Disclaimer: I own nothing; it all belongs to J.K.Rowling. I'm just borrowing the characters to play with for a while. This is for pleasure only, no profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Note: Not a humorous drabble/one-shot. Just needed to exercise my writing abilities in other areas and decided to share this here. If anyone wants to write a longer version of this, I'd love to read it and I'll even take this down and you can use it as a beginning or outline.


A FAVOR FOR A FRIEND

The Minister of Magic looked down at his reports. They were not good. Three members of the Department of Internal Security had now gone missing in the last week. It had been two years since the last vestiges of vigilante groups had been organized enough to make any attacks. And this was beginning to look like one.

Five years had passed since the Dark Lord had died suddenly. No one knew what happened or how, but they were all extremely grateful. Most people thought it was Harry Potter, but no one was sure. Potter had been in his seventh year at Hogwarts, and from all reports had begun to show signs of extreme power. Some argued he had been using Dark rituals to strengthen himself, and the Dark Lord decided he had toyed with the boy long enough. The week before graduation, while they were all studying for their NEWTs, one of the Dark Lord's most insidious plans came to fruition. It would be his last and it would be remembered as his worst. With the help of two unidentified students, he managed the complete and total destruction of Gryffindor Tower and all of its inhabitants. Two third years were in detention at the time. They were the only surviving members of the Gryffindor house. At least that was the official finding.

Most of the bodies had been identified, including Potter's best friends, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. Some bodies were beyond recognition. Potter's glasses were found scorched and half melted but there were too many unidentifiable body parts to know what belonged to who among the remains. Though his death was less than conclusive, he was never seen nor heard from again.

Just a week later, what should have been graduation day came with little fanfare. The ceremony had already been canceled, and they were still dealing with the fallout and the destruction. There was no final battle that anyone knew of. No one witnessed anything, or ever found even a location. But around three o'clock in the afternoon, every marked Death Eater felt the strain on the bodies lessen, and tension they didn't know they had was released. They all looked down and saw the Dark Marks on their arms just wither and disappear. Those still loyal to the Dark Lord would never admit it, but they felt better that day than they had in years. And they all knew, this was not the same as Halloween 1981, when the Mark burned in anger but stayed their faintly. This time he was completely gone.

The foolish and inept Ministry of the time, scrambled to try and track down former Death Eaters, but the Mark they had depended on as proof was gone, and once again, anyone with enough money or connections either had nothing to do with it or had been under the Imperius Curse if witnesses recognized them.

There was scrambling and fallout from the top of the Ministry, as they had so little to show from the second reign of terror. Only a handful of captures, and it was Headmistress McGonagall who had even informed them that the Dark Lord was gone and the Dark Mark had disappeared. When a fourth of the children at a school die, and the government can do nothing to catch those responsible, it is the sign of a useless and incapable government. A more proactive faction grew quickly and assumed control of all the top positions in the Ministry within less than a year.

Since then, there has been over four years of peace and rebuilding. The Wizarding World was returning to the normalcy of life without terror and fear. The Ministry ruled with iron fist, making sure to stem any and all fringe 'cult' groups or dreams of revolution before they ever had a chance to grow. A golden age of sorts and a honeymoon period of prosperity had been running strong for a while now. Bureaucratic squabbles had taken a back seat to the betterment of wizardkind.

"Minister," his under-secretary called out as she came scrambling in. "Minister!"

"Yes, Miss Chang?"

Cho Chang stopped to catch her breath. "I thought you should know. Amanda Brubaker didn't show up for work today, and there's no answer at her floo."

This was not good news for the Minister. "Another High security agent of the DIS. Something's up. Find me Director McClaggan."

"They've all been High security?" his secretary asked with a touch of fear. "I knew they were all in that Department, but I had no idea."

"Yes well, the upper echelons of secrecy don't work too well when everyone knows who's a part of it," he explained condescendingly. "It would kind of ruin the purpose. Now, Director McClaggan?"

"Oh yes!" Miss Chang remembered. "He was arguing in the atrium lobby with Commander Smith."

"Well," the Minister said rising from behind his desk. "I will need to speak with both of them."

He hurried down the hall, fearing whatever might be happening, because it could not be good. Amanda Brubaker was not a witch to be trifled with. He was well aware that he wouldn't stand a chance in a duel with that psychotic woman. He was also aware he was one of the few people who knew her by another name.

"Director McClaggan!" He insisted loudly.

Commander Smith was being taken away to a holding cell, apparently stunned. He turned and greeted, "Minister Malfoy. How do you do on this lovely morning?"

Lucius rolled his eyes and hissed, "A little privacy, please, Director?"

The Director of Magical Law Enforcement waved his wand and cast a charm that gave the impression of an impenetrable steel box. No one could see in it, or hear in it, but those inside could see out clear as day.

"What the bloody hell is going on?" Lucius demanded. "Amanda Brubaker is the fourth to disappear, and only you and I know the significance of those four."

"Bellatrix disappeared?" McClaggan stated, shocked to hear of this.

Lucius nodded. "She hasn't shown up and isn't responding to her floo. I'd like to believe she's just found a hobby, but it's hard to miss the fact that all four disappearances have been members of the old inner circle."

Director McClaggan shook his head. "Any idea who's doing this?"

Lucius snapped, "That's your job, Walden! Or is it time to give my son your worthless job?"

Walden shook his head well aware of Lucius' opinion of his son. "It might not be about the old days. It could be something else."

"That's a fool's hope and you know it!"

Walden was smiling a little. "I'm not so sure. Do you not see the importance of the four missing people?"

Lucius paused and considered what else they may have been doing or working on.

Walden looked at his watch and noted the hour was nearly up.

"The wards!" Lucius gasped. "Those four worked with me to restructure and automate the wards on this building!"

Walden nodded in satisfaction.

"But they still couldn't do anything without me!" Lucius insisted, briefly realizing that Walden shouldn't even be privy to that information.

A whispered curse completely paralyzed the unsuspecting Minister from the neck down. "That's correct, Lucius." Walden grinned as the polyjuice wore off and he transformed back into Draco Malfoy.

Lucius' eyes bugged out at the realization he was sitting in the atrium of the lobby, but hidden and powerless to his son. His extremely glassy-eyed son.

"Who are you?" Lucius ordered despite being in no position to make such demands. "I know an Imperius Curse when I see it, and Draco has never had the strongest mind."

Draco smirked familiarly and shook his head as his eyes almost momentarily flashed green. "No, you're right. Draco hasn't. And while yours, I must assume is better, I still think mine's probably stronger than yours."

Lucius hurriedly looked around the atrium and spotted four identical looking young blonde girls, at each of the intervals necessary for controlling the wards. His mind had just now processed that the Ministry was moments away from becoming under siege when he heard a loud and forceful, "Imperio!"

Lucius fought the spell with all his might, and considering he was wearing a Ring of Occlusion, that was a considerable amount. But even he succumbed to the overwhelming force with which the voice commanded. A force that seemed all too similar to his former Master.

The secrecy charm was dispelled. No one in the atrium noticed that it was Minister Malfoy and his son that came out of it, and not the Director of Magical Law Enforcement. Nor did anyone notice the haze covering their eyes or the slightly irregular way with which they moved.

Knowing the time to act was now, the four young blonde girls moved into position in front of their anchor stones and in unison with the Minister began a complex Latin incantation that was unrecognizable to anyone not intimately familiar with wards.

It was impossible to miss the feeling of the wards falling though as the entire lobby darkened and magic sizzled across the ceiling. It was only then that they saw their Minister and four young girls all focused intently weaving intricate webs into the stones in front of them.

A few people hurried towards the Minister to help him, but were unable to reach him as he was surrounded by some sort of impenetrable field. Spells just bounced away from the field around him and each of the young quadruplet blondes. The magic was building up massively and lightning crackled from the anchor stones towards the center of the atrium. Thunderous booms shook the building, as people tried and failed to apparate out of the lobby. The floo was locked down automatically anytime the wards were being manipulated, and portkeys were non-responsive.

There was a wave of mass panic throughout the room as the four young girls' bodies mutated and reshaped into those of their missing colleagues, all known agents of the Department of Internal Security. A huge green arc of power was buckling from the middle and exploded outward. Blinding everyone watching, the shockwave passed through the entire building leaving it in near darkness.

Lucius was especially dizzy and not sure what happened. He quickly realized he was free of the Imperius Curse and snapped into action. "The wards!" He yelled out looking to see if the four agents were similarly free of their mind-controlling curses.

The light was low but all four of them locked eyes immediately with the Minister. Only Amanda Brubaker's look was quite different from the others. She stared into Lucius' eyes and calmly intoned. "I have earned death many times over," she stated plain as day pointing her wand at her own temple. "Avada Kedavra."

Pandemonium ensued as they all saw the woman commit suicide in front of them.

Lucius and the three others swore out loud, recognizing that for what it was. Without her, they were now unable to quickly alter the wards again. Whatever changes to the wards had been made were going to stay that way for a while. The Minister and the Director of Magical Law Enforcement would have both been able to override them previously, but it was unlikely that was true now. Nor did Lucius have any idea what may have happened to the real Director McClaggan anyway.

Lucius stood up and was about to take control of the situation when one by one the active outgoing floo connections all began exploding. They all fell like dominoes cascading across the massive circular room.

"Silence!" Minister Malfoy bellowed out to all the people screaming and running around like chickens with their heads cut off. "You are all representatives of the Ministry! Compose yourselves and act like such!"

"Agent Matthews! Agent Rockman!" He addressed two of the previously missing agents of the DIS. "Go to the Office of Magical Monitoring! No matter what changes they made to the wards, it will still tell us who and how many people have entered the building."

The two men ran down the hall and found the elevators were not functioning. Resigned to taking the stairs they hurried through the darkened and eerie building.

Lucius could barely hear himself think, with all the nervous chatter. "People! Colleagues and citizens!" The Minister addressed. "Do not panic! It helps nothing." He scolded. "I can tell you the wards have been manipulated, but they are up and functioning! The anti-apparition wards and portkey wards are in their normal working order, as during any standard lockdown. There is a strong possibility, we are about to be under attack by an unknown force. Anyone who can help, come talk to Assistant Director Malfoy." He ignored his son's frown. "Madame Edgecombe, perhaps you could gather together the-"

And just before Lucius' shocked eyes, Madame Edgecombe's eyes widened and she fell to the floor in a dead faint. Just as she hit the ground, her body bloated and swelled comically before imploding into itself as she disappeared before everyone's eyes.

The shrieks and screams began again, and Lucius lost what little control over the situation he had. He was about to bellow out again, when two more people fell to the ground in faints and expanded and contracted away as well. People just started scrambling randomly, and Lucius turned to see Matthews and Rockman running towards him.

"Minister!" Agent Matthews yelled. He hurried up towards the Minister and spoke quietly, so as not to scare anyone else. "Minister Malfoy," he began. "Every office we passed was empty, the building looks completely unoccupied. But the monitoring was undamaged." His eyes were wide and worried. He paused a moment before reluctantly admitting, "They show only one person arriving, labeled unauthorized and unknown. It says that they arrived at a Classified location."

Lucius cursed quietly. "Classified! That means my office, McClaggan's interrogation room, or somewhere within the Department of Mysteries. This is not good."

Agent Matthews and Agent Rockman could only mildly agree as they saw people scrambling madly, many of them swelling and imploding before disappearing.

There was a loud deep scraping of heavy stone and they saw the hallway they had just come from seal closed, locking them into a now circular room, with no apparition, no portkeys, and no floo. There was a massive flash of bright light, and when Lucius' vision returned he counted at best about twenty people left in the atrium.

A quick glance around and they all realized, everyone here was once a marked Death Eater.

It was still very dark, with only a single torch hovering in the center of the ceiling even flickering with light. The remaining people were all on high alert and had their wands drawn. Two quick bursts of light signaled the start of the firefight.

And just like that, for so many of the people there, it was like the old days. The days of sending off unforgivables any time a spell erupted from a shadow. Within two minutes half their number was down and they had yet to even spot any attackers. The spells stopped briefly and the remaining nine formed a protective arc around Minister Malfoy.

They were circling him looking in all directions for any sign of movement. "Show yourself!" Lucius ordered, refusing to display any sign of weakness.

Without any sound, flash of light, or even visible spell, the two men closest to Lucius were yanked through the air, into the shadows directly behind the Minister. Agent Rockman and Higgs screams ended in abrupt silence. No muffled thud, no trailing off, just complete silence.

Three more red spells came straight towards the center, faster than any previous spells. Agent Matthews and Draco both had shields up that didn't even slow the spells down and they collapsed unconscious just as quick as Deputy Minister Goyle.

Lucius and the remaining four all began sending as many killing curses as they could into every direction. Two more spells took out two of them, knocking them flying through the air unconscious. Lucius began whipping around, snapping his head over his left and then right shoulder franticly.

Lucius moved directly behind the remaining two fighters, and he crouched low protecting himself. He felt more than heard the hot breath behind his ear. "Hello Lucius."

Before Lucius even had time to gasp, the man behind him snapped his fingers and the two men in front of Lucius crumpled to the ground unconscious.

Lucius lost his footing and crumpled to the floor. He whipped around and was scrambling away from the attacker. He finally got a decent look at him and saw barely the outline of a man. He was wearing all black, from head to toe. It wasn't robes, and it wasn't muggle. It was just solid black. No open mouth, no eyeholes, nothing visible at all. Just a matte unremarkable black shape that seemed to melt into the shadows.

"Who are you?" Lucius insisted, doing his best to keep the fear out of his voice. "What do you want?"

"I am no one of consequence," a confident but quiet voice answered. "And I need you to do something for me."

"What's that?"

"Your latest piece of legislature, Ministry proposed 1401-B."

Lucius was not expecting this. "What?"

"The laws you're trying to enact to control the freedom of the press. Regulating and limiting who is allowed to write what and where. You need to drop the bill."

This wasn't exactly a pressing issue with Lucius. It would have been a nice way to control information better, but it was not anything he expected such strong resistance to. "That's it?" Lucius inquired. "That's all you want?"

The hidden figure nodded.

"And what do I get in return?" Lucius, ever the politician, inquired.

The figure chuckled and replied, "To live." Lucius gulped when the man added, "For today."

Lucius looked at the masked figure for several seconds. Finally he stared right where he thought his eyes were. "Potter?"

The figure didn't move and seemed to be measuring the Minister. Finally he replied with a hidden grin, "Mmm-hmm?"

Lucius seemed to sag with relief. "God dammit Potter, you scared the shit out of me."

The darkened figure said nothing.

"When you never showed up, I figured the Dark Lord took you with him." Lucius relaxed, remembering the annoyingly stubborn young Gryffindor. "Or vice versa."

"Mmm," the darkened figure replied ambiguously.

Lucius was hoping to get a few answers, and it seemed Potter wasn't being very talkative. "You've gone to all this trouble, Potter. You've got me at your mercy, and I'm going to be dropping the bill. You could at least offer some decent conversation." When Lucius saw Potter didn't seem dismissive of the idea, he asked. "So why didn't you speak up years ago? Your status as the Boy-Who-Lived and your apparent defeat of the Dark Lord would have ensured your word was practically law. You could have had anything in the world."

The darkened figure considered the man before him and came to a decision. "You knew the prophecy?"

Lucius nodded.

"Did you believe it to be real?"

Lucius furrowed his brow and answered honestly. "It obviously was. I always assumed the Dark Lord was going to kill you eventually, whether a Seer claimed it or not."

The dark figure chuckled a little at the truthfulness he was hearing from a Malfoy. "I never believed in it. The Headmaster thought it to be real, but I never did. If your old Master never believed it to be real either, it wouldn't have been. I really didn't want it to be real, but as long as Tom believed in it, it was."

"You wouldn't have fought against him, if you didn't have to?"

The darkened figure shook his head. "Nope. If he attacked me or my friends, I would defend or fight back. But he was picking fights with me, before I even knew who he was or why he was."

"I find it hard to believe your stubborn Gryffindor pride would have let him take over the Wizarding World."

"Too many men have learned the hard way to not make assumptions about me or my character," the shadowed man mysteriously explained. "Besides it never would have been my problem, if he'd left me alone. It was his actions that made me his opponent."

Lucius had honestly never really considered the motivations or actions of The-Boy-Who-Lived. He asked curiously, "And did you agree with our philosophies?"

"No, I did not, but I saw the rationality in why you believed in what you did." The darkened figure shrugged. "Your methods were the problem more than your philosophies."

Lucius was impressed. "And so you were forced to kill the Dark Lord."

The hidden man seemed inordinately pleased about that. "I never said I killed him. The prophecy only required vanquishing."

Lucius sat up straighter from his prone position on the floor. "He's- he's alive?"

"Existence and power requires a balance," the man explained. "Fate labeled us equals. I earned my life. I get to live, not just survive. He dies, and I'm offsetting that balance. So I figured it'd be in my best interests to vanquish him, but keep him around. Not surviving, just merely… existing."

Lucius wasn't sure what aspect of this revelation scared him more. He sat there pensively for a few moments before asking. "You obviously wish to live and are extremely capable. Why haven't I heard from you in the past five years? And why now over this relatively simple bill?"

The hidden figure shrugged. "I don't think you'd understand to be honest."

Lucius was unabashedly fascinated by this conversation. "Try me."

After a moment of consideration, he replied. "I'm sure your laws and regulations have been engineered to weed out muggleborns, but they're not really all that necessary. In case you hadn't noticed most of the intelligent, powerful wizards who were raised muggle, return to the muggle world. The bigotry and prejudice makes the decision easier, but regardless of that fact, the situation remains this society is not progressing. Nearly to the point that it's festering. The way of life you have, and even the ideal world you hope for, are incapable of lasting. People are meant to evolve and change. Stagnation is barely a step before regression or death. You're trying to fight evolution and that's not a battle you'll ever win. Anyone who's seen what the muggle world has done without magic, as well as what the magical world has done with magic, knows exactly why I care so little for this world."

Inside Lucius wanted to rage and yell at the man, but fortunately for Lucius, he was more composed than that. "I'm sure you'll forgive me, if I respectfully disagree."

The masked man nodded. "Like I said, you wouldn't understand. You were raised the way you were, just as I was raised the way I was. You grew up with an ideology inherently incapable of adaptation. I grew up caught in the middle of two sides warring each other for a world that I saw very little redeeming value in."

Lucius was feeling highly insulted but surprisingly maintained courtesy. "So if you care nothing for this world, why are you here now? Why oppose the bill?"

The man didn't even skip a beat and immediately replied, "Because Luna asked me to."

"Luna?" Lucius asked baffled trying to remember Potter's ties in the magical world. "Luna… Luna Lovegood? This is all just so The Quibbler can stay in business?"

"Before you get too far ahead of yourself, Minister," the shadowed man stated dangerously. "I should point out, that it took me little effort to take over your entire Ministry. Single-handed. And right now I don't care. I could kill you without regret. I could destroy you and break you with even less effort than it took to get your Master. I don't care about your government, your laws, your rules, or your society. I do care about Luna."

Lucius' mouth dried up as he stuttered out, "Un- understood."

"I'm glad we're clear," the figure smugly replied. "These men can be healed. The rest of your Ministry are all locked in the holding cells, unharmed but probably worried. Bellatrix had been living on borrowed time long enough."

Lucius nodded dumbly.

"And I suspect we would both prefer to never need meet again."

Lucius agreed and just kept nodding.

"Now if you don't mind, Minister," the shadowed figure smiled and mockingly saluted goodbye. "It's about time to feed my pet Voldemort." And with barely a motion, the black figure once again disappeared silently into the shadows.

Minister Malfoy slowly stood back up as all the torches flared back to light. He was hurriedly trying to figure out how to spin this situation when he explained it to the public, as he started to make his way towards the holding cells. He briefly imagined what would happen to him if his old Master managed to return to power before realizing that situation was for all intents and purposes an impossibility. He mentally noted he should send flowers and an apology to Luna Lovegood.


The Quibbler: Special Edition
Shadow Elves Take Over the Ministry and Negotiate Truce
By Luna Lovegood

Yesterday, in a stunning episode, the Dark Prince of Shadow Elves assumed the throne from his father, led a force of over fifty highly trained Master Assassins, and took over the entire Ministry of Magic in a matter of minutes. Our very own Minister Malfoy managed to negotiate a truce with these mythical powerful creatures and reestablished control of our government and way of life. In exchange, the Ministry must deny that Shadow Elves exist and anyone claiming otherwise is just 'talking crazy'.

When pressed for comment, Minister Malfoy was surprisingly open with this reporter. "I've never heard of Shadow Elves, and to be honest it sounds like a ridiculous idea from an unimaginative fantasy world. Though, I would like it to be known, Miss Lovegood, that I think your dress is absolutely gorgeous and hope you have a lovely day." (Editor's Note: Miss Lovegood's dress is truly spectacular and we find ourselves agreeing heartily with the Minister. First time for everything, it seems.)

As you can see, the Ministry is fully complying with the alleged truce. Knowing Minister Malfoy would be held to even higher standards, considering he negotiated the truce, several other Ministry sources were contacted and every one of them replied negatively when questioned about the existence of Shadow Elves. One Ministry insider, who asked to remain nameless, had this to say: "I don't know anything about Shadow Elves, but I think yesterday changed a few attitudes. Being a big fish in a small pond for a long time, can make you lose sight of the fact that there are some truly frightening and massive sharks in the ocean. Let's just hope our Minister stays chummy with the right sharks as small ponds can dry up fast."