AN: This story was written for the Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition. My prompt as Seeker was to write a story set in the Office of International Magic Cooperation.
Hephaestus Tottlepot dropped his head into his hands and groaned. Why didn't he follow his instincts and call in sick today? He was already tired of listening to the arguing in his office; who knew that "International Magic Cooperation" could be so stressful?
"Gentlemen, please," Hephaestus begged, raising his hands in supplication. "There has to be a better way of settling this than full-out extinction."
The Headmaster of Salem Academy, Claude Hopper, slammed his fist down onto the armrest of his chair and rolled his eyes. "Oh for goodness' sake! There is no extinction; they're already dead."
Severus Snape, Headmaster of Hogwarts, sniffed through his ample nose. "You miss the fact that, though dead, the ghosts of Hogwarts provide valuable perspective." He looked askance at his American counterpart. "Something you do not have, obviously."
Hopper snorted. "Oh spare me. Those things need to cross over. It's nothing short of unholy to work with the dead."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "You refer to ghosts as unholy things? That's a very...revealing...choice of words." He turned to Tottlepot. "I refuse to cooperate with this oaf. I wish to formally declare an impasse."
Hephaestus Tottlepot choked on his tea. "Headmaster Snape, you cannot be serious!" Tottlepot took a moment to spell his sputtered tea from his robes. "A formal impasse will generate unbelievable amounts of paperwork."
Severus stood, towering over the other two men. "I refuse to allow this American swine," he sneered, gesturing at Hopper with his wand, "to come into my school and experiment on its community of ghosts." Severus turned to Claude Hopper and growled. "The ghosts of Hogwarts will remain as they are."
Claude Hopper fingered his own wand and sighed. "That is most unfortunate. I had hoped to avoid an impasse, but I now see that it's not possible."
Sighing in relief at Hopper's easy acquiescence, Tottlepot sat back in his chair. "Thank you, gentlemen, for your time. The Office of International Magic Cooperation will send you both copies of the formal declaration of an impasse-"
"I have a demonstration in mind that I believe will change your minds, gentlemen," Hopper interrupted, drawing intricate runes in the air with his wand. "Why don't we summon a ghost from here at the Ministry and ask it what it wants?"
After an awkwardly quiet moment, the Headmaster of Hogwarts sighed. "I have no objection, Hephaestus." Severus feigned disinterest as he silently cast a scanning spell on Hopper. The American man held a beastly attitude towards the actively deceased, and Severus was going to find out why.
Headmaster Hopper finished his spell, and the ghost of a young woman appeared before them wearing a long, plain dress and a white apron. She curtsied to the three men in the room. "My name is Ann, my lords. How may I serve you?"
Hopper stood and walked to Ann, making sure to keep a bit of distance between them. He looked the ghost up and down, sneering. "You were a kitchen drudge, correct?"
The young woman fidgeted nervously. "I was, and I am now as well, my lord."
"You are dead, so using the present tense is unacceptable." Hopper gestured with his wand and struck the young woman with a small bolt of lightning. Ann screamed, turning into mist for a moment before coalescing back into her ghostly form.
'Oh I say, Hopper," Hephaestus interjected. He covered himself in a protective magical film so that he could hold the sobbing ghost without her coldness burning him. "That is quite enough out of you, sir."
Claude Hopper scoffed. "You are simply playing into her hands, you fool. Ghosts can't feel pain." He turned to Severus and gestured at Ann. "Don't you see? It's using false tears to play on your sympathies."
Ann pulled away from Tottlepot. "I am indeed dead, my lord, but I still have feelings."
A look of pure disgust crawled over Hopper's features. "Liar. Ghosts have neither emotions nor the capacity to tell the truth." He raised his wand menacingly. "God has reserved those for the living."
Severus had heard enough. Moving so fast he almost seemed in two places at once, he lightly touched Claude Hopper on the back of his neck. Using an old Death Eater ability, he seized control of Hopper's magic, rendering him powerless. "You so much as blink in a way I don't approve of, and I will end you right here and now," Severus hissed into Hopper's ear.
The dark wizard glanced up at Hephaestus. "Call the aurors. We have someone who I believe the O.M.G. will wish to speak with."
Tottlepot summoned the authorities. "I've called them, but what is the Oh-em-gee?"
Severus tightened his hold on Hopper's magic. "It's a magical American society; Order of the Morally Gray. They worked with the Death Eaters when it looked as if Voldemort might win."
Hopper struggled and nearly got free. Severus sighed in exasperation and knocked the man to the floor, binding him with magical rope. "I think the O.M.G. would be very interested in a Westboro Wizard."*
Hephaestus sent Ann back to the canteen. "I am very much at a loss, Headmaster. I have no idea what a Westboro Wizard is."
"We are holy warriors!" spat Hopper, his face red with anger. "Ghosts violate God's natural law! They are a demonic plague upon all Wizardkind, and anyone protecting them will burn in hell!"
Before either Hephaestus or Severus could respond, two witches in auror robes arrived. As they carried Claude Hopper away, he began to chant, "God hates ghosts! God hates ghosts!"
Hephaestus and Severus sat in stunned silence. After requesting tea from a house-elf, Tottlepot asked, "What is a Westboro Wizard, and why would this O.M.G. be interested in one?"
Severus added a bit of milk and sugar before replying. "Americans tolerate an amazing array of things, including groups built on irrational and uneducated hate. Westboro Witches and Wizards are a group of men and women who seek to eradicate ghosts." He sipped his tea before continuing. "The Order of the Morally Gray follow the whims of whatever current powers-that-be, or powers-that-may-be, and right now Westboro Witches and Wizards are some of the most despised magical people in America."
Tottlepot drank his tea in silent contemplation. After a bit, he asked, "But why would someone so thoroughly vile think that a supposed God of Love was in their favor?"
"I'm not sure," Severus admitted, standing so he could take his leave of the Office of International Magic Cooperation. "All I know is that evil is rarely so effective as when it wears a mask of righteousness."
Hephaestus Tottlepot nodded in understanding and wished the Headmaster a good day.
*AN: The Westboro Baptist Church is a notorious anti-gay hate group in America, and they are almost universally despised across the country (they're the ones who protest at soldier's funerals and hold up signs saying 'God hates f gs." It was a bit of alliterative logic to have Westboro Wizards as a magical American hate group. There is no logic to Westboro Witches and Wizards hating ghosts, though, just as there is no logic in the Westboro Baptist Church hating gay people.