Chapter 1 : First Day
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His sturdy mahogany desk dominated the room. Cornelius looked small seated behind it but he liked it nevertheless; it enhanced his sense of importance. A neat pile of parchment and a smart purple quill stood on its surface, ready for him to take notes or write memos on any weighty issue that might come his way, which he was certain would happen. He was the Minster for Magic, after all.
Behind him, the walls were lined with bookshelves, all laden with heavy books that he’d never read. There were thick tomes on magical legislation, dusty volumes on the history of the wizarding world, and old-fashioned guides about other countries. Personally, Cornelius much preferred curling up with a good romance novel and a steaming mug of hot chocolate, but these things were necessary when one became the Minister.
A coat stand loomed in one corner of the room, holding his thick woollen cloak with a spindly arm. Next to it stood a wooden filing cabinet which stored information on all of his Ministry employees. All in all, a very serious office.
Cornelius fiddled nervously with the ornate gold drawer handles on his desk, wishing that he had something to occupy himself with on the first day of his job. He’d asked the Heads of the other Ministry departments to meet him this morning to update him on what was going on: it would hardly set a good example if the Minister himself didn’t know what was happening in his country. There was still another ten minutes before they were due to arrive, and Cornelius had already been waiting since seven o’ clock. But it was important that the Minister was early for meetings such as these, and Cornelius took his job very seriously.
He drummed his fingers on the desk, beating out a disjointed rhythm. Outside the window was a carefully crafted summer’s day; the workers in Magical Maintenance must have been in a good mood. His window stood open and the faint melody of birdsong drifted in on the light breeze they had created.
Suddenly, he remembered that his trademark bowler hat was still jammed on his head. Cornelius was very happy to have a signature piece of clothing, but wearing lime green for an official and important meeting might not be the best idea. He removed it and placed it on the smooth wooden desktop. Then, deciding that the colour looked brazenly out of place on the serious wood, he stood up and moved it first to the bookshelves, then to the coat stand, and finally he placed it on the windowsill.
Just as he seated himself back behind his desk, there was a sharp rap on the door and it swung open.
“Cornelius!” came Ludo Bagman’s jovial voice. “Morning, morning. Congratulations, my boy! So you’re the Minister now, eh?”
He entered the room in a blaze of yellow, his robes reminiscent of those he’d worn for countless Quidditch matches. Bouncing on the balls of his feet, he waited for Cornelius to conjure him a chair and then sat down, grinning like an excited boy.
It was very unlike Ludo Bagman to be early for anything, and the other Heads of Department seemed surprised to see him there when they arrived a few moments later. Soon the office was full of serious and important people – except for Ludo Bagman, who was only important; the man didn’t have a serious bone in his body.
Cornelius folded his hands in his lap, trying to recall the speech he’d prepared the previous day. Although Amelia Bones and Albert Macmillan smiled encouragingly at him, the freshly elected Minister became jittery as he faced the wizened Tiberius Ogden and the stern Bartemius Crouch. Ludo, nodding for no reason, was just a distraction.
“Good morning,” Cornelius said. “And, er, thank you all for coming. As you all know, I’ve been elected as the new Minister for Magic. It’s a great honour to be appointed to this job and I’m determined to do my best. Today I wanted to meet you all in a more official capacity and let you know that I value your opinions greatly.”
He broke off, taking a moment to wipe his clammy forehead and push in a drawer which contained a half-written letter to Dumbledore.
“What I’m trying to say is, erm, that I would appreciate any help you can give me. I’m aware that you’ve all been at the top of your departments for a while and have a good understanding of the way the Ministry works, and I think it would be a shame to waste that experience. If none of you object, I propose arranging a weekly meeting to discuss what’s happening in each department and the Ministry as a whole.”
Cornelius said the last part in a rush, as if he was scared that the witches and wizards were going to tell him off for something he’d done wrong.
Amelia Bones lifted the ever-present monocle from her eye and surveyed the new Minister, interested in his eagerness to accommodate their wishes. It was an unusual show of curiosity for the Head of Magical Law Enforcement; the glass had been removed a total of four times during her tenure in charge of the department. Ludo Bagman’s head was now bouncing up and down like a nodding dog, and even old Tiberius Ogden had joined in. Crouch’s expression remained passive, but for someone who had hankered after the Minister’s position himself, Cornelius counted that as a vast improvement – at least he wasn’t sprouting tentacles yet.
“When do you suggest that we hold these meetings, Minister?” Crouch inquired solemnly.
“Well, er, let’s see,” began Cornelius, still a little flustered. “How about at nine o’ clock, every Thursday morning?”
The others nodded their agreement, and he continued.
“Good. Well, now that’s settled. Let’s get down to the serious business shall we? Now, first of all –“
At that instant there was a deafening crash, a flash of light and then Fudge’s lime green bowler hat went flying out the window.
Albert Macmillan gasped. He had seen such a sign before, but he didn’t want to think about what it might mean. It couldn’t possibly be…
The bowler hat whizzed back through the window and almost decapitated Tiberius Ogden, who had just arrived at the same conclusion as his colleague.
The curse had struck again.
Suddenly, all hell broke loose. There was a loud click as the door swung shut and locked the six of them in. Music began playing from an invisible source, Ludo Bagman’s face turned orange, and the ever serious Crouch was suddenly supporting a bright blue beard and moustache.
Cornelius couldn’t seem to close his mouth as it hung wide open in shock. Young and inexperienced, he’d never even heard of the curse and had absolutely no idea what was happening. His bowler hat continued to spin around the room in a figure-of-eight, a blur of green streaked across a dark wooden canvas. His important ministerial meeting had descended into complete chaos.
Tiberius Ogden had taken cover on the floor, his grey head peeking out from Cornelius’s woollen cloak. His whole body quivered as he muttered under his breath.
“The curse, the curse,” he kept repeating.
Despite the fact that Cornelius had no idea what the curse was, he was fast realising that it wreaked havoc wherever it went. His dark robes had mysteriously transformed into a frilly pink dress reminiscent of the type his Aunt Matilda used to wear and so often forced him into as a boy. She’d been disappointed that there had been no girls in the family, so young Cornelius had suffered the humiliation of becoming a dress-up doll. It was something that he had always been determined to hide, although he suspected that she had kept some of the photographic evidence from that time.
Cornelius shot to his feet, tugging at the dress in the hope that he could remove the monstrosity before anybody saw it. Luckily, none of the others seemed to notice; they were too preoccupied with their own problems. Ludo Bagman was now performing cartwheels around the room – something he’d never have been able to do normally with the weight he’d gained after quitting Quidditch – and Barty Crouch had started line dancing with Albert Macmillan. Old Tiberius was cowering in the corner with his fingers stuffed in his ears, singing Odo the Hero at the top of his voice.
Still seated in her chair, the majestic Head of Magical Law Enforcement was the only one as yet unaffected by the curse. She gazed about in shock and terror as her colleagues made fools of themselves, remembering the whispers she’d heard about the curse and what it did. Sighing in relief, her eyes darted towards the door and she pulled her wand out as the music changed to a jazzy tune.
And then Amelia Bones started dancing in her seat. At first only her shoulders were twitching in time with the beat, her feet tapping along. Then she started swaying side to side, rising from her seat and gradually forcing her large frame into a surprisingly graceful belly dance. The eyes of her colleagues grew round in amazement; never before had they imagined seeing the powerful witch belly dancing to jazz. Soon the five of them couldn’t resist joining in, and Cornelius’s office witnessed a gathering of the most important figures in the country snaking their hips around in synchronisation.
Suddenly, the music ceased, Fudge’s spinning green bowler hat dropped to the floor and the door swung open. The witches and wizards in the office stopped twirling and glanced about nervously, realising that their appearances had returned to normal. There was a split second’s silence before they all rushed for the door.
As six of the most dignified members of the magical community ran from the room, one thing became clear. However much Cornelius had wanted his first day as Minister for Magic to be serious and worthwhile, the curse had struck again and he was faced with the terrible realisation that his office had just played host to complete pandemonium.
A/N: This story is written for a challenge for which we have to include certain prompts in our story. I'm aware that this may be the most ridiculous thing I've ever written, but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless, and leave a review if you get the chance!