The Sugar Quill
Author: Allemande  Story: The Prime Minister's Greatest Shock  Chapter: Default
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The Prime Minister's greatest shock

Author’s Note: This was written years and years ago, but has only now been revived. Thanks to my betas Cas and Zsenya as usual, especially since this time it must have been hard work...! An (as of now) unfinished sequel also exists and will be posted soon.

The Prime Minister's greatest shock

Mr Jonathan Stewart was an honourable and respectable man who had a number of things going for him. For one thing, he was happily married to his honourable and respectable wife Mildred and had three lovely daughters, Angela, Jessica and May, aged 16, 13 and 10. For another thing, he lived in a large, comfortable house in the centre of town. He was a man who qualified as normal by every imaginable standard, and he was very keen on keeping up this reputation. This was undoubtedly related to the fact that he was the British Prime Minister.

Mr Stewart had led a very happy, sheltered life. His father had been a Member of Parliament, his mother a housewife, who had brought up her little Jon with utmost care and deepest love. At the age of twenty-four, he had met Mildred at university and, after having waited the appropriate amount of time specified by his mother, proposed to her. They had married three years later and moved into a house across the street from his parents. This was convenient since Jonathan, having started his political career very early, had almost no time for the daughter who arrived a year later, and Mildred, as Jonathan was never tired of repeating to his friends, was an independent young woman, thus very busy with her job as a solicitor. Jonathan's parents took care of Angela on the nanny‘s day off and did not mind at all, but were rather proud of their son and their daughter-in-law, who were such active, respectable members of society.

Mr Stewart had led a very happy, sheltered life. All had gone well for many years, his daughters growing up to be as beautiful as their mother, always on top of their classes at their boarding school. He had become MP very quickly, and  so impressed the Prime Minister with his quick wit and adaptability that he was appointed a Junior Minister within a couple of years.

Jonathan grimaced. That was, clearly, where all his problems had started. If only he had not been so eager and ambitious and put himself foward as leader of the party after Mr Smith’s premature retirement, and so become the youngest Prime Minister in twenty-five years...!

Again, all had gone well for two years. Jonathan had made a very good impression from the start, the people considering him a reliable, composed man who knew how to set priorities. Admittedly they would have been happy about anyone after Smith, who had spent the last year of his office in a rather confused state, having a very weird obsession with broomsticks, fireworks and - owls. Nobody knew why, and nobody dared to ask.

Jonathan had been a perfect example of everything that was normal, and whenever Smith's confusion was mentioned, had allowed himself a pained expression, merely commenting on the 'troubled spirits' of an aged man. He had vowed to himself to remain flawless, and had seen no reason why he should not.

But in his third year of office, all it took was one day, one single, bloody summer’s day to completely blow his small, perfect world to smithereens.

Encounter No. 1

He had just been going through his notes for the next day's debate at the House of Commons. It had been a warm, sunny day, and he had opened his office window a bit so that a small breeze tickled the back of his neck. Occasional, muffled sounds had carried up from the street, a car passing by, a bird singing in a tree, and overall Jonathan Stewart had been really happy.

He had reached the last page of his notes, adding a word or phrase here and there, and was so involved in his work that he ignored the small 'pop' that sounded somewhere to his right. He could not ignore, however, the voice that muttered 'Silencio'.

Jonathan jumped from his desk and saw a man standing in front of him. He let out a yelp of surprise, not only because of the man's sudden, silent appearance, but also because this was the most peculiar man he had ever seen.

He was wearing an ordinary suit, except it was purple, and his bowtie seemed to have ignored his every effort to keep it straight. His shoelaces were undone, and his brown hair was kept back with an enormous amount of gel. But even apart from this careless appearance that was already understandably repulsive to Jonathan, there was something even stranger about the man, and that was the wand he held in his hand.

It looked like a wand, at least, like one of those silly 'wizard' accessories that you saw in magical shows, something that Jonathan would never have gone to had not his daughters talked him into taking them to one, years ago. It had been the biggest rubbish he had ever seen. A man pulling rabbits out of a hat and coins out of peoples' ears. Honestly. But his daughters had squealed with excitement, and he had been filmed, so he had kept up a good face and even participated in one of the man's tricks.

As he opened his mouth to cry for help, Jonathan briefly wondered why nobody outside his office had reacted to his yell, but then he determined not to let the man intimidate him. He stood his ground and stared inquisitively at the intruder.

"How did you get in here?" he tried to say as composedly as possible, while he had a sudden vision of his secretary bound and gagged on the floor in the front office. The man cleared his throat, seemed to have overcome his silence, and approached Jonathan with an outstretched hand - halted, however, when he saw that Jonathan was stepping back ever so slightly, and smiled awkwardly.

"I'm sorry to have frightened you. I would not have appeared here if circumstances hadn't absolutely required it." Jonathan frowned and stopped himself from saying that he wasn't frightened of anyone. "Who are you?" he asked instead.

"My name is Cornelius Fudge, Mr Stewart." Fudge. A name that evoked distrust from the start. "I'm not here to do you any harm. I'm here to inform you about something that it is essential for you to know. Can we... sit down, perhaps?"

Jonathan watched him sit down and checked his phone to see if his secretary was all right. But she hadn't even heard his cry. He sat down, deciding that the man was no immediate danger to him.

How wrong he had been.

.

Encounter No. 2

All these were the things that passed through Jonathan Stewart's mind when he entered his office, another bright, sunny day almost a year later, to see Cornelius Fudge studying the contents of his bookcase with the appearence of great interest.

Something inside Jonathan jumped, and he closed the door quickly. Fudge turned around at the sound and smiled, still his awkward, strained smile. "Mr Stewart, I'm glad to see you."

He could not reciprocate the sentiment. "What are you doing here?" Jonathan asked, his voice shaky and hardly above a whisper. He had barely spent a peaceful hour since Fudge's first visit. He had jumped at every sound, had never gone out during the night if he could help it, and had developed an intense dislike for owls.

Fudge sighed, perhaps sensing that politeness was wasted here, and motioned for Jonathan to sit down. "I'm very sorry, Prime Minister. I promised that I wouldn't disturb you again unless it was very important. Er - shall we have some tea before, perhaps?"

Jonathan closed his eyes briefly and sighed. At least he's dressed more like a normal person now, he thought and called for his secretary to bring in two cups of tea. When she came in, he ignored the barely concealed curiosity on her face.

"So, what is it?" he asked, when they had sipped their tea quietly for a few minutes, both of them trying not to look at the other.

Fudge looked uncomfortable. "Do you remember when I told you about a certain... criminal who had killed many persons some years ago?"

He remembered that all right. Fudge had told him about a fanatical sect that had been responsible for all those deaths in the late 70s and early 80s, murders that had never been cleared up. It had been people from their world. As it turned out, Fudge's predecessor had tried contacting Mr Smith, the former Prime Minister, but had been met with utter rejection. Jonathan remembered Smith's paranoia in his later years, something he had thought came from the the stress of too many years on top. Now he understood that paranoia all too well.

"Don't tell me they’re back," he said in a croaky voice.

Fudge shook his head. "No. But one of their most dangerous men has broken out of prison and is now on the run. I would like to advise you to put it on your news, with a picture, is that possible on your... tellyvisor?"

Jonathan tried to ignore the mispronounciation and nodded grimly. There was nothing else to do but to follow Fudge's instructions. "Do you have a photograph of this man?" Fudge nodded and took out a picture of a pale man, very thin and indeed very dangerous-looking, with long, filthy black hair. A man Jonathan would have identified as a criminal in any case.

What was maybe the most disturbing thing, however, was that the picture... was moving. The man was blinking slowly, and he seemed to be moving his head. Jonathan choked on his tea, and Fudge looked at him in concern. "You haven't seen him, have you?" Jonathan shook his head and pointed out what he thought was obvious to Fudge. The latter stared at him, apologised profusely and tapped the picture with his wand, muttering something. Jonathan looked away, but not quickly enough to ignore the yellow sparks that had come out of the wand. When he looked again, the picture was perfectly normal.

Encounter No. 3

Jonathan opened his Times and rested his feet on the desk in front of him. A gesture that he rarely allowed himself, but he felt that he had deserved it. Almost one year had gone by during which Fudge had come to his office regularly, informing him about Black's whereabouts, suggesting ways of tightening the security measures, even suggesting they use some sort of... spell, it had sounded like, but that couldn’t possibly be right, on Black's picture, so that people looking at it would find him more easily. Jonathan did not pretend to understand Fudge's explanations, but he had rejected the offer almost at once. It was bad enough for one of their criminals to be running around threatening the lives of innocent British citizens, but to even involve more of their weird doings where it wasn't necessary was not an option.

After all, the police hadn't done so badly until now. Black had been reported every now and then, well, he had always been miles away by the time the police arrived (however he did that, best not to think about it) - but, after all, Black knew that he was being followed closely, and nothing had happened at all apart from a few shocks. This system doesn't work so badly after all, Jonathan thought contentedly. If matters continued like this, he was sure to be elected again next term.

Naturally, during the past two years he had often wondered whether he wanted to continue as Prime Minister, even if they did win the election. It would certainly mean dealing with them too often, too regularly, and he wasn't sure whether he could stand that. That having been said, something that might almost be called friendship had developed between him and Cornelius Fudge during this time. Jonathan grimaced. No, not friendship, mutual respect perhaps. Fudge was a man like him in many ways, treasuring security and stability above everything else.

This stability seemed to be threatened now. Jonathan shuddered. To be fair, he was not a very empathic man. But he had sensed something in Fudge in the last few weeks, something that seemed to have completely shocked him and that he was trying to suppress, if not ignore.

But this was just a feeling. Jonathan was ready to rely completely on what Fudge told him, just because there was nothing else to do. If Fudge said matters were beginning to relax, then matters were beginning to relax, and so was Jonathan. No reason to doubt the man. Apart from his basic mistrust of his peculiar nature, of course.

Someone was yelling upstairs. Jonathan recognized Mildred's voice and frowned. Didn't she know that Sundays were sacred to him, hadn't he put enough emphasis on the fact that he did not want to be disturbed on these days? He shook his head in mild indulgence. Women were simply too emotional at times.

Her yelling had grown louder until Jonathan was able to distinguish a few words. "HADN'T WE SAID - SCANDALOUS BEHAVIOUR - SHAME FOR OUR FAMILY - THE PRIME MINISTER'S DAUGHTER - LOOK AT ME, YOUNG MISS!" Jonathan's stomach was lurching. He tried to ignore it. He tried to read the article on the abolition of fox hunting in Scotland, but did not manage to take up a single word of it. His mind had long wandered upwards to May's room - for this was, he did not doubt it, where Mildred was standing and yelling.

He drew a sharp breath and tried to suppress the memories that were surfacing now. The day she had thrown an egg on Jessica without moving her hands at all. The day she had refilled her bowl with more ice cream. The day she had somehow turned her father's suit pink simply by touching it, forcing him to stay home and play with her. Jonathan gritted his teeth. "First Minister Graham McFarland announced today..."

"JONATHAN!" His head jerked upwards to see Mildred storming into his office and slamming the door behind her. Her right arm was clutched tightly around something small, fluffy, struggling, and she looked apalled. "Jonathan, May has done it again!"

He stood up slowly and came nearer, his eyes staring at the struggling animal. Dear God, not an owl... please not an owl...

"She claims that this owl was sitting on her window-sill with this letter tied to its leg!" Mildred held out a piece of old parchment with her free hand and stared at him, waiting for an answer. Jonathan closed his eyes and forced himself to remain calm. He had been wishing he could just ignore May's weird behaviour, even after what he had learned...

"Jonathan!" Mildred looked scandalised at his hesitation. He gulped and took the letter slowly, Mildred now holding the owl at arm’s length, an expression of the outmost distaste on her face.

To: Miss May Stewart

The third room to the right of the staircase

No. 10 Downing Street

Jonathan Stewart staggered backwards and collapsed into his chair, unable to read on.

END

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