The President sighed, put his hands in his pockets, and looked at the portrait of George Washington above the mantle. He thrived on crowds and cheers and chaos, so had never believed that he would be relieved for the silence. Even there, in the quiet of the oval office, the noise was still ringing through his skull. Then the memory of the good hours swelled up inside of him and he caught Washington’s eye. The place wasn’t his yet—not really his—but he would keep Washington above the fireplace. The Nixon letter would have to go somewhere else.
Not that big clock, though. Each second rang out like the striking of hammer to stone. It was obviously too old and would have to go. President Trump’s eyes fell to the carpet. What seal did Reagan use? He’d have to find out. And the desk. He didn’t want the Resolute Desk. That lightweight Bush used it. It really isn’t big enough to get any real work done anyway. It was time Washington got a little more New York.
Still, it was a well-built desk. Trump ran his fingers across its woodwork as he walked to the window. How thick was that glass? The scare earlier came to mind, and he decided that looking into the inky black of the early morning hours didn’t suit him. Just to the right of the window was that statue he had seen his first time in the office. “Bronco Buster,” one of his staff had called it. This he liked. As he looked at man and beast in motion, Trump found himself for the first time being drawn into a greater story, the story of America’s struggle between ground and sky, the struggle to break free from limitation and achieve greatness. Trump looked at the rider’s hard set jaw and determined stare, balancing between heaven and earth on a thousand pounds of animality. Trump knew then he would have done well in the wild west.
Suddenly, the rider slid off the horse’s back, put his hat in his hands, and looked up at the President with a brisk nod. The shift from still to animation was so seamless that it took a moment for Trump’s mind to catch up with his eye. It was the rough accent of the desert-formed frontier that awoke him to the moment.
“Mr. President, sir. The President of the Magical Congress and the Secretary of No-Maj States are on their way to the Oval Office.”
President Trump’s stunned silence was broken by the sound of steel on marble. He swung around to see the fireplace screen slide away from the grate unaided. He jumped as bright green flames burst into life where the last fire lay dead. Trump watched, mouth open, as a pale, thin man appeared in the flames, spinning as fast as a top. Seconds later, he stepped out of the fire and placed his feet on the wood floor. With intense, dark eyes he looked at Trump, brushed ash from the sleeves of his jet black suit, and stepped to the side.
Once again the fireplace filled with green flames and a woman’s face appeared in the fire beneath the marble mantelpiece. An older woman in purple and black robes stepped into the oval office. She was very tall—almost as tall as President Trump—with long silver hair and a single streak of blue. The woman smiled warmly at her No-Maj counterpart.
The small man strode forward, shook Trump’s hand stiffly, and spoke in a tight, crisp voice.
“Good morning Mr. President. Daedalus Blackberry, Secretary of No-Maj States. This is Dr. Rolanda Fontaine, M.A., DPhil, Professor Emeritus in No-Maj Studies at Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Advisor to the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, and President of the Magical Congress of the United States.”
“Please, Daedalus,” President Fontaine said with a chuckle. “America’s new President is no doubt overwhelmed.” Fontaine crossed the floor and took Trump’s hand. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Trump. Please call me Rolanda.”
“Rolanda,” he repeated, his eyes never leaving hers. It had been a long campaign, filled with late nights and early mornings. Somewhere in the last year he had traded his life for this office, and he was disappointed to discover that in the bargain he had lost his sanity.
“Shall we sit?” She asked.
Trump nodded, and found himself moving involuntarily toward the couch. When he looked up, Blackberry had taken out a folder and placed it on a side table, while President Fontaine was sitting with her hands resting on her lap, smiling at her counterpart.
“I imagine you will find this a strange briefing, Mr. President,” she said.
“Donald,” the President croaked, involuntarily. He reached for a glass of water on the side table and brought it to his lips. It was only after he had taken a drink that he realized the porter had not left him any water.
“Donald,” Fontaine repeated. “We will not take much of your time, and you should only hear from us on rare occasions. What we have to tell you is of a highly sensitive nature, so that even your most senior staff do not know that we exist.”
“Who is ‘we,’ exactly?” Trump still did not know if he was crazy or not, but he was certainly not going to lose control in his own delusion.
President Fontaine smiled, and Trump wondered for a moment if she was not, actually, very young. He found her compellingly beautiful.
“Donald, we are people of legend who live in reality. There are witches and wizards like Daedalus and I living throughout the world, hidden from sight. We have powerful abilities that have at times terrified your ancestors. At other times magic folk have healed your people and tilted the balance of power. We are very few, but we are your neighbors and coworkers.”
“I’m sure I would have noticed….”
Blackberry interrupted the President.
“No, sir. You will not have noticed. There have been witches and wizards in your senior staff and campaign team since you became a person of interest.”
The President brought the drink to his lips again.
“Person of interest?” he asked after swallowing. He determined that his voice was not going to remain unsteady.
“What Daedalus is referring to is an informal list that senior officials at MACUSA keep. Aurors—this is the magical equivalent of your FBI—are assigned to watch people who have the ability to do great good or great evil. You have been employing our people for some time, Donald.”
Trump let the glass linger for a moment in mid-air before setting it down.
“Which list am I on, Rolanda? Good or evil?”
Blackberry was about to speak, but Fontaine interrupted him.
“You are the President of the United States of America. You must know by now that you will do great good and great evil. Only you can tell us which will tip the scales of history’s judgment.”
Trump nodded, set down his empty glass, and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. He looked directly at Blackberry.
“What did you say your position was?”
“I am the Secretary of No-Maj States, Mr. President.”
“It is slang for non-magical people, Mr. President.” Blackberry’s eyes were level, his gaze intent. Trump wondered what having a man like this on his team would be like.
“So, me in fact?”
“Yes, sir. You and most Americans.”
“How many of you are there?”
Blackberry smiled for the first time.
“Well, sir, the statistical analysis is quite interesting….” President Fontaine interrupted him.
“Donald, we will leave you a briefing note that only you can read. To your staff it will look like your company stock reports….”
“The company of your children, sir,” Blackberry interrupted. Trump resisted the urge to roll his eyes.
“Precisely,” Fontaine continued. “The folder includes essential parts of our history, including moments of crisis globally and in the U.S. It should make for some enlightening reading!”
Fontaine concluded brightly, and watched as Trump’s brow furrowed at her description.
“There is also an audio feature,” she added. “In case you are busy.”
Trump nodded, clearly relieved.
“You mentioned times of crisis,” he said.
Daedalus Blackberry nodded, then began a succinct listing of the precise dates when No-Majs and magical folk interacted, beginning with the founding of MACUSA, the period of the Revolution and the Civil War, and the great crises that defined the first half of the twentieth century. While Trump typically did not prefer to think about history—he knew his job was to think about the future—he was fascinated by the dry outline Blackberry provided for him. Parallel to the wars that defined America was a global crisis that could have, he realized, mattered more than the struggle between East and West or between Axis and Allies.
When Blackberry had finished, including the recent magical civil war in the United Kingdom, Trump leaned back on his couch and rubbed his face. The witch and wizard sat quietly in that place of power.
“You’re real,” he said, finally.
“We are,” Rolanda Fontaine replied in a soft tone. “You are not dreaming. You are not crazy. And you need not be worried.”
Blackberry nodded curtly and rose to his feet. He walked over to the Resolute Desk and placed his fingers, one by one, on particular notches in the woodwork. A drawer slid open with a pop. Trump jumped up from his seat and went to the desk. The drawer was empty and, the President was sure, a physical impossibility.
“This magical drawer is a direct link to our headquarters in New York….”
“New York?” Trump interjected with surprise.
“Yes sir. We have been in New York since the late 19th century. We were in the Woolworth building until the construction of One World Trade Center provided an opportunity for a more spacious headquarters.” Blackberry continued to describe how, during the building of the new complex, magical architects were able to create parallel spaces that, with certain security codes and spells, provided the administrative and political center for the U.S.A.
Trump nodded. It was a move he would have ordered if he was in charge.
“Magical space,” Blackberry continued. “Can be bigger on the inside than the outside.”
Blackberry pulled a pen from his robes and placed it inside the drawer and closed it. When he put his fingers in the wood carving again, the drawer opened. It was completely empty.
“You can place items you feel we need to know about in here and we will receive them—though we have researchers that keep track of No-Maj news. From time to time, you will be notified that there is an item in here from us, especially when No-Maj security is concerned.”
Trump nodded. He could not imagine what harm a little man like this could do, besides tie up an auditor in red tape. But as he looked over at President Fontaine, he suspected their power went far beyond parlor tricks. President Fontaine then spoke.
“In the case of dire emergency, Mr. President, you can use this drawer to escape to our headquarters in New York.”
“I can fit in there?” Trump asked doubtfully.
Blackberry scowled as he answered.
“Yes sir. In fact, it has fit a number of people at one point, but that was hardly an emergency of the magnitude that we imagined when we created the mechanism.”
“Kennedy?” Trump asked.
“Precisely,” Blackberry responded.
“I will have to keep this desk then,” Trump said.
“You will find it very difficult to dispose of,” Fontaine answered with a smile.
“How do I access it?” Trump inquired. Blackberry demonstrated.
“You simply put your fingers in these notches. It only works for magical folk with proper clearance, and you Mr. President.”
“How did you know my fingerprints?” he asked. “You have that on file?”
“We do not need fingerprints, Mr. President. You reset the mechanism the first time you touched the desk a few minutes ago.”
Trump nodded. Then President Fontaine reached out her hand and took Trump’s.
“We have taken too much of your time already, Donald. You have done very well. Your predecessors have typically called for security.”
“It didn’t work though, did it?” Trump asked.
“No sir,” Blackberry answered, smiling thinly. Trump wondered if it might be time for a cabinet position shared by both governments. But, then, he doubted Daedalus Blackberry would survive the hearing.
“Provided things go well,” Fontaine continued. “You will see me very rarely. Best wishes in your term in office, and blessings upon your family. We are here if you need us, but you will find we will not typically offer the kind of help you will wish from us. But we will always help.”
Witch and wizard moved toward the fireplace. Though the President had wanted them to leave from the moment they arrived, he now found he did not want them to go at all. A thought nagged at the back of his mind, and he found the question coming out of his mouth before it was fully formed.
“Magicians,” he said. “You have tilted the balance of power before. You didn’t have anything to do with the election….”
Fontaine turned away from the fireplace and fixed the President with a gaze that contained within it the hint of a smile.
“We are wizards, Mr. President. Miracles are not in our line.”
Then the Secretary threw some powder into the fireplace, stepped into the emerald flames, and vanished with a whooshing sound. President Fontaine followed, and within moments the oval office was what it had always been.
The President stood there, quite motionless, and then fell back to his seat. Absentmindedly, he reached for his phone, thumbs on the ready. This was incredible news. He knew that he couldn’t tweet out this experience. Surely this was too far, even for twitter followers—who, he realized long ago, would believe almost anything. He knew that he should never, as long as he lived, ever dare mention this encounter to a living soul. For who in the wide world would believe him?
Then the other President looked down at his phone and decided to find out.