Spying for the Order, working undercover for the Ministry, keeping the Prime Minister from going crazy… Just another day in the life of Kingsley Shacklebolt.
Warnings: HBP Spoilers in the summary, even. I own nothing; JKR has infected my brain.
Notes: Tony Blair replaced John Major as PM in May 1997. Major ruled the roost from November 1990-May 1997, which includes up to Potter's seventh year. All I need to know about British elections I learned from Proffessor Binns.
"Shacklebolt? Can you come into my office, please?" Kingsley put down his pen, shaking his head. This poor Muggle had been in too deep for a long time.
"How can I help you, sir?" The secretary to the Prime Minister watched his employer scan his face for any signs of humor, and was careful to show only distant sympathy in his dark eyes.
The Prime Minister waited until Kingsley had closed the door, and then raked his fingers through his thinning hair. "Can you keep a secret, Shacklebolt? I know I'll sound like the poor devil in Finances, but I have to let this out and I'd prefer if the news-stations didn't get ahold of it."
"Certainly, sir," the secretary said warmly. He was not exactly sure why the political leader of Great Britain had chosen Kingsley Shacklebolt to take into his confidences, but surely there would be no harm in hearing the Muggle out. "I won't go blurting to the tabloids anytime soon."
"Look at that picture, Shacklebolt," the paler man said, directing Kingsley's attention to a rather ugly portrait of a little man in a long white wig. "Is there anything… odd… about it to you?"
Kingsley studied the painting over his employer's shoulder. The little man winked at him. "No, not that I've noticed. Does it bother you?"
"It can't be pulled down. Nearly everyone in the office has had a go at it. And sometimes, when I'm not paying close attention to it, I think it, well, moves. Mad, isn't it?" The Prime Minister gave a nervous laugh, and Kingsley struggled to maintain his calm. "Bah, I sound bonkers now, don't I?" he attempted to shoo his previous comment away with an airy wave.
"Of course not," Kingsley reassured him. "There are a number of paintings that seem to follow you about the room when you look at them. They're rather clever, really."
"Yes, yes, of course," the Minister agreed. "It's very clever." He paused for a moment, fiddling with his glasses. "What's your opinion on Scrimgeour?" he asked in an undertone.
"Bit militant, but after working with Mad-Eye, he seems normal in comparison," Kingsley answered absently.
"Mad-Eye?" the Prime Minister asked dazedly. Kingsley was unsure how they had gotten on this line of inquiry, and to see the other man's expression, so was his employer.
"You probably wouldn't have heard of him," the taller man added. What was he doing, blurting the names of Aurors as if he were sitting in Number 12 Grimmauld Place with a beer in hand? No matter how sorry Kingsley might feel for him, the Prime Minister was a Muggle, for Merlin's sake! Shacklebolt should not have been name-dropping, and then he had to give Alastor's nickname, of all possible wizards! He was likely only making it worse.
"He's one of the other minister's people, then?" The way the Prime Minister emphasized the word let Kingsley know that he knew – and didn't necessarily approve.
"You might say that." Kingsley looked away.
"He showed up today, that other minister. Him and the new one. They said that you were, ahem, acting as a liasion." Kingsley Shacklebolt was an Auror. There were very few things that scared him. However, this currently included meeting the leader of Great Britain's eyes. The pause dragged out uncomfortably long. "You don't have to say anything, Shacklebolt. I may be completely off my rocker, but I'm happy to have your services either way. If you can point out others who may know a little bit more about the bridge and the fellow in Finances and all that, I'd appreciate it. If you can't, well, I understand."
"It might be easier if you didn't have to think about all this, sir. You've got enough on your mind," Kingsley reccomended quietly. Memory charms weren't his specialty, but he did have his wand available.
"No, no, best that someone knows what's going on around here." The Prime Minister dismissed the option, though Kingsley hadn't.
"I'll keep that in mind," Kingsley promised.
"Thank you. It's good to know I'm not completely mad, you know?" The Prime Minister readjusted his glasses, and his secretary gave a deep, gentle laugh.
"I think we're all getting there, though." The wizard released his wand. There wasn't any point in erasing the Minister's memory right this second. The Muggles didn't need a Lockhart in the most powerful part of their government, on top of everything else.
The Prime Minister glanced at the clock, using it as an opportunity to sneak a quick glance at the portrait behind him. "Oh, but don't let me keep you, Shacklebolt. We've both got more important things to do than compare our slippery grips on sanity. You've finished your reports?"
"Yes, sir." It really took no time at all to finish these things once he could get alone with a Quick Quotes Quill. Some of his office-mates looked at him a bit funny for his penchant for wizarding writing utensils, but Kingsley was simply happy that he had remembered Muggle clothing style well enough to blend in fairly well.
"Well, no sense in keeping you late, then. Get on home, and we'll see you bright and early tomorrow." The Prime Minister gave the black man a brief, worried smile. He would not be heading home anytime soon. And to tell the truth, neither would Kingsley. There was the other ministry to watch and report to, and then the Order would be drilling him for information. Sometimes, the cares of Muggles seemed so much simpler to Kingsley. Here, most problems could be solved with a quill and a steady hand.
"I'll be seeing you, then." The tall black wizard smiled, giving a quick salute before turning out of the office.
"Oh, and Shacklebolt? The information?" A voice called his attention back behind the door.
"It's perfectly safe with me, sir," Shacklebolt reassured him. Now all he would have to do is assure himself that it was perfectly safe with the Prime Minister.