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Chapter 7: Dueling for Newt's
Kingsley Shacklebolt was seated behind an ornately appointed desk. The office represented the wealth and status of his current position as Minster for Magic. Everywhere you looked you saw deep rich mahogany wood and gold fixtures, it was every bit of elegance that Kingsley wasn’t. He was a simple man who put more emphasis on friendship rather than power. Arthur Weasley sat in a chair on the opposite side of the desk, studiously reviewing a file Kingsley handed him moments before.
“Everything appears to be in order. You do realize how the Wizengamot is going to react to this piece of legislation” Arthur asked.
“I am aware but I see no other course of action” Kingsley replied.
The Minister had been in office for a few weeks now and had already replaced the leadership at the Ministry. He never applied for this position and no one held a public election, he was the appointed Minister. He could care less about poll numbers or how popular he was, he was only concerned with rebuilding the ministry in such a way that it would never fall victim to past mistakes. He needed strong leadership from his management and reforms for past laws that favored the wealthy and powerful. He knew the wizarding community was built by the common man, sure it was financed by the wealthy but that should not give them the right to strong arm the ministry. Everyone had equal status in his eyes and if he had his way with reforms, the laws would reflect his current administration.
Percy Weasley walked in just then with the final draft and sealed envelopes containing the document. Percy had been appointed as administrative assistant to the Minister. Kingsley had forgiven the young man for his past mistakes, but put him on a short leash to prevent future screw ups. Percy was a Ministry employee through and through, he followed the ministry line to a fault. That worked well in the current administration, but former Ministers had become easily manipulated by powerful and sometimes evil wizards and Percy had backed them to a fault.
Several other people walked into the minister’s office just as Percy took a seat at a small desk. It was time for the weekly staff meeting and all the department heads were expected to give progress on their departments. Arthur was there as the newly appointed director of Magical Law Enforcement which now included Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, also attending were Jacob Edgecombe who was tasked with the Department of International Magical Cooperation, Eleanor Stanrich headed up the Department of Magic Transportation, Eldridge Bagby led the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures Department, and finally Dandridge Patil ran the Department of Mysteries. Kingsley had handpicked these individuals to rebuild the ministry; he had not found a suitable candidate for the Department of Magical Sports and Games.
“Let’s bring this meeting to order. I need to know how we stand on staffing and clear up any unresolved issues from our previous meeting. Once we have staffing and damage control finished we can move on to new business” Kingsley stated as he sat back viewing his department heads.
A few hours later Kingsley sat in front of reports giving them a weekly address concerning the state of the Ministry. He was happy to report tremendous gains in productivity due to staffing resolutions in the various departments. He promised complete transparency in his governing body, and alluded to groundbreaking legislation being brought before the Wizengamot. He finished his press conference by asking for patience during this time.
Minerva McGonagall was having a very stressful week. She had been able to spend the weekend with her new ‘friend’ Kingsley and had enjoyed herself immensely. She felt like one of her school children with a crush, but today she had her hands full. There were construction workers, volunteers, engineers, historians, and all manner of lookyloos walking around Hogwarts School today. The only thing that made days like this tolerable were her favorite students stopping by and helping. Today Harry, Hermione, and Ron had wanted to volunteer; they told Minerva that they needed a break from studying in Harry’s new library. That sentence would have been all manner of wrong from most teenagers but it was perfectly acceptable from these three. Minerva was working close by and overheard a number of things that they surely wanted kept private. She walked over and told them to talk lower so they would not be overheard dicussing sensitive topics, and Hermione had a sly grin on her face.
“Well we kind of hoped you would overhear and give us your input” Hermione told the headmistress. “We have been studying very hard and it seems as if we have moved past the required course materiel for our NEWT’s a few days ago. We would like to sit our NEWT tests if at all possible.” Hermione stated with a hopeful expression
Minerva stood there silent for a few moments, it probably wouldn’t hurt to give them a practice test and evaluate their readiness based on that. It was not unheard of with special cases such as theirs. “Tell you what; let me get with the other professors that are here today and we I will try to set up an evaluation for you.” Hermione just beamed at the opportunity to graduate. All of the other professors were more than happy to test the trio and most of them wanted to do it that day, because of conflicting schedules. Minerva went upstairs and contacted Kingsley by floo and asked for his input. He saw no reason why they could not just test them outright,
“forget the practice test and surprise them with the full NEWT” he said.
Minerva came down out of her office and found the trio working with Professor Flitwick refurbishing some portraits. Harry was showing him a spell he had learned from one of Rowena Ravenclaw’s books; it was much faster and less tedious than the prior method of restoration. Harry had become a wealth of knowledge during the rebuilding of Hogwarts because of his libraries. He had access to books written by all four of the founders, including the protection, and maintenance spells. Because of his and Hermione’s studious work the rebuilding process was much easier and would finish under time and budget from the original estimations.
Minerva approached them and cleared her throat, once she had their attention
“I have been allowed to test you this evening based on the current NEWT standards, hopefully you will be ready for your examinations” she stated with pride. All three of them looked back with complete seriousness and nodded their heads,
‘even Mr. Weasley looked determined to prove himself’ Minerva thought to herself with approval.
True to his word Kingsley arrived that evening with the full allotment of NEWT testers and began the testing process for Harry, Ron and Hermione. All three would be tested on Defense against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Charms, Potion’s and Herbology, while Hermione would also take Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. These tests were to be split up between this evening and tomorrow morning. The testing began as soon as all three of them were secluded to a private classroom. The first test was Potion’s and Harry was amazed to discover how easy the written portion of the test was. He answered the questions with ease and quickly finished his test. No sooner had he laid his quill down that Hermione finished hers followed shortly by Ron. Harry turned to Ron and had to laugh at his expression; Ron was sitting there with a comically dazed grin on his face. Obviously the test was a breeze for all three of them; I guess the library time was paying off after all. After each written phase of the test they had a practical examination. The testers were amazed at how quickly the three were progressing through this test, they were ever on the lookout for cheating but none was found, clearly these three had done their homework. The first evening held Potions, Charms, and Herbology with Hermione also completing her Ancient Runes portion. That night they sat around McGonagall’s office, with the Headmistress, Minister, and Arthur Weasley. The Minister knew that their earlier tests had been graded but refused to tell them their scores until all testing was completed. They chatted about future plans and current events and that brought Harry around to an interesting topic.
“Minister Shacklebolt” Harry began and Kingsley quickly put his hand up. “Please Harry, we are old friends call me Kingsley unless we are in a formal setting.”
“Sounds good Kingsley, when will the Malfoy trial be held” Harry questioned the minister
“Actually the trial starts in two days, I was hoping to talk to you three about that very thing tonight.”
“As head of the Wizengamot do you have a sentence already planned” Harry continued to lead the conversation and Kingsley stated that he did.
Harry explained that they had talked at length on the topic, and had already come to their own conclusions. They felt Lucius should be tried and hopefully convicted of whatever charges he was accused of. He also felt that Narcissa and Draco should be tried but receive a lessened conviction based on the trio’s testimony, specifically Harry’s story about the final battle, and Draco’s reluctance to give up their identity. Kingsley sat there and took it all in remaining silent; Arthur was quick to argue because of his prejudice against the Malfoy family but Harry made an excellent point in the end.
“It is obvious that Lucius controlled that family, and Narcissa followed with whatever her husband’s wishes were. In the end she showed her only true loyalty was to her son Draco. You cannot fault a mother for only being loyal to her family. She has never been convicted of or even identified as a deatheater or criminal. Her only crime was marrying that creep Malfoy, and if we start convicting people based on stupid life choices then maybe we need a few more prisons. Draco was only trying to gain his father’s praise and respect. Then even better than his mother when the time came to show his true loyalty he went a step beyond family and attempted to protect people who were not even his friends. I believe that shows his true allegiance.” Harry finished
“Bollocks” Arthur shouted. “I want them all tried and convicted for the crimes; true colors were shown when they hung around Voldemort for all those years. Your youth blinds you to the real world” Arthur was very red faced as he said this
“What good would it do to convict the entire family for the father’s crimes? Other than to show that we are not impartial and do not consider all of the facts before passing judgments.” Harry passionately finished
Arthur began to retort when the Minister raised his hand for quiet. “Well then what do you three think would be an adequate punishment for the Malfoy family” Kingsley asked
Hermione took this one “Well for Lucius, if found guilty he should spend the remainder of his days in Azkaban prison, no parole. Narcissa and Draco would have a monitored probationary period and both would be required to enter the workforce and become productive members of society. Ninety five percent of the Malfoy estate would be remanded to a charitable organization, and Narcissa would retain the remaining five percent and the Malfoy Mansion.”
Kingsley actually like this idea, it had the potential to show his ministry was forgiving but strong as well as showing it would not tolerate outright anarchy. “Do you have a specific charitable organization in mind” He asked
This time it was Ron, “Well we have been talking about that and Harry thinks he has too much money as it is, personally I think he’s bloody crazy but it’s his money. He wanted to start a charity to help the families devastated by the wars, open orphanages for magical children and crap like that. Again I personally think he is crazy but it’s not my idea. The Malfoy’s sentence will be harsh and all convicted of working for Voldemort would be equally as harsh.”
Minerva began to cry, she had never seen such selflessness in anyone much less these three who deserved to be as selfish as they wanted. They were so young but had such modesty, and humility it was astonishing. Kingsley loved the idea and was a little irritated that he had not thought of it first, Arthur was still pretty upset but could see the benefit of handling the situation in this manner. He was having problems keeping his anger in check though and still felt the need to argue.
Arthur Weasley had changed a little when he received his promotion from Kingsley. He could no longer sit in wonder at the muggle world; he was in charge of the largest and most complicated department in the Ministry of Magic. He left home early and returned late, even at night he was forced to lay in bed unable to go to sleep due to stress from the workplace. In only a few short weeks his attitude had begun to change and his temper was starting to show. He was still the decent hard working wizard he had always been, always loving his family but work was causing unexpected changes to his attitude.
“Well since you have such a genius idea, tell me who is going to run such a large charitable organization? Let me guess, you three!” Arthur said with malice in his tone.
Harry had noticed the changes in Arthur and hoped his response would disarm him just enough to share what was troubling him. “Actually dad, I was hoping Molly and Andromeda would run it. They could appoint a treasurer and elect a board of supervisors, with the only request from our part being we could sit on the board.” Harry’s voice dripped with compassion
Harry’s disarming plan worked perfectly, Arthur broke down and apologized profusely attempting to hold back his tears. Kingsley quickly picked up on what was happening and questioned Arthur about his current state. Arthur was Ron’s dad and as good as a father to both Hermione and Harry, so when he broke down and began pouring his heart out about stress, family, loss and his feeling of inadequacy at the ministry, his kids began to cry. That night a lot of things were said and promised between the six of them. Most importantly they all agreed to stand tall amid any crisis and would always lean on each other when needed. Kingsley talked sensibly to Arthur about his current department, Arthur understood that he was not needed for every little detail and the right people were in the right places for it to run smoothly now. He should work normal hours and whatever was not finished today would always be there tomorrow, and secondly he would have a brand new assistant in the office tomorrow morning.
Kingsley and Minerva had a surprise for the trio the following morning. In the eyes of the ministry they had already completed their Defense against the Dark Arts NEWT but they needed to have some sort of test. He lined them up in the great hall with several reporters from the daily prophet. Minerva hoped their plan worked and did not cause embarrassment for the trio.
Kingsley stepped up to the front of the crowd and began to speak. “Ladies and Gentleman, all three of our students have completed all of their NEWT testing except for Defense against the Dark Arts. Having received Outstanding level in all previous test portions, we are providing a demonstration for their final test. Due to recent events they have already been given Outstanding in the DADA NEWT.” He paused and let the information sink in for the trio. All three of them stood there grinning ear to ear and hugging one another, once they realized they were now graduates and had received top honors. “Now for our demonstration, we have been given testimony by several witnesses that these three are excellent duelers. We wanted to test this by having them duel the entire testing squad, Headmistress McGonagall and Myself. Do you three agree” Kingsley asked them
Despite their reservations all three agreed to accept the duel despite the six on three odds. They all took their positions and paced off ten paces, all turned and pandemonium broke out as cheers for the duelists began. Hermione found herself up against a small squat witch that was relatively spry given her stature and an older wizard that was only putting up a halfhearted attempt. Hermione was thankful for the older man because the witch was proving to be very difficult, she was casting faster than Hermione could block, and many times she was struck by a grazing stunner. Hermione began to cast fervently and quickly incapacitated the older man but this only spurned the small witch to greater feats. She began to disapparate quickly moving from location to location causing confusion for Hermione; she was eventually struck with a disarming charm and knocked from the competition. Seeing this Harry quickly dispatched one of his competitors and threw a solid stone wall formed from the bricks of the floor in front of Ron. Ron was not aware that he was now facing three duelists and was almost struck by the small witch. Ron had his hands full already without Hermione’s witch; he was facing Kingsley and the potion master who tested him. He was not having a problem blocking the spells coming toward him, it was that his two adversaries had obviously planned their attack and one casted jinxes and curses while the other blocked. Every so often they would switch up until Harry came to his aid and brought it to a four on two rather than the two on one. Harry took advantage of the confusion among the competitors and wrapped them in a barrier spell that he guided with his hand forcing it into a spiraling ball, much like he had seen Dumbledore do with Tom Riddle. Ron began feverishly casting into the protective bubble and managed to knock the potion master out of the fight. Minerva McGonagall blasted the barrier spell away just as the small witch disarmed Ron and ended his duel. Leaving Harry with the worst odds of the day, three on one did seem a bit extreme for everyone. The spectators had never seen anyone produce spell work as fast as Harry, no one could have believed a mere seventeen year old boy could hold up to the minister, headmistress, and this little short firecracker whoever she was. The crowd still cheered at the duelists and was treated to an amazing lightshow in the great hall. Harry saw an opportunity when Kingsley and Minerva were attempting to swap positions for better leverage, he instantly cast a spell pulling the entire hall into complete darkness, he disapparated over to his two friends and immobilized them before bringing the lights back on. The little small witch stood there with a grin on her face, this was going to be a fight to the finish and Harry knew he was missing something important. One on one they circled each other looking for any sign of weakness, testing each other with quick strikes that were easily deflected or blocked. The small witch struck first with a vengeance, pouring spells from the end of her wand, never speaking a word so as not to allow Harry time to prepare for her attack. Harry countered with spell, block, spell, block until the witch fell into a routine. Harry casually cast a jelly leg jinx at her and caught her off guard, seeing his moment he seized it and shouted petrificus totalus, immediately followed by expelliarmus. Harry was spent; he had used up all of his energy in that duel.
As the trio walked over to the competitors the small witch began to hunch over and her skin began to ripple. Harry raised his wand at her because he quickly realized she had taken polyjuice potion, she was not who she appeared to be. Moments later standing there in front of them was a middle age wizard with blonde hair and ladies clothes a few sizes too small. He had a stupid impish grin on his face as he stared at the ground in complete embarrassment. Kingsley was livid as he looked down at the man, then he quickly tried to get the situation under control and hide the man from the reporters that were trying to take pictures. Obviously one of them had slipped through because the following morning everyone knew the magical prodigy, boy wonder, seventeen year old Harry Potter had beaten John Dawlish head auror in an outright duel.
A/N – Finally, it took seven chapters to get all of that out of the way. I wanted to set up the first few weeks after the war but I couldn’t just skip the details. Now we can get the story started.
As I have asked before, please review. Remember that everything you know is JK Rowling and new stuff