Disclaimer: I'm a poor starving student, not JK Rowling – obviously I don't own it.
Written for reverdybrune at livejournal's hpholidaygen. Beta'd by the lovely dizilla and yatsuka. All remaining mistakes are my own.
That Other Fellow
These days he absolutely loathed every time he even so much as saw that ugly little portrait in the corner of his office twitch, or cough, or yawn…or any number of the vast amount of things that portraits – things that were supposed to stay firmly still within their frames at all times – were absolutely not supposed to do.
But they did and there was magic and he wasn't mad, even if he himself certainly thought so.
And, as the year wore on, he certainly felt as if he were getting increasingly mentally unstable with each new incident that occurred.
Exhausted, the Muggle Prime Minister put his forehead upon the polished wood of his desk, willing himself not to see the number of headlines – "PLAGUE HITS ENGLAND: SEVERAL PEOPLE FOUND IN MYSTERIOUS VEGETATIVE STATES," "MURDER RATE ON THE RISE – SOPHISTICATED POISONS SUSPECTED," "BODIES RAIN DOWN OVER SURREY INEXPLICABLY," "GOVERNMENT IMMOBILE AS TRAGEDIES DESCEND ON LONDON" – that littered the various papers strewn on his desk.
And they told him it was magic - Magic. What's more, they said magic was failing to stop whoever this You-Know-Who bloke that was causing all this mayhem and running generally amok was. And he wished these strangely dressed fellows would learn to use proper nouns, because sometimes amidst running the country he forgot and certainly did not know who they were speaking of…
Moreover, now every time he so much as saw that portrait move an eyebrow, he thought it only presaged some new doom.
At least Kingsley was one of them…
Although the Prime Minister was not exactly certain if that was comforting or not.
He had come in – a bout of insomnia driving him into work on the mountains of paperwork he had to do at this ungodly hour – and found Kingsley Shacklebolt, in clothes that were not at all like his normal suit and tie, standing over two prone forms just outside of the door to his office.
Well, now we've managed some murders in government buildings. Old – Fidge? Fudge? Bollocks, it doesn't matter – now the wizards and I are quite even.
Blinking and then pinching himself to make sure that he wasn't in some sort of stress induced nightmare, the Prime Minister merely gaped until his briefcase slipped from his fingers and dropped with a clunk onto the floor. Hearing the noise, Kingsley whipped around and pointed a stick at him.
The Prime Minister barely had time to let out a low moan. Seeing who it was, however, Kingsley did not lower his wand. Dimly, the Prime Minister was aware of what would inevitably occur.
Now I'm the next murder – new headline: "INCOMPETENT MINISTER FOUND DEAD IN HIS OWN OFFICES" – the press will go wild.
"What did you give your niece for her ninth birthday?" His assistant asked.
The Prime Minister wasn't exactly certain why the devil this was at all pertinent in the grand scheme of things. However, he didn't see the wisdom in arguing with someone who had a stick that could shoot things that the Prime Minister didn't in the least understand….and considering the situation to himself, he never thought he would miss guns.
"A…gerbil…which was, perhaps, a teacup…?"
The reply came out in such a squeaky manner that the Prime Minister thought he sounded rather like a gerbil himself.
But Kingsley lowered the wand and that was all that mattered.
"Not Polyjuiced," he muttered.
Polyjuiced? Thought the Prime Minister, Does the Other Ministry have a drug trafficking problem on top of all of this rubbish?
But there were some things he didn't want to know.
"Kingsley," he began instead, "What is this?"
"This, Minister," his efficient and – as of yesterday, perfectly normal – assistant replied, while sending off something silvery he also didn't want to understand, "is the Second War come to your door."
"Death Eaters…?" The Prime Minister tried out the unfamiliar term he had heard long ago out of the mouth of the Other Other Minister.
Kingsley nodded and suggested he might accompany him home. Faintly, the Prime Minister agreed.
He was very afraid he had made quite a diplomatic mistake having squawked a tad bit indelicately when he was on the phone with the very important head of state of some other country and a silver lynx with Kingsley's voice just happened into his office. Thank heavens none of his aides happened to be in the room at that moment.
Prime Minister, it said – and he had to move fast to muffle the receiver with one hand – the Ministry has fallen. Leave the office until we can secure the fireplace.
"What the devil was that?" Came the aggravated drawl of the very important man on the other end of the telephone.
"I do apologize," the Prime Minister found himself saying without any sort of a nervous tremor in his voice, "But I'm afraid that there has been a bomb threat against this building and they are having to evacuate all personnel."
The very important president of the far away country – rather flustered – apologized and promised to continue negotiations at another time.
Hanging up the phone, the Prime Minister allowed panic to settle in and called an emergency for the entire building, trying to figure out some way to keep it quarantined for everyone – it wouldn't do for his own people to be blown up. Besides the scandal it would cause, he could never in good conscious subject someone else to…well, knowledge he never wanted to find out himself….
Imagining the fireplace filled with a now familiar shower of green sparks, he grimaced and, grabbing his briefcase, began to evacuate the building, not knowing quite what to tell people.
If everyone made it out alive, it was almost worth tomorrow's allegation of incompetence plastered across the headlines.
This was war…what did they know? However, thinking about it far more deeply, he also had to ask himself what, in fact, he himself knew. Precious little, came the answer, precious little…
Walking out of the building, the Prime Minister had a sudden thought that he didn't even know what it meant for the Ministry – the Other Ministry – to have fallen. How did one even get information about such a thing?
An owl had come to his window in the afternoon bearing a slip of parchment requesting a meeting – he recognized Kingsley's neat script from the copious amounts of memos that he had been given.
Ah, so that's how their information is transmitted.
He was to come into work at his old building to speak to someone about the fireplace. He could not concentrate on the matter at hand, however, because the reports of more deaths and more isolated bizarre catastrophes were clouding his head. In truth, he had no idea if something like the Brockdale Bridge might happen again tomorrow. At this point, the headlines haunted him far more than his job ratings.
Walking in, he happened upon a tall, gangly man with a bright shock of red hair and a shabby looking graying man seated in his office with the impertinence and lack of decorum that the Prime Minister had come to associate with the magical community.
The younger man was leaning over the fireplace and prodding it with his wand. Immediately a spray of violently purple sparks filled the air.
"I think we've gotten it, Remus."
"What, precisely," asked the Prime Minister, pursing his lips at the small burns in the carpeting of the room, "Have you gotten…and who are you?"
The two men – they had to be wizards, but other than that, what sort of blokes they were was fairly difficult to discern – turned around in surprise before the older one quickly recovered himself.
"Prime Minister, I hope you don't mind – Kingsley Shacklebolt sent us to shore up the Floo against…invaders. I am Remus Lupin and this," he gestured towards the boy who was looking guiltily at a small hole he had singed in the carpet, "is Charlie Weasley."
"Are you the new government?"
The two interlopers in his office exchanged a dark look.
"Rufus Scrimgeour is dead and the Ministry is in He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's hands," began the shabby looking Remus Lupin. "We can no longer use larger government sponsored charms to keep you safe, so between this, – " he tapped the fireplace with his wand and for a brief moment, there was a shimmer of an invisible seal on it "- Kingsley, and some handy anti-Apparition barriers, we're trying to keep at least one government intact."
Absorbing the information, the Prime Minister could do nothing but blink at those two figures and feel for the umpteenth time that he had fallen into a science-fiction program by complete accident. But no, this was still reality.
The red-haired man vacated his desk chair and sat down with a slouch and a sigh.
"You're saying that there is no Other Minister?"
"We're saying that the Other Minister is merely a puppet government controlled by the other side," explained Charlie Weasley.
"And who are you people, then?"
"You could say," said Remus thoughtfully, "that we are the equivalent of the Allies against Hitler. Officially, however, we don't exist. So, we're actually more like the French resistance."
The Prime Minister could have sworn that the Weasel man muttered, "Ah, Muggle history." However, it was an analogy that he could understand – he knew that War. He knew all about the World Wars – his father had been at Dunkirk.
Was this wizard war like that, but with magic? With wands instead of tanks and guns?
Is that how it was?
If this were his war, the headlines would still there, no doubt. The tabloids would still be slinging mud on his good name and reputation. His opposition would still be having a field day. But people would also still be dying without reason.
He did not like how it was one bit. Even theoretically. Certainly not practically.
Suddenly aware that it didn't matter how he acted or what he did in front of these people, the Prime Minister took his head in his hands and said, "I don't understand you lot. I don't."
"You don't need to worry. We can-"
"Are you always going to look after me while other people die? I know the other side has magic, too. I know it is not just a matter of people waving their hands a pulling a rabbit out of a hat….do you want troops from me? Guns? Weapons?"
There was no immediate response.
He looked up and gave his visitors a hard look, "What is your strategy? Where are your weapons?"
Charlie Weasley looked uncomfortable for a moment and than said a name both Fudge and Scrimgeour had mentioned at least once, "We have Harry Potter."
"And who is Harry Potter – an all powerful wizard that can beat this man-whose-name-never-gets-mentioned-so-I-forget? A savior? A military mastermind? Precisely what is he doing right now?"
The guests exchanged another look.
"Harry is none of those things," Lupin wore a vaguely embarrassed expression. "He is a 17-year old boy…whom we trust implicitly."
Looking alarmed, the Prime Minister blurted out, "You've sent a boy in? A boy?!"
There was a somber nod from both of them, "We have no choice."
"Well, isn't there something I could do – government resources I could put at your disposal? People are dying and you've sent a boy in. Tell me where and how, and to end this, I'll do what I can."
"We don't know where Harry is, unfortunately," said the younger man.
The haunted look on the Lupin fellow's face and the slight trepidation that colored the Weasel boy's expressions were not lost upon the Prime Minister.
"We can't –" said Lupin, looking at one of the burn marks on the floor, "Well, we can't directly help Harry at the moment. We just need your assistance to keep things as quiet as possible and your help if there is something that comes up."
And a time when he was useful did come up.
There was a clump of eccentrically dressed individuals surrounding Shacklebolt's desk speaking in subdued tones about something called Potterwatch. He heard snippets of conversation as he walked into his office and knew he was hearing something that was part of the general milieu that he simply didn't understand.
A man wearing mismatched clothing and a violently orange bowler hat patted the arm of his wife, "If anyone could do it, it's Harry Potter. We'll come back when this is all over."
"Awful what they did to Ted Tonks, I knew him from Hogwarts – one of the nicest blokes ever. Gorgeous wife…"
"They've killed those Muggles in Gaddley – you heard the report! My, my, I don't know, and the Ministry with that registry and that horrible woman –"
He sat down in his office to the same report of the mysterious deaths in Gaddley and a column on how crime prevention had become increasingly lax as murder rates skyrocketed sitting on his desk.
In a manner of minutes, Kingsley himself came in.
Without much preamble he said, "Lupin and Charlie Weasley said you offered help. They need passports so that they can leave as quickly and non-magically as possible."
"Are they fighting?"
"No, they're Muggleborns. The new Ministry is persecuting them and some families have already ended up dead…or they are missing and might as well be dead."
Hearing the deluge of unfamiliar terminology that he had half heard at some time during these two wearying years, he kneaded his forehead for a second before asking what, in fact, a "Muggleborn" was and why droves of them were in his corridors.
"Non-magical beings – sometimes completely non-magical parents can produce magical offspring."
Ah, Kingsley, he thought wearily, so efficient.
"Make a call to this department," replied the Prime Minister at a length, handing his assistant a slip of paper. "Tell them that it is a matter of extreme government secrecy and diplomatic delicacy and, if you have any issues, I shall be here running my half of the country. If any wand waving madmen happen to make it through the fireplace, I'll scream."
Kingsley looked slightly worried, but went about his business.
For several weeks afterwards, there were small, close-knit, and haggard looking groups of people speaking to Kingsley in the hall outside of his office.
Indeed, such diplomatic cooperation caused much more variety than the Prime Minister necessarily liked in his life. A peacock he was pretty sure had started out life as a desk chair caused quite a stir as many interns had to run to catch it. An elderly man complained loudly about how uncomfortable trousers were and how he missed the feel of the breeze. A woman was sobbing because she had claimed to be related to a family called the Blacks who she thought was related to everyone and had had to curse and hex her way out and flee here when they found out she was lying (the aide who was trying to comfort her had privately asked if he should call the psychiatric ward on the woman's behalf). Moreover, two computers inexplicably blew up – one singing eerily as it did so – during the course of their stay. Apologetically, Kingsley explained that Muggle electronics tended not to like the presence of magic.
The Prime Minister supposed it was better than headlines where those same odd-looking people's pictures would have been across his morning paper because they had died under mysterious circumstances.
Sometimes, when Kingsley mysteriously disappeared and either the haggard looking man, Remus Lupin, or the more volatile Charlie Weasley – or was it Weasel? – took his place, the Prime Minister fancied he heard things that he wasn't supposed to.
One day, when Kingsley was leaving and his proxies were just coming in, he heard, "Yes, yes, Harry has arrived at Bill's – mostly safe."
"House-elves, I think, might get more respect now that one has saved the wizarding world's hero."
"All that is needed is better regulations for people like you, Remus."
"And Teddy, how is he and Tonks?"
"Both are well, I made Harry godfather. Told him myself!"
"Good for you, Remus! And good that we finally know where Harry is, even if he won't tell us what it is he's doing."
"Dumbledore's mission and all."
When the Prime Minister, however, stopped listening at his own door, these sorts of conversations halted and devolved into kind pleasantries and explanations of the procedures for the day.
It was good, however, that the one weapon that the side he wanted to win had was still intact, somewhere, however.
There was hope. In a boy he knew very little about, there was hope.
He was the last one to know, of course. He was sitting there awaiting a call from a very important person and trying to pretend that the headlines concerning his drop in popularity in the country didn't annoy him. However, at the same time he knew very well that he had done his best. He had certainly never asked to be a war Minister. Much less a secret war Minister.
The Prime Minister, instead, turned to some sort of referendum and began reading it, eyes skimming over the page and all but the very key words in the document escaping him. There was a vague sound from his fireplace – a quiet shifting and scraping noise that nevertheless aroused him from his stupor.
Heart pounding, he realized that he had not seen Kingsley in hours and no one had come to take his place. Moreover, he did not have a silvery wispy thing to shout for help with nor even an owl to carry a quick memorandum. In short, he immediately knew he was doomed.
However, after a minute, no terrifying figure out of every ghost story his sister had ever tried to scare him with emerged to kill him with some nasty spell. Rather, there was a delicate coughing noise.
"To the Prime Minister of Muggles. The war is over. Kindly meet with the new Minister of Magic."
The Muggle Prime Minister goggled at it, not quite sure what to make of the little portrait…were they trying to trick him? Was he going to die if he listened to that ugly, dirty little nuisance?
"I refuse to talk to anyone other than Kingsley."
The damned portrait had the nerve to chuckle and then responded, "Very well."
With a flash of green sparks – apparently whatever they had done to the fireplace no longer worked – Kingsley Shacklebolt emerged from the verdant flames looking dirty and worn, but triumphant at the same time.
"They say there is a new Minister of you lot, Kingsley. I told that ugly rag in the corner I'd only hear it from you."
"There is," replied Kingsley, bemused.
"And the war has ended?"
"Harry Potter has defeated Lord Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts. The remaining Aurors and members of our Order have rounded up his surviving followers and are putting them safely away from both your lot and mine."
The Prime Minister hesitated for a moment, remembering the look on his father's face when he spoke about the battles he had seen in World War II. Finally, he asked, "Were there many killed from our side?"
A dark expression crossed Kingsley's face, "Too many good people. There is much to be rebuilt, much to reform, many to bury…"
For a moment, Kingsley seemed to bend under a load that the Prime Minister had grown all too familiar with in the last two years – ever since people who could do magic had started popping out of his fireplace and into his politics. And now he was right to have had hope in a boy he only knew by name and whispers among the people who he had helped flee from Britain. All these odd happenings in his office and strange people trooping through his halls -
"So we have won a war that no one knows about in the Muggle world but me…" he said quietly. Kingsley didn't respond.
Rather, both men seemed to be lost in their own separate worlds for a period of time, before the Prime Minister finally remembered why, indeed, Kingsley had come in the first place.
"Ah!" He exclaimed, "Kingsley, you can tell the bloke who is the new Minister of your lot to come in here now – apologize to him, it has been a trying time, as you know."
"Why thank you, Prime Minister, your apology is quite accepted and, I assure you, I have not been waiting at all."
The Prime Minister goggled up at him, recognition donning slowly. Well, politics – the kind no one ever told you about unless they wanted to risk being committed for mental instability – would certainly be interesting with such a new Other Minister. And a highly efficient one at that. He would clean up that other lot wonderfully.
The Prime Minister held out his hand and said cheerfully, "Well, it is a pleasure to meet you, Minister."