide her face in her hands, into the room.
Umbridge had spent a few minutes trying to get Marietta to look up from her hands before she had given up and turned back to the Minister.
"Marietta's mother, Minister," she had said, "is Madam Edgecombe from the Department of Magical Transportation, Floo Network office - she's been helping us police the Hogwarts fires, you know."
"Well jolly good!" Fudge had said heartily. "I'll have to send her a letter of thanks! Well, come on, now, dear, look up, don't be shy, and let's hear what you've got to - galloping gargoyles!"
As Marietta had raised her head, Fudge had leapt backwards in shock, and nearly tripped over the chair behind him.
He had stuttered as he had tried to right himself after nearly falling on his arse. Marietta had sobbed loudly as she had tried to cover her face again but not before everyone had seen the word SNEAK written in ugly purple blisters on her face.
Once again, Umbridge had tried to convince Marietta to tell Fudge what she had previously told her about the D.A.
"Oh, very well, you silly girl, I'll tell him," Umbridge had snapped. She had hitched her sickly smile back on to her face and said, "Well, Minister, Miss Edgecombe here came to my office shortly after breakfast this morning and told me she had something she wanted to tell me. She said that the news had just gone out that a meeting of an illegal organization was scheduled to meet this evening in a secret room on the seventh floor, sometimes known as the Room of Requirement. I tried to question her a little further but at that point this nasty little hex," she had waved impatiently at Marietta's concealed face, "came into operation and upon catching sight of her reflection the girl became too distressed to tell me anymore."
"Did she provide any more details Delores?" Fudge had asked as he had almost drooled at the information being provided.
"Unfortunately she didn't have time to Minister." Umbridge had said with a frown. "The hex erupted before she could tell me anymore than that. But I do have some additional evidence."
Fudge had looked disappointed but had nodded at her to continue.
"Minister, I am sure you remember that report I sent to about Potter meeting a number of fellow students in the Hog's Head in Hogsmeade-"
"And you can prove that this meeting took place Delores?" Professor McGonagall had cut in.
"Willy Widdershins, Minerva, happened to be in the bar at the time and told me what took place." Umbridge had said smugly.
"Oh, so that's why he wasn't prosecuted for setting up all those regurgitating toilets!" Professor McGonagall had said while she raised her eyebrows. "What an interesting insight into our justice system!"
Harry had noticed Fudge flushing but Umbridge had never even blinked.
"Potter's entire meeting with these students," Professor Umbridge had continued as if McGonagall had never said anything, "was to persuade them to join an illegal society, whose aim was to learn spells and curses the Ministry has deemed too dangerous for school-age -"
"I must protest, Dolores," Dumbledore had stated quietly, as the twinkle in his eyes finally seemed to have gone out.
Harry had stared at him. He could not see how Dumbledore was going to talk him out of this one; if Willy Widdershins had indeed heard every word he had said in the Hog's Head there was simply no escaping it.
"Oho!" Fudge had said, bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet again. "So Willy Widdershins was lying, was he? Was it a polyjuiced death eater in the Hog's Head that day? Or is there the usual simple explanation involving a reversal of time, a dead man coming back to life and a couple of invisible Dementors?"
Percy Weasley had let out a hearty laugh. "Oh, very good, Minister, very good!"
Harry had glared at him and wanted nothing more than to hex the prat. But before he could pull his wand Harry had heard Dumbledore say in a calm voice "Cornelius, Harry does not deny that he was in the Hog's Head that day, nor that he was trying to convince the students there to form a study group for you must remember, Ministry Decree twenty-four was not put into effect until two days after Harry's Hogsmeade meeting, so he was not breaking any rules at all that."
Percy and Fudge had stood there with their mouths hanging open.
"That's fine, Headmaster," Umbridge had said after she had recovered, "but it's been almost six months since Educational Decree Number Twenty-four was introduced and if the first meeting was not illegal, all those that have happened since most certainly are."
"They certainly would be," Dumbledore had said politely. "If they had continued after the Decree came into effect but I have yet to see any evidence that any such meetings took place."
As Dumbledore had finished speaking, Harry had heard Kingsley shifting slightly and the whisper of a spell being cast. He looked around but could not figure out what Kingsley had done.
"Evidence?" Umbridge had repeated, with that horrible wide toad-like smile. "Of course I have evidence! Why do you think Miss Edgecombe is here?"
"That's funny Delores," McGonagall had said with a frown. "I don't remember Miss Edgecombe mentioning six months' worth of meetings only that there had supposedly been one scheduled for tonight."
Umbridge had sent a nasty smile towards the professors before she turned towards Marietta. "Miss Edgecombe, I am going to ask some simple yes or no questions and you can nod or shake your head. Have these meetings been happening regularly over the last six months?"
To Harry's utter amazement, Marietta had shaken her head no.
"I think you may have not heard the question correctly," Umbridge had simpered in a sweet tone. "I'm asking whether you've been going to these meetings for the past six months."
Again, Marietta had shaken her head no.
"But there was a meeting tonight!" Umbridge had shouted furiously. "There was a meeting, Miss Edgecombe, you told me about it, in the Room of Requirement! And Potter was the leader, was he not? Potter organized it! Why are you shaking your head no, girl?"
Umbridge had grabbed Marietta and had begun shaking her but before anyone could open their mouths to protest, she had stopped as if realizing that it was futile.
Marietta had continued standing exactly where Umbridge had released her, still clutching her robe up to her oddly blank eyes and staring straight ahead of her.
A sudden suspicion, connected to Kingsley's whisper and the spell he had felt shoot past him, had sprung into Harry's mind. Had Kingsley modified Marietta's memories? Could he do that so quickly without anyone realizing what he done?
"Dolores," Fudge had said, with the air of trying to settle something once and for all, "the meeting tonight -"
"Yes," Umbridge had stated, pulling herself together, "yes… well, Miss Edgecombe tipped me off and I proceeded at once to the seventh floor, to look for anything they might have left in preparation for tonight's meeting. I have all their names here. We needed evidence and the room provided."
And to Harry's horror, she had withdrawn from her pocket the list of names that had been pinned upon the Room of Requirement's wall and had handed it to Fudge. "The moment I saw Potter's name on the list, I knew what we were dealing with," she had said softly.
Harry had quickly gathered his wits and protested.
"So Madame Umbridge," Harry had said with a small sneer on his face. "You are submitting evidence of this so-called meeting that came from a place called the Room of Requirement? A place where it provides anything you require as long as you ask for it? So I could go up to this room and ask for evidence that proves that Minister Fudge is really a goblin under glamours and it would provide it? It seems to me that your 'evidence' is pretty flimsy. You even said it yourself, 'you needed evidence and the room 'provided.'"
Umbridge had turned a mixture of ugly colors and had then settled into an angry red flush along with a paleness equaled to the color of old snow.
"Excellent," Fudge had crowed, as he seemed to have completely ignored what Harry had just said. "Merlin's Beard! See what they've named themselves? Dumbledore's Army."
Dumbledore had reached out and taken the piece of parchment from Fudge and gazed at the heading scribbled by Hermione months before. Then he had looked up smiling, the twinkle in his eyes in full force.
"Well," he had said simply. "It seems I have been caught, Cornelius. Would you like me to write out a statement about what I have done?"
Harry had been extremely confused and had noticed McGonagall and Kingsley looking at each other with fear in both of their faces. He had not understood what was going on, and nor, apparently, had Fudge.
"Statement?" said Fudge slowly. "What - I don't-?"
"Well it seems to me that the name says it all, Cornelius," Dumbledore, still smiling had said as he had waved the list of names before Fudge's face. "Not Potter's Army. Dumbledore's Army."
"But - but -" Fudge had stuttered in confusion.
Harry had watched as understanding blazed suddenly in Fudge's face. He had taken a horrified step backwards, yelped, and tripped over his chair.
"You?" he had whispered, struggling to right himself.
"That's right," Dumbledore had said pleasantly.
"You organized this… this army?" Fudge had said as the beginnings of anger had crossed his face.
"I did," said Dumbledore.
"Tonight was supposed to be the first meeting," Dumbledore had said as he nodded. "Merely to see whether they would be interested in joining me. I see now that it was a mistake to invite Miss Edgecombe, of course."
Marietta had nodded with her eyes still glazed over. Fudge had looked from her to Dumbledore, as his chest swelled.
"Then you have been plotting against me!" he had yelled.
"That's right," Dumbledore had said cheerfully.
"NO!" Harry had shouted as he ignored the looks of warning that he received from both Kingsley and McGonagall, but it had suddenly dawned on Harry what Dumbledore was about to do, and he could not let it happen. "No — Professor Dumbledore!"
"Be quiet, Harry, or I am afraid you will have to leave my office," Dumbledore had stated calmly.
"Yes, shut up, Potter!" Fudge had barked, as he ogled Dumbledore with a kind of horrified delight. "Well, well, well - I came here tonight expecting to expel Potter and instead -"
"Instead you get to arrest me," Dumbledore had said, smiling. "It's like losing a Knut and finding a Galleon, isn't it?"
"Weasley!" Fudge had cried, positively quivering with delight, "Weasley, have you written it all down, everything he's said, his confession, have you got it?"
"Yes, sir, I think so, sir!" Percy had called eagerly; he hadn't looked up from his note-taking since the beginning.
"Very well, then," Fudge had crowed, now radiant with glee, "Duplicate your notes, Weasley, so we can send a copy to the Daily Prophet at once. If we send a fast owl we should make the morning edition!"
Fudge had then turned back to Dumbledore. "You will now be escorted back to the Ministry, where you will be formally charged, then sent to Azkaban to await trial!"
"Ah," Dumbledore had said gently, "yes. Yes, I thought you might be thinking that."
"What?" Fudge had said, his voice still vibrating with joy. "Thinking what, Dumbledore?"
"Well - it's just that you seem to be laboring under the delusion that I am going to - what is the phrase? - come quietly. I am afraid I am not going to come quietly at all, Cornelius. I have absolutely no intention of being sent to Azkaban. I could break out, of course - but what a waste of time, and frankly, I can think of a whole host of things I would rather be doing." Dumbledore had stated this in such a calm manner that it took everybody in the office a few seconds to process what he had actually said.
Umbridge's face had been growing steadily redder while Fudge had stared at Dumbledore with a very silly expression on his face, as though he had just been stunned by a sudden blow and could not quite believe it had happened. He had made a small choking noise, and then had looked at Kingsley and the man with short grey hair, who, of everyone in the room had remained entirely silent so far. The latter had given Fudge a reassuring nod and moved forwards a little, away from the wall. Harry had seen his hand drift, almost casually, towards his pocket.
"Don't be silly, Dawlish," Dumbledore had said kindly. "I'm sure you are an excellent Auror - I seem to remember that you achieved 'Outstanding' in all your NEWT s — but if you attempt to — er — bring me in by force, I will have to stop you."
The man called Dawlish had blinked rather foolishly. He had then looked towards Fudge again, but this time seemed to be hoping for a clue as to what to do next.
"So," sneered Fudge, "you think you can take on everybody in this room, do you?"
"Merlin's beard, no," said Dumbledore, smiling, "not unless you are foolish enough to force me to."
"I've had enough!" said Fudge, pulling out his own wand. "Aurors! Take him!"
A streak of silver light flashed around the room; there was a bang like a gunshot and the floor trembled; a hand grabbed the scruff of Harry's neck and forced him down on the floor as a second silver flash went off; several of the portraits yelled, Fawkes screeched and a cloud of dust filled the air. Coughing in the dust, Harry saw a dark figure fall to the ground with a crash in front of him; there was a shriek and a thud and somebody cried, "No!" then there was the sound of breaking glass, frantically scuffling footsteps, a groan… and silence.
Harry tried to discover just who had tackled him but was unable to turn around. Finally, after a few minutes he was released and he scrambled to his feet. He saw Professor McGonagall still crouched down on the floor; she had forced both him and Marietta out of harm's way. Panting slightly, Harry saw a very tall figure moving towards them through the dust that was still lingering in the air.
"Are you all right?" Dumbledore asked.
"Yes!" said Professor McGonagall, getting up and dragging Marietta with her.
As the dust cleared the wreckage of the office became noticeable. All of the furniture had been overturned, there were books and little silver instruments scattered all over the floor. Everybody from the ministry was still unconscious on the floor. Fawkes the phoenix soared in wide circles above them, singing softly.
"Unfortunately, I had to hex everybody or it would have looked very suspicious," said Dumbledore in a low voice. "Thankfully, Kingsley was quick to figure out what I was trying to communicate. He modified Miss Edgecombe's memory while everyone was looking the other way - thank him, for me, won't you, Minerva?
"Now, they will all awake very soon and I must be gone by then. You two must act as though they were merely knocked to the ground, they will not remember -"
"Where will you go, Dumbledore?" whispered Professor McGonagall. "Grimmauld Place?"
"Oh no," said Dumbledore, with a grim smile, "I am not leaving to go into hiding. I have quite a few plans to put into motion."
"Professor Dumbledore…" Harry began.
He did not know what to say. How sorry that Dumbledore was leaving to save him from expulsion or that he had been caught in the first place and caused all this trouble. But Dumbledore cut him off before he could say another word.
"Listen to me, Harry," he said urgently. "You must do what you can to get the school ready for what is coming. I realize that you don't understand now but you must promise me -" The man called Dawlish was stirring. Dumbledore seized Harry's wrist.
"Remember – do what you can."
Fawkes circled the office and swooped down allowing Dumbledore to grab the phoenix's long golden tail. There was a flash of fire and the pair of them were gone.
"Where is he?" yelled Fudge, pushing himself up from the floor. "Where is he?"
"I don't know!" shouted Kingsley, also leaping to his feet.
"Well, he has to be here somewhere!" cried Umbridge. "Even the Headmaster is not allowed to Apparate from school grounds"
"The stairs!" cried Dawlish. Umbridge, Shacklebolt and Dawlish all flung themselves out the door in what they thought was pursuit of the former Headmaster.
The people left in the office clamored to their feet, brushing dust from the front of their robes. There was a long and painful silence as everyone tried to gather their thoughts.
Fudge seemed to ignore Harry and the professor as he looked around at what was left of the wrecked office. A few of the portraits hissed at him; one or two even made rude hand gestures.
Harry was still trying to recover his wits over what had just taken place when Fudge decided to speak again.
He turned to Professor McGonagall and said with a sneer, "Well it seems to me that a new Head needs to be found and appointed. I have the perfect person in mind. She already holds the second highest position at Hogwarts and would make an excellent Headmistress."
However, before he could actually say Professor Umbridge's name, he was interrupted by a rumbling sound.
"What is that," Fudge called in mild panic. "What is Dumbledore doing now?"
"I seriously doubt that Professor Dumbledore is responsible for this," said Professor McGonagall with scorn in her voice. "He is too busy escaping to do this sort of thing! Also, what possible reason could he have for doing it?"
Harry, still sitting in his chair, grabbed on to the hand rests as the rumbling got a little stronger. What was going on? Was Dumbledore doing this?
Umbridge, Shacklebolt, and Dawlish all rushed back into the room.
"Minister Fudge," called Dawlish. "Dumbledore got away and we have no idea which way he went or how!"
"Never mind that now," barked Fudge. "What is causing this shaking? Has Dumbledore done something to set this off?"
"I don't think it could be Dumbledore, sir," said Shacklebolt calmly. "I believe he used his phoenix to flash out of here; it would explain why we weren't able to find him out in the corridors. I don't think he would have had enough warning to do something on this scale, and no reason to have set in up in advance."
While Kingsley had been speaking, the rumbling had been getting progressively worse. By the time he finished, everybody in Dumbledore's office had to sit down and grab on to something before they fell down. Harry was strongly reminded of his experiences with the Knight Bus.
"It seems we will just have to wait it out!" called Shacklebolt to angry glares from Fudge and Umbridge. Professor McGonagall, on the other hand, couldn't have looked more pleased. Harry was merely trying to stay in his seat.
Harry did not want to think about what was going to happen once this rumbling stopped. Were the aurors going to be able to find Professor Dumbledore? Was he still being arrested? Who was going to take Dumbledore's place? Will he ever be back? What were they going to do without Dumbledore around?
Harry groaned quietly in frustration and the beginnings of panic. He hoped that this rumbling thing would be over soon. He needed to talk to Professor McGonagall and then find Ron and Hermione to tell them what had happened. That is, if he wasn't on his way to Azkaban.
Meanwhile, down in the very bowels of the school something was waking up. In a chamber that hadn't been seen since the four founders had built it, a huge diamond rested. This diamond was glowing with white light interspersed with streaks of red, yellow, green, and blue that seemed to gradually fill the room. Somehow, the light seemed heavier than it should be. Every bit of the air that the light touched began to give off a glow of its own, and it moved from the diamond like a fog, slowly filling the room. As the light in the room grew brighter, the shaking became stronger and the rumbling became deafening. After a few minutes of this, the room was filled with the strange fog, and brighter than the noonday sun.
"What has awoken me?" called a soft, female voice from the direction of the diamond, reverberating from the walls until what should have been soft was as loud as a normal human shouting at the top of their lungs. The being's subsequent inspection of the room revealed nothing that might have awoken her from close to a thousand years of slumber.
"Well," the being murmured, "If my room is still undiscovered, then my awakening was the result of circumstance."
Some of the light in the very middle of the room seemed to coalesce back into the diamond, but most of it entered the walls, before rushing through the school in an inspection of the entire building; really, it was an inspection of its own body. Meanwhile, the voice was cataloguing both the things that had changed and the things that had stayed the same. She was pleased that she was still a school, since that was the purpose for which she had been built. She disliked the rivalry that often drifted into unprovoked and unreasonable hatred between the houses of Gryffindor and Slytherin, but knew that this was not the reason for her awakening. After all, she suddenly realized with distaste, it had been going on for a very long time. She was surprised and saddened to see that many of the classes established by her creators had disappeared, though she could not fathom why they were gone.
She consulted the portraits, spoke to the ghosts, and even asked the house elves, but none of them knew what might have awoken her. Finally, fingers of light reached the walls of the Headmaster's office, where she found a problem severe enough, in conjunction with the other issues, to warrant her present state of consciousness.
She asked the portraits what was happening and they quickly told her of the events of the last few minutes, along with the identities of those who were in the office. When she learned of the minister's plan for the currently vacant Head position, she got angry. In her anger, the shaking got stronger and the noise got louder. Luckily for Hogwarts' residence, Lady Hogwarts was a very patient castle; she quickly calmed down after the spike of anger and indignation. She knew it was time to act.
First, she addressed the Sorting Hat. She needed a way to speak with the others in the office, and found the Sorting Hat to be the most practical solution. "Alistair, prepare yourself. I am going to speak through you to the people in the Head's office; it's time for a change."
'Of course, my Lady. I would be pleased to serve. And allow me to welcome you back.' thought Alistair the Sorting Hat.
Meanwhile, in the Head's office, Harry and the others were trying to recover from the sudden cessation of rumbling and figure out what had just happened. However, before anybody could open there mouth, the Sorting Hat started to speak. His voice was overlaid with a female voice that somehow sounded rough, something quite unusual in the voice of a woman. What was even stranger than the Sorting Hat suddenly sounding like a woman, was the fact that the voice echoed softly around them, seeming to come from the walls themselves.
"I am Lady Hogwarts. Alistair has generously allowed me to use his voice to speak to you," said the Sorting Hat in a soft voice.
"Wh… what," stuttered Fudge. "That's impossible! The castle's not alive, so it can't possibly talk!"
"I assure you it is entirely possible," said Alistair in his normal voice. "It really is the school given voice."
"Minister," simpered Umbridge in a saccharine sweet voice. "I think it likely that Mr. Potter, with the help of Dumbledore, set this up. First, Dumbledore started the shaking to disorient us, so that we would believe whatever 'Lady Hogwarts' said when Mr. Potter activated the second part of their plan."
Professor McGonagall, who seemed to have recovered somewhat from the shock of hearing Hogwarts speak, replied, "So Delores, you believe that Mr. Potter is smart enough and powerful enough to get around more than a thousand years of enchantments to affect what the Sorting Hat says? I didn't realize you had such a high opinion of his abilities." Her tone made it clear that she thought the whole thing was utterly ridiculous, though she was also delighted that she was able to turn Delores' paranoid conspiracy theories into a compliment for Mr. Potter.
"If you need proof, you shall have it. My walls remember every sentence whispered in privacy, every action done when you were alone," commented Hogwarts before they could continue their argument. "Cornelius Fudge. In your third year, you were involved in a bit of a mess that took place in an abandoned classroom on the seventh floor. No one ever found out about. I could recite word for word what you said at the time while in that classroom, if you would like me to prove myself."
"That… That won't be necessary Lady Hogwarts!" barked Fudge with a pale face at the thought of that story getting out.
"But surely Minister, you don't believe that this is really the school talking? It's just a building! Castles can't talk. It has to be Potter!" Umbridge said with a frown on her face.
"Well, this one can. There is no other way that anybody could know about what happened my third year, let alone a fifteen year old boy Delores." snapped Fudge.
"Well," sniffed Umbridge as she turned to Harry, "You may have the minister convinced of this foolish joke but I do not believe that it is really Hogwarts speaking."
"You don't? I see it's time for more proof," said the Hogwarts, amused. "Would you like these people to learn why you are so against those you call half-breeds?"
"What! That's impossible," stuttered Umbridge. "That event didn't even take place at the school! There is no way for you to know about that!"
"No, I didn't witness the event," admitted Hogwarts. "However, when you came back to school, you cried about it every night for a month. Whenever your dorm room was empty, you told your cat about the injustice of it all. When the room wasn't empty, you wrote about it in your diary. Between the cat and your diary, I know exactly what happened, or at least what you think happened. I heard everything you said and saw everything you wrote. There are no secrets kept from Hogwarts within her walls."
Umbridge had paled to the color of spoiled milk and collapsed back into a chair. She decided that even if the voice wasn't Hogwarts, she didn't want there to be any chance of that information getting out. It would ruin her if the wrong people found out about it.
"Does everyone have sufficient proof that I am Hogwarts?" she asked. There were nods around the room, so she happily continued. "Good! Then let's proceed to the topic at hand, shall we? I am here to inform you that I am activating the Founder's Charter, to be carried out immediately."
"The Founder's Charter?" Harry finally gave up on trying to stop himself from asking questions. "What's that?"
"Nobody knows," McGonagall replied. "There have been rumors, but nothing more. In fact, most believe it to be a myth."
"Well, I'll be happy to put those rumors to rest," replied Hogwarts. "I was there when it was created, so I'm in an excellent position to tell you all about it. The founders, after they finished building me, decided that they wanted a plan in place to keep anyone from forcibly taking over the school. This included government interference. To prevent something like this from happening, they made me sentient and set up the Charter. If something happened that put the school in danger of betraying the principles that it was built on, the castle would wake and, using the sentience I had developed, assess the situation and decide on a course of action. The first few minutes are spent spreading throughout the walls, regaining complete and conscious control of myself. If it was a physical assault that had awoken me, then I would assist in defending the staff and students against their attackers."
"The Charter is also in place in case of a more political assault. If the Headmaster was not upholding his duties, or working to the detriment of his students, that might awaken me. If, say, the government was trying to interfere in the running of the school by putting one of its employees in the position of Headmaster or Headmistress, it's likely that that would also awaken me."
Minister Fudge and his Toady both wilted under the glare of the Hat. The aforementioned hat nodded in satisfaction and continued. "The Charter allows me to appoint a new headmaster if the current one is unsatisfactory, or if there is no headmaster and the school is in a state of chaos. The Founders expected the latter case to be brought about by conflict in deciding who the next headmaster should be; they would have been appalled to find the school already in a state of chaos, despite the students' ignorance of the current situation." Umbridge looked vindicated.
"You see, Minister? Even Hogwarts says that Dumbledore has sent the school into chaos!"
"When did I ever say that?" Lady Hogwarts mildly inquired. "What I said was that the school was in chaos and without a Headmaster. The chaos in this school has been building for centuries, but it's only become really apparent in the last few decades. A 'Hogwarts' Board of Governors'? What a joke! What a disgrace that mighty Hogwarts has been subjected to the corruption and political maneuvering of the rich and vocal minority, while the unconnected majority are kept silent! The Houses are divided, dozens of classes have been cancelled, and by the Ministry, no less! Bigotry is rampant, and the teachers do nothing to correct this! Some of them even encourage it! Most of them simply ignore it, feeling they can't change it because this is the way it's always been. No, this has been coming for a long time; the Minister's plan to appoint a Ministry employee as the Head of the school was simply the final blasting hex cast against a crumbling wall."
The office's occupants stared at that hat, moved to shock, awe, and horror in turn by the castle's impassioned speech.
"It's time for Hogwarts to do some cleaning up," the Lady concluded, "And I'm starting with you, Delores. You are henceforth banned from the castle. You will never teach here again, nor hold any position of authority over the inhabitants of Hogwarts. You have thirty minutes to pack your belongings and depart from the grounds before you are forcefully ejected."
Harry was almost impressed that Umbridge didn't immediately comply, before he realized that it was stupidity, not bravery, that kept her from instantaneously bowing to the castle's will. Instead, Umbridge flushed to the color of beets and started ranting. "You can't do this! I am going to become Headmistress and run this school according to Ministry guidelines! Minister, tell her she can't do this!"
Fudge looked like he had swallowed Dragon dung. "Unfortunately she can, Delores. Hogwarts was established before the Ministry; it's actually considered its own country, and the Ministry is not allowed to have any access to it without the express permission of the Headmaster. Later, the ability to grant permission was extended to the Board of Governors, but it appears that both that ability and our permission have been permanently rescinded."
Umbridge looked like she couldn't understand what he was saying. Cornelius was the Minister of Magic! He should be able to change this! It was like her world had fallen out from under her.
"Twenty-seven minutes and counting, Delores. I'd get packing, if I were you," Hogwarts reminded her, with amusement clear in her voice. Two suits of armor entered the room. Umbridge looked at them in confusion before Hogwarts said, "These two will escort you to your rooms. When the thirty minutes is up, they will drag you to the gate. I wouldn't count on them being gentle."
Umbridge was scared out of her mind, and scuttled out of the Head's office to go pack her things while the two suits of armor clanked after her. She would research this 'Charter' and the laws that governed Hogwarts. It was the Ministry's right to rule Hogwarts, and the Minister wanted her to be its Headmistress! It was her rightful position and she was not going to let it go without a fight!
Fudge, looking extremely uncomfortable, asked the school who the next Head was going to be.
"I have someone in mind, Minister, but I won't be telling anyone who it is until I've discussed it with them," said the school. "However, I will have the new Head send you a letter within the week, as a matter of courtesy. Now it's time for you and your employees to leave. Please, be so kind as to do so promptly."
Fudge waddled out the door in a hurry, not wanting to test the school's patience or temper. He had forgotten all about Dumbledore and what had happened before this disaster with the Founder's Charter and Hogwarts waking up. Auror Dawlish followed him in a rush while Percy Weasley was trying to figure out why the school would be so against the ministry being in charge. Kingsley held back a little to glance at Professor McGonagall in worry.
"Do not worry, Auror Shacklebolt," said the school in a much calmer tone. "I am aware that you are not among the corrupt Ministry officials trying to control that which is not yours to control."
"Thank you Madame Hogwarts," Kingsley breathed a sigh of relief. "That greatly relieves my mind."
"You are doing good things with your life, Kingsley," said Hogwarts. "I am proud of the way you have used the education you gained within these walls."
Kingsley bowed slightly, accepting the praise, before abruptly striding out the door to catch up with Fudge and his cronies.
"Madame Hogwarts," asked Professor McGonagall, "Do you mind if I ask who is going to be the next head of the school?" She didn't want to make the school mad at her, but as Deputy Headmistress she needed to know.
"I have already chosen someone, Minerva," said the school replied. "But it will not be you or any of the other teachers. The Charter requires that I choose from among Hogwarts' inhabitants, but did not place any limitations on the age of that person."
"Do you mind if I ask why it won't be one of the teachers?" questioned Professor McGonagall in surprise.
"Of course you may ask, Minerva," said the school in her usual calm and mild voice. "I didn't choose from among the professors because I felt that you were too stuck in your ways. The school needs someone innovative and willing to make changes when necessary. The school has drifted from where it was and where it should be; the current teachers are all too rigid to make any drastic changes and, unfortunately, those are the sorts of changes we'll need."
Professor McGonagall had a contemplative look on her face. While she was worried about the possibility of a student taking on the duties of Headmaster (or Headmistress) she could understand the decision. None of the current employees of Hogwarts would be able, or really even willing, to make big changes in the school. Even those willing to try would likely find the enormous undertaking too big for them and, in a fit of hopelessness, return to the all too easy rationalization that the current system had been working for years, so there was no need to change it. The ones who were willing weren't able, and the ones who were able weren't willing. It would be difficult, but perhaps a student was just what they needed to lead the school to a better era.
"Minerva," the school called, bringing her out of her thoughts. "I need you to make a school-wide announcement that classes are cancelled for the rest of the week. Please do not mention what has occurred in this office. After that, summon all of the Professors to an emergency staff meeting in the teacher's lounge. Tell them all that has happened, and make sure Professor Snape knows that his next report to Tom Riddle should only contain information that the classes have been cancelled. He should also say that Professors Umbridge and Dumbledore have disappeared, but that he doesn't know how, where, or why."
"Very well Madame Hogwarts," McGonagall straightened herself up. "Is there anything else you need me to do? When will you be informing the staff members that a new Headmaster or Headmistress has been chosen?"
"I don't need anything else from you at the moment, but thank you for your offer of assistance," Hogwarts said. "And it's really up to the Head when the staff members are to be informed, but I imagine it will be within a day or so."
Professor McGonagall nodded her head firmly and marched out the door on her way to her office; she could make the announcement from there. Harry, who had been sitting in a corner up to this point, was forgotten in all the excitement.
Nevertheless, Harry got up from his seat to follow Professor McGonagall from the office. He was surprised and confused when Lady Hogwarts interrupted his progress by asking him to remain seated.
Harry followed the school's directions and looked at the Sorting Hat expectantly. "Yes ma'am?"
"Mr. Potter," began the school. She paused, then continued more warmly, "Do you mind if I call you Harry?"
"Of course you can, Lady Hogwarts!" said Harry. He smiled at the obvious affection in her voice.
"Very well then," continued the school, sounding slightly more serious. Obviously it was time to get down to business. "I'd like to go over the Charter in slightly more detail with you; in particular, why I have activated it."
Harry looked relieved. He had been in a bit of a daze and hadn't understood most of the first explanation.
Hogwarts began to explain again, but this time she added a little more information to what she had said before. "As you know, the Founders came together over the idea of building a school to teach magic. This was completely unheard of at the time- a revolutionary idea. Magic-users relied entirely on apprenticeships, all of which were highly specialized. The most common was Potions, as that was considered more useful; it was also easier to hide from muggles, if you wished to do so. The idea of learning more than one subject- of learning all the subjects- was extraordinary. It just didn't occur to people that you could learn Charms and Transfiguration, let alone Potions. It was also exceedingly difficult for muggleborns to get apprenticeships; their parents had neither the means nor the connections to educate their children."
"The Founders wanted to fix these problems. They wanted everyone to have the opportunity to learn magic, and they wanted everyone to have a well-rounded education. They were so excited about it! They found and purchased the land, designed the school and proceeded to build it to their exact specifications. They turned it into a place where students could live and grow to enjoy learning. They hired the best Masters of every subject they could find, and set out in search of students."
"They were disappointed. Unfortunately, new ideas don't always catch on quickly. The muggleborns came; that, at least, was a success. Those born into magical families, however, laughed at the idea. They thought it impossible to learn so many things- that if you tried to learn more than one thing, you would learn them both shabbily, or not at all. It was a commonly held theory that one's magic would attune to the first type of magic you tried, and that it would be the only type you could perform thereafter."
"If it hadn't been for Helga's patience and consistent hard work, it is likely that the school would have failed. As it is, it took over thirty years for the purebloods to admit that there might be benefits to having a well-rounded education. Once that happened, however, school enrollment rose rapidly. The Founders were thrilled at their success. They knew that once the idea had taken hold, it would stay in place. At that point, they started looking to the future."
Harry was fascinated. He had never heard any of this before and it was interesting to hear it from "someone" who had existed back then. He frowned; surely Binns should have been covering something of this. Even if it was wildly inaccurate, he should have had a jumping off point. Harry hadn't even known about apprenticeships!
"The Founders all knew something of human nature, though Salazar was, perhaps, the shrewdest of them in this respect. They knew that, at some point, someone would try to gain control of the school for the power it represented. With control of the children it would be easy to gain control of the parents as well; if nothing else, you could easily educate the next generation to take on your ideology as their own. They had to make sure that Hogwarts remained a school, free from the political machinations that humans are so fond of. They did everything they could to make Hogwarts completely independent of every governing body that ever did or would exist. As the leading minds of their generation, that was quite a lot. Add to that the ley lines Hogwarts rested on top of, and they knew that they would have the power to do anything they might need to do."
"They eventually came up with the idea of making the castle sentient. They all had their areas of expertise, and they all contributed equally. They made a room, almost impossible to access, where the spell would originate. The walls of the room were covered in runes, and the room itself lay in the intersection of several ley lines. A diamond, as large and pure as they could find, would help to focus and control the spell, as well as adding another element to the anchor. The main problem was in starting the spell. After starting the spell, it could power itself from the ley lines, but getting the spell started would cost all of the magical energy and life-force they had between them."
"Wait a second," Harry interrupted, "I thought Slytherin ended up hating the school and the other founders because they allowed muggleborns to be taught there? Why would he give up his life and magic to power a spell to keep it safe?"
"No, Harry," said the school patiently. "Salazar did not hate muggleborns, and he certainly didn't hate the other Founders. That misconception came about because he felt that they should learn how to read, write, and practice basic hygiene before being brought to Hogwarts. He never left the school, and, while he fought with Godric all the time, they always made up; they were the best of friends and considered themselves brothers in everything but name. Something similar to that did happen, unfortunately; however, the two who got into that fight were their great grandchildren, and it had nothing to do with letting muggleborns into the school. That prejudice barely existed then, in part because the Statute of Secrecy had not yet come into effect."
"But the history books all say that Salazar Slytherin would only take purebloods into his house!" exclaimed Harry in shock. This was the basis of the entire Gryffindor/Slytherin feud, and she was telling him that it never happened!
"The history books are inaccurate," said the school exasperatedly. "Or rather, they were mistranslated. Slytherin wanted the pure of heart in his house, as he felt that the cunning and ambition he prized could easily lead people to the Dark Arts if they were not also pure of heart. Salazar truly had no prejudice against muggleborns. Unfortunately, somewhere later on down the line in history, this was mistranslated as pure of blood leading to the misconception that Salazar wanted only 'pure-bloods.'"
Harry was in shock again. Slytherin had gotten a bad reputation because of a mistranslation of some old texts? Harry couldn't decide whether he wanted to laugh or rant and rave at someone, but decided to let the school continue her explanation.
"The Charter was their solution to a political takeover. It was written into the very magic of the school and tied into the diamond. It gave me the power to forcibly appoint a new Head and eject any usurpers. By the time they had completed all of the various aspects of the spell, they were old. It was almost a relief to them to be able to move on with their friends, never having to live without each other. They activated the spell, pouring all of their magic and life-force into me. Helga completed the last step in the spell; she anchored the spell into the diamond, and poured the rest of herself into forging a link to the ley lines but it almost wasn't enough. However, their bodies couldn't handle the stress of channeling that much energy; they exploded into pure energy, and that extra push was enough to finish forging the link."
Hogwarts paused to gather her thoughts before continuing to the reason she was explaining this to Harry.
"When I was woken today, I didn't know who or what had caused me to wake. I reconnected to myself, and looked over the information that has been stored within my walls. I was dismayed to find how much things had changed since my creation. My priorities were twofold. I had to cleanse the castle of the Ministry's corruption, and I had to appoint a Headmaster who would make the changes necessary to return Hogwarts to its former glory."
"The type of person I thought able to do this had to have several characteristics, and so I developed a list of requirements for my potential Headmaster or Headmistress. Those requirements included someone who would be willing to work with all of the houses equally; someone with compassion, able to empathize with the plights of others, and yet not let that get in the way of doing what needs to be done. They needed to be powerful enough to hold the wards, and they needed to be able to stand up to any opposition, even the Ministry, if it was required. I also wanted someone who was willing to change things, but also willing to keep some of the old traditions. They needed to be flexible and willing to work with all sorts of people, species, and creatures. Do you understand what sort of person I was looking for?"
"Yes ma'am," Harry replied, "And I think that you've got the right sort of requirements if you're looking for someone who will make drastic, but fair, changes."
"Exactly, Harry!" exclaimed Hogwarts in delight. "Well, I went through the professors' files first with those requirements firmly in mind, but was disappointed to find that no one would be able to meet them; most couldn't even meet half of them!"
"Really?" questioned Harry, startled. "I would have thought that McGonagall or Flitwick would fit the bill perfectly."
"They were the best candidates among the staff," agreed Hogwarts with sorrow in her voice. "Unfortunately, they are too set in their ways, and they both have several other things against them. McGonagall is slightly prejudiced against Slytherin, though she tries not to let it show or affect her actions, and Flitwick would be unwilling to stand up to the Ministry, rightly fearing that they would take out their wrath upon his Goblin brothers. It is also a sad fact that many would not listen to him because of his mixed heritage. It was then that I moved on to the students. I started with the seventh years and, when I didn't find any candidates there, continued working my way down through the years hoping to find someone who would meet all of the requirements."
"The students?" gasped Harry in shock, "Why would you choose a student as a Headmaster?"
"Because," Hogwarts replied amiably. "It's what is needed. More than an adult, more than anything, the school needs someone, anyone willing to clean things up. If anyone is in a position to judge what this school needs, it is I. However, I have to admit that the founders never saw this happening. They didn't realize that my psyche would develop enough to look past the fact that a Head was needed. They didn't think I would decide that a certain type of Head was needed and, that being the case, assumed that I would choose the Deputy Head as the next in the 'line of succession,' so to speak. If the Deputy wasn't able to take over the school, one of the other teachers would surely do. I suppose they also assumed that the students would all be too immature to do the job properly, and for good reason. Luckily, there are a few who are mature enough to handle it. The fail-safe, in case none of my residents were suitable, was that the school building would be put in the control of the current government, while the room and diamond, which really are what make up the soul of Hogwarts, would be transported elsewhere and begin to create a new school."
Harry had no idea what to say to this. Hogwarts revert to the Ministry's control and no longer be Hogwarts? Unthinkable! There must be something he could do to help?
"Lady Hogwarts," said Harry. He was nervous, but there had to be something he could do! "Is there anything I can do to help? Please, I don't want you to have to leave and start over!"
"Thank you Harry," Hogwarts was pleased with his offer. "I have something you can help me with; you'll understand in a moment."
Harry was relieved that there was something he'd be able to do. He smiled brightly and happily replied, "Yes ma'am!"
She continued, "I made it through the seventh years, but could not find anybody who met the requirements. So, I moved on to the sixth year students. Again, I couldn't find anybody; I was starting to get worried. Any younger than fifth year and it was likely that they wouldn't have the maturity to handle the position of Headmaster or Headmistress of Hogwarts. Also, I doubt that even the most mature first years would go along with the idea of being the head of a school they'd only been attending for a few months," she added with amusement.
Harry snickered at the idea of one of the younger years being asked to become Head of Hogwarts. He could just see the look on their faces!
"Thankfully," said Hogwarts with relief evident in the tone of her voice, "I was able to find someone among the fifth years. They fit all of my requirements. I think they could probably handle it on their own, but it would be a struggle. In fact, I think I'm going to insist that they ask for help from other people and share the burden. I think they'll be the best Head the school has ever seen!"
Harry perked up. "Who is it?" Suddenly, Harry remembered that she said there was something he could help her with. "Oh! I bet it's Hermione! Do you want me to be on the committee to help her?"
Hogwarts shook her head at how clueless he was. "No, Harry, it's not Hermione. It's you. Harry, I want you to be the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I sincerely believe that you are perfect for the position!"
"What?" Harry asked faintly as he slumped into his chair.
"Harry," soothed the school. "You are my candidate for the Headmaster position." She could see that Harry was starting to recover from his shock, so she hurried on. "I know you're surprised, so let me explain my reasoning."
Harry forcibly kept himself from protesting, instead nodding his head. He figured listening was the least he could do before he refused outright.
"You have saved the school numerous times; you're willing to break the rules in defense of others. You don't fight unless provoked; if you are provoked, you're willing to finish it. You are a halfblood from an Most Ancient and Most Noble House, but were raised with muggles. You get along with almost everybody; you obviously care about people and easily forgive them when they show they are truly sorry. When the Ministry-appointed professor proved inadequate, you began teaching your peers, even when the Ministry made it illegal. You're powerful, you'll work hard when you think it's worth it, and you're willing to stand up for what you believe in even when it seems like the whole world is calling you a liar. You are friends with a house-elf and you try to treat everyone equally. Best of all, several portraits in the library have heard you speaking insistently with your friends about the changes you feel must be made, as they would make Hogwarts better and safer for the students."
Hogwarts finished her recital of Harry's file to a thoroughly blushing Harry. She was also relieved to see that he no longer looked like he was going to refuse her proposition immediately.
"Do you understand now, Harry, why I thought you would be perfect?" she questioned gently.
"But… I didn't do any of those things alone!" Harry stuttered in protest. "I had loads of help from my friends!"
"Yes," said Hogwarts. "And you'll still be doing this with 'loads of help' from others; the only difference is that, in this case, you will always be the one making the final decisions. But, then again," she added slyly, "Isn't that the way it's always been?"
"But Madame Hogwarts," called Harry in desperation. "I can't even manage my own life! How can you suggest that I try to run a school like Hogwarts on top of that? And what about my own classes? What will I do to graduate if I am going to be busy running the school? And have you even thought about how absurd it is for me to be graduating from a school I'm in charge of?"
Harry and the school spent the next few minutes arguing back and forth over what should be done. Hogwarts was still trying to convince Harry that he would make an excellent Headmaster while he kept protesting that he would be horrible at the job. They finally come to a compromise. Harry would ask Ron and Hermione to meet him in the Room of Requirement. He would tell them what was going on and ask their opinions on what he should do.
"Well, they'll already know that something is going on, because of the announcement," Harry said thoughtfully. "I think I'll ask Dobby to give Ron and Hermione my message." He paused for a moment before calling out, "Dobby?"
There was a popping sound and Dobby appeared right next to Harry. "Harry Potter, sir, is calling for Dobby?" asked Dobby, while he bounced on his heels.
"Yes, thank you Dobby," said Harry. "Could you get a message to Ron and Hermione for me? Ask them to meet me in the D.A. room, please. Make sure they're alone, though. I don't want anyone else to know what is going on, okay?" After Dobby had popped away, Harry continued under his breath, mumbling, "Then again, I suppose everyone already knows that something is going on. What I really don't want them to know is that it has anything to do with me..."
"Lady Hogwarts," said Harry out loud in a weary voice. "If it is okay with you, I will meet you again in the Room of Requirement."
"Very well Harry," said Hogwarts in a cheerful voice. "I will see you and your friends there, so we can continue our discussion."
The Sorting Hat slumped a little bit and the glow in the room seemed to diminish. Harry proceeded to stumble out of the office in a daze, mumbling something about excessively cheerful castles. As he made his way to the Room of Requirement, he kept asking himself the same question over and over.
"Why do these kinds of things always happen to me?"