Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Harry Potter and the Aftermath

After Hours

by RyanJenkins 0 reviews

With two VIP visitors, hospital rules go by the board, and Ryan's mission gets a higher priority.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: G - Genres: Humor - Characters: Harry,Kingsley - Published: 2016-08-04 - 2360 words - Complete



Admiral Alistair Blackstone, USN (Ret.), Interim Secretary of Magic of the United States, was dressed in civilian robes of midnight blue. He crossed to the foot of my bed, put his hands on his hips, and looked straight at me.

“Don't get up.” That made me grin. He grimaced and said ruefully, “Bob Hope used to get a laugh with that opening, every time he walked into a ward full of wounded sailors. How're you feelin', son?”

“Pretty good, Admiral, really. They do good work here.”

“Yes they do.”

“Everything seems to be working like it should, Sir, and I feel ready for – well, if not absolutely anything---” I glanced at Harry, and a corner of his mouth went up. “-- at least most things.”

“That's fine. They tell me you're going to be here for a couple of days. Enjoy it. And you do exactly what they tell you, that's an order – because as soon as they turn you loose, you're going right back to work. Any questions?”

“Yes Sir, one question.” I took a deep breath. “What the hell are you doing here? Sir?”

Now it was Blackstone who broke into a grin, and his face didn't crack or anything. He looked relieved. “Checking up on the fastest-moving Undersecretary in the history of the Department, that's what. Jamie Two Eagles wanted me to say you've been moving at breakneck speed, but there's no way I'm going to pull a joke that bad.”

“No Sir. Of course not, Sir.” Now I was grinning too. Kingsley chuckled, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Harry looking surprised.

“And look here, Ryan,” he began. When he used my given name, I was surprised. “We're in your hospital room, and you're already on a first-name basis with everyone here. I'm feeling a little left out, so let's toss the formal language overboard. Make it Alistair – OK?”

“OK...sure!” My astonishment must have been plain enough, because he chuckled, and so did Kingsley Shacklebolt.

“Alistair, it's time you met our Head Auror, Harry Potter. Harry, meet Alistair Blackstone, the United States Secretary of Magic.”

Blackstone walked over to Harry's bed and shook hands, looking him straight in the eye like he always does. “Damn, son, I'm very glad to meet you.”

“Same here, Sir.”

“And the same thing goes. Here in private, I'd be honored if you'd call me Alistair.”

“Sure!” Harry glanced at me and gave a little laugh. “Thanks, Alistair.”

Kingsley produced two chairs with his wand, and they stayed for well over an hour, a time filled with fascinating talk and not a little laughter. Blackstone's sudden advent was quickly explained: after visiting Harry the first time, Kingsley (with his schedule already in tatters) grabbed one of the new TAPKeys and went to Washington. His appearance was unexpected, but his rank got him immediately escorted to Alistair's office; the Secretary thereupon promptly “deep-sixed” his schedule (as he put it) and decided on a flying trip to the UK. “I made him stay over for 24 hours, though,” Alistair commented. “A Trans-Atlantic Portkey kinda takes it out of you, if you're not twenty years old, and full of piss and vinegar. And I got to show him around a bit,” he finished with a satisfied nod. They had arrived at the Ministry about the time I was waking up, and he was planning to go home tomorrow evening.

“You might stay a little longer, Alistair. When I got back this afternoon, as you saw, I found that the Ministry had not dissolved into chaos in my absence after all. From what I saw of your organization, you probably don't have to worry about that either.”

“I'll take that under advisement, Kingsley. But I am glad you got a chance to look around over on our side.”

“Oh yes, absolutely. Especially that visit to your Research Establishment. That was quite amazing....and Harry, one of these days soon, you're going to have to go there.”

Harry looked at me, anticipation in his eyes. “Cool! I'd love to go there!” Then he looked back at Kingsley. “But after four days in here, I'm going to have some catching up to do back at the office.”

“Perhaps not as much as you think.” Kingsley had an odd expression on his face, amusement with a touch of concern. “I appointed a couple of new Aurors, Harry – only temporary, of course, entirely subject to your approval, after you get back to work. Sorry I didn't talk to you about it, but it came up just before I left for America. When I got back, I found they'd been making excellent progress, working under Elliott, who's doing very well himself.”

“Oh.” Harry was a bit taken aback by this, and I didn't blame him. I was facing the same challenge of building up a new department after I got back, but I'd been sent on a mission and knew I'd just have to start with whatever I found when I returned. Harry, on the other hand, was in the middle of the job, and I knew he was trying to get a real grip on it. But he just nodded, and said, “Well, that's good, things getting done. I'll talk to them first thing, then.”

“Yes, of course. They're expecting that. I made it clear that they'd have to step down if you didn't approve. Like you, they haven't had formal training yet, but they do have some experience.”

“I see. That's all right, then. Er...what are their names?”

“Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger.” I let out a whoop, and both Kingsley and Alistair broke out in broad grins. Harry's mouth fell open, and before he could speak, Kingsley added, “The whole thing was their idea, Harry. They waylaid me as I was just about to leave. Hermione can be an extremely persuasive young woman, when she puts her mind to it.”

“Yes...yes, she can indeed!” By this time, Harry was laughing and shaking his head back and forth. “Oh yes, I've had years of that. Right then, I'll talk to them, and we'll sort it out.”

“I know you will. And if you do keep them on, you know in advance that I entirely approve.”

Alistair questioned Harry for a bit about his encounters with Voldemort...or Tom Riddle, I should say: Alistair said we should think of him by his regular name, partly because his self-appointed title was nonsense and had died with him, and partly because it would remind us that he was a human being, not some monster from another planet. The story of Riddle's Horcruxes had appalled Alistair, who turned out to be familiar with the Beadle The Bard stories and had been astonished to learn that the Deathly Hallows were real. Harry's Invisibility Cloak (which had been in Harry's robe and survived the explosion with no apparent damage at all) was in the bedside table drawer with our wands. When Harry handed it to him, Alistair somehow turned into a ten-year-old boy on Christmas morning, trying it on, then putting it on Kingsley and walking around him, looking hard for any imperfection.

Finally, he folded it with quick precision into military neatness, and handed it gently back to Harry. “Thank you, Harry. That's just about the most amazing damn thing I've ever seen in my whole life.” Then I had to explain why Harry and I burst out laughing.

I asked Alistair if I should report to him now, while I had the chance. He shook his head. “No, Ryan, not now; get it down in writing when you can. I've been getting a great deal of what you'll be reporting first-hand, now – certainly the most urgent matters, at least.”

“Actually, Ryan, Alistair and I have been discovering how useful and efficient it is to deal directly with each other,” Kingsley put in. He held up a hand. “Oh, that's no reflection on you, believe me! As he said, you've gotten more done, more quickly, than anyone had a right to expect.”

Alistair picked up the thread with a vigorous nod. “That's right. But when a report has to be written, sent, received, routed, read, and digested before I can frame a reply, or ask questions, it just takes longer. Kingsley and I have been able to make a lot of progress already, and will make more tomorrow, I'm sure. Our visit to the Research people really got things moving at flank speed – they're assembling a team of instructors, with equipment, to get some Wemail set up at the Ministry. They'll begin arriving day after tomorrow.”

“I'm beginning to wish I'd been in the Navy,” agreed Kingsley with a smile at Harry's and my looks. “I've never seen things in any organization move so quickly as they did when Alistair started making 'suggestions.' Harry, you're going to have a computer and Wemail as soon as I do, and two of the Research lads are going to bring another one, with the latest version of the Sniffer, in about a week. They'll stay on and work on development – and training – until we're fully up to speed.”

“A week? That's amazing! I thought it would take – well, a lot longer.”

“It probably would have, if it had to go through channels,” said Alistair. “But when two people with full authority can deal directly, it's amazing how short those channels can get. That said, though, make no mistake – Ryan, the fact that we've been able to deal so directly, and so substantively, from the moment we first met, is thanks largely to the groundwork you've done – and the really marvelous response you've gotten – we've gotten – from the new team at the Ministry. That very much includes you, Harry.” He looked at Harry with frank admiration, an expression I'd never seen before and would bet very few people had. Harry started to look embarrassed, but that, of course, cut no ice with Admiral Blackstone, who turned to Kingsley and asked, “In fact, Kingsley, I've been wondering why this young man hasn't been knighted? Or made a Duke or something?” Harry looked seriously alarmed, and his face turned a fairly remarkable shade of deep pink. Alistair looked at him with what I'm sure he thought was a kindly expression, and said “Don't worry, son, I've learned in a long career that it is not really possible to die of terminal embarrassment.”

I reflected (reading between the lines of some of the stories Harry had told me) that Harry had probably learned that lesson at Hogwarts. But I didn't say anything, and it was Kingsley who answered the question.

“He certainly deserves all of that.” Harry started to look really agitated, and Kingsley held up his hand. “But getting a Wizard, or a Witch, put on the Queen's Honors List is something of a problem, because the List is so carefully scrutinized and widely reported in the Muggle world. A major honor to anyone as young as you are, Harry, would be certain to attract attention, so you needn't worry too much. I hope to report to Her Majesty in due course, but it's not really all that easy for me to get a chance to talk with her – security is extremely tight at Windsor Castle; now that the crisis is past, I'm waiting until she goes up to Balmoral. Prince Albert had Ottaline Gambol put in a Wizard's Portal when the place was built – makes it all much easier.”

“Albert of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha,” mused Alistair. “He was a great friend to Wizards, wasn't he? Pity that he died so young.”

“Indeed,” said Kingsley, nodding. “Queen Victoria was very suspicious of us, so I've always heard. Would never agree to receive a Witch, only Wizards, and very infrequently. We were left in peace during her reign mainly because Albert had wanted it that way.”

Harry (to change the subject, I suspect) asked about life in the Navy, and this turned out to unlock a veritable treasure-house of stories from Alistair, who had served on all sorts of different ships. He told one about some American sailors putting one over on the Russian navy in the Mediterranean, by sending one of their Admirals a signal-flag message containing a remarkably obscene insult (in Russian), quickly followed by an abject apology for a signalman's error – and what looked exactly like the signalman in question being marched out on the deck, and ceremoniously hanged at the yardarm! The unfortunate hangee was really “Charley Noble,” a dummy used for man-overboard drills. No telling what the Russians thought of it all.

Alistair had unbent far, far beyond anything I had ever imagined he could or would do, and had a real talent for “yarning” as he called it. We were laughing pretty loudly when the door to the room opened and a Witch in nurse's robes came in. She was an older woman, with a blocky face, and her stern expression made me, at that moment, feel like folding up in hysterics. But everyone else suddenly quieted down, so I did too.

She cleared her throat loudly. “See here, Mister Minister, these patients need their rest. If you have quite finished with your official business...” (She obviously figured she had walked in on a bunch of monkey business!) “ is, after all, well past the regular Visiting Hours.” She folded her arms and glowered.

Thereupon Harry and I were treated to the sight of the two highest-ranking Wizards in our respective countries acting like schoolboys caught breaking the rules. They took their leave quickly; Admiral Blackstone (as he suddenly was again) promised to visit me again, if possible, before he returned to the US. The nurse pointedly held the door open for Kingsley, but then Blackstone made quite a fuss about “ladies first” and insisted on her preceding him. As he went out and shut the door, he stuck his head back in and gave us a big wink. If laughter really is the best medicine, we got regular doses every time we looked at each other for the next ten minutes.
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