It had been a long day, three international crises had been narrowly averted and Jed Bartlet had just barely fallen asleep when he was jolted from his slumber by a loud cry.
"RON, YOU GIT!"
For a moment, he thought he was dreaming, but none of the Japanese jugglers in his dream had been speaking in British accents. Abbey, apparently under the same impression, muttered something in her sleep and rolled over.
"It's not my fault! You were supposed to be the one aiming!"
"You were the one who argued about where we were going to land!"
"Hermione's going to have kittens. No, on second thought, she'll probably set Ginny on us."
"Hey! No bipping! That bread was home-baked by your Mum and I only have one head."
"Well, I think your one head should get checked, as we DEFINITELY weren't supposed to end up indoors!"
"Besides, you don't throw bread or anything else at men with guns!"
"Oh, is that what they look like? Brilliant. Dad would love one of these!"
It was rare to hear a heated argument in the residence that wasn't between Jed and Leo, but this one seemed to be causing some kind of alarm. A moment later, a thud sounded and he guessed that one of the Secret Service agents had neutralized at least one of the threats. It was followed by another thud and a rather loud "OW!!!"
Jed struggled to his feet and found his bathrobe, careful to not wake Abbey by making too much noise. There was still a great deal of talking going on outside, but it seemed to be less vehement in nature.
Finally, he opened the door cautiously to find the entire Secret Service detail surrounding two bound young men. One was redheaded and struggle, while the other tried to push his glasses up his nose with his bound eyes and blew a lock of messy black hair out of his eyes in exasperation.
"That's what I'm trying to tell you," the bespectacled one said calmly. "We're not here for any sinister purposes."
"I suppose that's what you were instructed to say," Agent McAdams snarled. "Don't worry, you'll have your chance to say it to the judge."
"A Muggle judge," the redhead snarled. "Oh, THAT makes me feel better! Brilliant, just brilliant, Harry!"
Something about that word, Muggle, jogged a memory and he let out a quiet sigh of understanding.
"Shut up, Ron. You're not helping things!"
"Shut up, the both of you," Agent Forester snapped. "McAdams, separate them and take them out of the residence for questioning."
"Yes, sir," McAdams replied.
"Not to worry, Mr. President," Forester said gruffly. "We've got this under control."
"I'm sure the situation's in very capable hands," Jed said solemnly. "They are not to be harmed, understood?"
"Yes, Mr. President," Forester responded. "The worst we'll do is make them fill out paperwork until we've got your go-ahead."
He nodded in agreement. "Can I get an escort down to the Oval Office in about two minutes?"
"Yes, sir," Forester responded. "Two agents will be ready when you are."
Three minutes later, he arrived at the Office, having explained to Abbey that he was going to have to meet with the British envoy. Gathering that this was Lord John Marbury, she had given him a fortifying kiss and promised to keep some medication on hand for his headache.
He had, of course, notified Charlie. He was, other than Debbie and Leo, the only person on the staff who knew about these sorts of meetings and the 'envoy' rather liked him. He would be able to handle the situation with grace.
Instead of reaching for the phone on his desk, Jed went to the portrait of Louisa Adams that had been hanging there for far too many Presidential administrations. He would have had it removed in favor of something by Monet or Whistler, but he had been under express orders from the previous President to leave it be.
"Mrs. Adams, it's that time again."
"If you must, sir," she said in a disgruntled tone. "What shall I tell her is the matter?"
"We seem to have collected a pair of her folk in my private residence," Jed said. "My guards would like to send them off to Australia if that's still allowed, but I'd rather not let them overreact more than necessary."
Louisa shuffled from the frame with a slightly arthritic hobble. There was nothing left to do but wait and hope that McAdams hadn't started waterboarding just yet.
A few moments later, there was a knock on the door. "Come in."
Charlie opened the door, admitting a tall woman in red robes. Jed bowed formally to her before turning back to Charlie.
"Call Agent Forester," he instructed. "We'll need to see the young men who were taken into custody within the next five minutes."
"Yes, Mr. President," he said dutifully. "Would you like me to notify anyone else?"
What, wake up half of senior staff to say two British chaps dropped onto my carpet at midnight?
"Let's keep this quiet, shall we?"
Charlie had to struggle against a grin. "Yes, Mr. President."
A moment later, he closed the door and Jed turned back to his visitor. "Thank you for coming, Director Graves."
"My pleasure," the Director of the American Wizarding Union said formally. "Thank you for not hexing first and asking questions later, Mr. President."
There was no need to point out that he could not have hexed first if he wanted to. There was a single witch in the Secret Service and she was assigned to the First Lady's morning detail.
"Well," he sighed, "they were unarmed except for a loaf of rye bread that nearly beaned one of my agents, so we were more inclined to find out what exactly they wanted."
For the first time since he had met her on the first night after the inauguration, Denise Graves looked sheepish. "Well, sir, I don't believe they wanted anything."
Surely, those men were not here as tourists. Not at midnight in the residence, anyway.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, sir, I Disillusioned myself and checked on them before coming here," she explained. "Their names are Ronald Weasley and Harry Potter and both of them are sort of international heroes to the wizarding world."
"They were involved in the most recent war, correct?" he asked, recalling a previous conversation.
"Somewhat," she said. "By our standards, Harry Potter personally did the equivalent of single-handedly assassinating Osama Bin Laden."
Jed's jaw dropped open, but for all his skills as a speechmaker, he could only breathe out a single "Ah."
"And Ronald Weasley was instrumental in the battle that brought that about," she concluded.
"In Scotland, actually," she corrected, "but they are both citizens of the United Kingdom and employed by the British Ministry of Magic."
By this time, his mind has caught up to his mouth. "So, how did two heroes end up in my upstairs hallway, Director?"
"I was to meet with them tomorrow, as they are here for the International Conference of Aurors."
"Aurors," he repeated.
"Dark wizard catchers," she clarified. "They're quite skilled at it and Mr. Potter was to lecture the Conference tomorrow morning."
"Assuming that they are not here to do me any harm, I'm sure he'll be able to keep his speaking engagement," Jed assured her. "Did they miss their plane?"
A blush darkened her pale cheeks. "Actually, they chose to Apparate to Washington, but missed."
"By how much?"
"Thirteen miles," she informed him. "Cross-oceanic Apparition isn't an exact art."
He managed a wry smile. "I should think not. When they were aiming for an entire continent, I'm amazed they came within thirteen miles at all."
Her smile matched his and the blush faded. "Yes, Mr. President."
"Now," he said, pushing to his feet, "shall we go see to your two heroes?"
Charlie was still waiting in the outer office, browsing a webpage that Zoey had tried to introduce to Jed's "favorites" list—the LOLCATS. Personally, he didn't see the attraction of bad grammar and frightened kittens, but he rarely understood his youngest daughter these days.
"Have you spoken to Agent Forester?"
"Yes, Mr. President," Charlie replied calmly. "He reports that the dark-haired one is being quite cooperative, but the freckled one is currently singing..." He consulted the notepad with an arched eyebrow. "'A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love'?"
"Oh, Merlin," Director Graves groaned.
"It sounds as if we should intervene," Jed said calmly. "Let them know that Mrs. Graves and I are on our way."
He let Director Graves precede him from the office, and then turned back with an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry to interrupt your card game."
"It's all right, Mr. President," Charlie chuckled. "C.J. was winning."
"I trust you with this sort of thing," he explained.
"Yes, Mr. President," Charlie said, nodding. "Though I must say you're like a thermal exhaust port. For weird."
There was a brief silence as he attempted to translate that, but after a moment, he gave up.
"I'll see you in the morning, Charlie."
"Good night, Mr. President."
The two men were being kept at the Secret Service's station in separate rooms. Director Graves knocked on the first door and it was opened to reveal the dark-haired young man flanked by two agents.
"Hello," Jed said genially, extending a hand. "I'm President Bartlet."
"Harry Potter, sir," the man said, looking thoroughly mortified. "I can't tell you how sorry I am at our mishap."
From the next room over, Mr. Weasley began singing again.
Hoggy warty Hogwarts
Teach us something please
Whether we be old and bald
or young with scabby knees..."
Harry grimaced. "Sorry about that, Mr. President," he said flatly. "We were told to use distracting techniques when captured by the enemy."
It was a sensible tactic in theory. There was just one flaw in the plan.
"Did anyone mention to him that we're not the enemy?" Jed asked Agent Simmons.
"Yes, sir," she assured him. "He replied 'wibbly wobbly timey whimey.'"
"I'll speak to him," Director Graves promised. "Mr. Potter, I'm Director Denise Graves of the American Wizarding Union. We spoke on the phone."
It was remarkable that two people who could vanish into thin air would use a telephone. Then again, some of their kind were more sympathetic to conventional inventions than others.
"An honor to meet you, Director," Harry said. "Are we in much trouble?"
"Not much," she said with a grin. "As far as breaches in the Statute of Secrecy go, you could not have chosen a more secretive place to Apparate to. If President Bartlet orders it, no one else need ever know that you were here."
"Given your benign intentions, I think we can report this confidentially as 'no harm down' and let you go with a warning," Jed suggested.
"I doubt it'll go unreported," Harry said with a wry grin. "Everything I say ends up in the House Cup somehow."
"One of our newspapers," Director Graves explained. "One of the less reputable ones at that."
"Well," Jed sighed, "your secret is safe with me. Agent Simmons."
The agent stepped forward. "Yes, Mr. President."
"Would you bring Mr. Weasley in here, please?"
"Certainly, Mr. President."
A moment later, Agent Simmons returned with Ron Weasley. Jed extended a hand, which Ron stared dubiously at.
"Hello, Mr. Weasley. I'm Josiah Bartlet, President of the United States."
Ron looked ready to burst into song again, and then caught Harry's eye. That seemed to calm him a bit and he shook Jed's hand cautiously.
"Ron Weasley," he said. "I suppose this midget has told you everything?"
"I suppose he has," Jed confirmed. "Normally, we do not look lightly upon people who suddenly enter the White House at this time of night without an invitation, but Mr. Potter has explained the mistake."
"So, we're not being arrested?" he asked eagerly.
"Not tonight," he deadpanned. "Where are you two staying while here?"
"The Renaissance D.C. Marriott," Harry answered.
"A fine hotel," Jed commented, "though if I recall, their room service leaves something to be desired."
"I wouldn't know, sir," Harry replied.
"Well, as it is, I would like to apologize for the way you've been treated," he said graciously. "We don't like to greet foreign heroes with guns."
"I hope not," Ron exclaimed. "Otherwise, I'm staying on my side of the pond from now on!"
"We hope that you will feel free to come visit our fine country again," Jed continued as if he hadn't been interrupted. "By way of apology, I'd like to invite you to dinner tomorrow night at the residence. Would that be satisfactory?"
"Most satisfactory, Mr. President," Harry said, sounding immensely relieved. "What time shall we be here?"
"Does six o'clock work for you?"
"Yes, sir," they chorused, looking rather shell-shocked.
"In that case," he concluded, "Agent Simmons and Agent McAdams will be happy to see you safely to your hotel. Good night and enjoy your conference."
He paused outside the door, nodding to Forester. "See that all of them get home safely."
"Yes, Mr. President," Agent Forester said dutifully. "Good night, sir."
The last thing he heard before leaving the station was Ron's parting shot: "Blimey! Wait until Mum finds out!"