Hermione pressed a charmed galleon into Harry's hand before he stepped in to the floo. "Take this," she said, "I told Skeeter 8pm. Contact me if that won't work, and to tell me when you're on your way back."
When Harry arrived at the ministry he was greeted with the incredibly unnerving sight of three Malfoys waiting for him. Narcissa and Draco had taken the floo just before him, and Lucius had come from the manor. Harry tried to offer a greeting but ash from the floo was stuck in his throat and he ended up choking and coughing until Draco produced a cup of water for him to drink.
Once he felt mostly composed, and was breathing air properly, he tried again. "Lucius," Harry said, offering his hand. Lucius was still taller than him, but no longer the towering figure Harry remembered during their first meeting. He pushed down his annoyance and anger towards the man and reminded himself that they needed to work together to keep Draco from getting expelled.
Lucius returned the handshake with a tight lipped, "Potter."
Letting go, Harry glanced at the man's left hand, which was holding a file, and asked, "What is that?"
"It is all of the incriminating evidence I have on Delores Umbridge," Lucius replied. Then, looking at the folder, "Or, at least, all that's relevant to the ministry."
“You compiled all of that in the last hour?”
Lucius looked at him with disgust, “Are you implying that I wouldn’t have this information readily available at any time?”
Harry frowned, looking at the folder. “Ok,” he said cautiously. “So you’ve known that you might need information against Umbridge since before today. Or, more likely,” he returned his gaze to Lucius, “you have this kind of thing on a lot of people who work at the ministry?”
Lucius cocked an eyebrow, “Do you truly believe we only keep files on people employed at the ministry?”
Harry’s brows came together as he fought not to roll his eyes. Of course the Malfoy's had a fucking database of dirt on everyone. “I’m going to assume you have something like this for anyone of note in the wizarding world,” he said, trying to decide between feeling disgusted and impressed. Harry sighed heavily, “You don’t think this gives the wrong impression?”
“Wrong impression,” Lucius repeated the words as though Harry wasn’t saying them in the right order.
“I mean,” Harry motioned to the folder, “having a labeled folder with incriminating information at the ready kind of makes it look like your just sitting around waiting for the right moment to strike. And sure, I get that, to a Slytherin-” he faltered briefly, remembering his current company. “I just don’t know that it makes the best impression.”
Lucius stared at him. Then he turned and walked away, his robes gathering elegantly around him.
Harry sighed. "Well that went well," he said to no one in particular.
"Try not to let your stark views on what's right and wrong take over this meeting." Narcissa said, and though her tone had a crispness, it was not cruel. She began to walk the same way Lucius had gone.
Harry and Draco started to walk together after them, and Draco gave Harry’s hand a brief squeeze.
"Don’t worry,” Draco replied, and Harry could hear the fond affection in his voice, “he knows what he’s doing. Just try to follow his lead and this will get worked out.”
Harry grimaced at that idea, but he knew that this was their only working plan at the moment.
When they reached the door to Kingsley's office the three Slytherins stepped aside so Harry could go in first. Harry knocked, and the door opened immediately. Once they were all seated around his desk Kingsley addressed Harry.
“I was informed there was an incident at Hogwarts today with Delores Umbridge, shortly after you set up this meeting."
“Yes, Minister. I came to ask why you still have her employed here," Harry said.
Kingsley gave a slight chuckle, "My my boy, you don't spare any room for diplomacy do you?" Then, as he looked over Harry's earnest expression he sighed heavily and said, "I will do everything I can to make sure nothing comes of today's incident. I have no desire to see a student in Azkaban. However, I can't promise to get rid of Ms. Umbridge. I have been trying to remove her since July and have been unsuccessful in finding proof of anything bad enough to get her thrown out."
Harry gave a humorless laugh, "What about the Muggle-born Registration Commission? Surely that wasn't legal?"
Kingsley shook his head, "It was mandated at the time. She was doing her job."
Incredulous, Harry put his right hand on the desk, "She made me carve words into my skin!"
"Harry," Kingsley's eyes were full of pity, "I don't blame you for what happened, but other people will. Even though she instructed it, you were not technically forced. I have already tried to use this against her, but she is well protected."
Outraged, Harry made to stand but stopped himself when he felt Draco's hand in his forearm. Instead, he leaned back in his seat and stared at the floor.
"If I may," Lucius' steel voice cut in and Kingsley turned to him. "As part of my sentence, the auror department has asked me to give over any information concerning supporters of the Dark Lord. I do have some information regarding Delores that might help you in your cause."
Kingsley eyed him for a moment, then glanced down at his desk when Lucius slid the folder across it.
"That is information I received from several sources, most of them Death Eaters," Lucius said. "It includes a few things that I think you will find noteworthy, including her enthusiastic cooperation with the Dark Lord's regime. Eye witness accounts of the torture, imprisonment and deaths of several people, specifically Muggle-borns."
Kingsley sifted through the papers, setting several pieces of parchment and photographs aside and tapping them with his wand to create copies. When he was finished he looked back to Lucius, "I appreciate you bringing this to me, it will undoubtedly be enough to convict her. I must say something though, for my own integrity, if nothing else. I know you wouldn't be here if she wasn't after your son. You would have done the same Lucius, if not worse, to those Muggle-borns."
"Minister," Lucius replied, his voice sounding far too genuine, "I saw the error in my prejudice long before the death of the Dark Lord."
Harry and Kingsley exchanged a look. Harry tried desperately not to project his thoughts on his face, but he had a feeling that Kingsley was thinking the same thing. What a load of crap! But… We need him for this.
"In fact," Lucius said, drawing their attention, "I know that your cells are crowded at the moment. To show we are in solidarity, I'm happy to open up the lower levels of the Malfoy Manor if you need a place for Delores to serve out her imminent sentence."
"Oh yes," Narcissa said, "we want to be as accommodating as possible."
Harry looked at Draco, panicked at the idea. He hated Umbridge but there was no telling what would happen to her at the manor. Draco didn't look concerned in the least, he just smirked and even had the nerve to wink.
Kingsley cleared his throat, and said, "That's not necessary. Thank you for the offer though," he finished, sounding more than a little uncomfortable. He looked back down at the copies he'd made from the file. On the top was a photo of Umbridge scowling at a Muggle-born witch, in the picture she snapped the woman's wand and tossed it on the floor. Kingsley looked back up, "Actually, we are rather crowded. If we can't find room for her, I will contact you about the dungeons in Malfoy Manor."
Lucius smiled, somehow affecting a gracious cruelty in the expression usually meant for happiness, "Please do. In the meantime, I can be assured that Draco is safe at Hogwarts and this woman will be removed from your employ?"
Kingsley stood, and they all followed suit. He reached his hand out and Lucius shook it. "You have given me more than enough to sentence her rather than simply fire her. I'm glad to have a path towards justice. Thank you, Mr. Malfoy."
"At your service, Minister."
When the Malfoy's left the office Harry stayed back to talk to Kingsley.
"I know this was a bit unconventional," Harry said, "thank you for seeing us and taking care of- of the problem."
"Any time Harry," Kingsley replied. "I don't suppose you would like to tell me why your mixed up with a family of pure bloods?"
Harry smiled, "I'm sure you'll be able to read all about it in the Prophet tomorrow, Minister."
Kingsley smiled, "Good luck to you, Harry."