Chapter 12 : Ministerial Magic
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For Kingsley's administration 1999 and 2000 passed in an all-out functional rebuilding of the Ministry. It was a time many would fondly remember. With everyone working together, excited for a brighter future and confident their work was valued, even the arduous tasks were done with goodwill and pride. Kingsley's leadership commended excellence. Whatever you did, it was to be done well. His appointments, department leaders, minister's council, were obvious evidence that this was a good time to be good at what you do.
The Wesley clan was busy. Hermione was finishing university and starting to think about a Solicitors Contract. Arthur and Molly were adapting to an empty Burrow and Arthur's new job. Wendell and Monica visited for a month around the holidays. Ginny was flying, dominating the Harpy's record book and finishing Auror training when she was off the pitch. Kingsley made the scheduling work and was enthused about having an Auror in the office who could move through the wizarding world as a Quidditch star.
Harry, Neville, Ron and Dean were at the end of Auror training and enthusiastic to start their careers. In their Muggle roles, Harry found computer school useless until one of his teachers introduced him to a computer society where he volunteered and learned hands-on. Ginny took the lead in their role as Youth International Peace Initiative counselors, the organization they joined to find Hermione's parents in Australia. Ginny did most of those chores while Harry worked on building an affordable on-line system they could use to promote the organization.
Their marriages had changed, matured. Hermione and Ron, Ginny and Harry, were partners in an effort to achieve shared dreams and desires. Their individual natures had blended to a We, a Harry-Ginny, a Ron-Hermione. Their lives differed. Ron worked separately from Hermione; they were apart most of the day. On the other hand, if Ginny weren't on the pitch, she was with Harry. But, the two couples were always four brothers and sisters, a family.
Given the non-functioning horror show Kingsley inherited from the Death Eaters, that it only took two years to right the ship and bail out the ugly bilge water was remarkable. By late 2000 though, the Ministry's departments were all excitedly working on their favorite yet of Kingsley's projects. Each department was describing what resources they needed to do their job, keep their talented people engaged, learning and getting better. When everyone finished their plans, a transfiguration team led by Headmistress McGonagall would renovate the Ministry, a magical feat not seen for centuries.
The project to re-build the Ministry was an every-wizard fascination for months. Every day there were arguments in The Prophet about some point or another. There were so many opinions and opinions about opinions that they had their own section in the paper. It was widely read. Subscriptions were up and every wizarding pub in the British Isles was full of emphatically-expressed ideas and, more often than not, a prodigious number of wagers.
After all this, when the transfiguration team met to begin image-ing the project, they had a good idea where wizarding opinion lay, as well as what practicality demanded and the departments desired. Their skill was such that they could develop a shared image and combine their magical powers into a single wonderfully powerful spell. Thus, they began with a shared image of the magical space the Ministry occupied. If Professor Mullens is right, magical space, like apparition, portals, port keys, or even spell casting itself, has a connection to timelessness. What the spell-casters knew was that they must hold the magical space in their minds.
Headmistress McGonagall's team developed this vision by imagining each department as a building block. At this early stage, each was imaged as a black box large enough to accommodate the necessary work places. Once each of them was holding the vision in mind, they began mentally arranging these cubes with connecting halls and lifts, lavs and magical fires placed more convenient to the offices than those in the Atrium. It was to be an open, more practical Ministry, styled more like a university than a temple.
Each Minister of Magic used the Atrium as symbol. Ornate in Fudge's time, it was crowned by a statue that was a lie. For Riddle's era the Atrium symbolized the might of the dark powers. Kingsley's first act was to memorialize those who stood against the dark. What debate made clear and history confirmed was that the Atrium, the Ministry's public space, was the focus for those who sought places in wizarding history.
It was Oscar Windemere who saw the solution, “We should make it a museum of our ages.”
Eliminating ornamentation and displays of status left so much room in the new plan that everyone could pretty much have what they wanted. Thus, there were magical space and power enough for all manner of wizardly extravagance in the Atrium. They planed an Atrium that featured a bank of fires facing a line of lifts with magical signs interspersed between. The signs were made of a magically-clear backdrop that allowed a view of traffic on the other side. For the regulars who knew where they were going, it was easy to pick an available lift and work their way through a crowd.
The magic of the signs was to respond to visitors. Otherwise transparent, they directed people who asked the way to particular offices by drawing a map they could follow. Queries about Ministry business like fees and licenses could be answered as well. But for those meeting someone, or ready to relax with a cup of tea, the parallel lines of lifts and fires opened onto a circular, domed expanse. Its walls and central interior circle were museum-like, with art, spells and magical instruments illustrating each of the chapters of A History of Magic. Sitting areas and a tea shop where you could take a quiet cuppa before your next meeting were artfully arranged between them.
Even a team as talented and powerful as the six wizards working with Headmistress McGonagall doesn't just wave their wands at a task of such historic scale and complexity. Magic takes power; it takes magical power to transfigure or conjure; it takes magical power to create magical space, so the Ministry needed to be transfigured a piece at a time. The shared image would hold it together as it formed. Not since the Ministry was first created had wizard-kind seen magic as immense and wondrous as this.
In magical space it was hard to know if the garage, the Wizengamot court rooms, or the Department of Mysteries were actually more subterranean than any other part of the Ministry. They seemed to be. The torch-lit corridors were dungeon-like and the courts looked medieval. There was good argument for something less imposing, and regular offices were added for the mundane dealings of the courts. As the debates in The Prophet showed, for most wizards and witches these places were too much a part of history to change. The Minister's Office, that was one thing, the Hall of Prophesy, that was something else.
No less than in the Muggle world, once created, when something in magical space shrinks or disappears, the space it occupied remains. Thus, the next-to-last stage was for each department to vanish anything that could be re-conjured. The transfiguration team taught the best spell-caster in each department how to vanish what could be remade. Practically that was most everything. So, everyone got busy hauling things out of cupboards, closets and cabinets – files, reports, and a significant number of boxes no one remembered ever opening. In the Auror Office that included a box of small, glass-stoppered potion bottles that Harry recognized as memories for a Pensieve. He saved it thinking only that whomever left it thought it important. It would be a while before he knew these memories were the legacy of Alastor, “Mad-Eye,” Moody.
These efforts left enough free space that McGonagall's team was able to start from the back and move forward, room by room, floor by floor, until they filled the empty space with what everyone needed. There were steady flows of Ministry people shuffling down the halls levitating all their departments' stores and records as the team approached. Then, hurrying back to organize their new offices when the team moved on. It took nearly a month to finish. Then, with one unprecedented and exhausting magical effort, the great domed Atrium was ready. When the exhausted transfiguration team left by the fires to the cheers of the Ministry workers, every department was ready to put to order and back to work. Although it would be another month before the magical ceiling of the Atrium radiated a rather sunnier and warmer version of the London weather, everyone got windows and comfortable spaces.
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