Monday, November 12, 2012

Harry Potter 8.1: Age and Guile beat Youth, Innocence and a Bad Haircut

I have been told on good authority that Harry Potter fan fiction is primarily the provenance of dorky fourteen year olds (possibly a redundancy). Nonetheless, I'm having such a good time with my dark take on the Potter universe I can't bring myself to stop.  For a quick re-cap, Muggles get tired of all this magic stuff in book six, in book seven Special Forces showed up at the Battle of Hogwarts, and book eight begins with a spaceship that uses both technology and magic.  This installment would take place a bit later in book eight (and the post title is borrowed from a P. J. O'Rourke book):

The nameplate on the door simply read: Geoffrey Grimace, Section Chief. Hermione had her wand out, but she had no need to use it. Her glare was enough to keep the staffers immobile at their desks. She entered unannounced.

Despite the trappings of power, grand wood-paneled office and gleaming baroque furniture, the man behind the desk was not imposing. He was small, plump, and had smudges on his glasses and stains on his tie and shirt. He looked up when Hermione entered, "Ms. Granger, please stop waving your wand around. If you use spells on anyone in this building it results in an enormous amount of very tedious paperwork."

Hermione slid her wand into a pocket, but her visage remained fierce.

"Now Ms. Granger, to what do I owe the pleasure? Have you taken up my offer to join Her Majesty's Service? Your classmate, Anthony Goldstein is doing absolutely fantastic work. I'd welcome you here of course. You'd be no good at operations, you are simply too kind and empathic. But you would rise quickly in the Analytic department. Great opportunities, there is talk of setting up an entire new agency - MI-7 just for wizardry."

Hermione glowered, "How did you find my parents?"

"I'm sorry?"

"When we first met at the Battle of Hogwarts, you said you had interviewed my parents. But I had used spells to wipe their memories and sent them to Australia. How did you find them?"

"Inland Revenue Service. Two substantial and diligent taxpayers suddenly disappear from the rolls. The people in that division were under you magic so they had no recollection which bothered the special auditors office even more. The very scale of the anomaly and dearth of information triggered enormous curiosity. Soon there was a multi-agency task force working the file, hunting desperately for details. A blank spot this big was undoubtedly concealing something of great enormity - a terrorist perhaps, organized crime, maybe just good old tax evasion on an enormous scale. It became such a large mystery that it reached my desk just as Downing St. asked me to take on the wizardry portfolio. I had a hunch that these items were related - I didn't share this hunch of course but pressed for deeper and wider-ranging investigations. We scraped together records of your parents' existence. We got a bit side-tracked at one point. Did you know your mother had a fling with a Michael O'Shea in college before meeting your father? He did some fundraising for the IRA back in the day and we tracked him down in America. He said your mother was the most boring woman he had ever met."

Hermione's eyes went from hot to cold. Her hand strayed toward her jacket pocket.

"I would not do that Ms. Granger. Mr. Shacklebolt has been very diligent in tracking down errant magic-users. He would put you in Azkaban," Grimace said, almost sadly.

"How is it that you've turned that brave man into your puppet?"

"I am an intelligence operative. I use craft to corner people into doing things that they would rather not do, that are often against their own interest."

Grimace paused a moment, shifting behind his desk, "You want to know more details, that is why you asked about how I found your parents, to sense how far my powers go. It is simple, if the Ministry of Magic begins acting in ways in which we do not approve we have prepared a number of contingency plans that would make the lives of magic folk extremely unpleasant. We could simply expose the names and locations of all the magic folk in the United Kingdom - we have extensive dossiers. We could also shell Hogwarts with howitzers. We have dozens of plans, with multiple redundancies. The magic-users have great powers, but it is impossible for them to ferret out and foil all of our plans.  To effectively ruin the wizarding world in the United Kingdom, only one of our plans needs to succeed."

"You are a horrible, devious little man," Hermione spat.

"Perhaps," Grimace's chatty tone became sharp, "But it was not our conflicts spilling into your world that led to this change of state. And we have done nothing to interfere with your daily lives so long as you stay clear of ours. As we establish new relations we have consulted with you every step of the way.  Now, I am afraid this discussion is at an end. You may leave, and on your exit I really must insist that you keep your wand to yourself."

Hermione, mechanically stood and prepared to leave. As she reached the door, Grimace said, congenial again, "Ms. Granger, you really are a bright young woman. But I was doing this before you were born.  And I was up against the Russians - you magic folk are innocents compared to them."

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