Chapter 1 : We Will Rebuild.
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"It's a landslide victory." Arthur Weasley laid a hand on Kingsley's arm. "The entire population wants you as Minister."
"I know." The words came our more harshly than Kingsley'd intended. He was just realising what a mammoth task he had ahead of him and was beginning to question whether he could achieve what was expected of him.
The Auror department alone was likely to prove a major headache. Fourteen killed in the previous two years, three whose activities under Voldemort showed their loyalties were suspect and another twelve absent on sick leave or because of bereavement or stress. And with a number of Death Eaters still on the loose, the department still needed all its manpower.
He sighed. If Dumbledore were still alive, he'd be sorely tempted to plead with him to finally accept the position he'd turned down so often.
"We're all behind you, Kingsley," Arthur said softly, as if reading his mind.
"I know that, Arthur. Thank you." He rubbed his eyes. They were all tired. It wasn't just the sheer exertion of trying to return things to something resembling normal, which had kept the Ministry employees working around the clock ever since the Battle of Hogwarts, but also the mental exhaustion of emerging from a time when their lives had been constantly at risk, a time they could never relax. He forced a rueful smile. "I'm afraid you're not going to like what I've to say to you next."
Arthur's face grew solemn and Kingsley hastened to reassure him.
"It's not bad news. Or anything like that. It's just that, well, as I'm sure you've already predicted, the Office for the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects isn't being revived. With our reduced numbers, we can't really justify it, especially as we're likely to see less such objects now the war is over."
Arthur nodded. "I had assumed that'd be the case."
"Yes. And I know you were hoping to return to the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office, but the truth is I could do with you elsewhere."
"Where?" He raised an eyebrow.
"I want you to take charge of the Improper Use of Magic Department. Now, I'll be honest with you. It'll mean a higher salary and you'll have a large number of people answering to you, at least compared with the one assistant you had in the past, but it will also mean longer hours and more responsibility." He glanced at Arthur sympathetically. "And I know you're dealing with your son's death at the moment and your wife and other children might want you at home, so I'll understand completely if you say no."
Arthur shook his head. "I'll do it. And I'll give it my best shot. But I'm not a high-flyer, you know, Kingsley, nor am I the smartest guy in the Ministry."
"I'm not worried about any of that. I can trust you, I can rely on you. Those are the things I'm looking for now." He paused for a moment. "What about your son? Percy? Do you think he'll return to us?"
Arthur bit his lip. "He will, if you'll have him. He knows he's made mistakes in the past..."
Kingsley waved the consideration away. "Oh, we'll have him. It's those who supported...Voldemort" - he forced himself to say the name - "or who may not have actively supported him, but nonetheless subscribe to the idea of pureblood supremacy that we want to get rid of. If we were also going to exclude those who supported Fudge or Scrimgeour, we'd have a pretty small Ministry. Despite how people may be rewriting history now, it was a minority that reformed the Order back in '95. And Percy's young. He was trying to build a career. It's a lot easier to stand up for your beliefs when you're already established, as we are. Many men and women a lot older than Percy made far greater mistakes than he did."
"He just feels the mistakes rather strongly," Arthur said. "What with...with Fred dying so soon after they reconciled and everything."
For a moment, Kingsley was quiet. There was little you could say to those who'd lost family members. It was all very well to argue they'd died heroes, but it didn't bring them back again, didn't change the fact that those who loved them now had to adjust to a world in which they no longer existed.
"Well, we can certainly use Percy," he said finally. "I'm afraid it's going to be all hands to the pump for a while now."
What made it even more difficult was the limited time available to him. The rounding up of the remaining Death Eaters, the decisions about the reopening of Hogwarts, the trials of those who'd committed war crimes under the previous regime - these things wouldn't wait. And he thought it advisable to have the Ministry up and running as quickly as possible anyway. It would help regain the public's confidence, reassure them the world was returning to normal. The last thing anybody needed right now was a power vacuum.
Once the Department heads were in place, his next move was going to be to open Auror training to all those who'd fought in the Battle of Hogwarts. It wouldn't help with the current lack of personnel, of course, but at least they could begin training Aurors for the future.
He wondered if he should personally approach Harry to ask if he would be interested in joining the Department. From Minerva and Dumbledore, and Arthur too, he knew the boy had had an ambition to be an Auror in his younger days, but after everything that had happened, well, Kingsley wouldn't blame him if he were disillusioned with politics. Why should he believe the Ministry Kingsley was putting together would be any different from what went before? Sometimes Kingsley doubted it himself. Could he really change the culture of decades, of centuries?
And yet, the Ministry was different. Kingsley wasn't arrogant enough to believe he'd eliminated all prejudice from the Ministry or that he would do so. That, unfortunately, was a job that'd probably take generations. But those who actively supported Voldemort were gone and he was doing his best to head as many of the departments as possible with those he knew supported equal rights for people of all bloods. Kingsley himself had worked for the Muggle Prime Minister and intended working to build better relations with the Muggle Government just as soon as the immediate reconstruction of wizarding Britain was done. There was much the wizarding world could learn from the Muggle one; he'd realised that while working with the Muggle Ministry.
Change might not come overnight, but with the right people behind him, maybe he really could create a Ministry he could be proud of, one which could truly serve all the people of wizarding Britain and lead them into an era of peace and security.
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