'Cornelius Fudge doesn't know it yet, but he's about to have a very bad day.' Little bit of slash, contemplation of hats, and mentions of Albus Dumbledore's laced sherbet lemons.
He is sitting at his kitchen table, reading the Daily Prophet, holding it in one hand while the other alternates between his coffee and his toast. He is conversing with his wife, as well. Never let it be said that our illustrious Minister is not a talented multi-tasker.
After finishing his breakfast, he puts his paper down, picks up his briefcase, kisses his wife goodbye and makes his way the front door.
He places his briefcase temporarily on the floor as he dons his cloak. He picks it back up and moves to remove his bowler hat from the hatstand.
On a normal morning, he would have encountered his 'lucky' lime green bowler, placed it upon his head and left for work.
However, this morning Cornelius has encountered a hitch in his normal morning routine. His lime green bowler is missing.
He calls to his wife, asking if she has seen it. She hasn't, and warns him that he is running late for work.
For a moment, he thinks about leaving the house without a hat. He dismisses the thought and reluctantly lets his eyes drift back to the hatstand.
Cornelius owns two bowler hats. His lucky lime green bowler and...The Other.
He doesn't like to think about The Other, so he doesn't. He doesn't allow himself dwell upon what he is doing as he removes the black bowler from the hatstand, places it upon his head and leaves the house.
When Cornelius arrives at the Ministry, he doesn't hear the surprised comments about his 'new' hat, but they are made. The Ministry workers are all shocked to see their boss in a new bowler, but they are also relieved in a way. There are many comments confirming that most people much prefer the new black over the lime green of before.
Cornelius arrives in his office without incident, and after seating himself at his desk he looks up, hoping to locate his personal assistant.
Percy Weasley is not sitting at the desk across the room. He is not standing at the coffee table. In fact, he is not in the office at all.
To Cornelius, this is cause for much concern.
Few people know that the two incidents are related, but around the same time that Percy Weasley became personal assistant to the Minister of Magic, the Ministry began to become more efficient - people began to take them seriously once again.
Most people attribute this to Minister Fudge suddenly discovering how to effectively run a government.
That, of course, is not the case.
The truth is, Percy Weasley was promoted to Minister's Assistant and almost immediately took over running the British Wizarding World in a competent and effective manner.
This is why Cornelius is worried. He has a lot of paperwork on his desk, and he knows that he must have Percy look it over before he can sign anything.
Cornelius is relieved when Percy steps into the office, dressed impeccably as usual, and heads in his direction. Cornelius expects Percy to take the paperwork to his own desk for perusal.
But Percy does not take the paperwork. Instead, he stands in front of Cornelius's desk.
Cornelius is not adept at reading facial expressions. He wishes that he were. Perhaps then he would be able to discern the look Percy is bestowing upon him.
"Minister Fudge," the red haired young man begins. "I am afraid that I have what will undoubtedly constitute as bad news for you. After much deliberation and soul searching, I have decided that a career in the Ministry is no longer my main goal in life."
Cornelius is beginning to understand the essence of Percy's impromptu speech, but he does not wish to be correct in his assumption. "Do get to the point, Weasley!" he snaps.
Percy seems to be smirking at him, he realises. "I quit, Minister. I no longer work for you. Good day." And with that, he turns smartly on his heel and strides out of the office.
Cornelius gapes after him. This is one of the last things he expects to happen today.
After a while, Cornelius realises that despite Percy being gone, he still must do his paperwork. He knows that he cannot do it himself, and as Percy has abandoned him, he feels that he must call the one man who may be able to assist him.
When Cornelius firecalls Hogwarts, he expects to stare from the fireplace up into twinkling blue eyes. He does not expect to find Minerva McGonagall. He asks her where Albus is, and then demands to know when she does not speak, her lips thinning. She looks reluctant to tell him, and he blusters on at her for a while until she relents.
"Minister Fudge." He does not need to be adept at reading expressions to hear the contempt in her voice - she has always made it apparent for all to hear. "The Headmaster was finally admitted to St Mungo's this morning after attempting to fly to visit his brother from this very office without a broom. It seems as though senility has finally caught up with him."
Cornelius thanks her weakly and pulls his head from the flames. He is alone. He has no one to help him run the wizarding world - he must do it himself.
He finds some resolve somewhere within and takes it with him to his desk, where he takes the first sheet of parchment, holds a quill poised to sign and begins to read.
Cornelius only manages to finish three sheets before lunch.
When lunch arrives, Cornelius decides to skip it for the first time since he became Minister. He has not gotten very far with his paperwork, he thinks, so he needs to finish it before he can take a break.
Lunch is half over when there is a knock at his door. "Come in," he calls, trying to sound calm and professional.
He does not expect Harry James Potter to step through that door.
After he defeated the Dark Lord Voldemort, it is said that Harry James Potter swore revenge against everyone else who had wronged him in his short life. Cornelius is reminded of that rumour now, as he gazes at the young man stepping into his office, because Harry is smirking in a very similar manner now as he was back then, right before the final battle.
And although Cornelius doesn't know it, Harry was also smirking like this when he altered the charms and potions lacing the Headmaster's infamous sherbet lemons.
"Hello Minister!" the boy says chirpily. Cornelius does not understand why this greeting and the boy's expression send a chill down his spine.
"Mr Potter, what a pleasant surprise!" he lies jovially. It is a surprise, yes, but he never finds the presence of this boy to be pleasant. "What can I do for you?" He does not really wish to know, but he must ask, or else the boy may never leave.
Cornelius stands and moves around his desk to show a mark of respect that he feels this boy does not deserve, despite having defeated the Dark Lord.
The boy smiles at him. Cornelius finds himself put in mind of a shark, or perhaps Lucius Malfoy. "Why Minister, how kind of you to ask."
Terror shoots down Cornelius's spine when the boy pulls out his wand. "Now Harry, I'd prefer if you didn't draw your wand in my office."
Harry just continues to smile, and begins to twirl his wand idly in his fingers. "Yes, I daresay you would."
Cornelius is again reminded of Lucius, and he wonders somewhat wildly if perhaps the man had given this boy lessons in being intimidating.
"Minister...there really is no way for me to explain why I'm doing this, but I'm sure you are aware of the wrongs you and your Ministry have done me in the past."
Yes, Cornelius is aware. And now he is certain that the boy is here to extract revenge, and he is even more frightened than ever before.
The boy waves his wand, and Cornelius knows no more.
Harry steps from the office and smiles at Lucius. "I think that went well."
Lucius chuckles and wraps an arm around the younger man's shoulders. "Yes, love, it did. Now let's leave so we can implement the rest of your plan."
Harry's evil smirk makes another appearance.
When Cornelius wakes, he is surprised. He had thought that the Potter boy had been there to kill him.
Cornelius is not normally a fish eating man. This is why it surprises him further when he suddenly has a craving for it.
He attempts to stand up, but finds it immensely difficult. His arms...they are no longer arms. His legs seem to have all but disappeared, and his body is large and round.
For some reason, though his clothes are gone, Cornelius can still feel the black bowler atop his head.
He hears a meow. He looks up, expecting to find a small cat that perhaps he can convince to find help for him.
Instead, Cornelius finds that the ginger feline's head is almost larger than he is.
It is at this point that Cornelius looks around his office, and at himself, and finally understands what the Potter boy did.
Cornelius has shrunk. It is not a giant cat, but a normal sized one. And Cornelius...Cornelius is a small fish-eating bird. He knows there is no point attempting to fly. Penguins cannot fly.
A large paw reaches out and bats the bowler off his head.
The cat's attention returns to the Minister.
Cornelius's last thought is that he really should have known better than to leave his house wearing that /that hat/.
"Minister Fudge Missing - Presumed Dead!"
Harry looks at the headline of the Daily Prophet and smirks lazily in satisfaction. Yes, his plan has worked perfectly.
He hears a meow at his feet, and he picks Crookshanks up with a smile. "I hope that the penguin doesn't make you sick. Hermione would kill me."
From the other side of the table, Percy laughs. "I'm sure she'd forgive you eventually."
Harry grimaces. "Are you sure you've met your wife, Perce?"
The stand-in Minister smiles at his housemate affectionately. "Yes, Harry, I have. Speaking of wives, where's mine and where's your husband?"
"Plotting evil deeds together in the library, I believe," he is informed. "Apparently the director of St Mungo's offended them when they went to visit the old man."
Percy laughs again. "At this rate, Harry, you'll control the whole damn wizarding world."
Harry gives him that evil smirk. "That, Percy, is the plan."
Percy's smirk mirrors Harry's own.