Chapter 12 : The Minister
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Harry had read the Prophet that morning. He’d seen the photograph of himself slam his fist into Malfoy’s face time and time again. He couldn’t deny that he derived a bit of pleasure seeing blood spurting down the blonde man’s robes, but mostly he was angry.
He walked into the Minister’s office completely ignoring the cries of the secretary that he was busy and to call in later for an appointment. He dropped the paper on the older man’s desk in disgust. “Have you seen this?” He spat in disgust.
“I believe a few papers may have crossed my desk this morning,” Minister replied. He looked tenser than usual, but Harry was too enraged to notice.
“How could you let this happen?”
“Excuse me?” The Minister asked, a bit taken aback.
“Don’t you have any control over the rubbish they put out? They could be searching for my daughter, but instead they’re publishing this!” Harry jabbed his finger at the image and both wizards watch as Harry brought his fist up to meet Draco Malfoy’s face yet again.
The Minister winced. “Harry,” he said, pushing the paper away so he wouldn’t have to see it anymore. “I have been doing damage control a good part of the morning attempting to explain to the press why one of my top advisors punched a man for no clear reason.”
“I had a reason! That bastard knows where Lily is, you can see it in his eyes.” Harry pointed to his own as an example and the Minister stared into the steely green orbs.
“There’s no evidence,” he said with a sigh. “Is it possible that you’re only seeing what you want to see? Ever since Voldemort’s downfall he’s been the perfect citizen. There’s been no inclination-”
“Well of course he has!” Harry burst out without letting the Minister finish. “He was biding his time. If he’d been spouting Voldemort’s message all these years he wouldn’t have had a chance at my daughter. You’re playing right into his hands, thinking exactly what he wants you to think.”
The Minister rubbed his forehead tiredly. Harry was one of his best advisors and had real insight on policies he was trying to get passed, but the man had a temper and sometimes, just sometimes, he began to think he was a bit paranoid, much like the late Mad Eye Moody. Spending so many years going after Dark wizards did that to people.
This reminded the Minister that he had been thinking of setting up meetings to discuss mandatory hiatuses for Aurors and hit wizards. Some of them spent too much of their lives hunting criminals that they began to see a web of lies in everyone.
“This is the reason I wanted you kept out of the investigation. You can’t keep your emotions out of the equation. You’re never going to find your daughter if you keep acting the way you have been.”
Harry looked at the Minister with unadulterated rage on his face. “I seem to be the only one who cares about finding her at all!”
“Potter!” The Minister barked. “I have personally ensured that the best team of hit wizards and most skilled Auror pair have teamed up to find. If anyone can find, it will be them. What I need you to do is take a step back, go home, and spend time with your family. I’m sure they need you.”
“I’m not just abandoning my daughter!”
“I don’t want to do this to you Harry, but if you insist upon pursuing this I don’t have much of a choice. I’m going to have to suspend you from all duties.” The Minister felt guilty. His hand was forced- he couldn’t have someone close to him who was sick with grief and breaking laws. He needed calm, levelheaded advisors.
Harry was incensed. No one listened to him anymore. Everyone else, including his own family, seemed content to let the Aurors handle the investigation. He wasn’t going to let someone else look for his daughter while he sat on his arse. They hadn’t found her yet so they must have been doing something wrong.
“Then consider this my official resignation,” Harry said coldly. “I won’t be returning. Ever.”
“Harry, please be rational,” the Minister begged.
“Rational? My daughter is missing! Nothing in this world is rational!” He stormed out of the office leaving a very distraught Minister behind him.
The old wizard groaned as he massaged his temple. The press was going to come down hard on him for losing such a valuable advisor, especially so soon after the disappearance of Lily Potter. It was going to take a lot of damage control to contain this mess.
“Elena?” He called out to his secretary. “Please have Head Auror Penglaze sent to my office immediately. We have some new developments to discuss.” Elena nodded her head and scurried off to find the other wizard. The Minister reached into his desk and pulled out an old brief, anything to take his mind off of the downward spiral that had become his political career.
Hermione had gone home. She told herself it was because she needed to do laundry, get more clothes, clean up the house, any number of menial chores that could have waited. The real reason she went home was that she needed distance from the Potter house.
She’d been there almost every minute of every day since Lily’s disappearance nearly a week. She had trouble breathing in there sometimes. Ginny’s grief and Harry’s anger were suffocating.
A crash from their kitchen startled her and she hurried out of the laundry to see what the commotion was. Ron was repairing a cracked vase somewhat sheepishly. Hermione lowered her wand and breathe a sigh of relief, glad it was only her husband and not a Dark wizard.
“What are you doing, Ron?” Hermione demanded.
Ron spun around in surprise, dropping the just repaired vase to the floor again. “Oh Merlin, ‘Mione. You surprised me. What are you doing here?” He charmed the vase again, levitating the repaired thing to a more secure location on the table.
“I came back to do laundry. What are you doing here?”
Ron looked instantly guilty. “Hiding from Harry. He had a row with the Minister about access to the investigation.”
“Again? He needs to learn that being Harry Potter won’t get him everything he wants,” Hermione said, exasperated. Usually Harry liked to live in anonymity, pretending he was just an ordinary wizard, but he wasn’t above using his fame when he though he needed to.
“Yeah, well you try telling him that. He bit my head off for just suggesting he go home to take a rest.” Ron shook his head. “According to Schwartz he resigned, quit on the spot when the Minister refused to help him.”
Hermione’s mouth dropped open. “He did what? The Minister is a powerful man to have as an enemy.”
“He quit his job, that’s hardly cause for an enemy. I was more concerned with his access to the investigation. If he doesn’t know every detail that happens…” Ron shook his head. He’d witnessed Harry illegally going through the Aurors’ notes and evidence once already, and that was with access to the case. Without- he could just imagine being an accomplice to breaking into the Ministry.
“It’s a political move, Ron. Harry’s a beloved public figure and his resignation will be seen as him withdrawing support from the current Minister. With that and not being able to find Lily, this is really bad for him. It implies a cover up in the investigation.”
Ron looked at his wife with a confused look on his face. He had never been quite as politically savvy as her and couldn’t see how she’d made the leap from Harry’s resignation to a cover up. “But there hasn’t been a cover up. I’ve been privy to everything.”
“It doesn’t matter if there actually was, just that it looks like there was. The Minister is a powerful man and this is all going to come down on him now.” Hermione sighed in frustration.
Harry probably had no idea the can of worms he had opened up. His only concern was finding his daughter and Hermione was worried with this latest move he would meet more resistance in the Ministry. They certainly weren’t going to be pleased when the press got wind of the whole thing.
“This is really bad, Ron,” she said. “If he does anything illegal, they might try to prosecute him, stick him in Azkaban if he breaks into the Ministry again.”
Ron shook his head. He could understand why the Minister was angry now, but he still didn’t think they’d go as far as to try something like that. He may have been disgraced in their eyes, but he was still Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived and Defeated the Dark Lord.
“Look,” Ron said. “I’ve met the Minister and he’s a decent bloke. With Lily missing I’m sure they won’t do anything to Harry.”
“They’ll discount him the way they did Dumbledore after Voldemort came back. Remember? Harry will become the distraught father, mad with grief.” Ron shrugged. He didn’t really see how this could be a bad thing. It was mostly true, Harry was distraught. Maybe he wasn’t crazy, but he sure put up a good face for it sometimes.
“Maybe that’s a good thing,” he ventured, something he wouldn’t have said if there was a chance anyone but his wife could hear it. “You know how he’s been lately. Those aren’t the actions of a wizard in his right mind.”
“Maybe you’re right,” Hermione conceded. “But I would still feel better if you tried to keep him away from the Ministry.”
“By doing what? Staking out Malfoy’s Manor?” Ron asked sarcastically. Hermione raised an eyebrow at him and he sighed. “Fine, but when they throw me in Azkaban for being an accomplice to whatever it is that he plans on doing, you’d better be prepared to hire me a good lawyer.”
A/N: I've been so distracted by college lately that I haven't had time to really revise these last few chapters, but I'll try to get on that soon. Did you have any idea college was a stressful environment? =) Thanks for the lovely comments!
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