In the years after the Second Wizarding War, Britain’s magical community reorganized itself into a modern presidential democracy, with a campaign season that resembled the Americans’, but at the same time was not like it at all.
Hermione Granger was always going to be the nominee of the Alliance Party. At first, there were other opponents, fools of insufficient ambition who quickly realized they could not break through Hermione’s clockwork plans, her cool demeanor, her truehearted positions, and, of course, her battlefield record in Dumbledore’s Army. After the first and only primary debate, Granger’s opposition crowded around the mic at a press conference to announce it just was an honor to be on stage with a living legend, and they all conceded that they too wanted to be led by her.
The “Potter Factor” was obviously on the self-styled kingmakers’ minds as well. His tacit endorsement would guarantee 40% of the vote in the general election. But Harry had already said he would never endorse a candidate, as he was squeamish about politicizing his status as “The Chosen One.” If he was chosen at all, it was to vanquish Voldemort, not appoint politicians. Not that Hermione ever asked: she agreed with him, and she rarely mentioned him by name on the campaign trail.
Think-pieces and hit-pieces wrote themselves when Hermione selected Luna Lovegood as her running mate. Hermione wasn't bothered by any of it. She would not accept a second-in-command who she did not trust utterly and completely to always work for good. Besides, it was a smart strategy. On paper, the Gryffindor-Ravenclaw ticket would be the perfect combination of leadership: Gryffindor for its brave audacity, Ravenclaw for its wisdom and cleverness. Although she would never admit it to anyone, Hermione's more cynical side knew that if the newspapers were criticizing Luna Lovegood, that meant they weren't criticizing the top of the ticket.
The Traditionalist Party candidate was a wizard named Gilfroy Gromble, who had been raised in America and lived there until only a few years ago, leaving his history untarnished by the Death Eater years. The same couldn’t be said about the man he chose as his running mate: Gregory Goyle, the Slytherin bully. The “G4” platform centered around further walling off relationships with the muggle world and creating divides between the “higher magical beings” (i.e., wizards) and the “lower magical beings” (everyone else: house elves, goblins, beasts, squibs, and the likes).
Special, independent aurors were appointed to defend the integrity of the election, led by Elbeth Frex on secondment from Hogwarts, where she was the youngest wizard to serve as head of fair minded House Hufflepuff. With her broad magical authority, Frex enchanted all four candidates with Transparencio spells that would always reveal the last person who had influenced them.
Hermione and Luna worked this to their advantage. By having daily conversations with the various headmasters on the walls of Hogwarts, Luna was able to dispel her reputation for whimsy. Whenever she spoke publicly, the wizened images of Albus Dumbledore and the recently departed Minerva McGonagall lounged ephemerally above her shoulders. Granger went in the other direction, making a habit of approaching relic shopkeepers and potion-lab workers, so the Transparencio charm revealed her to be in close contact with common working wizards.
Meanwhile, Gromble-Goyle’s keepers were busy around the clock building a firewall between the candidates and the Durmstrang thugs who were doing the daily work of the “campaign.” The true rumors and innuendo were bad enough; they didn’t need the Durmstrang spectres hanging around the candidates when the newspaper photographers stopped by. Instead, Gromble and Goyle deliberately read the latest columns by the Daily Prophet’s most reactionary pundits right before every public appearance.
Since the women's magical abilities and veteran service were unimpeachable, Gromble and Goyle went after Granger and Lovegood’s families. They dogwhistled about Hermione's heritage, but always stopping short of calling her a mudblood, and half-heartedly “condemning” anyone who did. They attacked Luna’s credibility by repeating, again and again, the story of how her kooky fake-news father, Xenophilius Lovegood of the Quibbler, betrayed Harry Potter. Gromble and Goyle's researchers dug up the story of Lovegood's mother’s death and began raising the idea that it wasn't an accident, but suicide. What did that mean about “Loony” Lovegood's mental health?
Elbeth Frix and her auror team zipped around the country, counteracting the underhanded magical campaign practices of the Durmstrang thugs: various curses and charms designed to enamor or repel voters. Scores of wizards reported seeing visions of the phrase “G4 > W2” (short for Gilfroy Gromble, Gregory Goyle Are Greater Than Two Women) at the bottom of their cups of tea, in the space between the lines of their newspapers, and in graffiti on the walls of their dreams.
One of the dirtiest tricks was when the Durmstrang thugs began mass-mailing howlers to voters, unattributed and untraceable, that screamed “HI I’M HERMIONE GRANGER! VOTE FOR ME VOTE FOR ME VOTE FOR ME VOTE FOR ME!” in a way that would guarantee no one would. Some families received five of them in a night.
Throughout it all, Hermione never hit back. She was adamant that she would not tolerate any of her allies hitting back, either. “As Michelle Obama says, ‘when they go low, we go high,’” Hermione explained. Then everyone else would ask, “Michelle who?”
Luna would receive her vindication first. During the running-mate debate, Goyle’s entire strategy was to deflect every question by throwing out a tired catchphrase referring to his opponent as “Loony.” The fact that Luna would only respond to him in return as “Mr. Goyle,” frustrated him, so he upped the level, drawing out the “oo” ridiculously. “Looooony.” “Looooooooony.” And still, Luna didn’t waiver, answering questions calmly and politely, and respectfully disagreeing with “Mr. Goyle.” The debate ended with Goyle trembling with fury while screaming “TUNA LOVEBAD! TUNA LOVEBAD!” After that, the tracking poll asking, “Which Vice Presidential Candidate is Unhinged” flopped on its head.
Gromble's Durmstrang researchers gave up on taking down Luna and began raking through Hermione's past for any inkling of impropriety. Finally, they found something: Hermione had “cheated” at Hogwarts by using a Time-Turner.
No matter how much her friends tried to convince her of its insignificance, Hermione deeply believed that it was a fair attack. She did, in fact, cheat. She could not deny that she received an advantage unavailable to any other Hogwarts student. And she had to admit that it was legitimate to ask: how could she be trusted with magic of mass destruction when she's already shown she's willing to abuse the fabric of time and risk a reality-destructing paradox for something as self-serving and capricious as extra credit?
Hermione’s unwillingness to defend herself hurt her in the polls. Even as her advisors urged her to point out that Goyle had done far worse during the Death Eater years, Hermione strongly believed that the truth and reconciliation process that followed Voldemort's death should be respected, even if Goyle was gluttonous for reconciliation but stingy with the truth. She fully forgave Goyle for his transgressions.
There were no early polling stations or mail-in ballots, just a single election day. You either won the votes, or you didn’t. The Wizard Elections Council scheduled a broadcast presentation on Election Eve to allow the candidates one final opportunity, overseen by auror Elbeth Frix, to convince their peers of their magical and ministerial abilities.
Without exaggeration, but not without boasting, Hermione could say she had been planning the perfect playlists of spells for her closing arguments ever since she was a child with the spirits of democracy and egalitarianism dancing in her dreams. She had composed a symphony of enchantments representing her vision of a prosperous and progressive society based on "Justicia et Aequalitas."
Gromble won the gold piece toss and chose to go first with his closing arguments. Shockingly, Gromble launched a series of surprisingly sophisticated statistical spells. His invocations produced intricate spreadsheets that transformed into brick and mortar walls, building a foundation, then walls, then spires and terraces, until his 26-point plan was visualized as a castle. He called it his Fortress of Fortitude.
At that laughable line, Hermione decided to pull her ace in the hole. Buried in the footnotes of the debate protocols, which she’d found in the third attic of the fourth upside-down basement in the Hogwarts library, was an odd transparency provision. A candidate could call “Show Your Work,” and the magic theories and groundwork behind their opponent’s spells would be revealed. It was a particularly risky move since it was usually taboo to challenge another wizard’s work and it could inspire outrage, especially if it was a woman calling out a man. But she was certain that there was something fishy about Gromble’s sudden prowess.
The crowd gasped with confusion when she called “Show Your Work!”
“So be it,” Elbeth Frix said, and flicked her wand.
The crowd gasped again when, after a swirl of smoke and light, the underlying magic was revealed.
Hermione had expected to prove that Gromble was using a common plagiarism spell or illegal doping. What she had not anticipated was that Gromble’s robe would involuntarily rise to expose a house elf strapped to his leg.
The crowd booed as they realized that Gromble had no magic. “Filthy squib!” they screamed. Parents manifested rotten vegetables for their children to toss at the podium, and Gromble could not even conjure a basic deflection spell. As Gromble began to sob, Hermione’s face burned red.
The debate moderator announced she was suspending the debate, since, as a non-magical person, Gromble was no longer qualified to serve.
In that moment, Hermione realized that it was more important to do what was right than to fulfill a selfish, childhood obsession.
“No!” Hermione yelled, and let loose a fury of indignation. “Squibs are our equals, and they have the right and the ability to run for president. And no spell in the world can make you a better leader.”
“I suppose that’s true,” Elbeth Frix said, “but given the circumstances--”
“The circumstances haven’t changed,” Hermione said. “Mr. Gromble gave his closing arguments, and I have the right to give mine.”
“Please, go ahead,” Elbeth Frix said, flicking her wand to cast a quieting spell over the disgruntled crowd.
“Don’t vote for me because you don’t like how Mr. Gromble was born,” Hermione began. “Vote for me because you like my ideas, because you trust my abilities, because you respect my experience, because you have confidence in my judgment. To equal the playing field, I will deliver my closing statement without any magic at all.”
Hermione began to speak and quickly realized that a childhood with the muggles had taught her something uncommon in the wizarding world: the ability to work magic with non-magical words, the power to engage the imagination through vocabulary, rhetoric, and inflection. She built her vision of society not with glowing mists in the air, but in the limitless minds of her audience. Each voter found themselves imagining their own version of her world and what it would mean to them, from their own perspectives, to live in a society led by a president who was as compassionate as she was calculating, as caring as she was competitive.
As she closed, the audience roared. All eyes were on Hermione but had anyone looked in Gromble’s direction, they would have noticed that the Transparencio spell revealed a radiant image of Hermione over his shoulder. Hermione was the final person of the campaign to influence him.
Unlike their muggle counterparts, British wizards had never properly learned how to queue. The voting stations were clogged and cluttered, but by midday, it was clear to all that Hermione-Granger would be the winning ticket by a landslide. Nevertheless, voters waited well into the evening to cast their vote in the historic election. The moment the polls closed, Gromble conceded.
Rather than deliver an acceptance speech, Hermione allowed herself an indulgence and delivered the magical presentation she’d intended as a closing argument. Her spells weren’t just magical, they were world-building. By the time the confetti and balloons dropped from the ceiling, her leadership seemed as natural and powerful as the elements.