Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter
AN: First off I would like to apologize for the extremely late update. In December my computer went to the blue screen of death, and I lost everything I had on this story. That meant months of research, plot outlines and the chapter I was working on were all lost to me. Since then real life has taken over and I find myself with little time to write after coming home from a 10 hour work day. Despite that, I don't want anyone to think I have abandoned this story. I try to write every chance I get, and now that I have finished the plot outlines for the next two years at Hogwarts, I hope the writing will get easier. Thanks again for your patience and I hope you like the extra long chapter. Sorry for any grammatical errors...I haven't had a chance to edit the chapter.
Chapter 19: Will The Real Fudge Please Stand Up
As he made his way towards the Great Hall for breakfast, Harry quickly read through the letter he received from his Accounts Manager late last night. In it Ripclaw confirmed the purchase of the final piece of land he was looking to buy in Kingsbridge for The Sanctuary and now that it was his, he was assured by the Goblins that they would begin construction within the week.
While he was more than pleased with the deal he made with Gringotts, Harry couldn't help but wince at how long the negotiations had taken him. Nearly an entire day of his Yule break had been spent haggling over every knut and sickle the Goblins wanted to charge him, but in the end he got everything he wanted from them.
Now that the negotiations were finally complete, if everything went according to plan the new Village should be finished around the same time that Hogwarts ended its second term in June. Since Harry planned to release the news of his cure to the ICW during their opening session a week later, that gave him plenty of time to offer housing to the newly cured Werewolves over the summer.
Harry was pulled from his musings when he arrived inside the Great Hall and found it to be virtually empty. For a brief moment he was surprised by the lack of noise that was normally associated with his fellow students while they were breaking their morning fast, but then he remembered that it was still Sunday and since the new term wouldn't start till tomorrow the majority of students were probably just sleeping in.
As his eyes raked over the handful of his peers that were present in the Great Hall, he immediately noticed Hermione sitting by herself at the Ravenclaw table. Making his way towards his formerly bushy-haired friend, Harry dropped his bag on the table and sat down in front of her.
"Good morning, Hermione," Harry called out in greeting.
When she heard her name being called, Hermione slightly jumped up in surprise and then smiled once she realized who it was. "Good morning, Harry. What are you doing up so early?"
Harry smirked at her response and replied, "Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black, Mia. And to answer your question, I'm up early cause I wanted to get a good workout in. I wasn't able to exercise at all during the Yule break, and after the amount of food I ate, I definitely don't want to get out of shape."
Hermione looked her friend up and down and then snorted in an unladylike manner. Just one glimpse at the Gryffindor Seeker was enough for anyone to see he was in great shape. To be fair, based on his above average height and athletic build, it would be easy for a stranger to assume Harry was fifteen going on sixteen, rather than the almost twelve year old he really was.
"I'm sure you can afford to miss a few days, Harry," she said snidely. "I doubt you'll get fat anytime soon. It's not as if you don't have the body of an Adonis already."
Harry patted his stomach lightly and felt the beginnings of his six pack easily through his school robes. "A body like this takes work, Mia," he replied with mock arrogance. "With the amount of calories I take in every day, if I held myself to the same standard as the rest of the Magical world, I would probably be bigger than Crabbe and Goyle combined.
Hermione childishly stuck her tongue out in response and then went back to writing on the parchment in front of her.
As he loaded his plate with a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage and potatoes, Harry sent several glances towards the girl in front of him. While he'd only known the Hermione of this world for a few short months, she was similar enough to the girl who was once his closest friend, for Harry to know something was bothering her.
"What are you working on, Mia?," he asked politely.
Hermione looked up at the question and then shook her head slowly. "Nothing important, Harry. It's just an idea I have for Hogwarts, but I'm not sure if it will even be accepted by the teachers."
"If it's not important, than tell me about it, Mia. I might be able to help you."
Hermione chewed on her lower lip for a moment and then coming to a decision she slid the parchment she was working on across the table to Harry. "I was thinking about creating a Yearbook for Hogwarts students."
"A Yearbook?," Harry asked in surprise.
"Yeah," Hermione answered shyly. "Over the break one of my mum's friends from Uni came to visit and they spent hours going through their old Yearbooks and telling me stories about their younger years. I thought it would be a good idea if Hogwarts had something similar, so students would always have a memory of their time here. It's stupid, right?"
As he read through the notes Hermione had written down on the parchment, Harry was impressed with her planning. He was well aware of the concept behind Yearbooks from his old world, but thanks to the Dursleys he was never allowed to buy one for himself.
"It's not a stupid idea at all, Hermione," Harry replied with a smile. "In fact, I think this it's a brilliant one. If you want, I can send Hedwig out to pick up a couple Magical cameras from Diagon Alley and we have plenty of time to get things ready before the end of term."
Hermione's face lit up at his offer and she nodded her head happily. "Thanks, Harry. That would be great. Now we just have to get one of the Professors to approve the idea."
Harry shrugged his shoulders and said, "That shouldn't be too hard to do, Hermione. The Yearbook is an excellent way for students to remember their time at Hogwarts and I have no doubt that both Professor Flitwick and McGonagall will support you in this endeavor. But if you're really worried about getting the approval, I might be able to take this idea one step further. I guarantee it will be enough for you to have at least Professor Flitwick's support."
Hermione was thrilled her idea hadn't been rejected from the get go, and now she found herself curious as to what additions Harry wanted to make. "What do you have in mind, Harry?"
"What do you know about the ceiling in the Great Hall?"
Hermione was confused by the odd question, but she still answered, "According to Hogwarts: A History, the ceiling was enchanted by Rowena Ravenclaw to look like the sky outside and it even mimics the exact weather around the Castle at any given time."
Harry smiled at the textbook definition he had come to expect from his friend, but thanks to the other Hermione's infatuation with reading every edition she could find of the book, he knew the bewitched ceiling was more versatile than that.
"You're absolutely correct, Mia, but that's not all the ceiling can do."
"I don't understand, Harry. Hogwarts: A History didn't mention any..."
"That's because you have only read the most recent edition, Hermione," Harry interrupted her. "In the earlier versions of the book, there are examples of the ceiling also being used as a teaching tool."
"Really?," Hermione asked excitedly. "How does it work?"
"Back when Hogwarts was first created, the school didn't have the abundance of teachers like it does now," Harry explained. "Since the Founders were forced to teach the majority of the classes themselves, periodically they would ask help from Witches and Wizards that they knew excelled in a particular field. Unfortunately these people couldn't always find the time to come to Hogwarts and teach the students, so Rowena created a recording device that she would send to them instead. Since the device was synced to the Charms around the enchanted ceiling, these guest Professors could use it to give students live lectures at a scheduled time or send back a series of recorded lectures that could be shared with students at the discretion of the Founders."
"That...that...that's amazing, Harry. How come the school doesn't do this now?"
Harry shrugged his shoulders in response. "At this point in time, why would they even need to? It's not like we don't have dozens of teachers already working at the school. Besides, with the number of students we have now, I doubt it would still be useful as a teaching tool."
As much as she wished to see a lecture being done in such a manner, Hermione reluctantly agreed that it wasn't feasible with the number of students that were currently attending Hogwarts.
"While the history lesson has certainly been interesting, Harry, I still don't understand how this relates to my yearbook idea. And why would Professor Flitwick jump to agree to it?"
"Ahhh, but you're missing the opportunity here, Hermione. While I doubt the school would let us use a Founder's object ourselves, as far as I know the recording device is still in Hogwarts' possession and in working order. Since the device was created through a combination of Runes and Charms, if Professor Flitwick were to help me, I'm positive we could come up with our own version of it. These new devices could then be carried around by select students over the term, and at the end of the year their recordings could be used to make..."
"A video collage," Hermione excitedly finished for him. "That's absolutely brilliant, Harry. But do you think you can really duplicate Rowena's device?"
"Not to sound arrogant, Mia, but I did figure out a way to make Magic work with electricity. I have no doubt with Professor Flitwick's help, that I will be able to duplicate the recording sphere without any problems. As long as I can use the original device as a template, it's not like I would have to create one from scratch. We can probably even make the devices small enough to pin on to someone's robes, so that way the person doesn't have to do any work at all. We can just edit the material we want to use for the collage at a later date."
Over the next hour the two friends combined their ideas for the Yearbook and video collage, and came up with an in depth working plan to take to the Professors. The pair was so engrossed with their work, they didn't even realize the Hall was now swarming with the newly arrived students.
In the middle of explaining to Hermione what runes he would probably be using for the recording device, Harry suddenly felt a presence behind him. Before he could react to the person, a pair of lips gently pressed against his cheek on his right side, while another pair kissed him on his left side.
Harry looked up in surprise, only to find Daphne and Alex smirking back at him. "Good morning, Harry," the pair called out in unison.
Feeling his cheeks begin to pink at their incredibly forward, but still surprisingly pleasant greeting, Harry smiled back at his betrothed and said, "Good morning ladies. Did you guys enjoy your lie in?"
As the girls noticed the blush spread across Harry's cheeks, the pair couldn't help but be pleased by his reaction. Over the hols the two sister-wives had a very enlightening talk with Alex's cousin Tonks, and after admitting to the older girl how much they were beginning to crush on their betrothed, the trainee Auror gave them tips on how to express their feelings towards Harry, without actually coming out and saying them.
Before either Daphne or Alex could respond to his god-brother's question, Neville interrupted them. "Good morning, mate. I hope you don't expect me to kiss you as well, Harry? You're a good-looking bloke and all, but you're not really my type."
At this point Harry finally noticed his fellow Gryffindor's arrival and found him already sitting next to Hermione. "Not at all, Nev," he snarked back. "I know you will be saving all of your kisses for Hermione."
Daphne was pleased by the embarrassed state of her two friends. It was obvious to anyone with a pair of eyes and a half a brain, that Hermione and Neville liked each other as more than just friends. While she knew they were too young to think about being a couple now, Daphne did hope their feelings for each other would continue to grow and that at some point in the not so distant future, the pair would eventually get together. It was sentiment that she knew her sister-wife certainly shared with her, and one she suspected Harry felt too.
"How far did you get into the T.E.D Manual, Hermione?," Alex asked her friend. "Considering how early you got up today, I figure you have to be at least a few chapters in already."
"What are you talking about, Alex? And what the heck is a Ted Manual?"
"It's the defense book you've been bugging Harry to see for the past few months," Alex replied uncertainly. "He gave Daphne and I several copies when we left his room last night and I left one for you on your bedside table. Didn't you see it when you woke up this morning?"
At the thought of the mysterious book Harry had been bogarting for months, Hermione couldn't stop herself from pouting. She'd left the room early to work on her Yearbook idea, and never even noticed the gift. Now her inner bibliophile was cursing herself for the missed time she could have spent reading through it.
"I left the room so quickly this morning, that I didn't even see anything on my night table. Have you guys had a chance to read any of it yet?"
Neville snorted in response. "I have and it's bloody fantastic, Mia. There's not a doubt in my mind that the T.E.D Manual is the book we should all be learning from at Hogwarts. I'm already five chapters in, and if it weren't for my stomach demanding me to get some breakfast, I would still be in my room reading it right now."
"Really? Now I can't wait to read it. Have you guys started it as well?"
Daphne shook her head in response. "Alex and I casually flipped through most of it last night with Harry, but we haven't started reading it yet. But from the little I have seen, The Encyclopedia of Defense is an apt name for the book. It certainly seems to cover everything one would need to know for DADA."
Despite his mental age, Harry was still not used to being complimented for his accomplishments, and he once again found himself blushing at the praise.
"The T.E.D Manual is still a work in progress," Harry stated, but with a hint of pride evident in his voice. "I gave Moody a copy to edit for me over the break, and I have several more copies for select students this term. With you guys covering the first years, I've asked two students each for the other years to read through it as well. Hopefully by the end of term I can use the feedback I get from everyone to create the final version and release the book over the summer."
While she was certain the T.E.D Manual would help students in any year, Daphne was surprised that Harry was able to get the 5th and 7th years to help him with the edit. Since those years were when students took their O. and N.E. respectively, she couldn't believe he found four students with the time to help him.
"How did you get the fifth and seventh years to help you, Harry?," Daphne asked curiously. "I didn't think they would have the time with O. and N.E. at the end of the year."
Harry had kind of been expecting this question from one of his friends, and smugly replied, "By making them an offer they couldn't refuse."
Hermione rolled her eyes, being the only one to recognize the Godfather reference, and said, "I can't believe you're bribing them, Harry. Both those years are incredibly important for their future careers and they should be concentrating on their end of term exams."
"First off, it's not a bribe, Hermione," Harry answered back, slightly irritated by her insinuation. "It's payment for services rendered. I would never have asked those students to help me, if I thought for even a moment that it would harm their futures in any way. Besides, call me bias, but I guarantee you their review of the Manual will be far more beneficial for their final exams than anything Professor Quirrell gives them. Can you honestly say you have learned anything useful in that man's class? Heck, half the time I can barely understand what he's saying."
While she didn't like speaking poorly about a Professor, when she gave it some thought, Hermione was honest enough with herself to admit that Harry was right and Quirrell was fairly useless as a teacher. His stutter alone was enough to make learning difficult in class, but his strict adherence to reading the defense book verbatim also meant students spent very little time on the practical application of the spells.
"You're right, Harry and I'm sorry for my earlier statement. You aren't the type of person that would purposely hurt someone's future and I never should have implied that you were.
Appeased by her apology, Harry waived it off and said, "No worries, Mia. I know you were just concerned about their education and I'm sorry for snapping at you too."
"Hoping to fill in the awkward silence that followed, Alex asked with an impish smile, "So...anyone else curious to know what kind of offer Harry is making to everyone?
"Since you and Daphne are my fiances, Neville my god-brother and Hermione one of my closest friends in the entire world, you guys get nothing," Harry replied with a smirk and a shrug of his shoulders. " As for everyone else...Moody is getting paid 250 galleons for his professional expertise and knowledge about the subject, while the students are being paid to comment on the ease of use of the Manual. I figure 25 galleons for 5th and 7th years, and 10 galleons for all the other years, plus the right to keep the Manual at the end of the year, should be more than enough for everyone involved.
At that moment any further conversation was stopped by the sudden arrival of several dozen Owls, each carrying multiple copies of the Daily Prophet. The entire Hall was surprised by their presence, since the Prophet didn't usually come out on Sundays.
Unlike the rest of his peers, Harry knew the reason behind today's Special Edition and he quickly took a copy from one of the Owls that landed on his table.
Lord Peverel-Daniels: The Youngest Dual Lord in History
Welcomes readers. Today we have a special interview with a young man that is already creating shockwaves throughout our world. Allow me to be the first to introduce you to Lord Harry James Peverell-Daniels.
RS: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, Lord Peverell-Daniels. I know my readers are just as curious to learn about the youngest person to hold a dual Lordship as I am.
LPD: Think nothing of it, Miss Skeeter. It's a pleasure to work with someone as esteemed as yourself. And please, call me Harry."
RS: Thank you, Harry. And feel free to call me Rita. The first question I have for you is something I'm sure all my readers will want to know. Why did the majority of our world assume you were born a Squib?"
LPD: Sadly, Rita, this was due to a rare medical condition that I was born with. It resulted in my core somehow managing to twist upon itself while I was still in the womb. As a result of my malady, any scans done on my person would only register me as a Squib. Unfortunately I didn't learn the truth behind my condition, until the Goblins pointed it out a few months before I was supposed to start Hogwarts.
RS: I'm curious as to what spells or rituals the Goblins performed to help you with your problem.
LPD: I'm afraid nothing so grandiose occurred, Rita. The procedure simply required me to enter into a meditative trance and connect with my Magical core, so that I could unravel it myself. The process did have a few inherent risks associated with it, but thankfully I had the best Goblin Healers monitoring me at all times.
RS: Well, I'm sure your family was thrilled to hear the news. But that leads me to my next question. Why were you removed as Heir to the Most Ancient and Noble House of Potter?
LPD: My father actually had no desire to remove me as his Heir, Rita. Even as a supposed Squib his love for me was unconditional and it took a lot of convincing on my part for him to name my younger brother the Potter Heir in my stead.
RS: I'm sure my readers want to know why you felt that such a thing was necessary, Harry.
LPD: My decision was based purely on the diminished presence the Ancient and Noble Houses currently have in our world, Rita. Unfortunately due to the atrocities committed by Grindelwald and later by Voldemort, in the last two wars we as a community have lost several prominent families over the years. Before 1940 Britain boasted a Magical population of one hundred and four thousand people. Since then our numbers have continued to dwindle and today we barely have around thirty two thousand Magicals living in the UK. Since the Potters hold the strongest blood relation to the Peverell family, I saw the opportunity to revive an Ancient and Noble House and I took it. The only stipulation to the Peverell Lordship was that one could not be both Lord Potter and Lord Peverell.
RS: Those numbers are certainly eye opening, Harry. I don't think the average person realizes how much our world has suffered at the hands of the past two Dark Lords. I find myself curious as to what our Ministry is doing to prevent such a loss in the future.
LPD: I feel the same way as you do about the situation, Rita, and I even looked into what the Ministry has done to prevent such a thing from happening in the future. Sadly what I found did not fill me with either hope or confidence.
RS: How so?
LPD: Well, the problem we are facing is actually two fold. First, the DMLE has been severely affected due to the drastic decline in the quality of Hogwarts graduates in recent years. As a result of this, they have been forced to not only reduce the minimum requirements for the Auror program, but also spend valuable department resources to re-teach the young cadets the course material they should have already learned in their DADA and Potions classes.
RS: Surely that can't be possible, Harry. Hogwarts is the premier Magical school in the entire world.
LPD: Unfortunately that is a common misconception in Britain, Rita. If you look through the yearly reports the ICW releases on the top 25 schools worldwide, Hogwarts is only listed at number 16. Up until 1950 Hogwarts did hold the title for the best Magical school in the world, but since then it has been on a steady decline. Today Hogwarts, Britain's supposed premier Magical school, is not even the highest ranked school in it's own country. I believe that honor goes to St. Georges, which ranks number 12 on the ICW's top 25 list.
Apparently my outrage must have been evident on my face, because Lord Peverell-Daniels didn't hesitate to show me the reports he was speaking of. To be honest readers, I was not prepared to see the proof of how far a National treasure like Hogwarts has fallen.
As I flipped through fifty years of documented NEWT scores from every Magical school in the world, I was stunned to see how poorly Hogwarts students scored in comparison to their peers around the globe. The steady decline was evident across all core subjects, and in the past ten years things have reached an all time low.
From what I was able to deduce from the reports in my hands, not only did our children score below average in the majority of subjects tested for the NEWTs, but their scores in DADA and Potions put them in the bottom five percent of all students worldwide.
RS:I'm reading these reports, Harry, and I still find it hard to believe the proof that is sitting right in front of me. How could Headmaster Dumbledore have let this happened?
LPD: I'm not sure what the Headmaster is thinking, Rita, but I can assure you that the main reason behind the school's fall from grace, can to traced back to several changes made to the curriculum of all core subjects over the years.
RS: The curriculum? Why would Hogwarts do such a thing?"
LPD: To be honest, I can't give you a reason as to why the changes were made, but I can show you proof that they were done. If you compare the course guidelines and the texts that were used by my grandparents generation, my parents generation and the current students attending Hogwarts, you will find that significant alterations have been made to the curriculum of every subject taught at the school. As it stands now, students are only learning half the things their grandparents learned in the same classes. Having said that, if it's any consolation, Rita, short of Potions, History, Muggle Studies and DADA, I have the utmost confidence that the Hogwarts staff is just as good as any other school in the world.
RS: While I am pleased to hear that our teachers are still thought highly of, I'm curious as to why you singled out those subjects, Harry.
LPD: Well, in the case of DADA, the professor in charge rarely lasts more than a year. I believe the longest lasting teacher in the past fifty years, was only able to stay for two consecutive years. As a result of constantly having to switch between different teaching styles and methods, students lack the continuity they need to master the already limited curriculum they have to learn. As for History, sadly Professor Binns refuses to teach anything beyond Goblin rebellions and I can't fathom why a ghost is still teaching at the school. Since he was also a teacher of yours as well, Rita, I'm sure you know that the class is often used by students to catch up on their sleep. The Muggle Studies is quite frankly a joke, and the curriculum he uses is at least fifty years behind the times. And then finally we have Professor Snape.
RS: Isn't Professor Snape one of the youngest Potions Master's in recent history? I'm surprised you would put him in the same category as the other three.
LPD: Professor Snape is without a doubt one of the true Masters of his craft. If I ever needed to take a Potion made by the man, I would never once hesitate to use it. His talent at brewing is well known by everyone in the community, and no self respecting Potions expert would deny the man his ability. However, his skills with a cauldron do not translate to his teaching ability in the classroom. This should be evident by the lack of NEWT students we've had in the subject since he began his tenure at Hogwarts. I'm sure it's not intentional, but his failure in the classroom has severely affected the future of Magical Britain. In the past ten years we have seen a large drop off of Healers and Aurors in our community and since both these professions require a NEWT in Potions, it's understandable why this has occurred.
RS: Once again I am shocked and appalled by what I'm hearing. I'm stunned that nothing has been done by Albus Dumbledore or the Board of Governors to rectify this obvious lack in our children's education. What surprises me even more is why you even decided to attend Hogwarts, Harry.
LPD: A large part of that is due to tradition, Rita. Potters have been going to Hogwarts for centuries now, and despite what I know about the school, I didn't want to break from tradition. Besides, I would like to reiterate that in most cases, it's the curriculum and not the teacher that is to blame for the student's lack of knowledge. After I complete my Masteries in Potions and Runes this summer, it is my intention to also get one in Transfiguration and Charms. Professors McGonagall and Flitwick are widely considered by their peers to be at the top of their respective fields, and it would be a true honor if either one of them deemed me worthy for an apprenticeship.
RS: I'm sorry, Harry, but I think I misheard you. Did you just say you will be receiving your Masteries in Potions and Runes this summer?
LPD: Yes I did, Rita.
RS: How is that possible, Harry? You have yet to even finish your first year at Hogwarts.
LPD: That's easily answered, Rita. Once an individual has passed his/her NEWTs in a given subject, there are two different ways for said person to achieve a Mastery. The most common route is to find a certified Master to apprentice under for a period of five years, and then to pass the Masters exams that is regulated by the ICW. The less known route also involves passing the Masters exams, but in lieu of an apprenticeship you must in front of a panel of certified Masters, present a never before seen discovery or show significant improvement upon a minimum of three known discoveries already present in a given field.
RS: Does this mean that you have already completed your NEWTs in Potions and Runes, Harry?
LPD: That is correct, Rita. I tested out of several subjects a few weeks before Yule break began.
At this point readers, Lord Peverell-Daniels presented me with the results of the exams he recently took at the Ministry, and I have to admit I was stunned by how well he did. The following is a copy of his test results, and it has been verified by Madam Griselda Marchbanks, who is the head of the Wizarding Examination Authority for the Ministry of Magic.
Single Test Examination:
Dueling=O(Highest score on record)
Healing and First Aid=EE
Human Languages(French and Italian)=EE
Politics and Law=O
Multiple Test Examination(Combined Score):
Ancient Runes(OWL and NEWT)=O(Highest score on record)
Muggle Studies(OWL and NEWT)=EE
Potions(OWL and NEWT)=O(Highest score on record)
Based on these results, Lord-Peverell Daniels received 12 OWLs and 3 NEWTs. For those of you who doubt the veracity of these scores, I would like to point out that all Exams taken at the Ministry are done under the guidance of a proctor and with the use of Anti-Cheating Quills.
RS: Congratulations on such a wonderful achievement, Harry. It's obvious you are already on par with the best and brightest our world has to offer and I have no doubt you will do great things in the future. Though I am confused about several of the subjects you tested out in, and I'm sure many of my readers will feel the same way. Perhaps you can explain them to me.
LPD: Of course, Rita. Which subjects are you curious about?
RS: To be honest, I'm curious about all the Single Examination subjects that you took. None of them are taught at Hogwarts, and I'm curious as to why these tests are available at the Ministry.
LPD: While it's true that none of these courses are currently offered at Hogwarts, Rita, sadly that wasn't always the case. Up until 1960 all of the subjects were once electives that were not only available to all students at Hogwarts, but several of them were also required by the DMLE in order for someone to apply for Auror training. I took them in honor of my Grandfather, Father and Godfather, who all served the Ministry honorably for several years as Aurors.
RS: I can see how Dueling as well as Politics and Law may have been required electives to join the Auror program, but I'm still confused about the other subjects. How would they be necessary to apply for the DMLE?
LPD: Not a problem, Rita. I'll go through the rest of the subjects with you. First off we have flying. The average Witch and Wizard today will be unaware of this, but the DMLE once had a branch that was trained to track and fight enemies while flying a broom. These specialized forces were instrumental in protecting our world during the second Muggle World War, but due to numerous budget cuts over the years this branch of the DMLE is no longer in active service.
RS: That is certainly news to me, Harry, and I for one will look into why these specialized forces are no longer part of the DMLE. What about the next subject on the list? I believe it was Healing and First Aid.
LPD: Since certified Healers are too valuable to take into the field, this particular elective taught the basics of battlefield medicine that all Aurors in the past were required to know. Since the elective is no longer offered at Hogwarts, the DMLE is forced to dip into their yearly budget to teach all incoming trainees in the proper use of field dressings and which Potions are necessary for a given injury.
RS: That would certainly be useful knowledge for the men and women that serve to protect us, and it also seems like a class that would benefit future Healers as well.
LPD: You're absolutely right, Rita. I'm not really up to date on the requirements necessary to become a certified Healer, but knowing the basics of Emergency medicine can only be a boon to future Medi-Witches and Wizards.
RS: What about the physical education elective, Harry?
LPD: Most Witches and Wizards believe exercising is a foolish concept that Muggles use in an attempt to stay healthy, because their own innate Magic protects them against the mundane diseases that normally affect the Muggle population. Over time this laziness has been further compounded by our society's need to do even the simplest things with Magic. However, it has been medically proven that a healthy body and mind not only enhances the potency of a person's Magical core, which makes casting spells easier, but it also increases their Magical reserves, which helps with the number of spells an individual can cast before Magical exhaustion sets in. This particular elective was actually one of the big determinants for future Auror candidates, since the first two years of training centers around improving an individual's physical strength, speed and stamina, and it's also the time period during which the majority of trainees drop out. As the first and last line of defense for the Magical community, Aurors are forced to deal with the darkest elements in our world on a regular basis, and as such they all need to be in better than average shape.
Once again my surprise must have been easily evident on my face, because the young Lord didn't hesitate to produce the source of his knowledge. The book he gave to me was Bordlam's Guide to Magical Cores, and it was written by Mungo Bordlam. For those of you who are unaware of the importance of this Wizard, he was the man who started St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.
While I didn't have time to read through the book during the interview, I did go through the pages Lord Peverell-Daniels highlighted later on. Apparently in 1667 Mr. Bordlam ran a case study that involved 153 Witches and Wizards from England, France and Belgium.
After a year of extensive research and documented experimentation, Mr. Bordlam concluded that Witches and Wizards that lived an active lifestyle, had larger Magical cores and reserves than their sedentary peers.
Quite frankly I'm stunned this knowledge isn't known to the masses, especially because it has stunted the growth of entire generations of Witches and Wizards worldwide.
RS: I'm really impressed, Harry. Unlike the rest of the people I interview, you certainly came prepared to back up all of your claims.
LPD: Thank you, Rita. I know the Magical world has several preconceived notions on how things should be, and I think it's high time they learned the truth about how things really are.
RS: I couldn't agree more, Harry. Shall we continue with the remaining subjects?
LPD: Of course, Rita. The last two electives on the list were Languages and Wizarding Etiquette. While both electives would have been beneficial for Aurors, because they would often deal with or have to guard the foreign dignitaries that would come to Britain, these classes were actually more useful to those who desired to work at the Ministry after graduating from Hogwarts. When coupled with the Politics and Law elective, the trio of classes gave students a well balanced foundation for future Ministerial positions. Unfortunately, because these classes are no longer available to the students, future graduates that apply for Ministry work are forced to learn by trial and error while on the job. This in turn leads to several unnecessary mistakes which makes our Ministry seem incompetent to the rest of the world.
RS: I can clearly see how useful these electives would have been to students when they entered the real world, and having dealt with numerous Ministerial faux pas over the years, I am truly surprised such useful courses were removed from the curriculum. But our Hogwarts tangent has gone longer than I originally planned. Earlier in the interview, you mentioned a two fold problem with the Ministry. We've covered the educational concerns, but now I would like to know what you consider the second problem to be.
LPD: The answer to that question is both simple and complex, Rita.
RS: How so, Harry?
LPD: After the fall of Lord Voldemort(yes readers the young Lord actually said the name), our society was barely hanging on by a thread. Between the numerous loss of lives our community was forced to endure, and the massive amounts of property damage the war cost us, it was expected that rebuilding was going to be a long and expensive process. At the time it made sense for the Ministry to raise taxes to help finance the new construction, but ever since the renovations were complete, taxes have failed to return to normal. In fact, they have actually been raised twice since then. In that same amount of time the budgets for various departments have been decreased to less than half their original yearly quota and the hardest hit has been the DMLE. I find this to be unacceptable. The DMLE is meant to be the first and last line of defense for our world and I find it worrisome that this department is so severely underfunded. From talks I've had with my father and godfather, it has become a common practice to have Aurors provide their own armor while in the field. What is our government doing with the surplus money our taxes are providing them with, if we are forcing the men and women that protect us while we sleep, to buy the tools they need to keep us safe. Shouldn't this be something the DMLE provides for their employees?
Once again readers, I was absolutely shocked by the proof Lord Peverel-Daniels provided for me. Based on the amount of money our Ministry is earning per year, it makes no sense why there have been so many budget cuts for each department. The fact that this has led to hard working Aurors having to provide for their own defense, is not something any of us should be pleased to learn. It's only because of the sacrifice these brave men and women make for our world, that the rest of us can go to sleep in peace.
RS: Thank you for the information you have given me, Harry, and I promise you I will be questioning the Ministry about this soon enough. Unfortunately we are nearing the end of our interview, so I wanted to know if there was anything you wanted the readers to share with the readers.
LPD: You're very welcome, Rita and I'm glad I could open your eyes to the truth. As for a message to your readers, the one thing I can say is that our world has been stagnant for too long. For generations we as a society have rested on the laurels of our ancestors, and I believe it's time we did something about it. Traditions are important, because they remind us where we come from, but they should not stop us from bettering ourselves as a community. For all the younger generations that are reading this, I urge you to spread your wings and shoot for the stars. Our world is in dire need for a change and it's up to us to make that happen. It is the responsibility of the younger generation to improve what the generation before us has left behind and that is what I plan to do with my life. It is my dream to change our world for the better and improve the quality of life we already possess. It is my hope that the rest of you will join me in this endeavor and help make our world a better place.
As soon as he put the paper down, Harry could see everyone staring at him. While most of the students looked at him with awe, others had a more calculating gaze. But it wasn't their reaction he was worried about. When he turned his attention towards the teacher's table, Harry sighed in relief to see the proud smiles he received from McGonagall and Flitwick and completely ignored the hateful glares he got from Dumbledore and Snape.
In his old world this interview would have meant an immediate conversation with Dumbledore in the Headmaster's office, but so far he had yet to have any contact with the old man. Now that he wouldn't have to deal with Dumbledore's pawn in class anymore, Harry was curious to see if the manipulative old goat would finally reach out to him.
Gellert watched as his pawn paced angrily in his office, muttering threats and curses with every step. Normally such a thing would have amused him greatly, but the young Potter's interview was not to be taken lightly.
Ever since Gellert replaced Albus in Britain, he had done everything in his power to systematically strip future generations of the knowledge they would need to challenge him again. After decades of slowly dumbing down their society, he was now looked upon by Magical Britain as the second coming of Merlin himself.
But after that interview, everything would change. Gellert knew his carefully crafted persona had taken a massive hit amongst the majority of the population and once other people verified the facts of the article through the ICW, there would be a lot of questions he would need to answer. It made him furious that some stupid little first year was about to ruin all of his plans.
At that point Severus stopped his pacing and glared at the older man. "This is all your fault, Albus," he snarled. "I wouldn't be in this mess if I hadn't listened to you. I demand you expel that arrogant little shit immediately. I will not stand for Potter slandering my good name."
Over the years in his guise as Albus, Gellert was often forced to be many things. Sometimes it was the patient but powerful Headmaster of Hogwarts, while other times it was the wise and kindly old grandfather. Regardless of what mask he was wearing at the time, there was a limit to how much disrespect the Dark Lord was willing to take from those he considered to be beneath him.
In his rage Gellert released the full force of his Magical aura and his normally twinkling eyes were quickly replaced by an inferno of power. The very walls crackled from the intensity of his Magic, and it was enough to make the Potions Master realize to whom he was speaking.
"Do not forget who you are speaking to, Severus. If it weren't for me, you would be nothing more than a shit stain in a Azkaban cell."
Severus winced at the anger he heard in the normally calm Headmaster's voice and the moment he felt the older man's aura press down on his own, he knew he had gone too far with his tantrum.
It was well known the Headmaster was one of the few men is former Lord was afraid of, and the last thing he wanted was to make such a person angry. Without Albus' support, he knew he would have joined his Death Eater pals in Azkaban.
"I'm sorry, Albus," Severus replied in a contrite manner. "My anger at Potter's spawn took me surprise and I spoke without thinking."
Gellert let his aura remain for a little bit longer and then slowly reeled it back in. "You are forgiven, Severus. I know how much the article will affect you amongst your peers, but I cannot do anything against Mr. Potter. Not only is he a brilliant student, but nothing he said was actually wrong. For now I want you to slowly begin to improve your teaching in class. Unfortunately the article has exposed problems I would have liked to keep hidden, and I fear we may soon face a review from the Governors."
As much as we wished otherwise, Severus knew Potter would not be punished for the interview. Hoping the incident had changed his Master's view of the boy, he asked, "I take it this means you will no longer pursue Potter to join your future plans, Albus?"
Gellert shook his head and replied, "No, Severus. Mr. Potter is too unpredictable for me to keep alive. Unfortunately he is too well known for me to deal with immediately, but rest assured that he will die when the time is right."
Snape was slightly appeased with the small victory, until he remembered another segment of the article. "And what of his Potions Mastery, Albus? I have worked hard to become the youngest Potions Master in history, and I have no desire to lose my title to that arrogant little boy."
It took all of Gellert's will power not roll his eyes at the petty man, but he knew his pawn needed a victory. "Do not worry, Severus. If the boy passes the written test, I will have you assigned to the review committee that will judge him for his Mastery. Without an apprenticeship to call upon, the boy must either produce an original Potion, or improve upon three existing ones. Despite his intelligence, I doubt he is skilled enough to create a Potion from scratch, so you can easily judge his improved Potions as being inadequate. I will make sure the other members that are chosen for the committee will be those who are of like mind."
For the first time that day Severus felt his lips twitch in a smile, and he bowed his head in gratitude. "Thank you for the help, Albus. Now, if you no longer have need of me services, I will take my leave."
As soon as the Headmaster waved for him to go, Snape spun around, his cloak billowing behind him, and left the office. Now that Potter's spawn was excused from his classes, he wouldn't be able to get his revenge there, but thanks to Albus he could now look forward to crushing the boy's spirit over the Summer. The only thing that could make the moment sweeter for him, was if Potter Sr. and his gold digging whore would be present to see him do it. Ruining the day for all three of them would easily become a memory Snape could use to power his Patronus.
As he walked down the dimly lit corridor with Madam Bones, Harry found himself once again surprised by the invitation to meet the Minister. A month had passed since his tell all interview with Skeeter was published for the world to see and since then she was able to release another three articles on the Ministry's failures, all verified facts thanks to the small army of Private Investigators Harry had sent against the government.
By now the Cornelius Fudge he knew from his old world would have begun a massive slander campaign against Harry and his friends. As a result of this foreknowledge the Potter-Peverell-Black-Longbottom Alliance was more than prepared to retaliate against any form of thuggery that came from the Ministry, but Cornelius had not once tried to force the Prophet to do his bidding. This left Harry wondering what type of man this world's Fudge really was and so he instructed his P.I.s to dig deeper into the current Minister.
Unfortunately the Fudge from his old world was murdered well before the end of the Second Blood War, so Harry didn't have any Veritaserum trial memories to call upon to help his Investigators. His own interactions with the puffed up Wizard didn't begin till right before his third year at Hogwarts, so other than being a Malfoy lackey and having a healthy obsession for taking bribes, Harry was limited in the background he could provide for his P.I. his Investigators were some of the best that money could buy, and they were able to gather the necessary information without him.
According to the report Harry received two days ago, Cornelius Nathaniel Fudge was the Pureblood son of Potions Brewer Brandon Arthur Fudge and the grandson of Leonard Franklin Fudge, the former Minister of Magic before Millicent Bagnold took the reigns in 1975. An average student throughout his time at Hogwarts, Fudge joined the Department of Magical Catastrophes straight out of school. Though known to be a mediocre Wizard in both power and skill, Cornelius quickly showed he was a force to be reckoned with in the political arena.
Over a span of twenty five years, the former Hufflepuff worked his way up to becoming the Junior Minister for the Department of Magical Catastrophes. According to the numerous reports Harry read through, he was surprised to learn that not only was Fudge highly respected by the majority of his peers, he was also awarded several times in the field for his actions in preventing Magical catastrophes from breaking the Statue of Secrecy. His status in the Ministry as a "go getter" is what allowed him to become a dark horse candidate for the Minister of Magic position, upon Bagnold's unexpected death in November of 1990.
Fudge began his campaign to be Minister, by starting off as an Independent candidate with no allegiances to any of the major factions in the Ministry. Despite this handicap, he quickly joined Bartemius Crouch Sr. and Pius Thicknesse as the most likely candidates to succeed the former Minister. Whereas Crouch Sr. was backed by the hard-nosed Light families and Pius supported by the majority of the Dark Alliance, during the course of his campaign Cornelius somehow managed to gain the aid of the Grey or Neutral families.
In a startling come from behind victory, Cornelius Fudge succeeded Millicent Bagnold as the Minister of Magic in December of 1990. However, his popularity wouldn't last long. Within weeks of taking up office Cornelius was not only responsible for massive budget cuts within every department in the Ministry, but he was also accountable for the third increase of taxes since the war with Voldemort came to an end.
His decisions initially brought upon the ire of several prominent families in the Wizengamot, but through a series of carefully constructed political maneuvers and no doubt several dubious favours, he was able to avoid any serious backlash amongst the Noble Houses as well as the general populace. At least that held true until the Queen of Quills began publishing her articles against the current regime.
What bothered Harry the most about the situation was Fudge's lack of loyalty to any particular group. Despite owing his position to the Neutral or Grey families, according to the Wizengamot sessions Harry had gone through, Cornelius was just as capable of supporting the Dark and Light families, as he was the Neutrals.
In his old world Harry was used to dealing with a Cornelius that was nothing more than a greedy, weak willed little man, that was easily controlled by whichever person could give him the best chance at money or fame. From what he'd learned of the Minister in this world, Harry was not looking forward to going up against the cunning and intelligent version of the man. Especially when he had no idea which side this Fudge would support once Voldemort made his inevitable return.
Harry was pulled from his musings when Madam Bones stopped in front of a door. Immediately recognizing the office he was about to walk into as Amelia's, Harry was curious why the Minister of Magic would want to meet him a Department Head's office.
As soon as he followed Madam Bones into the room, Harry quickly noticed Fudge and his father waiting for them, the pair leaning back into their respective leather chairs, each with a glass of Firewhisky in his hand.
When Harry first informed his parents about Fudge's request for a meeting, they knew it had to be in regards to the articles that were published in the Prophet. Over the break Harry shared with his parents some of his plans for the future and while they were mostly supportive of his ideas, they weren't exactly thrilled by his decision to attack the Ministry through the press.
It took hours of hard work, but eventually Harry was able to convince Padfoot and his parents that if they wanted to see a change in the Ministry, first the people would need to know about the truths that were being hidden from them. Once he explained to them that the articles would only print verified facts and nothing of conjecture, the trio reluctantly agreed to his plan.
Unfortunately when Fudge's letter for this meeting finally arrived, Lily's paranoia caused her to have a change of heart in allowing her son to deal with the situation. She tried to convince him he was too young and naive to meet with political sharks like the Minister, but after several letters and two floo calls, his father and Padfoot finally managed to convince Lily to let him go as long as James accompanied him to the meeting.
When he saw the Minister and his father look his way, Harry smiled at both of them and said, "Good morning, dad. Good morning, Minister Fudge."
"Good morning, son/Good morning, Lord Peverell-Daniels," the pair answered in unison.
Harry's emerald eyes carefully raked over the now standing Minister, and he compared the man to the Fudge he once knew. While physically the two men were identical in their appearance, it was the bearing of the man in front of him that set him apart from his counterpart. It was evident to anyone with a pair of eyes that this world's Fudge was a confident man. One who wouldn't be intimidated or cowed easily.
"Please, Minister Fudge, as this is not a formal setting I would prefer it if you would call me by my first name."
"Of course, Harry. And please feel free to call me Cornelius. Things will certainly be easier if we can keep things informal during this meeting."
"I couldn't agree more, Cornelius," Harry answered back. "If you don't mind, could my father and I have a moment to ourselves before we start this meeting?"
Fudge nodded his head slightly in agreement and moved a respectful distance away from the pair.
While father and son took a moment to have a personal conversation, Cornelius used that time to look at the newly arrived young man. Despite knowing the boy was not even twelve years old yet, he was surprised by the young Lord's physical appearance. To him Harry looked more like a seventh year than a first year and so far his very presence seemed to command attention.
If he was being honest with himself, Cornelius was more than pleased by what he saw. Based on the extensive reports his people had provided him on the boy, the young Lord could very well be the answer to all of his problems. He knew this meeting was quite possibly the greatest gamble of his life, and for the sake of his and the Magical world's future, he prayed Harry was everything he hoped he would be.
Eventually the father and son pair finished their sidebar and returned to their seats. "Sorry again for the delay, Cornelius," Harry began. "But now that we're ready, I'm curious to know why the Minister of Magic would want to meet with someone like me."
Normally a master of double talk and hidden meanings, Cornelius had no desire to have such a conversation today. If he truly wanted the Peverell-Potter-Black-Longbottom Alliance to support his plans for the future, he knew this meeting would require a more direct approach.
"I know you are behind Rita Skeeter's recent articles against the Ministry, Harry, and I would like for you to stop them immediately."
Harry arched an eyebrow in surprise. He was certain he had covered all his tracks in regards to his dealings with the reporter and though he hated to admit it, Harry was slightly impressed that Fudge was able to find out he was backing her.
"And why do you believe that I have anything to do with Miss Skeeter's articles, Minister?"
Cornelius took a sip of the firewhiskey in his hand to calm his nerves and then replied, "Because the moment Rita's article on you was released, I had my people look into you, Harry. I'm not sure what kind of deal you have with the woman, but based on the flat you purchased for her and the hefty amount of galleons that have recently found their way into her vaults, I can safely assume you are the one financing her articles against the Ministry."
Harry remained silent by the blunt response and then calmly replied, "Tell me, Cornelius, have any of the articles against you and the Ministry been wrong?"
As he leaned back into his chair, the Minister of Magic knew this was the moment he was waiting for. If things went according to plan he would have the young Lord and his political power on his side, and if they didn't he would soon find himself a new home in Azkaban. For the future of the Magical world, Cornelius prayed his gamble on the young man paid off.
"No, Harry. The articles aren't wrong. In fact, right here in front of the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement I Cornelius Fudge admit the articles against myself and the Ministry are one hundred percent accurate. I have accepted bribes from multiple sources, I have siphoned off money from every donation made to the Ministry, and I am completely responsible for the tax increase as well as the multiple budget cuts faced by each department. But I'm also willing to swear an unbreakable vow that not a single knut that was taken found itself into my personal vault or any non-Ministerial vault that I have control over."
Harry was shocked by the revelation and by the expressions on his father and Amelia's faces, he knew they were equally stunned by the Minister's admission of guilt.
"You do realize, Cornelius, that by admitting this in front of Madam Bones, she can arrest you for embezzlement?"
"Part of the reason Amelia is here today, Harry, is because I know that she has been investigating my office on her own. If not now, then within a few months her people would have eventually found out the truth."
"What about the money, Cornelius?," Harry asked. "If you didn't take the money, then where did it go?"
Fudge seemed to ignore the question and replied, "You're a brilliant young man, Harry and if given a chance, I have no doubt you will change our world for the better. The things you have already managed to accomplish at your age are simply mind boggling and if my people hadn't shown me proof of your discoveries, to be honest I don't think I would have believed them."
"Discoveries?," Harry asked, trying to act confused. The last thing he wanted was for the Ministry to know about his cure. "I'm not sure I understand what you are talking about, Minister."
"There's no need to be coy with me, Harry," Fudge replied with a knowing smile. "I'm well aware of your recent breakthroughs. While I admit that your runic array to make Magic work with electricity took me by surprise, it was your cure for Lycanthropy that shocked me the most. I never thought a discovery like that would be possible in my lifetime. If that wasn't enough, your current building projects will go a long ways towards bringing our society out of the dark ages."
James' eyes narrowed dangerously at the Minister. He knew for a fact that Harry had gone through great lengths to keep his plans a secret, and he didn't like how much the man knew about his son. As his paternal instincts raged inside of him, he had to force himself to control his emotions. He wasn't sure how or why Fudge was so interested in his Prongslet, but he would be damned before he let anyone harm his family.
"You seem to know a lot about my son, Cornelius," James said, as he forcibly restrained himself from growling at the man. "I find myself curious as to how you know these things about him."
Despite the obvious tension in the air, Fudge met the Lord Potter's angry glare with a smug smile. "I didn't become the Minister of Magic by being an idiot, James. Throughout my years of service to the Ministry I have made connections with people and races that would leave even you elite Nobles green with envy. I assure you, there is nothing in the world I can't find out if I set my mind to it."
Harry could tell the Minister wasn't boasting, but simply stating a fact. "Be that as it may, Cornelius, I fail to see what my actions have to do with you stealing from the hard working people of Magical Britain."
Cornelius sighed deeply at the accusation and in a single gulp he finished the remnants of the firewhiskey in his glass. "First off, I would like to reiterate that I haven't stolen as single knut from the people or the Ministry. Before I explain myself any further, I have a question I would like for you to answer.."
When he saw Harry signal for him to continue, Fudge asked, "What exactly do you know about me, Harry?"
"Excuse me? I don't think I understand what you're asking me, Cornelius."
"You're a smart lad, Harry. I have no doubt that between you, your father and Lord Black, you must have prepared for this meeting. As part of that preparation, I'm sure you hired people to learn whatever you could about me. I'm curious to know what you found out."
So far this meeting hadn't gone anything like Harry imagined, but oddly enough he found himself enjoying the conversation. There was something so refreshing about dealing with a blunt and open Cornelius Fudge, that Harry couldn't help but smile at the situation.
"You're right, Minister. My family and I did do our due diligence in regards to you. Where would you like me to begin?"
"Wherever you think is best, Harry. I'm sure I will be correcting you soon enough."
The sheer confidence that was coming off of Fudge made Harry doubt his knowledge briefly, but he had faith his Investigators had done their research well. "All right then," he started. "You are the Pureblood scion of Brandon Arthur Fudge and Elizabeth Ann Fudge nee Rosier, as well as the current Head of the Magical House of Fudge. Your grandfather was the former Minister..."
Harry stopped when he heard the Minister laugh out loud and asked, "Have I said something funny, Cornelius?"
"My apologies, Harry, but everyone always makes that mistake. To be honest, not only am I not a Pureblood, but I didn't even begin my life as Cornelius Fudge."
Once again the Minister's revelation left everyone in the room stunned. But this time it was Amelia who responded. "What do you mean you aren't Cornelius Fudge? If you aren't him, I demand you tell me where he is."
Cornelius saw Amelia's wand slip into her hand, but he made no move to arm himself. He was well aware of his dueling ability, or lack thereof, and didn't think for a minute that he could defeat anyone in that room. Instead, he grabbed the bottle of firewhiskey on the table and poured himself another double shot.
"I never said I wasn't Cornelius Fudge, Amelia," the Minister replied, as he took a sip from the glass. "I only stated that I was born someone else. I assure you that I am the man who was elected as the Minister of Magic and I would be more than willing to take an Unbreakable Vow to prove it."
Amelia was slightly mollified that her boss was still her boss, but that didn't stop her from keeping her wand out. "Who were you before you became Cornelius?," she asked curiously.
Cornelius smiled sadly at the question and after a moment he began a story that would leave the other three occupants in the room in utter disbelief.
"I began my life as Edward Cowden, the only child of a beautiful young woman named Jessica. My mother was the eldest of four children, and for the most part she was loved by her family. Unfortunately that changed right after her sixteenth birthday. One night she snuck into a bar with some friends, only to wake the next day alone in a sleazy motel, clueless about what happened to her the night before and unknowingly pregnant with me. As soon as her parents found out about her condition, they demanded that she get an abortion. When she refused to get rid of me, they didn't hesitate to kick her out of their home."
"Despite the struggles she faced as a single teenaged mother, my mum never once blamed for her problems. She worked hard to provide us with the little we had, but it was enough for me, because we had each other. And then one day it all went away. The night after my tenth birthday, I went to sleep as Edward and woke up as Cornelius."
Amelia couldn't believe what she was hearing. Throughout her years as an Auror she had seen many sick and twisted things, but never in her life had she heard of something like this. "How is that even possible, Minister?"
"Through a dark ritual called the Blood's Mirror, I became Cornelius Fudge in both body and mind," Cornelius answered.
"What exactly did this ritual do, Cornelius?," Harry asked curiously.
"After being kidnapped from my mother, I was obliviated of my original memories and a magical bond was forcibly created between myself and the real Cornelius. The ritual then used him as a template, while Blood Magic converted my body, blood and mind to mirror his. In short, I literally became Cornelius Fudge."
"I have seen rituals that affect the body and the blood, but I have never heard of one that affects the mind in such a manner," Amelia stated, her voice tinged with disgust. "How is that even possible?"
Cornelius shrugged his shoulders in response. "I have no idea about the specifics, Amelia, since I never cared enough about it to search for the ritual. All I know is that the real Cornelius' memories were absorbed by me. When I woke up the next day, I had no recollection of ever being Edward and as far as I was concerned I had always been Cornelius Fudge."
"Why would Brandon do this to his own son?," Harry asked.
"Because his son was a squib," James answered, knowing it would be easy for many Purebloods to do. "But why did he pick you?"
"He picked me, because I was also his son, and the ritual can only be done between blood relatives." Fudge explained. "Apparently my father had a thing for younger women. Since he couldn't appease his fetish amongst proper Wizarding society, he would drug young Muggle girls, rape them and then obliviate their memories of the night. My mother was one of his many conquests."
Amelia was sick to her stomach with the story. As a woman she couldn't fathom being violated in such a manner, but the Auror in her needed to know all the details. "If he only slept with the women once, how did he know of your existence?"
As soon as the question was asked, James knew what the answer would be. Having received the letter when Harry turned ten, he said, "The Goblins told him."
Once he saw the confused expressions appear on Harry and Amelia's faces, James explained, "After the last Goblin rebellion, the Treaty of 1407 made it illegal for anyone but Goblins to have a bank anywhere in Magical Britain. Since all Magical families were forced to place their vaults in Goblin controlled territory, the Treaty also made them responsible for Magical inheritances. By Ministry law it is required for all Heads of Houses to declare their Heirs at Gringotts and in most cases Pureblood families do this as soon as their first child is born."
"Can we please leave the history lessons to Binns, James," Amelia interrupted. "What is the point of this story?"
James flashed her the famous Potter smile. Having been good friends with Amelia's younger brother when they were kids, he'd known his former boss for a very long time, and took delight in annoying her. "Don't get your knickers in a bunch, Milly. If you would let me continue, I can explain it to you."
As soon as she heard that hated nickname, for the thousandth time Amelia regretted getting drunk and telling her former underling how she got that name. "Fine," she replied through clenched teeth. "But make it quick, James. Unlike you, I still have a lot of work to do."
"Even though The Treaty made the Goblins officially responsible for Magical Inheritances, they still had to work in conjunction with Wizarding Law. In 1695 the Wizengamot passed a law that prevented Squibs from being named the Heir of any Magical House."
That was news to Harry. With stupid Binns always going on about Goblin rebellions, Harry never learned much about the Wizarding World's history. "Are you telling me that less than two hundred years ago Squibs could become the Head of a House? How is that even possible, dad? I thought Squibs didn't have any Magic."
"That's a common misconception, Harry," James replied sadly. "Despite what Purebloods want everyone to believe nowadays, Squibs are still classified as Magical beings, because they can see and interact with Magic. The reason for that is because Squibs do have a limited amount of Magic coursing through their blood. Unlike Muggles, most Squibs have enough inherent Magic to make Potions, charge Runes or even see Magical creatures like Dementors. They just don't have enough Magic to bond with a wand. In the old days if there wasn't a suitable candidate available for a blood adoption, some families would even allow a Squib son to inherit over a Magical daughter, so they could keep the family name going and not get absorbed by another House. Usually in these cases, if the Squib didn't produce a Male Heir of his own, they would blood adopt the second son from a sibling or a first cousin."
"Then why the change? Why did Squibs go from having at least some form of respect in our world, to be being treated as if they were less than human?"
"The answer to those questions requires a little more backstory, Harry," James answered. "In the late 1600s after the British Crown created several colonies in the new world, our Ministry decided to do the same. Back then our population was the highest it's ever been and with the limited amount of decent paying jobs going straight to the Purebloods and half-bloods, there wasn't much available for the Muggleborns. As soon as the Ministry released their intent to expand into the new world, there was an exodus of hundreds of well educated Muggleborns that were ready and willing to leave for the new world.
During that time blood status was viewed differently than it is today, and so a Pureblood Squib was viewed to be on par with a Muggleborn Witch and Wizard, since even without Magic his or her blood was somehow better than theirs. From what my grandfather told me in his stories, things were getting so bad between the two groups that if the option to leave for the new world had not become available, he was certain there would have been a Civil War.
Unfortunately for the Ministry, the majority of people they sent to start the new government in the colonies, was composed primarily of Pureblood sons that would never get a chance to inherit anything worthwhile in Britain. As soon as the first Wizarding community was created in Salem, these newly appointed Nobles began to grow mad with their first taste of power.
Within a few months of their arrival, the Muggleborns started to chafe against the new Wizengamot's authority. When the Nobles began passing laws that would strip them of even more of their rights, they had enough. All of them left Britain to escape the prejudice they faced because of their blood status, and now that they were free, they had no desire to continue living life under the same yoke of oppression.
It took six months of planning before the Muggleborns took any action, but in a bloodless coup d'etat they overthrew the Wizengamot and the handful of Aurors that came with them. Thanks to their planning, the leaders of the coup had the basis for a new government already in place and as soon as it was ratified, they stripped the Purebloods of all their possessions, Obliviated their memories of the village, and portkeyed all seventy five members back to Britain."
Harry laughed at hearing that. "I bet the wankers at the Ministry didn't care for that too much."
"No they didn't, kiddo," James replied with a smirk. "According to my grandfather, the entire Wizengamot was furious over the revolution, and several of the old families demanded that the "Mudbloods" be brought to justice for attacking their betters. In retaliation, the Ministry sent out fifty Aurors to bring the leaders of the revolution back for trial, but they weren't prepared for the Muggleborns to fight back."
"Fight back?," Amelia asked with an arched eyebrow, obviously concerned about the Aurors.
"That's right, Amelia. Apparently the Aurors that were sent refused to acknowledge the new government and tried to take the leaders by force. Of the fifty men that went there, only three made it back alive. The rest were killed in battle, their possessions stripped from their bodies, and their remains returned with the survivors. Needless to say their actions resulted in a declaration of war."
As the history lesson continued, Amelia was stunned that she knew none of it. She didn't know whether to be surprised that a prankster like James knew it so well, upset that she didn't, or furious at the obvious cover up done by the Ministry so that the history behind this war was erased from all archives.
"How the hell do you know all of this, James? I may not be a history fanatic, but I did receive an E in my NEWTs for the subject. None of the history books mention these events."
James shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Because of my great-grandfather, Amelia. The man may have been a Curse breaker by day, but he was an avid Historian by night. He recorded these events in his Lord's journals, which were then passed down to my grandfather. Since my grandfather was also a big fan of history, he would often tell me these stories when I was a kid. Once I took over as the Head of House, I learned even more by reading the journals myself."
"How long did the war last, dad?," Harry asked, before Amelia could continue her rant against the missing history.
"Oddly enough, the Magical version of the Revolutionary War started a year before the Muggle one and lasted for half as long. The three years of fighting was brutal on both sides, but in the end the colonists came out victorious in almost every skirmish or major battle."
"How is that even possible, James?", Amelia asked in shock. "You said that only a few hundred Muggleborns made the trip to the new world, so the Ministry should have easily outnumbered them in every engagement. The war should have lasted weeks, not years. I can't believe the Auror Commanders back then were that inept."
"It wasn't that the Aurors were inept, Amelia, they just weren't prepared for the Muggleborns to have formed alliances with the locals."
Amelia was caught off guard with James' response. While she would readily admit that Muggles today were a force to be reckoned with, back then their technology was no match against fully trained Witches and Wizards.
"Alliances? With Muggles? How would that help them, James? Back then Muggles lacked the technology to be of any use against Magic."
"The Alliances weren't with normal Muggles, Amelia. The new government formed Magically binding treaties with several Shamans from neighboring Indian Tribes. Since these men were highly respected by their people, they were able to convince their respective leaders to assist in the revolution. In return for Potions and other forms of Magical aid, the tribes sent hundreds of young warriors to assist in the war. Since Shaman Magic is more in tune with nature than our own, they were able to hide these men with their Magic. Every time the Ministry engaged the colonists, they were ambushed by dozens of warriors that were specifically Charmed to be invisible to the Ministry detection spells. By the time the Aurors figured out what was happening, the Ministry had already lost many of their best fighters. In the end it was easier for them to let the colonists be, and erase the war from their history."
"But why would the Ministry remove this information, dad?"
"Because of the Muggleborns still left in Britain, son," James replied. "For the first time in our history the Purebloods realized that their "superior" blood didn't stop them from being killed by those they thought were beneath them. Thankfully the Potters and Longbottoms were able to use the war as an excuse to repeal several of the harshest laws placed against the Muggleborns. The last thing the Ministry wanted was to fight another rebellion, so even the Dark families readily agreed to the changes."
"So how did the change for Squibs come into play?," Harry asked curiously.
The impromptu history lesson had left him parched, and James took a moment to finish the Firewhiskey in his glass. Once he was done, he continued, "The war cost the Ministry thousands of lives, Harry. Some families were hit pretty hard, and to keep their name going, many were ready to let a Squib son inherit. One of these families was the Noble House of Maximilian."
As the eldest child of an ancient Pureblood family, Amelia was well versed in the different Noble Houses that made up their world. For the life of her, she couldn't recall ever hearing about the Noble House of Maximilian. "I've never heard of that family, James," she stated hesitantly. "How could they be one of the Noble Houses?"
"I'm not surprised you don't know about them, Amelia,"James replied. "Well over a hundred and fifty years ago the Noble House of Maximilian became the Noble House of Nott."
Once again Amelia found herself stunned by the news, and she was really beginning to dread the feeling. "How?"
"After the war, Edmund Nott saw a chance to move the Magical House of Nott up in the world and he took it. As the star reporter for the Daily Prophet, Nott had dirt on several high ranking Ministry officials, as well as a few of the Dark families. He'd mostly kept that information to himself, but when news of Squibs inheriting the seats for multiple families was released by the Ministry, he blackmailed the officials to help him change the laws.
The Propaganda they spewed was that Britain needed to show its strength to the rest of the world, and if Squibs were allowed to inherit they would look weak. Through a mixture of blackmail and bribery he was able to get the law passed, and as the closest living relative to the Maximilian family, Edmund took over as the new Lord. Over the next few years the propaganda against the Squibs continued to be spread amongst the general population, and by the time the next generation came into power, everyone had forgotten that Squibs were once considered to be productive members of our society."
Harry hadn't researched too much on the inheritance laws for the Ministry, but he did remember reading that you couldn't change the name of any of the Noble Houses. "But why is it called the Noble House of Nott now?," he asked his father. "I thought you weren't allowed to change the name of any of the Noble Houses."
"That rule only applies to when you first inherit the name," James answered. "Once a family has held the seat for three consecutive generations, they can legally change the name to whatever they want."
By this point the silence permeated throughout the room, as everyone took a moment to reflect on the Ministry's forgotten history. Eventually Harry decided it was time to get back to the original story. Turning towards the Minister, he asked, "So, what was in the letter the Goblins sent to Brandon."
Fudge took a moment to gather his thoughts, and then answered, "Because Goblins have their own type of Magic, they are somehow able to track how much accidental Magic is done by every child that is born in Britain. Since The Treaty made them responsible for all Magical Inheritances, when a named Heir for a Magical House has not shown any accidental Magic, at the age of ten Gringotts sends a letter to the Head of House for the child, informing them that their son or daughter was a Squib. If at that time the family Head has any other children that registered as having done accidental Magic, the letter would also designate who the Goblins viewed as the next Heir to be."
"I take it the letter named you as the next potential Heir of the House, but I still don't understand why Brandon went through such great lengths to get you. The Treaty can't force Wizards to choose a particular Heir. Why not just re-marry and produce another Heir that way?"
Being a single woman forced to pave her way through a male dominated society, Amelia knew what must have happened. Even though she was only the Regent of House Bones for her niece, over the years she received several marriage proposals from minor Houses, but she knew they were all just trying to use the Ancient and Noble House of Bones as a stepping stone either financially or socially for their own families. Since Amelia was married to her job, she didn't hesitate to reject all of the proposals.
"He must have married into a wealthy family and didn't want to risk losing the dowry," she stated calmly.
Cornelius nodded his head in agreement. "Brandon spent the majority of his life getting by off my grandfather's name. He even used his family connections to get himself a Potion Brewer's license, but sadly lacked the ability to make a career out of it. When Leonard Fudge eventually passed away, Brandon assumed he would inherit enough galleons to live a life of comfort. Unfortunately for him, his father was an honest man and since my grandfather never accepted bribes while he was in office, the Fudge family wasn't as rich as many people assumed them to be.
In the end he realized his best chance at the life he wanted, was to marry into a wealthy family. The girl he chose was Elizabeth Rosier. Even though she was barely stronger than a squib herself, she was still the eldest daughter of a Noble House. The only reason her Head of House agreed to the marriage was because Brandon was a Pureblood and the son of the former Minister of Magic. When the marriage contract was created between the two families, it was written in a way to make sure that Elizabeth was never subservient to a lesser House. Due to his incompetence Brandon didn't realize until after the marriage was complete, that the Fudge family didn't actually receive a dowry from the Noble House of Rosier. Instead, the agreed upon money was deposited into Elizabeth's personal vault and she provided her husband with a monthly stipend.
When Elizabeth died during childbirth, her Will left everything to her only son. As his father Brandon tried to claim the vault for himself, but the marriage contract prevented him from doing that. The best he could do was claim Regency on behalf of his son, and he was content with the increased monthly stipend that gave him. But when the Goblins sent the letter..."
"Brandon realized the Rosier family would never let a Squib inherit the vault, and once they banished him from the family, the remaining monies would be returned to them," Harry finished.
"That's right, Harry. After the Goblins sent him the letter, Brandon decided his best chance to keep the life he had grown accustomed to, was by using the Blood's Mirror ritual on me."
"How did he find out about the ritual?," Amelia asked, wondering how an incompetent man like Brandon could find out about such a rare form of Magic.
Cornelius shrugged his shoulders in response. "To be honest, I have no idea, Amelia. But since the Rosier family is part of the Dark Alliance, I don't think it's a stretch to think Brandon must have made connections with some of the other Dark families. For the right amount of gold, just about anything is possible in our world."
As much as she hated to admit it, Amelia found herself nodding her head in agreement. For all the wonder the Magical world had to offer, it was tempered by the equal amounts of darkness that was rampant throughout their society. From her years of experience dealing with the seedier side of their world, she knew for a fact that enough gold could make just about anything possible.
While Amelia was contemplating the horrible things she'd dealt with in her career, Harry was left wondering if the history of this world's Fudge was the same as the one from his old world. If it was, he wanted to know what caused the change.
"When did you realize the truth, Cornelius?"
"Midway through my fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry," the Minister replied with a sad smile. "A couple of Slytherins attacked a Hufflepuff Muggleborn on our way to class, and I accidentally got hit with one of their stray spells. To this day I'm not sure what the purpose of the spell that hit me was supposed to be, but it somehow managed to unravel a small portion of my original memories. At first I thought the memories were just some dreams, and I tried to ignore them, but when I remembered the night Brandon Obliviated me before the ritual, I knew the memories were real. At the time I wasn't sure who I could trust with this knowledge, so I decided to go the Goblins for a checkup. It was their Healers that helped me recover all of my old memories."
"Why didn't you tell anyone the truth, Minster?"
"Please, Amelia. After everything I have shared with you today, I think it's safe for you to call me by my name now."
When he saw the Head of the DMLE nod her head, Cornelius continued, "After regaining my memories, I was disgusted with myself. I spent the majority of my time at Hogwarts mocking and ridiculing those I thought were beneath me, just like I was taught to do by my family. When I learned who and what I really was, I was sickened by my actions. At first I thought about telling the truth to the DMLE, so I could make Brandon pay for his crimes against myself and the real Cornelius, but after finding my mother I decided against it."
"Why?," Amelia virtually demanded from her boss. "What Brandon did to you violated so many of our laws, that he would have spent the rest of his life in Azkaban. Why did you let him remain free?"
"Because Azkaban wouldn't have been enough of a punishment for him," Fudge replied coldly. "Brandon ruined my mother's life. Since raping her wasn't enough for him, he had to turn her into a mindless husk as well. The night he Obliviated Jessica during my kidnapping, he somehow managed to damage her brain in the process and turned her into a vegetable. Even the best Mind Healers I hired couldn't do anything to reverse the effects. Because of that bastard Jessica Cowden will spend the rest of her life needing someone to feed her, clothe her, and wipe her arse. All because she was born a fucking Muggle."
At that point Amelia recalled how Brandon Fudge actually died. During the previous Elections she personally ran the background checks required for all of the candidates and now she could clearly remember Cornelius' file. Brandon Fudge had been found dead in knockturn alley, two weeks after his son had reported him missing. From the reports in the file, it was determined that Brandon had been tortured for days, but at the time she dismissed it because his son had never been considered as a suspect.
"You killed him," she stated, not knowing whether to applaud the man's actions, or arrest her boss for murder.
"Of course not, Amelia," Fudge answered with a smug grin. "I knew Jessica wouldn't want me to ruin my life for a few weeks of pleasure, so I embraced my inner Slytherin to get my revenge."
"Then what did you do, Cornelius?"
"The night I graduated from Hogwarts, I slipped Brandon some Veritaserum during our celebratory dinner, and learned all of his dirty little secrets. I then turned around and shared those secrets with every single one of his enemies that I could track down. I have no idea which one of them finally finished that bastard off, but I can assure you I was more than pleased with his final end."
Despite the sudden tension in the room, Harry found himself siding with the Minister. He stopped being a naive little boy that didn't believe in killing, long ago. But deep down Harry knew there was more to Cornelius' decision, and he wanted to know what it was.
"I'm sorry, Madam Bones, but despite your feelings on the matter, the Minister has done nothing wrong. Sharing his father's secrets with the man's enemies is not considered a crime by the Ministry and since he has no idea which one of them actually committed the deed, you can't even charge him as an accessory."
Amelia turned the full force of her ire towards Harry, and she was surprised when the soon to be twelve year old returned her gaze without flinching. Few in her life had managed to accomplish the feat, and she found her respect for the young Lord growing once again.
"Fine," she growled back at Cornelius. "But why continue the charade? Now that you have had your revenge, why not tell everyone the truth?"
"Now that is a question I also want the answer to, Madam Bones. I believe the Minister when he says he was disgusted by what was done to him. So I'm curious to know why he continues to live the life that was forced upon him, rather than go back to being Edward Cowden."
"Because, Harry, as Edward Cowden I could never hope to accomplish what I could as Cornelius Fudge."
"And what exactly is that, Cornelius?," Amelia asked her boss.
"I hope to change our world for the better, Amelia," Fudge answered without hesitation. "I'm tired of the bigotry and corruption that runs rampant throughout our society. I despise the fact that other races are given little if any respect as Magical beings. I can't stand that Britain loses dozens of brilliant Witches and Wizards every year to other countries, just because their blood isn't considered pure enough for some people. It disgusts me that Purebloods can attack Muggles in clear violation of our laws, but only receive a slap on the wrist if their caught, because the Ministry views Muggles to be less than human.
For far too long our society has remained stagnant and if things don't change soon, I fear for the future of our world. Muggle technology continues to grow in leaps and bounds, and if our bigoted ways aren't addressed soon, one day we will upset our neighbors too far, and on that day our way of life will come to a painful end."
The response was not what the veteran Auror was expecting. To be honest she thought it was a little crazy. As much as she hated how things were for Muggleborns and Half-bloods, many of those laws existed since the beginning of the Wizengamot and in her opinion it wasn't possible for one man to make such a difference. No matter how hard he tried, the old families would never willingly give up any of their power.
Before she could say anything, she heard Cornelius continue, "I know you may think me naive or delusional, but I didn't become the Minister of Magic on a whim, Amelia. From the moment I joined the Ministry, it was always my goal to get where I'm at today. The past twenty five years I worked my butt off to get noticed within the Ministry. I have no wish to disrespect the dead, by Bangold's death couldn't have come at a better time for me career wise. I was probably the most popular dark horse candidate for the Minister ,since the position was first created."
"You know, Cornelius," James began. "I always wondered how you gained the support of the Neutral families. Augusta was voting as the Potter proxy at the time, and she was certain that Crouch would be the next Minister."
"The reason for that is Dolores Umbridge."
As soon as Cornelius saw everyone wince at the name, he couldn't help but laugh at their reaction. "I know she's a vile woman, but Dolores has her uses. Despite her oh so many faults, when it comes to blackmail, she's easily the most resourceful woman I have ever met."
Amelia gasped at the admission. "You blackmailed the Neutral families into voting for you, Cornelius?"
"Of course not, Amelia," Fudge replied with a smirk. "I would never do anything so coarse or underhanded. I just let Delores know that if she got me the votes I needed, once I became the Minister of Magic, I would be more than willing to name her as my Undersecretary. Politically speaking, my hands were clean."
"I hope you don't actually trust that woman, Cornelius. Some of her ideas in regards to Magical Creatures are absolutely deplorable."
"The fact that we are having this conversation in your office and not mine, should tell you how much I trust my Undersecretary, Amelia. And as for her ideas, I have no intention of letting that woman pass any of the ridiculous laws she continues to push at me. I want to make our world a better place, not cause another war."
It took a moment for Amelia to realize what her boss was implying, and her face quickly turned red in anger. "She bugged your office, Cornelius?," she asked, hoping to have a reason to arrest the pink toad. "Give me the word and I can have her locked up by the end of the day."
"As much as I appreciate the sentiment, that won't be necessary, Amelia," Fudge replied. "For now Delores is a necessary evil and I need the information she can provide. As much as I hate to admit it, without her "skills", I wouldn't have been able to keep the Ministry from falling this past year."
Harry perked up at the last bit, and asked, "Why would the Ministry be in danger of falling, Cornelius?"
Fudge sighed as the million galleon question was finally asked. His entire reason for trusting in Harry and the Potter-Black-Peverell-Longbottom Alliance, could be traced back to this very question.
"The reason for that, Harry, is because the Ministry is completely bankrupt. Apparently Bagnold was using the Minister's account to finance her obscene lifestyle for years. I don't know how the stupid bint planned to make it to the end of her term, but as of now our government is over fifty million galleons in debt. If it weren't for the budget cuts and the tax increase I already implemented, the Ministry would have fallen a few months ago."
"Who else knows about this?," Harry asked in shock.
"As of now, other than myself and Franklin Binns, the Ministry's Chief Financial Officer, only the three of you know the truth. Thankfully access to the Ministry accounts is limited to Franklin and myself, so for the time being I have been able to keep a lid on things."
Amelia couldn't believe how dire the situation in the Ministry had become and now she wanted to know what the Minister was doing about it. "Why haven't you shared this information with the Wizengamot, Cornelius? I'm sure they could have done something to help you with the debt."
"I can give you several reasons for that, Amelia, but for now the two most important ones will suffice. First, if the public became aware of the situation, we would have riots in the streets. Frankly speaking, even before the budget cuts your department was ill equipped to handle such a situation."
As much as Amelia wanted to defend the DMLE, sadly she knew she didn't have enough Aurors to handle the amount of people a situation like that would entail. When she reluctantly nodded her head in agreement, Cornelius continued, "Second, as of now the only people capable of helping the Ministry get out of this mess are from the old families. While I have no doubt the Light families will help without asking for too much in return, can you really say the same for the Neutrals or the Dark Alliance. I shudder to think what kind of concessions they would demand in return for clearing the debt. My goal is to help bring a measure of equality to our world, Amelia. Not to give our ruling Elite even more power than they already have now."
As he stared at the Minister, Harry felt his mind race through a multitude of scenarios. While he was certain that the Light families would be willing to help with the debt, Harry wasn't naive enough to believe the help wouldn't come at a price. The fact that Fudge had kept the debt hidden even from them, could only mean the price was something he wasn't willing to pay.
From everything Harry had learned about the Minister today, he would readily admit this world's Cornelius was a good man. If someone as shrewd as Fudge was willing to cover up the truth, it could only mean he had a plan already in place.
"You obviously have no intention of telling the Wizengamot about the debt, Cornelius. I assume you already have a plan in place for it?
The sudden shark like grin that appeared on the Minister's face, was the enough to tell Harry what Fudge's response was going to be.
"That would be a correct assumption, Harry," Cornelius answer back with a smug smile. "Franklin and I already have a plan in place. Within five years we should have the entire debt erased from the Ministry accounts."
Harry's eyes grew as wide as saucers at the news. He didn't have to look at his father or Amelia to know they had to be feeling as shocked as him. Fifty million galleons was a fortune for even the old families and it was impossible for the government to come up with that kind of money in so little time.
"How can you possibly come up with that much money in five years, Cornelius?," Amelia asked, a part of her praying that it wouldn't be through shady dealings. The day's revelations had gone a long ways towards easing her concerns about the Minister, and the last thing she wanted was to be involved in anything illegal.
"The Quidditch World Cup, Amelia," Cornelius answered.
Of all the things James had been expecting to hear, that was not one of them. As an avid fan of the sport, he was well aware of how much money the World Cup could and did make for the countries involved. From what he knew, while fifty million was achievable for the entire event, it definitely was not possible for a single country.
The World Cup worked by the countries involved making bids to host matches for the qualifiers, the playoffs and finally the Championship game. It was impossible for a single country to win the bids for all of the games.
"That's just not possible, Cornelius. There aren't enough games for a single country to make that much money."
Cornelius turned his gaze towards James, and his grey eyes twinkled as bright at Dumbledore's when he knew something everyone else was clueless to.
"That may have been true in the past, James, but this time around the World Cup will actually live up to its name."
It took a moment for James to comprehend the hidden meaning behind the Minister's answer, but when he did his eyes lit up with a near maniacal glee. Despite its name the Cup was played only between countries that were part of the ICW, which usually meant the rest of the world was not invited. To a die hard Quidditch fan like himself, that was a shame because the Americans were known to have some of the best players in the world.
"You actually got the Americans to join the Cup?"
"Not just the Americans, Mr. Potter. Thanks to a lot of hard work on my part, and a sacrifice of almost all the favors I have accumulated over the years, I was also able to get the Japanese, Chileans, Chinese, Mexicans, Portuguese, Indians and the Africans to also join the World Cup. The upcoming games will have teams from all across the globe and I am on the verge of making sure that Britain has the rights to host ALL of the playoffs, as well as the Championship game."
"What about the qualifiers?," James asked, barely managing to keep his inner sports fan in check.
Cornelius shook his head and said, "Britain will have no part of hosting any of the qualifying games. Due to the additional countries involved in this World Cup, the format for the games will be different this time around. The Countries will be organized into five divisions, with each division having four teams. The top two teams from each division will then go on to the playoffs. The extra games will mean more revenue for everyone, which will be necessary to appease the egos of the other Ministries, once it's officially released that we will have the rights to host the playoffs and the Championship."
Amelia finally released the breath she didn't even know she was holding. As the Head of the DMLE, she spent the majority of her adult life upholding the law and right then she was thrilled the Minister had found a way to remove the Ministry's debt, without asking her to look the other way while he broke them. What bothered her now was why he even deemed it necessary to tell them anything. If he kept silent for a little bit longer, he would have easily solved his problems without anyone being the wiser.
"While this is certainly wonderful news, Cornelius, I'm curious to know why you decided to have this conversation with the three of us today. It's obvious you have already found a way to solve the Ministry's problems, so why reveal the truth about your past? Why admit to me that you have taken bribes and sequestered money from donations? You do realize that I can still arrest you for those things? I can't figure out why you would take such a chance, when you've already solved the problem by yourself."
Cornelius sighed, knowing that Amelia was right. Deep down he knew he could have accomplished his goals without telling anyone the truth, but it would have come at a price he wasn't willing to pay. As hard as he worked for the Greater Good of the Magical world, Cornelius had no intention of bringing about those changes by sacrificing the people he knew to be good.
In the past twenty five years he had spent working for the government, Cornelius would readily admit that Amelia was one of the most honest and trustworthy people he'd ever met at the Ministry. And despite his age, from the reports he'd read on Harry, the same could be said for the brilliant young Lord.
"Because of the investigations you and Harry are presently running on me, Amelia," the Minister answered. "If I already had confirmation from the ICW that we will host the playoffs and the Championship game for the World Cup, I assure you this conversation would never have happened today. Unfortunately I won't know for certain for at least a few more months and until I know for sure, I can't risk this news being leaked to the public or the Wizengamot. Between Miss Skeeter's articles, and your not so subtle Aurors, should anyone in the Wizengamot learn how bad things are at the Ministry, the news will spread like Fiendfyre. Once that happens, I have no doubt certain families would go out of their way to ruin my deal with the ICW, just so they could be involved with removing the debt and somehow gaining further power for the Pureblood Elite."
As much as she hated to admit it, Amelia knew something like that was very possible. Between the Dark Alliance and the Neutrals, there were several families that would be more than willing to jeopardize the Minister's plans, if it would mean gaining more power for the Pureblood Elite.
For the first time in her career she finally had a leader she was proud to follow, and in that moment she decided she would do her best to help him achieve his dreams. As much as she hated breaking the law, she didn't get to her position without knowing that sometimes the laws needed to be bent. Despite the Minister's admission of guilt, everything he had done was for the betterment of the Magical World. And that was something she could readily get behind.
"You have surprised me today, Minister, and that doesn't happen too often at my age. Now that I know the reasons behind your actions, I can honestly say that you are exactly the type of Leader our world needs at this time and I look forward to helping you achieve your dream for the future. You don't have to worry about my Aurors any longer, Cornelius. I will stop my investigations right away."
Cornelius blushed a little at the praise, and then nodded his head in gratitude. "Thank you, Amelia. You don't know how much your support means to me."
When Harry saw the Minister turn towards him, he couldn't stop the ear to ear grin that appeared on his face. Cornelius Fudge was nothing like the man he imagined before this meeting, and now that he knew the truth, he would gladly throw his support behind him.
"I agree with Madam Bones, Cornelius. You are exactly the type of Minister our world needs right now. I assure you Miss Skeeter won't be printing any more articles on you in the Prophet. But you don't have to do everything by yourself. If you will let me, I think my father and I can help you improve our world."
While he was pleased to learn that both investigations would no longer continue, Cornelius was taken aback by Harry's offer. He'd been hoping this meeting would help gain the support of the Potter-Peverell-Black-Longbottom Alliance, but he didn't think it would happen so soon.
"What do you have in mind, Harry?," he asked curiously.
Harry took a moment to gather his thoughts. So far Fudge's solution to the debt left behind by Bagnold would be incredible if he pulled it off, but it still left the Ministry working at the bare minimum. For the changes the Harry had in mind for the future, that just wasn't good enough.
"Your plan for removing the debt is an excellent one, Cornelius, but it still leaves our government working at the bare minimum. If you really want to change our world, it doesn't make sense to keep things as they are. I know your hands are tied due to financial concerns, so I want to donate five million galleons to the Ministry, to help ease your burden. Between that and the influx of money you will gain by taking my suggestion to remove the funding from the DMLE, you should have more than enough galleons to increase the budget for all the other departments in the Ministry."
"Excuse me?," Cornelius and Amelia exclaimed simultaneously.
"Why would you want to remove the DMLE's budget?," Amelia asked, barely keeping her anger in check. "We barely have enough to get by as it is."
"Because, Madam Bones," Harry replied calmly. "I'm hoping the Minister will let me finance your department until the end of the World Cup."
As much as he liked the young man in front of him, the Politician in Cornelius was immediately wary of the offer. No one gave out that type of money without wanting something in return, and for the first time that day Cornelius was worried he had judged Harry wrong.
"What exactly would you want in return for this generous donation, Harry?," Cornelius asked warily.
"Nothing," Harry replied honestly. "I know it might be hard to believe, but this is not a bribe, Cornelius. I have no ulterior motive behind the donation. I agree with your vision to bring equality to our world, and this is my way of helping you accomplish that dream."
Cornelius sighed in relief, pleased that his first impression of the young Lord had been the right one. The money being offered by Harry would go a long ways towards helping the Ministry, but he still wasn't sure about letting a private citizen finance the government's armed forces.
"I won't lie to you, Harry. Your donation would be very helpful for the Ministry, but I'm uncomfortable letting someone finance our armed forces. Why exactly do you want to do this?"
Harry knew the question was a reasonable one, and he did his best to reassure the Minister that he didn't want to control the department.
"Before I explain myself any further, Cornelius, I just want to state that I have no intention or desire to control the DMLE or Madam Bones in any way. The money I will provide will be placed in a new vault with the Goblins, and as soon as it's created, only Madam Bones and those she authorizes will be allowed access to it. I will not in any way, shape or form, dictate how or what she spends the money on."
Once he saw that his words had somewhat mollified the two Ministry workers, Harry continued, "As much as I respect the work our Aurors do in the field, according to my research, I'm sorry to say they aren't as good as their contemporaries in the rest of the world. Our DMLE is over-worked, understaffed and poorly trained in comparison to Aurors from other Ministries. I know we don't have the population to match the 1000+ Aurors that the Americans and the Chinese are capable of, but even amongst the smaller countries in Europe, we have the fewest number of Aurors. As the first and last line of defense for our world, that to me is unacceptable. I'm willing to provide the funds to change that, if Madam Bones can assure me of three things."
As she stared into Harry's piercing green eyes, Amelia could tell the young man's generosity wasn't hiding another agenda. If she was being honest with herself, she would readily agree with his assessment of her Aurors. Her current forces were a far cry in both skill and number from where they were during Grindelwald's reign, and she wanted nothing more than to rectify that glaring error.
"And what exactly would these three things be, Mr. Potter?," Amelia asked, hoping and in spite of her previous assumption, believing, the requests wouldn't be unreasonable.
"First, I want the DMLE to significantly increase the number of Aurors we have in the field. If I'm not mistaken, right now the Ministry has around one hundred and thirty active people in the department. By the time the World Cup comes to England, I would like that number to be around three hundred and fifty."
Amelia was surprised by the request, but it was definitely one she could get behind. Without even looking towards her boss for a confirmation, she replied, "That is certainly doable, Harry. As long as we have at least two years before the Cup gets here, I should easily be able to increase our forces by then."
When Harry saw Cornelius nod his head in regards to the time, he continued, "Second, I want you to promise me that any new recruits will not be chosen by blood status, but by ability and skill. I have no desire to fund second rate Witches and Wizards, just because of who they are related to."
Once again Amelia found herself nodding her head in agreement, but this time she had a smile on her face. Unlike her predecessor who often employed people based on their blood status, Amelia chose to hire people with the skills she was looking for.
Since the condition was something she already did, she quickly said, "That won't be a problem at all, Harry."
"My third and final request is for Madam Bones to create a subdivision of her department, that would act as our version of the Muggle Special Forces. Ideally this division would be composed of a hundred people, with fifty Aurors making up the Aerial division..."
"The Aerial division?," Cornelius asked in surprise, as he interrupted Harry.
"It would be composed of men and women that are trained to attack from their brooms, Cornelius" Harry explained to the Minister. "We used these forces during the last Muggle World War, and they gave our side an excellent tactical advantage against Grindelwald's people. I know for a fact the Ministry is still in possession of the training field these forces used in the past, and I would be more than willing to supply the Aurors with new brooms and invisibility cloaks."
Amelia found herself getting giddy at the thought of bringing back such a force to the department, and now she couldn't wait to learn what Harry had in mind for the last fifty members of the new unit. "What about the last fifty Aurors, Harry?," she asked excitedly.
"Those, Madam Bones, would make up your new Capture and Retrieval Squad. The fifty Aurors should be separated into ten teams of five people, with each team having three Combat Specialists, one Curse Breaker, and one Combat Medic. I want these teams in particular to have specialized training in methods beyond just spell casting. This should include training in both hand to hand combat, as well as learning how to use swords and daggers, in case they lose their wands during combat."
Having been quiet for awhile, James' eyes bugged out at his son's suggestions. While the Auror in him was thrilled his former department would get the boost they so rightfully deserved, the father in him worried how much these additions would end up costing his son.
James knew the men and women that were hired to these positions would ask for significant salaries, and stated that fact to Harry. "Are you sure about this, Harry? As much as I would love to see these Special Forces added to Amelia's department, can you really afford something like this right now? Between the Village and the Cove, you're already spreading yourself thin, kiddo."
Harry smiled at his father's concern, but thankfully he wouldn't have to dip into his reserves from his old world. The gold mines Death purchased for him were finally beginning to produce some dividends and with the fifty elves he'd assigned to them, he could easily afford funding the DMLE for the next few years.
"That won't be a problem, dad," he replied with a smirk. "The mines are finally producing some gold and I can easily provide what the DMLE needs."
Amelia was surprised the Potter family was in possession of gold mines, and as much as she wanted to ask about them, she was more concerned what the cost of creating this new Special Forces unit for the DMLE. While Harry was paying for things it wouldn't be a problem, but she couldn't see how the Ministry could afford this group later on.
"I'm not sure if the last request of yours is feasible, Harry," she replied reluctantly.
"Why not, Madam Bones?"
"While you're paying for things it wouldn't be a problem, but how would the Ministry afford the new group once they took over funding. The majority of the money the Ministry makes from the World Cup will be used to get rid of the debt that we have. I doubt there will be enough left to continue paying for these new units."
Harry sighed in relief, realizing Amelia's problem with the Special Forces was only a monetary one. "That's not a problem, Madam Bones," he replied. "After the World Cup, the money that is left in the new vault can be used by the Goblins for investment purposes. Between that and the Ministry budget, you should have enough money to sustain the new forces for quite some time. Hopefully in a few years, you can further decrease costs by agreeing to pay for specialized schooling."
"Pay for schooling?," Amelia asked. "Why would we do that?"
"It's a Muggle method for getting people to join the Military," Harry answered. "While I'm paying for things, we can easily hire teachers that specialize in Combat Magic, Curse Breaking, Hand to Hand Combat, Sword Fighting and Healing. Once cadets graduate from the Auror Academy, for those that are interested in joining the Special Forces units, you can offer to send them to these teachers in return for signing a ten or fifteen year contract at a fixed pay later on. Once the contract ends, they can leave for more money in the private sector, or sign on again with a new contract and higher salary. It's a win win for everyone."
Eventually the conversation moved on to less important topics, and after another hour of discussion, the group had enough for the day. As he followed Harry and James out of Amelia's office, Cornelius marveled at the recent turn of meeting today had gone better than he ever imagined, and with Harry and his father now firmly in his corner, for the first time in his life, Cornelius truly felt like his dream could become a reality.
AN2: I am half way through the next chapter, so I should have it up in a week or two. That update will wrap up the first year and hopefully have a good fight scene between Voldemort, Neville and Harry.