Scion of Gryffindor
38 - The Fall of Fudge
Harry / Tonks ship
Senior Reporter Dismissed
Rita Skeeter, one of the senior reporters for the Daily Prophet, has been discharged from our staff.
Several shocking accusations were placed against Ms. Skeeter recently and have been investigated. When they were confirmed, her employment was immediately terminated.
It seems that she had been spreading malicious lies about several citizens under the guise of reporting "facts". Whether the false reporting was due to personal vendettas or whether she had been encouraged by someone (rumors abound that it was someone high within the ministry) to tell these falsehoods is still unknown. Among the notable names on her victim list: Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, Lord-Baron Harry Potter, Director Amelia Bones, international quidditch star Victor Krum, and Baron Marcus Abbott among dozens of others, important and obscure alike. See pages 7 through 18 for a full listing of her known and confirmed as false statements. The Daily Prophet prints this list as a retraction for each individual item given and most humbly apologizes for the damage done to each individual so harmed.
Interestingly, the one prominent name that does NOT show up in the list of her victims is Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge.
In addition to the gross journalistic misconduct, it has been found that Ms. Skeeter is in fact an illegal animagus in the form of an extraordinarily ugly beetle. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement has reportedly begun the process of pressing charges against her.
New Ownership of the Daily Prophet
In a move that took months of patient work, Lord-Baron Harry Potter has bought a controlling interest in the Daily Prophet.
When asked why he purchased the periodical with the largest circulation in wizarding Britain, he said this, "Two reasons, actually. First, I know the paper (though not each individual reporter working here) has been known to print lies in order to promote a politician. Or perhaps the articles are done out of pure spite. This not only tarnishes the reputations of good people like [D.M.L.E. Director] Amelia Bones and [Baron] Marcus Abbott, but it also promotes distrust in the community. That discord is a weapon that works right into the plans of Voldemort. The second reason I bought it is more pragmatic. It's a solid business that shows a daily profit. I'm simply investing in a proven business."
Yes, we actually printed the name "Voldemort". That is one of the few changes that Lord-Baron Potter made upon assuming ownership. As he said at the time, "Either call him Voldemort or Tom Riddle. You're just adding to the irrational fear by not using his name. It's what he wants you to do."
With the change in ownership, the editors, writers, and staff of the Daily Prophet wish to apologize to the public for some of our past articles that may have been less than entirely objective. We occasionally were subjected to pressure to "slant" our stories in a certain way, especially for political articles and those reporting upon the return of Voldemort immediately after the Tri-Wizard tournament when he did in fact regain a corporeal body.
Though we cannot change the past, the staff at the Daily Prophet promises to be objective in our future writing.
Two Daily Prophet Staff Members Arrested
In an effort to purge our ranks of Voldemort sympathizers and agents (known commonly as Death Eaters), the entire staff was examined by aurors under the personal command of Department of Magical Law Enforcement Director Amelia Bones.
Two arrests were made: Kristophe Chickey from our production department and Christine Burgon from the circulation department.
Both are being held by aurors pending formal charges of being Death Eaters.
Looking around at the grand ballroom, Harry sighed.
He and Nim were at yet another ministry sponsored event that Cissy had badgered him into attending, this time in early February. He'd been told somewhere along the line the reason for the event, but he'd long since forgotten.
Aside from dancing with Nim and chatting with a handful of the attendees, it had been a dreadfully dull evening for him.
"May I have a word with you, Harry?"
Harry cursed himself. That'd teach him to complain about being bored. "Certainly, Minister. However, I ask again that you do not call me by my first name. That is a familiarity that I reserve for a select few."
Nim and the Abbotts sitting across the table from them tried to keep from grinning.
Fudge frowned, but it disappeared almost immediately. "Very well. If we could speak privately?"
Harry sighed again and stood, offering Nim a hand up. "If you will excuse us, Marcus, Emily?"
They smiled at him. "Certainly, Harry."
Once Nim was standing (and not relinquishing his hand), Harry turned back to Fudge. "Lead the way."
Fudge glared at Tonks. "I said privately."
Harry's last vestige of politeness evaporated. "I will not hold any secrets from Miss Tonks, Minister," he stated flatly.
"I will not speak with this . . . trollop listening in," Fudge spat.
Now Harry wasn't letting Nim's hand go. He feared she would start hexing if he released her. "Minister, you will NOT speak of her that way again. And if you still want to talk to me, you will do it here."
Fudge's jaw bunched up a few times as he fought various emotions. "Very well. I want you to join me in a joint press conference to announce how the fight against the followers of You-Know-Who is going, and I further demand that you stop preventing the Daily Prophet from printing all the information that I give them."
Harry shook his head slowly. "For the last time, I will not perform any public action designed simply to make you look good. I am NOT on your side, Minister, and I wish you would stop trying to make it look like I am. As for the Daily Prophet, I am not preventing them from printing anything. I just gave them some guidelines and restrictions as to what they can claim to be facts. It is in an effort to make them honest. If you want something printed, please prove it to the reporter's satisfaction." He paused for a moment. "If you can't prove what you're claiming as true, then what does that say about your claims?"
Fudge turned several shades that Harry had only ever seen Vernon Dursley produce. "You insolent brat! I am the Minister of Magic! You will do what I tell you to do!"
Ignoring the entire room full of magicians that were listening and staring at the confrontation, Harry calmly asked, "Why would I do that?"
"Because I'm the Minister of Magic!" Fudge roared. "You will do what I ordered, or I'll throw you into Azkaban!"
"I will not."
Flecks of foam were now forming at the corners of Fudge's mouth. "Aurors! Arrest this man!"
The auror standing nearby was looking very uncomfortable. "On what charge, sir?" he asked carefully.
Fudge screamed incoherently. He drew his own wand and rapidly fired three spells at Harry from point blank range.
None of them made it through the shield Harry wordlessly put up. Tonks instantly had her wand up and pointed, but couldn't fire so long as she was also encased in Harry's shield.
This didn't prevent others from acting.
Marcus Abbott put away his wand, completely disregarding the auror pointing his wand at him. "Idiot," he grumbled, glaring down at the unconscious Minister of Magic. He looked up and over at Harry.
Harry lowered the hand he'd instinctively put up in a warding gesture and dissolved his shield. He looked over at Abbott and nodded his thanks.
Marcus nodded back before turning toward the deadly silent room. "As a member of the Wizengamot, I hereby call an emergency session for a vote of no-confidence against Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge. According to the laws governing this situation, the closed session will start at dawn, two days from today."
"Lords, Ladies, Barons, Baronesses, and guests, I call this, the seven hundred and fifty-fourth meeting of the British Wizengamot to order. Be advised that all magic is tracked in this room and duels are not permitted to be issued during the course of our meeting. Only those wearing a signet ring or carrying one by proxy are permitted to vote."
The scene was very different from the last time Harry had been in the Wizengamot chambers. Instead of being mostly empty, this time nearly every seat was filled. Not only had almost all of the Wizengamot members shown up, but all ministry department heads were also attending, clustered down in one corner of the seating area. Few of them were members themselves, but today's topic was the kind of thing that got a great deal of attention from the ministry, so they were all there as spectators.
Also among the changes from the last meeting, instead of bored members, everyone was very much awake despite the hour. Last, but certainly not least, Fudge himself was there, tucked into an Obscuring Sphere near the front of the room. It allowed him to witness everything going on but prevented him from participating.
At his desk in front, Dumbledore took his seat. "This is an emergency session, called by Baron Abbott, for a vote of no-confidence in Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge. Baron Abbott, the floor is yours."
Marcus stood from his front row seat. "Thank you, Chief Warlock." He turned to face the majority of the room. "We are all aware of Fudge's long history of inept and corrupt leadership. He may have been a sufficient caretaker during peace, but he has proven himself to be woefully negligent to the point of truly harmful during the time of war that we find ourselves facing. Specifically, his long-time and repeated refusal to acknowledge the return of the self-stylized -" he took a breath, "- Lord Voldemort," many of the listeners shifted uncomfortably as Marcus continued, "refusal to increase the auror forces to prepare against the resurgence of terrorist activities, and repeated public attacks against the people trying to spread word of the danger, specifically a public smear campaign against Lord Dumbledore and Lord-Baron Potter a year ago. This by no means is a complete list of Fudge's transgressions but highlights his utter refusal to acknowledge the danger and instead spend his time and our tax money trying to keep himself in power instead of doing his job properly.
"Some of you may ask why I'm bringing this up now, when we could have had this discussion back in our November meeting. What brought this to a head was my witnessing Fudge attempting to coerce Lord-Baron Potter into helping him prop up his public image. When he failed, he threatened The Boy Who Lived with prison. When that threat also failed, he drew his wand and tried to kill the young man."
The audience shifted again. This had all been well-covered by the Prophet, but to hear the Minister of Magic being flatly accused of such a series of crimes was still uncomfortable.
Abbott turned toward where the ministry department heads were sitting. "Director Bones, I believe your department is investigating this incident. Could you be so kind as to tell us your findings to date?"
Amelia stood. "I cannot speak to any topics save the attack on Lord-Baron Potter. So far, we have interviewed dozens of witnesses to the event, several of whom are in the room. All of them agree with your summary of the event, Baron Abbott. Harry was polite and non-threatening, and he refused to bow to the pressure Fudge was placing upon him. Fudge drew his wand but was incapable of piercing Harry's shield before you stunned him."
"Is it possible he was under the Imperious Curse?" Baron Parkinson asked.
Amelia turned, her stance subtly expressing her dislike of her questioner. "Possible, yes. There is no proof one way or another."
"Per the laws in question, the cause is actually irrelevant," Dumbledore interjected himself into the conversation. "Whatever the reason for his actions, and I am certain Amelia's investigators will eventually get to the root of it, this meeting is to decide if we feel he is capable of continuing at his post."
Parkinson frowned, but he nodded and sat down.
Dumbledore asked, "Director Bones, is there any more information you have for us?"
"Nothing beyond rumors and my personal opinion, Chief Warlock." She, too, sat down.
Harry had to grin. She answered his question directly, but the tone and words carried their own message.
Dumbledore asked the room at large, "Does anyone else have proof to present? I would remind one and all that opinions and rumors will do us little good. Only proof is useful to this body."
Several people frowned and more than one grumbled, but nobody stood up.
Sighing at the necessity, Harry stood. "I am an eyewitness to a few conversations that I feel are relevant, Chief Warlock."
Dumbledore nodded, eyes twinkling. "Please speak, Lord-Baron Potter." He took his seat.
Harry slowly turned, trying to address everyone in the room. "We all know the rumors of Fudge's close friendship with Lucius Malfoy, confirmed Death Eater. Both Arthur Weasley," Harry nodded to the man sitting with the other ministry directors, "and I witnessed a conversation between the two immediately outside the courtroom after I was acquitted of violating the statute of underage sorcery a year and a half ago. They spoke together in very friendly terms, using each other's first names in a manner that was clearly between friends. Director Weasley, do you recall the conversation?"
Arthur Weasley stood. "I do not recall the specifics of what they discussed, but the general feel of their conversation is as you described it, Harry." He took his seat again.
Harry nodded. "While it is not illegal or immoral to have a friend under these circumstances, the fact that Lucius Malfoy was later revealed to be a Death Eater, and had been since Voldemort's first rise, make Fudge's friendship with him . . . suspect.
"The next conversation was regarding Fudge ordering the arrest of Rubeus Hagrid, the groundskeeper at Hogwarts during the whole 'Monster of Slytherin' scare we had a few years ago. I believe Fudge's exact words were, 'We have to be seen doing something.' That doesn't sound to me like the words of a man arresting the one he feels responsible for the attacks. Rather, it appears that he was doing something he KNEW was incorrect, yet was done for political reasons. Do you recall this conversation I have described, Lord Dumbledore?"
Dumbledore stood. "I do indeed, Lord-Baron. Your words, I think, are a direct quote of Cornelius. As an aside, Lucius Malfoy was also there at the time and they were on friendly terms then, as well."
"The final piece of information I have came at the end of the Tri-Wizard tournament." He looked sadly at the suddenly ashen-faced Amos Diggory among the ministry employees. "I reported to Fudge then that Voldemort had been resurrected and named all the Death Eaters who had attended him. Fudge refused to believe me. 'He just can't be back. He can't,' are the words Fudge spoke. The tone, however, was that of a man scared of a truth that has just been revealed to him. Lord Dumbledore and Lady McGonagall were both present for that one, I believe."
McGonagall stood. "Indeed, Lord-Baron, that is how I recall his words at the time."
Dumbledore stood as well and nodded. "Indeed. I believe you said that is your final piece of information, Lord-Baron?"
Harry nodded. "Unfortunately none of this qualifies as proof of wrongdoing, however, I believe I have proven his state of mind during a few crisis moments in our recent history. All the rest of what I may say is simply my personal opinions and non-provable observations of the man. Thank you for your time." Harry sat.
Neville, sitting beside him, chuckled quietly. "That was sneaky. Almost as well done as Director Bones's line earlier."
Harry shot him a quick grin.
Dumbledore was asking if anyone else had any further evidence to present. Three more people repeated conversations they'd overheard from Fudge. None of it was particularly surprising, but was more proof that Fudge was a self-protecting and corrupt power monger rather than a competent leader.
Dumbledore finally gaveled them to silence. "I believe we all have heard enough to have a vote. May I remind you that it requires a vote of two-thirds to remove a Minister from office."
Ten minutes later, Cornelius Fudge, spitting in fury and loudly threatening revenge, was led from the room in chains.
Harry allowed himself a small, tight smile that could almost be called a smirk. It was an expression shared by more than one other in the room.
However, some of them were happy for different reasons.
Yes, this is a little on the short side. Sorry about that, but I realized that if I added the next part, then this chapter would get too long.