Dullard got up from his chair. "The last point on the list is," he paused as he turned towards the Chief Warlock, "from Albus Dumbledore?"
Everyone glanced at the old man.
He got up.
"I wish to nominate Augusta Longbottom to take my place as the temporary Chief Warlock until I am done with my order of business."
Augusta bowed. "I will be honored, Chief Warlock." She stood up—her pose regal as she strode towards him. Albus Dumbledore walked out of his seat and stood in the center of the room. Augusta sat on the Chief Warlock's seat, and hammered. "State your proposal, Mister Dumbledore."
Albus nodded. "Ladies and gentle-wizards," he paused, "I hereby invoke neque feduciam against the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge."
Everyone was shocked out of his or her wits. Some people decided that the wily old man had just made a joke in open session, since it was so unexpected of him to take an active stance in opposition, forget move for a motion of no confidence against the Minister himself. The Dark faction began yelling against him, while the Light faction was shocked at this sudden instigator move of the venerated Headmaster. Fudge looked shocked and completely blank, while Lucius Malfoy looked like he would like nothing better than tear Dumbledore to pieces.
"You are joking, aren't you, Albus?" Cornelius spoke up at last.
"Of course, I am after all, famous all across Magical Britain for my comedic performances." Albus refuted, erupting some hushed chortles in the crowd.
"Mister Dumbledore," Augusta began, "I assume you wish to proceed with this motion?"
Albus nodded. "Yes, interim Chief Warlock."
"I second the motion." Harry yelled out.
"I do, too." Sirius added briskly.
The whispers ended by the sound of the hammer. "I declare the motion open for debate."
Harry took this as his cue and darted a glance towards Albus who nodded. He swayed and move gracefully towards the stairs, followed by the newly minted Black Lord. They cut an imposing pair of figures as they saw the second and third tier stand up. It was a mark of respect—due to both the demonstration of power, as well as the political authority the two men wielded.
The Wizengamot members had different amount of votes allotted to them according to their positions. The Ancient families held five votes each, the Noble families held two votes each, the Order of Merlin recipients and the Ministry officials held one vote each. The Chief Warlock was a neutral judge and held no votes. Between the seats of Potter, Slytherin and Black, Harry and Sirius already held a staggering amount of votes- fifteen, and that was not considering the number of votes in the original Potter Alliance once lead by Charlus Potter, and the Black Alliance, led by Lord Arcturus Black. After Charlus 'deaths, the seat had fallen to James who to be frank, had not demonstrated any interest for politicking with old men in the middle of the day. Sirius had been groomed for his position in his childhood but his incarceration had prevented it. The lack of the Head had caused the Potter alliance to move into complete disarray, with the remaining members cleaving the alliance into smaller sub-alliances among their own. After Lord Black's death, Lucius Malfoy had taken over the reins of the old Black alliance and created his own—using his son's future inheritance as the future Lord of Black. Now that the Lords of Potter and Black were back, the balance had fundamentally shifted inside the factions of the Wizengamot.
Albus Dumbledore stood in the middle of the court floor. "Ladies and gentle-wizards, after my victory over the dark lord Grindelwald in the year 1945," he paused, "I was suddenly awarded with the prestigious titles of Grand Sorcerer, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Supreme Mugwump at the ICW. Though honestly, I was simply happy to stay at Hogwarts and teach, as I have continued to do for the last fifty years."
Everyone was hanging to his words.
"I have seen students come to my school, grow up into respectable adults, and contribute to the world of Magical Britain. However, with the changing times, I have also noticed some mistakes that keep recurring again and again, and I believe," he paused, letting the entire audience hear his every word, "that if these mistakes, these... rotten elements are not removed from the legislative, it will be harmful both for this body and for Magical Britain as the whole."
"What are you insinuating, Dumbledore?" Someone from the third tier sneered.
"I was just going to expound on that, Lord Wenlock," Albus replied with a smile. Harry smirked. The veneer of a lukewarm smile was the old man's way to throw the opponent into a confusion.
"This man," Dumbledore began, nodding towards Fudge, "—has been guilty of embezzlement of funds, and taking bribes in return of favors."
"Do you have any proof of that, Mister Dumbledore?"
"Yes." Albus smiled. "I would like to call upon- Mrs. Eva Edgecombe, for a testimony."
The chief clerk signaled, and Eva Edgecombe, the Head of Department of Finance, stood up uneasily from her seat and walked down to the floor.
"Madam Edgecombe," Dumbledore began, "what exactly are your duties at the Ministry of Magic?"
The woman, rather thin and frail by appearance, looked at the revered Headmaster and answered, "I am in charge of all ministerial funds, and their dispatch into the various wings of the Ministry."
"Right," Dumbledore nodded his head as his moustache quivered, "So does that mean, no fund moves in and out without your knowledge?"
Eva nodded uneasily.
"I have here with me, an account from Gringotts, which describe that five hundred and sixty five thousand galleons had been collected from the public offerings and advertisements at the Quidditch World Cup. Is that correct?"
The spectators and other officials began to whisper all around. While public offerings and advertisements were a good source of income, the amount stated had been ridiculous. There was no way that any amount north of two hundred thousand could have been collected from the said sources.
Eva unwittingly glanced at Lucius Malfoy and Fudge. Lucius gave a barely perceptible nod. Eva flushed. "Yes."
"Right." Dumbledore turned the page. "And this is a receipt from the Department of Magical Transportation, which says that the cost of a portkey is twenty-five galleons, am I right?"
Eva nodded again.
"And according to Ministry reports, around two thousand portkeys had been leased out from the Department of Magical Transportation. Am I right?"
Eva nodded again.
"As some reporters would like to say, I am growing old, and senile. So perhaps, my calculations might be wrong. But I would like you to do the math- isn't the total amount of income from the Quidditch cup, not amounting to six hundred and fifteen thousand galleons?"
"Get to the point, Dumbledore." Fudge exclaimed with an irritated expression.
"I am getting there," Dumbledore smiled again. Harry smirked. Things were about to get very interesting. "Yet, in the Ministry report, it states that the entire amount collected is one hundred and eighty five thousand galleons."
"I-I am sure that you have got wrong information Chief-"
"Signed by you." Dumbledore finished.
That shut her up.
"So tell me, Madam Edgecombe, what happened to the remaining amount- the four hundred and thirty thousand galleons? Where did that money go?"
The woman turned pale.
"Madam Edgecombe, answer the question." Augusta Longbottom urged.
"I am not sure what you are trying to establish by this-" Fudge began, but was quickly silenced by the withering glare that Augusta sent towards him.
"We are all waiting, Madam Edgecombe."
Eva Mae Edgecombe was in a mess. On the one hand, she had intentionally helped the Minister embezzle funds for the last decade. How else would she have been able to maintain her lavish lifestyle? She knew that Fudge's inner group of advisors were death eaters, or at least, death eater supporters like Lucius Malfoy. On the other hand, she knew very well that if she were to open her mouth, Fudge and his supporters would get her executed in no time.
"Madam Eva Edgecombe, you are ordered to answer the question or else, agree for Veritaserum questioning." Augusta responded.
"That's against the standard code for prosec-", Umbridge began to screech, but Augusta glared at her, stopping her mid-speech. "This is not your standard prosecution case per se, Madam Umbridge. Another useless remark or objection will cause you to be sent out of the courtroom." She deadpanned.
Umbridge cast a look of deepest loathing as she succumbed to Augusta's order.
"The amount had been transferred to Minister Fudge's private account in Gringotts."
Chaos descended over the courtroom.
Harry and Sirius smirked at the turn of events from their comfortable seats on the second tier. It was very amusing and entertaining to watch the old man eat Fudge for breakfast- why the old man never used his prowess and skill for some active work all this while. Harry could never fathom. It had all began with the private meeting the three of them had had after he had convinced Dumbledore to run for Minister.
"You will never be able to prove that Fudge takes any amount of bribes." Dumbledore pronounced. "Cornelius is extremely skilled at managing his finances. The Head of the Department of Finance-one Eva Mae Edgecombe, she is his rathole. She manages the entire fund transfer occurring throughout the Ministry. It is easy, very easy for her to simply move one account to another and embezzle the money in the process."
"How about embezzlement of funds, then?" Harry suggested out of nowhere. "We can post it against him."
"Not possible. The fund transfer process is done in Gringotts. Gringotts takes confidentiality very, very seriously. They won't be willing to reveal Fudge's account statements on any accord."
"But, hypothetically, if we could get them to give us Fudge's account statements, the case is iron-tight?"
"Hypothetically, yes." Dumbledore complied, "but as I said, in the entire history of Gringotts, they have never revealed private account information."
Harry smirked as he eyed the Sorting hat. "I might have an idea how to do that."
It had not taken him much to convince Griphook into a bargain. After all, the goblin had allowed him access into the Lestrange Vault in exchange for the Sword of Gryffindor. It helped that the goblins were no fan of Fudge, what with the way the man had repeatedly tried to put more stringent rules and restrictions over them. It had taken some hmm-ing and haw-in but then Harry had thrown in another carrot- a future favor to the Goblin community if Dumbledore became Minister, and the deal sweetened.
It had been hard work, but to see Fudge sweating as he was now, made it completely worth it.
Dumbledore cleared his voice. "Four hundred and thirty thousand galleons, Interim Chief Warlock. If my calculations are correct, that in itself is Minister Fudge's annual salary for seven years. The entire amount had been transferred, just as Madame Edgecombe has revealed, into Cornelius Fudge's private account, three days after the event.
The public uproar reached higher decibels as Augusta strained to keep control.
"My next witness- I would like to call Warden Charon from Azkaban."
The public looked blanched. What was Dumbledore playing at?
Said Auror came up and took his place at the centre of the room. "Warden Charon, I believe you have a memory to submit on this occasion?"
Charon nodded and looked at Augusta for permission. She nodded as he took out his wand and placed it at his temple. Withdrawing a memory, he held it out for everyone to see.
"Pensieve memories are not regarded as proper evidence." Dolores Umbridge screeched.
"It is quite unusual, Madam Umbridge," Dumbledore began coolly, "that you lost your self-control over such a minor thing even though the entire judgement is about the Minister. One might think that you are a part in his dealings."
Umbridge glared but flushed when she found everyone staring at her.
"Madam Umbridge, this is your final warning." Augusta warned.
Umbridge kept silent.
"Warden Charon, please proceed."
Under orders from the Chief Clerk, a Wizengamot pensieve was brought in. Charon entered the memory inside it—the white flakes dissolving inside the churning waters of the device. This pensieve was different—it had a powerful projection rune inbuilt into it, enabling everyone to witness the memory without entering into the pensieve personally.
The scene was inside the Ministry of magic- the Minister's office to be exact. Warden Charon walked into the main office corridor, and stepped into the office of the Undersecretary. The room was very different from the other Ministerial offices. For one, there seemed to be too many photo frames of cats in the room. Dolores Umbridge sat on a plush chair behind a table.
"Ah, Warden. Come in, come in."
"I received a letter from your office, asking me to report." Charon began, but Dolores seemed uninterested in listening. "Tell me, Warden Charon—is it true that your brother is an unregistered werewolf?"
The man's features hardened. "He was- he was scratched by one, two months ago. He has developed certain, wolfish instincts, but," he choked, "he is not a full werewolf."
"Doesn't matter. He has to be registered." Umbridge spoke in a no-nonsense tone.
"Madame, he is just a child. He is just-"
"He is a BEAST!" Dolores hissed, "Nothing else." Her tone softened instantly as her voice became sickeningly sweet. "He has to be registered. Unless, of course, you can convince me not to do so."
The Warden's facial expressions hardened.
"What exactly do you want, Madame?"
"Me? I want nothing. The Minister however, requires a little help. And it is my job to ensure that he is happy. So tell me Warden Charon, do you love your brother enough?"
Charon said nothing.
"You have to release Bellatrix Lestrange from prison. It is a direct order from Minister Fudge. Additionally, this needs to be kept quiet. It is a private family affair for Lucius, and he wants no problems. I hope you understand."
The Warden grit his teeth. "Yes, Madam."
"Very well, you may go." The Warden nodded as he began to pace back. "I hope I do not need to remind you to keep it a secret?" She called out from behind. The Warden nodded jerkily as he stepped out of the room.
The memory dissipated as the court turned to stare at the blanched face of one Dolores Umbridge. She got up with whatever remaining dignity she had, and pompously remarked, "that is a farce, no such thing ever happened. This is a conspiracy, a conspiracy to debase the Ministry of Magic!" She was fairly yelling by the end of it.
The public however, thought differently.
"Aurors, arrest Madam Umbridge." Augusta ordered, as Dawlish and Scrimgeour walked up and arrested her, dangling her down to the center, ignoring her cries of protest.
"Put her to Veritaserum testimony."
"I am afraid I must object to-" Fudge began.
"Cornelius Fudge," Sirius addressed. "You are already in deep shit. Do not try to dig your grave any deeper."
That shut him up.
Veritaserum was brought in, and three drops had been administered.
"Begin the questioning..." Augusta ordered.
"Is your name Dolores Jane Umbridge?"
"Have you ever intentionally carried out illegal activities because Cornelius Fudge demanded it?"
"Narrate to us, each and every one of those cases."
Harry Potter smirked. It was going to be a very long testimony. He glanced at Dumbledore. Their eyes met again.
"I never asked you then, how exactly did you find out that Bellatrix Lestrange had escaped from Azkaban?"
Dumbledore chortled. "I am sorry, if that was how it might have sounded. Let me rephrase that - Bellatrix was helped to escape from Azkaban."
"WHAT?" Sirius exclaimed with anger.
"Who did it?" Harry asked- his eyes thin like slits.
"Take a guess."
"Lucius Malfoy, via Fudge?" Sirius offered.
"Correct, but not to the point. Fudge ordered it, but the matter is too delicate for him to directly deal with it."
'Top marks, Harry."
Sirius let out a sigh. "Ministry employees are aiding prisoners to escape from prison. Oh, the irony."
"How did you find it out?"
"I met with the Warden. You would be surprised what a little amount of skilled passive Legilimency can do." Dumbledore smirked.
Harry gaped. "And the Warden- he did not even suspect?"
"Staying in Azkaban does not do wonders for your mental shields, Harry." Sirius answered for him, as Dumbledore nodded in appreciation.
"I am surprised that you are focusing more on the Umbridge woman, and less on Fudge." Sirius observed.
Dumbledore chortled. "When you have spent politicking around for the time I have, you tend to learn a few lessons. The Minister worries more about the throne than the King does. In our case, the undersecretary is more important than the Minister is-after all, she is the one who does all the dirty work. The Minister barely needs to know how it happened, just that it happened."
"Correct, Harry." Dumbledore returned, as he picked out another lemon drop from the candy bowl.
"But", Harry paused, "if we have this information in hand ready, why do we even need to bring the fund embezzlement case before everything?"
Dumbledore chuckled. "Harry, Harry- first you lay the table. Then you serve the dish. Unless you prove that something fishy is there in the meal, you cannot ask for a more detailed inspection."
"What he means," Sirius began, "is that if you ask for the Warden's memories in the first case, there is a very good chance that they would simply ignore it citing that 'pensieve memories are not an acceptable piece of evidence.' You need to bring in the little things first- let the crowd believe that you have a point. Then, you unload the real hippogriff shit- the one which will send Fudge and Umbridge packing into Azkaban."
"I couldn't have explained it better." Dumbledore remarked.
After one long hour of revelations, the official count on Minister Fudge was thirty-seven counts of fund embezzlement, twenty-eight counts of illegal dealings and surprisingly, ninety-two counts of fraud. Fudge was almost a dead man walking by the time Umbridge was done with. However, Fudge was not the only person who had been incriminated. Lucius Malfoy had been held guilty for twenty-six cases of bribery, and another eleven cases of illegal dealings. Umbridge had given out all the names of those purebloods who had been elevated to the position of Department Heads, after they had sworn loyalty to the Minister.
The court was almost buzzing with simmering anger when Augusta Longbottom banged the gravel again. "Motion of neque feduciam is up for vote. Show of those who think Cornelius Fudge as innocent?"
One hand rose up. Cornelius himself.
"All those who think him guilty? Show of hands."
Every other hand rose in the room.
"Order!" Augusta barked. "Cornelius Fudge, you are stripped off your position and powers. Aurors, arrest him."
Fudge yelled like a deranged man as Scrimgeour walked towards him, the handcuffs clinking as he held them close to the ex-Minister. However, Augusta was not done yet. "Since Dolores Umbridge has revealed that she has been an active supporter if not a partner in the illegal deals, she will be arrested too. Lucius Malfoy-", she darted a steely glance at the man, "the testimony of Dolores Umbridge has revealed you to have participated in twenty-six cases of bribery, and another eleven cases of illegal dealings. Aurors, arrest him."
"I want to speak to my solicitor." Lucius gnashed his teeth.
"Oh, you will." Augusta challenged back, "but after you are taken to the DMLE cells." She turned towards the Auror contingent. "Arrest them." She banged the hammer hard as she continued. "The Wizengamot takes an hour break from its session. It will continue after said time has expired. Nominations for the Interim Minister of Magic shall be accepted after the break."
"Why are you forcing me so much to try for the Minister's post, Harry?"
"Because it is our only chance, professor. Sirius will not get the votes. I am underage, and Amelia is on a neutral ground. If our plan works, Fudge goes, his toad goes, Lucius Malfoy goes. You bag the Minister position and you get to clean the slate for once and for all."
"In that case, I hope your Clean Slate protocol works as we want it to do."
Harry winked. "I am sure that between the three of us, we can figure something out."
Dumbledore chortled, as the three highly intelligent and slightly unhinged wizards sat down to plan their prank on the Wizengamot.
The Wizengamot had dispersed for an hour. After the break, the nominations would begin. It was turning out to be a very successful prank. Harry let out a smile, almost akin to the one Dumbledore gave.
And it didn't even hurt.
### So here goes the next part of the Wizengamot prank. the next part of 'Lord-ing around' will be posted in around 2 days. As always, review, review, review... Thank you.