Christmas Day and most people were at home with their families or friends,
opening presents, sipping their wine, whiskey or champagne, enjoying the
holiday, the break from their jobs and the suffocating worry that something
might happen to their loved ones.
Scrimgeour was not on holiday. When you
were the Minister for Magic, you didn’t have holidays. You were always on the
job. It followed you everywhere. And that was why he was in his office right
now, signing the last of a number of new laws designed to protect his people
against the evil which now threatened them.
finished his last signature and allowed himself a moment to breathe. Then he
conjured his diary and glanced at what was next. His eyes brightened. This was going to be an
easy task, he was certain. He scribbled a note, folded it into a paper
aeroplane and watched it sail out of the door.
was need was a little persuasion.
two minutes later – Rufus timed it by the clock – there was a sharp rap on the
door, smart and short.
in,” Rufus said, and smiled as the knocker entered. “Ah… Weasley.”
Weasley pushed his glasses up his nose, a nervous habit of wanting to appear as
alert and professional as possible. He was dressed in smart black robes, with
the Ministry of Magic insignia embroidered on the right of his chest. His shoes
were so polished they reflected the candles. Even his flaming red hair was
carefully tamed and slicked down. The only sign that things weren’t completely
right was his nails: they had been chewed off so that the tips of his fingers
were permanently red.
wanted to see me, Minister?” he enquired, standing up very straight, shoulders
pulled back as far as possible, which had the effect of making the Ministry of
Magic emblem stand out even more.
nodded. Weasley’s desire to please was sometimes amusing, but at least you
always knew that he was listening. “I have a delicate errand to go on, Weasley,
I was wondering if you could help me…?”
course, Minister,” Weasley said eagerly, his cheeks flushing from white to red.
“Anything I can do…”
allowed himself a small smile before continuing. “You will, of course, be aware
of the general mood of the public – fear, panic, and so on? Diagon Alley
profits have dropped by sixty per cent, and as for Hogsmeade, well…” He
shrugged, indicating the economic depression went beyond words.
young man composed his face, looking serious and sad. “Of course, Minister, it’s
terrible. You said in your note that you had some idea of how to reassure the
the place he had to be careful. Rufus leaned forward, as if he were not quite
sure of himself, and picked up a quill. “I was thinking of Harry Potter,” he
said. “You’ll have seen what the Prophet’s saying, no doubt? ‘The Chosen One’
and all that.”
frowned. “Yes, sir,” he said cautiously, “but I wasn’t aware there had been any
official confirmation of the rumours. I thought…”
the rumours are true or not, most people believe them – they have faith in
them. They have faith in Harry Potter. We want them to have faith in us, in the
Ministry.” Rufus looked up, watched Weasley nod hastily, and then put his quill
down. “Therefore, I’ve decided that it would probably be best if I went and had
a… chat with the young man.”
With Harry Potter?” Percy repeated, looking bewildered.
were at school with him, weren’t you?”
shifted on his feet. “Yes, sir, we were in the same house, but I don’t really…”
youngest brother is best friends with him, isn’t he?” Rufus went on, making
sure his voice was perfectly innocent.
winced and looked down. “Yes, sir, he is…”
believe that Potter usually spends the Christmas holidays with your family?”
Rufus said, although it wasn’t really a question, since they both knew the
sir. But… I should warn you, sir. He isn’t very… talkative. And he doesn’t have
the proper respect for authority, either,” Weasley went on anxiously. “He has this history of answering back, and-”
see why that would be a problem, we’re only having a chat,” said Rufus easily.
“And I’m sure you’d like to see your family, wouldn’t you?”
flushed right up to the tips of his ears and his shoulders stiffened. Rufus
fought the urge to get up and put a hand on the younger man’s shoulder. He
knew, of course. Everybody in the Ministry knew that Arthur and Percy had
fought over what was going on, that Percy had chosen one way and Arthur
another. Poor boy. Poor brave, foolish boy. Normally, Rufus wouldn’t get
involved, but he’d seen enough family tragedy during the past few weeks to last
a lifetime, and it wouldn’t stop. There was a war on, and everyone needed to
work together. Personal problems had to be set aside – grudges, rivalries, it
didn’t matter. Wounded pride just wasn’t important anymore. The Weasleys would
have to reconcile, whether they liked it or not.
aware of the difficulties you’ve had, Weasley, but don’t you think it’s time
you overlooked your differences? There is a war on. We need Harry Potter’s
support.” Rufus paused to let this sink in, and then played his trump card. “It
would mean a great deal to me if you could help.”
looked up. “Would it, sir?” His voice was quiet, no hint of eagerness or greed.
nodded. “Yes, it would.”
looked at the fire. Rufus waited. Any pressure would only be counterproductive.
The clock ticked quietly in the background, the fire crackled, and outside the
door paper aeroplanes swooped up and down the corridor.
Weasley cleared his throat. “I have been… wanting to see my mother, sir,” he
said, with the slightest crack in his voice.
course you have,” Rufus said gently. “Christmas is a time for family.”
nodded, more to himself than to Rufus. “I’ll go and get my cloak, sir.”
you,” Rufus said simply. “I will wait for you in the Atrium.” He watched
Weasley walk out of the room, then stood up to get his own cloak, which was
hanging ready on the coat stand.
hadn’t been that difficult after all.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all assorted characters
belong to J.K. Rowling, but sometimes they have a holiday in my brain. I don’t
even get any money out of it, they’re really bad tenants.
Author’s Notes: If you want to know about the title, look
up the phrase in a dictionary, and all will be revealed. To all those who are
waiting for the next chapter of Waiting
for Wolves (all six of you), it’s coming! J