Chapter 3 : The Incoming Minister
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The two weeks between his appointment and the time he took over as Minister of Magic were extremely busy ones for Cornelius. He hadn’t expected that they would be. He had thought that he would be pretty much finished in his old job and wouldn’t have to worry about his new one until the present Minister’s retirement. How wrong he was!
In reality, he had to deal with concerns relating to both jobs. He had been replaced as head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, but he had to train in his replacement and ensure that all documents and files were left in order, so as to ensure that the Department could survive his absence. These jobs alone caused him a lot of work, but he would have been able to continue working a reasonably ordinary day, if they were all he had to worry about.
However, as soon as the news about his appointment as Minister came out, he was bombarded with requests for interviews from various newspapers. In many ways, he was delighted to agree to these. It was quite flattering to find yourself headline news in all of the major papers. Even some of the wizarding papers from foreign countries carried the story that Cornelius Fudge was to be the new British Minister for Magic.
It was an exciting time, and Cornelius thoroughly enjoyed sitting with the journalists and discussing his new appointment.
“Yes, yes, I’m absolutely delighted at this show of confidence from the wizarding population of Great Britain. Fantastic. I will, of course, do my best to live up to the highest expectations of the people.
“Yes, of course, I have some ideas of my own; some changes I would like to make. Not that I have any objections to the way in which the Ministry of Magic operates at the moment, but naturally, I am looking forward to putting my own stamp on things.”
He had been warned in advance, to remain extremely vague about what these changes would be. The last thing he wanted was to make enemies either within the Ministry or in the wider wizarding world before he had even taken up his position. It wasn’t always easy to head off any direct questions without sounding evasive, but Cornelius soon found he had quite a talent for it. No doubt it had been cultivated during his many years of sucking up to his seniors in the Ministry. Talking to journalists wasn’t very different to that. In both cases, you had to make it clear that you had plenty of initiative and good ideas, but avoid being too specific about what they were in case they were misinterpreted or undervalued.
So, all in all, it didn’t present too much difficulty. The only disadvantage was that it took up a large proportion of his working day, and when added to the time he spent training in his, apparently hopeless, replacement, there was little time left for finishing off his work as head of his present department and ensuring that everything was left in order.
To his surprise, he ended up doing this outside normal working hours and during his final few days found himself working until 9 or 10 o’clock in the evenings.
Luckily, Alyssa was not the sort of woman who complained of her husband’s working hours or insisted that he be home to her by a particular time. She understood that if he was to be successful in his job, it was necessary for him to work those extra hours and ensure that he made himself as indispensable as possible.
As a matter of fact, Cornelius felt that she was quite impressed by the number of hours he was working. It implied that he was an important person, when he had work commitments that he couldn’t possibly leave in order to be home by teatime.
“I suppose these long hours will become the norm, once you actually take over as Minister,” she commented to him one evening.
That was something he hadn’t thought of. He dearly hoped not. He liked his job well enough, he supposed, and he certainly enjoyed the feeling of importance which came from knowing he would be the next Minister, but that didn’t mean that he wanted to spend all of his time working on Ministry business. He did have a life outside of his work, after all.
“Oh, I don’t know, dear,” he replied, therefore. “I imagine things will level off, once I have the Ministry organised a little, you know. At the moment, I am trying to do two jobs at the same time, and I must say that the new head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures doesn’t really appear to be entirely up to the job. I had to spend at least two hours today, explaining the laws concerning half humans to her.”
“Won’t you be able to fire her, once you become Minister?”
“I will, of course,” Cornelius replied, preparing to backtrack. He didn’t really like the idea of having to fire anybody, not out of any concern for his employees, but simply because he entertained a vague suspicion that replacing them could turn out to be an awful lot of work. Therefore, he simply continued, “I’ll see how she turns out. Maybe she’ll improve, given a little time.”
Reading the newspaper reports concerning his appointment was a bittersweet experience for Cornelius Fudge. It was quite flattering to have newspaper headlines devoted to you, particularly when they related your successes. If they had been describing some scandal he was supposed to be involved in or some incompetence he had been accused of, it might not be so flattering.
However, there was some papers, which managed to find fault, even with Cornelius’ great achievement. These bemoaned the fact that a man who they considered a virtual non-entity should be appointed as Minister and many implied that Dumbledore would have been a far better choice, should he have seen fit to accept the position. Some of the more right-wing papers took a different angle and argued that Barty Crouch should have been appointed Minister.
Where was Cornelius Fudge when Voldemort was terrorising both magical and Muggle communities? the, Wizard’s World demanded.
discerning witches and wizards would give to this question. It
was Mr. Crouch who implemented the only policies which
Dark witches and wizards understand- those of coercion. He
brought back some semblance of normality to our society,
by ensuring that all those who broke the laws knew just what
the consequences of doing so would be
Despite this, however, Mr. Crouch has not even been
considered for the highest position in our society. Why is this?.
The paper went on to blame the overlooking of Barty Crouch on “do-gooding wizards, who cannot see that sometimes harsh laws are necessary in order to protect the majority of good law-abiding citizens.”
Anybody would think the wizarding world was deep in the midst of a crises, Cornelius thought, as he flung the paper on the floor. It was years since the disappearance of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named; almost a decade. And Cornelius was pretty sure that at this stage all those who had supported him had been apprehended and were safely locked up in Azkaban. So what was all this nonsense about a firm hand and the necessity of strong emphasis on the rule of law? Surely the need to seriously worry about the exploits of Dark wizards had passed.
Besides, he thought defensively, it was totally unfair to suggest that he had been “nowhere to be found” during Voldemort’s reign of terror. He had always supported the policies of the Ministry and although he had never been one of those who pushed for greater powers for the Aurors or the imprisonment without trial of suspects, he hadn’t actively opposed such moves either. And he had always been a strong supporter of the use of Dementors in guarding Azkaban. The criticisms were totally unfounded, he reassured himself, before turning to more supportive papers.
The Daily Prophet, always the mouthpiece of the Ministry was adamant in its support for the appointment of Cornelius Fudge. A “safe pair of hands”, it described him as. A man “careful in his judgements and not prone to rash decisions.”
“That was more like it,” Cornelius Fudge thought happily, as he tried to push the reports of papers like the Wizard’s World from his mind. The views expressed in it were views of a minority, he assured himself. After all, if he hadn’t had the support of most of the wizarding people, he would never have been appointed.
“Ah,” a little voice whispered in his head. “But it was really Dumbledore they wanted you know. You were chosen only because he refused the position.”
He dismissed that unpleasant thought rather quickly. Ok, so Dumbledore had a lot of support, but there was no reason to believe he would have been appointed even if he had applied. Nonetheless, the thought wouldn’t quite be disregarded no matter how hard he tried to ignore it.
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