Wag the Dog

Why does the dog wag its tail?
Because the dog is smarter than the tail.
If the tail were smarter, it would wag the dog.

Prologue

Arthur Weasley loved his job. He was head of the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects. His offices were opposite the Chief Auror herself. Arthur liked the fact he got to walk between the pairs of desks against each wall to get to his office at the far end; it gave him a chance to say hello to everyone.

Arthur didn't really have a separate office in the room; just a desk with a partition round it but it was a damn site better than the airing cupboard he had worked in before. Now the war was over and budgets had been slashed, the team of ten had been reduced to five and his team had moved into this smaller location six months ago.

"Morning Ben," Arthur said as he hung up his jacket near the office door.

Ben didn't say anything, just gave him a worried look. Monday's were like that though. Arthur waved to Susan at the copier but she just looked back down to the memo in her hands.

At the end of the office was the longest standing member of their team. "Brian? What's the matter with everyone?"

"They're all worried about their references."

"Huh?"

Brian just nodded towards Arthur's desk. Standing by the partition was newly elected Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge.

"Oh," said Arthur. "Look, no one is getting fired. This is probably about the budget meeting next week."

"Isn't that what you said last time?"

Arthur made a note that Brian would be first out if he did have to make a cut. He had family money at least. Arthur missed Perkins.

Arthur re-enforced the silencing spell around his desk when he sat down. "Good morning Minister, how are you today?"

"I'm very good, excellent in fact. It's good to be back and working hard. Everything is finally getting back to normal." The minister twirled his bowler hat in his hand. "How are you? How's the family?"

Arthur was immediately suspicious. What did Fudge care?

"Good, everyone is, um, good. Minister, is this about the budget meeting next week because I've got those figures here if you need them now," Arthur opened his desk drawer even though it contained nothing more than blank paper and three toy cars.

Fudge looked around and then leaned in, "Actually it's about your son."

Arthur tried not to sigh with relief but he was very glad he wasn't going to have to fire anyone. Again. Though of course when Fudge said "family" he obviously meant Harry Potter.

"How can I help?" Arthur had no intention of letting the ministry anywhere near Harry if he could help it.

Fudge looked worried, as well he should, thought Arthur. "It's about Percy."

"Percy?" Arthur couldn't keep the surprise out of his voice. Whatever could Percy have done that Cornelius wanted to talk to him about it? Oh god, he was dead!

"I was wondering if you could have a word with him?"

So, not dead then, "'A word' Minister?"

"Yes. I'd quite like him to come back to work. He took a break from his job, built up quite a back log of holiday days over the past two years. I remember his work during the war when I was still working in these offices. He was always in before everyone and I never saw him leave the office. He asked for a six month sabbatical and I just couldn't deny but, well, times up." Fudge smiled and looked expectantly at Arthur.

Arthur felt he'd skipped a step. "I'm sorry, why do you need me to speak to him?"

"He's not answering any of his owls. I keep getting 'no longer at this address' scribbled on any memos that I send out. I had assumed he'd moved home."

"Percy isn't living with us. He hasn't been home since..." But Arthur couldn't remember how long it had been since Percy had even visited the Burrow.

"Perhaps the boy is abroad and just lost track of time."

That was the most ridiculous thing Arthur had ever heard. Percy, late? "What are you saying? Is Percy missing? Do we need to look for him?"

"Probably found a girl," Fudge winked at him. "I'll nip up to the fifth floor and see if he's requested a visa though us. After all, if he doesn't want to be found we're not likely to track him down."

"What are you talking about?"

"Arthur, do you know the number of people that disappeared during the war? Even when we were actively tracking them down. Now we can barely afford to keep track of the people in the Ministry's offices. I'm sure he'll come back when he's ready."

Fudge twirled his bowler in his hands again, nodded to Arthur and left Arthur alone in the office.

He didn't notice that Brian had walked into his office. "So, are we all fired?"