Cornelius Fudge's Eulogy,
as Presented by Severus Snape
Disclaimer:This story is the product of my own mind (muddled though it may be). The characters are, sadly, not mine. They belong to J. K. Rowling. I just play with them, and bend them to my will occasionally. Occasionally they see fit to take over the story, and then I am at the mercy of their will. This story is completely AU. OotP has no bearing on this story, and there are no spoilers for it. Some of the barbs, digs, and jibes are not mine. They have been borrowed, however, from whom I don't know. They are bits read a loooong time ago. Others have credit attributed to the originator, and still others are my own.
Footsteps, loud as thunder, clapped through the stairwell, drowning out the sound the enchanted staircase made as it carried the visitor to the headmaster's office. Whomever was en route to see the old headmaster was certainly in a hurry. He, or she, couldn't even wait for the staircase to deliver its passenger to the door at the top.
The staircase hadn't even stopped moving when the door was opened by the old wizard, and the visitor was greeted jovially, "Ah, Severus my boy. Do come in. There, there, child. You seem slightly out of sorts. Please sit. Tea? Biscuit? Lemon drop?"
Grudgingly, scowl firmly in place, Severus sat in the brown over-stuffed chair in front of the venerable Headmaster's desk. "Slightly out of sorts … slightly?!" Severus hissed. He was fighting a loosing battle with his temper.
Albus, in an effort to diffuse the situation, again offered, "Tea? Biscuit? Lemon drop?"
"No, no, and no." Severus bit out between clenched teeth. One could see, from twenty paces away, the muscle in his jaw working overtime as he struggled to hold his tongue.
"Now, my child. Why don't you take a few deep breaths, collect your thoughts, and tell me what young Mr. Potter has done this time." Albus asked with twinkling eyes, as he took his seat behind the massive desk.
"Potter … Potter? Why does everything seem to revolve around Potter. No, Albus, this time it is not Potter. This time it is Arthur."
"Merlin, Severus. The man has only been the Minister for a week. Give him some time to settle in. Hide, watch, and wait. You'll see. He'll make a fine minister." Albus advised as he leaned back in his chair and rested his hands on the desk.
"If I allow him to live so long. Do you know what he wants me to do? Do you have any idea? It's foolishness. Pure and simple. I didn't even know the man. What little of him I knew, I hated more than Potter, Black, Pettigrew, Lupin, and Potter junior combined."
"Arthur?" Albus asked completely confused.
"What?" Severus stopped his rant briefly. "Arthur? No, not Arthur. Aren't you listening?" Severus rose from his seat and began to pace around the oval office.
"Yes, yes, my child. I am listening, but you are talking in tighter circles than you are walking. Please sit, or at least stop pacing around my office. You're circular pacing is making me as dizzy as your circular speech."
Severus sighed and ran his hands through his no-longer greasy hair. "Arthur wants me to give the eulogy for Cornelius Fudge next Saturday. What in all nine hells can I say about that piece of …" Severus finally stopped his pacing and glared at the headmaster.
"Knowing you, Severus, you will have quite a bit to say. And you will say it well. Now, if that is all, I really must attend to the ever-growing stack of ever-present paperwork." Albus dismissed Severus.
Saturday dawned cold, windy, and rainy. The picture was made complete with the occasional burst of short-lived hail storms. Perfect weather for a funeral, or so some thought … especially when the funeral was for one former Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge.
Fudge had died in the middle of one of his more vainglorious dissertations about the impropriety of the Wizarding World's penchant for casting the office of Ministry of Magic, and more specifically, the Minister of Magic himself, in anything less than the most stellar of lights.
He had just begun to rant about the leeway given a certain young Gryffindor, whom he said, and I quote, "… shall remain nameless, *cough*Harry*cough*Potter*cough*." He no sooner finished his third stage-cough when he began gasping for air.
His little show of 'coughing' out the Boy-Who-Lived's name did little to endear him to his austere audience, and they ignored his distress. As he was studiously ignored, his attempts to breath became more frenzied. Still his audience didn't catch on.
One of Fudge's more notable traits was his repetitive reliance on histrionics to make his point. No one realized his gasping for air was not a repeat performance of his beloved histrionic behavior until it was entirely too late.
It was an innocent comment by an underage wizard that caught everyone's attention, and pointed out that indeed Minister Fudge was most assuredly in distress. The young boy, who couldn't have been more than seven or eight, had commented with adequate lung-power to alert most of those assembled with a well-spoken, "Lookit, Dad, the Minister really doesn't look good in blue, does he?"
Well, that was how Minister Fudge met his downfall. It was not at Voldemort's wand-point. It was not by any Death Eater's wand-point. It did not come about as he had feared it would, by Harry Potter's hand either.
His demise was brought about, rather, by his own arrogance. Oh, to clear that up … he didn't think Harry Potter would out and out kill him. No, indeed. He thought the boy would give him a heart attack just by being a boy, Quidditch, girls ~ or boys, no one was willing to speculate ~ and the boy's infernal, perennial adventures.
Any of these could have done the Minister in at any time, but no … his own mouth did him in, and as far as the Wizarding World was concerned, that was as it should be.
Severus was introduced to the throng gathered for the former Minister's funeral. Okay, well throng might be a little overstating it. There were perhaps forty or fifty witches and wizards in attendance, many of whom were reporters. Several were members of the Order of Phoenix who wanted to be sure the bane of their existence, well one of them, was well and truly dead. Others in the audience were curiosity seekers with the odd undercover Death Eater or two rounding out the numbers.
Severus, in defiance of the occasion, had put aside his traditional, okay habitual, black wizard's robes in favor of his Slytherin-green robes for the occasion. He didn't see any reason for wearing his 'good' clothes to something as distasteful as Fudge's funeral. Besides, what was there to mourn in the loss of this particular thorn in his side?
Severus stepped regally up to the podium, cleared his throat and began. "Cornelius Fudge, failed Auror, former Minister of Magic, has died." A smirk that could have been taken (rightfully so) for a smile played on his thin lips. "Former Minister Fudge was a man with a face rather like a rose just before you drench it with flesh-eating slug repellant. He was a man on whom a four-hundred galleon dress robe looked like socks on a flobberworm."
Severus let the whispers die down before he began again, "Now that he is gone, no doubt there will be several who will believe he makes a very handsome corpse and becomes his coffin prodigiously." Severus smirked as he listened to the assembled try to figure out if that was a compliment (hardly), or an insult (that's the one).
Leaning one hand against the podium, Severus began again, "When I try to picture Cornelius Fudge, and please note that this is a pastime I reserve for those infrequent times when I am feeling especially masochistic, I wonder if the Muggle writer, Mark Twain's, description might best sum up what my imagination conjures up, 'He was a solemn, unsmiling, sanctimonious old iceberg who looked like he was waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity'."
"It goes without saying, as he proved time and time again, that he was a mental midget with the IQ of a fence post. Another Muggle, Abraham Lincoln once said, 'He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know,' and 'he is useless on top of the ground; he aught to be under it, inspiring the cabbages.' Lincoln died almost a hundred and fifty years ago, yet his words make me wonder about whom he was speaking. I didn't think Fudge was that old."
Severus smirked at the chuckles and whispers that the crack about Fudge's age brought about. He waited a few beats and continued, "I could go on … actually, I think I will … Fudge knew so little and knew it so fluently. He might have looked like an idiot and talked like an idiot, but don't let that fool you. He really was an idiot."
Again there were whispers, and Severus waited for them to subside before beginning once more, "In the words of Earl of Rochester, Fudge 'never said a foolish thing, nor never did a wise one.' Fudge's rise to power was assisted by his use of statistics. In fact he used them much the way a drunkard uses lampposts - for support, not illumination. While he was no dumber than a blast-ended skrewt, he was not any smarter either. I imagine when he would visit a mind-reader, he was only charged half-price."
Here there were a few well hidden chuckles heard from a few wizards up front. Severus shifted his weight from his right foot to his left and continued, "Fudge was (and I use the term tongue-in-cheek) 'a gentleman' who never hurt anyone's feelings unintentionally, he was a sophisticated rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity. I have no doubt that if push had come to shove, he would have proven Jeremy Thorpe's words true, 'Greater love hath no man than this, to lay down his friends for his life'."
Severus knew he had people wondering about that last one. He heard several people mutter "huh?" has he began yet again. "It is sad to say, but irrefutable, former Minister Fudge suffered under delusions of adequacy. He presented himself as a self-made man … who worshiped his creator, he was a man as good as his word - and his word was no good. He was not only dull himself, he was the cause of dullness in others, and was so boring you could fall asleep halfway though his name."
Here a few people laughed outright. Severus persevered, "He was a man enormously improved by death. He was so mean he wouldn't let a baby have more than one measle at a time, and made enemies as naturally as soap makes suds. He was rather like a corkscrew … twisted, cold, and sharp. In other words, he was so crooked you could have used his spine for a safety-pin."
At these last two similes, the Potions Master magically produced enlarged pictures to explain to the wizards and witches present what the Muggle terms meant. Snickers were heard by many as people began to understand the correlation between the words and the pictures.
Severus continued, "If one were to have taken the lies out of the man, he would have shrunk to the size of a baby's first wizard's hat, if one could have taken the malice out of him, he'd have disappeared altogether. He was as great as a man could be without morality."
Severus noted several wizards nodded at that, and Albus caught his eye. The headmaster was grinning. Severus continued. "Fudge was so narrow-minded, he could see through keyholes with both eyes, and when not worshiping his maker, he spent his time, as John Gunter, another Muggle, so aptly put it, 'trying to save both faces'. All in all, he was as useless as a pulled tooth, and his mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.
Severus stopped to let the laughter die down before he continued, "Please don't misunderstand, I think the curmudgeon did wondrous things. The wonder is how he got away with them. He turned the Wizarding World into the stone of Sisyphus, and when that stone got away from him, it crushed him."
Severus watched as several witches and wizards nodded in apparent agreement. "With all the heads that have rolled at his hands, figurative speaking of course, and all the backs with his size twelve's permanently imprinted upon them from his climb to the top, if he saw the light at the end of the tunnel as he claimed he did, it is amazing that he didn't stop to realize it was the headlight of an approaching train lighting the way for Sisyphus' stone as it rolled relentlessly toward him. Righteous justice for woeful wrongs against those who bore his weight as he transfigured them into rungs for his personal ladder to success."
Several wizards and witches were now applauding. "There is so much more that can be said … so much more that begs to be said, yet as none of it is particularly complimentary, I believe it behooves me to end this eulogy now. Thank you all for coming; and thank you all for your kind attention. We now bid farewell to the former Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge." Severus stepped down from the podium with an expression on his face of relief and accomplishment tinged with self-satisfaction.
As Severus was wading through the thinning crowd of people leaving the graveyard, he caught up to, and cornered, the new Minister of Magic, "Now, Arthur, my question to you is why you asked me to give the Eulogy."
"Simple, Severus. I just thought it was time you got a little of your own over on the former Minister. Your eulogy for him will be, I suspect, remembered long after he, himself, has been forgotten." Arthur grinned as he clapped the Potions Master on the back. The two walked through the cemetery in companionable silence, each smiling and with warm feelings of achievement feeding their sense of relief and peace.
Neither wizard saw Albus standing off to the side under a tree. They didn't see the mischievous glint in the headmaster's eyes, and they didn't hear the softly spoken, "I told you, my boy, that you would have quite a bit to say, and that you would say it well. And so you did, my child, and so you did."
Albus turned to head back to Hogwarts. He was very glad Arthur had taken his advice and asked the surly Potions Master to give the eulogy.
~~~ THE END ~~~