Disclaimer: This chapter and the story it is a part of it was not written in the hopes of profiting from its sale or distribution. At current I have never and have no plans in the future of receiving monetary compensation for this work. And I certainly do not own Harry Potter or any other related titles. Any resemblance the characters portrayed in this story might have to real life figures is completely coincidental.
Beta: I've been using Snakefang93 as a beta for this story so a great deal of thanks are owed to him for his help.
A/N: So basically I've been wanting to do a political Harry story since before I started writing fanfiction but I never really had a good plot idea. Then I watched the new Netflix series House of Cards and was completely blown away by Francis Underwood and of course that led to me watching the original BBC series where I practically fell in love with Urquhart. Add in my own little twists and a dash of Harry Potter and this is the result.
The Star Chamber
Chapter One: To Cast The First Stone
"The Chamber where the whole of the Wizengamot meets is called the Star Chamber. It derives its name from the golden gilted stars which adorn the ceiling it is said that the wizards and witches who sit in the Star Chamber decide the course of nations. It is said that within the Star Chamber movements are born and movements are strangled. The Wizengamot may act with impunity safe and secure in the knowledge that no court will overrule them and no other force may challenge their authority. Stars represent fate, which is fitting since the fates of entire peoples have been decided in the Star Chamber."- Bathilda Bagshot, A History of Magic
Wizarding elections are truly odd things to those who've never experienced them before. There are 300 members in a full wizengamot, representing 300,000 wizards in the Isles of Great Britain. Every election something like 1,000 of those wizards think they have what it takes to be in the great legislative body of the nation
How do you determine who becomes the people's representative you ask. Each and every candidate gets a bucket and there we all stand in the atrium of the Ministry waiting for the greatest circus known to man to begin. At 8 o'clock sharp the proverbial doors are opened and each and every wizard and witch in Britain descends upon us each armed with one purple stone.
"WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CHUDLEY CANNONS!?" cries one voter who apparently likes his candidate to be an everyman sort of fellow.
"I THINK THE PRICE OF MILK IS OUTRAGEOUS WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO ABOUT IT!?" screeches an elderly lady.
"I LIKE YOUR SHIRT! CAN I HAVE IT!?" Asks one mercenary gentleman.
If the candidate answers these dubious questions correctly than their adoring public will drop their specially enchanted purple stone into that candidates bucket. Once a candidate has 1,000 of these stones they are, through the magic of democracy, declared a Member of the Wizengamot. If after 8 hours the Star Chamber is still not full then those who received less than 1,000 stones are admitted into the chamber in descending order until all 300 seats are filled. If a tie occurs then a rousing game of Rock, Paper, Scissors ensues to decide the winner. As memory serves there was once a wizard from Leeds who won reelection on three separate occasions by always choosing rock.
I pity those poor souls who have to sit in that atrium hour after hour being bombarded with inane questions breathed on by all sorts of rabble. You see I'm Harry Potter and even though I'd been away from my beloved homeland for nearly a decade all I had to do was smile and wave and I had my thousand stones before the end of the first 20 minutes.
After that things are much more sedate though no less cutthroat. The Supreme Mungwump is elected, Daedalus Diggle held the position in the last two sessions and no one even bothers to stand against him this time. The members of the high court are declared, they being the 50 oldest people in the room. And then we get down to the true business of the day.
"The chair recognizes Mr. Nott!" Cried Diggle from the Mungwump's platform.
"My fellow members!" Said Theodore Nott as he rose to his feet. "If it pleases this Chamber I ask for a resolution granting Mr. Malfoy the office of Minister for Magic."
"Is there a second?" asks Diggle.
"Second!" calls an anonymous voice from the back benches.
Good old Lucius was still puttering around the Chamber like he owned the place. Of course by that point he was too old, too silly, and too conservative to ever hope to win.
"Members in favor make yourselves known!" says Diggle as about a half hundred wands are thrust into the air bathing the chamber with blue light.
"55 members in favor," calls Diggle. "Mr. Nott's Resolution fails by 92 votes."
Diggle's assistant whispers something in his ear.
"My apology resolution fails by 96 votes. The Chair recognizes Madame Vance."
Emmiline was getting up there in years as I recall but you wouldn't have been able to tell that by her hair, the product of a bottle no doubt.
"If it pleases the Chamber I nominate Mr. Podmore."
A great racket of catcalls and boos come over the house and members liberal and conservative laughed and waved their order papers about in the air. Animals the lot of them. I for one sit calmly in my chair making no acknowledgement of the Madame's error beside a small smile.
"ORDER! ORDER!" cries Diggle. "Madame Vance, this Chamber will only acknowledge statements made in the proper form."
"Hear! Hear!" Come the shouts from the crowd.
"Madame Vance have another go," said Diggle not unkindly.
"My apologies to the Chamber," said Vance as she rolled her eyes in annoyance. "If it pleases this Chamber I ask for a resolution granting Mr. Podmore the office of Minister for Magic."
"Is there a second?" Diggle asks the Chamber, and somewhere in the back someone answered that they would second the motion. "Very well members in favor make yourselves known.
It was never a contest Podmore is a back alley bruiser not ministerial material. I imagine Vance only bothered to nominate him as a sort of thank you gesture for his years in the Wizengamot.
"Madame Vance's motion fails by 103 votes," says Diggle after he and his aides are done counting. "The Chair recognizes Mr. Prescott."
"Thank you Mr. Diggle," comes the hoarse voice of the old liberal lion, it's hard to tell looking at the fat old bald fellow but he was once someone important. "If it pleases this Chamber I ask for a resolution granting Madame Granger the office of Minister for Magic."
"Is there a second?"
"Members in favor make yourselves known."
Poor Hermione never had a chance, she was an up and coming star in the liberal wing of the Chamber but her nomination had only been a courtesy. Even so I raised my wand for the first time, she was an old friend you know, and it never hurts to throw the dog a bone.
"Mr. Prescott's motion fails by 99 votes," says Diggle. "The Chair recognizes Madame Granger."
"If it pleases this Chamber," Hermione said rising to her feet. "I ask for a resolution granting Madame Jones the office of Minister for Magic!"
Hestia Jones, was once a cherry cheeked idiot and now it seemed she might be Minister. There she was, near the floor, her black hair up in an efficient bun her hair an odd decaying shade of black. I disliked her at first glance and yet this was the woman to whom fate had shackled my future.
"Hear! Hear!" a large group of the members cry and it was clear that the deciding moment had come.
"Order! Order!" cries Diggle, "this Chamber will come to order or the Sergeant at Arms will know why!"
One look at the burly Auror with the mace succeeded in shutting the rowdy liberal wing up.
"I shall take it, that there is a second to that motion," Diggle said in good humor. "Members in favor of Madame Granger's motion make yourselves known."
One by one glowing blue wands all across the hall rose to the air… but wait what was this? It was a close one that was for sure but was it close enough?
"143 members in favor," says Diggle in shocked voice, "motion fails by 8 votes."
There was a moment of silence before a loud clamor erupted from all over the chamber and even the threat of Sergeant at Arms couldn't make the Wizengamot settle down after that upset. The coalition which had ruled Britain since Voldemort's defeat couldn't form a majority which meant for the first time in over a decade the country was up for grabs.
Diggle kept us there until midnight calling for vote after vote, Hestia Jones was nominated 3 more times. At one point she received 148 votes, just three shy of a majority but by the next time her name came up she had fallen to 132. Yours truly got 35 votes and a thunderous round of applause. Percy Weasley even managed to get 10 votes, including Lucius Malfoy's who by that time was just raising his wand for every candidate in the hopes that he would be able to get home before judgment day.
"Order! Order!" Diggle desperately tried to silence the room which had erupted in gales of laughter after one liberal member sarcastically nominated Lord Grindelwald. "Very well, Very well. This Chamber is unable to reach a verdict and so the Chair recommends a recess until 10 am tomorrow. Members in favor make yourselves known."
"245 members in favor," Diggle said once he was done counting. "the motions passes."
A strangled cheer rose from the Wizengamot as there was a mad scramble for the door.
"Mr. Potter, Mr. Potter!" came the cries of the reporters as I exited the Chamber.
"You miss!" I said pointing to a good looking brunette with curly hair and an aquiline nose.
"Romilda Vane, Daily Prophet, you failed to vote for Madame Jones at all 4 nominations does this mean you're making a break from the more liberal members of the Chamber."
"Miss Vane I thought I recognized you it's been too long," I never thought I would be saying that but she had grown a lot since Hogwarts, and in all the right places as well. "To answer your question, this is my first session in the Wizengamot so I was a never a member of the liberal wing and therefore could not possibly be making a break from them. And in any case I did vote for Hermione Granger twice, the last I checked she's pretty liberal."
"You," I said pointing to a man I most certainly recognized.
"Colin Creevy, Wizarding Wireless Network. Mr. Potter why didn't you vote for Madame Jones? And do you think it's possible that you might vote for her tomorrow?"
"That's two questions Colin," I said with a small smile. "But in any case I differ from Madame Jones on several points. In particular I disagree with her when it comes to the rights of parents to decide where their children go to school. You can read about how I would go about reforming education in Britain in last Sunday's Hogsmeade Courier. Now if you'll excuse me it's been a long night and I'd rather like to get to bed."
"No one sleeps on election night Harry!" Colin called after me good naturedly.
"Mr. Potter!" came a voice before I could make good my escape.
"Yes Mister?" I asked a balding overweight man who had heretofore remained in the background.
"Richard Livingston, Hogsmeade Courier, Could you answer Colin's second question, will you be voting for Madame Jones tomorrow?"
"I think I'll have to sleep on it," I said with small smile before walking away.
With an interview like that I knew Hestia's people would be knocking on my door inside an hour and I was right too. I had barely managed to get my cloak off before the doorbell of Grimmauld Place rang.
My old friend had changed since the last time I had seen her nearly a decade ago. Gone was the innocent idealism that we all had in those days in its place was a fire that refused to be extinguished. This was a woman who would mark the world or die in the trying, though in fairness she'd always had that drive whereas I had only acquired it recently.
Hermione didn't even look like the girl I had left behind. She wore her hair straight now, something I knew must take at least an hour of work every morning and her face was caked with makeup. The poster child for being comfortable in her own skin had become an ode to Lipstick Feminism… it suited her though.
"Hermione it's been too long," I said and part of me even meant it. "Let me take your coat. Would you like Kreacher to fetch you some tea?"
"Coffee," she said gratefully. "It's going to be a busy night."
"So I take it this isn't a social visit," I said as I led her into the drawing room. The whole of Grimmauld Place had been redecorated when I moved back in and now seemed a perfectly respectable townhouse. The renovations had eaten up a substantial amount of my already limited funds, but appearances must be maintained you know.
"You would've gotten a social visit if you had let me know you were back in country!" She admonished as her eyes studied me trying to see what kind of man the last ten tears had turned me into. "Europe seems to have agreed with you."
"Lovely place," I answered, "but it's nice to be back home."
"Ron was livid when he found out you were running today and didn't even tell us."
"Yes well it was all very last minute," that was a lie on my part.
"You ran for the Wizengamot last minute," her quirked eyebrow told me exactly what she thought of that.
"Yes well when Kingsley was still around it didn't seem prudent to come back."
the two of us had quarreled right after the Battle of Hogwarts and let me tell you it wasn't pretty. Bugger seemed to think I should take my NEWTs before he let me into the Auror Corps, bah wasn't killing a Dark Lord enough?
"Over that silly little thing Harry?" she scoffed. "Hardly anybody even remembers it."
"He remembered it, I remembered it that's more than enough. Still I wish I had made amends before he died."
I wish nothing of the sort, I wish that stingy old bastard rots in a shallow grave.
"Yes his death did catch us all of guard… well know that the pleasantries are over with, what the hell do you want?"
I couldn't help but grin; it appeared that all those years I had spent in Europe had changed more people than just me. The old Hermione would've beat around the bush for at least another hour, I couldn't help but like this newer blunt version of my old friend. Her marriage to Ron had apparently been for the best.
"How about this," I said, "tell me what you are offering."
"Hestia's willing to roll over on school redistricting and up the Hogwarts budget by 10%," Hermione said cautiously.
I nearly laughed in her face, and I imagine I would have if she wasn't an old friend.
"No one runs for the Wizengamot because they think Hogwarts deserves more money Hermione. I want the Auror Office."
To her credit she didn't spit out her coffee though I could tell she very nearly did.
"Are you insane!? This is your first time in the Wizengamot and you never even passed the Auror Academy, there's no way the Wizengamot will appoint you even if Hestia nominates you."
"I would've passed the Auror Academy if Kingsley hadn't stuck his big nose into that business and more to the point where else are you going to get eight votes?"
"Do you really think you can deliver eight?" she said cautiously biting her lip.
"Trust me Hermione," I said with a grin, "I'm pretty popular."
"You were pretty poplar," she replied. "Then you went whoring around Europe for a decade, now you're just famous."
That was a low blow, but to her credit it was more or less an accurate description of my situation.
"I did more than just whore around, Hermione. I have a degree in Magical Education from la Sorbonne, and an International Law Doctorate from the Italian University of Magic."
"I read your doctoral thesis… it was interesting," she said as she sipped her coffee.
"I know I got the flowers you sent, by the way."
"Harry… you're just not old enough to head up the Auror Corps," she said nervously.
"Listen Hermione were old friends so I won't bullshit you," I said as I leaned in. "Right now Prescott, Cresswell, and god knows how many others are going around to all of Hestia's supporters and saying they should be the next Minister. And all of Hestia's supporters are thinking to themselves, 'well I like her but it doesn't look like she's going to win.' So unless the headline in tomorrow's paper is good news Hestia might as well forget about being Minister."
"You need to win tomorrow Hermione and on the first ballot or Hestia Jones will just be a foot note on the pages of history. Now if you think there's someone else out there who can get enough votes to put you over the top go for it, but you know my price."
"Amos Diggory can get us 15 if we promise not to go after house elves," she said leaning back in her chair.
I couldn't help but raise my eyebrow at that, house elves had been Hermione's pet cause for as long as anyone could remember. "Does Hestia really want to make that deal."
"No, but I can't promise you the Auror office not without talking to her first."
"Well talk away," I said glancing at my watch. "But the Hogsmeade Courier and the Prophet both go to press in an hour, their headlines can be 'Boy-Who-Lived endorses Jones,' or 'Ministry Up For Grabs."
20 minutes later I was ushered into Jones' office. The years had changed Hestia Jones from a cherry cheeked Order Member into a stone faced woman, but she did seem to still have a soft spot for me.
"Harry, Paris seems to have agreed with you," she said as we shook hands.
"And the Ministry seems to be treating you rather well." I do so hate pleasantries but they are a necessity in my line of work you understand.
"Well… the Auror Office…" she said nervously.
"Yes the Auror Office," I said with a smile.
"I don't know if I'll be able to get that past the Wizengamot… I mean you don't have much experience in that field."
"I seem to recall apprehending a Dark Lord at one point or another," I said nonchalantly.
"Yes well…" Jones said fidgeting a little in her seat. "The Wizengamot likes those people in Senior Positions to be married; they think it makes them more sound you understand…"
"I am engaged you know," I answered. "Daughter of the Baron of Sudely and all."
What can I say when it comes to women I'm a god awful elitist snob. My Daphne is one of the few aristocrats left in the Wizarding World, her father's title went back to before the Statue of Secrecy.
"Yes…" she said with a look in her eye. "What an interesting man Lord Sudely is…"
Daphne's father was retired now but when he had strode the floors of the Star Chamber he had been more of Malfoy's political stripe then Hestia's. No doubt she was wondering where my loyalties lay, and what a silly question that would be. My loyalties lay with the only person I truly trust… me.
"Hestia," I said cutting through her thought process. "The papers will go to print in an hour and a half don't forget they'll need time to develop the photos you know."
She winced before she turned to Hermione and said, "Please show Mr. Richardson in."
"Had time to sleep on it then Mr. Potter?" Richardson asked politely as he and his camera man filed into the room.
"Oh just a cat nap," I replied as I wrapped my arm around Hestia for the picture. There's an American saying I'm rather found of, 'when you got 'em by the balls their hearts and minds will follow.'
"156 Members in favor," said Diggle happily the next morning, "Madame Granger's resolution carries!"
"Hear! Hear!" came the traditional cheer of the Wizengamot, applause having been outlawed centuries ago.
"Madame Jones," called Diggle. "Are you prepared to take the oath?"
"I'm ready Mr. Diggle," Hestia said standing up, her cheeks had gone rosy again and for a second she reminded me of her younger self in the kitchen of Number 4 examining a toaster with awe.
"Madame Jones," said Diggle as Hesita knelt before the Supreme Mungwump's Chair.
"Do you solemnly promise to govern the wizards and witches of these Isles in accordance with the ancient laws and customs which they have hitherto enjoyed?"
"I promise to," Hestia replied.
"Will you to your power cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all your judgments?" asked Diggle.
"I will," she answered.
"Do you swear upon your honor to always respect the legitimacy of this Wizengamot, and its supremacy over other institutions which govern in its name? Furthermore do you swear to use your office to carry out the laws and resolutions enacted by the ancient customs of this court?"
"I do so swear," Hestia replied as the Chamber erupted in cheers. Bunch of hypocrites if they'd been loyal to her then we could've had the whole ceremony the day before. Though I shouldn't complain too much considering I was cheering right along with the rest of them.
"Order, Order!" cries Diggle, but even he regarded it as a lost cause and joined in the cheering. Glancing around the Chamber one would never be able to guess that just 12 hours ago the Coalition came within an inch of defeat.
"Order, Order!" Diggle said after the cheering had begun to die on its own. "Minister Jones, have you given thought to your appointments?"
"Indeed I have," Hestia replies, "and with your permission I would like to gauge the confidence of the Chamber in them."
"You have the floor, Madame Minister," Diggle said as he sunk back into his chair.
"I would appoint Humphrey Gumboil as the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, may I ask does he have the confidence of this Chamber?"
Two sharp taps of a cane rang out from where Prescott was sitting, which meant that now that we had a new Minister she had appointed a Chief Cane. A Cane is someone the Minister appoints to ensure that their agenda gets past the Wizengamot. As it's technically illegal for anyone, even the minister, to tell members of the Wizengamot how to vote the Chief Cane makes himself known by tapping his cane on the ground right before a vote.
One tap, means the members are free to vote their conscience. Two taps means that a minister regards the business at hand as most serious and it would be unwise to vote against her wishes. Three Taps means that voting contrary to the Minister would make a permanent enemy of her. Four taps made it a confidence vote, meaning if it wasn't passed the minister would dissolve the chamber and call for new elections.
"Will members with confidence in Mr. Gumboil make themselves known," said Diggle. I raised my wand along with the majority of the Chamber; it wouldn't due to vote against my future boss now would it?
"Mr. Gumboil has the confidence of this Chamber," decreed Diggle from his chair. "Pray continue Madame Minister."
The affair continued much the same way, having voted against appointing Minister Jones the previously reluctant liberals heartily approved of all her selections as a sort of peace offering. One by one the posts ticked down, Amos Diggory got the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, Dirk Cresswell was reconfirmed as the Head of the Goblin Liaison Office, a post he had held for nigh on 20 years. Finally she spoke the words which I had been waiting to hear for almost a year.
"I would appoint Mr. Potter to head the Auror Office, may I ask does he have the confidence of the Chamber?"
One tap rang out and then no more. I stared at Prescott in surprise, surely there had been a mistake, every other appointee had gotten two raps of the cane. But to my horror Hestia made no move to correct him.
"Members with confidence in Mr. Potter please make yourselves known," called Diggle.
I put up my wand, but to my growing anger I was decidedly in the minority. Percy raised his, but he was my beast so that was no surprise. Hermione to her credit did as well, but the majority of the liberal wing didn't, it was then that I found out what I should've known all along. I had been double crossed.
"Ah… this Chamber does not have confidence in Mr. Potter," Diggle said with an apologetic look in my direction. "As we are rather close to noon I suggest a short recess to allow the Minister to find another candidate and for the members to enjoy their lunch. The Chamber will meet back in one hour."
I practically flew out of the Wizengamot Chamber on my way to Hestia's Office, but Hermione intercepted me halfway there.
"We had deal!" I said as I glared at my one time friend.
"Be quiet and follow me," she said.
I fumed as I followed her to her old office, I wanted to rage at her and scream but I knew that making a scene would ruin what little credibility I still had left.
"We had a deal!" I said once she closed her office door.
"Our deal was we would nominate you and we did," she said nonchalantly, although she didn't quite meet my eye.
"No our deal was that you would make me the head of the Auror Office and I would win you the election. Hestia's Minister and I'm not head of the Auror Office. You broke the deal!"
"Circumstances changed," Hermione said as she sat down behind her desk.
"The nature of promises Hermione," I said my voice getting dangerously low, "is that they remain immune to changing circumstances. You used to understand that!"
"You didn't have support in the Wizengamot, there's not a lot we can do about that."
"I didn't have support because you didn't give me any!" I raged. "I was there everyone else got ramrodded through and I'm the only one that didn't get the two tap treatment. The Hermione I used to know wouldn't have turned her back on a friend like that."
That was a low blow on my part.
"Oh spare me the patronizing crap, Harry!" she snapped in a tone of voice I had frankly never heard her use before. "You've been gone for ten years, what do you think you just wave a wand kill Voldemort and everything magically gets better again!?"
"Oh that isn't fair," I said in frustration.
"Life isn't fair Harry! It's been a long ten years and believe it or not we really could've used you. Hell if you'd stayed maybe we would've elected you instead of Hestia today but you didn't. Well the rest of us stuck together and cleaned up the mess, you ran off to the French Riveria with some… woman... And now when were so close to finally stamping Malfoy and his ilk out of existence you come sailing back expecting everything to be exactly like you left it."
"The Prodigal Son returns!" she said with disgust evident in her voice. "You're my friend Harry and I'm glad you're back, but the Minister isn't going to treat the Auror Department like some fatted calf, and you know what? I think she's right."
"I'm the only reason she is the Minister! I got her elected; you can't just turn your back on me!"
"We didn't turn our back, we gave you a floor vote and you failed it," Hermione answered. "Now we are willing to give you another post, but one that's actually suited to your talents and not your ego."
"What post would that be?" I asked sarcastically.
"Undersecretary of State for Education, the Minister read your Op-Ed in the Courier and she liked it. Madame Marchbanks, the Department Head thought it was inspired."
"Do you really expect me to play second fiddle to that silly old bat! She was Dumbledore's OWL Examiner you know, she probably went senile years ago" I said.
"Harry!" she snapped. "We would really like to run this country with you, but quite frankly we've been running it without you for the last ten years."
And there was the rub, I could try and fight her but in this equation she had all the power. Once the Minister was elected I couldn't unelect her and other then that what power did I have? She was offering me a face saving way out and I hated her for it, but when you're drowning and someone throws you a rope, you don't throw it back for the sake of pride.
"I serve at the pleasure of the Minister," I said my voice full of loathing. Hestia Jones would get what was coming to her, even at that moment I was wondering how to take her down, no one double crosses me and gets away with it, no one.
"She'll be glad to hear it," Hermione said as she rose from behind her desk. "Believe it or not Harry… I… I missed you."
"Just out of curiosity if not me for the Aurors, then who?" I asked as we walked out the door.
"Dawlish," Hermione replied.
"A splendid choice," I answered.
John Dawlish, I remembered him. He had been Fudge's bodyguard the night they had come to arrest Dumbledore in my fifth year… As I recall Dumbledore gave him a thorough thrashing. That's always been Dawlish's problem though; he's a good wizard who has the unfortunate habit of being pitted against the greats. As I walked down the hall plotting his demise I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the poor bastard.
A/N So there it is my version of House of Cards set in the Harry Potter universe. I've been itching to do this ever since I watched the new Kevin Spacey series and was completely blown away by it. And before anyone says anything about Harry letting Hermione walk all over him, the story is about Harry's quest for power and revenge. If he didn't have anything to revenge then it wouldn't be much of a story.
As always please review, your constructive criticism is the only compensation I receive for this story so make it count.