Maybe a one shot, maybe a fic….read AN at the end.
Arthur Weasley and a Harry Potter approached the ministry welcome desk without much worry.
"You'll need to hand your wand over. It's a security thing."
Harry shrugged. As long as he could return to Hogwarts, he would do cartwheels if they wanted him to.
Harry pulled out his wand and began to move it towards the desk.
The cry came up from somewhere in the unusually sparse crowd around them. Both Harry and Arthur were unable to react before a wall of red stunners hit them. Harry, being of the more youthful physiology, managed a brief betrayed look before his body arced backwards and landed on his side, cracking his head and breaking his right arm. Arthur was blissfully unconscious before his body even began its impromptu flight.
Grim faced Aurors quickly floated them off before reassuring the public that everything was fine. The public outside the atrium that is. There was not one individual in actual sight of the incident who had not known of the confrontation, and the result of it.
One specific individual in this lot checked that everything was over and quickly headed off to the courtroom.
Fudge was the only one left there. He was waiting for the end of the event and wanted to make sure that everything was going right. He had a role to play today, so he walked himself through just why he had to do this.
For too long, Dumbledore has held sway over the Wizarding World. So much power, and he wasn't even minister! No, if Fudge wanted to get the power the minister was supposed to have, he had to get rid of the biggest opponents he would have. Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore. It had been simple enough. First, he used the Daily Prophet to malign their names, until the public could associate their names only with the foolish and insane. Next, he had directly attacked the weaker of the two. The whole plan was a bit of a risk, but a wand works wonders in "persuading" the small minded. His Under Secretary, such a loathsome creature she was, but loyal all the same. Delores had not taken much to influence, and had quickly and dutifully sent Dementors to the boy's house. And just as planned, the Gryffindor fool had dutifully obliged with a spell. Potter was magically powerful, but he was no Slytherin. Dumbledore had swept in of course, but that was the whole point. A staged arrest and it would all come together perfectly. Now the boy was looking even more guilty, the old man had burnt more of his bridges, and in the public eye, it would just look like more insanity from the pair. Still the Dementors were an inspired choice. Delores may have been onto something, even if her continuing ranting about creatures had long become tiresome.
The door swung open and an auror rushed in excitedly.
"Minister! We got him. He's in holding cell 4. We put the other one in cell 17. They won't see each other in any way."
Fudge lit up in triumph. The auror puffed up a bit, aware that it only spelled good news. But almost immediately, Fudge's eyes narrowed.
"Excellent! And Dumbledore is not here?"
"Not yet minister. Nobody seen him in the atrium."
"All the better. Who came in with the boy?"
"Arthur, from Misuse. He's Dumbledore's man, but not a bad sort."
"Yes, a shame that. A pureblood like him... I trust that he is not harmed?"
"Oh no minister! Just a couple of stunners that one. The boy though, he's probably cracked his fool skull. Definitely broken his arm proper. You know how it is minister, when the boys saw a wand, blink o' an eye and then t'was done."
"I dare say it was, yes. And one more thing Dawlish... Potter was resisting, you understand?"
The use of his name was enough to emphasize the point. This one was useful like that, Fudge mused..
"Minister?... Oh-Oh right! Of course he was, by Merlin! It was just like you said, Minister. Mad one, that lad!"
"Right you are! Get the boy to Azkaban. I've arranged it with the Warden. Hooded at all times you understand? Nobody sees him! I will not have Dumbledore snatching him just because he is Albus Bleeding Dumbledore!"
Fudge spat that last word as if it was a curse. He took a breath and calmed down. No point in getting all worked up at the very moment of his victory. As the auror left, he took off his bowler hat and smiled. It was a long road to get here, and even with all the unpleasantness and backstabbing involved, he couldn't say he regretted it. Some of the things he had done, sure. But the end result was all the more sweeter. Yes. It was good to be Cornelius Fudge.
Arthur Weasley looked out from his holding cell in trepidation. He had woken up here a while back, but nothing had happened yet. All he could do was think about what happened earlier. There had been a flash and then nothing. His eyes narrowed yet again.
There was trouble afoot, and it was not going to be a little one. He had not seen Harry at all after he woke up, and he had no clue what was going on. Nobody had come by and he didn't even know what time it was. The Minister had made a play of some kind, he thought. Something was happening. Maybe, they were holding the trial with Harry all alone? No, He mustn't think like that. It would be all right.
The thought kept rolling in his head. He wondered what his family clock would say of this, would it show "Mortal Peril" or just "Work"? Not that it mattered. Dumbledore would set it right. He always did.
As he looked at the guard and the empty cells around him, he repeated it in his mind. Dumbledore would set it right. He just had to.
Albus Dumbledore swept into an empty courtroom with a feeling of trepidation. It had been a feeling, a very faint but irksome feeling that had prompted him to arrive slightly before the summons indicated. However the atmosphere on arriving here was an all too ominous one. If even the atrium was full of people chattering away about the boy who lived was any indication. Yes, something had gone wrong. And when he had put words to those uneasy feelings of his, he had felt it in his bones, that moment after he had stepped into the unlit courtroom. Something had gone very wrong.
He marched furiously in search of his quarry. His anger was at a level he had rarely reached since his youth. His Sister's fate had made him angry, yes. But after that, even Gellerts little war had not made him angry. Not even young Tom could have brought forth this, not even as he slaughtered his way through the crème of the light. No, it was one thing to declare war, it was one thing to be driven mad by the darkness and commit inhuman acts, that was worth his pity. But this act of betrayal? For it was betrayal indeed. To turn his back upon his oaths, to commit this travesty upon a mere child for mere political gain? No, words could not contain his fury. No, this was wrath, a roiling storm of emotion that spilled into his magical presence and frightened everyone in and out of his path. None stood in his way. For this was not the Headmaster of Hogwarts. This was Albus "Ajax" Dumbledore, Commander of the Second Wizarding Army of Albion, Warrior of the Crimson Wand, Vanquisher of Grindelwald, and true warlock.
Quite a few old timers in the Ministry building reflexively sprung to attention as a familiar feeling made itself known.
And Albus found himself tempted. In this moment, he was so sorely tempted. It was almost funny that it was Cornelius of all people who would fray his control. How many light spells could be used to torture and kill? How easily could he, with his not inconsiderable strength, simply transfigure the minister to his namesake as a snack? Or maybe he could use a simple light spell to permanently burn out the eyes of the already blind fool? Or perhaps a Scourgify, applied at sufficient strength to slowly scour flesh from bone? Or better still, a summoning charm, to summon that black heart out of its ill willed shell? Yes, his old friend in Nurmengard may have drowned in the darkness, but he had never lost his fiendish cleverness.
When Dumbledore reached the Minister's office, what entered the room was not a man. It was a caricature of power. With glowing eyes and billowing robes, there was nothing genial about this old man. His normally comical sky blue robes with silver stars and moons had turned a menacing black and red. His whole form was shadowed, and thin wisps of magic floated unbidden around him, sucking the very light out of the air. A wrathful wizard was not a pretty picture.
But through it all, Minister Fudge sat unconcerned. Certainly, he was sweating from the sheer amount of magic in the room. And undoubtedly, he was almost at the point of losing bladder and bowel control. But his serene smile did not drop. And his posture remained unconcerned, atavistic responses notwithstanding. Yes, he even had the audacity to smirk.
"Ah Chief Warlock, please…take a seat."
Dumbledore's magical presence simply doubled. His form shrunk into a shadow with two narrowed blazing eyes. But nonetheless, he sat. Some manners at least, he would keep. Even if his wand was spitting sparks . And the Elder Wand in this state was never a good thing. But he was beyond caring.
"Would you like some tea? I understand you are fond of Sherbet Lemons, but I only have tea here myself."
Dumbledore glared at the man. Why the sheer gall!
"Cornelius" He grit out. "Where is the boy?"
The Minister poured himself a cup of tea and thoughtfully sipped, not paying attention to the explosion-in-the-shape-of-man before him.
"He's in Azkaban of course. Very serious case that. Underage magic use in front of a muggle, drawing a wand in front of an officer of the law, resisting arrest! Why, I had no other choice, as the duly elected servant of the Wizarding World that I am…" And here his smile turned geefully malicious. "Yes, I had him sent to Azkaban, into the same cell that Sirius Black once stayed before the traitor escaped. Fitting don't you think?"
Dumbledore slowly raised his bowed head. His wrath was truly the stuff of legends now. His wand slowly pointed at the head of the still gleeful fool he asked, both honestly curious and for some hint of justification. His words thrummed with power, but his tone was now conversational.
"And what makes you think that after all of this, you will live past today? I have already fought two Dark Lords and vanquished one. You are many things Cornelius, but my equal you are not. SO please tell me, what makes you think that I will allow this travesty to stand? He is just a child!"
Fudge relaxed into his chair. He looked at the great and terrible wizard and smiled happily.
"Because Dumbledore, if I die now, Potter's cell will open. If I am harmed in any way by you, Potter's cell will open. If I do not send regular owls with secret passwords to the Warden, Potter's cell will open. If you go within three miles of Azkaban, Potter's cell will open. If any of a number of things you undoubtedly plan to do happens…" Fudge snapped his fingers. "…Potter's cell will open... And the guards of Azkaban will find themselves one soul richer."
"You can plot and plan all you like Dumbledore. The only reason Potter still has a soul... is that I will it. If I no longer will it? Well, I suppose you will have to find another precious Chosen One, won't you."
"Cornelius….to sink this low…" Dumbledore croaked from his dry throat. His wrath was gone. All he felt was blank.
"I will sink that low, and lower still. Don't think I am blind Dumbledore. All those positions of power and and a Minister to play like a fiddle? Yes, I figured out your little game. And the moment you think that I slipped my leash, you resurrect that Dark Lord of yours. Very convenient is it not? How long have you been planning this Dumbledore? Five years? Ten? Sitting in that castle, indoctrinating our children…The only Dark Lord in the world right now is you!"
Dumbledore himself looked astonished. Not that Fudge would let it fool him.
"I will tear down your power Dumbledore. I am not letting your schemes destroy the Wizarding Britain I love and serve. And now I have the linchpin of your plot, your greatest pawn in my grasp. I am not letting him become a queen. Oh no!"
Dumbledore idly wondered when the idiot had become so paranoid and deluded. This was the sort of things twitchy muggleborns thought up. His wrath had disappeared, replaced by weariness. He was not dealing with a dark madman. No, this one was just a deluded madman. But he was no less dangerous than before he started ranting. Still, he had to at least answer some of this, for his own peace of mind, and to try and inject some sanity.
"I have never sought power Cornelius. It was the public that forced these titles upon me. Save for Headmaster, I was not the one who chose myself for those positions."
Fudge was unfortunately not convinced.
"But that's what you want them to think! You have pawns everywhere…your allies, your servants, your little vigilante group….I see so much now Dumbledore…and I can only be afraid of what I do not."
Were Harry not caught up in this, Dumbledore would have bent the nincompoop over his knee and caned him raw.
"And if I was this malicious mastermind you claim I am, I would have no qualms of sacrificing Harry and killing you anyway...and I have not! You must see reason Cornelius!"
Fudge shook his head.
"No Dumbledore, even now you think me foolish. I am not like them" He vaguely gestured above "I can see through that mask of yours. You will not break character, I would admire you just for that. No doubt even that display earlier was calculated for maximum effect, reminding everyone that you are more than an old man. But I will not be cowed by your power 'Ajax'!"
Dumbledore frowned. "I do not like that name because that was a different me. You who have not fought in war cannot imagine what it was like. Even Voldemort is nothing but an irritant compared to fighting a real war."
Fudge shook his head, even after being shaken by the use of that name.
"No Dumbledore. You have lost. You cannot persuade me with your pretty words and twisting logics. Even in your twilight days you cling so tenaciously to power. I will not allow you to turn this Ministry into a mockery. No one man can be the Wizarding World Dumbledore, not me not you. But at least the people choose the Minister. No Dumbledore, leave peacefully…keep your dignity. Today your plans are thwarted. The Wizarding World is free from your grasp for another day."
Dumbledore sighed. He had planned for many things. But the Minister going insane and paranoid was not something he had even imagined was possible. No, Cornelius was right in a sense. He had lost today.
"Very well Cornelius, if you have become so afraid of my so called scheming that you must gamble with a boy's soul, I will not press this. I had though you malicious, not insane. Please, I beg you, see reason! I will return Cornelius. Things are not as dire as you make them! I am so sorry that you feel this way. At least let Harry go! I beg you, do not persecute an innocent!"
Fudge shook his head.
"No Dumbledore, Harry in Azkaban is the only leverage I have. The moment he is released, I will conveniently 'die of natural causes'. Do not think me naïve. As long as I am minister, as long as I am the one in this position you seek to control, I must have some guarantee of my safety. And you will not drop your mask even now, away from the public or eavesdroppers. That is how I know how dangerous you are. That is why I must keep Potter in Azkaban."
Dumbledore shook his head at the circular logic but didn't bother arguing the point. The Minister would get the care he needs, he vowed. If the Janus Thickey ward was his fate, so be it, but he could only pity this man. It could even be a plot by Tom, some form of paranoia or dementia inducing magic. Who knew what new and insidious dark magic that boy had cooked up? He would have to consult Severus. He looked at the Minister, who was still grinning widely and shook his head. He could now only pray for Harry. As he left the Minister's office, he saw Lucius Malfoy waiting outside. He narrowed his eyes thoughtfully as he left. Was this a sign?
After sending off even Lucius after a lot of talking, Cornelius Fudge relaxed into his comfortable chair and yawned. A glass of Ogden's Finest kept him company. Success deserved it's pwn reward.
Today was an exciting day all told. He had outmaneuvered some of the most powerful men he knew. Fudge reveled in it. He had played second fiddle to them for so long that acting on his own initiative was quite the revelation. He savored the giddy feeling a little more before taking a sip from his glass.
He was now a power in his own right. Even if people still called him Dumbledore's shadow or Lucius's lapdog, he did not care. Let the public have their delusions, as long as they voted for him of course. Not that were not advantages to all those rumors. Poor Cornelius Fudge, who bent to whoever had power. Poor Cornelius Fudge who was perfect because he would do what was asked of him. Poor Cornelius Fudge who everyone who supported anyone voted for, because he could be "persuaded" support their agenda. Well, who was "poor" Cornelius Fudge now?
He had convinced Dumbledore that he was insane and so, dangerous; he had convinced Lucius that he stubbornly believed himself clever and so, dangerous. He was now the most dangerous man in Britain as far as the most "powerful" people were concerned. He giggled a little.
He really didn't care if there was a Dark Lord or not. He knew the type. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named might have returned, he might not. Lucius may have rejoined his little rabble of misfits, he may not. As long as stability was maintained, he did not care. For now, if he was alive, the Dark Lord was staying silent. No doubt this was part of some bizarrely complicated plan. And if Lucius's desperation was any indication, he might really be back.
Not that it changed anything of course. He was only here for two more years. After that, he had his own private island in the tropics to retire to. Really, why was Lucius so desperate to be the power behind the throne, that he had to give the "Fudge Re-election Campaign" a fortune and a half? His wife Maragret, bless her soul, had died years ago, still childless, from drinking improperly brewed potion. He really had nothing to tie him here. He did not care for legacies, as much as he pretended otherwise. So all that was left was to quietly disappear. If the Dark Lord did turn up, well, He had plans for that also.
Fudge drank his Firewhiskey and tucked himself in for the night. He slept happily and with pleasant dreams. After all, he just loved it when a plan comes together.
First, I didn't include the malfoy scene because it never came out right. It would have been referenced in a later chapter though.
Yes, I'm back! Somewhat anyway. I got bored a few months back and started experimenting with this before I stopped. A few days ago I was just idly flipping through my files and this seemed to get my muse running, so I polished it a bit. Still don't have a beta….but that's you find any errors, please pm me and I'll correct them. Thanks in advance!
As to what I was doing...
I was mostly just rewriting random, because of gundam fanboying, and I was going in maybe three four directions to see what clicked. I'm still mostly just exploring what I can do there, while trying to avoid having OP protagonist steamroll everything. It'll work out….probably. And it will have proper chapters!
Mask of War is on indefinite Hiatus. I'm just totally drained of inspiration there. I can't help it. I had such great ideas, and then real life caught up. Now every time I try to pick it up again, memories raise their ugly head….so I'm sorry about that.
Of Wands and Kunai I'm actually considering rewriting, with far fewer OCs and no more Cthul-mione (yes that's what I call her in my head…I'm crazy) Probably a far slower power gain on harry's part also. But it's still ideas now. And I'm not sure if I should begin at all. My first published fic….bad as it was, it was a milestone for me.
This itself was an idea for a merc-harry fic I had. It would have been betrayed harry becoming escaped harry(Dobby power!) becoming who-gives-a-f*#k harry who gets pulled back into the war….yeah there was actually a detailed plot and chapter summaries(9 out of maybe 10~12 of them) and stuff of which this was the first. But then I realized that this would also be a good one shot and completed the first chapter accordingly. Not sure whether to continue as a fic or leave it as a one shot. Because really, I kind of like how this Fudge turned out. I'm not sure I want to overshadow him with Harry. Or maybe a separate fic starting from the end of this? Decisions decisions.
Anyway, like always, reviews are very much appreciated. I may not be very quick to respond to reviews as I am almost at the end of a three month internship and I have reports to worry about, But all reviews are definitely appreciated. (Except flames, but you knew that)
Depending on the response to this, I may continue or not. So I'm leaving it in your hands. I can't give regular updates even if I continue this, but as it actually has something of a plan behind it, it might only be a month or so between chapters….as opposed to the year/year and a half that was my final few OWaK updates.
So that's about it folks. Please remember to review!
This is Womgi signing off.
*Plays Cowboy Bebop: Real Folk Blues*