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Harry / Tonks ship

Author Notes:

This chapter is dedicated to Cami.  She's been a great beta to me, but unfortunately that thing called Real Life (tm) is interefering.  All my best to you, Cami.  Take care of yourself and hope to see you around the community.

It took a few minutes for the hubbub to die down after Fudge, former Minister and now on his way to a prison cell for the various death threats he'd just uttered, had been ignominiously dragged from the room.

Dumbledore finally gaveled everyone back into silence.  "As the post of Minister of Magic is now vacant," he started with palpable irony, "it is up to us to appoint an interim office holder until an election can be organized.

"According to the ancient rules of the Wizengamot, we are now sealed from communication with the outside for the duration."

A murmur arose from the audience.  Dumbledore held out a hand in a calming gesture.  "In a true emergency, they can still contact us; please have no fear of that.

"I will now accept nominations from the floor.  I wish to remind everyone that the recipient of the nomination must appear within one hour if they are not already present.  This is the only normal exception to the seal order.  Also, nobody is permitted to nominate themselves for the post of Minister of Magic."  He paused while everyone absorbed all the information.  As most people saw this coming, there were no questions.  "Does anyone wish to submit a name?"

A cacophony of voices was immediately heard.  Dumbledore had to pound the wooden block on the table for several minutes to regain control of the room.  "If you wish to speak, stand and I shall recognize you."  A dozen people immediately stood.  Unperturbed, Dumbledore calmly continued, "Once someone is nominated, the person so nominated will be permitted to speak for a few moments to accept or decline."  He inclined his head toward one of the standing wizards that Harry didn't know.  "Baron Williams?"

"I nominate Lord Albus Dumbledore."

A few scattered cheers sounded.

Dumbledore looked moderately embarrassed.  "I'm afraid I must decline, though I am honored to be considered.  With everything else I must do, I am afraid I could not devote the time or energy needed for the position."  He nodded toward one of the standing witches.  "Baroness Robbins?"

The nominations continued as various witches and wizards named people.  A couple ministry officials that Harry had never met, Director Amos Diggory, Chief Auror Rufus Scrimgeour, Baron Abbott, a Baron Ramforth, and even Arthur Weasley were all also nominated.

All of them accepted with one exception.  Arthur declined, stating, "I appreciate the show of confidence, but I'm afraid I have to respectfully decline.  I do not believe I have the temper and drive to perform as well as the public deserves."  He paused and added sheepishly, "And my fiscal skills aren't quite up to the job, either."  There were some smiles, but at least as many respectful nods at Weasley's painfully honest answer.

"Baron Bailey," Dumbledore called on the last standing magician.

"I nominate Lord-Baron Harry Potter," Bailey said in a clear, Irish accent.

Harry just about fell out of his seat as the room erupted in noise.  A couple dozen people were yelling, anger clear in their faces.  About an equal number were pounding on their arm rests, showing support.

Neville, sitting beside Harry, closed his eyes and started silently reciting every plant in the Hogwarts greenhouses by their Latin names in an effort not to laugh at the situation.  Or Harry's expression.

The room eventually quieted back down after many calls for quiet.  Before Harry could say anything, Dumbledore spoke up, "I am sure that Harry is entirely too busy to take over such a responsibility, though I am certain he is quite grateful for the show of support.  Are there any other recommendations from the floor before we begin the voting procedures?"

His face under rigid control, Harry stood.  "I believe you said that anyone nominated could make a short statement, Lord Dumbledore," he emphasized slightly.  "I also do not recall asking you to speak for me."  Those who actually knew him didn't miss the cold tone he'd used.

Dumbledore had the audacity to blink at him in surprise.  "Harry, you cannot possibly think -"

Harry turned to face the still standing baron and cut Dumbledore off, "Baron Bailey, I want to thank you for submitting my name, but I must respectfully decline.  Not only do I not have the temperament or experience for such a position, but I'm afraid anyone voting for me would be doing so for all the wrong reasons.  I'm afraid I'm seen as a kind of rallying point, and that's the wrong reason to vote someone into such an office.  To that end, I would like to nominate Director Amelia Bones, whom we should be doing everything in our power to support anyway.  As director of the D.M.L.E., she is uniquely suited to the current fight, and I've found her to be a fair, open-minded, and personable witch in all the dealings I've had with her."  He hoped Marcus wouldn't get angry with him, but he figured Amelia was one of the better choices available.

A murmur went up in the audience.  Both for Harry's nomination and the obvious friction between Dumbledore and Potter.  Dumbledore's expression was still benign, but for those who knew him well enough to read his face, it was clear that he was not happy.

Amelia stood up from her seat among the ministry workers, eyes going back and forth between Harry and Dumbledore.  "I am honored to accept your nomination, Lord-Baron Potter.  If chosen, I hope to justify your faith in my abilities during this trying time."

Dumbledore cleared his throat.  "Yes, well.  Are there any other nominations?"  When nobody else stood, he nodded.  "Very well.  If all of the accepting candidates could please come forward and give a short explanation to us as to why they feel they should be chosen?"

Seven magicians were shortly standing before the group.

One stepped forward immediately.  He was thin and carried himself with a smooth grace that contrasted with his slightly coarse features.  "My name is Baron Ramforth," he said, sounding as if anyone who didn't know him was behind the times.  "My family has owned our ancestral home for over twenty generations.  We own various properties we rent out and operate a few precious gem mines around the world.  When elected, I shall do all in my power to hold us together during these troubled times and restore the wizarding population of Great Britain to her former glories."

Next, a thin man limped to the fore.  Despite the streaks of gray in his hair, he spoke with a presence the few could match.  "I am Chief Auror Scrimgeour.  If elected, I'll use the knowledge I've gained as an active auror and director of our auror forces to put a swift end to the threat we're currently facing."

None of the rest reacted for a moment before Marcus Abbott waved toward Amelia.  "Ladies first," he invited with a smile.

Bones gave him a short smile and a nod at the courtesy.  Turning to the room, she said, "I am Director Amelia Bones, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.  In addition to it being my job to keep the wizarding world safe, it is also personal for me.  I've lost most of my family, including my niece less than a year ago, to the Death Eaters.  If elected, I'll use my experience as a high-level administrator not only in the current crisis but also in the long term to help the people of wizarding Britain."

The remaining four men shared a glance before Amos Diggory spoke.  "I'm Amos Diggory, Director of the Department of Control of Magical Creatures.  Like Director Bones, I too lost family to the Death Eaters.  In my case, it was my son Cedric at the end of the Tri-Wizard Tournament."  He nodded toward Harry.  "Again, I would like to thank Lord-Baron Potter for returning his body.  If elected, I hope to work for the betterment of my fellow wizards and witches."

One of the remaining two that Harry didn't know stepped up.  He was a relatively young wizard, compared to the others standing in front.  "I'm Chris McWilliam of the Goblin Liaison Office.  I hope to use my knowledge and relationship with Gringotts to promote a stronger economy for us.  That is the only long-term basis for peace and prosperity."

"I'm Baron Marcus Abbott, owner of Abbott Greenhouses.  If elected, I hope to use my business and managerial knowledge to serve the citizens of our country.

"No offence toward some of my fellow candidates," he continued, "but perhaps my viewpoint from outside the ministry is what the people of Great Britain need."  He looked ironically toward the door and the recently departed Cornelius Fudge.  "After all, the current administration hasn't done very well."

The last one to step forward was a thin man.  "Fred Johnson, Assistant Director of the Department of International Cooperation.  If chosen, I'll attempt to appeal to the foreign governments for aid with the threat we're facing."

Harry initially thought that such short statements were very peculiar, but then remembered one of the side notes in the rules of the Wizengamot that he'd read.  The theory is that a candidate's history should speak for itself, so any grandstanding or long-winded speeches under the circumstances were severely frowned upon.  It sounded like an altogether reasonable idea.  Not for the least reason that it saved them from a lot of long speeches.

When Johnson stepped back, Dumbledore stood and waved his wand.  An image of a sheet of parchment appeared in front of everyone, listing each name.  "Press your signet ring next to the individual's name to vote.  Per Wizengamot procedures regarding electing a temporary Minister, each vote will remove only one of the candidates.  After each vote, we will alternate between debate amongst ourselves and words from the candidates.  Are there any questions?"  When nobody spoke, he nodded.  "Very well.  Everyone, please vote."

Harry examined the page, eyes flickering back and forth between Marcus and Amelia's names.  He expected either could do very well, but he was the one who nominated Amelia.  Potter and Black votes went to Amelia Bones.

Two minutes later, all the illusionary ballots disappeared.  Dumbledore stood and looked at the sheet in his hand.  "One-hundred and forty-four votes were cast.  Baron Abbott received twenty-five.  Director Bones received twelve.  Baron Ramforth received fifty.  Directory Diggory received twenty-four.  Assistant Director Johnson received three.  Chief Auror Scrimgeour received fifteen.  Director McWilliam received fifteen."  He looked over at the still-standing candidates.  "Assistant Director Johnson, thank you for your time."

The losing man nodded and headed back for his seat.  It might have been a trick of the light, but Harry thought he looked relieved.

"We will take a short break for lunch and then a round of debate before our next vote."


"After that stimulating repast, I ask if anyone wants to speak for or against any of the candidates.  Also, any questions anyone may have or other points to discuss.  At the moment, it is a free-form discussion."

Baron Parkinson, who Harry recalled as having opposed him in November's meeting, stood.  When Dumbledore acknowledge him, the stern-faced man said, "I wish to speak in favor of Baron Ramforth.  He has always been an honorable wizard in all of my dealings with him, wishing nothing more than to uphold the values and traditions of the wizarding world."

Harry frowned.  The way it was phrased, it sounded ominous.

Harry wasn't the only one to think so.  Neville stood.  "Baron Ramforth, would you consider yourself a traditionalist?"  Ramforth nodded proudly.  Neville nodded back.  "Thank you, that was my only question."

Harry leaned over and whispered to Neville, "You sly devil.  You basically got him to admit to being a pure-blood supremacist."

"Not quite," Neville whispered back.  "Just that he's a traditionalist.  What anyone chooses to make of that is up to them."

A younger baron was apparently thinking the same thing that Harry was.  "What is your opinion on the rights of the muggle-born, Baron Ramforth?  Actually, I'm interested in the answer to that question from all six of you."

Ramforth smoothly answered, "So long as they are law-abiding citizens, I have no quarrel with them as a group."

Scrimgeour, Bones, McWilliam, and Diggory all gave variations on the opinion that bloodline didn't matter to them.

Abbott, however, said, "Some of my best employees are muggle-born.  I've heard from my daughter that one of the smartest witches in Hogwarts right now is muggle-born.  Not only does bloodline not matter to me personally, but I have long been of the opinion that any discrimination, overt or covert, against them should be illegal."

Many of the barons sitting around Parkinson shifted in their seats, scowling slightly.  Ramforth's eyes narrowed slightly.  A good portion of the rest of the room was nodding in agreement with Marcus's words.

The first election platform plank had clearly been laid.

Various lords and barons rose to speak for or against one of the candidates.  Nothing surprising came out of the testimonials or questioning.

Something said earlier in the meeting caused Harry to stand in the next lull.  "When we were discussing Former Minister Fudge, Baron Parkinson brought up the possibility of the minister being controlled through the Imperious Curse.  I would like to suggest that each of the candidates before us be tested for their resistance to this heinous form of mind control."

Amidst much whispering, Baroness McComb stood.  Harry remembered her as the Chief Elder during his trial in August.  "I second the motion.  A minister under the control of someone else is not only worse than useless, but would no doubt be working directly for the madman trying to destroy us all."

There was general agreement to that, so each of the remaining six candidates had to submit to testing.  After a bit of discussion (and a vote to temporarily suspend the law for this case only) Albus Dumbledore cast the spell upon each of the candidates.

Only one of the candidates failed to throw it off. Director McWilliam of the Goblin Liaison Office nodded sadly and returned to his seat.

Dumbledore called for another vote.  The procedure was repeated, this time with only five names on the ballot.  Again, Dumbledore read the results.  "One-hundred and forty-four votes were cast.  Baron Abbott received thirty.  Director Bones received twenty.  Baron Ramforth received fifty-one.  Directory Diggory received twenty-seven.  Assistant Chief Auror Scrimgeour received sixteen."  He paused.  "Chief Auror Scrimgeour, thank you for your time."

As the man limped back to his seat, Dumbledore said, "I call a twenty minute recess.  We shall reconvene and hear from our remaining candidates at that time."

Harry stood up and stretched out his arms, working the kinks out from staying in one place for an extended period of time.  Done stretching, he headed toward the front of the room.  He and Dumbledore needed to talk.

"Harry," Amelia intercepted him before he made it all the way to the floor.

"Amelia," Harry half-bowed back to her.  She gently pulled him over to a couple empty chairs and waved her wand to create a Privacy Sphere.  Once out of sight of the rest of the room, she slumped a little.

"What's wrong?" Harry asked in concern.

"Harry, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the incredible compliment you paid me by nominating me.  But you need to know that I don't want that job."

Harry raised an eyebrow.  "And here I thought it was the lifelong dream of any ministry employee to get into that office," he teased.

She gave him a half-hearted glare in return.  "I can do more good as head of D.M.L.E. than as minister.  I think I can do good here, Harry, and I know I'm not going to win this next vote.  I'm the one in last place, now that Rufus is out of the running."  She paused before plunging forward, "You need me to bow out and endorse someone else.  Hopefully that will keep all those votes away from Ramforth."

"He's a deez or a sympathizer?" Harry asked directly.

She slowly shook her head.  "I wouldn't go that far.  Not known as dark so much as not light.  You heard his opinion of muggle-borns.  Given his way, he'd isolate the wizarding world from the muggle world completely."

"Which would doom us in the long run.  Talk about short-sighted."

She shrugged.  "So you actually need me to endorse Amos or Baron Abbott," she said, bringing them back to the topic.

Harry sighed.  "Tell me honestly, do you think Diggory can do it?  I hardly know the guy."

Amelia grimaced.  "Probably, if he listened to some advisors."

"Hardly a ringing endorsement," Harry noted.

Her expression showed that she was uncomfortable with her next statement.  "Rumor has it that he's been listening to Dumbledore ever since his son's death.  While that in itself is not a bad thing . . ."

"We'd be exchanging an incompetent buffoon for Dumbledore's lackey."

She winced.  "Not the word I would have used, but essentially correct.  You really ARE angry with him, aren't you?"

"After Tom is molding in some shallow grave, I'll tell you about it.  Our history is long and only a few parts of it are mutually pleasant."

She let it go.  "So you'd rather I throw support to Abbott?  With the way you two act, it'll look like he's YOUR man."

Harry grimaced, acknowledging the truth of the way it looked.  "Aren't you worried how your impartiality will look after this?"  Harry waved at the Privacy Sphere.

She gave a slight smile.  "I've had a reputation of independence since before you were born.  Everyone has tried to recruit me into their little factions since I became an auror.  Dumbledore did, Voldemort did, Fudge did."  Her smile grew.  "In that category, Harry, you're not a threat."

He laughed.

She grinned along for a moment.  "Then you recommend Baron Abbott?"

Harry nodded firmly.  "Yes.  Good guy.  Like he said, he's a businessman, so he may be thin on some of the governmental niceties, but that's what department heads are for, right?  He's got the instincts and nerve to be on top of a major company and keep it profitable throughout everything going on through the last war and the beginnings of this one.  Everything I've heard about him makes me think he's honest.  He's also allied with the Longbottoms; his daughter is Matched with Neville so that has to say something about the family character."

She nodded thoughtfully.  One wave of her wand and the Privacy Sphere dissolved.  She bid him a polite goodbye and headed toward Baron Abbott.

Harry stood and resumed his approach to Dumbledore.

"Harry!" Dumbledore greeted him cheerfully.  "What can I do for you?"

Harry sighed.  "Headmaster, again I ask you not to call me by my given name.  I also ask that you never again speak for me as you attempted to do earlier."

Dumbledore appeared momentarily apologetic.  "I was simply attempting to save you the -"

"Perhaps you did have benevolent motives," Harry allowed, cutting him off.  "However, speaking for someone without their permission is considered rude and disrespectful.  I learned very little of worth from the Dursleys, but that is one thing that seems to be as true in the muggle world as it is in the magical."

Dumbledore was quiet for a moment.  "I shall attempt to keep that in mind."

Harry just nodded.

Diggory walked up to the two.  "Headmaster.  Lord-Baron."  He bowed slightly to Harry.

"Director Diggory.  I don't recall that I said anything at the time, but you have my condolences for Cedric."

Diggory just nodded, looking a little down.  He turned to Dumbledore.  "Albus, I must confess that I'm still not sure about running for Minister.  Both Amelia and Baron Abbott are perfectly capable of doing -"

"Amos," Dumbledore soothed the man.  "We have spoken about this.  We need someone in the minister's chair who will do good for the community.  I think you would do marvelously at it."

Harry raised an eyebrow.  "I'm sure he could," Harry said, drawing the attention of both men.  "On the other hand, if he's hesitant, then perhaps he should step back and endorse someone else."

"Harry," Dumbledore started in a slightly condescending tone.  He changed what he was going to say at Harry's tightening jaw muscles.  "Lord-Baron, your nomination of Amelia is a noble thing, but she is far too stubborn a person to have in the position of Minister of Magic.  Despite everyone's best efforts, nobody can influence her once she's made up her mind on a subject."

Harry adopted a slightly amused expression.  "Did you just admit that you're against her because you can't influence her decisions?"  Without waiting for a response, Harry continued, "Either way, isn't that a very GOOD attribute to have in this time of obviously powerful lobbying efforts of questionable goals?  After all, Malfoy and Fudge led us into this current mess."

Again not waiting for a response from the Chief Warlock, Harry turned to Diggory.  "Sir, if you're uncomfortable with running for Minister, then perhaps you should step back and throw your support for someone whom you feel can do the job properly."

"Amelia, for instance?" Dumbledore interjected in a slightly sarcastic tone.

Harry sighed.  Shaking his head slightly, he continued to address Diggory.  "You, sir, should do what your heart tells you is the right thing.  Whether that is to run yourself or to throw your support to Amelia or Baron Abbott.  It is your choice, sir.  Please do what you want and feel is best for the public, rather than what someone tries to convince you to do."  He nodded respectfully to the man.  "Good luck, Director."

Harry moved back toward his seat, leaving a quietly fuming Headmaster and a pensive Director in his wake.

Just as he was sitting down next to Neville, Marcus Abbott approached.  After shaking Neville's hand and a giving his fellow baron a few polite words, the man turned to Harry and chewed his lip.

Harry almost smiled.  "Let me guess, you're trying to figure out how to get my support despite the fact that I nominated someone else, and she's still in the running, correct?"

Marcus hesitated a moment before giving a sheepish grin and nod.

Harry laughed.  "Marcus, it isn't that I doubt your ability to do the job.  I just think Amelia could do it as well."  He glanced over toward where Amelia and Amos Diggory were speaking in intense whispers with a disgruntled Dumbledore looking on from a short distance.  Smirking up at Abbott, Harry continued, "I think you'll find the next round of speeches to be . . . enlightening."

Marcus followed Harry's gaze for a moment.  "What did you do, Harry?" he asked quietly.

"Annoyed Dumbledore, mostly, I think."  When Neville and Marcus just looked confused, Harry waved it off.  "Just watch the show, guys.  The playing field will be dramatically altered soon."

"Should I be scared?" Marcus asked with a note of amusement in his voice.

"Not at all.  Nothing bad for you, I promise."

Marcus shook his head and headed back down to the front.

"What'd you do, Harry?" Neville asked in a whisper.

Harry practiced his diabolical grin and refused to answer the question.

Without much prompting from Dumbledore, the room quieted back down.  "We shall now hear from our remaining candidates."

Bones and Diggory both started speaking.  "I would -"  They both cut off and looked toward each other.  Taking a lesson from Abbott, Diggory waved a hand.  "Ladies first."

Amelia nodded.  "I shall make this quick.  I am withdrawing myself from the list of candidates for interim Minister of Magic."  

A rustling of robes was heard as the audience reacted to the news.  More than a few looked toward Harry as he was the one to have nominated her in the first place.  For his part, Harry kept a calm expression on his face, his attention on Amelia.

After a moment, she continued, "I want to thank Lord-Baron Potter for honoring me with his support as well as everyone who voted for me for their confidence in my abilities.  However, I feel that I can do more good for the people of Britain if I maintain my place as Director of the D.M.L.E."  She paused.  "I wish I could fully endorse one candidate above the others.  Honestly, though, I feel that either Amos Diggory, a man whom I've worked with before, or Baron Abbott, clearly an honest and good man in his own right, could do the job of Minister of Magic well."  She gave the audience a respectful half-bow, repeated the action toward Dumbledore, and nodded specifically toward Harry.  "I thank you all for your time."  Head held high, she stepped toward her previous chair in the block of ministry worker seats.

Diggory was looking toward her in something like amusement.  "Well, that simplifies what I was going to say," he said almost to himself.  Addressing the crowd, he said, "I, too, am withdrawing from the running."  The rustling from the crowd was more pronounced this time.  Unperturbed, he went on, "I want to thank Lady McGonagall and all those who voted for me for the show of support.  With the withdrawal of Director Bones, I feel no hesitation in whole-heartedly supporting Baron Abbott.  In speaking with him over the short recess we just had, he seems to be a good, honest, and open man whom we could all follow without qualms.  Thank you all for your time."  He repeated the half-bows toward the audience and Dumbledore before he, too, headed toward his seat.

While the audience was reacting to this news, Abbott and Ramforth were eyeing each other.  With a slightly mocking smile, Ramforth waved his hand in invitation.

Ignoring the silent sarcasm, Marcus said, "Unfortunately for Baron Ramforth, I am NOT withdrawing."  A sound of amusement went around the room..  Marcus continued after a moment of thought, "I am surprised but definitely pleased with the shows of support from Directors Diggory and Bones.  If elected, I promise to get us through the current crisis with," he paused only momentarily, "Voldemort."  Most of the crowd shuddered. 

Harry noted that Parkinson and a handful around him did NOT shudder, but were instead scowling.

Marcus was going on, "Once the current terrorist threat has been dealt with, I will push for total equality among all witches and wizards.  Thank you."

Ramforth stepped forward.  "When elected, I will do all in my power to bring the peace and prosperity that all proper witches and wizards deserve, as it is our birthright."

Again the vote was taken, now down to only two names. 

This vote would be the one to determine the interim Minister of Magic.

Everyone endured a seemingly long and stressful wait while Dumbledore was studying the paper in front of him.  Finally, he spoke.  "One-hundred and forty-four votes were cast.  Baron Abbott received seventy-two.  Baron Ramforth received seventy-two.  We have a tie."

The room erupted in noise.  There were no provisions for a tied vote, so nobody knew what to do.  Parkinson led a short drive to claim some of the non-represented votes (Malfoy was the one he used as an example), but Dumbledore stopped that idea by reiterating the rule that only those with the signet rings could vote.  Words were exchanged in both directions, but it was clear that nobody would budge on their stance or their vote.

After an hour of fruitless shouting, Harry sighed at the necessity of what he was about to do; he saw no other way out of the situation.  He stood and announced in a loud voice, "I have another vote to cast."

Every eye was suddenly on him; some in hope, many in suspicion.

A quick, wandless spell was cast to remove the glamour, and the third signet ring on Harry's hand came into view.  Holding the hand high so all three rings were clearly visible, Harry proclaimed, "The House of Gryffindor votes for Baron Abbott!"

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Author Notes:

Many of the reviews last time referred to my ending A/N last chapter of "if I added the next part, it would get too long".  Apparently many of you feel that there is no such thing as "too long".  While I appreciate the tacit compliment, I'm trying to keep the chapter lengths down in order to make the wait time between chapters shorter.  Not that it helped all that much this time.  Sorry for that.

 

I think I credited it sufficiently in the story, but the point that a minister under Imperious is worse than useless came from Dorothy McComb (Ishtar).

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