The Last Battle has been fought, and Harry Potter has won. The price, however, has been high. Nearly every person Harry cared for is dead, maimed, or otherwise injured. The magical culture of ...
Chapter V Saturday, November 24, 1990
"How long do you think he can keep up this pace?" Moody asked Remus.
"I don't know," Remus admitted. After spending the morning making two Fourth year potions with Aberforth and attempting wandless Fifth year Transfiguration work with Moody, Harry had spent the early afternoon coaching Neville and Hermione on basic flying techniques. Neville was gaining confidence but Hermione was still more than a little leery. After flying and having a snack, Harry helped them with the first month of the school's Charm work. Neville had left after he and Hermione had gone through the twenty-one basic wand movements which formed the first two months of Charms, shooting sparks to show the paths more clearly. Now, just before dusk, Hermione was again on a broom, floating just three feet off the ground while Harry slowly walked her around, his hand behind her on the broom stick.
"Why is he doing this, anyway?" Moody allowed himself to wonder. "He's so far ahead of these kiddies that he's more of a big brother than a friend."
"But he's having fun," Remus pointed out. "And, compared to what he had at the Dursleys, he's having a childhood."
"Damn shame, that," Moody admitted. "I wonder if he was in love with this one."
"He said that he was attracted to her, but he relied on her mind and her loyalty," Remus said. "And she and the others are going to be months ahead of most of the other students."
After a few moments of watching Harry, Moody asked, "How do you think the tea party will work out in two weeks?"
"I don't know," Remus said. "Sirius agrees that it's time to bring young Malfoy in, but that it's unlikely to be too helpful."
"Well, I'm certain old Lucius is whispering in one ear while Black whispers in the other," Moody pointed out.
"I'm sure," Remus agreed. "Still, while we're not likely to turn Draco, we might be able to put some doubt into his mind."
"You'll notice that Harry didn't want to invite this one once he learned young Malfoy was coming," Moody pointed out.
"Harry is technically a half-blood, and all the others are Full-bloods, if not Pure-bloods," Remus said. "If Draco turns on anyone, it will be Hermione."
"True," Moody admitted.
Saturday, December 8, 1990
Draco Malfoy was nervous. His father had spent years training Draco to have certain opinions and to believe in certain standards. One of those beliefs was the power of money, second only to the power of ancestry.
His cousin Sirius had an ancestry at least equal to Father, and a fortune which was not far behind. Draco had a chance of claiming half that fortune in the distant future, and that underlying greed which he was just starting to see in his father (plus a desire to hedge his bets) had compelled his father to let Draco spend time with Sirius. Sirius had a much different set of values, although he acted (at least around Draco) with manners even superior to Father's, except when they were having fun -- and Father NEVER had 'fun' with Draco. Draco was confused by this quiet conflict between the mores he had been raised with and those of his fascinating and at times flamboyant cousin. Mother was of little help, merely saying he must find his own way, which at least meant she did not openly disapprove of her cousin. Father insisted that he pretend to be friends with his rival for the Black fortune, Harry Potter. Sirius was obviously hoping that Draco would become friends with Potter. This also confused Draco, especially because he wasn't certain what 'being friends' meant. He thought of young Crabbe and Goyle as his friends, but he easily dominated them. Even Draco had quickly realized when he met Harry the month before that he was NOT going to dominate Harry Potter. On the other hand, while Harry had made certain that Draco was nice to the other two boys present (Anthony and Ernie), Harry was not trying to dominate him either. It was all very confusing.
Draco could not realize this, of course, but he was six years ahead of his previous self. That Draco had only had started having doubts after he had first met Voldemort, and by then it was far too late for Draco to turn back. He had mostly buried his doubts during his Sixth year, only to have them thrown in his face by the helpless Albus Dumbledore right before Snape murdered the Headmaster. Again, that Draco had run from his doubts. This time, he would have to work through them.
The ancient house elf Sirius had given his parents to start the negotiations between the branches of the family shambled into the parlor. "Master Draco is wanted at the fireplace," Kreacher announced, and then shambled off. Draco swallowed nervously and hurried to the one fireplace connected to the floo system (although it was well warded). "Twelve Grimmauld Place," Draco said.
Draco was the last guest to arrive. Harry welcomed him and directed him to the parlor where the tea was being held. "Since not everyone knows everyone else, this is Draco Malfoy. From the tea table over, Ron Weasley, Ernie Macmillan, Tracey Davis, Padma and Parvati Patil, Neville Longbottom, Anthony Goldstein, Hannah Abbott, Susan Bones, and Hermione Granger." Harry smiled. "All of us will be starting Hogwarts next September." Harry had debated on if he should invite Ginny or not. He decided when everyone else had accepted that he would not risk any silliness about the number thirteen. "Happy holidays!"
The group enjoyed tea, cakes, ice cream, and games. Sirius and Remus provided the 'adult' supervision, which consisted mostly of making certain that everyone had enough to eat, that anything damaged by the wizarding games was repaired, and that everyone had at least something of a good time. It was quickly clear that Ron and Draco had to be kept far apart, which, considering their fathers' antipathy, was hardly surprising. Most of the group looked upon Hermione's background with slightly vulgar curiosity, which made Draco's pointed ignoring of her slightly less obvious.
When the party broke up four hours later, Harry showed most of the children to the floo, until only he, Hermione, and Draco were left. Harry and Hermione said goodbye to Draco, who rather stiffly returned the sentiment and then Remus drove Hermione back to her parents', with Harry going along for the ride. "So, what did you think of your yearmates?" Sirius asked after the trio had left the room.
"Well. . . ." Draco hesitated.
"Go ahead, I won't spread it," Sirius encouraged.
Draco had learned enough to know that any criticism of Harry Potter would not be included in that pronouncement, and that since this party had been hosted by Sirius, negative comments -- if any -- should be thought out more than was usual before being spoken. So where to start? "Well, they are a smart group," Draco said. This could not be said of Crabbe and Goyle. The few other children he had met his own age, like Pansy Parkinson and Theodore Nott, were not quite up to this group either.
"Yes, and I expect you will all be leaders of your Houses, whatever they are," Sirius agreed. He had some doubts about Parvati Patil, but one never knew for certain.
"Do you think any of them will be in Slytherin?" Draco asked.
"Any of them except for Hermione could be," Sirius said. "I think any of you could be in Ravenclaw, for that matter, especially Hermione."
Draco thought about that. "How many will end up in Hufflepuff, do you think?"
Sirius smiled. "Despite what the other Houses think, Hufflepuff isn't primarily a dumping ground for those rejected from the other Houses. One could say that Slytherin is a dumping ground for any Full-blood who isn't up to the other Houses, but that wouldn't be true of most Slytherins."
"I hadn't thought of that," Draco admitted. "What House were you in?"
"I was Sorted into Gryffindor, but I could have just as easily been Sorted into Slytherin or Ravenclaw." He smiled. "I was never enough of a team-player to be in Hufflepuff." 'Thank Merlin I wasn't put in Slytherin,' Sirius thought. 'I'd be just like this little prick became according to Harry.'
"Why was the Mu, err, Muggle-born girl here?"
"Harry met her and her family in Diagon Alley. She's smart, and remember, Harry was raised by Muggles for a while. It's a good thing to be able to pass through Muggle society without standing out. Now Harry's father and I knew nothing about Muggle culture when we were your age, but Remus can operate easily in both worlds. One September First, he correctly identified every Full-and-Pure-Blood family and most of the half-bloods we didn't know who took the Muggle way into Diagon Alley. To James and me, most of them looked Muggle. To Remus, they stood out more than Hermione ever will to you."
"But we're superior to Muggles!" Draco protested.
"We have an ability Muggles don't," Sirius corrected. "They outnumber us, and they are more innovative because they don't have magic. There has never been a case where the magical population controlled any large society for more than a few generations, and that was only true back when the magical population had nearly the abilities we do now and the Muggles had little more than pointed sticks - and it certainly is not true now. Over the last few hundred years, we've learned how to make the Muggles ignore us, and how to make money from them. Remember, our fortunes come mostly from Muggle sources." Sirius gestured around him. "This house is set in an area owned by the Black Trust. I own the land all twenty-two houses are on. Now, my parents let the area go down, because they ignored the Muggles who live in the other twenty-one houses. I've already started upgrading the tenants, which means in the long-run I'll be making more money. Compared to the Muggles, we pay almost no taxes, so we can easily hoard the money, as almost all of us do. We can't conquer or control the Muggles, Draco. It's failed every time it's been tried these last three thousand years or so. We can exploit them, we can fool them, but only if we mostly ignore them and get them to totally ignore us."
"So, you aren't a Muggle-lover?" Draco immediately wished he hadn't asked that.
Sirius managed not to respond to the remark with anger. "I enjoy aspects of Muggle culture, just as your father does, if not as many as I do. He drinks their wine, eats their food, and spends their money."
"Then why. . . ?" Draco was not certain how to finish that sentence.
Sirius, however, did know how to answer it. "The Muggle world has exploded these last two hundred years. We have to try a bit harder to hide from them, which also means we have to get along with each other a bit better. That means the Ministries and the International run things, instead of semi-independent families, like the Malfoys, Blacks, and Potters did say four hundred years ago. We aren't doing as good a job as we should in training the Muggle-born to our ways, and as our world grows a bit as well, it means there are more people with talent pushing for recognition. That means if you're a person of family but no talent, it's harder to get ahead than it was a hundred years ago. Those people look to people like your father, who has family, money, and talent, and if they give your father their support, it gives him more power than trying to work with those of talent and no family."
"I'm confused," Draco admitted.
"It is confusing," Sirius agreed. "Don't let either your father or me talk you into deciding your life now, Draco. You want to be a Slytherin. Be one. That means watching and learning."
"So, what did you think of your future yearmates?" Remus asked Hermione.
Hermione looked at Harry nervously.
"Say what you think," Harry urged. "You're my best friend, Hermione, and I never want you anything but honest with me."
"I am? Really?" Hermione asked, clearly pleased. Harry was sure she was blushing in the darkness of the autumnal early evening.
"Really to both," Harry said. "I think you have a knack for truth."
"You don't think I could tell a lie?"
"I'm sure you could," Harry said in a tone that told Remus Harry could tell stories if he chose, "but I'm sure it would only be for the greater good."
"I hope you're right," Hermione said. After a moment of silence, she said, "Well, everyone seemed pretty smart. Susan, Hannah, and Padma are very nice, although Parvati seems a bit too obsessed by fashion when she wasn't jumping about and giggling. I mean, I know most girls like fashion more than I do, but she seemed really into it. Tracey and Neville both seemed very shy."
"All very true, although I'm taking your word about Parvati," Remus said.
"Anthony is shy, too, but not compared to those two. He's really bright, and was the most interesting to talk to. Ernie was nice but, well. . . ."
"Kind of full of himself?" Harry suggested.
"I think he's also very shy," Harry said. "He talks like that to try and show he's not shy."
"That could be," Hermione agreed.
"Should I ask about Ron and Draco?" Harry asked with a smile.
"They certainly don't like each other," Hermione said flatly.
"Their fathers are on the opposite sides of both ideological and class divides," Harry explained. "Draco's mother is distant and his father is one of the richest, nastiest, and most bigoted Pure-Blood wizards in Europe. Ron's mother is almost smotheringly loving and dominating, and his father is nice and very liberal-minded, but regards Muggles as a truly fascinating sub-species." Remus winced at that. "His job is to protect Muggles from harmful magical objects, which rather gives him a biased views of Muggles, since he really doesn't know much about them in reality."
"They are both immature, and Draco was, well, condescending to say the least. And Ron had the worst manners."
"True, but then Ron has had to fight five elder brothers at the table," Harry said with a jovial tone. "Just think how we might be if we had elder siblings."
"I have an excellent imagination," Hermione retorted, "but not that good. Draco is torn between disliking me and fearing me, isn't he?"
"That's true of most of the magical world," Harry answered. "Muggles outnumber us in Britain over 2000 to 1 and about the same in most of the world. Many want to believe we're superior because we have the talent to do magic, live longer, and often have better memories, and you can see why they would think so."
"Then why aren't we running things?" Hermione asked. "All the books I've managed to read so far have said that Muggles hate and fear the magical when they learn of it, but it seems like it is the magical world which hates and fears the Muggles. Why? Why not conquer the Muggle world and just take and train children like me when we pop out, if they can't replace their own numbers? Polygamy is a disgusting idea, but it was common enough in the past. Wizards could create magical children all over their domains if they wanted to."
"And what is your answer to that, Harry?" Remus teased. It was a question that had been debated for generations, and Remus wondered what Harry thought of it all, with his experiences.
"There is a very simple set of answers," Harry said. "Hermione would see it easily enough given a year or so."
"And that is?" Remus challenged.
"Magic makes most of us lazy," Harry answered. "I don't really mean physically. I see more overweight Muggles on any High Street than I've seen in Diagon Alley. I mean we're intellectually and imaginatively lazy. If I've read through my History of Magic texts correctly, almost every innovation in the last six hundred years or so has either come from a Muggle-born or a Half-blood, or someone otherwise in close contact with the Muggle world, and that seems to be especially true of the last hundred and fifty years or so. That's another reason why Pure-bloods fear the Muggle-raised -- we're the innovators, and magical society is very conservative."
"Brilliantly deduced," Remus had to admit. There was more to the argument than that, of course, but Harry had hit the main points Remus himself subscribed to.
"But you and I will never fall into that trap," Hermione vowed.
"Add in how much Muggle society has changed in the last two hundred year, since say the steam engine and the industrial revolution, and you can see why the more ignorant Pure-bloods are terrified of the modern world," Harry went on. "Imagine living in the world of at best the Restoration or Georgian England and then walking out of the Leaky Cauldron into modern London? I bet a Mini or even a Vespa terrifies any isolated Pure-Blood as much as a dragon would a Muggle."
Remus shook his head as Harry and Hermione discussed the cultural shortcomings of their new world, even though Hermione only knew it from books.
"Did you have a good time, Ronnie?" Ginny asked wistfully, since she had not been asked to the holiday party.
"Mostly," Ron said. "The food was really good, and we had fun."
"Well, that git Malfoy," Ron said with an air of distaste. "It was like he was sneering at me the whole day."
"Well, no," Ron admitted. "There's this know-it-all Muggle-born witch Harry picked up somewhere. She's always trying to show off what she knows about us, as if any of the stuff she spouts off is all that new, and the few times it is new, it's boring."
"Maybe she's just trying to fit in," Ginny pointed out.
"Maybe, but I hope she's Sorted into Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. I don't want to put up with her every night in a common room for seven years."
Ginny wondered what Hermione thought of Ron.
An hour later, Remus pulled the car up in front of the Grangers' home. Harry walked Hermione to the door, and Hermione blushed again as Harry took her hand to say goodbye.
"Tell me, Harry," Remus teased, "how much of that inspired analysis was yours and how much of it was Hermione's?"
"It was about sixty percent Hermione, ten percent me, and the rest we came up with together, with some help from Dean," Harry answered. "Everything we said is true, isn't it?"
"I think so, although you wouldn't get someone like Lucius Malfoy or even Cornelius Fudge to understand that. And you also can't forget that Muggles are dangerous to us. The Muggle world would destroy us."
"I understand that," Harry agreed. "That doesn't excuse Pure-bloods from believing that Muggles are totally inferior, and equally bad that the Muggle-born are as well."
"I don't disagree, Harry. How could I?"
"That reminds me," Harry said. "Did you read yesterday's Prophet?"
"That Wolfsbane Potion? It's been rumored for years."
"It's real, Remus," Harry said. "You hate it, and I don't blame you, but it's better than the alternative."
Remus said nothing.
"Let Sirius and me help," Harry asked.
"I'll think about it," Remus said.