Chapter 30 : Ch 30 More duties but a vacation too.
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Harry had a message to go to Al VanLente’s office when he got in, and so he went first to Al’s office. Al greeted him warmly, kind of kidding him by saying “How are you, Sir Harry O.B.E., OMx3.” “
Please” said Harry, “I’ll put that stuff on official documents because I have to, but none of that here. I’m embarrassed.”
“You are a nice guy, and I like you” said Al. “You are not easy to manage, though. Sometimes I think managing you is like trying to manage cold slaw. I don’t know how fine they think they can chop you and have anything left.”
Al said it with a big smile on his face, obviously in good humour, so Harry just said “Now what do they want me to do, and who is “they” anyway.”
Al answered “In this case “they” is the International Confederation of Witches and Wizards, the group responsible for The International Code of Wizarding Secrecy, and lots more. Harry, what did your history of magic classes teach you about The International Confederation of Witches and Wizards?”
“Not much” answered Harry “and our teacher, professor Binns, is a ghost who lectures are as dead as he is, so I did not pay enough attention.”
Al said “Do you remember anything about the history of the International Confederation of Witches and Wizards, where it is located, how often it meets?” asked Al.
“History was almost all British history, or things related to Great Britain” said Harry.
Al looked at him and said “I was afraid of that. I know Britain is an island, but I forget just how insular you can be sometimes, the Wizarding community in particular.
“There have been magical people in the area we now call Switzerland for over 4,000 years. Almost 3,500 years ago some Egyptian and Greek wizards went looking for a secure place to hold copies of the treasures of the magical world. They were joined a short time later by the Chinese, and slowly all the known groups in the magical world had a representation in Switzerland. The valley they set up in, and the vast mountain caverns that have been carved out, have been totally hidden to Muggles for over 3,000 years. It is the largest area in the world hidden to Muggles. It is not easy in this age of satellite photo mapping and GPS systems to keep anything hidden, much less an entire beautiful valley in the heart of populated Europe.
“The International Confederation of Witches and Wizards has always been somewhat of a representational group, and in fact Albus Dumbledore was Chief Mugwump for years. The valley itself, however, and the treasures in it, has been run by a family in charge of the Swiss valley, and the governing of the valley has been partly democratic and partly family. Who is in charge, what family, has changed a few times over the centuries. There is a lot of magic and a lot of tradition that is tied to who is the nominal head of the valley, and the right person, a Wizard or Witch who has proven their power and who can be in turns a good politician and a dynamic leader can really influence the decisions of the International Council of Witches and Wizards.
“Tom Riddle wanted to be head of valley and own the property in it, which is why he killed the Rothchilds. He did not meet the requirements of the constitution, if you can call it that, however. There has been no nominal head since Riddle killed the Rothchilds.”
“Why couldn’t Tom Riddle inherit?” asked Harry.
Al explained, “It is very clear in the documents of the Swiss that the person who is nominal head, Chief Wizard of the Valley or Regent, must be of age, married and either is capable of having children or already has children. Riddle gave up the ability to have children in his search for personal immortality.”
“No B…” Harry pointed to his privates.
“Smaller than a baby’s, not functional,” Al said. “I doubt you and Ginny would be as happy as you seem to be with each other if you were not, shall we say, sexually compatible, and able to make a baby when the time comes.”
Harry laughed, and said, “You can’t believe how eager Ginny was, not that I wasn’t eager as well! As far as I know there is no problem in that department.”
Al said, “The next meeting of the International Confederation of Wizards is the end of June and the first part of July, and I understand that the Swiss want to examine you next week and get a start on the estate problems., They want you in Switzerland starting Thursday morning for a couple of days.”
“And I have to do this,” said Harry, less of a question than a statement.
Al replied, “If you want changes for the better, for wizard Muggle relations, for house elves, for Muggle born, you are going to want to do this and are going to need to do this.
“The trouble is,” said Harry, “I need to do too many things. I thought that after I killed Riddle I would have a chance to rest. Well I really thought I would be dead, but if I lived I thought I could rest, at least have a little time. It’s been a year. Ginny and I had two and a half days for our honeymoon, at the house in London that is being remodelled now. And Christmas was time off sort of, but with all the tension of the attack and at my in-laws house. Is it all right if I feel tired?”
“When was your last real vacation, Harry?” asked Al. “A couple of weeks without deadlines, nothing to do but enjoy yourself.”
“Last summer was right after the battle, and the longest time off was the brief honeymoon after the wedding, and there was a different kind of pressure there. Oh it was very nice, but not quite the same thing. And the summer before that was when we were getting ready to hunt for … not really a vacation then either. Maybe the summer before that at the Burrow. So it has been kind of three years.”
Harry looked at Al and said, “I just feel stretched too thin. One more major thing in my life. Do I really have to do this Swiss thing?”
Al looked at Harry. “So who do you ask to get some time off?”
“I don’t know,” said Harry. “I suppose I work for Robards, but he does not think I put in enough time as it is, always running off to do other things. My brother-in-law Bill is supposed to work for me, but sometimes I am not sure who works for whom. Kingsley is probably the closest thing I would have to a boss, but he has almost nothing to do with my schedule except for the Wizengamot. Who would I ask for some time off? Maybe that’s my problem. I feel no control over my own schedule.”
Al said, “Harry, you need to take control of your own schedule. You will never have a single boss, and you’re always going to have to negotiate your way around conflicting responsibilities and expectations. Negotiate a two week vacation for yourself and Ginny this summer in July. I will make sure not to disturb you unless it is at least as big as the attack on you over Christmas. You could ask Bill the same.”
“Yes,” said Harry with a grin, “and I could make sure only Fleur knew how to contact us. She’d protect us.”
“Yes she would,” said Al. “I wish I could say you did not have to go to Switzerland, but the Swiss have been waiting for you for half a year, and it really is time. Harry, this Swiss thing, yea, you NEED to do it.”
Harry thought he ought to approach Kingsley Shacklebolt first, and he made his way up to the office of the Minister. Kingsley’s secretary greeted Harry warmly, and he told Harry that Kingsley was in a meeting that should be over soon, and he was sure Harry could slip in before the next people were scheduled to see Kingsley. About ten minutes later three people came out of the office, and Kingsley saw Harry.
“Do you have a couple of minutes?” Harry asked.
“For you I’ll make time,” Kingsley said as he waved Harry into his office and closed the door. “What can I do for you now, Harry?”
“I need a vacation,” Harry said. “Al VanLente says I need a vacation, and I feel I do.”
“Then take one,” Kingsley said.
“Do you know about this Swiss thing?” asked Harry.
“I’m a member of the International Council of Witches and Wizards. Yes I do,” Kingsley replied.
“I’m supposed to be working for Gawain Robards, but … that’s a real awkward situation. I’m supposed to be working for him but I tell him my schedule,” Harry said.
“Oh yes,” Kingsley Shacklebolt remarked, shaking his head and smiling. “There are the official lines of power, the lines on an organizational chart, and then there is the real power structure. Officially you are an Auror Trainee, and that’s how you are being paid. In reality you are maybe the second or third most powerful person in the Ministry, and if you were power hungry you would probably be after my job and maybe even getting it.”
“I don’t want your job!” exclaimed Harry. “I’m having enough trouble just being Harry Potter, Auror trainee.”
“You are doing an excellent job, Harry,” Kingsley said. “Just tell Gawain that you have talked to Al and to me, and announce what your schedule is going to be. And stay as nice as you always are, and keep Gawain as a friend and ally. He’s a good man.”
“Yes, sir,” Harry answered as he left the office.
Harry headed down to the Auror department to talk to Gawain Robards. Again he was waved into the office.
“What does the Auror office need to do for Mr. Potter now?” asked Gawain in a resigned tone of voice.
“Have you heard about this Swiss thing?” asked Harry.
“Yes, you have to go there,” Gawain replied. “I knew about it and you sure don’t need my permission to go.”
“Al VanLente says I need a vacation, and to be perfectly honest I feel I need one, I mean Ginny and I haven’t even had a real honeymoon and I’m just being pulled in so many different directions and I feel like my brain needs a rest,” Harry blurted out.
“Like I have any control over your schedule,” Gawain said, shaking his head. “Officially you are an Auror Trainee, and sometimes I feel like you are my boss.”
“I’m not trying to act like that, Mr. Robards, really,” Harry pleaded. “I don’t think I’ve ever tried to tell you what to do. If I’ve ever been out of line tell me, sir.”
“Actually, SIR Harry, that’s one of the nicest things about you,” Gawain said. “You have much more power and authority than you realize you have, and instead of it making you proud and arrogant it’s made you humble. You might as well call me Gawain in private. Not for official consumption, mind you, but we might as well acknowledge that we are equals. I have the bigger title, but you honestly have more power. That’s what comes from being Sir Harry Potter O.B.E., Order of Merlin First Class, with honors, three times.”
“Yes, sir,” Harry replied. “I’ll never live those titles down, will I?”
“No,” Gawain answered, “So you might as well concentrate on living up to them. Tell me what your schedule needs to be and I’ll work with you. Keep me posted on your projects. If you can make this mapping thing work it will save a lot of lives.”
“Yes, sir, Gawain,” Harry answered, a little awkwardly when he said Gawain. “I will let you know as soon as I know my schedule.”
Harry then took the floo to Bill’s office. Again a secretary waved Harry into the office.
“I need to talk to you about a vacation,” Harry said.
“Let’s get Fleur in on this conversation,” Bill said. He went to a doorway in his office, then touched something, and a wall disappeared and Bill and Fleur’s offices were one office. There was a nice seating group in the combined offices, and Bill and Fleur came out from behind their desks and sat down with Harry.
“Al VanLente says I need a vacation,” Harry explained. “I sure could use a couple of weeks away with just Ginny and me, no responsibilities. We are looking at July.”
“The best Fleur and I have been able to do is a couple of long weekends,” Bill said. “We’ve made a promise to each other that we are going to take at least two full week long vacations, two weekends and the whole week in between, away from the office.”
“I make sure no calls, no owls, no nothings,” Fleur added. “Bill az been working too hard!” In a small voice she added “Me too.”
Bill jumped in with, “Michael Appleleaf says we ought to have a policy that every other year everybody has to have at least one two week vacation without showing their face in the office. That way you made sure someone else could do their job, and Michael said most fraud showed up after two weeks.
“I think the vacation policy is a great idea. I am going to make sure that every staff member is going to be on vacation for at least a week during their first year and at least 2 weeks following that.
“Fleur and I are going to take more time off over Christmas, in addition to the two week long vacations.”
Harry said, “I’ve talked to Kingsley and Al VanLente, and I think I’ll try to get Ginny and me away for a solid two weeks in July.”
“I think the Harpies want new team members there the last week in July,” Bill said.,
“Is Ginny on the team?” Harry asked.
“Not formally,” Bill admitted, “But that is just because we are still negotiating a contract.”
“You are negotiating a contract for Ginny?” asked Harry.
“No, I’ve got an agent doing that, someone who knows what they are doing,” Bill explained, and he called the agent.
The sports agent took the floo over and was in Bill’s office within a couple of minutes.
The agent explained, “Ginny may be unknown as a player, although I have heard that she is very good. She is, however, the wife of the famous SIR Harry Potter O.B.E., Order of Merlin with Honours times three, and an Order of Merlin honouree in her own right, and she is flying the premier Firebolt broom. She is going to be a publicity boon for the Harpies even if she only plays occasionally. The issue is not about salary. The standard beginner’s salary is going to be fine. That’s not where the big money is anyway. The issue is royalties, payment if her name is going to be on something, her ability to appear in ads and reap more of the benefit than if an unknown was going to be endorsing the same product but their only claim to fame was the Harpies.”
“She is going to be on the team?” Harry asked again.
The agent explained again, “The issue is not whether Ginny is going to be playing for the Harpies, but what will the contract say. And the first part of July is fine for a vacation but by the last week you are too close to the opening of the summer training camp.”
Monday night Harry got back to Hogwarts in time for dinner. Harry walked into the dining hall and found Ginny and Hermione sitting together, with a seat next to Ginny open for Harry to sit.
“Congratulations on becoming a Harpy,” Harry said.
“We have not signed a contract yet,” Ginny fiercely retorted. “All I want to do is play but Bill says I need to be patient and get a good contract.”
Harry took Ginny’s hand in his, kissed the ring finger, and said, “My Ginny Potter is the model of long suffering patience. Not an urgent bone in her body.” As Harry was saying this he was looking hard at the rings on Ginny’s finger.
“Ginny, long suffering??!” exclaimed Hermione.
“You’re both making fun of me,” Ginny scowled.
“Of course,” Hermione replied. “Everybody knows you are going to be a Harpy! Quit worrying about it.”
Ginny took a deep breath. “It’s hard waiting.”
“The whole matter of the Harpies came up because I am trying to, am going to schedule a two week vacation for us this summer, and we have to be back for the start of the Harpies summer training camp,” Harry rushed to say.
Ginny looked at Harry.
“Two weeks, away from here, away from Britain so no one can find us and get us back for, for whatever, for a couple of weeks,” Harry quietly said.
“I can’t,” Ginny started, but when she finished with, “wait!” Harry and Hermione both joined in saying, “wait.”
Ginny looked at Harry cautiously. “What’s the catch? What do they want you to do now?”
Harry replied, “No catch. We can leave Monday July 5, right after we get back from Switzerland.”
Ginny gave Harry a quizzical look. “What are we going to be doing in Switzerland?”
“Are you going to the International Council of Witches and Wizards?” Hermione asked. “The valley in Switzerland that holds it is the largest concentration of Witches and Wizards in the world. The family that owns the valley is frequently the most powerful in the Wizarding Community. No one has claimed the Valley since Riddle killed the last owners, though. I wonder who is going to inherit it?”
“I guess I’m somehow involved,” Harry said. “They want me there the end of this week, and then back for the meetings, with Ginny, June 25 to July 4.”
“I get to go with you to Switzerland!” Ginny exclaimed. “Except for Egypt with Mum and Dad I’ve never been outside of Great Britain.”
“We can go somewhere else far away for our two week vacation after the Council,” Harry said.
It was beginning to look to Ginny like her life after Hogwarts was finally going to start, and it was going to be very different. Maybe a Happily Ever After ending? Better than getting married in a sun dress and going back to school, in any case.
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