Though the Death Eaters probably never expected it, Percy's murder had actually helped the Weasley cause. Sympathy for the Weasley family had grown, and the strength of Arthur Weasley's resolve to continue the campaign impressed many. Mr. Weasley's competitors, Minister Fudge and Barnabus Satchel, had also been very respectful and refrained from any personal attacks during their campaigns.
Election day had finally arrived, only a week after Harry had walked into the Weasley home and shaken things up. The Weasleys were still obviously feeling the loss of Percy, but the stout family was showing every sign of emotional recovery.
Harry was still learning about the way the Wizarding World handled elections. Apparently, it was customary for the competing candidates and their supporters to meet in one place while the votes were counted. Harry found it odd to put these fierce competitors (some of whom had said some nasty things about their opponents) in one spot. Ron explained to him that the point was to allow the candidates to get their last minute barbs in. It also allowed for some key behind the scenes political deals to take place. The whole thing made for excellent drama, and if there was one thing that Wizards loved, it was drama.
The Olde Convocation Hall was the location for the event. It was a very old theater just outside of London that Wizards had used for various performances for hundreds of years. A good number of the Hogwarts students and staff had made arrangements to attend the event with their families after classes that day.
Harry would be attending the event with the Weasley family of course. Hermione was also going to be joining them (Mrs. Weasley practically considered her a member of the family already). After his last class of the day Harry headed down to the main door of the castle to wait for the twins to arrive. He caught a shadowy figure out of the corner his eye just as he reached the door.
"Malfoy." Harry said. "Skulking around as usual?"
"Skulking is such a negative term for it." the Slytherin replied flippantly. "I like to think of it as investigating."
"Do you want something from me?" Harry asked impatiently.
"Just making sure you've kept quiet about that business a while back. You do remember our agreement?"
"Yes, although I wish I could forget the whole thing." Harry replied.
"I could help you with that." Draco said with a coy smile. "As I've said before, I'm fairly handy with memory charms."
"I think I'll pass on that." Harry replied just as Ron, Ginny and Hermione arrived.
Draco gave them a distasteful look before heading back down the long hallway towards the Slytherin dorms. Ron gave harry a questioning look but before he could say anything the twins' car pulled up to the castle.
"Hallo there Harry, ready to see the most glorious day in Weasley history?" one of the twins said with a wide grin.
"Now I don't want you two fighting back there," the other twin said as Ron and Harry climbed in the back seat after Hermione and Ginny, "else we'll make you walk to London."
The trip went by pretty fast in the twins' little Mini. The flying car was even faster than the last time Harry had ridden in it. No doubt the duo had performed some upgrades since then.
The hall itself was expertly hidden near a parking lot. Any Muggles would just see an old warehouse standing there. Harry and his group followed a pair of ushers to the main entrance. In addition to the formally dressed ushers there were a number of other people dressed in a much more utilitarian garb. They were obviously there for security purposes. Harry had heard that Mad-Eye Moody and Max had seen to the security of the gathering. Mad-Eye had hand picked the security team and Max had spent the entire morning installing advanced dark detectors. No one was going to let anything happen on this day.
Once past the checkpoints, Harry could see the inside of the hall. It was a huge theater, ornately decorated in Victorian style. The walls were adorned with moving portraits of various people that Harry could not identify. The hall was full of of wizards and witches of all ages. Many of them were Weasley supporters wearing "Weasley for Minister" hats. Hermione had apparently made them quite fashionable. There were also a number of people that seemed to frown every time they passed someone wearing one of the hats. Harry guessed they must be Satchel supporters.
Far in the distance Harry could see the familiar shape of Minister Fudge's bowler hat. The man didn't look very happy at all. Harry could understand why, Voldemort's return had caused many questions to be asked...questions that neither Fudge nor his staff could answer.
Harry's group met up with the rest of the Weasley's in the area of the hall designated for their candidate. Bill and Charlie were already there along with Mrs. Weasley and a very nervous looking Arthur Weasley. Mrs. Weasley appeared to be calm and stately, seeming to be reserved to whatever fate her husband might meet in this election. Ron was still cautiously optimistic, but the twins seemed to be already thinking of ways that being the Minister's sons could get them out of trouble.
There was a very large box hung from the high ceiling of the convocation hall with three sets of rolling numbers. It reminded Harry a lot of his old alarm clock at the Dursley's. The odd contraption kept a running total of all the votes in Britain. Minister Fudge's column was increasing rather slowly compared to the other two candidates. At the moment, the numbers were slightly in Mr. Weasley's favor.
"Looks like this one is going to be close." Fred said with a silly grin on his face. "I prefer it this way, it makes things so much more exciting."
"I'm glad someone feels that way." Mr. Weasley remarked. "This is all just making me a nervous wreck."
Harry spotted Mr. Satchel approaching them from across the room. The slick-haired wizard's face bore it's usual confident smirk. He maneuvered his way next to Arthur Weasley with the subtlety and grace of a cat.
"Arthur, may I have a quick word with you in private?" he asked quietly.
Mr. Weasley looked puzzled. "Uhm, alright Barnabus."
"What's all that about?" Harry asked skeptically as the two men walked off to a secluded corner of the hall.
"Who knows." Ron replied.
"I take it you don't care for the Honorable Mr. Satchel." Lupin said to Harry. He had snuck behind them and wrapped Harry in an affectionate hug.
"I didn't get a very good impression of him at the trial." Harry replied. He could still very vividly recall Satchel's determined defense of Pettigrew's actions.
"He was doing his job, Harry." Lupin said plainly. "He's a member of the Wizengamot, his job was to find out the facts in an impartial manner. He did that. He argued that Peter was not completely in control of his actions at Hogsmeade, and in a way he was right."
"So you're okay with the fact that Peter was found not guilty on that charge?" Harry asked.
"No, I am not." Lupin said firmly. "But I would be much more disturbed if the Wizengamot had not given him a fair trial. We can't allow fear and anger to keep us from doing what's right, Harry. Our sense of right and wrong can't be sacrificed."
"I'm not sure I'm comfortable with his sense of right and wrong." Ron added.
"There are many who agree with you, Ron." Lupin added. "That's been one of his greatest weaknesses in his campaign. We all know how he feels about the Dark Arts. Regardless, he's very skilled in politics and he is well connected throughout the wizarding world. He's also not afraid to speak his mind. As much as I hate to say it, he wouldn't make a bad Minister."
"There's a difference between 'not bad' and 'good'." Hermione stated.
Lupin smiled. "You are quite right about that Hermione."
"Has anyone seen Dumbledore?" Harry asked, wondering where the crafty old wizard was.
"He usually doesn't show up at these things." Lupin answered. "I'm sure you can imagine all the attention he attracts. He tries his best to wash his hands of the whole political business completely."
The night went on with various conversations and heated political debates amongst the crowd. Mr. Weasley returned from his secretive chat with Satchel looking slightly more confident than he had when he left.
After a while Harry spied a reporter with an odd device strapped to her chest that looked something like a microphone. When he looked a little closer he could see that it was Rita Skeeter.
"What's she doing here?" Harry asked to no one in particular.
"Rita's with the Wizard Wireless now." George replied. "She's moving up in the world I suppose. Now the entire British Wizarding community gets to hear her voice."
Harry was dismayed to see her heading in their direction. He quickly looked around for an escape route, but there was none to be found.
"Rita Skeeter here reporting LIVE over the Wizard Wireless. I'm here with esteemed candidate Arthur Weasley and THE BOY WHO LIVED of all people!"
Harry felt quite annoyed as the frenetic woman turned to him and began to assault him with questions. Harry's opinion of the media was not improving.
"So Harry, I take it you're giving your endorsement to the Weasley camp." Rita asked.
"Yes." Harry replied shortly.
"I'm sure you look forward to the day when you're old enough to participate in the democratic process!"
"Any plans for a political future yourself, Mr. Potter?"
"Oh look!" Hermione said in false excitement. "Isn't that the Bulgarian Minister of Magic?"
Rita jerked her head around so fast Harry was sure she would snap her neck. "Oh it is!! He hardly EVER makes public appearances." With that she ran off to trap her new prey.
Harry gave a quick smile to Hermione. "Thanks."
"You are welcome." Hermione said smugly.
The crowd grew more anxious as the ten o'clock voting deadline drew near. Everyone's eyes were fixated on the vote counting device attached to the ceiling. The numbers kept whirring past quickly. It was going to be a close finish. With just 1 minute to go the numbers were starting to slow a bit, then the large clock in the hall sounded 10 o'clock with an almost deafening gong.
Satchel was ahead by 997 votes. He had won.
Half the crowd burst into exuberant cheering while the other half let out a collective sigh of disappointment. Harry suddenly felt quite depressed.
"Recount?" Harry asked in Hermione's general direction.
"No need." Hermione said as she shook her head. "Dumbledore created the vote counting spell. It's extremely accurate and tamper proof."
Harry turned to Ron, expecting him to look distraught, but instead the tall red-head seemed to be lost in thought.
"Tell me Hermione, did Satchel go to Hogwarts?" Ron asked.
"Yes." Hermione sighed as she slowly removed her "Weasley for Minister" hat.
"Slytherin?" Ron continued.
Hermione suddenly looked thoughtful. "Hufflepuff, actually."
"Meh, there's still hope for us then." Ron said indifferently.
The crowd suddenly grew quiet as a stately woman dressed in a green suit with horn-rimmed glasses stepped up to the podium.
"That's the Elector." Hermione whispered to her friends. "She's the one that grants the new Minister his powers."
"The polls are closed ladies and gentlemen." the woman said in a smooth voice.
The Elector drew her wand lightly tapped it onto Minister Satchel's chest. There was a faint blue glow around him, and then the Elector stepped back.
"Barnabus Satchel is now the Minister of Magic, with all the duties, privileges, and responsibilities of that position."
Everyone in the crowd provided courteous applause for the new Minister (some more half-heartedly than others) as he approached the main podium for his acceptance speech. Former Minister Fudge offered a weak handshake to his successor before disappearing into the crowd.
"Thank you, thank you." Minister Satchel stated in a well-rehearsed tone. "I must say that the past few hours have been the most exciting of my life. I'd like to thank everyone who gave me their support." "This was a very close election for us. Indeed, that is how it should be. I would be worried if anyone, including myself, had won this election in a land slide. We are faced with difficult times, and there are difficult decisions for us all to make. Can we rightfully decide upon one person to protect all of our interests? The people have spoken...That is why I am quite happy to announce that I have offered Arthur Weasley the position of Head of the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, and he has graciously accepted."
"So that's what that was all about. Clever." Hermione stated quietly in the shocked silence that followed the announcement.
"Congratulations, Arthur." Lupin said with a handshake. "Although they aren't quite the congratulations I was expecting to give."
"Thank you." Mr Weasley said.
"Speech, speech!" the crowd called out.
Mr. Weasley made his way to the podium (he was forced onto it more accurately) looking a bit nervous, but smiling nonetheless.
"Well, a year ago if you had told me I would be running for Minister of Magic I would have called you insane." Mr. Weasley said, blushing. "However, trying times can demand the most unexpected actions from us. In light of all that was occurring in the wizarding world, I felt it right for there to be a candidate that represented the true interests of the ordinary citizen. I spent most of my career studying Muggles because I felt they had much to teach us about perserverance, resourcefulness, and most importantly...adaptation. If nothing else, I hope that my campaign was successful in sharing what I have learned with all of you."
As soon as Arthur Weasley stepped off the podium Rita Skeeter was in his face.
"So, Mr. Weasley...or Department Head Weasley as I should say, how do you feel at this moment."
"Well, I have to say I'm quite flabbergasted at the moment." Mister Weasley replied sheepishly. "I really don't know what to say besides...thank you. Thank you to everyone who voted for me. Thank you for your confidence in me."
"And there you have it ladies and gentlemen." Rita said excitedly into her microphone thing. "Arthur Weasley, humble as always!"
"I don't think I've seen you this happy in a while." Harry said to Ron as he munched on a finger sandwich from the buffet.
"I don't think I've ever been this happy. Ever!" Ron replied jubilantly. His initial indifference towards the election results had transformed into a kind of giddyness. "It's not the top job, but it sure beats where he was before. Still, I'm not quite sure I like that my dad's all chummy with Satchel now."
"It's politics, Ron." Hermione interjected. "With your father in such an important position Satchel can get the support of the people that didn't vote him. I'd also wager a guess that Satchel is expecting more Death Eater attacks. Who better to hide all that from Muggles than a man who has spent most of his life studying them?"
"Still don't like it." Ron said, smiling. "But I can live with it as long as I know there's a good man there to keep things in order."
"I second that!" Harry said enthusiastically. For the first time in a long while, he felt that things weren't going so bad after all.
Sorry it took so long for another update, but work does come before fanfiction.-
Special thanks to all my longtime readers (mithrandir, Steph P, SarahLupin, oopmaster, AgentJ, Quoththe Raven, and many others) for sticking around for so long. I promise that the end IS coming.