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Harry / Tonks ship

"Fudge!"   Harry's tone was chipper and polite.   It was not, however, happy.

This should have warned Cornelius Fudge.

Of course, it did not.

"Jolly good to see you, young man!   I needed to see you sometime today in any event and luckily enough, here you are finding me!   Visiting your school, are you?   How have you been?"   In addition to Fudge, Percy Weasley was along to carry the parchments and a handful of aurors was along for security.

"Funny you should ask, Minister," Harry answered the question.   "I saw the most interesting article in the paper today."

Fudge's face fell into sad lines.   "Yes, yes, the werewolf registration thing.   I'm terribly sad that such things must be done, but dangerous dark creatures must be controlled, as you're well aware."

"Oh, I agree," Harry said easily.   "Dangerous dark creatures should be controlled.   So how have your efforts to control the dementors gone?"

Fudge looked a bit uncomfortable for a moment.   "Well, as you're aware, they've abandoned Azkaban.   We're working on rounding up all the strays, however, so no need to fear.   No, Harry, what I was referring to was the werewolf problem."

"Werewolf problem?" Harry asked in an eerily calm voice.   "I'm not aware we had a problem with the werewolves aside from the utterly reprehensible way your government treats them."

"They're a danger and a menace to society!" Fudge returned sharply, finally realizing that he didn't have a sympathetic audience in Harry.

"Some individual werewolves are a danger, yes.   The one who bit Remus, for instance.   What was his name again?"

"Fenrir Greyback," Tonks answered from her shadowy spot by the doors to the Great Hall.

Fudge gave her a dirty look before turning back to Harry.   "Now, Harry, I know you like the . . . individual, but you must understand that Lupin is a dangerous and out of control creature who would think nothing of killing you."

Harry sighed.   "That is wrong on so many levels I don't know where to start.   He's only dangerous one night a month and then only if he's not taken his potion or not restrained.   With the proper precautions, he is a much better man than many I could name."

The insult flew by Fudge without his noticing.   "But you admit that he's dangerous without those precautions.   Isn't a little restriction to him worth the safety for the rest of us?"

Harry rolled his eyes.   "Taking that argument to its logical conclusion would dictate we should execute them all on the chance that one would infect someone!"

Fudge jumped at the chance.   "Would you publicly endorse such a law, Harry?"

Harry stared incredulously.   "No, I would not!   Executing or even restricting someone for something that happened to them against their will?   That's beyond inhumane, Fudge, and I can't believe the Wizengamot went along with it!"

"They saw the same need to control the darker elements of our society that I did, Harry," Fudge said somewhat pompously.

Harry took a deep breath to keep his temper under control, but his voice was still low and rough.   "First, you will refer to me as Lord-Baron or Sire.   Second, if you actually believed that, you'd have dealt with the dementors, Death Eaters, and Voldemort - oh, grow up! - long before now.   As I haven't heard you're even hiring more aurors, you're clearly lying to me about wanting to 'control the darker elements'."   Harry put mocking air quotes around the phrase.

Percy joined the conversation at this.   "Now see here, young man!   You can't speak to the Minister of Magic in that tone!"

Harry couldn't decide if Fudge or Percy was more outraged.   "Why not?" he asked Percy calmly.   "If he's an incompetent imbecile in the pocketbook of the pure-blood supremacists and one step removed from a full Death Eater, he deserves nothing but my contempt."

Percy paled in rage.   Fudge went the other direction and turned purple.   The color didn't look any better on him than it did on Vernon Dursley, Harry absently noted.

"Aurors!   Arrest him!" Fudge shrieked.

Before any of the aurors could move, Harry asked, "For what?   Slander?   Is it still slander if it's the truth?   Do you really want me to publicly call for an audit of your ministry, Fudge?   We all know what a chum you are to Lucius Malfoy, helping him get out of all that nasty business fifteen years ago when he claimed Imperius as his defense.   The fact that he's been arrested AGAIN for the same thing can't look good.   Leaving aside the Death Eaters for a moment, you're still in the pure-blood supremacist court.   After all, that little law regarding the age of majority for certain family names isn't public knowledge, is it?"

Fudge's face took on a mottled look.   "You . . .   What . . .   How . . ."

"The how is irrelevant.   The fact is that I DO know and am legally an adult."

Fudge slumped.

Something Fudge had said earlier finally registered.   "You needed to speak with me anyway?" Harry asked.

Both Fudge and Percy looked uncomfortable but didn't answer.   The aurors, until now wearing their professional, blank masks, started shifting uncomfortably with the conversation.

"You were going to try to make me a ward of the ministry, weren't you?"

Percy visibly paled.   Tonks gave a sharp bark of laughter.

Harry just sighed.   "Fudge, you're an idiot beyond measure."

Fudge turned purple again.   "You insolent little -"

"Shut up," Harry ordered.   "You will only speak when spoken to, and I'll tell you why.   This law that blatantly favors the purebloods will be described in loving detail to the Prophet and the Quibbler if you don't.   Your support of Umbridge and the fact that she sent dementors after me in a muggle neighborhood, tortured me with a blood quill, and attempted to overdose me with veritaserum.   Her later attempts to use corporal punishment for two students for playing a prank.   THEN her near use of a Cruciatus Curse against me.   Your smear campaign against me last year for saying that Voldemort was back, and, lo and behold, he really is.   Now, do you think you can survive a publicity war against me, Fudge?"

"Now see here!" Percy exploded.

"Peeves!" Harry shouted in an apparent non sequitur.

Everyone in the Minister's party looked confused as the resident poltergeist zipped into the room and came to a floating stop in front of Harry.   "My Lord bellowed?"

Harry smiled in a manner that Tonks was glad wasn't aimed at her.   "Yes, Peeves, I did.   Percy Weasley here keeps interrupting the argument Minister Fudge and I are having.   Would you be good enough to entertain Percy and keep him from bothering us again?"

Peeves snapped a perfect salute and spun in place.   Harry had a split second to see Percy's look of absolute horror before Peeves dove into Percy's chest, leaving a wide, wet stain on Percy's robes that looked like some kind of green slime.

Peeves dove out the other side of Percy's chest immediately and grabbed the robes of the former head boy and drug him backwards toward the stairs to the dungeons.

"Please don't hurt him too badly, Peeves."

Peeves stopped moving and turned to Harry with a wounded look.   "Hurt?   No, My Lordliness, Peeves would never HURT someone.   Scare, paint, dunk, slop, mess, gag, tickle, nauseate, annoy, frighten, infuriate, and aggravate, but Peeves would not HURT someone."

"Very good.   Please carry on then."

Peeves turned to Fudge.   "Bye, Fudge Budge Judge Kludge Ludge Mudge Nudge Pudge Sludge Wudge Fudge.   Peeves will return your Measly Weasley later."   With an insane cackle and an anguished wail, the two flew down the hall.

Harry turned back to Fudge.   "Where were we?"

Fudge tore his eyes from where his assistant had disappeared.   "How did you manage to control that pest?"

"Hmm?   Oh, I didn't.   I asked Peeves to take him away instead.   Now, I believe we were threatening each other with bad publicity, weren't we?   Though that's something I've had to suffer through from you before."

Fudge wisely ignored the additional comment and instead took on a calculating expression.   Finally, the competent political operative was making an appearance.   "I can see that threatening you won't work any longer.   On the other hand, you really don't want to fight me politically, do you, Harry?"

Harry let that one go by without correcting Fudge's form of address.   "Not especially.   It's a waste of everyone's time and energy, of which neither of us has all that much.   How about this?   In exchange for a couple of concessions from you, I'm willing to help you out."

Fudge's eyes narrowed slightly.   "I'm listening."

"First, these werewolf laws."

Fudge immediately shook his head.   "I can't repeal them the day after they go into effect.   That'll make me look bad."

As if you don't already look like a complete fool to those who think for themselves, Harry mentally scoffed.   "Okay, modify them.   Permit werewolves to get decent jobs if they buy wolfsbane from the ministry or get it from a government sanctioned foundation."

Fudge nodded slowly.   "I heard about the terms of Black's Will.   It's more complicated than you make it sound, but something like that is possible."

"Good.   Second, any previously convicted Death Eaters who are re-captured after escape are put to death after questioning.   No more tossing them back into Azkaban.   Kiss, Veil, A.K., I don't really care how."

Fudge raised his eyebrows.   "That's very bloodthirsty of you."

"Not at all.   If we keep capturing them and Voldemort keeps freeing them, then they really aren't being punished, are they?   We have to actually start PUNISHING them.   This is the most obvious way to do that and to reduce the numbers of trained Death Eaters running around."   Harry looked straight into Fudge's eye.   "This also has the added benefit of legally getting rid of Lucius Malfoy and any . . . embarrassing information he may let slip."

Fudge's lip twitched.

Harry nodded.   "Third, all prisoners get a trial.   Always.   I'm sure the headmaster has told you the tale of Sirius Black."

Fudge winced.   "Point taken."

"Fourth, a pardon for Sirius."

Fudge shook his head.   "I can't do that.   Unless some new evidence surfaces, and testimony from Albus or anyone else won't do it, I can't just pardon him.   I need something stronger."

Harry grimaced.   He didn't like that answer, but it made sense.   Fudge was apparently willing to work with Harry, but only so long as it didn't make him look bad.   "Fine, will delivering Peter Pettigrew be sufficient?"  

Without waiting for an answer, he continued, "Fifth, you stop protecting Umbridge and turn Madam Bones loose on her.   She deserves punishment for the dementors, blood quill, and attempted Unforgivable Curse."

Fudge frowned.   "I'm not sure I believe she actually did all that, but allowing a trial wouldn't hurt.   There's already enough pressure from parents and the school board."

"I don't care why you do it so long as it's done.   Those are my immediate demands.   In exchange, I won't bring up any of the issues I mentioned earlier and will publicly acknowledge that I'm cooperating with the ministry in fighting against Voldemort."

"And support my re-election campaign."

Harry glared at him coldly.   "I'm not doing this to make you look good, Fudge.   I'm working with the ministry, specifically Madam Bones and the Department of Magical Law Enforcement."

Fudge frowned.   "A joint press conference?"

"Madam Bones and me, sure.   I'm not backing you personally, Fudge, so stop asking.   I'm supporting the ministry's actions against Voldemort."

Fudge grumbled but eventually acquiesced.

"I'll show up for a press conference after the announcement about the modification of the werewolf laws.   Have a good day, Fudge."

Fuming, the Minister of Magic took his dismissal for what it was and headed toward Dumbledore's office.

Gathering Tonks from her unobtrusive guardian position, Harry walked out of Hogwarts and towards Hogsmeade.

"Busy day," Tonks idly commented after five silent minutes.

Harry grinned.   "Yes it has been, hasn't it?"

"I'm a little surprised at you, Harry."

"Why's that?"

"The clause of immediate execution for re-captured Death Eaters?   Sounds like something a Slytherin would suggest."

"Not all Slytherin ideas are bad, Tonks.   You're the last one I thought I'd have to tell that to.   You're, what, Slytherin class of '91?"

"'92.   You were a firstie when I was in my last year.   Helluva quidditch game you gave us, by the way."

Harry blinked at her.   "Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't remember you."

She shrugged and morphed into a form that looked only vaguely familiar.   "I had to promise Mum and Dumbledore not to use my abilities during regular school hours.   Everyone knew I was a metamorph, of course, but I only used it during the evenings and weekends."

"And Gryffindor firsties hardly run in the same social circles as seventh year Slytherins.   I guess that explains it."

She nodded and reverted to her more common image.   "As popular as I was, you weren't about to ask a Slytherin out."

Her tone of voice started raising some warning bells in Harry's mind.   "Big dater, were you?" he asked cautiously.

Her face twisted in disgust.   "No offense, Harry, but men are pigs.   By the end of the date, they'd always ask me to change into someone.   Celestina Warbeck was very popular with my classmates, by the way."  

She shook her head.   "Enough about my pathetic social life.   What will you do if and when Fudge reneges on his deal?"

Harry let the subject drop, knowing that she wanted to pretend they'd never said anything.   Instead, he answered, "I was thinking of having a howler delivered to him during a press conference, detailing not only our agreement that he broke, but also all of the dirt I know on him.   Then, if the twins are willing, hit him with a Wheeze that dresses him in a bright pink tutu and a parasol, gives him bloodhound ears, bright red hair, a glowing green nose, gorilla hands, ostrich legs, and a killer case of flatulence.   Or do you think that's too lenient?"

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Author Notes:

Bunnies this time around courtesy of Bill Herrington (philosophical argument with Fudge) and Finbar (Fudge's punishment for reneging).