Harry left Dumbledore's office, the events of the day on his mind. He'd been right, earlier. People weren't going to want to believe this, and those who'd been told didn't. Percy was flatly denying Harry's story, Arthur sat in the Headmaster's office with his head in his hands, and Molly was in hysterics. The twins had taken the news in stride, and had told Harry they were in the process of designing a wheeze based on Fudge.
"That should be good, whatever it turns out to be," Harry thought, tuning a corner.
"Oof," someone said. Harry reeled, and then slowly recovered himself.
"What're you-oh. Hi Neville!" Harry said, reaching out a hand to help Neville get off of the floor.
"Hi, Hurry," Neville said, his voice slurred.
"All right Neville?" Harry asked, concerned.
"Yesh. Mafam Pom'ry gave me some potiom," Neville said. Harry now noticed Hannah Abbot, standing a few feet away.
"Hi, Hannah," Harry said, keeping an arm on Neville who was about to fall again.
"Hello, Harry. We were just headed back to Gryffindor tower. Professor McGonagall asked me to help Neville."
"I was just headed that way," Harry said, as Hannah took Neville's arm.
Soon, the trio arrived in front of the fat lady, who opened before the password was spoken.
"--and I don't think that Harr-Hi Harry," said Ron, Hermione right behind him.
"We need to talk," Harry said firmly. His friends turned and returned to the common room without a word.
"Fudge is a Death Eater," Harry began, once his friends had sat down, and Neville was safely sleeping in the dormitory. Hannah sat next to Hermione, after having been asked to stay.
For a moment, no one said anything. Hermione and Hannah looked shocked, and Ron looked a bit green. "So, dad's been working for a Death Eater all this time?" he finally asked.
Harry nodded, at which point Ron stood, paced around for a moment, sat back down, and said, "Bloody Hell."
"Well, actually, I don't know how long Fudge has been in Voldemort's service," Harry said, pausing at Ron's involuntary shudder. "Fudge would have expelled me in third year, wouldn't he, if he had been? Voldemort wouldn't want me learning about magic, so I couldn't defend myself."
"Probably," said Ron, while Hermione nodded.
"What's that got to do with us?" Hannah asked.
"Dumbledore wants me to start up a defense club," Harry said.
"Like what we had in second year, with Lockhart?" Hermione asked, appalled.
"No, more like a class that I'd be teaching," Harry replied.
The three students eye's widened.
"Harry, that's--" Hermione began.
"Blimey!" Ron cut her off.
Hannah just nodded.
"McGonagall's going to help me make up a list of likely students. Not everyone will get in."
"Neville Longbottom? Surely, Mr. Potter--" McGonagall looked at Harry, incredulous.
"I know he seems unlikely, but I also feel that Neville needs to learn to defend himself, and that for some reason, the regular environment isn't working for him," Harry pleaded.
"Are you sure this is a wise idea, Potter?" McGonagall asked.
"Yes," Harry said, simply.
"Very well, Potter. I will give the matter due consideration," the professor said, standing to indicate that the meeting was at an end. Harry didn't move.
"With all due respect, Professor, I'm to be teaching this class, aren't I?" Harry asked, gently. Professor McGonagall sat back down.
"At this point, that is the general idea," Professor McGonagall said crisply.
"Shouldn't I have a bit of a say in who I teach?" Harry asked.
Professor McGonagall looked at him in surprise. She narrowed her eyes for a moment. "Very well. I will add Mr. Longbottom to the list. Do not make me regret this, Mr. Potter."
"Yes Professor," Harry said. This time, Harry stood as well, and left the professor's office without further comment.
Walking down the hall, he soon ran into Ron, Hermione, and Neville, who was nearly quaking with nervousness.
"She said yes," Harry said. Ron cheered and Hermione beamed, while Neville let out a huge breath.
"When does it start?" Neville asked, after he'd taken another deep breath.
"Monday, after the last class." Neville thanked Harry, and went to find Hannah.
"Those two are certainly getting on," Ron said watching Neville disappear.
"Yeah." said Harry.
"Can't imagine why though." Ron finished.
"Ronald Weasley!" Hermione began, but stopped when Ron held his hands up in surrender. "Only joking! I think it's great that she and Neville have hooked up. Honest!" Ron said, looking at Hermione's angry face. She slowly calmed down, but still looked a bit put out.
"Let's go to lunch?" asked Ron, looking at his watch.
The trio headed to lunch, where Harry had barely managed to sit down, when an owl swooped down and landed in front of Hermione. She took its burden, gave it several knuts, and opened the parcel. Harry recognized it immediately as the Daily Prophet. Harry bit into a bite of shepherd's pie, while Hermione's eyes flashed back and forth along the page, her face growing steadily darker. Before he could ask anything though, Hermione thrust the paper at him.
"Cornelius Fudge thrown into Azkaban!" screamed the first line. He glanced at the byline, and groaned. Rita Skeeter. Against his better judgment, Harry glanced again at the article.
Cornelius Fudge thrown into Azkaban!
Minister of Magic, or secret Death Eater? asks Rita Skeeter, special correspondent. Earlier today, the former Minister of Magic was taken in front of the Wizengamot, and, in a nearly unanimous vote, the group decided on a life sentence. In search of further information, this reporter spoke the Dolores Umbridge, the senior under-secretary to Fudge himself. When questioned on how long the former Minister may have been in the service of You-Know-Who, Umbridge said only that she wasn't sure. She hastened to assure readers, however, that the loss of the Minister would have negligible effect on the day-to-day affairs of the Ministry.
This is a sad time for all of us, but I urge the wizard populace to go about their day-to-day business as best as possible. Preparations for an emergency election are already in progress, and, as the senior under-secretary, I shall be assuming the office of Minister until such time as the election has been held. Umbridge states.
However, the election of a new Minister of Magic is not what concerns this reporter at the moment. A far more important issue must come to light. In this reporter's humble opinion, that issue is Sirius Black, a current professor at Hogwarts. Can he be trusted? Are your children safe? This reporter doesn't think so. If the reader will recall, Sirius Black was sentenced to life in Azkaban for the murder of twelve Muggles and one wizard. While the wizard was later found alive, there is no indication that Black was not responsible for the deaths of the twelve others. Is Sirius Black innocent? Or, was Cornelius Fudge merely pardoning a fellow Death Eater?
He's a horrible person. It was a damn shame he got out of Azkaban at all. states Ernie Thomson, a long time employee at the Ministry of Magic.
At this point Harry slammed the publication down on the table, and glanced up at the staff table, where Remus looked white as a sheet, and Sirius cradled his head in his hands. Harry glanced back at Hermione, while waiting for Ron to finish reading. Her eyes brimmed with unshed tears.
Ron's face began to gradually turn red, becoming darker as he read further down the page. Eventually, he too slammed the paper down on the table.
He said something that made Hermione hiss "Ron!" but Harry simply nodded. By the way Hermione said nothing further, Harry guessed Hermione was just as angry as the other two.
"I'm not hungry anymore," Harry said, pushing his plate away. Ron, amazingly, did the same.
"I don't think I can eat anymore, either," Hermione sighed.
"Hi Ginny," Harry said, seeing her walk up to the table. She gave him a quick hug, and then took the paper.
"Anything interesting?" she asked.
Harry sighed, and Ron waved his hands in the general direction of the paper Ginny held.
Ginny didn't even read as far as Ron had, before furiously tearing the paper into tiny pieces.
"How dare she? That...that..." Ginny was to angry to continue. Together, the team walked out of the Great Hall, towards Gryffindor tower.
"Hey, Potter!" yelled a Slytherin student as the four passed.
"What!" Harry yelled.
"Great about Black, eh?" the student laughed as Harry reached for his wand, but turned a corner as the other three held him back.
"Ignore her!" Hermione hissed furiously.
Harry didn't say anything to anyone the rest of the way to Gryffindor tower.