A/N: Thank you again to those who have taken the time to review. It is the constant reminder that people are reading and enjoying this story that drives me to work faster. As such, I've decided to continue chopping up chapters into smaller pieces so that you won't have to wait as long between updates. If any of you would rather not read the story using this method, it will be posted on fanfiction.net in whole chapter chunks. So without further ado, the first portion of what should be a three part chapter. Chapter 3 (Part One): The End of an Era As Harry was led down into the kitchen there were a million different thoughts running through his brain. Where had the Order gone to? What was the Ministry doing in possession of Sirius's old house? How in the world had he got himself in this mess? More importantly how was he going to get out? Dawlish kept his wand jabbed fiercely into Harry's back, and it was starting to become quite painful. "Wait here," growled Dawlish after they had come to an abrupt stop. They were standing inside the kitchen, at the foot of the long wooden table where Harry had enjoyed many a meal with the Weasleys, Lupin, Tonks, Sirius... Dawlish kept his wand trained on Harry at all times as he walked to the table and picked up a dark cloak. He reached into an inner pocket and brought out a small book. He tossed it to Harry. "Hold that," he ordered. Harry glanced down at it to see just what it was he was holding. The words "Official Aurors Handbook," stared back at him, and he was forced to grin. So this little book had all of the information he would need to become an Auror? He'd need to ask Moody if he had a spare copy laying around. He was about to thumb through it when Dawlish's shadow blocked out his reading light. The Auror had somehow managed to get his black traveling cloak on while still keeping his wand pointed at Harry, and now he placed his free hand on the book alongside Harry's. "Armadillo bile," he said to no one in particular. Harry was about to ask him if he'd gone mad when he felt a jerk behind his navel, and he began to travel forward through a myriad of different colors; the classic indicators of travelling by Portkey. Upon impact, Harry fell forward due to the deceleration. Dawlish grabbed his left arm to prevent him from either falling over or running away, Harry couldn't be sure which. His loss of balance did however give him an excellent view of the highly polished marble floor. In fact, everything in the room had a very bright shine to it: the seemingly solid gold furniture, the row of overpolished purple boots that were lined up by the door, the pristine grid of magical paraphernalia that were arranged just so, even the forehead of the individual sitting behind the very large desk that dominated the room. All together it reminded Harry of Dumbledore's office, just a lot harsher on the eyes. "Dawlish, wha- " began Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge as he stood up from his seat behind the desk. His eyes fell upon Harry. He noticeably shrank away from the boy-who-lived. "What are you doing with H-Harry Potter? Weren't you stationed at the Black estate tonight?" He pulled a handkerchief from a robe pocket and used it to dab his face with. Harry thought he looked terribly uncomfortable, but he diverted his attention to Dawlish, hoping to catch the look of shock on his face when he found out that it really was Harry Potter he'd captured. The Auror just grinned; apparently, he'd known all along. "That's correct, Sir," answered Dawlish. "I caught Mr. Potter trespassing in the entrance hall and attempting to do bodily harm to a defenseless House Elf." Harry opened his mouth to try and defend himself, but Dawlish elbowed him in the ribs. Harry shot him a quick glare and tried again to speak, but Fudge beat him to it. "Oh ho! So the famous Harry Potter thinks he can just break into the house of a dead mass murderer and try to hurt House Elves does he?" A wide grin was spreading across his face, and he was clearly becoming more confident now that he knew why Harry was there. "I was only tr-" Harry tried to interject. "This proves once and for all that you were in contact with Sirius Black all along. You knew where he was hiding and you deliberately kept that information from Ministry officials. You can't wiggle your way out of this one Mr. Potter, oh no." Fudge looked practically giddy. "But Sirius was innocent!" shouted Harry, finally allowed a moment of silence to be heard. Fudge didn't so much as blink. "Do you have any proof of that Mr. Potter, or are you just making up wild stories again?" Harry couldn't contain his anger any longer. "AGAIN!" he raged, "WHEN HAVE I EVER?" Cornelius winced upon hearing Harry's outburst, and further wilted when he seemed unable to come up with a suitable reply. "Last time you didn't believe me people wound up getting killed!" Dawlish let out a warning grunt beside him, but Harry didn't pay it any heed and pressed on. "I'd think that with Voldemort back you'd be more than willing to listen!" The Minister flinched audibly at the mention of the Dark Lord's name. He was becoming quite flustered. Dawlish, still holding Harry's arm, gave him a violent shake. "You will address the Minister properly Mr. Potter or I'll force you to calm down in some rather unpleasant ways," he growled, though Harry thought that he heard some uncertainty in his voice. Harry forced himself to take a few deep breaths. There was no need to get himself cursed by an Auror. For his part, Fudge looked desperate to change the subject as well. "What were you doing in the Black residence?" he asked quietly, scrambling for a limb to stand on. "I was-" Harry wondered whether he should tell Fudge about the Order of the Phoenix. Chances are he already knew, what with the major battle that had taken place downstairs in this very building a little less than two months ago. Still... "I was looking for a - a picture of my parents," he said. It wasn't even entirely a lie. "Your parents?" asked Fudge incredulously. He looked Harry up and down as if seeing him for the first time. "Why do you think that Black would have had a picture of your parents?" and then, as if the thought had just occurred to him, "and in the middle of the night?" Harry was struggling to come up with an answer to the latest charge when the big double doors to the office burst open behind him. Harry's arm was nearly ripped out of its socket as Dawlish whipped around to see who had entered. Because he didn't want his arm to break, Harry turned as well. "Sir!" cried Percy Weasley. He was breathing very hard, and he stooped to catch his breath. Fudge looked impatient. "Well what is it then Weasley? Can't you see I'm in the middle of something rather important." Looking up, Percy saw Harry for the first time and his eyes went wide. He didn't otherwise acknowledge his presence however. "There's a developing situation at Azkaban," he said hurriedly, his attention turning back the Minister. "Supporters of - of you-know-who have showed up on the island and are in the process of freeing the prisoners." Percy looked frightened, and Harry supposed he would be as well if he had to deliver that sort of message. Fudge's face took on a defeated aspect, but he couldn't stop himself from asking the obvious question. "Dementors?" "They are back and appear to be helping the - Death Eaters, sir," Percy informed him. Harry could visibly see Fudge deflate. Were it not for the seriousness of the situation, it would have been quite comical. "We need to go and fight, sir!" Dawlish barked. He had whipped out his wand at the mention of Death Eaters, and he looked like he was going to go fight with or without his boss. "We can't let them just walk away without a fight, we might be able to put a stop to them!" Cornelius didn't make any sound at all, he just stood stock still studying the floor. "Sir?" The Minister jolted upright, as though he'd been wakened from a particularly bad dream. "Wha- Oh, right you are Dawlish," he said hurriedly. He looked as though he might be regaining a little air. "Pass me Mr. Potter's wand, I'll just keep it here for safekeeping." Harry watched in horror as Dawlish handed over his wand to Fudge, who placed it in a drawer. "We can't have you running around Azkaban putting our Aurors in harm's way, now can he Mr. Potter?" he asked condescendingly. "You mean I'm coming with you?" Harry had hoped he'd never have to see Azkaban prison. He wasn't terribly excited about the idea of facing hundreds of out-of-control Dementors either, to say nothing of the Death Eaters. And he was going to be wandless to boot. "Of course," said Fudge with the best smirk he could muster under the conditions. "I can't very well leave you here, you might try to strangle my House Elves." He shifted his focus back to Percy. "Weasley, I want you to raise the alarm, make sure that you get as many Aurors out to Azkaban as quickly as you can." Percy nodded and sprinted out the door, nearly tripping over his own feet in his haste to comply with the order. "How are we to get to Azkaban, sir?" asked Dawlish, "it's unplottable." "You think I don't know that?" Fudge sounded quite insulted. He turned to a large cabinet behind his desk and opened it by tapping it with a wand he had produced from his robes. It swung open to reveal a vast array of items that one would never find in any normal cabinet. Harry even thought that he saw what looked to be a shrunken head. Each item had a label beneath it, and Fudge was studying them carefully. "Let's see... Hogsmeade... Malfoy Mansion... the umm... yeah... Azkaban!" He took down what appeared to be a rusty pair of Muggle handcuffs. "Now what was the word for these again?" he asked himself as he leaned in close to get a better look at the card that had labeled the handcuffs. "Ah yes, Cheering Charm." The Minister instantly disappeared from view. Harry and Dawlish turned to look at each other. The Auror looked as though he was daring Harry to make a crack about how stupid the Minister was so that he could use the wand he'd pulled out. Harry smartly decided to stay quiet. It was only a matter of mere moments before Fudge came plummeting to a stop right where he had been before. His cheeks were a little red. "Well come on then," he said, motioning them to join him. Harry was dragged by his arm around the large desk, and he placed a hand on the Portkey when it was lifted up by Fudge. Dawlish did the same, and one "Cheering Charm" later Harry was taking his second Portkey trip of the night.
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