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All The King's Men

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Harry slumped into a chair in his kitchen. He slouched his body over his work bag and thumped his head against the flaking-white table.

“I hate my job. I hate my job. I hate my job.” Harry repeated religiously.

A pale, lightly-freckled hand cupped his forehead and stopped his methodological banging. The thumb moved to rub his slightly reddening forehead.

“Would you stop it,” his mother warned from behind him. “You’ll damage the table.”

“Sorry,” Harry mumbled, straightening himself out. “But I do hate it. I cannot stand working for him for one more second. He’s cruel.”

“What’s Riddle done this time?” His father sighed before seating across from him at the head of the table. He picked up a copy of the Prophet and flicked through it until settling on the Quidditch sections.

“Harry can’t attend Ron and Hermione’s wedding next week because of Riddle’s big project,” his mother explained. “It’s very unexpected and very urgent, and Riddle has given Harry little to no notice or any explanation for that matter.”

His father furrowed his brow before shooting Harry a confused look.

Sighing, Harry explained. “I gave Riddle a notice a full two weeks ago. I told him I had a prior engagement. Unnegotiable scheduling. Absolutely no way can I come to work. I even sent an owl yesterday morning reminding him I would not be available, and you know what that bastard did?”

His father raised a brow.

“He floo’d me last night, right before I went to bed. I had to come in next week. That it can’t be avoided.” Harry raised his hand in exasperation. “He goes on for a good minute, and then blames me for the fact I can’t go to my best friends’ wedding. He faults my 'work behavior'.”

Harry looks at his parent’s incredulously. “Quidditch Captain, Head Boy, some of the best OWL and NEWTS the ministry has ever seen. And he says I have poor work behavior? I’ve done so much for that pissy devil. Late nights at the office. Full re-writes of his speeches. Booking his lunch. Picking his clothes.”

“Just quit,” his father shrugged. “I’ve heard you complain about that job more than I’ve heard you say anything else. Quit, and then join the Auror’s. We could always use a mind like yours.”

“I can’t,” Harry whined, shoving a piece of toast in his mouth.

Harry had decided to join Undersecretary Riddle’s staff right out of Hogwarts. While he wanted to join the Auror’s and contribute in some way to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, he’d wouldn’t be able to stand being compared to his father for too long. He loved his father, but he had no desire spend his time being told how much he looked or behaved like someone else. It was like that in Hogwarts, and Harry wasn’t going to go spend the rest of his adult life being told how much like his father he was.

Divulging from his path, Harry was told by Draco how Riddle had an opening in his staff and that he was willing to take on recent Hogwarts graduates. Taking a shot, Harry owl’d in his resume and was pleasantly surprised to find an acceptance and a scheduled interview the next morning. In hindsight, that should’ve told Harry that the man never rested. A perpetual working machine.

Harry joined Riddle’s staff and was put to work right away. It took a few days in the beginning to adjust to the high demand. Riddle always seemed to be doing something and he never stopped to enjoy a moment.

Every win just brought on more work. Did the legislation Riddle support get pushed through? That’s fantastic, now it’s time to write speeches, book meetings with heads of departments, and see to the concerns of members of the Wizengamot. He helped Riddle with his opinion pieces for the Prophet, overview reports, and managed communication within the Undersecretary’s staff.

While Harry was rough in the beginning— almost quitting the first day, he soon became Riddle’s right-hand man of sorts, if Riddle was modest enough to admit needing a right-hand man.

Those employed under Riddle did not last long. Sooner or later, someone was fired or quit. No one had lasted long, and it was known that Riddle demanded high energy and devotion to his work.

Harry was the longest serving member of Riddle’s staff, and thus, the senior most member who engaged with Riddle the most.

He wasn’t sure whether the man even liked him. Riddle was hardly the sort to take the time to chat, and he valued work performance over everything. Why breathe when you could spend that time evaluating the latest piece of legislation introduced?

Riddle told Harry what to do and Harry did it. It was exhausting at times, but the money was good and Riddle’s unsaid ban on personal matters prevented anyone from asking him about his father, his mother, or his ex-girlfriend.

But this took the cake. Harry warned Riddle he was taking his vacation days. He told him he was attending a wedding and that would pull him away from his work for a full week. He had already prepared Nott to take over any on-going work commitments and basically trained the poor fool on how to handle Riddle.

Yet, Riddle had a new idea he needed all hands-on deck for, and when Harry explained he couldn’t start with a new project if he was only going to disappear soon, Riddle had the gall to say that if Harry wasn’t committed to his work, then he shouldn’t bother returning to work at all.

Harry was furious. It was his only job out of Hogwarts, and his immediate superior had quit sometime ago and it was only Riddle left who knew him long enough to write a letter of recommendation. Harry also knew how extensive Riddle’s sphere of influence was in the Ministry. Should Harry even want a position shining shoes, Riddle was powerful enough to stop it.

No one realized it either. Not his father who was Head Auror, neither did Fudge the incompetent Minister. The only ones who seemed to know just how far Riddle could go was him, Riddle’s Pureblood allies, and maybe even Dumbledore, if the Headmaster’s cryptic words of advice held any significance.

Resigned, Harry finished his breakfast, kissed his mother goodbye, and promised his father a Quidditch rematch soon before floo-ing into the Ministry and heading to Riddle’s offices. On his way up, Harry stopped beside a café cart and purchased Riddle his preferred cup of tea before buying a coffee for himself.

Entering the office space, Harry placed Riddle’s steaming cup on his desk atop a coaster that Narcissa had gifted Riddle. Cautiously, Harry also placed a stack of various reports and research Riddle had ordered him to go through the past week with his annotations atop his desk, far from the tea’s possible path of destruction.

Harry grabbed whatever messages or assignments Riddle had left for him in his pigeonhole before retreating to his own desk. He flicked through some of the assignments, and there was nothing ordinary, all of it were things he had expected to come his way any day now. Nothing of Riddle’s big plan was there.

A seed of doubt had planted itself in his guts. Was Riddle prepared to fire him? Was he that unsatisfied with his work? He knew that Riddle had threatened to cut him out if he wasn’t going to be on board with his work, but Harry had showed up hadn’t he? Riddle hardly fired anyone, not that the man couldn’t do it, but Harry or some other senior member usually did it. It was rare for Riddle to be so displeased with them.

Shaking away his thoughts, Harry resumed his work. He updated progress reports, distributed work to his subordinates, and re-confirmed Riddle’s schedule for the day.

Soon enough, his infamous boss walks in. His robes flapped behind him as he engaged in conversation with Lucius Malfoy and Rodolphus Lestrange. The man hardly acknowledged his staff as he rapidly cross-talked. He stopped briefly to grab his tea, shooting a quick look to Harry, before resuming the conversation.

The trio walked into an attached meeting room, and were soon joined by Bellatrix and Barty Crouch.
It wasn’t odd to see Riddle among that crowd, but never did he do it so brazenly. Feverish whispers spread through the small work space like wildfire. Harry had to shoo his co-workers along, telling them to focus on their work lest their behavior affect their performance sheets.

Soon enough, Harry got the staff under control, thanking Merlin that the standard Ministry meeting rooms had frosted windows, preventing any nosy workers from crowding around to catch a word of what might be going on.

Though, just to be sure, Harry cast a silencing bubble to deter any nosy employees.

Trying to ignore it himself, Harry diligently began his work, trying to finish as much as possible so that he could still make it to some part of the wedding. If he couldn’t attend the whole week of festivities, Harry very well planned to attend the ceremony and reception at the least.

It wasn’t long until Harry lost himself in his work, his mind moving through the paperwork systematically. He had almost forgotten about the secret, undisclosed meeting occurring the room behind him. That was until Lucius stuck his head out and called him in.

Surprised, Harry rose up and entered the room. He tried to ignore the way Bellatrix was scrutinizing him from the corner, at the way Lestrange and Crouch were analyzing him, at Lucius blank look. At the head of the long conference table, Riddle sat staring at Harry in consideration.

The conference table was filled with various papers, pamphlets, photographs, and packets. Folders were spread out and duplicates were at every occupied chair.

“I plan to run for Minister after Fudge’s term ends.” Riddle announced to him as he thumbed the papers in front of him. “He has high enough approval ratings but his health is deteriorating substantially. On the guidance of his healer, he would not look for re-election. Instead, he will endorse me when I nominate myself for the position.”

“Why?” Was all that left Harry’s mouth.

He nearly grimaced at the way Bellatrix clicked her tongue, but was careful to only look at Riddle who watched him intently. “Truthfully, I was going to hold off a term more had I not heard of Scrimgeour’s plans to run himself. He would be a more… hardened man to come into understanding with.”

He isn’t as easy to manipulate, Harry’s mind supplied. That still hadn’t answered his question, though. Any one of Riddle’s sycophants would have sufficed. “Why you?”

Riddle cracked a smile, showing the barest hint of his canines. “Come now, Harry, isn’t about time we stopped hiding in the shadows. Besides, Rufus will need a proper contender. Who not better than I?”

“As a result,” Lucius continued, pulling a chair for Harry to take a seat in. “The Undersecretary will need the full support of his staff at this time.”

Ah, Harry thought. Riddle is finally making a move.

Riddle would need him more than ever. Aside from writing his speeches, they’d need to start organizing fundraising events, distributing pamphlets, and set up his campaign platform. Harry would need to get in touch with publishers, and some of the more prominent news outlets. Riddle resonates well with older, pureblood families, but he would need to work more with Muggleborn institutions to improve his standing in their eyes.

Wait, Harry’s mind stopped. What was he doing?

“Great,” Harry said slowly, distancing himself from the stack of papers. No matter how much his fingers itched to grab a look at what ever figures and statistics that were prepared. “I’ll be sure to get started when I come back.”

Riddle’s mutinous look could’ve killed. “I don’t think you understand the consequences of your actions. The circumstances surrounding this is vital. It’s critical for your position.”

“I understand the predicament,” Harry retaliated. “But I have never taken a day off the entire time I’ve worked for you. All I ask for is a week, then I’ll be back in time to do whatever you need me to do.”

“You expect me to be fine with you taking a vacation during one of the most pivotal weeks of my career? I’m about to announce my candidacy. The media notice that week alone will propel public interest for the remainder of the campaign. You will not be allowed to scrap your duties.”

“Excuse me?” Harry stood stunned. He could feel his neck flush with anger. “I told you well beforehand. Besides, why do you even need to announce anything this week? It can be held off until I return.”

“And risk Scrimgeour gaining the upper hand this early on?” Lucius sneered. “Any established politician understands that the longer it takes you to announce your candidacy, the more likely the public and the media will grow disinterested.”

“A week is not going to make a difference!”

“It makes all the difference in the world,” Riddle spit out. He stood up quickly, moving to Harry’s side with rapid speed. “If you are too bothered by your other commitments, then believe me, you are not that needed. Pack your things, I think you should start your vacation early.”

Before Harry could even stutter a reply, Riddle flicked his wand, and Harry was propelled out of his chair and into the hall. His personal items flew off desk and into a box Riddle had conjured up, and then shoved between his knees.

Harry blinked back at his boss only to be met with Riddle's fierce glare. “If you’re thicker than I remember, I hope you realize this isn’t an invitation for you to return.”

With a final flick, Harry was shoved out of the offices and into the Ministry hallway.