After killing Voldemort, Harry thought he could fade away and be forgotten. Silly boy! You don't kill a baddie as nasty as Voldemort without people noticing. Now, the recruiters are starting to swarm like files to honey, and Harry has to at least talk to them.
I pulled in just about every Organization I could think of to put in an appearance. See how many you recognize immediately, and how many you have to Bing (it really is a better search engine, despite being a Microsoft product).
This was written for Capctr, who is squicked by my (relatively mild, except for Bound to Please) slashy stories. So, it's going to be Hetero!Harry. You have no idea how hard that was for me. I will probably do a horribly adult polymorphous perverse 'alternative ending', but the first draft of that melted my old monitor.
Chapter One: In which Our Hero finds out that being the Savior of the Wizarding World comes with a price, which is that everybody wants you on their team...and not just the Quidditch teams, either.
Disclaimer: I don't own ANY of the plethora of characters you'll see here. If you recognize them, it's because I thought highly enough of them to mention them. No profit is being made from this work.
Harry Potter and the Unrefusable Offer
If there had been one thing keeping Harry Potter going through all the difficult times leading up to the final battle with Voldemort, it was the hope that someday—assuming he survived, of course—he could stop being 'The Savior of the Wizarding World' and get on with being 'just Harry'. Sadly, this was not to be the case.
Harry had escaped Madam Pomphrey's tender mercies less than three days before he'd finally had enough. Granted, he'd been comatose after the battle for nearly a week, then endured several more days of horrible potions and mother-henning from the mediwitch. He'd assumed that his prolonged stint in hospital would give people time to begin returning to normal, to go back to their lives as best they could, and forget about one Harry J. Potter. Again, this was not the case.
The frank stares he could live with. They at least were honest. No, what bothered him were the sideways glances, or the suddenly turned heads and averted eyes whenever he looked at someone. It seemed that everyone in the school, with the exception of Ron and Hermione, couldn't stop looking at him like he was, well…some kind of 'freak'. He hated that, he really did.
Ron and Hermione weren't helping. As usual, all Ron wanted to talk about was Quidditch or chess, and all Hermione did was nag him about, well, everything. From revising for his NEWTS, to eating more, to questions about his feelings, sleep pattern and once (Sweet Mother of Merlin!) whether or not his bowel movements were regular, Harry hadn't a moment's peace since Poppy Pomphrey turned him loose.
At least Poppy just monitored the bedpans, and then the loo, and not come right out and asked. Besides, she had a medical reason for needing to know, since several of the curses he'd been hit with often left residual internal damage.
Hermione's questioning about his bodily functions, and her subsequent lecture on the Evils Of Constipation and Irregularity had, true to fashion, been delivered in her usual too-loud voice, in the too-public venue of the Gryffindor common room. The result was that the firsties of every single Mordred-cursed House now snickered whenever the Golden Trio walked by.
He'd heard one of the firsties refer to them as 'Harry and the Poo Patrol'. The temptation to curse the prat into next week was almost too much for him to resist, but Harry had to admit it was a tiny bit funny. Just a bit. Just like the shoe-lace-tying-together hex Harry sent at the evil little git was a tiny bit funny.
That particular firstie was muggle-born, and within the week had written to his parents, demanding trainers with Velcro straps. Neither he, nor his children, nor his grandchildren were ever able to wear shoes with laces.
So, on his third day back in the real world, Harry'd had enough. He'd faked a headache right before lunch (actually, the thought of sitting through one more meal with Ron the Human Garbage Disposal on one side and the Captain of England's Olympic Nagging team on the other gave him a very real headache) and gone up to his room to take a nap. He'd counted on Ron saying something stupid about missing the meal (he had) to set Hermione off on yet another rant (she had) as a distraction. He'd grabbed his invisibility cloak, snuck back down the stairs and out the portrait hole without anyone noticing.
Since it was a nice day, he'd decided to walk down to Hogsmeade, rather than deal with the Whomping Willow, the nasty tunnel, and the filth in the Shrieking Shack. Naturally, this was the wrong thing to do.
He'd not take a dozen steps past the gates of the school before he'd felt a strange tingling sensation. Then, before he could react, he'd found himself in a room made of shiny metal and plastic, being given the once-over by a buxom brunette, a tall man in a bright red, yellow and blue outfit, and another, equally tall man all in black with pointy things on his head.
Well, really it was a sort of half-mask, half helmet. And, he did wonder why the man in the bright colors was wearing his briefs on the outside of his leotards…but before he could say 'boo' the brunette tied him up with a glowing rope, and the interrogation began.
Harry was a bit chuffed by this—after all, didn't one usually arrange a 'safe word' before beginning games like this? —but found out that the rope not only worked a bit like Veritiserum but also had a calming effect on his nerves. Harry'd answered all of their questions truthfully, as best he could, but been rather happy when he was released.
The next few minutes were a bit strange, even by Harry's standards. He'd been shown to a large room with a glass wall that looked down on the Earth (they were in a space station called, of all things, the Watchtower), offered refreshments (they'd not had pumpkin juice, but the tea and biscuits were quite good) and then offered membership in something called The League. The man in the primary-colored crime against fashion costume and the buxom (and very leggy, Harry finally had a chance to notice) brunette explained that the League was a group of extraordinary individuals who had banded together to fight crime, defend the Earth, etc., etc. Harry listened to their pitch, and then politely declined. They'd not been happy with his answer, but listened politely as he explained that he'd had quite enough of world-saving, thank you very much, and that he only wanted to go off somewhere and live a quiet life free of heroics, evildoers and world-class villains.
The nice lady (she'd been the nicest to him of all, and Harry was starting to like her despite the bit with the rope) smiled, mussed his hair, and told him that she understood. The undies on the outside man stood there looking disappointed, while the man in black just glared at him.
Harry started to tell Mr. Pointy Head that after seven years of Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall, his glaring was a poor and distant third, at best. However, Harry didn't want to seem rude, so he just grinned back.
That seemed to amuse Primary Colors Guy and Ms. Gorgeous no end, especially when the pointy-head man whirled and left the room. Really, he could learn a thing or two from Snape about the whole cape-swirly thing. Pity the greasy git had died several weeks earlier.
In short order Harry found himself escorted back to the 'teleport pad', where they were met by a hyperactive man in red with gold wings on his head. Really, what was it with these people and their outfits? Did they use the same tailor as Dumbledore? The man asked for Harry's autograph, gave him a wink and a 'thumbs up', and ran out of the room. As he stepped on the pad, the nice lady give him a small piece of plastic the size of a muggle business card and told him to press it if he ever changed his mind.
Harry barely had time to nod, much less tell her that he really didn't think he'd be changing his mind, before he found himself back at the gates of Hogwarts. With a shrug, he turned and began the walk back to the school. Maybe he'd skive off the whole afternoon, and really take that nap, after all.
Fortunately for Harry, he was able to take a wonderful nap, and then slip away to the Room of Requirement where they house elves plied him with shepherd's pie, mushy peas, treacle tart and ice cream—all his favorites—which he enjoyed in blissful peace and quiet. He spent the evening vigorously doing absolutely nothing, and only returned to Gryffindor tower right before curfew.
As expected, the Gruesome Twosome were waiting for him just inside the portrait hole. What they didn't expect, however, was for Harry to completely ignore them, walk directly up the stairs to the seventh-year dorm, and climb into bed, pulling the drapes closed behind him.
Unfortunately, Harry's meeting with those League people seemed to grant some kind of cosmic permission for every whacko outfit on the planet to come a'calling.
The next morning, there were two gentlemen waiting when Harry (preceded by an arguing Poo Patrol) came into the Great Hall for breakfast. The two seemed to communicate using some form of telepathy, or maybe Legilimency, because they looked at each other, shrugged in unison, and then one man stepped forward while the second stood there patiently.
Harry had time to notice that each man was wearing a very nice muggle suit before the first one introduced himself as Mr. Smythe, and proffered his business card. Harry took it and looked up, confused, never having heard of LexCorp before.
The man was quite polite as he briefly explained that LexCorp was a large multinational company that often hired "exceptionally talented people like you, Mr. Potter" for a variety of positions. When Harry tried to protest that he really didn't think he had any special skills, the man assured him that a corporation as diverse as LexCorp could always make use of someone with his magical abilities. The man went on to explain that yes, parts of LexCorp were aware of the wizarding world, so the Statutes of Secrecy would not be an obstacle to his employment, at what would be a very generous salary. As to what he would be doing, well, that would be determined later. Naturally, Harry would have a large say in making that determination, based on his interests as well as the needs of the company.
The man seemed to sense Harry's hesitation, smiled, gave him a very nice leather case (embossed with Harry's name and the LexCorp logo) and told him that should he be interested in discussing the matter further, there was more information in the case. LexCorp maintained offices in virtually every major city, including London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh. All Harry had to do was contact the nearest office and ask for the 'Special Hires' office.
Harry thanked the man, shook his hand, and was immediately approached by the other man. This second man made Harry an identical offer, which Harry also declined. The only differences the second time around were that the company was WayneTech, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wayne Industries, and the case was black rather than dark brown.
Since it was a Hogsmeade Saturday, Harry didn't really wonder about just how the two men had gotten into Hogwarts at breakfast time. He made his way to the Gryffindor table with his two cases, and tried to find a seat well away from his bookends. Sadly, the fates and his housemates (rotten sods) conspired against him.
He'd no sooner sat down before the Inquisition and Food Spraying began. Harry tried to ignore both as best he could, putting both cases under his feet to keep the egg and sausage bits and grabby hands away from them. He managed to acquire a slice of toast before Ron saw the tray, and was hunting around for jam when Hermione reached between his legs, going for his new cases.
"Excuse me, those are mine, and I'd prefer not to get breakfast all over them," Harry said, clamping his knees together tightly. He didn't have to look to know that the other Houses were watching and laughing, and that the jokes would be flying within seconds.
"Honestly, Harry!" Hermione gasped, pulling her hand back. "I only wanted to see what kind of recruiting materials you've been given. LexCorp and Wayne Industries are two of the largest muh wa muh wa muh wawa wa…." Harry tuned her out, gave up on the jam and began nibbling his dry toast.
Ron garbled something—Harry didn't listen, because the first salvo had landed a bit of egg squarely on his left lens—that could have been a jealous comment about Harry always getting the best offers, or a comment on the Cannon's latest defeat, or perhaps a question about the mating habits of polar bears in captivity. On further reflection, Harry realized that it probably wasn't the last bit, as that would have required Ron to actually be curious about something that might just possibly matter at some time in the future. Barring any other signs of the Apocalypse, that was highly unlikely.
Harry told himself he really didn't want another piece of toast. Ron had, like always, grabbed a handful, then let most of it slip through his fingers back onto the plate. Since Harry knew that Ron had a wank every morning and didn't wash his hands between that and coming down to breakfast, the mangled pieces of toast lying there just weren't terribly appealing.
He debated telling Hermione this as she picked through the pile for the less-mangled slices, but decided that if she hadn't learned about Ron by now, it was too late. His brain refused to listen to the little voice in his head telling him about certain rumors, and how she already….
Harry firmly told the little voice to shut up before he Crucio'd it, and for once, the little voice did as it was told.
He retrieved his cases and left the table just as Hermione noticed her toast was a bit off. Hastily, he went back to the tower, stashed his new cases in his trunk and made sure his locking charms were in place. He'd found out from painful experience…and crumbs in his underthings…that Ron liked to 'borrow' whatever struck his fancy from Harry's trunk. He suspected this would be one of those times when Ron would be successful in getting Hermione to help him "check out Harry's trunk, because there might be a Dark thingy in there".
He added one more charm to the lock (a little zinger he'd found in the Black library), grabbed his overcloak (it was still quite chill out in the mornings) and made his way to Hogsmeade. He was almost trapped by Ginny on his way through the common room, but pretended not to hear her calling from the foot of the stairs. Since she'd only just awakened and was still in her pajamas and fuzzy slippers, she hadn't been able to chase him out the portrait hole.
He was one of the first people in Hogsmeade, and was looking forward to a lovely bit of alone time when a figure stepped out from the shadow of a building. Without thinking, Harry dropped into a fighting stance, his wand whipping into his hand from the sheath on his forearm.
"My word, Mr. Potter," the matronly woman said, taken aback. "I knew you had fast reflexes, but that was amazing!"
"Beg pardon, ma'am," Harry said, standing straight—he suppressed an internal sigh that he was the same height as the lady—but not putting his wand away. "Do I know you?" he asked.
"No, Mr. Potter, but I hope to change that," she said, smiling in a minimalistic yet friendly way. "You may call me 'M'. Is there a place we can talk in private?"
"Erm, yeah, uh…I mean, yes, ma'am, Mrs. Ehm," Harry said, confused and a bit deflated as his chances for a solitary morning melted away like the early morning mist. "I think the Three Broomsticks is open," he went on, remembering to offer the well-seasoned lady his arm.
"Why, thank you, Mr. Potter, that sounds lovely. And, it's just 'M', like the letter," she replied, taking his arm.
Harry led her to Madam Rosmerta's establishment, which was indeed open, and still serving breakfast. At M's urging, Harry ordered a full breakfast while she contented herself with tea and a muffin. She waved off Harry's offer to pay, smiled a bit wider, and told him that this was on her company account. "Because, you see, I've come to sign you up," she said, a genuinely pleasant look on her face.
While Harry enjoyed his breakfast (blissfully free of flying food bits and haranguing), M told Harry that she worked for a company called Universal Exports, which was a 'front' for Her Majesty's Secret Service, or MI6. 'Six' was not only aware of the wizarding world, she said, but employed a number of witches and wizards, mostly muggleborn, as well as a number of squibs in various capacities. They were well aware of his recent defeat of Tom Riddle, and he'd been targeted as a high-potential recruit.
M went on to apologize for not taking a more active role in dealing with the Dark Lord. "That idiot Fudge, then that fool Scrimgeour, refused to let us help!" Because of long-standing arrangements, Five and Six could only intervene in wizarding affairs at the request of the Minister for Magic. "I do intend to have those arrangements reexamined," M said, irritation in her eyes. "That, however, is none of your concern. Suffice it to say that your Country needs you, Mr. Potter."
Harry sighed. He already felt guilty for letting M buy him breakfast, but invoking the Country? At least she didn't ask in the Queen's name.
"M, I'm sorry," Harry began. He told her how he felt, and that he really, really wanted just to be left alone, even though he appreciated her offer.
He must have looked sincere, because M just sighed, told him she understood, and then gave him a business card.
"If you change your mind, Mr. Potter…and I hope you do…contact us. But now, I must be off. I should warn you, though," she said as she stood. "My counterparts in other organizations will almost certainly want to speak with you as well. Before you accept a position with any of them, I'd appreciate if you gave me a change to make a counter-offer."
Harry assured M that he would do as she asked, and M took her leave. At the door, she bumped into an older gentleman just entering the Three Broomsticks. The two spoke together briefly like old friends, and M pointed out Harry's table before leaving. The older gent strolled over and put out his hand.
"Harry Potter? Lloyd Cramden, Z. O. W. I. E." he said, pumping Harry's hand vigorously.
"Excuse me?" Harry asked, thoroughly confused.
"Z. O. W. I. E." Cramden repeated, taking the seat M had just vacated. "Zonal Organization for World Intelligence and Espionage," he explained. "Like what M does, only we're more global, see?"
"Oh." Harry said. He remember from primary school about the sun never setting on the British Empire, but….
"Oh, yeah," Cramden replied. "We cover the whole world, including the British parts. Sometimes we work together, help each other out, that kind of thing. Same side, different areas of responsibility."
"Oh." Harry said.
"Son, you know why I'm here," Cramden smiled, signaling Madam Rosmerta over with a wave. "Coffee, cream, two sugars, ma'am" he ordered, then turned back to Harry. "Look, son, I'll get right to the point. The world's a dangerous place, and we need men—good men, dangerous men, men like you—to protect it from other dangerous men who aren't so good. Like your boy Riddle. Bad seed, that one. Bad seed," he said shaking his head.
"Oh." Harry said.
"I knew you'd be quick on the uptake," Cramden beamed. "Now, I'll be the first to tell you that M's got herself a fine group of people, make no mistake. Still, I think I can offer you just as big a chance to do some good out there as she can. Men like us, Harry…I can call you Harry, can't I? ...we can't just sit around on our laurels. We get bored, then we get antsy, and then…well, I don't have to tell you what happens, do I?"
"Oh." Harry said.
"Exactly," Cramden said, taking his coffee and sipping it carefully. "Mmm, good coffee. Now, I know that M has a slot waiting for you. Well, Harry, so do I. Just say the word, and the day you leave that school of yours, you can step into a job with Z.O.W.I.E. Training's a bit harsh, but nothing you can't handle. After that, I can guarantee you'll be one of my go-to men for problems other agents can't handle. So, whatdaya say?" He leaned back in his chair, a smile on his face.
"Oh." Harry said. Then, after a minute, "can I think about it?"
"Sure, sure! Young man like you, whole life ahead of him, offers around every corner, world's your oyster! Take all the time you want," Cramden pulled out a business card. "Just one thing: before you sign on with M, call me. Anything she puts on the plate, I'll put a second helping on it. Stay in touch." Smiling, he rose and left the way he had come.
Harry carefully put both cards inside his money pouch. Maybe he could start putting them in one of his new cases.
Harry wound up sitting at that same table until early evening. A steady stream of people came and went, bought him food, offered him jobs, gave him business cards, and then left.
Agent Colson was very nice, in a quiet kind of way. He apologized that Director Fury couldn't be there himself, but did ask that Harry give S.H.I.E.L.D. the same consideration he gave MI6 and Z.O.W.I.E., which Harry agreed to do. The two briefly discussed a new initiative Director Fury was putting together, but Harry got the distinct impression that what he wasn't being told was more important than the bare-bones outline Mr. Colson gave. The Men in Black were nice, but a bit cool and aloof. The chubby man who introduced himself as 'Toyman' from something called the Legion of Doom was more than a bit creepy, and left Harry feeling slightly dirty and in need of a wash. Mr. Lehnsherr was a nice older gentleman who explained that he usually only recruited mutants, but was willing to make an exception in Harry's case. He and the man that followed him, a Professor Xavier from America, said the same thing, and the two of them talked briefly as they passed. Harry could feel the tension between them, but didn't know why they weren't as friendly as Mr. Cramden and M had been. The disembodied brain and gorilla with the French accent were just weird, and the man in the gray Mao suit from SPECTRE…well, Harry scratched his cat, apologized and told him he'd rather work for the Light. The man nodded and left shortly thereafter, a disappointed look on his face.
Harry spent almost two hours that afternoon doing nothing but turning down one strange person after another, all of whom wanted to give him differently colored rings.
Rage? Well, he did have a number of things to be angry about—most of them involving his former Headmaster in some way or another—but he was really trying to work through them and move on with his life. So, no Red, sorry.
Between the Potter and Black vaults, he had more than enough gold, thank you very much. He really didn't need any more stuff, what he needed was to be left alone for the rest of his life. Besides, Orange reminded him of Halloween, and he didn't have the best track record with that particular holiday.
With Voldemort gone, he really didn't think he had much to be afraid of…except, of course, the Ministry and whatever stupid thing they would dream up next week to make his life more difficult than it had to be. Besides, Yellow was such a Hufflepuff color.
Willpower? Well, he supposed he had that, and the Green really would bring out his eyes. Still, it sounded too much like being an Auror on a grand scale, so he really wasn't interested. Thank you for offering, though.
By this time, the only thing Harry was hoping for was that eventually he'd be left alone; ideally, forgotten by the Universe at large. The…person…making that particular offer, a Mr. Walker, if Harry remembered his introduction correctly, smiled at Harry's refusal, nodded, and politely left with a cryptic parting statement that Harry promptly forgot.
Harry did hope that he had some compassion left in him, despite a parade of people, starting with the Dursleys and continuing on for many years, doing their level best to beat it out of him. And, the Staff was a nice touch. However, Harry really wasn't ready to leave England, and what the lady described sounded a bit too much like joining a monastery. No Indigo for Harry.
The woman with the pink hair (and skin, and glowing aura) reminded him of Tonks, only graceful and not prone to tripping and falling. He really wasn't sure that he knew what Love was, not having had any experience with it, and he really didn't want to give up his man bits! Sapphire was indeed a lovely color, but not for Harry Potter!
Creepiest of all was Harry's last visitor for the day. The tall man was dressed all in Black, and laid the Gaunt Ring—Stone intact—and Elder Wand down in front of Harry. "I have nothing to offer you, Harry Potter," the man said. "You are their Master now. Guard these, and the Cloak, against those who would use them foolishly. We shall not meet again." Then he left, to Harry's profound relief.
The next day's Daily Prophet ran the headline "Harry Potter fends off Alien Invasion!", with pictures by Colin Creevy, who'd been sitting outside the Three Broomsticks with his camera waiting for Harry to come out. Fortunately, Harry had long since given up reading the rag, so he never saw it. He did notice the stares he got for the next few days, but since they were just like all the other stares he'd been getting, he ignored them, too.
When it came out later that week, Harry got rather a nice chuckle out of The Quibbler's "Harry Potter's Space Harem: The Inside Story" headline. Unfortunately, people kept taking his copy away faster than he could read the article, so he finally gave it up as a lost cause and went back to reading Twilight fan fiction.
He'd decided he was Team Jacob, 'cause sparklypires were just wrong. Besides, Edward reminded him of Cedric for some reason, and that was both squicky and sad in equal measure.
Quentin Travers was a snotty, stuck-up, self-absorbed twit who irritated Harry from the moment they met. It didn't help that Travers assumed Harry would fall all over himself in his eagerness to join the Watcher's Council. Travers couldn't fail to notice the snickers that followed him out of the Three Broomsticks, but he never noticed the sign on his back that alternated between 'Kick Me' and 'I'm a Dick'.
Lesson for the Day: Never piss off, then turn your back on, a Son of the Marauders and friend to the Weasley Twins.
Harry really enjoyed his evening meal. A lovely lady named Martha Jones and a dashing Captain "call me Jack, Harry" Harkness had split the cost of the meal for all of them, then tried to recruit him for either U.N.I.T. (Martha) or Torchwood (Captain Jack). As best Harry could tell, they both dealt with weird things including the paranormal and alien invasions (after the Ring people, Harry could see the need for it), as well as working with someone called The Doctor on a semi-regular basis. Both seemed genuinely interested in having Harry available, at least on a consulting basis. Harry told them he'd think about it, and if they absolutely couldn't get anyone else, to contact him. They'd thanked him, given him cards (Captain Jack's had his personal number penned on the back), and left right after they finished dessert. As they were going, Martha smiled at him while Jack was holding her coat. "We've had our people keeping your 'friends' away all day," she said, clearly not happy with said friends. "Don't let them give you any grief, Harry. You deserve much better."
"What she said, kiddo," Jack agreed. "First thing, you come visit either of us, we'll see about introducing you to some people who'll appreciate you for you, not as a project or a stepping stone. Seriously, I saw them outside, Harry; you really need to trade up."
Harry nodded, a small part of him feeling like he should be insulted at how they were talking about Ron, Hermione and Ginny—he'd seen the three peaking in the front windows all day—but mostly he knew they were telling the truth. He accepted their offer to walk back to the gates of Hogwarts with him, and used Captain Jack and Martha as shields until he was there. He got hugs from both Martha and Captain Jack, and was actually feeling rather good, in a confused hormonal sort of way, all the way back to Gryffindor tower.
He noticed there was a scorch mark on the floor in front of his trunk, and made a mental note to check and see who had no eyebrows the next morning. Putting away his things and resetting the spells on his trunk, he brushed his teeth and went to bed.
That night, he dreamed of being a super-secret intergalactic agent who had to choose between saving Ron, Hermione and Ginny from certain death, or saving an entire planet from inevitable doom.
Just before he woke up, the planet's rulers, Queen Martha and her consort Prince Jack, proclaimed Harry Potter day, and he got to ride on a float in the first Harry Potter Day parade.
It was the most excellent dream ever.
"Potter, you'll come with me."
Harry looked up from his dry toast—breakfast had rapidly shaped up to be a repeat of the previous day, only without the polite men and nice cases—to see Auror Dawlish looming over him.
"Sir?" Harry asked, guarding his toast. Ron's plate was beginning to show through the piled food carnage, so Harry wasn't taking any chances with it. He'd managed to have a bit of peace thus far, but only by pointedly looking at where Hermione's, Ginny's and Ron's eyebrows were not.
"I said, come with me, Potter. Now!" Dawlish growled. He didn't look happy. Then again, Harry didn't think he'd ever seen the man when he WAS happy.
"Yes, sir," Harry sighed, putting down his toast, knowing it would vanish in short order. Maybe he could get a house elf to bring him a piece of bacon later….
"I said now, Potter!" Dawlish barked, grabbing Harry's arm roughly and pulling him along. Well accustomed to worse from the Dursleys, Harry made no sound but tried to move faster.
"Can I ask where we're going, sir?" Harry asked. He didn't think he'd done anything, but maybe the Ministry objected to his meeting with all those people yesterday.
"Minister wants to see you, boy," Dawlish said, then went mute until they came to one of the meeting rooms just off the Great Hall. "In you go, and mind your manners," Dawlish said, opening the door and giving Harry a shove.
Harry stumbled into the room, somehow managing not to fall. He'd just steadied himself and was straightening his robes when Minister Scrimgeour was there, booming at him.
"Harry Potter! I must say, you're a hard man to get a meeting with," Scrimgeour boomed. "Just what were those muggles selling you yesterday, boy? Some of them not even the Unspeakables recognized, which is a rare thing, believe me." The Minister didn't wait for an answer before he took a seat in one of the comfortable chairs used for important visitors to the school.
"Doesn't matter, though; they all offered you a job and you turned them all down. Good lad!" The Minister waved Harry toward a chair. "You'll be joining the Ministry on the Auror track, of course," he went on. "Only thing for you to do. Imagine, the Boy Who Won, working with muggles!" He laughed at the absurdity of the thought. "The next Auror class won't start until the first of August—we give the new graduates some time to have a bit of vacation, see their families, that sort of thing—but I want you in the Ministry no more than one week after you graduate, understand? Oh, you'll be on the payroll; can't expect you to work for free, after all. No, I want you there so you can get a head start on meeting the people you'll be working with, get settled in, that kind of thing. We expect great things from you, Potter, great things."
Harry took a deep breath and braced himself. "Erm, thanks, Minister, but I really…."
"Don't thank me, boy, it's I who should be thanking you! Me, and every other wizard in Britain. You saved our world, Potter, don't think we don't know it." Scrimgeour leaned forward and lowered his voice approximately one decibel. "I wasn't going to tell you this, but I've heard you don't like surprises, so here it is: I'm going to give you the Order of Merlin, First Class, just as soon as we can arrange the press conference there in the Ministry. That'll be when we announce that you're entering the Auror program, so there's no doubt it'll make the front page of the Prophet. Do the public's morale a world of good, too; knowing their Savior will always be there, ready to take down the next Dark Lord that comes along. They always do, you know," Scrimgeour leaned back and stroked his beard. "Every few decades some sodding blackguard comes along, thinks that just because he's dabbled in the Dark Arts he can lord it over the rest of us. Well let me tell you! Not on my watch, they won't! Not when I've got Harry bloody Potter to throw at 'em!" Scrimgeour smiled broadly, thoroughly pleased with himself and the future he had all planned out.
"Minister, I won't…." Harry tried, but was interrupted once again.
"Of course you won't be alone, Potter," Scrimgeour waved his hand dismissively. "Have the entire Auror corps behind you, the full weight and authority of the Ministry, with all its resources backing you up. Not like this last time, not at all," Scrimgeour snorted. "Bloody Dumbledore could have handled the entire mess differently, but he always was one for his plots and plans. Never understood it, myself; always tried to take the direct route if I could."
"I'm not going to be an Auror," Harry said loudly. He really was getting tired of this….
"What's that? Not going to be an Auror? Ridiculous! Of course you're going to be an Auror. What else would you do?" Scrimgeour was shocked, and a bit angry, at Harry's announcement.
"For starters, I'm going to take a nice long vacation somewhere far away from Britain," Harry said, pressing on despite the look on Scrimgeour's face. "Then, I think I'll get myself a nice little cottage, maybe on the coast, where I can have a garden and take long walks without being bothered by anyone."
Scrimgeour sputtered for several long moments, then recovered. "Nonsense, Potter. We need you in the Ministry! Public confidence is shoot, and the people need reassuring. We can't have you just disappearing from the public eye, the wizard in the street won't stand for it!"
Harry shrugged. "They'll manage, I'm sure. Just run another article in the Prophet about how I'm insane, and they'll be more than happy for me to go away. That's how it's always worked before."
"That was different, Potter, and you know it. Now…." Scrimgeour began, but this time Harry was ready for him.
"How, Minister? How is 'now' different from 'then'? Is it just that Voldemort is dead and everyone knows it, or is it something else?"
"It's because Voldemort's finally dead, and everyone knows that you did it, as you very well know. Don't play stupid with me, Potter," the Minister growled.
Harry shook his head. "I'm not playing anything, Minister. I killed Voldemort because it was him or me, not to save the wizarding world, or your precious Ministry," Harry sneered, his anger rising. "Now, I'm going to tell you what I told everyone yesterday—who, by the way, made some really good offers, much better than anything the Ministry could ever offer me—no. I don't want your job. I don't want to always be saving your worthless hides. The next time a so-called Dark Lord comes calling, why not let the Aurors do their jobs and handle it? Oh, I forgot; most of them are like Dawlish, who couldn't pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel." Harry was standing (he didn't remember getting to his feet) and his magic was swirling around him. "I've done what I had to do, what that bloody prophecy said I had to do, and I'm done, do you hear me? Done!" He spun and strode to the door, which opened of its own accord. "Oh, and Minister," Harry said over his shoulder, "don't call me. I won't be calling you."
Giving Dawlish a glare that made the Auror step back, stunned, Harry Potter walked out on the Minister for Magic.
A/N: Harry's had multiple offers, and has turned them all down. But, isn't this fic about an Unrefusable Offer? What kind of offer could possibly top the ones Harry's already declined, or put off, or said he'd think about (he lied)? More importantly, who could make such an offer? What could that offer possibly be?
I guess you'll have to read the next chapter to find out. While you're waiting, please see my newly-updated profile for an important announcement.
Next: The Offer, and the Offer-ers. Review, or I'll send Toyman to 'recruit' you!