Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers apply. It should be intuitively obvious that I have no rights to Harry Potter or anything associated with it, but on the off chance it is not, the reader should know that I in fact have no such rights.
Harry and Luna Against The High Inquisitor
January 31, 1996.
Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Under-Secretary to the Minister of Magic, High Inquisitor of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts, was enjoying supper at the Head Table in the Great Hall. Lamb chops, roast potatoes, and fiddleheads – a good wholesome meal for her, and for the students as well.
She took a lot around at the students in question. By and large, they were a group with the potential to be good, loyal wizards and witches, faithful to the Ministry and to the Minister, Cornelius Fudge, the greatest Minister of Magic in the last century, as far as she was concerned. The majority of the students listened to their teachers, and (more importantly) listened to and obeyed her. She found the students in Slytherin house especially easy to handle.
There were always the proverbial bad apples, though. Her eyes drifted to Griffyndor table. The Weasley family, for example, did not know to keep their heads down and shut up. No surprise, really, given their father Arthur, who despite his working for the Ministry, was always making waves. He was unlikely to ever advance out of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office – not if she had anything to say about it, by Merlin!
The youngest Weasley boy's hanger-on, Hermione Granger, was another one she had her eye on. All the other Professors called her the 'brightest witch of her age', but Dolores saw right through that act! The Granger girl was nothing but a lippy troublemaker – again, no surprise; what else could one expect from a Muggleborn? She likely knew nothing of wizarding culture, wizarding society – she certainly didn't know to respect her elders! - and her teachers (that nosey Minerva McGonagall especially – Dolores didn't like her when she was her teacher, and didn't like her now when she was her "colleague") had the temerity to suggest that the Granger girl was headed to high office in the Ministry! Not on Dolores Umbridge's watch, she wasn't.
Longbottom, Jordan, Finnigan, those irritating Creeveys – Gryffindor was full of troublemakers, far more than she had to deal with in any other house. But the worst of them was Harry Potter.
She scanned the Gryffindor table to find Potter. He wasn't there at all. Looking around the Hall, she spotted him at the Ravenclaw table, sitting opposite and chatting with Luna Lovegood, the daughter of Xenophilius Lovegood, the crackpot editor and publisher of The Quibbler. If Xeno Lovegood were to stick to his reports of imaginary creatures and hidden rune spells, that would be one thing; he would be merely be a harmless crank with a printing press. But he couldn't stop himself from printing all manner of scandalous lies about Minister Fudge, and wouldn't stop repeating the lies of Dumbledore and the Potter boy. She had suggested many times to the Minister that they do something about Lovegood's seditious libel machine, but Cornelius hadn't brought himself to do that. Yet. She knew she could bring him around eventually.
From what she could tell, the daughter was as crazed as her father was – even the other students noticed that, and called her "Loony". No surprise that she had taken up with Potter.
Potter. The little twit had some nerve. Everyone said he was the "Saviour of the Wizarding World", but she knew better. Some saviour. Spreading such lies as he did – You-Know-Who being back. Really! If he had returned, the Minister would certainly know about it, and the Minister had assured her that he hadn't. That really did make it open-and-shut, as far as she was concerned. Potter was just trying to prolong his fame. After all, without a Dark Lord, they didn't need a saviour, now, did they? No, Potter was simply a liar, trying to make himself necessary to an easily hoodwinked populace. He was a nuisance, and a large one at that, but he'd be easily handled if he wasn't in the pocket of Albus Dumbledore.
Dumbledore. She hadn't thought much of him when she was in Hogwarts, and she didn't think much of him now. So he had defeated Gellert Grindelwald. So what? That didn't make him fit to lead Wizarding Britain, which is what she was certain he wanted to do. Why else would he oppose the Minister? Why else would he have become Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, and Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards? Why else would he so strenuously claim that You-Know-Who was back, and back up Potter's story completely? It was obviously the same reason as Potter – he wanted to be seen as indispensable, rather than what he was, a senile old fool who should shut up and retire.
Those two were the reason she was here in the first place.
Dolores never thought she would be back at Hogwarts after she graduated thirty-five years ago. She enjoyed her time there well enough – although she had a hard time making friends, even in notoriously friendly Hufflepuff house, what friends she did make were very loyal, and she was loyal to them. Classes had been interesting enough, although she knew she would never be an academic, and wanted to be done her time in school to get out there into the real world, and achieve her true goal – to be Minister of Magic!
Unfortunately, the real world dealt a series of cruel blows to her ambitions. She certainly got a job working in the Ministry quickly enough – a nice post in the Department of Magical Transportation. However, she soon found that she was not well liked, and was not considered by her superiors to have much leadership potential. They noted that she was considered "sound", though, and that she was exceedingly loyal to the Ministry (she hadn't been sorted into Hufflepuff for nothing, after all!), and she had a bright future in the Ministry. But they told her she was unlikely to ever make Minister.
Dolores had been hurt by that. All her dreams, crushed in an instant. She never had much use for romance (she was well aware she was considered unattractive), had no wish to raise a family (children were such horrid little beasts!), didn't want to work in the private sector selling trinkets or serving butterbeer – all she had ever wanted to do was to work in the Ministry, and work her way up to being Minister. But that wasn't likely to happen.
So she decided that if she couldn't be the woman in charge, she could be the woman behind the Minister. She decided to tie her fortunes to someone likely to rise to the top, and she chose Cornelius Fudge – amiable and ambitious, and a man who appreciated her loyalty and her talents. When she made it clear that she would support him, no matter what, she rose as he rose. She was now the Senior Under-Secretary to the Minister, one step away from her new dream job – Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Magic, the head of the Magical Civil Service. All she had to do to get it was to make certain that when Pendleton Straube, the current Permanent Secretary, retired in two years' time, that Cornelius Fudge was still the Minister. He had promised the job to her, after all.
All that stood in her way was Dumbledore's and Potter's campaign to destabilize the Ministry by spreading their lies. Well, that's why she was here – to keep an eye on them, and if possible, to remove them. By any means she could. She had already tried more permanent means with Potter, and that hadn't worked, but she was confident she could deal with them from here. She was slowly removing Dumbledore's influence at Hogwarts, and would find a way soon enough to remove them both.
She watched as Potter and the Lovegood girl got up from the Ravenclaw table, and walked out of the Great Hall, holding hands. How utterly inappropriate! They were going off to their second night of detention tending the thestral nest. They somehow managed to survive one evening with those vicious creatures – maybe the second evening would be different. It would save her some work if it did.
On the likely chance the two troublemakers survived, however, Dolores had a plan. Potter's relationship with Lovegood would be his undoing. Dolores could use her to get at him, and him to get at her, each a lever against the other. Maybe she could even get at Xeno Lovegood this way. Once she had dealt with Potter, Dumbledore would be next.
Who knows? Maybe by the end of the term, she could be rid of Potter, Dumbledore, and The Quibbler, all at once! They she could leave this benighted place, get back to London, and be firmly ensconced in the Permanent Secretary's office within two years.
Wouldn't that be grand?
(Author's note: I'm looking for a beta-reader for this. If anyone would like to do so, please send me a personal message. Thanks!)