Chapter 1 : Prologue
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There had been moments in the life of Amos Diggory that had seemed to him to stretch out before him like a flexible infinity, the spring of which was entirely dependent on where he, personally, prodded it, and how hard.
This was not one of those moments. When presented with this million-galleon question he had not paused a moment to gather his wits about him, or brace himself by leaning casually against the desk behind him. No, this question’s answer did not bear agonizing over; it was all perfectly clear, so extremely, crystal clear that the idea of having deliberately scheduled an appointment with him to ask it seemed suddenly a subject of the most hilarious quality. He had himself a laugh about it, glancing out at the neatly-dressed board presented before him: there was Percy Weasley, head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation; Heinrich VonSomething-or-Other, Headmaster of Durmstrang; Ancient Madame Maxime, Headmistress of Beaubatons; and Filius Flitwick, Headmaster of Hogwarts. How absolutely ticklish that the brains of all four of these colossal figures hadn’t it in them to preconceive his answer; how dashing! How foolish!
It did not escape the attention of Mr Diggory, Minister For Magic, that these four characters shared each of them with the other a look that procured their confusion plain for the eye to see. This fact, of course, amusing him further, produced another peal of laughter so rambunctious that he toppled over onto his desk, upsetting a pot of violently purple ink onto the sleeve of his robes and a draft of a peace treaty with Greenland.
The four grandiose wizards and witches also inhabiting the wide room resisted the urge to scratch their necks, twiddle their thumbs, and jump to their feet to wallop Britain’s most-respected Minister for Magic on the back of the head. The way he was writhing was distinctly characteristic of a flobberworm-horklump-hybrid’s mating dance, which was not the thing one would like to have been thinking about at the present moment. With all due respect, Mr Weasley cleared his throat and clasped his wrist in a manner that demanded attention. Mr Diggory’s laughter slowly subsided, and in a matter of moments he was sitting atop his writing desk, red-faced and wheezing, still chuckling every once in a while under his breath in a shallow kind of way.
“If you don’t mind, Sir, it’s getting on in the day and we’d like to be able to make an announcement to the staff, Sir, if you understand.”
“Why, Mr Weasley--Percy, if I may,” the Minister for Magic said, pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiping his eyes, then his forehead, and storing it away again. “You seem a bright chap, decently-intelligent fellow, I should say.”
Mr Weasley puffed considerably. Madame Maxime may or may not have rolled her eyes.
“You should realise, then, the absolute tom-foolery of calling this meeting. I should have hoped more of your mental faculties, if you catch my meaning. My boy, there is only one answer in this world which I can supply to a question of such a ridiculous nature--and that is, quite predictably, no.”
a/n: "an improbable fiction" is dubbed thus due to the genius of none other than William Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night, in which Fabian says, "If this were play'd upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction."
(that is pretty much a summary of how serious this novel is about to be...so read on!)