Protests during the first week of classes bring Fudge and Umbridge to Hogwarts and the staff start choosing sides.
She-Who-Must-Be-Named and her minions own the Potterverse. I just imagine it differently!
Draco Malfoy was a very confused young man. He had still not recovered by his father’s killing. People like his father, and himself of course, were to be bowed to, not stood up to, and certainly not killed by some anonymous wizard in a crowd just for having fun.
Potter had changed as well. He had worked against Draco, but certainly had not really stood up to him before. Snape’s comments Friday afternoon were also disturbing. Most of the his fellow Slytherins had quickly fallen into the new rules. This suggested to both Draco and Snape that most had not been very fervent believers in the Pureblood agenda. That response from his fellow Pureblood students merely added to Draco’s confusion.
Things were slightly changing around Draco, and from the little he could see, he didn’t like the concept.
A large number of other people were in similar states of mind, especially the Headmaster, Snape, and Barty Crouch Junior, masquerading as Moody. Crouch was especially confused, as he could not get a coherent statement out of anybody about what had happened just before he had shown up at the welcoming feast. He was looking forward to the first class he had with the so-called ‘Boy-Who-Lived’ the next week.
Snape was alternating between rage and fear. He did not want to accept that another Potter might have bested him, that the Boy might have enough power to affect him. On the other hand, while he did not fear death, as far as he was concerned dying at the hands of any school boy, especially Potter, was an embarrassment to be avoided. Even more than Dumbledore, Snape was constantly passively scanning those around him. If what the Headmaster had said was accurate and Potter was the one who had cast Odin’s Defense, then meeting Potter’s eyes even once would likely mean death. Snape would have to retrain himself not to passively scan all the time, or else the students, especially the Slytherins, would soon detect that he was acting defensively, perhaps even submissively, around Potter by not glaring at him, and once the students sensed fear, he would be in trouble.
Dumbledore was slightly less worried than Snape about passive Legilimency and a great deal more concerned about who might have taught Harry. He would have to make certain that Harry had much less freedom the following summer. As for guarding the Cup from interference beyond an age line, he decided to put Moody in charge of that. He needed to spend some time prowling around Privet Drive to see if he could discover anything.
Around the school, unnoticed by any of the staff, many of the students had quickly picked up on the ‘anti-Puree’ ideas – even most of the Purebloods, who, if not from the ‘right’ families were still discriminated against in Ministry hirings and in competing for Ministry contracts, saw this as a chance to push for change. To many of the less thoughtful Gryffindors, this was simply another way of being ‘anti-Slytherin’. Many Hufflepuffs, no matter their blood-status, were simply offended by the lack of fair play in British wizarding society, and now that their noses had been rubbed in it they felt compelled to voice their objections, especially once rumors of Harry Potter’s involvement spread. Many of the Ravenclaws, and a few thoughtful members of the other Houses (like Hermione) and even some Slytherins realized that the odds were stacked against them, and thought this might help even the playing field.
None, not even Hermione, knew that Harry was behind it all. The Gryffindors did know from that first night that Harry supported the idea, and of course the rest of the students caught on well before the staff.
At dinner that Sunday, McGonagall made a startled noise. “What is it, Minerva?” Dumbledore asked.
“Do you need new glasses?” she hissed. “Look closely at the lapels at three of the tables.”
Dumbledore looked, and then swallowed nervously. Sure enough, every Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, and perhaps a third of the Ravenclaws, sported white buttons, each with a blood-red P in a bright-red circle, with a slash across it. He stood, and the normal background noise faded quickly. “Students, you were warned about using certain phrases Friday evening. Remove those buttons.”
Not a student made a move to do so.
One of the Slytherin’s shouted, “Remove those buttons, you Blood-traitors!”
Dumbledore was more startled by the collective growl from the Hufflepuff and Gryffindor tables. Another Slytherin (Pansy Parkinson, although few knew that) was heard to exclaim, “Filthy Mudbloods!”
Instantly, a chant started at the Hufflepuff table, and it was quickly picked up the others button-wearers. “Down with Purees! Down With Purees! DOWN WITH PUREES! DOWN WITH PUREES!”
“SILENCE!” Dumbledore glared at the students. “I will have none of that!”
Harry stood up, saying, “Stop supporting the Pureblood agenda, Headmaster! You are the same as I am, the son of a Pureblood father and a Muggleborn mother.”
“Mister Potter! That will be. . . .”
“Take one point off of Harry, and you had better do the same to all of us!”
The members of the head table was shocked, because it was Hermione who had stood and stated that. Harry and Hermione had not been seen snogging, and so few realized they were a real couple, instead of just close friends. The rest of Gryffindor stood and shouted in near-unison, “AND US!”
The Hufflepuffs managed to be more unified, but followed, shouting the same. Half the Ravenclaws, including some not wearing the buttons, stood and glared defiantly at the head table.
“Blood does not matter!” Dumbledore stated firmly.
“True,” Harry responded. “After all, Voldemort’s father was a Muggle.”
“You lie!” Draco screamed.
Harry walked between the student tables and the head table, and did the ‘tom marvolo riddle’ = ‘i am lord voldemort’ trick. “He showed me that himself, Malfoy.” Harry moved so he was facing most of both the students and staff. “What Britain had during Voldemort’s first attempt to seize power was one small group of Purebloods and Pureblood wannabes who were trying to get power from an even smaller group, the Pureblood elite. They were fighting a civil war, a civil war between those who hate Muggles and the new ideas represented by the Muggleborn and those in contact with Muggle society, and those who wanted to kill those people. One set of bigots was attacked by an even more racist set of bigots. Together, they probably make up less than an eighth of the magical population in these isles.” He turned and glared at Dumbledore. “I, for one, will no longer tolerate the abuse encouraged by the coddling of the Pureblood bigots in Slytherin. The curriculum at Hogwarts is the weakest in western Europe, other than Beauxbatons, because the Purebloods are so inbred they can’t keep up. Either change the system, or expel me! I know that once a student steps foot in Hogwarts, they are compelled to attend through their O.W.L.s, unless expelled. So, bring the school up to standard, or expel me so I can attend a decent school and get a good education!”
“And if Harry goes. . . .” Susan Bones stated.
“We all go!” exclaimed the students standing yelled.
“Expel the inbred!” a Hufflepuff called out.
“Expel the Slytherins!” Ron shouted.
“DOWN WITH PUREES! DOWN WITH PUREES! DOWN WITH PUREES!”
“STUDENTS! GO TO YOUR COMMON ROOMS!”
Harry sneered at the Headmaster, and went, sat down, and began eating his dinner.
The rest of the students did the same.
Harry was summoned to the Headmaster’s office. Despite the temptation, he did not have anyone else with him when he met with Harry, despite Minerva’s protests and Snape’s demands.
“What are you trying to do, Harry?” Dumbledore asked.
“I’m trying to save magical Britain,” Harry answered. “We both know that Voldemort will be back. If his Horcruxes aren’t destroyed, I can ‘vanquish’ him any number of times, and he’ll just keep coming back. Magical Britain was about to roll over and submit to him back in 1981, wasn’t it?”
“It was,” Dumbledore admitted after a moment’s hesitation. “Tom had gained sufficient followers within the Ministry to seize control, and he almost certainly would have that December.”
“And now those followers, and their sympathizers, have even more seniority, more power, don’t they? Some killed off their relatives who had real power, after 1981 as well as before, and now some are even in the Wizengamot. Correct?”
“I have no proof, but I am certain you are correct,” Dumbledore again had to admit.
“And if Voldemort seizes power, how long before the Muggleborn and ‘blood traitors’ are hunted down and killed? Before the magical economy is wrecked and the general wizarding population is under his boot?”
“Probably not long,” Dumbledore admitted.
“Then will he go after the other magical governments or the Muggles first?”
“I don’t know,” Dumbledore answered. “There shall certainly be some Muggle-baiting. . . .”
“Some,” Harry said in disgust. “Did you know the Muggles know of us?”
“A few. . . .”
“Not a few,” Harry cut in. “Not just those with magical relatives, and not a few like the Muggle Prime Minister. I mean the Muggle military and secret services.” Dumbledore was stunned at the concept. “They’ve known since at least World War II; there weren’t enough wizards to memory charm everyone who witnessed magic. They can track magic, or at least large scale magical use. Their global satellites can find any structure under Muggle-repelling charms; just about anything not under something like a Fidelius, in fact, including Hogwarts and the Ministry building. Do you know what a hydrogen bomb is? Or at least an atomic bomb?”
“Atom bombs, yes; and I know what hydrogen is. . . .”
“A hydrogen bomb is much more powerful than an atomic bomb. In fact, an atomic bomb is used to trigger a hydrogen bomb. For a brief instant, the power of the sun is on earth. If the Muggles feel we are getting out of control, as Voldemort would be, do you think they would hesitate to launch a weapon on him? The Muggles keep a closer eye on us than you know, not because they are afraid of the backward wizarding world, but because they are afraid one Muggle government will coopt their wizards and use them, like the Soviets tried to before your lover wiped the Russian Muggleborn out in the early 1920s. If any government co-opts them again, the rest will swoop down on us. We can only protect ourselves by knowing the Muggles better than they know us. Humoring the Puree agenda will bury us, assuming we don’t die out all together.”
At that moment, Dumbledore was distracted by McGonagall approaching his door. He tried to stop her, but she charged in, wildly waving something in her hand. “Have you seen this!” she shouted flinging the object on Dumbledore’s desk. She glared at Harry and snapped. “I imagine you have.”
Dumbledore saw it was some sort of soft-covered book. He had never seen a plastic spiral-bound book before, let alone one this large, at nearly two inches thick. “What is it?” he asked.
“A report comparing the programs, O.W.L. scores, and fees at all the schools which fall under the O.W.L. and comparable systems,” Harry answered blandly. “Amazing – the Purebloods pay a quarter of the fees here that the Muggleborn do. I wonder how the Muggleborn families will react, especially those with younger magical children, when they discover they are paying inflated prices for inferior education.”
“You’re trying to destroy Hogwarts!” McGonagall raved.
“No, the people running the system have been destroying Hogwarts for over a hundred years,” Harry retorted. “This school is a mockery of what the founders tried to create.”
“That is not for you to say!”
“If a concerned student cannot say that, then who can? The parents that have been brainwashed? The Minstry that caused it? You staff members who go along? What can happen if a majority of the acknowledged magical children of Wales, England, and Scotland do not attend Hogwarts? Which, I remind you, they don’t?” Harry asked.
Mcgonagall looked confused, but Dumbledore looked horrified.
“That’s right, Mister Dumbledore,” Harry answered. “The recognized heirs of the Founders can take over the school, removing not only the Board of Governors, but the headmaster and any or all the members of the staff. The true primary bloodlines of all four founders have died out, but their vaults still recognize magical heirs – most likely whoever controls the Founders’ Symbols.” Harry raised his hand and the Sword of Gryffindor disappeared from Dumbledore’s shelf and reappeared in his hand. Then it disappeared. “That’s one. Either whoever controls Slytherin’s ring, or Voldemort or myself, would be the magical heir to Slytherin.”
“I defeated and disembodied the last blood heir three times so far,” Harry pointed out. “That leaves Ravenclaw’s diadem and Hufflepuff’s chalice.”
‘I need that cup!’ Dumbledore thought. With it, he and Harry could stalemate Shadow.
Harry looked at McGonagall. “When Voldemort is destroyed, Hogwarts will be remade. It will become the greatest school, for the best of the best, blood be damned.” With that, Harry stood and left.
“Harry’s mystery mentor claims to hold the ring and the tiara,” Dumbledore answered. “Putting Harry under any pressure would be counterproductive. At the least, he would leave after next year. I know where the cup is, but have no idea on how to get to it.”
“Then I suggest you put your mind to it!”
When classes started Monday morning, the buttons had disappeared. The few Slytherins who tried to make their usual put-downs and insults found their usual victims growling and backed up by others in their House, even the Hufflepuffs. Their allies in Ravenclaw, who rarely said anything, advised the Slytherins to lay off. The Slytherins also noticed that while Snape was his usual sarcastic self towards Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs, that sarcasm was limited and stayed far-away from ancestry or House rivalry.
When Harry finally had his first Defense class, he sat stoically as ‘Moody’ demonstrated the three Unforgivables. He did not react when the entire class was lined up for the Imperius and as some of his classmates were put under the Curse. His expression gave the faux-Moody a second of hesitation, but then he commanded, “Imperio!”
Harry merely looked at the man. ‘Moody’s’ wand shook slightly, and then, hesitatingly, he lowered it, the classroom in complete silence. Most, especially the Slytherins, had their mouths open in shock.
Harry’s glare did not waver; ‘Moody’ swallowed nervously, and then managed to say, “Remarkable, Mister Potter. Remarkable.” Harry did not blink. “Ten points to Gryffindor. Have a seat.”
Harry merely nodded and sat back down.
“Dumbledore! What the hell is going on in this school!” Minister Fudge shouted.
“You must teach the Mudbloods and Halfbloods their place,” Undersecretary Umbridge agreed with a sniff.
“For over a hundred and fifty years, the Ministry and its allies on the Board have kept the Hogwarts curriculum in place as the world has changed,” Dumbledore stated. “At the same time, the Ministry hires almost exclusively from Hogwarts. The majority of the wizarding population no longer attends Hogwarts, and are increasingly cut off from what you consider, for no good reason, the mainstream magical community. Tell me, if the Ministry only represents some twelve to fifteen percent of the magical population, and Hogwarts deals with at most twenty percent of the total children, how representative is either? Without the Muggleborn and their children and grandchildren, Hogwarts would only be two-thirds its current small size at best. More importantly, without the higher fees charged to them, nearly a third of the Purebloods who attend would not be able to afford to be here. The problem is not that those students do not know their place; the problem is that they are learning it.”
Normally, both Ministry officials were oblivious to counter-arguments, but the glare that Dumbledore had them under made them both squirm and listen.
“I know your instincts are to try and crush what is going on here. But I warn you: remember that the Ministry is totally unrepresentative of British magical society. All it would take is a spark, and the general population could rise and demand representation. The entire Ministry could be overhauled, and merit would become the sole criteria if we are lucky – cronyism on the part of the more commercial classes is the more likely result. You control ‘the Daily Prophet’ and the news on the WWN, but ‘the Prophet’ sells only fifteen hundred copies a day, and exists only because of the Ministry subsidies. The Ministry is barely noticed, except to keep the floo going and to regulate Quidditch, by some three quarters to four fifths of the population. Do not interfere here, and it might stay that way. If you do interfere, the movement here will spread to the other schools, then to their parents, and they will destroy the Ministry as it currently operates.”
Fudge and Umbridge left, unsatisfied and unconvinced, but seemingly shaken in their confidence and yet threatening to return soon. Dumbledore decided he had to speak to some of his contacts with outside newspapers. While ‘the Prophet’ was the ‘newspaper of record’ in Britain, ‘the Irish Speaker’ sold twice as many copies in Britain. The Ministry had no control over the Welsh newspaper, as few in the Ministry ever bothered to learn the language, and it sold as many copies as ‘the Prophet,’ as did the leading French paper.
As the confused Ministry pair were leaving, they made their way past a small group of students, which they ignored. Harry, however, did not ignore Umbridge. The Hogwarts wards had notified him as soon as she had entered the grounds.
There were many un-Marked (or as yet un-Marked) individuals who, although Harry loathed them, he was willing to spare, at least until they did something wrong in this universe. Umbridge was not one of those. Harry managed to place a complicated curse upon her. After the fourth time she apparated, an anti-apparation ward would be triggered. The fifth time Umbridge apparated, she would basically implode into a bloody mass.
News of her demise would make the Saturday Prophet.
When Dumbledore entered the staff meeting that Friday a few minutes late, however, he noticed that the group had become unnaturally quiet. “Oh, dear,” he said, “what has happened now?”
“Essentially, we have lost one of our main disciplinary tools,” Flitwick replied.
“House points,” McGonagall answered. “Several students have pointed out how unfairly a certain member of the staff has been using the House point system for years and is continuing to do so this year, again resulting in skewed results.” Dumbledore saw the rest of the staff was glaring at Snape. “Basically, this has resulted in one House unfairly winning the last twelve out of fifteen years, and those last three were different only because of let us say odd occurrences at the very end of each year. And before you say anything,” she continued, snapping at Snape, “I looked up some of your deductions – ‘breathing loudly,’ ‘answering in too much detail,’ ‘walking too fast,’ ‘walking too slowly,’ ‘walking too loudly,’ ‘walking on the wrong side of the corridor’. . . . Need I go on?”
Snape merely glared and then sniffed in contempt..
“Both the Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors have announced you should give what they now call ‘the Slytherin Cup’ to Slytherin, because they really don’t care anymore,” Sprout said. “And many, if not most, of the Ravenclaws agree.”
“In addition, there is a petition with signatures from every non-Slytherin student demanding that all detentions be adjudicated by a Board consisting of one neutral Head of House, a neutral staff member, and a member of the Hogwarts Board of Governors, since you have proven too aloof,” Flitwick added, twisting the knife.
“I know you won’t expel Potter short of his raping a student in the middle of the great hall,” Snape drawled, “but perhaps you should consider expelling a few of the other ringleaders. Soon, the school will be nothing but chaos.”
“Or, perhaps you should just find a better potions instructor,” Flitwick pointed out. “That would likely solve more problems. And watch what you say, Snape,” Flitwick warned. “You are one offensive remark, one attack on one of my students, from learning to see if I can still easily outclass you.”
“Enough, all of you,” Dumbledore stated. There was silence for a moment.
“Your options are rapidly decreasing, Headmaster,” the Muggle Studies instructor said softly, breaking the silence. “It is clear that the standards of Hogwarts’ instruction has declined over time, and that the structure of Hogwarts and the Ministry reflect each other, but not the general magical population. There is nothing we can do about the latter; well, perhaps you could but we can’t. We must upgrade the curriculum to at least start to meet current International Standards, and you must find a way to get the Governors not to interfere. And you had better do it quickly.” Twisting the knife, she added, “Do it before two other equally declining schools arrive, along with the international press.”