The Other Minister (HBP)

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The man in the painting

The Other Minister is the first chapter in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In it, we are introduced to the Muggle Prime Minister's perspective on the current happenings of the Second War, as well as his interaction with the wizarding world, particularly Cornelius Fudge. The chapter title refers to how the Prime Minister calls the Minister for Magic in his mind.

The British Prime Minister in 1996 was John Major, but he remains unnamed in the book. His predecessor (Margaret Thatcher) attempted to throw Fudge out the window, thinking him an opposition hoax.

The Muggle Prime Minister

In the opening of the book, readers are informed that the latest events in Britain have taken their toll on the Prime Minister's popularity. Freak occurrences--such as a hurricane in the West Country, the collapse of the Brockdale Bridge, the odd behaviour and subsequent forced vacations of Herbert Chorley, and the murders of Amelia Bones and Emmeline Vance—have been pointed to by the opposition as flaws in government action. The Minister also notes that the general weather and mood in the country has been dismal.

Fudge's visits

There is a small oil painting stuck on a wall in the corner of the Prime Minister's office depicting a froglike little man sporting a long, silver wig. The Minister for Magic uses this portrait as a way to contact the PM--something Fudge has done five times in the books, coming to the office via Floo powder.

Fudge's visits irritate the PM for two reasons: one, they usually mean bad news; two, they make him feel ignorant.

Fudge's first visit

Fudge first visited the PM soon after the latter's election, and told him about the wizarding world: the existence of wizards and witches living in secret throughout England, the Ministry of Magic and its responsibilities. In order to prove his point, Fudge transfigured the Minister's teacup into a gerbil, which the PM later gave to his niece.

When the PM wondered why his predecessor hadn't told him all this, Fudge merely laughed and deduced that the PM won't tell a soul, either; who would believe him?

Fudge's second visit

Fudge visited the PM for the second time regarding the events from July 1993: dangerous Muggle killer Sirius Black had escaped from the Azkaban wizard prison, in an isle in the middle of the North Sea; Hogwarts and Harry Potter needed to be secured. Dementors, said Fudge, were in an uproar; never before had someone broken out of the place.

In order to have the PM understand the dimension of what has happened, Fudge explained what You-Know-Who (he refused to say Voldemort's name out loud, and wrote it on a piece of paper) meant to the wizarding world. The PM then had a general warning sent out to the Muggle population, which Vernon and Petunia Dursley saw on the telly (PA1).

Fudge's third visit

Fudge came a third time, informing the PM of the confusion that had happened at the Quidditch World Cup (GF9), involving Muggles and the Dark Mark. According to him, the Muggle Liaison Office was already dealing with the necessary memory modifications.

Just before he left, Fudge also notifies the PM that dragons and a sphinx were being brought to the country (for the Triwizard Tournament). The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures's regulations stated that such a notification was essential.

Fudge's fourth visit

Fudge was in a hurry the fourth time he visited the Prime Minister, and told him about the Azkaban mass breakout, and the Dementors' choice to cross over to Voldemort's side (OP25).

Fudge's fifth visit

According to the PM, Fudge looks careworn, thinner, greyer and balder than in his previous visits. He comes bearing several terrible pieces of news:

  • Sirius Black was innocent, and was killed on Ministry premises (OP35).
  • Lord Voldemort has returned (GF32).
    • The Ministry is now officially at war against the Dark Lord (OP36).
    • The Death Eaters who broke out of Azkaban in January have joined Voldemort (OP25).
    • Voldemort threatened a mass Muggle killing unless Fudge stepped aside for him.
  • Regarding the events in the past week, Fudge explains that:
    • Herbert Chorley's being transferred to St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.
    • The "hurricane" in Somerset ("trees uprooted, roofs ripped off, lampposts bent, horrible injuries") was actually the work of Death Eaters, with suspected giant involvement. The Ministry has been unable to find any giants. The Office of Misinformation and the Obliviators have been working intensively to contain the truth from the general Muggle poplation.
    • Amelia Bones was Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and was possibly murdered by Voldemort himself.
    • Emmeline Vance was also murdered by Death Eaters.
    • Dementors have been attacking at random, and breeding ("that's what's causing all the mist").
  • Cornelius Fudge is no longer Minister for Magic.

Rufus Scrimgeour

Rufus Scrimgeour, fanart by Makani

Soon after Fudge finishes his exposé, Rufus Scrimgeour, the new Minister, arrives. His presence gives off an air of toughness that helps the PM understand why the wizarding world would appreciate his leadership in wartime.

Scrimgeour has information of his own to divulge:

  • The Ministry has assigned Kingsley Shacklebolt, a highly trained Auror, to protect the PM, under the guise of secretary.
  • Herbert Chorley has been impersonating a duck in public not because of too much drinking or stress, but due to a poorly performed Imperius Curse. He's attempted to strangle three of the St. Mungo's Healers examining him.

Quote

PM: "But for heaven's sake--you're wizards! You can do magic! Surely you can sort out--well--everything!"

Fudge: "The trouble is, the other side can do magic too, Prime Minister."

Trivia

  • Fudge refers to Voldemort as "a wizard who has eluded capture for almost three decades", which places the Dark Lord's rise to power as some time in the late 60s.
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