The Tables Are Turned
"STOP!" came the furious shout from the corner. Harry was just as surprised as anyone to see a livid Gaspard, a wand in his hand (an unconscious Death Eater at his feet hinting how he'd gotten it) that was leveled right at Voldemort. "Let him go," he ordered his now former master.
"What are you doing, Gavertson!?" Voldemort demanded irately, "How dare you think to talk to me like that, a sellout to...!?"
"I'm a Pureblooded wizard, curse you!" Gaspard roared, striding towards him, "And I've had it with you, Voldemort! Potter is the true hero of the wizarding world, I can see it now..."
"Drop that wand; you have no right to wield one!" Voldemort threatened, leveling his own at him.
"Yes I do, you monster! All these years, I believed you were answer to making the wizarding world better. Now I finally see you for what you really are: a psychopath and a monster! Using children to further your own ends, hunting after a baby who caused you no harm...!"
"Potter is a threat to my very existence; he must be destroyed!" the Dark Lord bellowed in utter fury, "And I will destroy you too, Gavertson, if you don't put that wand down now...!"
"No, I'm sick of being your slave! I've been nothing but your slave for decades!" Gaspard had approached right up to him, "You murdered my brother in cold blood, the only family I had; you made me attack Lucius's son for your own petty sense of vengeance...!"
"He lies; he sold us all out! The traitor's only trying to save himself by blackening me!" Voldemort shouted to his followers.
"I'll take him, my Lord," Swims leaped forward, "You're the insane one, Gavertson," he leveled his own wand at Gaspard, "If you want to be with your worthless Mudblood brother, I'll send you there now."
"I'll take you with me, Swims; the wizarding world is better without a sociopath like you," Gaspard tightened his grip on his own wand. For a moment, the two of them glared furiously in each other's faces. Then...
"AVADA KEDAVRA!" Swims fired the Killing Curse at the same instant Gaspard bellowed, "EXPELLIARMUS!" The spells met in the middle with a tremendous bang, electricity crackling as each man fought to maintain control. Finally, Gaspard gave a sharp thrust that broke the deadlock and sent Swims's wand flying out of his hands and the Killing Curse heading back towards him. Swims only had time to let out a low yelp of terror before it slammed into him, sending him flying backwards to the floor, dead. "As I was saying, you TRUE traitor to the wizarding world, let Potter go, or I'll kill you myself right here, right now!" Gaspard furiously threatened Voldemort, pointing his wand at his temple.
"You touch him and you die too!" Bellatrix stormed forward, her own wand raised; the other Death Eaters all leveled their wands at Gaspard as well. "Not to worry, my true family," Voldemort laconically raised a hand. "You think you could possibly kill me, who has gone further on the path to immortality than anyone who has ever lived, Gavertson?" he sneered at his lost follower.
"It only takes one well-meant killing curse to do it, and I swear I'll do it!" Gaspard threatened him.
"Not when you're dying yourself," Voldmort turned away from him. "WATCH OUT!" Harry's warning shout, upon seeing Nagini had slithered up behind Gaspard, came a second too late; Gaspard howled in pain as the snake struck and bit him repeatedly. "So is the fate of all who dare to threaten Lord Voldemort!" the evil wizard shouted out loud to all in earshot as Gaspard stumbled to the floor, gasping from the venom, "And now, Harry Potter," he turned back to him, "Your time is now officially..."
"My Lord, listen," it was Yaxley, and he sounded fearful. Harry could hear it too: loud shrieks and magical blasts from the tunnel leading into the central chamber. Moments later, dozens of Dementors came streaming at high speed through the cavern, chased by Patronuses, which chased them up and out through the now larger hole in the ceiling. Harry's heart leaped; could it be...?
"Harry, hold on, we're coming!" it was indeed Sirius's voice on the other side of the tunnel. His godfather charged through the entrance moments later, the rest of the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore included, right behind him-and behind them, the rest of Dumbledore's Army that hadn't been able to make it this far before. Harry happily gave Sirius a wave and broke away from Voldemort's grasp in the confusion, glad the cavalry had finally arrived. There was a low shriek to his right, followed by a loud pop as Pettigrew turned back into a rat and frantically scampered for cover. Both Sirius and Ron dove for him, but Harry's parents' betrayer squeezed through a small hole in the wall and disappeared. Disappointed, the two of them lunged for a group of shocked Death Eaters and started dueling with them. Soon, duels were breaking out all over the chamber. "Fight them, destroy them!" Voldemort roared, frustration all over his face at his plans unraveling this badly.
"I think, Tom, it is time to accept that you have failed in your mission tonight," Dumbledore calmly strode towards him with his wand raised, "Even attempting to kill Harry as a presumed consolation prize will not..."
With a furious bellow, Voldemort blasted the ceiling with a powerful curse, sending it tumbling down en masse, and forcing Dumbledore to magically hold it up. "Accio serpent!" Voldemort hissed, summoning Nagini into his arms. "We shall meet again soon, Harry Potter, for the very last time!" he threatened Harry before flying upward out through the hole in the roof, abandoning his followers to their fates. Many of them were Apparating away in fear now, outnumbered by the still arriving Order members. "Get back here, you cowards!" an angry Bellatrix roared at her comrades disappearing all around them, "You disgrace the Dark Lord by not standing and fighting...!"
Loud Tarzan yells rang out from above. Fred and George came zooming down on broomsticks and fired brightly-colored wrappings from their wands at Bellatrix-wrappings that immediately stuck to her like glue. The twins continued to zoom around Bellatrix over and over until she was completely wrapped up in the wrappings from head to toe. "Release me this instant, you squibs!" she screamed hatefully at them, "Or I'll...!"
"Do please be quiet," Fred magically conjured and slapped over her mouth a large sticker labeled DO NOT OPEN TILL NEXT XMAS. "There we are, all wrapped up and ready for Christmas delivery to Azkaban," he nodded knowingly to George, high-fiving him.
"Good work," Harry commended him as well. Seeing Rodolphus trying to sneak off in the confusion, he rushed for him, ducked a dangerous-looking orange blast from Rodolphus when the Death Eater saw him coming, and, hit with the inspiration to be creative, conjured a gigantic anchor in the air above the Death Eater. With a low chuckle, he let it go before Rodolphus could look up. The anchor landed square on his head, making him stumble and collapse to the floor, out cold. Harry nodded in satisfaction. "Good thinking there, Harry," Sirius commended him, in the middle of the duel with Rabastan nearby, "Let me try that."
He conjured a piano and dropped that on Rabastan's head, also knocking him out. Sirius rushed to Harry and gave him a hug. "You all right?" his godfather asked.
"I am now, Sirius," Harry told him warmly, "Glad you could make it in time."
"I wasn't going to see another Potter go too soon," Sirius said, relieved. The two of them moved towards the wall and turned to watch the rest of the battle unfold around them. Overwhelmed and caught off guard, the remaining Death Eaters were rapidly losing the fight (perhaps it was Harry's imagination, but for a moment he thought he saw one of the Death Eaters hitting his colleagues with disabling spells before disappearing from the scene with a pop-or was it simply an illusion in the heat of the moment, he had to wonder...?). An especial loud blast ring out as Derek, with another large surprising blast of magic, sent several Death Eaters flat against the wall. Within minutes, all resistance had basically collapsed; Dolohov, the last Death Eater standing, was disarmed by a blast from a firm-faced Percy, and then knocked down by a wolf Lupin, who let out a victorious howl over his foe. "Yes, Remus, you have proved yourself well," Dumbledore rubbed Lupin on the back after finishing re-cementing the ceiling. "It is over," he announced to his victorious forces. He approached Harry. "I see you have done well in thwarting Lord Voldemort's plans, Harry."
"Well, it was a team effort, sir," Harry confessed, gesturing appreciatively at the rest of Dumbledore's Army as they started gathering around him, "I couldn't have done it without some help."
"Indeed I would say so. And for that, once we return to Hogwarts, I believe it only fitting you all receive Special Awards for Services to the School," Dumbledore winked at them all.
"Really, sir?" Seamus was impressed.
"I think you all deserve it under the circumstances. Master Whitesell, Miss Dickinson, it is a relief to see the two of you all right as well," Dumbledore turned his gaze to Derek and Emma next.
"And we're glad to see you, sir. I didn't realize I could do magic..." Derek still looked overwhelmed himself.
"Once a wizard, always a wizard; the blood of notable, if not very honorable, wizards flow through your veins, Master Whitesell," the headmaster told him knowingly, "Even though time may have diluted it, it will always still be there to be activated in time of crisis such as this. Miss Dickinson, as for you, I daresay your mother will be quite relieved to see you again; from what I could see before leaving to come here, she finally realized how important you are."
"She did?" Emma didn't look quite convinced, "Are you really...?"
"I saw her myself too; she's heartbroken over the thought that you could have been killed by now," Harry told her, "And we're..."
A deep groan from the corner made him turn. "Gaspard..." he mused, rushing over towards him. The former Death Eater was pale and gasping on his back, his breaths shallow and his face pale. "Don't you worry, we'll get some help for you now..." he said worriedly.
"It's...too late for me, Harry Potter. I must...must join my brother now," Gaspard gasped in agony; he clearly was on the verge of death, "You are...a brave wizard to come in here, against all the odds..."
"I value my friends," Harry nodded to Emma and Derek behind them, and then to Ron and Hermione as they rushed over to join him, glad that he'd been able to turn back time and save them from horrible deaths, "I would do anything for them. I'm glad you saw the light."
"Maybe...it's better this way..." Gaspard wheezed desperately for air, "Nothing could redeem my life after I...wasted it so badly. Emma Dickinson," he turned to her, guilt all over his face, "Your father was a brave man...he went out fighting to the very end before Swims killed him...hit him in the back like a coward with the Killing Curse...I hope you can...you can...find it in your heart to forgive me for my part in it. I'm sorry...I'm truly, deeply sorry..."
With one final groan, he slumped sideways, dead. "Yes," Emma mumbled softly, tears flowing, "Yes, I forgive you. My father would have wanted it that way."
She folded the dead man's hands across his chest. "Forgiveness; it is truly a power that can do so much good in the world if we choose to use it," Dumbledore declared, sounding a bit melancholy again, Harry thought. "You are truly strong for having the strength to forgive, Miss Dickinson."
He bent down and picked up what was left of the Scone Crown. "Destroyed, I see," he mused, his eyes intently focusing on the wrecked crown.
"Hit with a backfired Killing Curse, sir," Harry explained to him, "It seemed to cry out when it got hit, though."
"Did it now?" Dumbledore's eyebrows went up. He examined the crown closely, mumbling, "I wonder..." softly. After a minute or so, he nodded with a look of triumph, then tossed the crown aside nonchalantly. "Well, Lord Voldemort's plans appear to be thwarted for now," he declared victoriously.
"And he won't have another chance to gain MacClivert's powers for at least another thousand years, right?" Hermione asked for confirmation of her theory.
"Indeed he will not, Miss Granger. Much as Lord Voldemort strives to be immortal, I daresay he will not live to see the next opportunity to gain the powers available here," Dumbledore gazed at the markings on the floor, "In the grand scheme of things, it is certainly all the better that these powers not be held by a living being. All the better, then, that you and Harry and everyone here succeeded in your mission; the entire wizarding world, if not every living being in the world, may well have been doomed if..."
He shuddered briefly at the thought of such a horrible reality as Harry had in fact briefly been part of before turning to the Order members hauling up immobilized Death Eaters behind them. "Master Percival, it is so good that you chose to participate in this endeavor," he lauded Percy, who was dragging an immobilized Yaxley to his feet, "Given that you hold some standing in the Ministry at present, perhaps you and Kingsley could lead the effort of transporting all the Death Eaters to Azkaban where they shall no doubt have a very lovely Christmas."
"I suppose I can, Headmaster. Um, Headmaster," Percy's head drooped, "I, um...well, first off, Harry and Ron brought me here rather forcibly, but...in the end, I'm glad they did, as I...well, I suppose I saw...maybe there's..."
"That there is often more to a story than just what the powerful say," Dumbledore nodded, "I too, Master Percival, am glad that you were dragged along to see what you have; you can go much further than you think if you simply keep your mind open and your heart clearer. Take it from someone like me who, I'm sorry to say, knows firsthand from unfortunate personal experience that there is much more to life than climbing ladders and rubbing elbows with the powerful but blind."
"Well, Headmaster, the Minister may have been wrong about this, about You Know Who, but I still think he..." Percy tried to object, but Dumbledore had already turned his attention to the shadowy corners of the chamber. "Children, you may all come out," he called to Voldemort's young prisoners, who emerged warily from the shadows, "We can take you all home now to your real families."
"That's an awful lot of people, sir," Ron pointed out over the excited cheers of the children, "Can we...?"
"Oh, I'm sure we can, Master Weasley; after all, Hagrid would know how to repair his own sleigh," Dumbledore grinned at him. It was indeed at that moment that the ringing of sleigh bells chimed out above them. Harry looked up to see the sleigh, now intact again and with at least fifteen additional back seats, descending into the cavern. "Professor Dumbledore, sir," Hagrid was back behind the reins, "Tried to keep up with Voldemort when he escaped, but couldn't quite..."
"It is all right, Hagrid; he cannot cause us any more harm in the near term," Dumbledore told him, "I'm sure you did well, though. Well, all aboard," he waved the children towards the sleigh. With happy shouts, they all rushed forward. "I do believe we can drop them all off on our way back to Hogwarts," he told Harry and his friends, climbing into the front seat next to Hagrid.
"Actually, Professor, if we're using this again, why not follow tradition and deliver presents along the way?" Hermione proposed with a smile, "A lot of children are waiting for Father Christmas, and since you'd look just like him..."
"A very good idea, Miss Granger. Why don't you and the others create some for our usage?" Dumbledore was more than open to the plan. "Well, might as well come on board, Harry," he waved him onto the front seat next to him, "You as well, Master Whitesell, Miss Dickinson," he waved them into the front seat as well.
"What happens now?" Derek asked, holding on tight as Hagrid cracked the reins and the sleigh zoomed up out of the caves and into the moonlit night sky.
"The best part of any adventure, Derek," Harry told him, leaning back to help Ron and Hermione magically create presents, "We have a merry Christmas Eve...and get to go home."
Two hours later, after all the children had been dropped off, and a mountain of presents had been delivered magically to Muggle houses all over Britain (thanks to the Time Turner, which now found itself useful in another manner to give them enough time to make all the deliveries), the sleigh returned to the Hogwarts grounds. The sky was already starting to lighten in the east; Christmas Day morning was close at hand. "Alongside my office if you please, Hagrid," Dumbledore instructed him, "I believe we shall disembark there."
"What if the Ministry's waiting for you all, Professor?" Hagrid looked concerned.
"I'd say we have nothing to fear anymore, Hagrid, not with the truth on our side," Dumbledore was not worried in the least. Hagrid obligingly pulled up alongside the window to the headmaster's office. "All off who's coming off," Dumbledore magically opened his window and led everyone inside, "No place like home for Christmas..."
"Hold it right there, Dumbledore," Fudge's unwelcome voice rang out. The Minister of Magic, with Umbridge, Scrimgeour, and about a dozen Aurors, popped out of various locations around the room, "I knew you'd come back here in the end," Fudge glared him down, "I know you were behind Potter's assault on Dolores here a few hours ago," he gestured at a still muddy Umbridge, "You're all under arrest for..."
"What's going on in here, Cornelius?" it was Mrs. Dickinson coming through the door behind them, her eyes red from crying, Harry saw.
"Everything's under control, Amaralda, we have..." Fudge started to say, but Mrs. Dickinson's eyes lit up to see her daughter in the newly arrived group. "Emma, my baby!" she half-shrieked with happiness, lunging for her and hugging her tight, "Oh my baby, are you all right!?"
"I'm fine, Mum, thanks to Harry. Are you...!?" Emma seemed shocked to see her mother showing warm emotion for her.
"I'm so sorry, Emma; I should have been more of a mother for you. I'm sorry I had to think I'd lost you to realize it. I love you so much..." Mrs. Dickinson gushed in delight, smothering her daughter with kisses. Harry grinned; she'd finally learned the important lesson in full.
"You may wish to know, Amaralda, that unfortunately, the Scone Crown was destroyed in the final battle, and cannot be repaired," Dumbledore told her with a wry grin of his own.
"That old thing? It doesn't really matter," she shrugged indifferently, "It's not as valuable as I thought it was, not nearly as valuable as what I have gotten back..."
"All right, that's enough," Umbridge strode forward and coldly tried to pull Emma away from her mother. "What are you doing, Dolores!?" Mrs. Dickinson demanded, pulling Emma back.
"Your daughter's going to Azkaban; we have evidence she was complicit in Potter's exposure of the Muggle to our society. Let go, Amaralda,," Umbridge yanked harder.
"Are you crazy!?" Mrs. Dickinson tugged harder herself, "She's not an adult; Azkaban, even if you're right, is no...!"
"The law is the law, now let go of her, or...!"
"YOU let go, you hag!" it was Ron shouting at her, making Umbridge turn in shock, "You're not taking her or anyone to Azkaban; we won't let you," he drew his wand on her, as did Harry and Hermione, "And by the way, Minister," he turned to Fudge, "Derek here has wizarding ancestry," he gestured at Derek, "Andric Vydzaal was his ancestor, so technically, he's not a Muggle. So your charges against my father can't stick."
"It's true, I found out I can even do magic," Derek chimed in.
"I'm sorry, but even if the child did have wizarding blood in his distant past, he still should not have been exposed to our world," Fudge shook his head firmly at the group, "So the charges will stand; Scrimgeour, take the boy, and..."
"And what, have the Dementors suck his soul out!? Why not admit it, Minister, that's what you and Umbridge were going to do if you'd had your way!" Harry shouted at him, "And while you're at it, why don't you tell Mrs. Dickinson here that you had no intention of even trying to save Emma, that you would even have been glad if she and Derek were dead so you'd be free of the hassle of the whole situation!?"
"What is he talking about, Cornelius!?" Mrs. Dickinson gave the Minister a suspicious glare.
"I have no idea, Amaralda; Potter is a compulsive liar and his word cannot be trusted; after all, you've seen as clear as day he made up the whole story about Voldemort returning..." Fudge rambled quickly, not meeting her eyes.
"Yes, the dead body, Minister; was it your idea or Rita's to drag out the fake body to try and make me look bad!?" Harry challenged him, "And I know you wanted to pin Voldemort's attack on Hogwarts last night on me; were you and Umbridge here thinking of fabricating and planting evidence to frame me for it when you did find me again!? I wouldn't be surprised if you were...!"
"All right Potter, that's just about it!" Umbridge drew her wand on him, "I am within my rights to use the Killing Curse on you...!"
"There will be no Killing Curses here, Dolores," Mrs. Dickinson stepped in front of her, her arms folded across her chest, "And it appears you and Cornelius have some explaining to do."
"I have nothing to explain; we're right and Potter's lying!" Umbridge barked coldly at her, "And you saw the Prophet, we found the body; over a dozen high-ranking wizards confirmed it was You Know Who...!"
"After you threatened how many of them with Azkaban yourself!?" Emma snapped at her now. "It was Voldemort, Mum; he is alive, and he needed me, as a Slytherin who didn't want to follow Slytherin's views on Purebloods to give himself effective immortality," she told her mother. "And by the way, Mrs. Umbridge, now that my mother's here, why don't you tell her what methods you felt were necessary to try and force me to say Harry and not Draco attacked me after the match!?" she shot Umbridge another furious look, "Because it was Draco that did it, Mum, he was angry we lost the match..."
"Forgive me, Amaralda, it appears this whole experience has caused your daughter some unfortunate mental confusion on the matter," Fudge hastily cut in, "I can arrange the best treatment for her at St. Mungo's after..."
The door to Dumbledore's office swung open again. "Ah, Severus, glad to see you've arrived safely," Dumbledore greeted Snape as he entered.
"Headmaster," Snape mumbled softly, "Minister," he turned to Fudge, "I should tell you that there are dozens of Death Eaters now freshly incarcerated at Azkaban, including Lucius Malfoy, who led the attack on the school this earlier upon You Know Who's orders."
"You must be mistaken, Severus; Lucius is a highly respected member of this community. Amaralda knows that for sure, don't you, Amaralda?" Fudge turned to her for backup, but found her only scowling at him, "There has to be..."
"I'm afraid, Minister, that you and the rest of the Ministry have been used by Lucius Malfoy for Lord Voldemort's purposes for some time now, going back to his initial reign of terror," Snape said softly, "Lord Voldemort is, unfortunately, very alive and well at the moment, Minister, regardless of what you want to believe your supposed dead body to be. And as Miss Dickinson here was probably telling you, she and Master Whitesell were supposed to be the tools to make him a being of pure magic tonight; fortunately, for everyone in the wizarding and Muggle worlds, the plan was thwarted."
"You're all crazy!" Umbridge shouted defiantly at him, "This is all an elaborate conspiracy to make the Ministry look bad...!"
"Well it's working, Dolores, because these are very serious charges they're leveling against you and Cornelius," Mrs. Dickinson's glare got harder, "If this is true, and you suppressed critical information about You Know Who to the public while endangering my daughter..."
"What do you care for her!? You've made it clear that little half-Mudblood isn't...!"
"You will NOT talk about MY child like that, Dolores!" Mrs. Dickinson grabbed Umbridge by the collar angrily, "I very much care for her; I just forgot it for too long. And the way things are looking right now, it would appear she's ten times more a witch then you are!"
"No offense meant at all, Amaralda; I believe Dolores is simply wound up after a long night," Fudge's eyes pleaded with Umbridge to keep quiet from then on, "Certainly I respect everything the Dickinson family has long stood for..."
"Don't try flattery with me, Cornelius; I never accept it from anyone," Mrs. Dickinson rounded on him with a very stern glare, "And you still haven't been forthright about the charges Dumbledore and Harry have leveled against you, so I'd better get the truth real soon, or else."
Harry felt a wand press against his head. "I believe, Amaralda, I can help clear everything up," Dumbledore piped up, the silvery drippings of Harry's memory on the edge of his wand, "Merely take a look in here."
"Stop!" Umbridge grabbed for the wand, but she was too late; Dumbledore touched it to the Pensieve, and inside the basin an image formed of what Harry had witnessed in the castle a few hours ago, of Fudge announcing to Umbridge it was better off if Derek and Emma were not recovered. "This, this is entirely a false memory, Amaralda," Fudge protested, turning white, "Potter wasn't even there; I didn't see him since his incarceration...!"
"Oh, and I saw Malfoy attack Emma myself, if you want to see that, Mrs. Dickinson," Harry told her, a grin spreading on his face.
"We've seen enough..." Fudge tried to intercede.
"No we haven't," Mrs. Dickinson cut him off. "Show me it, Dumbledore."
She pushed Umbridge aside when the other woman tried to block Dumbledore's path to the Pensieve and watched Harry's memory of Malfoy's furious attack on Emma after the match, and his own attempt to stop it. "Also, Mrs. Dickinson," Ron spoke up, smiling himself now, "I was present earlier when Umbridge spoke to Emma about Harry..."
"His word is not admissible!" Umbridge all but shrieked, but Mrs. Dickinson paid no attention, leaning right over the Pensieve once Dumbledore had deposited Ron's memories inside. In no time, another image had formed, one of Umbridge threatening Emma with Azkaban if she didn't say that Harry had attacked her instead of Malfoy, then zapping her with the Cruciatus Curse when she refused. "You can't possibly believe any of this!" Umbridge continued shouting at her, "He's Potter's best friend; he'd think of anything to...!"
"SHUT UP!" a furious Mrs. Dickinson bellowed right in her face, anger seemingly spreading out over her entire body. "How dare you, Cornelius!?" she advanced towards Fudge, making him take several large steps back, "How DARE you authorize an Unforgiveable Curse against my child!?"
"I-I-I didn't know anything about this either, Amaralda," Fudge gulped nervously, shrinking downwards, "Allow me to offer my sincere apologies; it was an accident, and it will not happen again."
"You bet it won't happen again!" she roared at him. "Severus, show me what You-Know-Who was planning if you can, just so I can see that too," she asked the Potions master. Snape silently removed some memories from his mind and dipped them into the Pensieve as well. "He can't be trusted either; how do we know he isn't part of the conspiracy too!?" Umbridge roared, "You're a fool if you believe anything they...!"
Mrs. Dickinson ignored her and watched Snape's memories: of Voldemort formulating the plan...of the attack on the castle playing out, with a clear image of Umbridge standing aside and letting it happen...and of Harry rushing into the chamber and freeing Derek and Emma before anything could happen to them in the changed timeline. Harry had to wonder exactly how Snape had seen all of this...could he possibly have been...?
He was snapped back to attention from a furious growl from Mrs. Dickinson, and was delighted to see her storming towards Fudge and Umbridge with utter fury on her face. "That's all I need to see," she roared irately at them, "You threw my child to the wolves in a mad crusade to nail Potter for something, anything; I can see it now! How DARE the two of you!? And sending Potter to Azkaban over a Muggle that really isn't a Muggle when there was a bigger threat in You Know Who that you chose to ignore! I will not stand for those kinds of injustices in the Ministry!"
"How DARE you talk to us like that!?" Umbridge angrily thrust a finger in her face, "Let me tell you something, you little nobody, we've always acted in the best interests of the wizarding world, and you have no right to question how we do our jobs! Everybody owes us a debt of honor for keeping them safe at night, and you are nothing without us, you...you...half breed half-Squib!"
"Dolores, not helping!" a pale Fudge whimpered under his breath at her, "Amaralda, let me just say that Dolores's opinions do not necessarily represent..."
"That will be enough out of you, Cornelius," white with rage, Mrs. Dickinson thrust an angry finger in his face in turn, "I can see how you think now. And so, you're through."
"Wh-Wh-What are you...?"
"You know full well what I mean, Cornelius!" she roared, pulling Emma close to her, "You're done, you're through, you're finished as Minister of Magic! I'm withdrawing my support for you as of right now, and I'm going to convince every other major donor to the Ministry to do the same! You and Dolores won't be able to get jobs as sanitation workers when I get through with the both of you-if I don't decide to press for you both to be sent to Azkaban yourselves! And if Rita Skeeter was in on it too as Harry suggests she was, she's going down as well!"
"Oh, by the way, Mrs. Dickinson, Rita Skeeter's an unlicensed Animagus," Harry spoke up with a grin, delighted to be able to put Rita through the wringer too, "I don't know if the Minister's knowingly taken advantage of that in this case, but she has misused that status before in regards to me."
"Thank you, Harry; I'll see to it that's taken care of as well," Mrs. Dickinson told him with a nod, "Nobody will ever be able to bother you again when I get through with this-especially once Cornelius is out of office."
"Amaralda, please, you're overreacting; I can't be removed...!" Fudge begged pitifully.
"Don't bother groveling to me, Cornelius; you're going down, and that's that!" she glared him down coldly again, "And if I find you ordered this monster," she growled at Umbridge, "to use the Cruciatus Curse on my daughter, Cornelius, it'll be life in Azkaban for you as well as her, I swear it-no, you're going to jail!" she barked at Umbridge, about to roar contemptuously back at her, "For what you did to Emma, you're going down hard, Dolores!"
"No, YOU'RE going down!" Umbridge threatened right back, "You're going to Azkaban right now for the rest of your life for threatening the Ministry, because that's high treason! Arrest her," she ordered the Aurors. None of them moved an inch, however, and most gave her angry glares right back. "I said arrest her, now!" she screamed at them, "Or you'll be the ones under arrest...!"
"Forget it, Mrs. Umbridge; if anyone here should be arrested, it's you," one of the Aurors told her coldly. He and his colleagues promptly turned their backs towards her, Harry catching a sly smile spreading on Scrimgeour's face as he did so. "That does it, you're all fired!" Umbridge blasted them, "If you want to do anything, you've got...!"
"SILENCIO!" a furious Mrs. Dickinson blasted Umbridge with a silencing curse, bringing her ramblings to a merciful end. She punctuated this by grabbing Umbridge's wand out of her hand and throwing it away into the recesses of the office. "And I'm going to the press with your mistakes too, Cornelius," she rounded back on the Minister, "So don't think for one minute you can get away with a cover up!"
"N-N-N-Now Amaralda, let's not be hasty!" a panicked Fudge stammered, "I-I-I can understand that you would be, um, upset over what appears to have happened, and I guess I...I sort of...might have made a few mistakes along the way, but I can easily compensate you for any grief done by those Death Eaters, as I suppose it in fact actually was, to your daughter. I think perhaps a reimbursement package of, oh, a hundred million galleons might be enough to..."
"Are you trying to bribe me to keep quiet, Cornelius!?" she glared him down.
"No, no, of course not," Fudge said quickly, digging through his coat pockets, "I'm, I'm simply offering fair compensation for the crimes the, um, Death Eaters appear to have committed. And don't worry about a thing, Amaralda, you will not be charged with any crimes at all no matter what Dolores may say; I guarantee it," he held up a hand to Umbridge as she was about to release herself from the silencing curse, his eyes again pleading her not to say a word at the moment. "Here," he pulled out a pair of heavy moneybags and thrust them at Mrs. Dickinson, "Here's three million galleons right away. I can get the rest of the money for you by the end of the day; there's no need to overreact here on anything, and certainly no need to go to the press. Please, Amaralda, take it...!"
With an angry roar, Mrs. Dickinson smacked the moneybags away, sending galleons clattering all over the floor. "I will not be bribed, Cornelius, by you or anybody!" she bellowed at him, "You're going down, and that's the end of the story-and you're going to Azkaban for life when I get through with you!" she pointed contemptuously at Umbridge, trying to shout silent obscenities at her while searching for her wand despite Fudge frantically waving his hands at her to stop, "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of catching up to do with my daughter, whom I love dearly." she hugged Emma close, genuine affection on her face, to Harry's great relief. "And I'll expect Arthur Weasley to be released from prison at once since he has clearly done no harm, Cornelius," she warned the Minister of Magic, "Moreover, I want the strictest legal punishment short of prison time brought against Draco Malfoy for what he did to Emma, no matter what Narcissa will say, and you'd better do it quick, or I'll have you in Azkaban yourself by day's end."
"Amaralda, I'm begging you...Dumbledore, you know I'm not the monster she seems to think...!" Fudge desperately turned to Dumbledore for help.
"I warned you, Cornelius, that you would be making a grave mistake sending Harry to prison," Dumbledore shook his head softly, "Now, I'm afraid, you have no choice but to face the consequences."
"I also want all charges against Harry immediately dropped, and a full public apology given to him," Mrs. Dickinson warned Fudge, "And anyone else you've wrongfully arrested over the last week released as well..."
"Amos Diggory is innocent," Harry spoke up again, "He was put under mind control for that robbery at the rune depository."
"I see. I want him released too, Cornelius, and full prison reform initiated before you leave office; children should never go to Azkaban," she threatened the Minister firmly, "Especially good, innocent, brave children like Harry. Goodbye, Cornelius."
"Amaralda, please, wait, it doesn't have to end like this!" Fudge desperately rushed after the Dickinsons as they left the office together, "If it's not money you want, I can get you a position of high power! I'm prepared to immediately create the new position of Vice Minister just for you right now; it'll be yours for life, and you'll have unlimited power in it, I swear it! You'll be second only to me, and you'll be elevated straight to Minister whenever I decide to retire, I'll make sure of it! Just say yes and it's yours, no strings attached...please, Amaralda, tell me you'll take it!" his voice got very high with desperation as she started walking faster towards the stairs away from him.
"Go to hell, Cornelius," she barked, not giving him the benefit of a glance, "I told you, I will not be bought."
She and Emma started down the stairs, still not looking back. "I swear I'll give you anything you want, Amaralda, just please don't go to the press!" Fudge was practically screaming in terror now as he continued following them downstairs, "Please, I've done so much good for the wizarding world as Minister, you know it! Think what might happen if I'm removed; ask the Aurors!" he gestured back at them for support, but all of them were now giving him looks of utter contempt (except for Scrimgeour, who appeared to be grinning in triumph, Harry thought), "I can make this better if you'll just give me a chance! Please, I've waited my whole life to be Minister of Magic; it can't end like this! Amaralda, please, LISTEN TO ME...!"
His desperate cries vanished as he and the Dickinsons disappeared from sight. The Aurors filed after them, many shooting equally ugly glances back at Umbridge, who at this point finally found her wand in the corner, put it to her throat, and removed the silencing curse. "I'm warning you, Potter, Dumbledore," she angrily rounded on the two of them as the Aurors left, "If the Minister and I go down, you're coming down with us; all of you will!" she pointed accusingly at everyone in the room.
"I fear, Dolores, your words no longer bear any weight, especially since the Ministry is no longer in control of this school. I must therefore ask you as Headmaster to leave immediately," Dumbledore told her confidently. With a final angry growl, Umbridge stormed out, defeated. "Master Weasley, would you and Miss Granger be so kind as to deliver an owl to the Ministry?" the headmaster told Ron and Hermione, taking a note off his desk that appeared to have been written ahead of time, "As Mrs. Dickinson noted, we need to get your father and the equally innocent Amos Diggory out of Azkaban for Christmas."
"Yes sir," Ron was grinning from ear to ear as he took the letter. He and Hermione rushed down the stairs to deliver it. "Well, Harry, it appears your good deed has gained you an important ally," Dumbledore turned to him with a knowing smile, "I daresay that in showing Amaralda Dickinson what is truly important in life, you've gotten yourself a valuable bulwark against any further Ministry encroachment on both yourself and this school. You should be quite proud of yourself."
"I'm just glad they're a family again, Professor," Harry nodded softly, "Having never known my mother, I know it's not right..."
"To take family for granted, yes," Dumbledore let out another rather suspicious low sigh, one that nonetheless quickly disappeared as he turned to Snape. "And thank you for all your help, Severus. I think you should thank him as well, Harry," he turned to him, "It was Professor Snape who helped you out in the museum, for one thing, shooting off your attackers there. And if I'm not mistaken, he also left at least one item behind in that cave to help you get past some of Lord Voldemort's terrible defenses, which was rather noble of him, wouldn't you agree, Harry?"
"Um..." Harry felt strange to be thanking Snape. Still, it was Christmas, the time to give thanks and to forgive...
"Thank you, Professor," he mumbled towards Snape without looking him in the eye.
"Congratulations, Potter; you've saved the day again," Snape muttered back, a scowl still on his face, "Be very thankful, though, that I was there to help you out when you needed it; next time, you may not be so lucky."
"Professor, I do have to thank you, though," Harry did crack a grin at Snape this time, "You helped give me a whole new prospective on life in the end by telling me what you did after the Quidditch match..."
"Yes, Harry; Professor Snape and I have had a long talk about that nonetheless, and we've come to the agreement that in the future, certain things would be better off left unsaid, haven't we Severus?" Dumbledore gave Snape a stern glance over his half moon glasses. Snape lowered his head. "Indeed," he grumbled softly. "Well, if that's all, Headmaster, I must tend to Slytherin House and make sure no one else is injured from what happened earlier."
"Oh, Professor," Harry called to him before he left, another smile spreading, "Have a very merry Christmas." As he'd expected, Snape snorted angrily and stomped down the stairs without turning around. "Poor Severus; he rarely did have many happy Christmases," Dumbledore shook his head softly, "Still, there is much hope for him. I hope, Harry, you can see that," he gave Harry a firm glance, "hard though I'm sure it may be for you sometimes."
"I...I'll try, sir," Harry said quickly, not sure he could ever reconcile fully with Snape. But then again, who knew? He turned to Derek on the right. "Well, Derek, everything's...what?"
"Oh, it's just..." Derek seemed rather glum, "Everyone seems to be having a happy ending...but now that it's over, it's probably right back to the streets for me..."
"Oh not at all, Master Whitesell," Dumbledore spoke up with a twinkle in his eyes, "In fact, since you arrived here at Hogwarts, and I learned of your previous fate in life, I endeavored to find you a permanent place of your own. In fact, the other day I heard back from an old friend of mine who answered in the affirmative to my request to give you a new home."
"You did!?" Derek's face lit up like a Christmas tree, "You really...!?"
"I did indeed. I can take you there now if you so wish. You're welcome to come along as well, Harry," Dumbledore nodded at him, "Hagrid, we're coming back out," he called to the Gamekeeper, still parked in the sleigh outside the window, "We'll be heading to just north of Edinburgh now; I can show you the exact way..."