Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. This fic was inspired by daniel-gudman's "Accounting no Jutsu."
I do not worship your paltry gods of Logic and Reason, so don't bother condemning me as a heretic.
Later, she would wonder how things might have turned out if she hadn't overheard Fudge's complaint at the Triwizard Tournament.
It was an innocuous little thing. Most people wouldn't have noticed. Mr. Crouch, at whom the comment was directed, certainly didn't. But she was Hermione, and therefore she paused and thought: "I notice that I am confused."
"Minister Fudge?" she asked tentatively, resisting the compulsion to raise her hand. "How are you losing money on the Tournament?"
Maybe he recognized her as a friend of Harry Potter. She was reasonably certain that a Muggle government official wouldn't have answered her. But Magical Britain was different. Smaller.
"Well, my girl, the Tournament committee gets a commission. Then there's the fees for transport of magical creatures, setting up the tasks, and all manner of housekeeping costs to host the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang contingents. Then there's the prize money, of course. It all tends to pile up."
Hermione bit her lip thoughtfully. "The Muggles have several international competitions similar to this, but they're often profitable for the host country."
Fudge smiled his patronizing grandfatherly smile. "I doubt they have to care for several dragons, Miss Granger."
"No, but they often have to build stadiums that cost millions of galleons at least, if not hundreds of millions, for these competitions. Although I don't know the exact exchange rate…" she trailed off as noticed Fudge's eyes bulging.
"The Muggles throw around that kind of money just for sports competitions?" he asked.
"Oh yes," said Hermione. "And it's worth it, too. You can sell tickets to the event proper, of course, but then you can factor in advertising returns and tourism revenue. They'll easily make their money back, and then some."
Fudge was practically salivating at this point.
"I don't suppose you'd mind if I looked over the budget?" Hermione asked, as if she were asking Harry about his Charms essay. Then she seemed to remember herself and clapped a hand to her mouth, eyes widening.
Fudge didn't notice, his vision obscured by dreams of dancing galleons. "Of course, Miss Granger!" he said jovially. "In fact, do you have time now?"
"Well, I—" Hermione faltered, then just went with it. "Sure."
"Most excellent," Fudge said, wringing his hands excitedly. "Most excellent indeed."
They informed Dumbledore, who merely smiled and bid Hermione an "educational experience" with that familiar twinkle in his eye. Fudge took Hermione by Side-Along Apparition to the Ministry, where they introduced her to the parchment Leviathan that was the Tournament Budget.
The aides present would later recall a wave of unholy terror sweeping through the room. The Muggleborn girl didn't react all that much, they said. But her eyes narrowed, and suddenly they realized that they would much rather be elsewhere.
"Bring me parchment and a quill," she snapped at them. They were halfway out the door before they remembered to turn to Fudge questioningly. He nodded to them absentmindedly.
Hermione began to work.
"Miss Granger's been absent for three days," Flitwick said to Dumbledore. "I was informed she had left the castle with your permission."
"That she did," Dumbledore replied calmly. "I suppose it's high time we checked up on her."
"After three days?!" Flitwick spluttered. "What would you have done if I hadn't spoken to you?"
Dumbledore laughed softly. "I suspect Miss Granger can handle herself."
They found her asleep in an uncomfortable-looking leather recliner, surrounded by stacks of parchment and half-eaten meals. Somehow Percy Weasley had gotten involved with the project. He was crouched over a desk, summing columns of figures.
"Miss Granger?" Dumbledore asked politely.
"She's asleep," Percy said without looking up.
"We can see that," Flitwick snapped. "Is there a good reason a Hogwarts student has been abducted from the castle for three days?"
"Has it been that long already?" Percy asked, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"…Carry the four," Hermione mumbled. Dumbledore quietly made his way over to her and gently shook her shoulder. She woke with a start.
"Ah! Professor Dumbledore!" she squeaked. "I'm sorry, I just lost track of time. There's so much to do…"
"No matter," Dumbledore said with a smile. "We were merely concerned about your health."
"I've been restructuring the balance for the Triwizard Tournament," she said quickly. "It was sort of hard at first, but then I had Percy owl me few reference books, and then while we were working on the Tournament it sort of seemed natural to deal with the import tax sheet at the same time and—"
"Remember to pause for breath, Miss Granger," Dumbledore chuckled.
"What caused you to undertake this task in the first place?" Flitwick asked, still concerned.
"Oh, well, I asked to do it," Hermione said. "Minister Fudge was concerned about how much money we were spending on the Tournament, and while it's too late to change everything, I did manage to pull out a 200% return on our investment this year."
"Extraordinary," Dumbledore said. "I shall have to speak with Minister Fudge about this. But in the meantime, perhaps you should return to your classes."
Hermione immediately went bright red.
"Who are you writing to?" Ron asked darkly as Hermione carefully dragged her quill across a piece of parchment. Harry was off somewhere preparing for the second task.
"Minister Fudge," she replied calmly. "I'm explaining the concept of advertising to him."
"What makes you think he's going to listen to you?" Ron asked.
"He asked me," Hermione explained as she primly dipped her quill in her inkwell.
"Is that why you convinced Harry to wear those robes with chocolate frogs on them?"
"You know he's making a hundred galleons a month by doing that?"
Ron's jaw dropped. "Blimey," he sighed. "Why couldn't I be the champion?"
"How do you do, Miss…?"
"Granger," Hermione said, shaking the representative's hand. She was wearing dress robes—her business clothes—purchased with some of her consulting revenue.
"Bertie Botts' Every Flavor Beans has sent me to express their interest in commercial representation during the upcoming third task of the Triwizard Tournament, Miss Granger," said the representative.
"Minister Fudge authorized me to prepare the standard contract," Hermione stated, retrieving a sheaf of paperwork from her briefcase and plopping it on the table. "This will get you a lighted billboard on the castle grounds until the end of the school year as well as sponsored product recommendations in Hogsmeade. Additionally, you'll need to accept this contract before you can pay a champion to advertise your product."
"Isn't that an exclusive financial contract between two parties? How does the Ministry have the right to demand an additional contract beforehand?" asked the Bertie Botts representative with a raised eyebrow.
"Normally we don't, but the Triwizard Tournament falls under an obscure exception under the Grounds and Games Act of 1637," Hermione countered without missing a beat. "Moving on. If you want to upgrade to the deluxe package, we can set up a trade booth on the grounds and you can give Bagman a pre-written twenty-five word endorsement. That will be read before the third task. Do you have any questions?"
The representative scanned the sheet on pricing.
"I'll need a moment to consult with my superiors," he said, withdrawing a two-way mirror from his robes and stepping out of the room. Hermione withdrew a half-finished Potions essay from her briefcase and hastily scribbled a few sentences before the representative returned.
"We'll agree to a basic package and option the trade booth," he said, and Hermione smiled.
"Excellent choice," she said smoothly. "Sign here—and here—initial here—have your boss sign there, I'll mark it for you—initial here—sign and date here."
When he was finished, she scrawled her own signature. She'd been practicing it these last last couple months, and she had to say it looked impressive.
"I hope you're pleased with the results," said Hermione, rising. "Our preliminary studies are showing a 4 to 1 return on investment."
"I'm sure we will be," said the representative.
They shook hands.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Griphook," Hermione said politely. "May your vaults never run empty." She bowed, not breaking eye contact. She was still worried that she had missed a crucial detail on goblin customs, but if she did, Griphook didn't seem to care.
"May your creditors forget your name," Griphook replied. "Good afternoon, Miss Granger. We've heard a lot about you."
Hermione raised an eyebrow, but Griphook didn't expand on his comment, so she pressed on.
"I've recently come into some money, and I failed to think of a worthier institution to protect it," she said. "I would like to open a vault."
"I'm afraid that won't be possible," said Griphook. "Vaults are tied to a House."
Hermione bit her lip. "Can't I start my own House, then?"
Griphook burst out laughing.
"You have as little respect for the customs of wizards as I do," he said, eyeing her appraisingly. "As it turns out, we still have some old forms that might be of assistance to you."
That conditional was significant, she recalled from her reading. It meant…oh yes. He wanted to be 'persuaded.' Well, she had just the trump card.
"How would you like to own a wand, Mr. Griphook?" she asked casually.
Griphook jerked backward like he had been slapped, then recovered himself.
"Yes, Miss Granger, we know about your…extra-curricular activities," he said. "SPEW, was it?"
"I've given up on a grassroots movement. I'm going straight to legislation."
"That may be so. But you will understand if the word of a wizard means little in these chambers."
Hermione nodded thoughtfully. "How about a gift of knowledge?"
Griphook leaned forward. "And what knowledge would this be, Miss Granger?"
"What do you know about public trading?"
"Hello, little girl," said an abomination in a pink cardigan. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm Minister Fudge's financial consultant," Hermione said, flashing her badge. "Who are you?"
"Dolores Umbridge, Junior Undersecretary to the Minister," said the abomination. "I'm sure we'll just be great friends."
Umbridge left her papers on Fudge's desk and exited. Hermione exchanged glances with the Minister.
"I feel the need to make some oddly specific budget cuts," she said.
"I never liked her anyways," he agreed.
"So what if the landscaping company went on strike?" Hermione said over the two-way mirror. "We were already paying them more than their original contract specified. No, listen, Cornelius, the design work on the maze is already finished. It's ours by contract. We just have to hire some unskilled magical labor to finish it off. Contact the Unemployment Office—say again? Well, in that case, just have a publicly-minded citizen supply the labor. Ask Lucius. No, I don't know what to tell him, Cornelius. Make it tax-deductible or something. We both know he'll want his name attached to the Tournament regardless. We should easily have it set up by the third task. Cornelius, can I put you on hold? Griphook's on the other line. Okay, thanks."
Harry and Ron sat next to her, reading silently in the peace provided by their earplugs. They'd glance at each other occasionally and roll their eyes at her gesticulations.
"While you would retain legal possession of the Sword of Gryffindor, Headmaster Dumbledore has requested the sword remain on the Hogwarts grounds due to some emergent behavior having to do with the wards. No, I don't know the details. Look, I'm sorry, Griphook, but the fact is the sword will just pop right back into Dumbledore's office once you take it. What do you need it for anyways, chopping celery? Although I guess that would be a good way to infuse it with essential vitamins and minerals…No, Griphook, I'm just joking. You need to lighten up. Okay, call me back when you have more information. We're willing to work with you here."
"Objection!" Lucius Malfoy's glare flashed across the Wizengamot at Hermione.
"Lucius, the session has barely even started," Dumbledore said wearily.
"Nor should it, as long as this Muggleborn mocks this establishment by her presence," Lucius shot back, voice dripping venom.
"Objection to his objection," Hermione said calmly but firmly. "I represent the House of Granger. As per Wizengamot regulations, specifically the modified Charter of 1379, a seat must be provided by the Wizengamot's magic for each eligible House. I have a seat, therefore I am eligible to participate in the proceedings."
"Ah, but according to the Cultural Foundations Bill of 1422, newly formed Houses may not claim their seat until three generations have passed, regardless of their eligibility. This is, of course, provided we grant your claim that there is a House of Granger."
"But Lucius, that was overturned in the subsequent Cultural Acceleration Bill of 1425," Hermione replied. The Wizengamot turned as one to watch Lucius.
"On the condition that the new House is ratified by a unanimous vote," he said smugly.
"Or by the Chief Warlock," Hermione countered. "Albus?"
"The Wizengamot recognizes the House of Granger," Albus said, his smile making Hermione suddenly realize she had just referred to him by his first name. She desperately fought back the blush.
"While we're on the subject, are there any objections to our other newest member?" Dumbledore said.
All eyes turned to Harry Potter, uncomfortably dressed in a set of plum robes emblazoned with a W. Hermione glanced at Lucius, who looked like he wanted to say something but couldn't come up with anything yet.
"No?" Dumbledore asked pleasantly. "Off we go, then."
"You know, Miss Granger, you're really starting to make a name for yourself," said Fudge. "Particularly among the pureblood factions…"
He tried to let his sentence trail off meaningfully.
"Cornelius, I've improved the efficiency of this office by 300%," Hermione said matter-of-factly. "I have made more money in the past six months than any five of them put together. If they wish to complain about their traditions, let them."
"Ah, it's not that, you see," Fudge stammered. "It's just that certain parties have expressed a reluctance to fulfill their civic duty when the society they've grown to love is slipping away…"
"If by that you mean Lucius Malfoy has stopped bribing you, then good," said Hermione. "Now that I've streamlined the budget, any cash infusions would light up like a Christmas tree and get you impeached."
"Oh," Fudge said.
"That's right. But you've given me an idea. I think Lucius is up for an audit."
Prominent Community Figure Tried for Tax Evasion
Granger's Ambitious Campaign
By Rita Skeeter
"Come on, Yaxley, you've got to move with the times," said one of a few men Yaxley knew would be corpses if the Dark Lord returned. "We're all doing it. It's helping safeguard the future!"
"Have you lost your senses?" he hissed. "The Muggles are a void. You can throw whatever you want into them, but you'll get nothing from it!"
"I don't know if you're paying attention, but it's certainly helped society," said one of them. Yaxley's hand twitched toward his wand.
"Did you hear Granger told the goblins how to use more gold than they actually have?" one of them mentioned conversationally. "If that's not magic, I don't know what is."
"I don't care how magical it seems!" Yaxley shouted. "I'm not hiring a Muggle accountant!"
"And it looks like Cedric has outwitted the Sphinx! Krum's just going in circles now, but he's not out of the running yet! Still, none of the champions has entered the central portion of the maze. It could be anyone's game at this point. And now, a word from our sponsors."
While Bagman extolled the virtues of Flourish and Blotts, Hermione offered her popcorn to Griphook, who snagged a handful and stuffed it in his mouth.
"You wizards always did have a vicious streak," he said as Fleur fended off an Acromantula.
"What, and the goblins don't?" Hermione said with a smirk.
"Of course we do," Griphook retorted. "I was expressing admiration. Still, you're going about it wrong."
"How so? This looks plenty vicious to me," Hermione said.
"Humans have a strange sense of priorities. The real viciousness happened during the wage negotiations while the maze was being built."
"I hadn't thought of it that way," Hermione said, mouth half-full of popcorn. "I get what you mean, though."
"We'll make a goblin of you yet," Griphook snickered.
Harry looked around the graveyard. Cedric had almost beaten him to the Cup, but his designer running shoes from Madam Malkins had given him the extra edge to reach the Cup first. He wasn't sure whether that was a good or a bad thing.
"Bind him," came a chilling voice. Harry felt ropes slide around his limbs, restricting his movement completely. He tried to wiggle around and made very little progress.
"Come, now, up you come," said a voice he recognized as Peter Pettigrew's. He was lifted against a tombstone. He couldn't see—his glasses had fallen off.
"His glasses," came the voice again. "He must see his enemy."
Pettigrew put the glasses on his face. With the world in clearer perspective, he saw the ugliest baby he'd ever laid eyes on.
"Yes, Potter, fear me," said the baby.
"This is disgust, not fear," Harry corrected it. Seriously, that thing was disgusting.
"The ritual," the baby urged Pettigrew. As the ritual progressed, Harry was beginning to get some idea of who the baby was before finally the tall shape of Lord Voldemort arose from the cauldron.
"Your arm, Wormtail," Voldemort said. "No, your other arm. We must call the others."
They arrived in twos and threes.
"My lord," one of them said rapturously, bowing low, "we felt your call."
"Of course you did," Voldemort snapped. "You are here to celebrate my final victory over my enemy, the final threat to wizarding society."
"Who, me?" Harry asked. "I'm all for wizarding society. If you're talking about real threats to society, you want Hermione Granger."
He felt guilty saying it, but she had insisted ever since she had that meeting with Dumbledore and came out all thoughtful and serious. To his surprise, though, the Death Eaters agreed with him.
"He's got a point," one of them said amidst a chorus of nods. "She invented her own House so she could sit on the Wizengamot," said another. "She got Lucius arrested on tax evasion charges, never seen anything like it," said a third.
"Practically runs the Ministry by herself from what I hear," Jugson commented to Macnair, who shuddered and replied, "You have no idea."
"Silence!" Voldemort demanded, and they shut up. "What is the meaning of this?"
"Well, in terms of priorities, I'm not really a threat," said Harry. "I'm, what, fourteen? And you're the greatest Dark Wizard ever?"
"There was a prophecy," Voldemort said darkly.
"I don't know about that," Harry said. "But I won't do anything to you if you won't do anything to me."
" 'Neither can live while the other survives,' " Voldemort recited.
"Is that from the prophecy?" Harry asked. "Because isn't that what we're doing right now? Both living?"
"I…hadn't thought of that," Voldemort said.
"See? Not a problem. I'm not the one you're looking for," Harry finished smoothly. I hope you know what you're doing, Hermione, he thought.
"Do come in," Hermione called, sipping a glass of expensive champagne while she lounged in her bathrobe like all rich people do. It had been tight to rush back and quickly get changed, but fortunately she'd learned to Apparate from an illegal tutor.
Suddenly, the door blew open and none other than Lord Voldemort stood in her living room.
"Now I'll have to get that repaired," she sighed, annoyed. "What do you want?"
"Your so-called friend told me to kill you first," Voldemort laughed. "How does it feel to know that even the so-called defenders of the Right are willing to turn on you like the Mudblood scum you are?"
"I probably should care more," said Hermione. "Then again, I have too much money to really worry about having friends."
Voldemort was actually stunned into silence by the cynicism.
"Dumbledore told me the prophecy," she said conversationally. "I might still have bothered trying to kill you if he hadn't also told me about the Horcruxes."
"Then you know you cannot escape Death," Voldemort hissed, raising his wand. "Avada—"
"Hold on," Hermione said. "I was wondering if we could come to some sort of arrangement."
"What sort of arrangement?" Voldemort spat.
"Whatever you like. I've got the funds. If you want to help magical research, I can pay for it. Or if you want to help preserve pureblood culture, I could pay for a cultural awareness program. Forget the prophecy! I have money!"
"I want nothing more than to protect the purity of our magic!" Voldemort said. "That begins by excising impurities like yourself! Avada—"
"Hold on!" Hermione said quickly, waving a hand.
"What?" Voldemort shouted.
"Don't you want to know the power you know not?" Hermione asked.
"It was Harry's mother's love," Voldemort said dismissively. Hermione shook her head before he could raise his wand again.
"I actually funded a research grant after I heard," Hermione said. "We hired a bunch of arithmantic researchers and threw something together. It was freaking expensive, let me tell you that."
"So you built a weapon. Can I kill you now?"
"It's more of a time-traveling ritual stopper. But no, my point was that the power you know not wasn't love—it was capitalism."
"Capitalism," Voldemort deadpanned.
"Capitalism," Hermione said again, nodding.
"So now can I kill you?" asked Voldemort.
"Probably not," said Hermione. "The weapon activated when you came in here, so I think I've stalled you long enough that it's prevented all of your Horcruxes from ever happening. Plus there's a ritual involved in making your wand—oh, there it goes."
Voldemort's wand exploded in his hand. He opened his mouth, glaring at her, but no words came out.
"Oh yeah, since your body was made from a ritual, the weapon probably stopped that as well. Dunno why you're still in one piece. You'll probably collapse into a puddle any moment now. It would explain why your vocal chords aren't working. Ooh! I've got just the thing!"
She reached behind her chair and pulled out a bucket of soapy water.
"Well, we're off to see the wizard," she said brightly, before dumping the bucket on Voldemort's head.
"Ew," she said, staring at the resultant mess. "Dobby?"
"Yes, Mistress Granger?" said the elf, appearing at her side.
"Can you clean this up?"
Dobby grimaced. "Dobby will be wanting a bonus."
"You'll have earned it."
"Can't we give her more than one Order of Merlin?" Fudge whined.
"I don't know if that would be wise," Dumbledore said, patting him on the shoulder.
"Miss Granger! You have been absent from my class for the entire semester!" Flitwick snapped.
"Eep!" Hermione squeaked. "I forgot!"
James Potter blinked and looked around the ruined house. The last thing he remembered was…Lily! He pulled himself off the ground and ran upstairs. There was Lily, blearily pulling herself off the ground, but—
His heart stopped when he saw the empty crib. But wait a second. That crib hadn't been touched in over a decade. He looked around the house. This was strange.
"Lily?" he asked, putting a hand on her shoulder. "What's the last thing you remember?"
She sat up. "I remember Voldy," she said slowly. "He was coming for Harry. Then his wand exploded."
She glanced at the crib. "But the crib's in disarray. No one's been here for a long time."
"Is this our house?" James said, panicking slightly.
"Yes," said Lily after a moment. "We must have time traveled. Let's go see Dumbledore."
"How do you reach that conclusion?" James asked. "And besides, if we've time traveled, how do we know if Dumbledore is alive?"
Lily shot him a glance like he was stupid or something. "Shut up and let's go."
Silence in the graveyard. Not the silence of death or serenity. This was more of an awkward silence, the kind Harry knew he had to break no matter the consequences.
"Your arm looks like it hurts," Harry said causally to Pettigrew.
"It really does," Pettigrew replied through clenched teeth.
"So…Death Eater. How's that working out for you?"
"Well, the hours are crappy, and the health benefits are non-existent."
"How about dental?"
"Ouch," Harry said, trying to sound sympathetic. "But it pays well?"
"Well, not really."
"Why do it, then? If you don't mind my asking?"
"He's got us branded," Pettigrew grimaced, indicating his arm with a jerk of his head.
"Gee, I'm sorry," Harry said. He glanced around at the other Death Eaters. "So what, we're just gonna wait for Voldemort to come back?"
"I guess," said one of them.
"Do we know when that's gonna be?" Harry asked.
"He didn't say," said another.
"Cool, cool, just checking," Harry said.
More awkward silence.
"So," he said conversationally. "What do you guys think of the weather recently?"
Twenty years later.
"Minister Granger, I'm hoping we can come to some sort of agreement," the Russian Prime Minister simpered.
"Look, bud, it's fairly simple. I bought your entire country. Now I'm calling in the mortgages."
"That's not fair!" he shouted. He turned to the rest of the UN. "Can't you do something about this."
He was met with an assortment of shrugs and apologetic smiles. She'd bought them all years ago.
"As for my next political move, I want you all to start referring to me as your Emperor," she said with an innocent smile.
Delegates Potter and Weasley were the first to stand and cheer.
"All hail Emperor Granger! All hail Emperor Granger!"
They stood on the deck of the House-Elf class battleship Hygiene Defender. Hermione stared out at the universe and imagined it was staring back.
"First Mate Griphook?" she called.
"Aye aye, Emperor!" he replied, saluting with his wand.
"Set a course for..." she paused, trying to think of the name of the star. She gave up.
"Setting a course for that one, sire!" he cried, and disengaged the safety on the hyperdrive.
"Are you sure this is going to work?" asked the Imperial Consort.
"Shut up, Ron," said Emperor Granger. "Ambassador Potter, what are you doing?"
"Why do you change my title every week?"
"Never mind that, just put your seatbelt on."
"Emperor, I really must protest our 'hood ornament,' " Potter said uneasily.
"Malfoy's fine where he is," she snapped. "Griphook! Away!"
Yodeling a battle cry, Griphook's fist slammed on the red button.