Chapter 29 : Ministry Districts
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We got him.
That was all it said, but it didn't need to say anything else. His dad probably couldn't say anything else in a letter, anyway. Albus folded up the parchment and shoved it into his bedside table. He glanced at the clock and realized there was no point in going back to bed since classes would start in two hours.
Instead, he got started on that week's Charms reading while he waited for John to wake up. This took a good hour and when he finally did wake up, it took him fifteen minutes to fully wake up and get dressed. John was not one for mornings.
Albus waited until they were in the Great Hall for breakfast to tell John about the letter from his dad, so that he could tell Kaden, Rose, and Amanda, too. Luckily they managed to find a relatively secluded part of the table.
“I got a letter from my dad this morning,” Albus said as he scooped eggs onto his plate. “They got him.”
“Oh thank God!” Rose exclaimed.
“Did he tell you about it?” John asked.
“No,” Albus said. “But I'm sure it'll be in the Prophet tomorrow.”
The group decided to eat a very quick lunch later in order to visit Matt before their afternoon classes. Albus wanted to tell him about Greyback as soon as possible.
Albus found it incredibly difficult to keep his mouth shut during potions because the rest of his classmates were discussing Greyback and whether he had attacked anyone the previous night. Janie Creevey swore she saw him on the grounds from her dormitory window last night, but Karina and Marina said it was only a dog. Two of the Slytherins said they heard howling all night, and Scorpius said one of the older students had received a letter from his brother claiming to have seen Greyback in Diagon Alley. It seemed that Albus and his friends were the only ones in the entire castle who knew Greyback had been captured.
Scorpius Malfoy left potions early after speaking in whispers with Slughorn. Whatever it was it was a good excuse since Slughorn actually let him go. Albus thought this was very curious, but didn't dwell on it since his mind was still racing about Greyback. He wanted details about the capture, but probably wouldn't get any until he read the article in the Prophet.
“Anyone know why Malfoy left?” John asked as they hurried up to the Great Hall for lunch.
“No idea,” Albus said. “Maybe he was ill?”
“He didn't look ill,” John said. “I suppose if he is ill we'll see him in the hospital wing.”
Albus and his friends ate the fastest lunch they'd ever eaten and rushed up to the hospital wing. Kaden had Herbology after lunch and would need a good bit of time to get there, so they wanted to spend as much of lunch as possible in the hospital wing.
Madam Pomfrey was busy berating a student for trying to charm her hair pink and had charmed it all off instead and didn't notice Albus and the others walk in. Only one bed was occupied and the curtains were drawn around it.
“Guess Malfoy's not here,” John said as he led the group over to Matt's bed.
John pulled the curtains back and Albus saw that Matt was sitting up in bed, eating lunch. This month he was sporting a bandage wrapped around his entire head and ones on his hands as well. He seemed to be having a bit of difficulty holding his sandwich.
“They better have caught him,” Matt said as he dropped his sandwich. “Dammit. I can't go another month wrecking my hands.”
“They did,” Albus said. “My dad owled me this morning, but he didn't give me any details.”
“I knew he was there,” Matt said. “The wolf wanted to get out again and this time I banged my head repeatedly against the door.” He gestured to the head bandages.
“I don't think you'll have to worry about that again,” John said. “They'll probably put twice as many guards on Greyback's cell.”
“I think this is the worst headache I've ever had in my life,” Matt muttered.
John grinned mischievously. “Shall Kaden and I do a repeat of last week's prank?”
Matt gave him a look of murder. “If you do, I'll kill you and I won't be responsible for my actions.”
“Just kidding,” John said.
“Madam Pomfrey wants me to eat lunch and then she's going to give me enough sleeping draught to sleep until dinner. I can't wait.”
“Well, I'm going to have a lovely afternoon of fertilizing magical plants with dragon dung,” Kaden said. “So aside from the turning into a wolf thing and the raging headache, I'm kind of jealous.”
“I'd take the dragon dung,” Matt said and then turned to Albus. “Embry is announcing who gets to watch the last debate today, isn't he?”
Albus shook his head. “They've actually put it off two more weeks. It was in the paper this morning. I guess they want it fresh in people's minds or something. Plus, we've got Quidditch Saturday and dueling Sunday.”
“Is Gryffindor playing?” Matt asked.
“Hufflepuff and Slytherin,” Albus said. “If Hufflepuff wins, then we'll be ahead in points. But if Slytherin wins, we'll probably be behind them.”
“Here's hoping for Hufflepuff, then,” Matt said. He glanced at his half-eaten sandwich. “I think I've given up on eating. I don't mean to kick you lot out, but I'm really looking forward to sleeping.”
“Not a problem,” Albus said. “We'll see you later.”
“I think I'll be back tomorrow,” Matt said. “Unless this headache doesn't go away.”
John glanced at the clock. “Brilliant. There's enough time for me to run back to the Great Hall for an eclair before Transfiguration.”
“I'll join you,” Kaden said.
“Me, too,” Albus agreed.
The girls decided that a second dessert was in order as well, so the whole group hurried back to the Great Hall before their next class. On the way there Albus realized just how much better he felt now that Greyback was once again behind bars.
“Teddy arrested him!” Albus exclaimed at breakfast the next morning. He'd just finished reading the article about Greyback.
“Seriously?” Rose exclaimed, grabbing the Prophet. “I didn't even know he went on that mission.”
Albus nodded. “It was him, my dad, your dad, and Matt's dad. Plus Newman and a few Werewolf Control Unit employees. And those kids who got attacked last week were captured, too. Apparently their parents didn't put any wards up on the shed they were in.”
“That's stupid,” Rose said.
“Was anyone hurt?” Amanda asked.
“No,” Albus said.
“Oh, look, they've quoted Laurentis,” Rose said. “Listen to this. 'Greyback's recapture is wonderful news for wizarding Britain. I applaud both the Auror Department and the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures for their collaboration in this capture, especially Harry Potter and Walter Eckerton. However, there are still four prisoners at large. The work is not done and we must remember this before celebrating.'”
“Did they quote your uncle?” John asked.
“No,” Rose said. “It says he hasn't made a statement about it yet.”
“I honestly think that this is only going to make his support of your dad look better,” Amanda said. “Laurentis can try, but this is a success. I mean, just look at the article. Absolutely nothing went wrong with that capture. There were three werewolves on the loose in Hogmseade and nobody got attacked. It's that simple.”
Albus hadn't thought about it in that way, but it was true. Three loose werewolves would normally be a nightmare for a quiet village like Hogsmeade, but thanks to the Aurors and the Werewolf Control Unit employees, nobody got hurt.
“I'll just be happy when this election is over,” Albus said.
“You're telling me,” Cedric said as he sat down across from Albus. “I don't even care who wins anymore.”
Hufflepuff somehow managed to squash Slytherin during Saturday's Quidditch match. Albus chalked this up to the fact that Hufflepuff had the best team they'd had in years, and that Slytherin's Keeper had landed himself in the hospital wing after blowing up his potion on Friday, earning him a ban from the match by Madam Pomfrey. But whatever the reason actually was, it was certainly beneficial to Gryffindor.
Albus awoke early on Sunday, suddenly riddled with nerves about the dueling tournament. This month's tournament was the second to last of the year since all the professors had agreed to end it earlier due to exams. Many of the seventh years had expressed that they couldn't supervise practices while studying for N.E.W.T.s. But this meant that Albus only had two more chances to secure a win for his team, something that hadn't happened yet this year.
Albus and Amanda were the first of their team to arrive in the Great Hall before the tournament. The rest of the team trickled in slowly as they waited. Five minutes before the tournament was scheduled to begin, the only person missing was Malfoy.
“It's not like him to be late,” Amanda commented. “Usually he's here early telling you what an awful job as captain you do.”
“No, it's not,” Albus agreed as he stood up to get a better look at the doors. “I don't see him.”
“He wasn't in potions the other day,” Amanda reminded Albus. “Actually, I haven't seen him since he left potions early on Tuesday.”
Albus thought back and realized Amanda was right. “Oi!” he called to his group of Slytherin teammates. “Any of you know where Scorpius Malfoy is?”
“He went home,” one of the third years said. “No idea why. He hasn't been here since Tuesday.”
“He went home?” Albus repeated, staring at the third year. “That's odd.”
The third year shrugged. “He didn't tell anyone anything about it. He just left.”
Albus had to admit that this news gave him as much disappointment as confusion. Scorpius Malfoy was one of the team's best duelers, no matter how annoying he was.
“No one goes home when it's not a holiday,” Amanda said.
“Yeah, not unless they're really ill or something awful happened to their family,” Albus said.
“Attention students!” Neville called out. “The tournament is about to begin!”
Albus managed to push all thoughts of Malfoy out of his mind for the duration of the tournament. Most of his teammates dueled well, although only Albus and a few other fourth years won both their duels. In the end they secured third place, which was certainly better than a good portion of the rest of the teams, but still wasn't first. They were still in the running for winning overall at the end of the season, but they'd need to do really well in the final tournament.
Albus and Amanda met the rest of their friends in the Marauder's Den after the tournament was over.
“Did Malfoy skip the tournament?” John asked as soon as they entered. “Not that I'm complaining since your team probably would've beat mine if he had showed.”
“Apparently he went home on Tuesday,” Albus said. “I'm assuming that's why he left potions early, but no one has any idea why he went.”
“Maybe his parents took him on holiday,” Matt said. “They seem the type to do that.”
“You're not allowed to miss classes unless it's a good excuse,” Rose pointed out. “I don't think going on holiday is a good excuse.”
“I think something bad is happening to someone in his family,” Amanda said quietly. “Remember that letter he was reading during practice? And how quiet he's been lately?”
“I'll ask Elsie Willinson,” Rose said. “I tutor her tomorrow. Chances are that Malfoy told Felix about whatever's going on so maybe Elsie knows, too.”
But whatever was going on with Scorpius Malofy, Elsie Willinson was just as clueless as Albus and his friends. She either had no idea or refused to tell Rose, despite the fact that Rose prodded her about it ever ten minutes during their tutoring session on Monday.
Malfoy returned to classes on Tuesday, walking into potions fifteen minutes late, and Slughorn made no mention of his tardiness or the classes he missed the previous week. Albus attempted to watch his face during class but he gave no clues about his emotions.
“Hey, Malfoy!” Albus shouted as they left the classroom a short while later.
Malfoy spun around and met Albus's eye. He didn't look angry, nor was he sneering. Instead, he just looked lost. “What do you want, Potter?”
“Missed you at the tournament Saturday,” Albus said, hoping Malfoy would tell him where he'd been.
“Bet you didn't win without me,” Malfoy replied.
“Third place,” Albus answered. “Where were you?”
“None of your business, Potter,” Malfoy said as he turned around. He sped up and was soon lost in the sea of students hurrying to the Great Hall for lunch.
The following week passed quickly and Albus soon forgot about Malfoy and his mysterious disappearance. The election was now only a week away and everyone in the castle, students, professors, and ghosts alike were talking about it. With only one debate remaining, it was up in the air as to who would win. The Prophet published a poll they'd taken and neither candidate had a significant lead on the other.
“Kingsley Shacklebolt, former Head of the Auror Department, was the last Minister of Magic selected by the Wizengamot,” Professor Banks said in class two days before the final debate. “His selection was very quick and he stepped into office the day after Voldemort's death. While most of the wizarding world knew that the Ministry needed an overhaul, they also needed someone to take charge and supervise the overhaul.
“Shacklebolt held office for three years while supervising the drastic changes that made the Ministry of Magic the governing entity we see today.”
Albus had met Kingsley Shacklebolt a few times and found him slightly intimidating, but funny at the same time. He just had a very commanding presence and Albus wasn't surprised he'd been made Minister of Magic after the war.
“The three years Shacklebolt held office were very tumultuous. Decisions had to be made, drastic ones, and they were not easy. The first and most obvious decision was the decision to change the way the Wizengamot was set up. The Wizengamot as it was was incredibly corrupt. Remember that prior to this redesign every pureblooded family held a seat on the Wizengamot, but this left half-blood and Muggle-born witches and wizards without representation.
“Shacklebolt, along with the other Ministry officials working to reorganize the Wizengamot looked to the Muggle world for inspiration. The previous Wizengamot bore more resemblance to the Muggle House of Lords, the Upper House of Parliament. It was decided that the Wizengamot ought to more closely resemble the House of Commons, the Lower House of Parliament. In the Muggle world, these representatives are called Members of Parliament, MPs for short, and are elected. In the wizarding world, they are simply called members of the Wizengamot.
“Members of the Wizengamot then began being elected by the general public, much like MPs are elected in the Muggle world. Each member has a district, although figuring out these districts was far more difficult than it was in the Muggle world. Does anyone have a guess as to why?”
Amanda raised her hand. “Yes, Miss Tagger?” Banks said.
“Witches and wizards aren't as uniformly spread out throughout the United Kingdom,” Amanda explained. “In the Muggle world the districts are very much based on towns, but wizards don't really have towns.”
“Correct,” Banks said. “Because of this the districts, if shown on a map, would look vastly different in terms of size. For example, London has three separate districts because there is a very large wizarding population in London. It's far easier for wizards to blend in in a large city than a small town since things generally go unnoticed in big cities. On the other hand, Wales only has two districts, and therefore two representatives, since it's much less densely populated by wizards.”
Albus didn't have a clue as to who his district's representative was, or even what district he lived in. It was one of three, as he now knew.
“I've taken the liberty of printing a map with a list of all the representative and district numbers,” Banks said as he began passing out sheets of parchment. “I'd hazard a guess than very few of you know what district you're in or who your representative is.”
Albus looked at the sheet after he received it. London seemed to be divided into West London, North London, and East/South London. North London, where Albus lived, was District Two, currently represented by a bloke named Oliver Prang.
“Elections are held every five years,” Banks said. “None of the representative are up for election this year, but most are up for election next year. None of you will be of age to vote in next year's election, but I suggest you read up on your representatives views and beliefs anyway.
“To entice you to learn,” Banks continued as he walked around his desk, “I am assigning an essay, due in two weeks. Figure out who your representative is and write me a foot-long essay detailing your representative's beliefs and whether you agree with them or not. I suggest looking at old copies of the Prophet as well as archived transcriptions of Wizengamot meetings, both available in the library. You are welcome to use any other sources as you see fit.”
There was a general groan from the class, which made Banks grin. He always seemed to love assigning homework.
“Now onto the more exciting news,” Banks said. “This Saturday is the final debate and four of you will be able to attend. I apologize in advance for those whose names have not been chosen, but there simply were not enough debates. As usual, the rest of you will listen to the debate in the Transfiguration classroom.
“The two from Hufflepuff are Sam Bordeaux and Cassie Hornell. The Gryffindors are John Brickston and Janie Creevey. Your essay on this debate, to be formatted like the previous two, will be due in a week. Class dismissed.”
“I knew it would be me,” John said as the packed up. “Bilius and Ethan have already gone and you two get to go every time.”
“I hadn't even realized that,” Albus said.
“Karina's the only one of us who won't get to go,” Rose pointed out.
“That essay, though...” John said. “The one on our representatives. That's going to take forever.”
“Not if you do your research right,” Rose said as they left the room.
“Any of you in District seven?” John asked.
The rest of the group shook their heads. They compared district numbers, but none of them were in the same. Rose and Matt were the closest, with their districts bordering on each other.
“I guess we're all doing our own research then,” John said with a sigh.
Rose gave him a satisfied smirk, clearly happy that she wouldn't have to cope with John attempting to bum off her research. Albus wished that he and Rose were in the same district because he, like John, did not relish doing this research. Usually they only had to use their textbooks for research, but not this time. This time, their textbooks wouldn't help at all.
A/N: Thanks for all the reviews! It's time for the annual Dobby awards at HPFF and nominations are now open! Head to the forums to nominate your favorite story (such as this one, *hint, hint*). There is a link to the forums on the right side of the page. Be sure to read the rules before you nominate! We hate having to disqualify stories for broken rules.
The information about the Muggle Ministry was adapted from the House of the Lords and the Parliament Wikipedia pages. I hope I got everything right, but I'm not British, so feel free to point out any errors.
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