It's January 25th, 2029, at the end of yet another long day of speech-making and celebration, and Leslie Knope is just starting to get used enough to the idea that she gets to sleep in the White House that she might actually manage to go to sleep tonight when there's a soft pop in the corner of the room.
She presses her panic button even before she looks over, because it's what the Secret Service told her to do over and over and she'll be damned if she gets assassinated before she can even get down to creating universal health care and shaking up the FEC and fixing the unemployment rate and equalizing the representation of women on all federal and district courts and closing the various wage gaps and building her first National Park and all that other first-term stuff on her list. Plus she really wants to find out if the guy who brings her candy when she calls for it in the middle of the night is just a guy who works here or if he's actually in the Secret Service, because how cool would it be if the Secret Service was bringing her candy? So she presses the heck out of that panic button, dives for the floor between the bed and the wall, and waits for the storm of be-suited commandos to break in and save her life.
They don't. Five seconds tick by, and then ten, with Leslie huddled next to the quilt that NOW gave her when she became the junior Senator from Indiana. It's really nice, but Leslie hopes it's not the last thing she ever sees.
"President Knope," the person says, and it's a lady's voice. "I'm not going to hurt you." With a British accent. Leslie peeks over the edge of the bed and the woman who steps out of the shadows looks harmless enough, just a person in a business suit, maybe a few years younger than Leslie, with short curly hair framing her face and super cute glasses perched on her nose. She's not holding a gun or a bomb, but she is holding – something. Possibly a stick. The Secret Service hasn't really briefed her on sticks.
"I'm sorry, but we've cut off your communication with the outside world, just for the moment," the woman says, and she does sound apologetic, but in a very particular way that Leslie finds intensely familiar. In a politician sort of way. "You and I needed to have a private conversation, and this was the easiest way to do that."
Leslie figures that talking is better than getting shot, or getting poked with a pointy stick or whatever, so she nods slowly. "I'll be happy to talk with you, Ms – ?"
"Granger," the woman says promptly, walking briskly over to where Leslie's kneeling on the floor and offering her hand. Leslie takes it, mostly out of reflex. "Hermione Granger, President of the League of Magical Persons and Creatures. An international organization."
Leslie stands up and adjusts her suit jacket with a firm tug, flips her hair out of her face, and meets Granger's eyes. "Magical," she says, nodding seriously. She's been in American politics long enough to know that kooks don't like it when you imply that their wacky belief systems are made-up hooey.
"Yes, magical," Granger says, and then turns away from Leslie, points her stick, and says some words in what sounds like Latin. The water glass on the bedside table turns into a rabbit and starts hopping around, the ceiling suddenly looks like a starry sky (complete with clouds passing over the moon), and Leslie's favourite chocolates zoom over from the candy table to hover in mid-air in front of them. Granger takes one and pops it in her mouth, then winks. "I'm a witch," she says, around a mouthful of caramel. Damn, Leslie really likes the caramel ones.
"Okay," Leslie agrees. If this is a weird hallucinogenic drug trip or the result of enemy brainwashing or food poisoning or something she'll find out about it eventually, so until Granger asks her for the nuclear codes Leslie might as well believe her. She thinks about it for a moment. "Shall we sit down?"
They take a seat at Leslie's desk. Granger crosses her legs in front of her and takes another chocolate, which means that Leslie has to take one too, just in case this woman's plan was to show up in the Presidential residence and cut her off from the Secret Service and eat all her chocolate.
"Witches and wizards and other magical persons generally don't reveal themselves to the non-magical world. We keep to ourselves," Granger explains. "But when a person attains high office in the non-magical world, as you have done – congratulations on that, by the way, you were absolutely my favourite candidate – we generally make ourselves known to them, because it is sometimes necessary to coordinate between magical and non-magical governments. It used to be done on a nation-by-nation basis, but it was hideously ineffective – some countries don't have proper magical governments, you know, and you can just imagine what it was like when a political situation involved several nations, each with their own very different magical and non-magical government entities in competition."
Leslie nods. "That makes sense," she says. Granger gives her a strange, almost startled look, like she had been expecting more resistance.
"In any case, the purpose of this meeting is to introduce you to this concept, explain that something like 0.1% of the population of the United States is made up of people with magical abilities or natures, and to introduce you to your particular liason officers. If at any time we see that you require assistance in governing your magical population, we'll show up to assist you."
"And what if I deem that you need assistance from me?" Leslie asks. Granger blinks.
"I beg your pardon?"
"What if I feel that the manner in which the magical government of the United States is operating is causing problems or issues that impinge upon my territory – the non-magical matters, as you would say. How do I go about dealing with that?"
"I – we deal with those matters internally," Granger stutters.
"How do I keep abreast of developments in the magical community? Is there going to be a daily briefing from a witch or a wizard?"
"Not usually," Granger protests, in that polite British way.
"Well, that's what we're going to need to do, Ms Granger," Leslie sighs, clapping her hands on her thighs briskly. "I refuse to allow an entire organization to govern 0.1% of my constituency without my knowledge or input. Assign someone to the case. We'll do daily briefings, at least at first, as it's going to take me a while to get up to speed. Any time between nine and ten pm should be fine generally, though of course as you know my schedule is often up in the air, so some flexibility on the part of my briefing officers will be necessary."
"I – we haven't got anyone – " Granger stutters.
"You yourself would do just fine, if you'd like to come back tomorrow for another visit," Leslie suggests. Granger's eyes narrow and she takes a deep breath through her nose, clearly composing herself.
"Please listen to what I'm saying, Madame President," she begins, and Leslie can't help but love her for the icily polite manner in which she invokes Leslie's title. It's the same exact strategy that Leslie herself used to use, back when she was first Mayor of Pawnee and had to learn how to deal with being pissed off by idiots all the time. "Our society is rather private, and we don't publicize our affairs to Mu – to non-magical persons. We deal with our own issues internally, and shall only require your help or input on the rarest of occasions. We have never provided anything like daily briefings to any head of state of any country, and I have no intention of starting such a process now. I'm sure you can understand that, like any government anywhere, we already have to deal with our share of red tape and interference from various public officials, and – "
"And you'd prefer not to have to deal with extra interference from me," Leslie finishes, grinning. Hermione breathes out slowly and then nods.
"That is it precisely."
Leslie pops another chocolate into her mouth and picks up the rabbit that used to be a water glass, settling it in her lap and stroking its soft fur. She thinks she'll name it Juanita. "Too bad," she says, around her mouthful of chocolate. At Granger's bristly look, she swallows and continues, "look, if you were in my shoes, wouldn't you want to have all the information possible? Wouldn't you want to know what was going on with people who can turn water glasses into rabbits at a moment's notice?"
Granger sighs and pushes her glasses up her nose in what looks like a nervous habit. "I would."
"And wouldn't you think it reasonable to request one hour of one person's time once a day, just to keep yourself up to date on what the five hundred thousand people with magical powers in your country were up to?"
That gets her a little half-grin. Granger has a pretty smile. "I would."
"Then we have a deal," Leslie says, smiling back. "Send me your representative tomorrow night – just for God's sake make sure that I'm alone in the residence and there's no international crisis that needs my attention before your show up and shut me off from the outside world!"
"Of course." Now Granger stands, so Leslie stands to match her, letting Juanita hop down to the floor. They shake hands with what Leslie would describe as some fellow-feeling. Then Granger goes to stand a few feet from Leslie, and holds up her stick again, changing the ceiling back to the way it was before.
"Magic wands, huh?" Leslie asks, delighted.
"Yes," Hermione says, and smiles. "Now just take care not to touch me or come too close, all right? Think of it like a transporter from Star Trek; your molecules could get splinched up with mine if you were to touch me."
"Right," Leslie says. "And, Ms Granger?"
"Get me some reading material, will you? I can't believe you showed up here to fundamentally alter my entire worldview and didn't bring me a single book to read on the subject."
There's a light in Granger's eyes at that, as Leslie thought there might be, but it's gone a second later as her wand swoops down and she winks out of sight.
Leslie smiles to herself, then calls room service (or possibly the Secret Service – the Secret Room Service?) for rabbit food.
Despite her protestations about how busy she is, it's Hermione Granger who shows up again the next night, and the next, and not the night after that because Leslie's busy talking to Syria, but then the two nights after that, and eventually it becomes clear that she's assigned herself to Leslie's case.
"These are a few more of my favourites," Hermione says, offering Leslie another stack of books. The top one says Hogwarts: A History, and when Leslie flips open the front cover there's an inscription: Hermione Granger, Aged 11 and 1/2, in heavily controlled little-girl handwriting. The I in Hermione is dotted with a five-pointed star. Leslie used to dot her I with a heart, but then they told her it wasn't appropriate for official state legislature documents, so she had to stop.
"You weren't born in the – to wizard parents," Leslie says, still stumbling over the language a bit.
Hermione looks a little taken aback, but Leslie holds her gaze until she answers. "No," she says. "My parents are dentists."
"Muggles," Leslie offers. Hermione winces.
"We're trying to get rid of that word."
"I noticed. But it's all over your literature. How did you feel when you were eleven and a half and found out there was this whole other world no one had ever told you about?"
Now Hermione makes eye contact, searching Leslie's face for a moment before replying. "The secrecy statute is necessary. Do you know what they used to do to witches and wizards? Do you know what the fundamentalist Christians in your own country would do if they knew?"
"Yes," Leslie replies. She's written up eighteen different scenarios in which this becomes public knowledge, all in her own personal cypher for security reasons of course, and none of them so far have ended well.
"Not to mention the kinds of things people might want magic to do for them if they knew," Hermione continues. "We'd be used. Controlled. Made to register, perhaps."
Leslie sighs. "Yes."
"I wish it could be different," Hermione adds, with real regret, and Leslie wonders how many times she's heard that phrase since she was elected President. Or since she was elected Senator, or elected to the state legislature, or elected mayor, or since she became Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation for Pawnee, Indiana when she was thirty years old. It feels like a lifetime ago.
"Me too," Leslie says, and takes Hermione's hand, squeezing briefly before letting go.
Their briefing session that night takes well over an hour, and Leslie has tons of documents she's supposed to be reading before the summit meeting tomorrow, but she keeps talking anyway, and keeps listening. Hermione talks about her parents, about how it felt when she got her letter from school, about the first spell she ever cast.
Leslie asks her to change the ceiling again, and she does, but tonight it's stormy, covered in dark clouds and flashing with lightning above them.
"Is this the actual DC sky?" Leslie asks, glancing out the window. It's raining.
"I eliminate most of the light pollution and the aircraft," Hermione shrugs. "Prettier that way."
"Yeah," Leslie says, looking up.
When Hermione is about to leave that night, she hesitates, then steps forward impulsively and gives Leslie a little hug, awkwardly squeezing her around the upper arms and shoulders. Leslie only has time to gently press the palm of her hand to Hermione's shoulder before she pulls away again, smiles her lopsided smile, and apparates.
She forgets to change the ceiling back, and as she drifts off to sleep Leslie finds the rolling black clouds strangely soothing.
"I have to tell you about Grindelwald, and Voldemort, and Miller," Hermione says, a few weeks later, and then she does.
"Wow," Leslie says, almost an hour later. It explains a lot about all those terrorist bombings in England some years back, and about the spate of natural disasters in the American west when Leslie was a senator, and – especially – about Hermione herself. Leslie's surprised she never noticed it before; she's met enough veterans in her life to know the signs, but Hermione's brisk-efficient-bureaucrat facade makes it hard to see the scars, the wariness, the strength. She sighs. "Okay, so, let's talk Dark Arts education policy," she says eventually. "How is the war being taught in schools?"
It must be the right thing to say, because Hermione beams at her.
About a year after their first meeting, Hermione drops by one day when it's not even their scheduled briefing time, just popping into the Oval Office in the middle of the day when Leslie's taking five minutes between meetings to lie down on the couch and think about things other than personally murdering the Japanese Trade Minister.
"Oh my god, have you seen this?" Hermione is saying, plopping down on the opposite couch and holding out a newspaper. "What are you doing about this?" she demands.
Leslie opens one eye and glares at her. "What are you doing here in the middle of the day? If the Secret Service sees you there's gonna be questions. And possibly tackles."
Hermione waves this away. "I'm serious, Leslie," she says, and Leslie mentally counts the number of people in her life who call her that without hesitation or deference, then decides to open her eyes and sit up all the way.
"You have three minutes, then I have to meet with the President of the AFL-CIO," Leslie warns. "Even though I don't want to because he's kind of a dick." She frowns.
"This – this elected official," Hermione spits, as if she isn't one herself, "is trying to push through legislation that would require parents to approve of and oversee all library visits for children under sixteen!" Hermione exclaims, pointing at the newspaper. Leslie raises an eyebrow.
"You've had the ear of the President of the United States for over a year now and this is what you decide to go with? Nothing about defense, nothing about that whole thing with Israel, nothing about health care, nothing about prison reform – "
"I refuse to allow you to pretend that this isn't important," Hermione says, her tone clipped. "Libraries, Leslie!"
Leslie shudders. "You know, I've never really liked them. The buildings I mean," she adds hastily, at Hermione's shocked look of outrage. "The institutions. So . . . judgmental, hoarding all that knowledge, looking down on you. Did you know that every US President gets a library erected in their honour? I'm trying to make it so that I can get an amusement park instead, but so far no dice."
"Leslie," Hermione pleads. Leslie takes pity on her.
"Yes, okay, I was briefed on that. Gordon is a piece of shit who has no business governing anyone, but unfortunately for us, telling other people what to do is what he likes best in the world. Right now it has no chance of making it through the Virginia senate; I've made sure of that."
"You should make a public statement," Hermione grouses.
"It'd just give him a bigger platform," Leslie mumbles, falling back down to lie on the couch and closing her eyes again. The intercom on Leslie's desk buzzes, and her secretary's voice is relayed into the office.
"The President of the AFL-CIO is here, Madame President," she says. Groaning, Leslie gets up and pushes the button to reply.
"One minute," she says. She leans back against the desk and smiles at Hermione.
"It's sweet that you brought this to me, though. You should come by during the day more often." She picks up a candy corn from the bowl on her desk and pops it in her mouth.
"Well, so long as you're already doing something about the situation, I suppose it's all right," Hermione allows. Standing up, she cocks her head at Leslie and smiles. "Your hair is sticking up atrociously," she says, and, moving confidently into Leslie's personal space, she runs her hand through it to calm it down. "There," she says, a moment later. "Ready to face the world."
"If only," Leslie snorts. She glances at the door and bites her lip. Grossman can wait another two minutes. She's more supportive of labour than any President since FDR; he owes her. She grabs Hermione's hand, which she hasn't really ever done before. Hermione looks down at where their fingers are tangled together, then back up.
"Are you busy on the thirteenth?" she asks. "It's Galentines day, and I like having all my best ladies with me on Galentine's day. I'd like you to come."
Hermione, unaccountably, blushes, and she adjusts her glasses nervously. Leslie is fascinated.
"All right," she says. "Just tell me where and when."
"Awesome," Leslie grins. "Should I use your magic calling card thingy?" It took Leslie a surprising amount of time to negotiate for a way of contacting Hermione should she need to speak with her, so she tries really hard not to use it too much and wishes all the time that Hermione had text messaging on her wand.
"Absolutely," Hermione says. "Anytime." Then she squeezes Leslie's hand, steps back, and apparates.
Leslie's grinning all through her meeting with Grossman, and although she nods along and thinks as hard as she can about unions, in the back of her mind she's already composing the essay she wants to write about how and why Hermione is awesome.
Leslie's chief of staff is always going on about how they're playing in the media, which Leslie hates, she hates the media, all of them, and especially she hates them today when the topic is apparently how Leslie should get a boyfriend. Or shouldn't get a boyfriend. And here Leslie was hoping that her grieving widowhood would carry her through her political career, like Queen Victoria.
"But on the other hand there is some perception that, if you were dating a man, he would automatically be controlling you via his penis and such," Annie says, glancing at the data in front of her. "The upshot is, you can't win, and are either a man-hating bitch harpy or utterly controlled by your babycave."
Leslie sighs. "So, same as usual, then." Annie shrugs. "What else?"
"Some rumblings coming out of China and Brazil," Annie says, with more relish than the subject probably warrants. "I'm on it. I'll have more for you later today."
"You did Model UN in high school, didn't you?" Leslie asks, smiling.
"Of course I did."
Annie smiles. "We'll have to go up against each other some day," she suggests.
"I'll kick your ass, Edison," Leslie warns.
"If you say so, Madame President." Annie turns to leave the office.
"Hey Annie," Leslie calls, and Annie turns around. Leslie looks down at her desk, toys with a pen. It was a gift from the King of England. Leslie wonders whether the King of England knows about magic and stuff, or if it's just the Prime Minster.
"Yes?" Annie asks, when Leslie doesn't say anything else.
"What if I got a girlfriend?"
Annie doesn't even hesitate, and Leslie knows that she's already researched this possibility, laid out strategies and crunched the numbers. "You'd lose about fifteen points by our best guess. It might be enough to make you a one-term President; I'm not sure. You already carry the LGBTQ vote pretty strongly, so there wouldn't be much increase in turnout for you. Mostly increase in turnout against. The man-hating harpy bitch thing would get more play. I have more data if you want to look at it."
"Okay. I mean, I don't need to look at the data. Thanks Annie."
Annie nods and leaves, presumably to talk to China and Brazil.
When Hermione shows up in her bedroom the next night, Leslie says, "You can't tell anyone," then steps in and kisses her, once, softly, on the mouth.
"I – " Hermione looks dazed when Leslie steps back, then regains her composure. "I wasn't expecting that," she says, after a moment.
"No?" Leslie feels a little knot of panic begin to grow in her belly. She was hoping for a more immediate response. Unless – "Oh god, are you seeing someone? I never even asked if you were seeing someone! But you never talk about anyone, and I thought – "
Hermione cuts her off by kissing her, which in terms of calming the panic-ball threatening to take over Leslie's internal organs is actually pretty effective. Leslie feels stiff at first, but then softens into Hermione's touch, her hands on Leslie's face. Leslie lays her palms against Hermione's waist and rubs just a little, just enjoying the way her hips begin to curve outward.
When Hermione moves to kiss Leslie's ear and nuzzle her neck, Leslie murmurs, "Seriously, can't tell anyone, but that's amazing."
Hermione laughs softly against Leslie's skin. "What made you kiss first and make me promise discretion later? That doesn't seem very politically sound." Leslie runs her hands over Hermione's back, up to tease at the ticklish nape of her neck, down to caress the small of her back.
"Well, I figured I could always threaten to tell everyone about magic and stuff," Leslie sighs, arching her neck to give Hermione better access.
Hermione pulls back, and she's blushing a little. "Actually," she says slowly, "you can't. I put a spell on you."
"You what?" Leslie yells in her face. Hermione winces and pulls away.
"It was before I knew you could be trusted! It's standard procedure!"
"What, you just, just hex me without my knowledge, go around putting spells on people at random like that's a normal thing to – "
Hermione groans and puts her face in her hands. "Please, please, I'll take it off, I'll take it off," she promises, and it sounds so chagrined and funny that Leslie can't help but laugh.
"You better," she grumbles, wrapping her arms around Hermione again. She kisses her lips quickly, a swift little bite of a kiss, and then another. "Or else," she kisses her again, "this," another kiss, "won't be safe for me."
Hermione holds her head and kisses her deeply, her mouth hot and demanding and precise and everything Leslie ever wanted from her. When she finally pulls back, her eyes are dark, and Leslie shivers, thinking about the kind of soldier she must've been in her secret war.
"I'll give you whatever blackmail material you want," Hermione promises fervently, and Leslie laughs, bending to kiss Hermione's neck.
"I already know that your parents are dentists, so I've got that," she murmurs into Hermione's skin between kisses.
"There you go."
"And that you like the black licorice jellybeans." The hollow of Hermione's throat is beautiful; Leslie spends some time there.
"They're good," Hermione protests weakly.
"Ulch." Leslie has to stop herself grinning before she can go on kissing the underside of Hermione's jaw. "And that you go around putting curses on innocent lady Presidents."
"Not that innocent," Hermione points out, and her hand travels up Leslie's belly to cup her breast, thumb finding her nipple through the layers of bra and blouse and business suit.
Leslie pulls back and meets Hermione's gaze. "So I guess it's mutually assured destruction, then," she says, trying to sound funny. Her voice cracks in the middle.
Hermione's face softens into a smile. "It's a deal," she says, and pushes her glasses up onto her head before leaning in to kiss Leslie again.
It's January 20th, 2033, and Hermione is standing behind Leslie at the podium as she thanks the American people for once again putting their trust in her. The media is confused, Leslie can see, not having any clue who she is, snapping plenty of photos in case they'll need to identify her and her relationship to President Knope.
Leslie's going to save them the trouble.