Disclaimer: I do not own any characters or ideas which you recognise as being from JK Rowling's Harry Potter series. The plot of this story is my own, but I have no intention of making any money from it.
The train left the station with a judder, the rhythmic pounding of the wheels providing a soothing sound in her ears as she leaned back, resting her head on the back of the seat. She shut her eyes, allowing her senses to extend across the carriage. There, the smell of a yellowing book from the mystery novel of the little old lady to the right, the discordant murmur of the teenager's music streaming out despite the headphones, the obnoxious phone call from the youth to his mates, arranging a meeting, the rustle as the pages of the newspaper were turned by the man next to her.
"We will shortly be arriving at London Charing Cross. This train terminates here. Please do not leave any baggage on the train or the station."
Opening her eyes, she leaned forward to collect her bag. She noted the man on her right – tall, dark hair, glasses – leave his newspaper on the seat, pick up his briefcase and stand by the train doors, expression vacant. Just another commuter. She picked up the abandoned paper and shoved it in her bag for later perusal.
On the tube, standing pressed between a large rucksack and a pair of chattering students, she unfolded it. Skimming the news – murders, mysterious disappearances, political coverage, nothing new there – she turned to the crossword. Clues twenty down ("an Arabic darling") and five across ("cuisine from the land of the rising sun") were both blank. She idly filled in the remainder of the crossword in her head, then turned to the gossip pages, and smirked to note the headline: "I'M SO SORRY OLGA" - SAM WHITE COMES OUT
When her stop arrived, she dropped the paper behind onto the ledge behind the seats, and struggled to the doors.
It was a dark, cold December evening. The narrow alleyway seemed almost empty, though light and sound spilled from the pub, and a few stragglers wandered back towards the station, seeming much the worse for wear. Tottering in her high heels, Hermione Granger ducked into Habibi Sushi at five past eight, for a meeting of the Order of the Phoenix.
She grinned and allowed herself to be swept into the arms of the tall, gangly man as he stood up from the sushi bar to greet her with a bear hug. "Hey, Ron." She stepped back, took a better look at him. "Ha! I saw it in the papers but couldn't really believe it... what the hell?"
He rubbed his shaved pate, still grinning. "You like? Clarisse told me it looks rugged and powerful."
She rolled her eyes. "Ron, Clarisse is so brainless she'd probably tell you it made you look good if they'd chopped off your head."
"Oi! Don't be rude about my girlfriend!"
"I'm sure she doesn't mean it, do you Mione?" Harry came up behind his best friends, smiling.
"Actually..." she grinned, then rolled her eyes. "Oh all right, for the sake of peace, no, I don't mean it."
"Good!" Ron's grin became, if possible, even wider. "Now, shall we get on with it so Sam and I can go back to our adoring public, and spend the night clubbing. I'm sure there's some blonde wannabe WAG we haven't got to yet. Or rather, HAB in his case..."
"Yeah, I saw in the paper. Took you long enough, Harry!" She hugged him. "You OK?"
"Never been better, actually. You're right, I should have done it earlier, but you know how it is, the manager kept informing me that it'd make my life hell and all that. But now even the Mail's hailing me as some kind of hero..." he grinned, awkwardly. "Fancy that. And here I thought I'd done being lauded for what I am rather than what I can do."
She smiled, wanly. Perhaps Harry would never escape the chase of celebrity, whichever world he lived in. Once he'd taken up professional football, he'd seemed to come to terms with it better, even when he was forever followed by flashing camera lights. The one good thing to come out of his relationship with the beautiful but evil Olga had been his realisation that actually, he didn't only hate her, but had no sexual interest in any women at all. She thought it explained a lot, really. Like that Cho Chang fiasco in fourth year – Harry said later that he'd been rationalising. Cho wasn't the half of that couple he'd actually been interested in.
Ron, of course, loved every minute of his celebrity. Who'd have thought that skills on a broom translated so well to the world of Muggle sport?
She took her place at the sushi table, between the boys, and took a plate. She picked up her chopsticks and covered the salmon sushi in soy sauce before starting to eat. As she did so, she glanced around.
Everyone was there – Neville, talking to Ernie about the student protests, Dean Thomas, engaging Ron in a discussion of the latest football matches, and Susan Bones and Hannah Abbot checking their blackberries. Ernie MacMillan was concentrating on the food, she noted. Even Seamus Finnegan had made it.
"How are you?" she asked him, smiling.
Seamus smiled, creasing up around the eyes. "Well, it's been a long day. I came in to Stansted... you know what Ryanair's like." He rolled his eyes, as she nodded sympathetically. "God, for the days of Portkeys and Floo! I have business in the city tomorrow, so I just bought it forward a day. How's the government treating you?"
Hermione grimaced. "Honestly, it's so boring. Of course, everyone's too scared to offer any real opposition, because anyone who speaks out seems to vanish. So the so-called debates tend to be a load of people standing up and agreeing with each other, vehemently."
Seamus smiled at her. "At least you're still there though, I suppose."
Hermione winced, trying not to think about the alternative.
Once they had all eaten, Harry took out his wand, and with a muttered spell, the conveyor of sushi vanished into the floor to be replaced by a round glass table. The sake cups vanished, replaced by large wine glasses. Hermione removed her wand from her bag, smiling at the feel of it between her fingers again, and waving it made her glass fill with a sweet white dessert wine. She noted that Harry was going for brandy, and Ron had decided to return to firewhiskey, the drink of his youth. There was some significance to that, she supposed.
Harry began to speak. "So, as we all know, it's been ten years since the death of Dumbledore and the takeover of Flobberworm at the Ministry."
There was a slight chuckle around the table, but it was not as mirthful as might have been expected. When you couldn't say "The Dark Lord" or "Voldemort" or "He Who Must Not Be Named" without bringing the entire might of the Ministry of Magic down on your head, you took pleasure in the small things. Like replacing Voldemort's name with "Flobberworm".
Harry was still speaking. "We knew he'd want to take over the Muggle UK too, eventually, for cannon fodder, if nothing else. We wondered why he was moving slowly. We all went into deep hiding after the Battle of Hogwarts, to survive, to plan. We hid in plain sight, in the muggle world, building influence in our different spheres. Politics," he nodded at Hermione, "Business," Seamus, Hannah, Susan. "Newspapers," Ernie. "Technology," Colin Creevey, who had crept in unannounced, far less exuberant since his brother's death at the Battle of Hogwarts. "Universities," Neville's turn for a beaming smile.
"And meanwhile, Harry and I invaded the world of professional sport and celebrity," Ron chuckled. "Well, I say invaded, they welcomed two good looking lads with open arms. Especially the women."
There was another chorus of laughter, more real this time.
"Precisely." Harry was laughing with them. "Anyway. We thought that Flobberworm would have just taken over the whole of the UK at once, but he didn't. We wondered why.
Our spies made it clear at the time that the reason no takeover of the muggle world happened straight after the battle is sheer force of numbers. There are less than ten thousand wizards in the UK, but 60 million Muggles – turns out that protego doesn't actually stop bullets.
So, when we had to escape the wizarding world with a price on our heads, we hid in the muggle world. Hid, but so openly that we could have a finger in all the pies of the Muggle world when they were ready to attack.
And it appears to have taken that idiotic flobberworm ten years to figure out how, but we now have intelligence of how the takeover will occur."
Ron groaned. "Harry, we've been over this. Malfoy Senior's in the running for Muggle PM, when he gets it, he's going to use the army and propaganda to basically start using the Muggles as a giant slave workforce, all that jazz. What's with the history lesson, anyway?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. Some things never changed. After ten years, they'd all grown up somewhat, but apparently not enough.
"Ron, I don't think the history lesson and the grandstanding were for us."
He looked at her askance. "What? This is an inner circle Order meeting, Hermione, there is only us!"
"Really, Ron? So would you care to explain why, when usually we are a group of nine, there are ten chairs at this table?"
There was a silence. Clearly, she'd been the only one to notice.
Harry cleared his throat, messy dyed-red hair somehow looking even more scruffy than usual. "Hermione's right. I thought it best to remind everyone why we're here before I introduce our newest member."
A figure stepped out of the shadows.
"Hello, everyone. My name is Draconis Artemisius Malfoy, and I'm here to help you take down my father and his pitiful, evil master."
There was a short silence.
Then all hell broke loose.
Habibi Sushi really does exist - it's a lovely little sushi bar near Liverpool St. Station. However, I am in no way claiming that wizards actually do meet there. Also, any massacre of Arabic in the clues is entirely my fault - I have a vague idea that Habibi is a word for darling, but I could be completely wrong as I do not speak the language.
Also, I would like to state at the outset that this story is not aimed at any one political party, and Lucius Malfoy is not Labour, Conservative or LibDem, but some kind of coalition (ha!) of the worst of all 3. In my world, he's made up his own political party for the purposes of taking over the muggle world, and is financing it himself.
Anyway. I project this being a fairly lengthy story, which will be updated weekly where possible. If you have the time and inclination, please do leave a review as I love getting them, and I will try to respond personally to as many as possible.