Chapter 27: After and Before

Okay, let's try this again. I'm pretty sure I'm all healed up, so hopefully I can complete this soon. I do note, however, that I'm a bit impatient on my bad typing, I blame dyslexia, so it might take a few days to finish a chapter.

Anyway, here's the next chapter. If you find that I've made a mistake or forgotten that so-and-so did such-and-such, please let me know and I'll fix it.

Enjoy.

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Harry went to bed feeling a lot better. He was glad that he had Sirius in his life. The man was Merlin sent and made a great big brother. It was with a clear mind that he dreamed of the future.

Sirius, unfortunately, could not retire for the evening. He had to get back to Ministry to sit his and Harry's seats. The trial would probably be short and sweet, since Umbridge could not use the pure-blood laws to protect herself.

It was Karma really.

If the woman hadn't pushed Fudge so hard in passing all those laws that protected the elite, then she would have stood a better chance of defending herself. However, she was the one to push that all laws that labeled non-purebloods, and creatures, or those with creature blood, to be treated as lesser people.

'Sucks to be her,' Sirius thought as the listened to the woman spill all her secrets.

The plethora of sins that came out of that woman's mouth was enough for everyone in the room, be they pure-blood or not, to go green. Since most of the Death Eaters that held seats were in hiding it was easy to see that no one was swayed by her. Fudge was noticeably absent, and that was a relief. If Sirius knew the man at all, he would have blustered until he was put down, or fired. Well, more like voted out, but still.

The trial was as quick as he had thought it would be. There wasn't even a need to debate. The woman was guilty of so many crimes that she was Kissed and pushed through the Veil. The conclusion of the questioning led to a lot of arrest and arrest warrants.

It was a tired man that fell into bed that night, but a satisfied one. He couldn't wait for the paper tomorrow.

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Tonks snuck back into the fifth-year boy's dorm at six in the morning. Having already showered and changed in the en-suite of the Head Boy's room, she just had to wait until at least one boy woke up and gave her an alibi. Not that she was doing anything illegal, but she didn't want Dumbledore to catch on.

She closed the curtains and waited for Ron to tell her that it was all clear. The boys didn't get up for another hour, which she used to study a bit. She wasn't long out of Hogwarts, but she didn't want to appear better than Harry usually did. So, she read to see how much she would have to dumb herself down.

Soon the boys started stirring and Ron gave the all-clear about ten minutes later. They all trooped down to the common room where they met up with Hermione.

"So, do you think that what you couldn't tell us will be in the paper this morning?" Hermione asked, tucking the book she had been reading away and following the 'boys' out of the common room.

"Probably," Tonks said with a shrug. "I mean, I can tell you that Bones,"

"Madam, Bones," Hermione chastised, only to be ignored.

"was here," the metamorph said, leading the way to the Great Hall.

The twins sidled up to her and tried to get more of a picture on what happened. They knew that she had done something and were a bit cuffed that she wasn't spilling.

Soon they were all sitting in the Great Hall eating breakfast and gossiping. There was wide speculation when it was noted that the pink toad was absent. Everyone who had ever been around Harry in any way was shooting glances at 'him'. They all knew that if there was something happening in Hogwarts, that Harry was more than likely the one in the middle.

Tonks was about to stand up and declare victory over the toad, when a parliament of owls flew in carrying a copy of the Daily Prophet.

The headlines read. Umbridge Found Guilty: Fudge Disappears.

The article that followed said that she had been accused of Black Magic. The quill that she had used was shown to the Wizengamot and declared a Banned Item. It went on to tell how the Wizengamot had come to a verdict so fast, that it beat any verdict on record. There were plenty of comments on how the woman was universally hated at the Ministry. The only person who tolerated the Undersecretary was Fudge. And they were 78% positive that it was because she was blackmailing him.

Most of the crimes that Fudge was accused of piggy backed Umbridge's own crimes. They were all listed in chronological order. The bribes he took, who he took them from, and why there were given in the first place. That put the kneazles among the pigeons. Now there were people, like the Malfoys, who were persona non grata at the Ministry. Bones was noted to say that if these 'people of interest' did show, they would be questioned thoroughly. Pure-blood or not.

The whole Wizengamot agreed, after seeing that the laws were pushed due to bribery, that for this everyone would be held accountable. Well, after Bones arrested quite a few of the men and women there, for the same crimes as Fudge and Umbridge. A committee was set up to go over the laws from the last six years. The time Fudge was in office.

At the moment, there was no Minster, and the article said that they had picked the eldest Wizengamot member, a Lord Hartstein, to hold the spot until the next election. They wanted to appoint Madam Marchbanks, but she was not willing.

Upon reading this, there were cheers heard all over the Hall. The teachers looked on with disapproval. Sure, they were glad the toad was gone, but children should not celebrate the death of another human. McGonagall looked over the student body and noted that not everyone was cheering, only those that had family in the Ministry. She figured that they must have heard about the vile woman from home. Still, death was not a good cause to celebrate. Unless it was You-Know-Who's.

"Harry," Hermione hissed, "don't, please. It's just not right." She was very uncomfortable with celebrating a death.

"I know, but I just can't help it. I mean, she was going to torture me," 'Harry' said, settling down and giving 'his' friend a grin. "Thanks for asking and not demanding," 'he' added, putting a comforting hand on her arm.

"You're welcome," the bushy-haired girl said, her face still sober.

"Look at the Headmaster and Snape," Ron said, leaning over the table so he could be heard without shouting.

"Damn, I haven't seen anyone's face that pale since I first met Malfoy the younger," Tonks said, looking over at the Slytherin Table and seeing said boy go just as pale as Snape. She then turned to look at Dumbledore.

The old man did not look happy, and she knew it was because he never condoned the killing of people. In his eyes all were worthy of redemption. Someone really needed to tell that man he was not God. Or even Merlin. She paused at that thought, and really looked at what she knew about Dumbledore. If you lined up what he had done for the last ninety or so years, it really didn't add up to much. So why did people believe that he was the second coming of Merlin?

Then she shrugged, it really didn't matter.

She heard some of the comments directed at 'Harry', and smirked. As she listened, she started to eat her breakfast. The article didn't mention Harry by name, only that a minor was the one who caught her. So, of course, anyone who had been in the school for more than a year, knew it was all Harry's fault.

Now all she had to do was get Snape. If what she had heard about the man was true, that should be easy. While Harry was just learning to protect his mind, though from what Sirius told her, Harry had the best shields she had ever heard of. Anyway, she also had good shields, so the first time that man even skimmed her mind, he was going down.

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Meanwhile, Amelia was at Grimmuald Place talking to Sirius. Harry was with Remus doing his own schoolwork. He planned on passing as many OWLs as possible, and Remus was a great teacher.

"I thought about what you said," Bones started, sipping the tea that was offered. "I think you're right. We need to move as soon as possible. I have Kingsley and Moody standing by. We're just waiting on word of the horcruxes. Once they are gathered, then we'll move," she finished, setting her cup down.

"Alright, you'll be happy to know that the twins and Tonks found the last one, bar the snake. If we're right on that. I know that I'll have to pay special attention to that reptile," Sirius said, standing and putting the empty cups in the sink.

"That's good to know," was all Amelia said, though her thoughts were going wild.

"Yeah, I'll contact Bill when you leave, and we'll set it up. What I want to do is, have Harry here to 'kill' the horcruxes, while we take out the rest of the Dark Idiots. I know I want a piece of both Malfoy and Riddle," Sirius said, settling back down at the table. He lifted his eyebrow questioningly. As if to ask if she could work with that.

"Sounds like a plan I can get behind. Does he already know the spell?" she asked, still planning how to pull off this attack.

"Yeah, Bill and Remus have been teaching it to him all summer. He wants to go and fight, but he is just a kid. And as much as I hate to agree with Molly, kids have no need to fight in wars," the dogman sighed, running a hand down is face.

He just knew that he was going to have to fight with Harry about this, again. But he was going to stand firm. Harry would be doing his part by destroying the rest of Tom's soul. Even that was too much for Sirius to feel comfortable with, but he compromised.

Tonks was supposed to be here with Harry, but if she were staying in the school, he'd have to ask Andi. While his cousin didn't want to be involved with the fighting, he was sure she would stand by Harry to see the deed done.

"Why don't you call a meeting with all those in the know, while I get some of my best people to be there. After all being a Dark Lord is a crime, and so is siding with one. We will be making many arrests that day," Amelia said with a satisfied smirk.

"Does that mean we need to use stunners?" Sirius asked, not sure how he felt about that.

"If they fire killing spells, then by all means, retaliate in kind. I will make sure that no one gets arrested for defending themselves. However, and I can't stress this enough, if anyone is caught torturing someone, they will face justice. There is no cause for that, at all," she said firmly.

"Don't worry, even if Snape is found there, or Pettigrew, I won't. I'll make sure the others know as well," he said almost wistfully, like he had just been denied a dream. "Oh, and I have a surprise for everyone. Thought I'd let you know that I've found a way to make tonight a lot easier," he added, a shite-eating grin on his face.

"You're not going to tell me, are you?" she asked with a sigh.

"Nope, but I will reiterate that it will go a long way in getting us through the wards," he answered, his smile getting wider.

"Fine," she huffed, getting up from the table, "keep your secrets," she finished as she reached the Floo.

"I will, ta," was all Sirius said, also standing to get his part started.

"Pfft," she said, calling out to the Ministry and disappearing in the green flames.

Sirius just shrugged and left. He figured he'd bother Harry for a minute, then get started on what needed done before tonight. As it was, he was going to have to visit a few people. So, yeah, a minute or two with his little brother was what he needed to get started on the stressful things with a calmer disposition.

Later that day, Sirius, and all those in the know, were sitting in the kitchen of Grimmuald place. Harry was sitting to his left, while Amelia was sitting to his right. The mirror was in the middle the table. Suspended with a hovering charm. Tonks' normal face could be seen.

"Okay, we are happy to report that the twins and Tonks found the last horcrux, barring the snake. So, it's just a matter of bringing down those wards," Sirius said, giving everyone the smile, his family was famous, or infamous, for.

"I don't like that look, Padfoot," Remus said, leaning away from his friend, so he didn't get caught in the crossfire of whatever scheme the man had up his sleeve.

"What? This look?" Sirius said, trying to look innocent.

"Yes," said half the table.

"Fine, spoil my fun," the poor picked on man said with a pout. It wasn't there long, as the Black Family Crazy Smile™ made its debut. "I found something in Regulus' room," he said, holding up a black disk. "Kreacher had informed me not long ago, that there were things in that room that my little brother was hiding. He said that most of it was to keep it out of the hands of old Voldy. There were a few other things he hid from my dear old mum," he added, his smile not waning in the least.

"Oh, what is it?" Harry asked, leaning forward a bit to look at the disk.

"This, my dear brother, is a ward scrambler," the older man said, holding it out for everyone to see.

"What!?" was the exclamations around the table, bar Harry and Tonks.

"Yup," the dogman said. "As far as I know, there are only three in the whole world. I have no idea how Reggie got ahold of one, though I would bet half my vault that it was hidden in this house somewhere," he added, flipping the disk like a coin. "Knowing my dearly departed parents, it would not surprise me if they used this for some of the darker things my family is infamous for," he added, putting the disk on the table.

"How do you know it works?" Tonks asked via the mirror.

"I went to visit the Dursley's," was the casual answer.

"I'm not going to have to arrest you, am I?" Amelia asked, not really bothered it.

"Nay, there was no one there, but there were enough of the blood wards that I could test this out. Harry, you will be happy to know that the vaulted wards around the Dursley's house are no more," the older man said, grinning like no tomorrow.

"Well, I wasn't planning on returning there anyway. Where were the Dursley's, I wonder," the Boy-Who-Lived said, thinking hard on what might have happened to them.

"Don't know," his brother answered. "For all I know, they were simply out to dinner. I mean, does it really matter? You're shot of them," Sirius finished, then looked around the table. "Bill, catch," he said, tossing the disk to the curse-breaker.

"You know, I have been in this business a long time, and I would have given my first year's pay to have one to these," the redhead said, examining the disk to see if it was something that could be copied.

"It would have cost you first three year's pay," Moody said, looking over the man's shoulder to see what's what.

"We really don't have time to debate all this," Bones stepped in. "We need to get things set up so we can get this done fast. Harry, do you know the spell to clear the horcruxes we have here?" the older woman asked, turning to the boy who didn't want to be left behind. She could see that much from the look on his face.

"Yeah," the teen said, folding his arms and slouching in his seat.

"Good, I want you to wait for my Patronus. When it shows, you will know the snake is dead, do the spell as quickly as you can, and we can end this war before it starts," she said in a no-nonsense voice, quite used to despondent people. For all Aurors were grown people, they tended to pout quite a bit.

"Fine," Harry huffed, knowing that even if he wanted to sit under the Cloak, like they had planned from the start, he couldn't. Sirius had talked it over with him many times, and he just wasn't prepared to fight a room full of Death Eaters, and challenge Voldemort. As it was, the prophecy, whatever it said, would probably come to pass when he 'killed' the horcruxes.

"Good, and thank you," Bones said with a curt nod. "The rest of you know what to do. The only reason we hadn't gone before was because we couldn't plan around the taking down of the wards. Now that Black had found this do-dad, we can get those wards down before the Death Eaters can rise from kissing Riddle's robe," she finished, nodding to Bill questioningly.

"Not a problem," the curse-breaker said, tucking the disk in his front pocket.

"Good, then go home, kiss your loved ones, take a shower, spar, whatever helps you relax. We leave at dusk," the Head of the DMLE said, getting up to make her way home.

"I'll stay here and let you know if Snape leaves. I have Dobby keeping tabs on him," Tonks said, nodding in Harry's direction, acknowledging that he had given his elf permission to help her.

Not that it was something difficult to do. Even though Snape had warned Moody about the horcrux, that didn't negate the years of horrible treatment in the Potion Master's class. There would never be any reason that Harry would drop that. Sirius had told him about the man's obsession over his mum, but that was just creepy in his book. He did wonder if it was Snape hanging around his mum when they were kids was what made his aunt to hateful.

'Who knows?' was his final thought on that. Both those people had made his life hell, and he wasn't going to waste any more time thinking about them.

"Good," Sirius said, standing up and nudging Harry to do the same. "We're going to practice that spell," he said, taking Harry elbow and leading him out of the room.

"I can walk, you know," Harry said, taking his elbow back. "Why are we going to practice that spell? I already know it," the boy complained.

"We're not," Sirius said, leading him to Reggie's old room.

"Then…?" the question was left hanging.

"You'll see," was all the answer he got.

"Sirius," Harry whinged.

"Just kidding. No, I found something else in here," he said, going towards the wall with the bookcase.

"What?" Harry asked, following behind.

"This," Black said, holding up a book that had a red cover on it.

"What is it?"

"A Prankster's Guide to Pranking," Sirius said, handing the book over. "I left it here when I ran away. I guess Reggie found it and hid it, so my mum didn't burn it, or something," he finished, wandering back to the bed and sitting down.

"You guys wrote this?" Harry asked, thumbing through the first few pages.

"Yep, it took us most of fourth year, but we got it printed that summer. Only five copies, one for each of us, and a master copy. We were going to sell it, but the war started really revving up around then, so it got kinda forgotten. What I want from you, it for you to read it and tell me if it's sellable."

"Sure," Harry said absently as he continued to read.

"I'll come get you when it's time," his older brother said as he left the room.

"Sure," was the vague answer.

"I think this will work great," Sirius said, smiling to himself as he all but danced down the stairs. "Really, great," he said, giving himself a pat on the back for getting his brother's mind off what was going to happen that night.

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The next chapter might be a minute. I seem to have developed Writer's Block. I'm working on it.