The Fudge Strikes
I apologize in advance, as I was not able to do a list function for part of this story.
As far as Cornelius Fudge was concerned, the past week since he sent his pawn back to school was not going well.
Oh, he had been studying, and had gotten to the point where he now understood the difference between Alternating and Direct current, but he still had to learn how each was produced. The direct current was easy. When the electrons were sent to whatever device needed them, they were eaten by the device. What he didn't understand quite yet was how in alternating current, the device could eat then regurgitate the same electron many, many times. Shouldn't it have been eaten and changed to something else?
Well, he was sure that with more study, he would understand it.
Still, he had to get the rest of the accoutrements necessary for the role he was going to assume. Let the rest of the sheep listen to the idiots and beware Dark Lord what's-his-name. A true Dark Lord, such as himself was unknown, and the chosen name reflected true strength while being known to very few. A true Dark Lord ruled from the shadows, without anyone ever knowing his hand played a part. A stupid Dark Lord waged an open campaign and was asking to be caught and destroyed.
Such were the lessons evident once one read of the Jedi, and then read of how every Dark Lord in the past had acted.
Funny how he could see that once he actually reviewed what Dark Lords did, instead of just reacting to them. Those documents from the Department of Mysteries really pointed that out. Maybe it was just the style of Wizarding Dark Lords, since the Most of the really good Muggle ones had the best ideas on how to handle things properly. Why, they even published scrolls and books with list of what an evil overlord should do and avoid! Truly, the muggles were more enlightened as to how to be a Dark Lord!
Why, just the suggestions of not gloating and killing your opponents who discover who you are immediately and dressing in bright cheery colours would revolutionize the Dark Lords of the Wizarding World!
He also had to wonder how many Dark Lords there were in the Muggle World. Truly, the Statute of Secrecy was the other way around. Maybe he should join the Dark Overlord Union he heard about? Well, maybe not. There was something on that in the lists that you should not be known, so he would wait until he could really get everything together.
Cornelius grunted as he continued to work on the car. He had seen them in the Ministry Transport department, but was told by his teachers that he needed to get one working the normal way before attempting any magic to get it working better. Looking at the small ceramic and metal pieces he muttered, “Now where were these supposed to go again?”
“How many more of these Ludite's do you think there are?” asked one of the group of teachers that were going over what a Mr. Fudge needed to know to join modern society.
The guidance councillor sighed as he leaned back and sipped a strong blend. “Not entirely sure, and I think we should be on the look out for them. From interviews with Mr. Fudge, it seems he thinks of everything in terms of magic, as you know. Either he was raised in purposeful isolation, or he is part of a group from a really out of the way place.”
“I vote for an out of the way place.” sighed the car mechanic that had gotten involved. “He wanted to know what spells to cast on a car to make it go. The only way that he would not know that cars require gas would be for him to have never, or rarely ever, seen one, much less used or been around one.”
“Do you think we would qualify for a grant under the DES?” the chair for the meeting asked.
There was a grunt from a couple of members, and one stated, “They would likely use him as a poster boy of what a proper 'Comprehensive' education can do for the people. I would agree with that, the country would be full of idiots, so I don't think they will fund us.”
“Well, we can't afford to keep this guy in books and materials, our donations will not cover his being properly outfitted for society, so what can we do?” Asked one of the people at the side wall.
A person snorted at the doorway. “You lot are over-thinking things, as usual.”
Fergus Tyeweather growled back, “That's what you always say. What have we over-thought now, Neils?”
Robert covered his laughter with a cough, “Whenever you get together, you tend to philosophize and then go over what you know ad-nauseum. Did you think about checking some of the other resources we have aside from money and materials?”
“Books, papers, laser diodes, lights, plastic, donated recyclables. We barely cover rent on this place every month, and it's only through membership dues that we do that.” Gene replied.
Robert shrugged, “Well, we also have a documentary being filmed about us. Why don't we request of the Prime Minister's office a grant to teach people like this? It would be a political good will gesture from him, and with the new Star Wars birds, something that would get the government good publicity as we would be doing more than having club meetings.”
The others went red for a moment, “You know, that could work. Too bad we can't get a religious exemption as well.”
“You want Scientology for that. We're staying legal and away from any sort of controversy like that, so don't even think of applying for that exemption.”
“Look, an exemption will help us get money to donate to worthy causes, and for expanding teaching facilities and research.”
“Most of our research is fake, and the little research we do do is tied up with maths and belonging to robotics groups.”
“We could use the money to make a battlebot.”
Robert sighed and left the room, going back to his small office. It seemed that he would be the one to do the paperwork again. 'The consequences of putting so many dreamers in one place, I suppose. They dream big, but forget the little things like planning how to get it done.'
“Well, time to get planning,” Fudge mumbled to himself as he opened the scroll he got at that Muggle magic shop on war. “First thing's first. Going over this list and writing down what to do.”
He studied the list, and as he did, he started to write down the points of what he needed to start. Going up and down, he spent several hours making sure that he had the ones he needed to start, and to make it appear as if he was just someone getting along with life.
As such, his list was not the usual one, but it would do for a start:
1. One of my advisers will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.
1. Draco Malfoy fits this position.
2. I will hide my activities as part of a corporation, that way they will say it is corporate greed instead of looking at me as the person who is the evil one. They will go after the board of directors I hire and 'listen' to since I will appear as an indolent know nothing.
1. When I employ people as advisers, I will occasionally listen to their advice.
1. No advisers as of yet that are competent enough in politics, but as a board, they are the perfect people to be scapegoats.
2. I will exchange the labels on my folder of top-secret plans and my folder of family recipes. Imagine the hero's surprise when he decodes the stolen plans and finds instructions for Grandma's Potato Salad. If he wonders say it is a new product for the corporation.
3. Members of my corporation will attend seminars on Sensitivity Training. It's good PR for them to be kind and courteous to the general population when not actively engaged in sowing chaos and destruction.
3. I will hire a talented fashion designer to create original clothes for me that are well fitting and bright and cheery. I want my troops to have a more positive mind-set.
1. I will instruct my fashion designer that when it comes to accessorizing, second-chance body armour goes well with every outfit.
2. I will not wear long, heavy cloaks. While they make a bold fashion statement, they have an annoying tendency to get caught in doors or tripped over during an escape.
4. I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line "No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!" (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)
1. No one to teach me how to be a Dark Lord
2. Use the Jedi as teachers so that I can use this 'Force' of their magic
3. Get decent political help
4. Get people who know how to run a corporation.
5. Once my power is secure, I will destroy all those pesky time-travel devices.
1. Eliminate all time turners when I get the chance.
6. My undercover agents will not have tattoos identifying them as members of my organization, nor will they be required to wear military boots or adhere to any other dress codes.
1. No one as dumb as a Malfoy willing to take a mark unless it is someone elses and he is a scapegoat
7. I will not set myself up as a god. That perilous position is reserved for my trusted lieutenant.
1. Draco again. He is stupid enough to believe it
8. I will hire one hopelessly stupid and incompetent lieutenant, but make sure that he is full of misinformation when I send him to capture the hero.
1. Draco Malfoy
9. I will funnel some of my ill-gotten gains into urban renewal projects. Although slums add a quaint and picturesque quality to any city, they too often contain unexpected allies for heroes.
1. Good politics. Even better is having the masses pay for it and look like you donated money
10. I will not pick up a glowing ancient artifact and shout "Its power is now mine!!!" Instead I will grab some tongs, transfer it to a hazardous materials container, and transport it back to my lab for study.
1. All past information about Wizarding Dark Lords qualify
11. When it is time to unite all the diverse underworld organizations into a single cohesive crime syndicate, the meeting with all my fellow under-bosses will not feature the elimination of the vociferous objectors and intimidation of the rest. It will feature the deputization of the most powerful that I can control easily and the elimination of the rest.
“It was Potter. It had to be him, somehow,” was the angry rantings of a pale, blond young man. “I'll get him for this, if it's the last thing I do.”
If anybody hadn't guessed, the rantings had to do with how he had woken that morning, naked and in bed with the two oaf's that followed him. Now in Slytherin house, Draco was being touted as an admitted poof! Not that anyone really cared, figuring it had to be some sort of joke on the guy, and given how he had been acting in the past few years, several people in the house enjoyed the chance to rib the stuck up slimeboil.
Not that they would admit that the reason they were doing it was to get back at his pomposity. If anything, the people in the house were rather blase at his continued rants, and usually just waited for the time when he would be taken down at some point during the year. Nodding your head and saying “Yes Draco” had been the standard equation given his father and the way people tended to get hurt when they went against that family.
But now, all bets were off. This morning had proven that Draco could be gotten at within the house instead of waiting for Potter to humiliate him. In fact, several people had gone up to the owlery to get a copy of the Weeze's catalogue. It was a wonderful time to be a Slytherin.
“But Draco, we was outside. No one was near us. How could Potter get us?” Goyle asked.
Draco slapped the back of Goyles head. A habit he had gained from his mentor, Fudge. “He had to be out there, and stunned us. How else would it happen?”
He stalked to the Great Hall with the duo behind him, “Look. Aeroplanes take some time to set up. According to the books I read, they have to be fuelled and it takes time to pour the required liquid they call gas into it. You have to check the wings so that the canvas is clean, and you need to sew patches on if there are rough areas. Since there are two planes, and they don't have a gang of people to help them, then they have to do that by themselves. As well as spin the propellies to get them to take them into the air. A poor muggle substitute for a broom, but they can carry a lot more, so they can be used to drop bobs on people.”
Soon after they sat down, Crabbe and Goyle thinking about what Draco said, Hermione and Harry came through the doors, still dressed in their flight gear.
“So, according to the sensors, the magical dissonance degrades past 20 kilometres from the castle, but regular people can come right up to it and only notice ruins in the last 2 kilometres. This explains how the area is kept quiet, but is noticeable from normal means. I really wonder what the satellites have picked up, and if we can use them to discover various hidden areas.” Hermione stated as she sat down.
Harry shrugged as he sat down beside her, “It's something to consider, but how can we be sure that it would be noticed from space?”
“Curvature of the planet,” Hermione replied while filling her plate, “If the area were truly unnoticeable or unplotable, then there would be missing areas that would show up as squeezed, leaving the planet in an irregular form from that high. Given how gravity reacts, that would definitely point to something wrong, and that would lead to questions on how gravitational anomalies would be in the area due to mass. As you know from astrogation, and the tests on other planets in the solar system, investigation into these missing mass areas would be a priority.”
Ron's face was a mass of confusion, “What are you talking about?”
Hermione responded as she poured her morning tea, “How the shape of the world would allow us to find all magically unplotable and hidden areas on the planet due to curvature of the earth and how space time reacts to mass.”
Ron looked even more confused and put down his spoon. “What's that in English?”
Severus was having a really good morning. It was so good, that he was having trouble hiding a grin, which in itself would have terrorized the students from the second year up. The laughter of his Slytherins was infectious, and it had been a long time since he had played a prank. Back to the days when he was an idiot kid playing with things that he had no idea about. Truthfully, it was a wonder that any wizard survived long enough to breed, given the inherent stupidity of the common magic user and how they liked to play dangerous games, such as Quiditch.
During his usual late night patrol, he had noticed a tipsy house elf doing something with a closet. This was unusual. Not that a house elf doing something in a closet was unusual, but a tipsy one didn't work since that would bring the quality of the endeavour down, and to house elves, the better the quality of their work, the more satisfied they were. Curious, he had approached the closet and received what had to be a birthday present come early. The least ambitious, notoriously bad at cunning, and most likely to lose an argument with a floberworm, person in the entire school was behind that door unconscious. And since he had to come out of the closet anyway...
Of course, given how Draco had woken up, he would never see it that way, and he would never find out it had been him who had left them in a compromising manner.
Schooling himself to prevent skipping into the room, he looked about the great hall. There had to be something to enhance his reputation of being 'evil' while allowing him to smile. Ah. Granger and Potter apparently didn't have an opportunity to change before coming back from their morning patrol. True, they did have time, but it would help him by allowing him to smile at an 'evil' act.
“Potter! What are you doing out of uniform? Fifty points from Gryffindor for that and go back to your dormitory and dress properly!” Snape snapped at Harry.
Harry stood up, “I'm sorry, sir. I just came back from patrol. Permission to finish breakfast before heading out to change into my day uniform.”
Severus frowned. That wasn't how it was supposed to go. “Permission granted this one time. I would advise you to change into your uniform before you come down to breakfast. That goes for you as well Miss. Granger.”
Hermione stood as well, “Yes sir. May I remind you sir, that my brother's last name has been changed to Granger.”
He snorted at that, “Miss Granger, to me he will always be a Potter, no matter how he changes his name. I will try to remember for future reference, but you will pardon me if it seems strange to me.”
The two students nodded at the same time and sat back down allowing Snape to continue up to the Head Table. A smile appeared on his face and internally he was laughing as they both acted like military officers. That would make quite the impression around the school.
The man grumbled, “Why me?”
Fudge sighed, “Because you are the only one I know of who can vet the people I am thinking of hiring for my new company.”
Moody snorted, “So, why not go to Dumbledore? I'm sure he can point you in the right direction.”
Fudge groaned, “Because, listening to him is what got me kicked out of office in the first place.”
Mad-eye frowned, “What do you mean listening to him got you kicked out?”
Fudge stood up and started to pace, “It's only now that everything is done that I realize that Dumbledore does not have the peoples, or my, best interest in mind when advising them. He hid too much, such as what was going on with young Mr. Potter. Even then, I had to rely on getting outside advice on some of the issues since Albus was not responding, which is how I got involved with Mr. Malfoy.”
Moody laughed, “You went to him for advice. You didn't get the results you want, but it was your decision in the end.”
Fudge glared at the former auror, “And when the head of the Wizengamot does not take time to take the concerns of the nation in hand, who else can I go to for advice? In politics, and in companies, the best way to get all of the information you need is to have opposing view points. Deloris Umbridge was to advise me from the Ministry point of view, since she worked her way up the ladder in various departments. Malfoy was to advise me from the Pureblood point of view, Dumbledore was to advise me from the view of the Wizengamot as well as to the legal matters. I still did not have a business adviser, a view of the man on the street, or of the new muggleborns. I couldn't find anyone in those areas willing to advise. So when Dumbledore ignores all, and I am only left with two advisers who recommend a point of action they both agree with, what was I supposed to do? Nothing? Not lead? Not take a stance? How is that doing what is best for the world we live in?”
Moody nodded, his eye spinning, “Good points. Still doesn't explain why you need me.”
“Because, if this company is to be successful, I need people to tell me what is going on, where it is happening, and why. Without holding things back that I need to know while discarding the chaff.” Fudge said sitting down. “It's why I want you on the Board of Directors, and why I want you not only to run background checks, but to make sure the people are good and have differing points of view. I'll admit the final decision is mine, but without people to tell me what the choices are, legal, business, political, and general ideas which I would not think of myself, what can I do but descend into a failed company?”
Moody rubbed his chin, “I'm not saying yes, but I'll think about it.”
Fudge finally smiled and his body relaxed, “That's all I can ask of you.”
“I still don't get why you want all of that for a confectionery company.” Moody stated.
“Because, I want to start with confectioneries, and then have the company start looking into research and development for other areas, such as foods, kitchen equipment, entertainment devices, and so on. It would start with different types of fudge in all manners of forms and a few magical gimmicks thrown in, thus trading on my name, but eventually grow to be something that people can depend on in terms of innovations.”
“Bah. Innovations can be messy. That's why you need constant vigilance!”
“Perhaps,” Temporized Fudge, “But as we've seen lately, innovation is how people advance, and we are not advancing as a people.”
“Today we start learning about how to make permanent transfiguration’s,” McGonagall said to her class. “The theory behind it is simple, but fairly complex to do as it requires that you put in more power than you ever had before into the object that you are transfiguring. The main qualification of this is to stabilize the energy matrix of the transfigured object to prevent reversion.”
Hermione was frowning at this, having learned a different way during the summer, but was willing to listen. Knowledge was knowledge, and learning both methods would put her ahead in of many others. Her notes, usually completed on parchment scrolls, were now being done in a notebook, as was Harry's.
Harry, however, was half tuning the conversation out. He had learned a more efficient way, and although he would be studying this, was not going to put as much effort into it as he normally would. For some reason, he wanted to get outside and practice more, or work with his computer, or something. The class was boring compared to his aunts lectures and ways of making one think.
“Mr. Potter, are you really here, or do you require more sleep,” the Professor asked.
Harry's head snapped up, “No ma'am. It's just that I learned a different way during the summer.”
Professor McGonagall's eyebrow raised, “I assure you, Mr. Potter, this has been investigated thoroughly, and with have the aritmantic equations that prove that the only way to create a permanent transfiguration is to stabilize the change. The Laws of Magic do not allow for anything else.”
“Professor,” Harry stated reasonably, “Has anybody actually done investigation into other ways to do this, or is this another of 'It's something that everyone knows' things that they do not explain to muggle born and muggle raised and expect them to know?”
McGonagall started at this, for the first time remembering that Harry had not been raised in the Wizarding World. “I would have to say it is a well known fact in our world. Once someone is able to prove the laws by aritmancy, they are plain for everyone.”
Harry leaned back on his stool, “Then what would you say to there being a better, more efficient way?”
For the first time, there was a discussion of her favourite topic from a student she hadn't suspected even had the time, or the ability to look up the aritmancy. “I would say that I would be most surprised, and it would be worth an article in the Journal of Transfiguration.”
Harry nodded, “Then, did you know there is a way to perform permanent transfiguration with only half the power of making a temporary transfiguration?”
McGonagall was disbelieving, and at the same time, intrigued. “Can you prove this?”
Harry said, “If you can test for my power levels.”
McGonagall nodded, and Harry asked for a match. When he was finished, McGonagall smiled. “I don't believe it is permanent, Mr. Potter.”
“Please undo the transfiguration then.”
McGonagall tried a finite, then continued up the spell list for harder and harder reversal spells and finally tested to see if there was wavering energy field. There wasn't one. She was aghast. She was angry. She wanted to know the secret to this. “Class is dismissed. I need to see a couple of professors about this matter, and start a research group on how this could be.”
Hermione was groaning. Class had started so well and now this. Putting her head down in her notebook she grumbled, “Harry, you may be my brother, but you're an ass!”
Despite his always calling out 'Constant Vigilance', and his highly earned paranoia, Mad Eye did have several good and close friends. At the moment, however, he was thinking about one particular friend in a new light, given his talk with Fudge.
Where was his famed paranoia when it came to his friends? Mad eye snorted as he took a drink from his hidden still. Nowhere, and that had caused his to spend almost a year captured, and a couple of months of being in therapy in order to cure his ills. Looking back, he could even agree with Fudge's point of view on the matter.
Which disturbed him.
In his experience, politicians were people who really made a mess of things, always looking to score political points instead of doing things properly. However, if Albus had dropped the ball, as he had in the past few years now that he reviewed everything in his mind, then it was highly possible that Fudge wouldn't be able to make an informed decision. Hell, according to the grief maker, he didn't have all the advisers that he required in the first place since no one was willing to accept the job.
Competent politicians. That was what was disturbing him. Competent politicians were what everyone wished for, and never got. Politicians that actually cared for what the people needed were never elected in his experience. It was a popularity vote, not an actual vote on issues.
Alastor shuddered as he tossed back the drink. To think that one conversation could make him have to review and revise the idea that Dumbledore was vetted to doing things in the best interest of the people. The main problem he saw was that Albus had taken too much interest in the Potter boy at the wrong point, and even that interest was in terms of keeping a prisoner instead of an asset. No matter, he still needed to talk with the old man in order to carefully consider the entire matter.
Perhaps he should get Arthur as backup for this meeting. Moody then remembered Arthur was still in the middle of the 'Ministry Crisis' as it was being called. Sighing to himself, he got up and went over to the floo. Might as well get it over with before Fudge took his plans too far.
Fudge's plans started to come together. He had just finished at the Ministry's registry office in order to create Fudge Chocolatier's, and he had found a place just a few doors down from the Weeze, which would be a good position to get the children to buy. Now he just had to do interviews, and that would require Moody.
That could wait, but perhaps he should write a letter to both the Jedi and the Wookies, and perhaps other species, like Goblins and Centaurs to get permission to do a line of products based on their resemblance. If he spun it right, such as saying that he would include historic details and make the line of products a chocolate version of famous people, then he would have them, to pardon the pun, eating out of his hand. They might even contribute gold in some cases, just because of their egos, and no one could say that he was discriminating, could they.
Yes, that is what he would do.
Albus's mouth was open after hearing of Moody's meeting with Fudge, and what he wanted to do. Hearing that he was an idiot for ignoring what was going on and not advising when requested was not a good thing. Nor was it something he could dismiss, as he had put the Minister off several times when advice was asked for. More and more, it was looking like his quitting several posts had been an excellent idea. “He's going to make Fudge statues?”
Moody snorted, “That was the idea he came up with.”
An owl came through the window and offered a letter to the Headmaster.
“Thank you,” Albus said as he took the letter, “Would you wish some refreshments or do you wish to rest?”
The owl shook it's head and took off. As it got out of the window it wondered at how foolish so many humans were. Where were the good feeders who kept food at the ready like in it's younger days?
“What did you get Albus?” Mad eye stated as his false eye started to inspect the parcel for any spells.
Dumbledore opened it up, read a few lines and smiled, “It's an invitation to have a miniture chocolate statue of me made for children to eat. Why, that's even better than Chocolate Frog cards!”
Moody groaned. It was too late, Fudge had gotten to the old man by pulling on the ego. He would have to accept the position now to prevent anything untoward's happening.
'Damn it!' Mad Eye said to himself as he shuddered, 'Why the hell is a politician or a former politician so competent! It doesn't make sense!'
The former auror frowned. Could it be polyjuice potion? He would have to keep an eye out on the man, check for the imperious, or any number of foul deeds. Competence in a politician smacked of a Dark Lord somewhere, and there was only one that they were battling at the moment.
Which meant that Potter was in danger. Again. When would the kid get a break?