Chapter 1: Retribution
Dolores Umbrage was eating her breakfast at six-thirty when there was a loud knock on the door. Although in itself this was an unusual event, it aroused no more than mild curiosity in the Ministry of Magic official.
"I wonder who that can be, Fluffy?" she said, addressing her enquiry to the large, grey, blue-eyed cat staring up at her hungrily from a ribbon-bedecked basket on the floor of the kitchen. She checked the spy hole built into the front door, before flicking her wand to open it. It was an unfamiliar, tall man with a beard, wearing the familiar garb of a Ministry Auror.
"Madam Umbrage," was all he uttered, as he handed her a rolled and sealed parchment, before returning to his sentry-like post outside the cottage door. Umbrage again gave a flick of her wrist to shut the door. She quickly unrolled the parchment and read its brief contents: Please report directly to the office of the Minister for Magic at eight o'clock this morning. Do not talk to anyone when you arrive.
Umbrage fed her cat, then dressed quickly before using the Floo Network to travel to the Ministry from her home, at one minute to eight.
Even Senior Undersecretary Umbrage would not enter the Minister's office unannounced, she therefore knocked twice.
"Enter," said a deeper than usual voice. Umbrage turned the handle and entered.
Good Morning, Minist—"
Before she could finish her sentence she had realised that it was Kingsley Shacklebolt who occupied the Minister's chair.
"Sit down, Dolores." By the tone of his voice, she knew that this was an order, not a polite request.
Dolores Umbrage stifled her urge to speak and sat, alert, in the seat across from the Minister. She became vaguely aware of the two large men who had positioned themselves just behind her.
"Voldermort is dead. He was slain while duelling with Harry Potter at Hogwarts School. Thicknesse has been arrested. I am now the Minister."
"Voldermort dead. Harry Potter—" were the only words that she spoke in reply. Dolores Umbrage did well to regain her composure.
"Er, congratulations, Minister," she responded politely, although her facial expression revealed the true extent of her anxiety.
"We are not here for idle chit-chat, Dolores," said the new Minister, solemnly. "You are here to answer for your crimes."
"C—Crimes, Minister," Umbrage blustered. "I have only ever acted in the best interests of the Ministry."
Kingsley Shacklebolt sat back in his chair. He looked across at here, impassively.
"No, Dolores, you have not. You are cruel, malicious and vindictive. You have persecuted and ordered the torture—and worse—of innocent wizards and witches. You are an overzealous bully. You have abused the trust and position that was given to you by former weak and ineffective Ministry officials. Do you want me to continue?"
Dolores Umbrage did not speak, but looked down and stared at her shoes.
"What we have to decide now, is what we should do with you. The time has finally come to purge the Ministry of your kind, Dolores. As we speak, the Aurors that have remained loyal to the Ministry are hunting down what remains of the Death Eater culture. Some have already been arrested. Many of them chose to fight and die at Hogwarts, rather than spend the rest of their miserable lives in Azkaban. Others have fled abroad, but our friends in other countries have promised that they will not go unpunished. Your only, small, saving grace, Dolores, is that you do not bear the mark of the Dark Lord that would have meant your immediate removal from decent society.
"You are, of course, sacked, Dolores. You no longer deserve the rights and privileges of Office that you have so cruelly abused. You will find that we are, nevertheless, kinder than you have been, Dolores. At least for the time being, until the full extent of your crimes has been investigated, you will be placed under house arrest and spared the cold prison cell and the Dementor's Kiss. But be warned, Dolores: do not confuse kindness for weakness; you will still have to pay for your crimes. Do you understand, Dolores?"
Like a naughty child, waiting to be punished by its parent, Dolores Umbrage raised her head to look into the stern, unsmiling face of Kingsley Shacklebolt: he looked into her eyes, but he could read no sign of defiance in them.
"Yes, Minister," she said quietly, as she once again lowered her head. The Minister addressed the Aurors:
"Gentlemen. Please take the former Minister home. Carry out the usual search for magical charms and potions in the house. Make sure that there are sufficient provisions to sustain her and, I believe, a cat. Then, finally, place the appropriate spells of containment and confinement around her house. Oh, and before you go: your wand, please, Dolores."