The Sugar Quill
Author: ilene  Story: Last Day at the Office  Chapter: Default
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Last Day at the Office

Written by ilene

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Rufus Scrimgeour finished perusing the latest memo from Thicknesse, a proposal regarding registration and evacuation of Muggle-borns, and glanced out his window. It was the only one in the Ministry not under the control of Magical Maintenance. Instead, the view out the window was a diligent reproducion of the actual weather conditions in London. Rufus did not care much for meaningless illusion. He did, however, have enough sense of aesthetics to choose for a source location a spot overlooking the Thames, that made for very pleasant views of sunsets and the like, on the rare occasion he had time to indulge in the view. This was not such an occasion, not with dozens more reports and letters to read through, and more on the way. Although he could likely dispense with reading most of the death threats.

Rufus sighed as he looked down at his desk, which was getting much too cluttered. He knew he should organize it, but he had so many other pressing things on his mind. Such as the small package stowed away in his top drawer, containing the last known remains of an old friend. It was not too hard to...in fact, it was hard not to imagine Alastor's eye glaring at him through the top of the desk. The Death Eaters had not even bothered to attach a note.

"Voldemort chased me across three counties, he killed Mad-Eye Moody!"

Potter's words rang in his head, and Rufus felt a surge of anger. How dare that boy act like he knew more of what was going on in this war, than the Minister of Magic himself? While Rufus could easily see his old partner being considered a worthy target for Vol...him to take out personally, the audacity of Potter in saying that, as if he had personally seen...

Rufus's gaze fell on one of the many memos littering his desk, and he sighed again. Regarding Nymphadora Lupin, née Tonks. At least Alastor had been spared knowing this, that his latest protégé was now officially considered "compromised", with Thicknesse himself signing the order revoking her security clearance. Odd, how Alastor had dropped his usual mantra of constant vigilance when it came to Tonks, even when it became known that she was fraternizing with a known associate of Fenrir Greyback's.

"Well, Alastor," Rufus found himself speaking aloud, "I hope history will record it as your only failed project." Well, that, and the whole sorry business with Crouch's son. Although, from what had transpired the last time they had spoken, he suspected Alastor had another name recorded under his list of failures. Most men would consider it an honor to have mentored a future Minister of Magic, but Alastor was not "most men".

Rufus looked in the mirror that hung on the door of a closet across from his desk, and noted that he needed a shave. The mirror had been modified since the tenure of Cornelius Fudge; the annoying charms to make it comment on appearances had been removed, and replaced instead with a secret passage out of the office in case of emergency. Rufus hoped he would never have to use it. There was the Floo Network, of course, but there had been enough mysterious malfunctions lately for him to eschew that mode of transportation.

Rufus now looked at his copy of Albus Dumbledore's will, which he was sorely tempted to crumple up and throw in the dustbin. What exactly had Dumbledore seen in that boy? Certainly, enough to involve him in some kind of scheme, that he had either not had a chance to discuss before his untimely death, or (more likely) never meant to mention. Perhaps his mind really had been going. He had been much more cooperative in the First War, even though he had often been critical of Crouch's methods.

"I don't like your methods, Minister."

The image of Potter showing the back of his fist rankled Rufus. Dolores Umbridge was useful at times, but she'd had a serious lapse in judgment during her tenure at Hogwarts; well, actually, quite a number of them. Fudge had misjudged her, but he had misjudged many more important things. He'd had to answer for them, of course, but sometimes Rufus thought he'd gotten off easy. All Fudge had to worry about at the Department of Muggle Relations was chatting with the Muggle Minister every month or so, the worst crisis he had faced was when that Minister had changed over, too, and he'd had to orient the new one to what was going on.

Rufus, on the other hand, had a horde of Death Eaters and their sympathizers to contend with, including the ones who had escaped from Azkaban recently. He also had to keep the populace from descending into a state of total panic. Panic meant anarchy, with desperate wizards willing to do desperate things, from attempting to flee via transcontinental Apparition ending in Splinching, to attacking their neighbors in fits of paranoia, to (worst of all) selling out to the Death Eaters simply to keep their families from harm. The last war had been rife with such occurrences, and Rufus was determined that would not happen while he was Minister.

"Excuse me, Minister?"

Along with a knock on the door, there was an unfamiliar voice that made Rufus suspicious, until he remembered that Percy Weasley had Flooed in sick today, though he wouldn't be surprised if he was dropping in on his brother's wedding, instead. It must be Philbert, who was filling in for the day.

"Yes?"

"Mr. Thicknesse is here. He would like to speak to you about his report on Muggle-borns."

"Well, I suppose I have a few minutes. You may come in."

Rufus expected the door to open, but it did not. Instead, Pius Thicknesse stepped in through the mirror hanging on the closet door. His demeanor was quite pleasant, his appearance no different from the usual...except for the wand in his hand, pointed directly at Rufus's heart.

"Hello, Minister," he said. "I think the time has come for you to resign."

He had time to cast one spell, Rufus knew. Perhaps two.

"Stupefy!"

Thicknesse crumpled to the ground. Now there was someone banging on the official door. Possibly Philbert, or other staff members checking on him...no. Rufus could sense it in the air now, something almost like a scent, something he had last encountered in his Auror years, in the battle that had left him lame. He could feel the malicious energy, knew he was surrounded.

One more spell, then.

Rufus had always prided himself on knowing those around him, their strengths and weaknesses...and he did not exclude himself from that. While he had the ability to perform the Killing Curse, he had absorbed Alastor's teaching on it. A last resort, and not just for moral reasons either. The power and concentration required often hampered its effective use in battle. Not to mention it being a longer incantation than most.

It would be heroic to use it now, he knew, but he was not sure he could, it went against the instincts that had made him the second-longest serving Auror...after Alastor. He also knew himself too well to leave himself to the mercies of the enemy. He had no innate resistance to the Cruciatus Curse, anymore than Alastor had to the Imperius Curse.

So Rufus took his wand, pointed it at his head, and uttered his last words as Minister.

"Obliviate."

//
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