The Next Battle


Story Summary:
There is always a next battle. (DH Spoilers!)

Chapter 01


The Next Battle

War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace. --Thomas Mann

Kingsley leaned forward in his chair. Harry suppressed his sigh of relief; Kingsley was merely being polite when he'd offered Harry something to drink and spent several minutes in small talk. It wasn't Kingsley's fault that Ginny was home from Hogwarts and wanted to spend some time with him.

"Harry," Kingsley said in his slow, deep voice, "Minerva tells me that you're considering returning to Hogwarts and taking your final year. Is that true?" When Harry nodded, he continued, "May I ask why?"

"I never finished school," Harry said. "I need NEWTs for most of the careers I'm considering. Yes, there are some where I can do without them, but I don't want to be limited to just those."

Kingsley nodded; he didn't look surprised. "Do you have any idea what you're going to do once you're finished?"

"No," Harry said. He didn't add that he was hoping he'd have that figured out before he was finished; he'd already decided against becoming an Auror, but that didn't help much.

"Were you planning on leaving Britain?"

"No," Harry repeated. It didn't sound like Kingsley was talking about a trip.

"You do realize that most employers in Britain would be delighted to have you working for them? Most of them would help you get any training you were missing by not completing your last year; they wouldn't require you to take the NEWTs."

"I know," Harry said. He knew it, but he didn't want to be given a job just because he was The Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One. He wanted to get a job because he was the right one for the job, nothing more.

"I'm not talking about them ignoring that you're not right for the job; I'm just telling you that a lot of people would be willing for you to spend the first couple of years doing as much training as working." Kingsley smiled. "That's the way it used to be done. The reason I'm asking all this is that we need your help, here at the Ministry, and we need it now."

"What's wrong?" Harry asked, feeling his eyes widen. The Death Eaters had been quiet; those that hadn't been caught were doing their best not to attract attention.

"The Ministry's in a shambles," Kingsley said with a sigh. "First, a lot of Ministry employees were killed, Kissed or ran. Those who ran are slowly returning, but it still means we're short on people. Then, there are the new departments that were created and the old ones that were closed. They need to be reviewed, we need to get people out of Azkaban, or have new trials to get them back in, and, again, we need to find people."

"I can see there's a lot of work, but what can I do?" Harry asked. He didn't mind helping, but he wasn't going to be a mascot for the Ministry, even if Kingsley was the current Minister.

"More than I think you realize," Kingsley said, as he started to smile. "First, and I know you hate this, but there's the sheer propaganda value of having Harry Potter as one of those helping to straighten things out. People are still scared, Harry; they're waiting for something else to go wrong. Having you as one of those who's helping us restore things will help reassure them."

Before Harry could start to object, Kingsley continued, "And you'd be doing real work, not just being a symbol. The first thing that comes to mind is answering questions."


"Everything's still so confused and people have questions and no one to ask them of. At first, most of your answers would have to be 'I'll find out for you', but even that would be more reassuring than what they're getting now, which is being sent all over the place until they finally leave with no answers. It'll also tell us where people's biggest concerns are."

"Like The Muggle-born Registration Commission, " Harry said, scowling.

"Obviously, that's one of the departments that no longer exists," Kingsley said, "but you're right; there are still people worried about the people who ran it. And we can't just sack everyone involved; some of them did their best to help the Muggle-borns."

"So, I'd just be answering questions? I don't think--"

"At first, you'd be answering questions," Kingsley interrupted. "Once things calm down a bit, we'd have you working those tasks we feel are the most important to get straightened out properly. That will involve working with the Wizengamot to get the proper legislation through."

"Legislation?" Harry didn't really understand how the Wizengamot or the Ministry worked. "Don't you just tell people what to do?"

"Don't I wish," Kingsley said, shaking his head. "No, the Wizengamot puts the policies into place, and the Minister and his staff enact those policies. And they don't want to end everything they've done in the past year; there are some very conservative people in the Wizengamot."

"So, I'd be arguing with the Wizengamot to get good policies into place?"

"Right. And, Harry, let me give you a warning. Once you start on that, they'll do everything they can to blacken your name."

"They can't do worse than make me 'Undesirable Number One' with a ten-thousand Galleon price on my head," Harry said. The more he thought about it, the better he liked it. It was real work, not just putting his face on the Ministry, and he had a chance of making some real changes. "Would you tell me what to do? I mean, what if we disagree?"

Kingsley's smile was slow and wide. "I'll ask you to discuss things with me before you start working on the Wizengamot; I don't want to be caught looking like I don't know what's going on. If I ask you to do something you disagree with, we'll discuss it. If you'd prefer, I can not make you a Ministry employee, but we can call you a volunteer. That will make us both look good and will give you more freedom. Does that sound reasonable?"

It did, Harry thought; it really did. They weren't like Voldemort; they couldn't just tell everyone what to do, they had to do it right. But this would give him the opportunity to try to fix the laws that he disagreed with governing werewolves, house-elves, goblins, and all the other magical peoples. Hermione would like it, too. "Would there be room for more than just me?" he asked.

Kingsley grinned. "If you can keep her expectations reasonable, I'm sure Hermione would do a wonderful job."

Harry nodded; she would. "This won't take forever, though; will it? I mean, we'll get things fixed eventually, right?"

"There will always be political battles to fight, but our best guess is that we'll be able to fix the immediate problems within two to five years. And, once there is no longer a pressing need for you as a front man, the Department of Mysteries would like to speak with you. Actually," Kingsley laughed, "the Department of Mysteries would like to grab you right now, but I've managed to convince them that you're needed more here for now. How does it sound?"

Harry thought about it. It was work he could do, good work that needed to be done. He could see Kingsley's point--he'd be more useful at the Ministry now than spending the year at Hogwarts, taking his NEWTs, and coming to work then. "Could I still study? I'd like to take the NEWTs eventually." Harry wasn't sure why, exactly, but even though he didn't need them, he wanted to take them.

"I'm sure we can work something out with Minerva," Kingsley said. "Shall we Floo her and start discussing the details?"

Harry was already starting to make a list in his head of everything that he'd like to see done, and he was sure that Hermione had one as well. Probably colour-coded. He grinned and followed Kingsley.