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Chapter 44: Prank Revealed

Thank you to my Betas Sparky40sw, Cateagle and Rictor.

Charlie Weasley was a meticulous man, in his own way. Working with dragons, as he had from his leaving of Hogwarts until this previous spring, forced a person to pay attention to the details of every action, but not in a way that his younger brother, Percy, would have appreciated. Percy was the detail oriented type of stickler that you would want reviewing a new law before it was passed or performing the research that would, perhaps, save a loved one from a once incurable disease. Dragons, however, would have Percy tearing his hair out and swearing like a true Weasley male would when not around a Weasley female. With dragons, you had to pay attention to details and not be lax or cut corners, but you had to react instantly to changing situations. It was a more free-form type of work than bean-counting.

When Charlie got back on Boxing Day from his stay at his girlfriend's parent's house, he found himself surprised when he was able to eat a large lunch with his mother and Ron without any fauna related consequences. The Brothers had been granted a reprieve over the Christmas Holiday, but only, as they understood, for the Eve and day itself; Boxing day was separate. The end of the reprieve was evidenced by Ron's change while eating his chips.

Charlie decided that the prank had gone on long enough. Previously he had not tried very hard to avoid the prank, but now he wanted to find the cause. One factor in his calculations of cause was, in fact, Ron's transformation into a garden snake.

"Ron, did you transform this morning, too?" Charlie asked.

"Yeah," Ron slurred around a mouthful of beef sandwich. "Harry and Hermione said something about me changing into an extinct bird or something."

"Really?" Charlie asked. "What kind?"

"Hmmm," Ron tried to remember, "a coco?"

"A dodo, Ronald," his Mother corrected.

"Yeah, a dodo," Ron confirmed. "That's what Hermione said."

"You sure?" Charlie asked. "Not like her to forget a fact that she read. The extinct muggle bird, the dodo, is really a magical bird, the diricawl. Wizards let the muggles think they're responsible for the extinction of the species so they might be more careful about how they use animals."

"Seems a pretty silly reason," Ron answered.

"I think that they really did it so the muggles wouldn't be able to study them, as they're a rather magical bird. Muggle science started to get good enough at the time that maintaining secrecy started to become a problem. I shudder to think what they can do now," Charlie said as he wiped his mouth with his napkin and stood from the table. "Well, I think I'll see if I can figure out what Harry did."

"Wait, magical?" Ron exclaimed. "You mean that I could have done something magical when I was transformed and all I did was sit there?"

At dinner after their return from Gringotts, Hermione was mortified to find out that she had gotten her information wrong about a subject that she had read. Immediately after being reminded of the entry on the diricawl in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, she exclaimed a patently false phrase that Ron and Harry had not heard out of her mouth since their first year.

"How could I have been so stupid?" Hermione exclaimed. "Of course you're right. The dodo is another name for the diricawl. I can't believe that I forgot it from Fantastic Beasts. I'll never live this down," she ended morosely.

Harry and Ron could only share a look that confirmed agreement that she was just nutters. The last thing they were likely to do is remind Hermione of a book, forgotten or otherwise. That'd just be a slow death by boredom. As it was, they'd probably have to put up with her reading it as much as she read Hogwarts, a History.

By mutual silent agreement, Ron and Harry would never encourage Hermione to share the wondrous facts that could be found in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, through teasing or otherwise.

Harry watched as each of the Weasley boys sat at the breakfast table and accepted the offered food. They were leery at the sight of their normal portions, but they didn't let that stop them. Displaying the Gryffindor courage that marked the family throughout history, they dug in, knowing they would find themselves transformed before the breakfast was through. With a resignation to fate and a reckless courage, they plowed through the beginning of the meal. Nonetheless, Harry watched with an eager eye. His anticipation was on high to find out who would solve the prank.

When Ron had finished his third banger, Harry knew the jig was up. By now, he was sure that one or all of the Weasleys should have transformed into one animal or another. His fun was over.

"Okay," Harry accused, "Which one of you broke the prank?"

"Well," Ron answered, swallowing an unnaturally large bite, "I threw away that brown thing under my bed. You must have used that to curse me during the night."

"Eeww, Ron," Ginny whined. "That must have been a dust bunny. How long has it been since you cleaned your room?"

"You mean, it wasn't cursed?" Ron asked. "Then why did it glow in the dark?"

"" Hermione stammered. "You know what? I don't want to know."

"And what do you mean," Ron asked, "clean my room? I thought that Mum cleaned my room."

"Ronald," his Mum said, "I clean your room after you leave for school so that nothing grows legs and moves to an already clean part of my house. You, young man, know that you are supposed to keep your room tidy."

"So," Harry said loudly to change the subject to something safer. "Anyone else think they solved the prank?"

"I solved it, I think," Percy proclaimed. "Were you hexing us in our sleep? I put a reflexive shield around my bed."

"No," Harry answered. "And stationary reflexive shields are too easy to get around. Any other takers?"

"We put..."

"Aristotle's Super Stick-um..."

"in Ron's shoes," the twins confessed.

"That was you!?!" Ron raged.

"What does that have to do with solving the prank?" Harry asked.

"Nothing," Fred said.

"It was just fun," George offered.

"Bill?" Harry asked.

"Don't look at me, Harry," Bill answered. "At least as a curse breaker, I would've known if I solved this one."

"So, tell us Charlie," Harry said, turning to the smirking stout man, "What's been responsible for the Weasley Brothers' changes?"

"So it was the bloody tooth paste?" Charlie exclaimed. "I wasn't sure, but it was the only thing that we all use. I ruled out food a few days before Christmas and it was the only thing left."

"Glad I chose that, then," Harry expressed happily. "I didn't figure everyone used the same cologne and I know that everyone doesn't use mouthwash."

"Harry, Ginny," Mr. Weasley started. "I understand that you both have successfully become Animagi."

"Yes, sir," Harry confirmed as Ginny nodded.

"What were your thoughts on registration?" he asked.

"We, um," Harry stammered.

"We figured that it would be too dangerous for our enemies to know about it until after this is over," Ginny told her father in the empty living room.

Arthur rubbed his chin in contemplation. "I believe you're right. But I don't especially want my little girl or her boyfriend to go to Azkaban over something as trivial as this."

"Given a choice," Harry declared seriously, "between safety or risking having to explain myself to the Wizengamot when this is over, I prefer safety. This could be important."

"You're right, Harry," Arthur said. "But, I may have a solution. Can I make an appointment with someone that we can trust in the DMLE so that this can all be officially under the table?"

Harry and Ginny shared a silent conversation within a look. Trusting another Ministry employee was not something that would come easy with their interactions in the past, but they had to trust Ginny's father's judgment. It hadn't failed them yet.

"Who would you talk to?" Ginny asked.

"The Director, Amelia Bones, is a fair and honest law enforcement professional, and even more important, she's practical," Arthur told them. "She'll understand the necessity of keeping this information secure."

Harry and Ginny shared another brief look before they both nodded.

"Good, good," Arthur smiled. "Both of you will come with me to the Ministry the day after tomorrow. I'll have an appointment arranged for the first thing in the morning. Now," Arthur continued, "I think that it's time for you two to show me your forms. I am so proud of you both for tackling such a difficult task."

Harry was none-too-vaguely nervous about traveling with Mr. Weasley for an appointment with Magical Law Enforcement. The similarity to sixteen months ago was all too obvious. Luckily, this time they were leaving from the Burrow, which allowed them to travel by Floo, although the ride was nothing that Harry enjoyed repeating.

Harry was the last out of the Atrium fireplace from their party. As he stepped from the green flames, he stepped into Ginny's waiting arms.

"Ginny," Harry exclaimed in surprise. "What are you doing? If I had stumbled like I normally do, you would've been flattened."

"Well, gee, Harry," Ginny's voice dripped with sarcasm, "You're welcome. Here I am ready for your normal graceful exit and you have such nice things to say to me?"

"Oh well, umm," Harry replied nervously, knowing he had nearly stuck his foot in it again. "I just don't want you to be hurt."

"That is fine, Harry," Ginny returned, "But I am my own woman, and I'll catch you when you fall if I want." She blinked, "And by the way, good job with not falling."


"Come along," Mr. Weasley urged. "We have an appointment at nine with the Director."

They were ushered into the Director of Magical Law Enforcement's office after a short wait. They found her secretary to be personable and cheery, and were relieved when she didn't show any excess awe at The-Boy-Who-Lived. Harry found it refreshing to be treated so professionally, something he wasn't used to, as evidenced by his experience with wand registration at the security stand. The attendant, Eric, had been over-awed by his presence and made the fact known. Ginny was just glad that she didn't have to show the young woman outside Madame Bones's office who's territory Harry really was, as she was sure that he had not noticed the attention the rest of the office staff had shown him.

"Mr. Potter," Madame Bones stepped around her desk to shake his hand. She then greeted Mr. Weasley and Ginny in a similar manner.

"Thank you for the appointment, Director Bones," Mr. Weasley returned. "I wanted Ginny and Harry to settle a matter with this office before it turned into something more serious later."

"Of course," she replied. "What is the matter that needs to be settled?"

Mr. Weasley smiled with pride, "Well, Director, these two students have apparently managed to complete the Animagus process and are now both Animagi."

"Hmm..." the Director contemplated the couple through her monocle. "It would seem that congratulations are in order. Am I to assume that the both of you are here to fulfill the legal requirements of the action?"

"Yes, ma'am," Harry answered deferentially.

Ginny echoed his reply with a nod.

"Hmmgm," Arthur cleared his throat. "It seems that you have this under control. Thank you for seeing them today."

"Yes, you're welcome, Arthur," she replied, offering and receiving a handshake. "And thank you as well for helping the children to do what is required. I'll see that they Floo home safely after the registration is completed, if you wish."

Harry and Ginny stood to the side as the professionals exchanged greetings.

"Oh, that would be lovely, Amelia," Mr. Weasley replied. "I had planned on waiting in your anterior room for them to be finished, but I do have a heavy workload today, coordinating with your office for some upcoming raids on suspected Death Eaters, so, if they don't mind..." he turned to his daughter and her boyfriend.

"Nah, go ahead Dad," Ginny said. "How much safer could we be than in the middle of Auror central?"

"Okay, thanks Pumpkin," Arthur smiled. He gave her a hug and placed a kiss on her forehead. Releasing his daughter, he shook Harry's hand and thanked Amelia once more before leaving the office.

"Well, now," Madame Bones broke the quiet and waved the pair to the seats facing her desk. "Let us have a seat and discuss your Animagus status. I do believe that you may have some questions for me?"

Harry and Ginny shared a glance and a small smile. They both knew the question that Harry had not been able to find an answer to in his limited research on Animagus Registration law.

"Yes, um..." Harry paused. "What is the legal requirements for registration with multiple Animagus forms?"

They got just a shadow of their expected entertainment as the Director of Magical Law Enforcement blinked for a few seconds before she could respond, even then her response was measured.

"Am I to assume that one of you has achieved this feat?" she asked.

"No," Harry replied cryptically.

"And are you planning to add to this dynamic," she asked, "or are you just curious?"

After some consideration of the official across the large walnut desk from him, Harry replied, "More than curious. I have done all of the construction for my second form and plan to add a third. The second will be completed with help from Professor McGonagall soon after we get back to Hogwarts."

"A third?" she clarified. "And what, may I ask, is your reasoning?"

"My first form," Harry told her, "is rather inconspicuous, but fun in its own right. Ginny's is completely fun and dead useful. Unfortunately, they aren't very compatible for spending any time together."

Ginny smiled. "He's rather sweet, isn't he?" she asked the law enforcement professional.

Madame Bones smiled at the obvious young love. "Quite," she replied. "That would account for two forms. How does the third come into the equation?"


"Weasley!" Minister for Magic Cornelius Oswald Fudge shouted at his closed office door. He had just finished reviewing his day's schedule and found it lacking in the kind of thing he needed most at the moment. He had felt his reputation in the public eye lacking of late, in fact for the past half year. Ever since it was so shockingly revealed that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had indeed returned to terrorize the British wizarding world, the Minister had not been able to bring the Press to his side and convince them that he had not been mistaken in his assessment of the young Harry Potter and the venerable Albus Dumbledore. The Prophet had used such words in passing as 'incompetent', 'negligent' and 'irresponsible'. He was at a loss for something to gain favor with the paper and the public, as his one attempt at strong arming the publication had required that he covertly call for a trusted obliviator or remove any repercussions for his unsuccessful attempt. Lately he had been keeping an eye on the daily agendas of each of his departments as well, hoping one of them would prove fruitful.

"Yes, Minister?" Percy answered as he entered the powerful office. In his hand was the folder containing the information that he knew Fudge would ask for, just as he had asked for the information each morning for more than a week.

"Would you bring me the daily agenda for each of my departments?" the pinstriped man requested.

"Right here, Sir," Percy said with dripping respect. It was Percy's opinion that the office, if not the man, deserved respect be given.

Fudge took the folder and scanned the list of meetings and conferences that were due for the day, hoping for some good press from the daily grind.

"What is this here?" Fudge asked, holding up the revised schedule for the administration offices of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

"What, sir?" Percy asked, moving closer to the minister's desk.

"This here," the Minister indicated as he jabbed the parchment right on the morning meeting already in progress. "What is Harry Potter doing talking to Director Bones? Isn't that your sister's name with his?"

Percy examined the parchment for effect, even though he knew exactly what it said. He had, after all, compiled the information before giving it to the Minister. "Yes, sir," he responded, "it is."

"Well," the Minister prompted with little patience evident. "Do you know why they are in a meeting with the Head of the Magical Law Enforcement?"

"No, sir," Percy said. "I don't know why they're meeting with Madame Bones. I could send a memo down to her assistant requesting the information, if you wish."

"No, no," Fudge dismissed. "I'll just go down and see for myself. Send a memo to the Press Room and have the liaison assemble the press around a dais in the Atrium in front of the magical fountain so that I may address them."

"But, sir," Percy stammered quickly. "What if the Potter thing's not a thing? What are you going to tell the press after you had them all assemble? And sir, are you sure that you want to do it in front of the fountain? It hasn't been remade yet, so it's still in shambles."

"Well, then..." the Minister paused. "I'll just collect the Auror Activity Reports while I am down there and report to the press all of the numerous effective things they have been up to in the last week. And, yes, you're right, move the dais to in front of the mural wall, to the right of the street entrance."

"Very well, sir," Percy said as Fudge swept from the office with his green bowler in hand.

Percy quickly drafted a memorandum to the Press Liaison requesting a press conference be arranged immediately, as per the Minister requested. He had a bad feeling about the events that were about to unfold, but the Minister had asked if he knew what the meeting was about, and he didn't. He had a serious suspicion, but he didn't know.

Meanwhile, in Madame Bones' office, the conversation continued. Harry's curiosity and concern for privacy and practicality was gaining him a good interpretation of the current law, as seen by the Head of Magical Law Enforcement herself.

"Yes, Mr. Potter," she said. "In this case the law is ambiguous in your favor. Once one is a registered Animagus, new forms will need to be registered for accountability reasons, but a time frame isn't given. In previous cases of laws with ambiguous time lines before the Wizengamot, we have seen that a reasonable amount of time is allotted by the court, usually equaling a year."

"What about the press?" Harry asked. "Will they have access to each of my forms from the registry to report as they wish?"

"The law, Harry," she responded, "requires registration with the Ministry's Department of Magical Law Enforcement. As a standard practice, each wizard or witch registered is published in the official register in order to curb the abuse that is possible through an Animagus's ability. As it is rare for a wizard or witch to pursue a second or, even less, a third form, the law doesn't specifically address the issue. What would remove any doubt about your staying within the intent of the law would be to register each year that you add more forms, if, that is, you continue your training beyond what you currently have planned. The law would require, at a minimum, that each time you register, one of the forms registered would be recorded in the public registry. Any further arrangements would be at the discretion of the officials in charge of Magical Law Enforcement at the time."

"So, that would mean if I were able to complete two forms in the next year," Harry concluded, "the press would only be privy to one of them? How is this legal? Can you really conceal a person's Animagus forms?"

"Yes, it's been done before," she replied. "You're not the first to ask for a sealed registration, but the other situations weren't the same. Most commonly a person's form is concealed because of their professional position, say as an Auror or Unspeakable, or in the private sector as a licensed Private Auror or personal security specialist. In these select cases the initial form is concealed, not anything to do with multiple forms, but you're not in one of those positions, so the option of a fully sealed registration isn't available to you."

"Oh, well, I guess that that is a lot better than it could have been," Harry said.

"How do we do this?" Ginny asked.

Madame Bones walked to a large cabinet that took up most of one wall at the side of the office and withdrew two sheafs of forms. She then placed one in front of each teenager on the walnut desk.

"Simply tap the forms with your wand to record your identity from your magical signature," Madame Bones requested, "and the rest of your information will be recorded from Ministry records. I will then need to see your forms to examine them for distinctive markings to differentiate yourselves from similar animals or Animagi."

"Sounds simple enough," Ginny smiled.

They both did as asked, withdrawing their wands, careful not to brandish them in a threatening manner to the law enforcement professional.

"Minister," the secretary for the Director said quickly. "This is a surprise, sir. Madame Bones doesn't have a meeting on the books for you. How may I help you?"

"Is Harry Potter still in the office with the Director?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," the secretary answered immediately. Lying would serve no purpose.

"And do you know the nature of the meeting?" Fudge asked.

"No, sir," she answered. "The subject of the meeting was private and not given for the schedule."

"Well, I'll just have to go in and see for myself," he said as he approached the door.

"Sir, wait," she said, intercepting his course. "The meeting is private, sir. If you would like I can announce you to the Director or schedule an appointment for later today."

"That won't be necessary, miss," he declared as he swept past the diligent secretary and placed his hand on the doorknob. "I am the Minister, after all."

Due to the wards placed on the entry, it took him more force than usual to open the door. The secretary immediately pressed one of two buttons under her desk, this one causing a bell in her boss's office to chime, alerting Amelia of the impending interruption. Had she pressed the larger button, all available Aurors in the Ministry would have converged on the office to quell any threat, great or small. As Cornelius Fudge was the Minister for Magic himself, an unwanted interruption didn't warrant that treatment.

Despite the protests of everyone in the room besides himself, the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Oswald Fudge was dragging Harry Potter to a press conference immediately after hearing about his accomplishment of achieving Animagus status. Both Harry and Ginny had finished the registration process moments before Fudge had entered. But the Minister didn't care what Ginny was at the meeting for, as long as he could show the press that Harry had achieved something to show he was a great wizard and that the Ministry, and thus the Minister, was either responsible for aiding him, or at least would be supporting him in his quest to defeat the Dark Lord. Both would be preferable.

The situation spiraled out of control quickly for Amelia Bones, as she was given pause when the Minister argued over his shoulder that the law about Animagi Registration required a publication of form. As he was the Minister, there was nothing she could do as he dragged Harry from the office to the lift leading to the Atrium. After a short pause for some choice expletives, Amelia apologized to Ginny and they both ran for another in the bank of lifts.

"Minister," a heated Harry asked as the lift neared the Atrium level, "what in the name of Merlin are you doing?"

"The people need something to believe in, Harry," the Minister espoused. "You are a symbol to them. What you did when you were a baby freed them from the cloud of terror, and now that cloud is back and they need hope, Harry, and knowing something like this could give it to them."

"But, Minister," Harry said as the door opened on the large Atrium, "what if having Voldemort," Harry paused for the obligatory wince, "know all of this about me puts me at a disadvantage if I ever face him again?"

"Nonsense," the Minister proclaimed.

"Fudge, don't..." Harry said struggling to keep his feet under him as he was pulled along to the crowd in the far corner of the Atrium. "You can't do this," he protested.

"Sure I can," Fudge assured him. "The law requires a public registration of all Animagi and I am just following the letter of the law. The required sentence for breaking this law is ten years with the dementors in Azkaban. Cooperate or you will be breaking the law, Mr. Potter," the Minister finished in a nasty whisper while he was all smiles for the group of journalists.

With that they ascended the dais and took their place between the Aurors and the press. Harry had to assume the Aurors were normal for Fudge's press conferences.

Percy Weasley managed to slip down to the Atrium shortly before the press conference began. He stood quietly at the back, hoping to catch what happened. He knew a train wreck when it was about to happen, and with the calamity that normally followed both the Minister and Harry Potter, the two of them being before the press at one gathering promised to be a memorable experience, especially with Harry being reluctant or unwilling from the beginning. Surely the Minister would make a gaff that would displease the young wizard. Percy's limited interaction with Harry over the previous summer and again during the Christmas holidays made him realize that Harry wasn't quite the shy boy that the Weasley family had first hosted. Percy was ashamed of his actions with regard to Harry over the recent past, but he was confident in the young man's integrity and skill and would not allow himself to misjudge the wizard again.

"Thank you all, honored members of the press, for joining us today for a wonderful announcement," Minister Fudge started. "It has been long held that the best hope in the struggle against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named rested with this courageous young man standing behind me here. The Ministry, under my leadership, has taken a progressive stance in the fright against You-Know-Who and the Death Eaters. We are supporting Harry Potter in his training and education. Over the summer, we granted him emancipated status, as you all know, in order to remove restrictions from his ability to defend himself and prosecute the conflict, as need arises. We have had an ear out for any way that he can be aided in these dark times."

The Minister paused to allow for sufficient dramatic tension and for the reporters' dictation quills to catch up.

"It is in this vein that I am pleased to announce a wonderful breakthrough in Harry's magical development and proof that he is destined for greatness," Fudge continued. "I am pleased to announce that Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, has successfully completed Animagus training, through the guidance of your Ministry."

Harry listened to the pompous windbag nearly take credit for every step forward that he took in the last half year. Harry was starting to seethe with indignation. He looked over the heads of the press and found that Ginny had arrived with Madame Bones and a small contingent of Aurors. He wasn't sure whether the Aurors were here for his support or their own entertainment.

"Harry will now come up here and present his Animagus form to the public, as required by the Animagus statute," Fudge said, sweeping his arm back as he stepped to the side, presenting Harry to the press and the press photographers. Harry had little choice in the matter, what with how the Minister presented him. If he refused, it would appear as if he were not obeying the laws, even though Harry had presented his form to the Director of Magical Law Enforcement.

Harry stepped forward and transformed into his impressive form, the nearly invisible spots of his fur illuminated by the flash of wizarding press photographers. His normally black fur showed the leopard origins of his melanistic variant with dark, rich ringed spots mottling the black fur. Harry only stayed transformed for a handful of breaths, shining his iridescent green eyes on the gathered press. He transformed back to his normal wizard appearance without undue panache before stepping up to the enchanted podium for a quick word, being unwilling to have the Minister's slanted view be the only mentioned.

"Thank you, Minster Fudge," Harry started. "I found the process of learning an Animagus form both challenging and interesting. Throughout my training, two people were responsible for aiding and assisting me in my learning. My transfiguration professor, Deputy Headmistress McGonagall, was invaluable in her knowledge of the subject and her aid and encouragement. She helped me, unbidden by powers above her, without thought of praise. And secondly, this process would not have been possible without the assistance of my girlfriend, Ginny Weasley. She stood by me every step of the way."

Harry turned and regarded the Minister, who was standing nervously to the side. Harry figured that he hadn't counted on Harry addressing the assembled press, relying on Harry's dislike for the spotlight and the press to keep him silent.

"As the Minister mentioned his involvement in my summer activities, I would like to thank him for his role," Harry continued. "Given the Minister's qualities and performance to date, he chose the most constructive role he could both in my emancipation and in my training. By staying silent and not hindering my efforts and those of Director of Magical Law Enforcement, Madame Bones, he provided more aid than we could have expected. I also thank Madame Bones for her assistance over the summer and today to me personally and throughout her career to the citizens of Magical England. Her views on justice and law enforcement have done more to ensure the survival of our society than many of her predecessors."

Harry turned and smiled his sincere thanks to back up his words to Amelia.

After a pause, his smile turned into a devious grin, causing Amelia to become nervous. She had had enough interaction with Harry's father before his demise to know to be cautious around that look from a Potter.

Harry had read enough of the Daily Prophet after the Ministry acknowledged Voldemort's rebirth to understand the struggles in the Ministry and exactly what the Minister was actually doing to further the effort. "I would also like to thank Minster Fudge for his decision to support Madame Bones in her effort to expand the Law Enforces within the DMLE and to redirect existing forces where she judges them to be the most effective in stemming the terror that the murdering Half-Blood Tom Marvolo Riddle spreads with his made up moniker, Lord Voldemort."

Harry wisely ended on that proclamation, as every witch and wizard within the sound of his voice, besides Ginny, Madame Bones and himself, flinched or hissed at the mention of the name which 'Must-Not-Be-Named.

Madame Bones attempted to conceal her shock at Harry's words. His last proclamation thanking Fudge was nearly opposite of the Minister's stance on prosecution of the war effort. The Minister had been trying to control every aspect of the hunt for dark wizards and witches. Instead Harry declared the Minister to have come to the decision to step back and let her run her department and even authorize an expansion to meet the threat. She wondered what Harry's public statement would do to the Minister's stance.

Minister Fudge quickly closed the press conference without taking questions or even considering letting Harry take questions. The damage was already done. He ushered Harry from the dais and quickly across the Atrium, curtly bidding Madame Bones to follow him to his office quietly. As one, they entered the lift, the Minister not noticing Percy, his secretary, entering the lift with them for the ride to the top floor.

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