The Secret Exposed
"Wh-What are you saying!?" Harry exclaimed, his insides doing horrible somersaults now.
"I'll tell you exactly what I'm saying, Potter," Snape leaned very close to him with a murderous expression, "Your father was assigned by the Order to protect Tiberius Castlebert. He abandoned his post in a moment of gross dereliction and allowed Tiberius to be murdered. I had asked for the assignment, but he insisted on having it, and regretted it almost immediately."
"It's...it's not true...!"
"It's absolutely true," Mrs. Dickinson was looking him murderously as well, "Your father failed miserably, rushing off to your mother because he foolishly thought she was being attacked by the Death Eaters. He fell for the oldest trick in the book, and my life has been a living hell ever since without..."
There was a flash of extreme emotional agony on her face as the loss of her fiancé was dragged out for her again. Harry's head was spinning at the horrible revelations. "But...but...if he was sorry..." he stammered for something to say.
"Sorry can't bring back Tiberius, Potter, and it won't redeem your dear daddy for embarrassing himself, the Order, and everyone he ever knew," Snape growled furiously at him, "And who knows, if you and your mother hadn't been there for him to abandon his post for," he was white with a carnal rage now, as if something deep was gnawing at him too, "Maybe he wouldn't have died as a worthless failure..."
"Don't say that...!" Harry's blood pressure was starting to boil now as well.
"You'd better hear it and face the truth, Potter; Tiberius Castlebert's dead because you were there for your father to be tricked into abandoning his post for!" Snape all but screamed, "So many people gone because of you, in fact," he seemed on the verge of tears for a moment, Harry thought, before the sadness disappeared under pure fury, "Face it, Potter, the whole wizarding world would be better off if you were never born!"
"I SAID DON'T SAY THAT!" without thinking, Harry drew his wand and pointed it right at Snape...
"Harry, no, don't!" Hermione's cry from behind snapped him out of it before he could do anything. She and Ron were quickly running up. "Harry, you can't...!"
"Don't stop him if he wants to do it, Miss Granger; go ahead, Potter, if you want to do something to me, go right ahead and do it," Snape pressed Harry coldly. Harry maintained a grip on his wand, aiming it at Snape's face-but then lowered it. "You're not worth it," he growled at the Potions master, "And you," he turned to Mrs. Dickinson, "If you want to leave, go ahead then; you're not worth anything as a mother if you won't stay for Emma..."
"I showed up, Potter; what more do you want from me? I'm a busy woman, and I've done my part. Severus, let's go," Mrs. Dickinson started walking off with Snape, who turned as he was going and snapped, "And by the way, that's one hundred points from Gryffindor for threatening a teacher, Potter."
Harry roared and raised the wand again. "Harry, please!" Hermione grabbed hold of it, "Like you said, he's not worth it!"
"Neither of them are worth it," Ron chimed in, "If the old cow doesn't care for her daughter, let her waste her life, Harry. Slytherins are all beyond hope, from parent to child..."
"You know, I'm getting tired of your attitude towards Emma, Ron!" Harry wheeled on him, making Ron jump backwards in shock, "You're acting just as prejudiced as Malfoy is when she hasn't done anything wrong, doesn't share Voldemort or Slytherin's prejudices, and helped us win the match in a way!"
"But...she's a Slytherin; you can't..." Ron mumbled weakly, stunned.
"Harry's right, Ron; you're taking this too far," it was Hermione's turn to glare furiously at him, which made Ron lower his head in humiliation, "You're acting just like Malfoy with..."
"Harry," it was Neville running up, looking surprised, "Harry, why didn't you tell us?"
"I'm kind of busy right now, Neville...wait, tell us what?" Harry didn't like the look on Neville's face.
"About Derek. Do you know how much there's going to be to pay for bringing a Muggle to Hogwarts if the Ministry finds out, like they probably will now?"
"Wait, how did you find...!?" Harry then noticed Neville was holding a copy of the Daily Prophet, one that looked very fresh. And then his mind flashed back to right before the match...the mosquito Derek had swatted at...
Horror spreading, he seized the paper off Neville. "They were all delivered to the stadium seconds ago," Neville explained, "Almost as if they wanted everyone to know..."
Harry couldn't hear him, his eyes wide in fear as he read the front page article, which confirmed his worst fears:
HARRY POTTER SHELTERING MUGGLE AT HOGWARTS
A SPECIAL BREAKING EXCLUSIVE BY RITA SKEETER
The famous Boy who lived, recently seen disturbing the peace in London, has now taken a step further into the unforgiveable-letting a Muggle see the wizarding world. Making his debut today in Quidditch at Hogwarts is one Derek Whitesell-a Muggle who has been seen in Potter's presence the last week. A quick search of wizarding genealogy confirms Whitesell is not a wizard at all.
Potter has used subterfuge to try and legitimize young Master Whitesell, passing him off as a relative of the Weasley family. This reporter was never fooled by this ruse and suspected something was amiss. In-depth reporting has now confirmed Whitesell's heritage, which given the circumstances means Potter is guilty of the gravest crime a witch or wizard can commit- the deliberate blowing of our entrenched secrecy. And it stands to reason Albus Dumbledore was complicit in this deception as well, to...
Harry couldn't read anymore; it was all too horrifying. "Oh my god," Hermione was just as horrified, reading over his shoulder, "If the Prophet was delivered this quickly, Harry, the Ministry's probably on its way here right now..."
"I know, I know!" Harry snapped, trying to think of how to get out of this one, "OK, OK, we've got to get Derek out of here somehow," he turned to her and Ron, "Find him and find some place to hide him; I'll try and find Dumbledore, I hope, and see what he thinks..."
"And if the Ministry shows up before that...Harry!" Ron called to him as he started running back towards the stadium.
"I'll try and stall them, just get Derek safely out of here, to the Forbidden Forest if you have to!" he called desperately over his shoulder, hoping they weren't already too late.
He was so caught up in his thoughts that he almost stumbled into a large hole that had been dug in the ground. Catching himself in time, he glanced ahead and saw the other end near the stadium. So THAT had been how the Gavertson brothers had gotten through whatever protection Dumbledore had set up, he realized as he continued running again. But he had more important things to handle at the moment...
As he neared the entrance to the stadium, however, he heard a low scream from underneath-Emma's scream, followed by an angry shout that was unmistakably Malfoy's. He quickly turned to the right and saw Goyle and Grabbe holding a bleeding Emma still behind one of the pillars. "Draco, stop; you can't do this...!" she was pleading.
"SECTUMSEMPRA!" an angry Malfoy roared at her, firing off another hex that cut her face. "No, I'm not stopping!" he shouted at her, "I warned you there'd be a price to pay if you cost us the match, and now you're going to pay it like you can't believe! SECTUMSEMPRA!" he bellowed again, cutting her arm this time, SEC-!"
"MALFOY, STOP IT!" Harry bellowed furiously at his adversary, who stopped and turned. "Mind your own business, Potter," he warned him darkly, "What I do to her is none of your concern."
"It is now, Malfoy," Harry advanced towards him, "Leave her alone."
"No, Potter, she has this coming, and so do you when I'm done with her. Now get lost," Malfoy turned away from him and raised his wand again, "SECTUM-!"
"EXPELLIARMUS!" the words exploded out of Harry's mouth as he raised his wand and fired. Malfoy immediately went flying backwards, his wand flying out of his hands...
"POTTER!" came the voice of the last person Harry wanted to hear behind him-Umbridge. His heart in his mouth, he turned to see her with Fudge and several Aurors, her hands on her hips. "Uh, why are you...?" he tried to feign ignorance.
"Minister, you've got here just in time," Malfoy jumped back quickly to his feet, "Look what Potter did to her," he pointed to Emma, who immediately opened her mouth to protest, but suddenly seized up, unable to speak, and Harry could see Goyle wand to the back of her head. He'd hit her with a silencing hex, he realized with a sinking heart. "I came around the corner and saw Potter attacking her," Malfoy continued lying, "I tried to stop him; he's insane, he just tried to kill me..."
"Thank you, Mr. Malfoy, we'll take that into consideration along with everything else we know Potter's done," Fudge gave Harry a murderous glare, "You're coming with us, Potter; it's Azkaban for you for breaking the code of secrecy."
"Wait, let me explain the whole story," Harry pleaded, "We had to bring Derek here, or...!"
"We don't need the whole story, Potter, you're guilty as sin either way," Umbridge seized his arm roughly and started dragging him away, "Now where's the Muggle?"
"I don't know...oow, I swear I don't know!" he protested as she gripped his arm harder, hoping Ron and Hermione had gotten Derek to safety by now.
"You'll talk, Potter," she told him darkly, "We'll find him."
"And what are you going to do to him!? Derek's not a threat; he wouldn't...!"
"WE'LL make the decision on that, Potter. Dumbledore," Fudge glowered as the headmaster came striding towards them with a concerned look. "May I ask why Dolores appears to be manhandling Harry at the moment, Cornelius?" he asked the Minister of Magic softly but firmly.
"Perhaps I can ask about THIS, Albus," Fudge thrust a copy of the incriminating Prophet into Dumbledore's face, "I can only guess that you've been complicit with Potter in this as well..."
"Listen, you don't understand!" Harry shouted desperately, "The Death Eaters were after Derek; they were going to...!"
"THERE IS NO MORE VOLDEMORT, POTTER!" Fudge bellowed at him, "He was defeated, and he's never coming back! The fact you insist on repeating this dangerous lie shows your words can't be trusted."
"What I see, Cornelius, is stubborn belief in a fallacy that makes you feel superior," Dumbledore shook his head softly, "And I assure you that everything that was done for young Master Whitesell was for his benefit."
"There, that's a confession," Umbridge pointed triumphantly at the headmaster, "Dumbledore admitted he was in on it, Cornelius. And for the record, Dumbledore," she glared in his face, "You're going to Azkaban too; we've found using prior incantato that it was YOU that broke into the Department of Mysteries last week and stole items from the section dealing with love. It was clearly your wand, so you can't deny it!"
"Very well, I won't then," Dumbledore shrugged nonchalantly, "Yes, I did sneak inside and take some items-but as Harry has tried to say, all for the Whitesell boy's protection..."
"Yes, we see, Dumbledore; you're willing to sacrifice everything for a Muggle who should know nothing about what we do," Fudge snapped at him, "Well no matter how you spin it, the fact is, Potter has just broke the most important law in the wizarding world," he turned his glare to Harry, "Exposing us to Muggles. And nothing you say or do is going to save him from the prison term he's got waiting for him."
"But wait, I have to have a trial...!" Harry protested furiously.
"With an ironclad case like this, you don't need or deserve a trial, Potter!" Umbridge barked at him, "And if Dumbledore tries to stop us or break you or, it'll be at least fifty years for him. So don't try and stop us," she all but dared Dumbledore.
"You must do what you feel is right as Minister of Magic, Cornelius," Dumbledore turned calmly to Fudge, "However, I should warn you that sending Harry to Azkaban at this juncture will prove to be the biggest mistake of your tenure if you choose it. Once the full truth comes out, I daresay the rest of the wizarding world will see you as unfit to hold the office if this is the path you choose."
"And that sounds like a threat to me, Dumbledore," Fudge thrust an accusing finger in the headmaster's face, "Threatening the Minister of Magic is treason. You're going to Azkaban with Potter. Hand over your wand now."
"If you insist, Cornelius," Dumbledore extended his wand forward...seconds before the same blinding flash of light that Hermione had conjured a few days ago exploded all around. Harry shielded his eyes and tried to run for it...
"Petrificus totalus!" came Umbridge's shout, and he suddenly seized up, hit with the Full Body Bind. Umbridge's hands jerked him back up, immobilized, as the light faded. You're not going anywhere, Potter, it's...where is he!?" she shouted, glancing around. For Dumbledore had vanished completely in the confusion.
"He must have Apparated away. He won't get far, Dolores, we'll find...and here he is," Fudge's expression turned dark again. Harry's heart sank to see a squad of Aurors dragging Derek, Hermione, and Ron forward, all of them struggling to get away. "Minister, we caught them by the broomstick shed trying to snatch some brooms and get away," one of the Aurors explained.
"Sorry, Harry, we tried...Harry, what do they do to you!?" Ron gasped to see him in the Full Body Bind.
"Shut up, Weasley, Potter got what he deserved," Umbridge snarled at him, "And by the way, it stands to reason your practically half-breed father was in on this too; find Arthur Weasley and arrest him for conspiracy in exposing us," she ordered another Auror.
"No, please, my father doesn't know anything!" Ron begged, horrified, and Harry felt much the same. If Mr. Weasley suffered because of this...
"We said shut up! So you're the Muggle who knows too much," Fudge glared down at Derek, who looked fearful himself, "Well you won't know anything when we get through with you."
"Just leave him alone; he's not going to tell anyone anything!" Hermione shouted bravely, "Wiping his mind won't...!"
"What we do to the Muggle is none of your concern, you Muggle-born wench," Fudge snarled coldly at her, making her sputter in rage. "This school is now under Ministry control," he announced to all the Aurors, "Lock it down; Dolores, you're in charge once you take Potter to Azkaban," he instructed Umbridge, "Do whatever you wish, but purge everyone's minds of the Muggle."
"I will," she nodded grimly, "And the Muggle himself?" she pointed to Derek.
"We'll take care of him. Lock them in the dungeons-in separate cells," Fudge ordered the Aurors, who started dragging Derek, Ron and Hermione off, "No contact with any other students. If they try to escape, they join Potter in Azkaban. Get rid of him, Dolores," he gestured at Umbridge.
"Of course, Minister. Let's go, Potter," Umbridge started dragging him off, "You've got a cell in Azkaban waiting for the rest of your life..."