Four houses. Four different procedures. Four fascinating ways to fail.
The posters that Hermione had asked the Creevey brothers to place in each common room had been charmed to prevent their being read by anyone but female students. They were left intentionally vague as to how each house could select its candidates, so each house decided to
follow its own traditions and settle on candidates in its own way.
"Not a chance, you goddamn bitch!"
"I'll see you in Hell before I support you as a candidate!"
"If I actually wanted your vote, I'd just roll a knut on the floor and have you pick it up with your..."
The Hufflepuff Caucus could be going better. In accordance with the House's tradition of teamwork and camaraderie, the house had decided to have all interested girls attend a caucus on Thursday evening to select their two candidates through discussion and consensus. It was a nice theory, but seventh-year prefect Robin Hayes was discovering the truth of the American adage: "The difference between a caucus and a cactus is that a cactus has the pricks on the outside."
The other seventh-year girls in attendance had gotten rather heated on the subject as soon as their names had been placed into nomination. In retrospect, they'd been looking for a chance to fight for months now, Robin mused. She wasn't sure that either of them actually wanted to stand.
"Ileana, Vivian, I want you to apologize right now. Otherwise, you're both disqualified from the caucus and will be asked to leave!" Robin exclaimed.
Neither of the other girls spoke.
"Fine. You're both out. Since I didn't plan to stand, that eliminates the seventh years. Do any sixth years plan to stand?"
Susan Bones stood up. Pretty much everyone had expected her to be a candidate. She had a figure that most girls looked upon with envy- long legs, a narrow waist, and a bosom that seemed perfectly designed as a place for Harry to rest his weary head. Her red hair was bound in a braid, and her eyes shone with the thought of comforting Harry.
However, Hannah Abbott and Megan Jones both stood as well. Megan was a black-haired girl with a slender figure, while Hannah was shorter, rounder, and more voluptuous.
"I thought you were going out with Justin," remarked Megan.
"Justin doesn't want to see me any more. Something about being pissed that I got better Transfiguration grades than he did," Hannah laughed. "If he's that insecure, he's probably not worth my time."
"If you couldn't hold your last boyfriend, what makes you think you deserve a chance with Harry?" snapped fifth-year Lynn Westmoreland.
"There's no need for negative campaigning here, Lynn!" responded Hannah.
"What 'negative campaigning!'" sputtered Lynn. "This is a legitimate issue!"
"Are you girls going to stand for a personal attack like this?" hollered Hannah.
Laura Madley retorted, "I think we know what we should stand for," she said in a voice that belied her status as a third year. So did her body; she'd started puberty before ever arriving at Hogwarts.
"We stand for making sure that the Chosen One doesn't have any more problems to deal with than necessary. Otherwise, what's the point?" Laura sat down to a round of applause.
A few more minutes of discussion ensued, and in the end Hufflepuff settled on Susan and Megan as candidates, with Laura as an alternate.
Gryffindor settled on a simple primary for its system of selection, with the top two vote-getters moving on. What seemed straightforward enough when proposed became rather less so in practice, and all because of a misguided attempt at recycling.
Seventh-year prefect Mandy Landreaux was more amused by the election than anything else, as she already had a steady boyfriend (and she hoped soon, fiancé). She was happy to help organize the primary, with votes to be cast by secret ballot. To ensure that ballots were cast fairly, and to reduce the amount of parchment she used up, she created one ballot with charms to prevent its being seen by unauthorized eyes, forbid its owner from voting for herself, and
standardize the handwriting so that no one could tell who cast it. Then she simply duplicated the ballot to ensure uniformity (and prevent ruining more parchment).
On Thursday morning, the ballots were left near the poster announcing the election. As expected, they were all taken. Mandy wrote a line on the poster notifying everyone that she'd collect the ballots after dinner Friday, so there'd be no point in taking more than one.
The ballots were duly collected, and Mandy took them to an unused classroom to count them, followed by several of the girls.
She poured out the bag of ballots onto a table and was just about to start when it happened. She accidentally touched a ballot with her wand... and it somehow duplicated itself.
As the other girls started yelling, Mandy tried to fix the problem by casting a spell to get rid of the duplicate ballots- and found that they'd duplicated again, leaving four ballots. She tried one more
time, and the ballots redoubled to eight.
When the other girls saw this, they started rushing the table to start duplicating their ballots- or what they thought were their ballots. As previously mentioned, the ballots had been charmed to
have the same handwriting, so that there was no way to tell who had cast what vote or which ballots had been doubled and redoubled. Still, by the time this was clear to everyone, the election had approximately 300 percent turnout.
Hermione won a majority of the vote, with Katie Bell edging Parvati Patil for second. While there was no way to be sure that reflected the Gryffindors' choices, Mandy and Hermione could only shrug and appoint Parvati as their alternate.
"Thirty-seven and a half, Nathan. As of this morning, anyway," replied Luna. Nathan hadn't really expected an answer to his question, but he was sure he could use the data anyway.
'This is definitely an... interesting exercise,' he thought as he walked away. Ravenclaw seventh-year prefect and Head Boy Nathan Silver had been looking for a way to practice his Arithmancy before taking a position with the Ministry's economic forecasters. When he heard about the election from his girlfriend, he thought he saw a perfect opportunity and volunteered his discreet services.
Each interested young woman was given a questionnaire to fill out. If they found some of the questions too personal, well then, that gave Nathan less to work with for his Arithmancy and thus reduced the young lady's chances.
But he found he could ask Luna anything and she'd answer. His last sarcastic question about her bust size received the same kind of cheerful, misty response as everything else he'd asked. He was already pretty sure that she'd be one of Ravenclaw's candidates.
As for the other, the early numbers pointed toward Cho Chang. Longtime seeker for Ravenclaw's Quidditch team, Chang had a gymnast's body, with lean but strong arms and legs and a small firm bosom. On the other hand, Nathan knew that her personal history with Harry was rather... fraught, and numbers weren't everything. There were plenty of other candidates out there.
Other Ravenclaws who were favored by his system included Mandy Brocklehurst, a cheerful Muggleborn with a knockout figure; Padma Patil, identical twin to Harry's housemate; and Marietta Edgecombe, whom he'd already decided to eliminate as her history with Harry was
even more contentious than Cho's.
In the end, his Arithmancy settled on Luna and Mandy, with Padma as the Ravenclaw alternate. The announcement was generally met with equanimity, until Padma and Parvati got a chance to compare notes.
Slytherin House politics, for their legendary complexity, often boil down to who does the best job of backstabbing without getting spotted. This election didn't completely capture that element,
however; most of the more vicious operators in the House were too steeped in the Dark to care about being girlfriend of the Light's chosen one.
Of course, it never hurts to keep in practice.
Pansy Parkinson refused to answer whether she was serious or not, or whether Draco approved of her standing. The dark-haired and darkly complexioned beauty and the other Slytherins knew they were competing for just one spot.
Daphne Greengrass had made it clear that she would be a candidate, and between her magnificent figure, determination, and previous track record, there would be no stopping her. The only other serious contenders to deal with were Daphne's sister Astoria (fourth year, too young?) and Blanche Lambert (a quiet seventh year with a slim figure).
When Daphne said she wasn't at all clear if Astoria would be appropriate, Astoria went mad, as did most of the other girls in the competition. Including Pansy, who gave a remarkably moving speech about following your dreams and the audacity of hope and so on. She was very convincing, and when she was offered the second spot on Slytherin's ticket, she did an excellent job of being just unenthusiastic enough for just long enough to convince the other girls to let her stand. Astoria would be the House alternate.
So by Saturday morning, the candidates were determined and the race could begin in earnest.
Minor characters include the following:
Robin Hayes (a man IRL) is a Republican soon-to-be-ex-Congressman from North Carolina. He lost on November 4.
Lynn Westmoreland (also a man IRL) is another GOP Congressman, from Georgia. He won on November 4.
Nathan (or Nate) Silver runs the site fivethirtyeight.com, which made political projections based on mathematical analysis. He did a good job, correctly predicting 49 of the 50 states.
Mandy Landreaux refers to Mary Landrieu, a Democratic Senator from Louisiana, just re-elected on Tuesday.
Blanche Lambert is the maiden name of Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.