After Fudge finished speaking, he and Lucius exchanged glances and burst into laughter. Fudge gestured for Lucius to take a seat, and as they settled in, Lucius inquired further, “What happened just now to upset you so much? Is there anything I can assist you with? Don’t reserve yourself. You know how close we are outside this building.”

Hearing Lucius’ question, Fudge let out a deep sigh, proceeding to recount the recent events. =

After concluding his narrative, Fudge expressed his frustration, saying angrily, “That scoundrel, Crouch, seems to have forgotten that I am the chairman of the British Ministry of Magic, and he is merely the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement! He is the main problem I am currently facing right now.”

While inwardly delighted, Lucius maintained a sympathetic expression and indignantly remarked, “It’s too much! Crouch doesn’t take you seriously at all! And that Scrimgeour, the head of the Auror Office at the British Ministry of Magic, lacks courage. It’s utterly unreasonable for him to stay inside Crouch’s safety net!”

Observing Lucius’ reaction, Fudge nodded in agreement.

At that moment, Lucius interjected, “If that’s the case, why didn’t Minister Fudge consider changing Crouch’s position?”

Hearing Lucius’ suggestion, Fudge’s eyes initially brightened, but the enthusiasm quickly faded. He responded helplessly, “Lucius, don’t you think I don’t want to? However, Crouch’s influence in the British Ministry of Magic is too substantial! Attempting to remove him forcefully might incite turmoil within the Ministry.”

He continued, “The Department of Magical Law Enforcement, being the largest department, has few individuals capable of controlling it besides Crouch. If we exclude him, even with the rebellious Aurors, convincing them would prove challenging.”

Acknowledging Fudge’s predicament, Lucius nodded understandingly. Then, feigning enlightenment, he proposed, “Minister Fudge, I’ve thought of someone who could potentially replace Crouch!”

Upon hearing Lucius’ suggestion, Fudge furrowed his brows, casting a doubtful gaze at Lucius. “What do you mean by that?”

Lucius, however, gestured toward a photo in the “Daily Prophet” that Fudge held, prompting him to consider the individual in question.

“What do you think of him?” Lucius inquired, indicating the image of Thomas Vole.

Fudge examined the photograph, which showcased Thomas, prominently displayed in the newspaper.

Lucius then proceeded to share his perspective, “Minister Fudge, consider this: Thomas Vole has gained significant acclaim as a hero for thwarting the Alliance. This feat is no ordinary accomplishment! Moreover, as the former head of the British Ministry of Magic’s Auror office, he possesses the potential to garner support from the Aurors.”

Lucius’ words elicited a thoughtful nod from Fudge, and a subtle satisfaction played on the corners of Fudge’s mouth. However, his subsequent words carried a tinge of resignation, “It’s futile. I know Crouch very well; he is a formidable wizard. For the sake of his own ambitions, he sent his own son to Azkaban. He won’t easily relinquish his hold on power.”

Upon hearing Fudge’s words, Lucius promptly patted his chest and reassured him, “Don’t worry, Minister Fudge. If you trust me, leave this to me! I’ll personally ensure that Crouch resigns for you.”

Lucius’s commitment brought a sense of relief to Fudge, who joyfully clasped Lucius’s hand, ready to express his gratitude.

However, Fudge’s expression shifted to suspicion, and he questioned Lucius, “Lucius, we’re old friends. Why did you come to see me today? Just say it!”

Lucius, not one to conceal his intentions, pointed once again to the newspaper in Fudge’s hand. “I am here to talk about this man with you, Minister Fudge.”

Observing the newspaper, Fudge’s gaze lingered on Lockhart’s photo. He then pointed to Lockhart’s image and asked, “Are you here because you are interested in his proposal of opening the Central Bank in the wizarding world?”

Without hesitation, Lucius nodded and explained, “Lockhart approached me earlier, seeking my assistance as a lobbyist. Initially, I declined, but he resorted to leveraging his position as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts to pressure me! Given that Draco is still at Hogwarts, I had no choice but to acquiesce to his request.”

Upon hearing Lucius’s explanation, Fudge looked at him with a half-smile and remarked, “Not only that, Lucius, I presume you are also involved in this bank that is going to be established?”

Rather than denying it, Lucius nodded calmly, acknowledging his participation. “Yes, Minister. I got my hands on a good deal, you see, one that promised the Malfoys to be profiting from this deal.”

Observing Lucius’s response, Fudge sighed and added, “This bank seems truly promising. Unfortunately, I am an honest official, and my meager salary from the Ministry of Magic barely covers my daily expenses. Otherwise, I would have liked to deposit my family’s money in Lockhart’s bank to earn some interest!”

Sharing in the humor, Lucius laughed along with Fudge, privately chiding the Minister for his apparent greed.

However, Lucius eventually suggested, “Minister Fudge, while you may be an honest official with limited personal funds, the British Ministry of Magic has ample resources.”

Upon hearing Lucius’s suggestion, Fudge’s eyes lit up, and he inquired, “Are you suggesting…”

Lucius nodded vigorously and responded, “As the chairman of the British Ministry of Magic, it is entirely reasonable to deposit the property of the British Ministry of Magic in a bank opened by a British wizard, don’t you think? And, of course, interest is naturally indispensable! Think of this as an investment for the Ministry’s good; they won’t be mad at you if you are not doing it out of your personal gain, isn’t that right, Minister?”

Lucius’s proposal seemed to resonate with Fudge, who nodded contentedly and remarked with a smile, “Lucius, as long as you can ensure that Crouch doesn’t cause trouble for me, I assure you that you’ll see your desires fulfilled in the Daily Prophet!”

Satisfied with the agreement, Lucius stood up, shook hands with Fudge, and affirmed, “I will hold your words, Minister! This is a win-win situation for both of us!”

In the evening, London remained enveloped in dense fog. Following the recent Alliance attack on Gringotts, despite knowing the slim chances, the British Ministry of Magic had suspended the entire London Floo network, creating an impression that the Alliance was under relentless pursuit.

In response to this heightened state of alert, even Crouch, the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement at the British Ministry of Magic, had to set an example and employ Apparition to reach his destination.

As Crouch approached his door, he suddenly pivoted and drew out his wand, declaring, “State your business, whoever you are…”

At that moment, Lucius quickly stood up from the shadows and called out, “The man I am waiting for, Barty Crouch! It’s me your old friend, Lucius Malfoy!”


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Published On: April 8, 2024

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