Categories > Books > Harry Potter

Hermione Asks Questions

by DrT 13 reviews

Hermione asks the Slytherins some questions. . . . Fan fiction has filled in an awful lot about magical culture that might answer those questions. However, what would the answers be according to o...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG - Genres: Drama - Characters: Draco,Dumbledore,Hermione,Snape - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2014-10-09 - 3270 words - Complete

5Insightful
Hermione Asks Questions

By Dr T

All rights to the Potterverse belong to She-Who-Must-Be-Named and her subsidiaries (and she has the lawyers to prove it). I just play off in the shadows, twisting canon until it screams for mercy . . . or maybe not so much in this fic.

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Hermione asks the Slytherins some questions. . . . Fan fiction has filled in an awful lot about magical culture that might answer those questions. However, what would the answers be according to only the canon novels? (More or less)

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Sunday lunches at Hogwarts were always attended by nearly every student in the opening months of the school year. This would insure a large audience for any confrontations. Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore had suspected this one might happen, so when they saw Hermione Granger lead a number of other Muggle-born-and-raised, including her friend Harry Potter, over towards the Slytherin table, they were ready to move. This caught Professor Snape by surprise, however, and he trailed even Professors Sprout and Flitwick towards the students.

“What do you want, mud. . . .” Draco Malfoy caught himself, as he saw a frowning McGonagall was well within earshot. He also saw that Potter had his wand poking out of his sleeve. “What do you lot want?” he sneered.

“We have some questions we hope you and your ‘lot’ could answer,” Hermione answered neutrally. “We asked the Purebloods in our Houses, and they didn’t have any answers. We asked Professors McGonagall, Dumbledore, and Flitwick, and they either didn’t have any answers or refused to answer. Professors Sprout, Binns, and Hagrid admitted they didn’t have any answers. So, you claim to be the upholders of the Purebloods and your alleged superiority, correct?”

“Of course!”

“All right,” Hermione agreed, “what does that mean?” She adjusted her weight and crossed her arms in front of her, obviously expecting an extended conversation.

Malfoy was not the only Slytherin who frowned. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“Of course we are superior!” Pansy Parkinson barked.

“How?” Hermione asked. Before Draco broke in, Hermione continued. “How are you superior? It’s not intelligence. . . .”

“How dare you!” Malfoy almost shouted. Snape opened his mouth, but was shocked to find three wands poking him, one in the back (Professor Burbage) and one in each side (Flitwick on his right, Sprout on his left).

“How dare I suggest Purebloods aren’t all intellectually superior to anyone else?” Hermione glanced at Crabbe and Goyle, which made those who understood the gesture already give in to a degree. “Easily. Let’s just consider our class. There are thirty-nine students, only two of us, myself and Justin, are Muggle-born, unless you want to add Sally-Ann, whose parents are both first generation squibs.”

“And Thomas,” Daphne Greengrass pointed out.

“I found out this summer I was adopted,” Dean Thomas piped up from behind Harry. “It turns out my father was an auror, killed just before I was born. My mother remarried, and my step-father adopted me.”

“So, thirty-nine students, two Muggle-born, a squib-born if that’s a term, and two completely Muggle-raised half-bloods.” She nodded towards Harry and Dean. “There are eighteen whose eight great-grandparents were all magical and therefore count as ‘Pureblood’ for most people, while the other sixteen fall in between, and all thirty-four were raised mostly to entirely in the magical world, rather than being really Muggle-raised.”

Hermione again shifted her stance and continued to primarily address Malfoy. “Of the top five students in our class, there is one Muggle-born,” Hermione herself, the top student of the year, “and one Pureblood, Padma. In the top ten, we would add Greengrass here, and if we go to the top third, we’d add you. On the other side, we’d add Sally-Ann and Harry, if we are counting how we were raised as well as blood-status. Justin and Dean are in the top half, while only Su Li and Susan would be added. So, in the top half of the class, nineteen out of thirty-nine, we have all five Muggle-born-and-raised and only five of the eighteen Purebloods.”

“Zabini, Nott, Abbot, and Davis are Purebloods! If not others!”

“Zabini is ranked twentieth, Nott twenty-fourth. Abbot and Davis each have a Muggle grandparent,” Hermione retorted. “So, intelligence can’t be the mark of Pureblood superiority, and it certainly isn’t magical power. . . .”

“Of course it is!”

“Nonsense. Even historically, those of mixed heritage are the most powerful, like Merlin. Who are the strongest teachers?”

Malfoy opened his mouth, but decided for once to shut it.

“I can assure you that at least three of the five strongest aren’t Purebloods. I don’t know about Professor Slughorn.” Malfoy assumed Snape was a Pureblood, but in fact it was McGonagall, who barely qualified. “Do you want me to tell everyone the estimated power ratings the O.W.L. testers made?”

Malfoy wanted to badly, but suspected he wouldn’t like the results.

“Those are classified!” Snape shouted.

“Class estimates are available to any parent from the Ministry for three galleons,” Hermione retorted.

“Nonsense!”

“Fine. For three galleons, my parents received the results for the entire class, but that would explain why my name was highlighted.” Snape winced, knowing that the Ministry was indeed that careless about most information. “In any case, the results are even more skewed, one Muggle-born in the top ten, one in the top twenty; one Pureblood in the top ten, four in the top twenty. Of the sixteen with in-between blood status, thirteen are in the top twenty. So, if Purebloods are superior, it’s not because of their greater intelligence or power. What’s left?”

“There is more to being magical than wand-waving and book learning!” Pansy snapped.

“And this is where we could get no answers,” Hermione retorted. “First, that would presume that there is something about magical culture, if such a thing really exists, that Purebloods would know better than those of mixed heritage who still have family lines as old or older than most so-called Purebloods. No one has argued that, although I suppose you might. Even ignoring that, what is special about magical culture? I can’t get answer.”

Silence.

“Is it religion? Do most British-raised Purebloods follow some particular religion?” Hermione pressed. “Padma and Parvati are Hindu, but while they are British citizens, they wouldn’t count for this. Su Li is a Buddhist, but she’s also wouldn’t count as traditionally British. Dean and I are different types of Christians, but I’m Muggle-born and he’s Muggle-raised. So, even though you celebrate Christmas and there’s an Easter break, I also know you aren’t any sort of traditional Christians. Are you lot followers of Druidism, or the Norse pantheon or something?”

Silence; a rather embarrassed silence.

“The British magical world is pretty much made up of non-denominational deists,” Susan finally spoke up. “Some with links to the Muggle world go to Church for show, but I doubt many are believers.”

“And despite the rumors, none of us are Satanists or Hecate-worshippers or anything similar,” Daphne added.

“The so-called Wiccans are all Muggle wanna-bes so far as I know,” an older Ravenclaw mused. None of the Pure-bloods had any idea what she was talking about.

“No group rituals, no spiritualism, holidays or holy days not taken from Muggle religion just for form?” Hermione pressed.

There was some shaking of heads.

“No arcane knowledge, fraternal groups, covens of mystical learning or power?”

No answer, other than more shaking heads.

“No special rituals of marriage, no soul-bonding, no power-sharing or other bonding rituals? No rites for the new-born or for those who died?”

If there had been a cricket in the hall, it would have been easily heard.

“So, here we are a tiny minority. . . .”

“We aren’t that small a population!”

“Hogwarts is the only school in the British Isles, and the average class size is just over forty,” Hermione pointed out. “Even before the wars in the 1970s sent a third of the population running overseas and saw the murder of many, the average class size was only in the eighties to nineties. And yes, I am aware there is a small population of ‘hedgerow’ magical families, and some other families send their children abroad. Even if some of us may live to be a hundred and fifty or longer, most die in their eighties. No matter how you look at it, that gives a maximum number of magical people at well under fifteen thousand. Even that number would only hold up if there were a hundred children born each year and we all stayed in this country and died at a hundred and fifty. Even if there were ten times the current number of children born that actually are, even given normal death rates for us, that would still be under forty thousand people. The United Kingdom has a population of around sixty millions! At best, we are one in four thousand people. As far as I can tell, we form a smaller proportion of the population than we did before the huge upswing of the Muggle population over the last two hundred or three hundred years. Still, at best, the fully-magical have never numbered more than one in two thousand at best.”

There was some grumbling, but no one had any facts to offer up.

“So,” Hermione asked, “where does the money come from?”

“What money?” Goyle asked.

“What generates income in the magical world?” Hermione asked. “Granted, once a family has money, it’s easy to hang on to. Buildings, even castles, can be easily maintained by magic. So can furniture, most clothes, and so on. The only thing we really need is food, and that is all imported from the Muggle world.” She turned to Ron. “Why was Percy so concerned about cauldron bottoms a few years ago?”

“Because he’s an idiot,” Ron suggested.

“No, it was because of a new Ministry regulation which was causing substandard cauldrons to be sold. Why was it happening?”

No one answered, until Colin Creevey suggested, “The old cauldrons were made in Muggle metal works, manufactured to a uniform standard, while the new ones were hand-made, and so had too much variation?”

Hermione nodded. “Goods come into the system, but nothing but money flows out. Tariffs and other taxes are placed on the goods coming in, which is where the Ministry gets all its money, but where does the money come from?”

“Why, from investments of course,” Malfoy snapped.

“Yes, but investments where?” Hermione pressed. “It looks like a quarter of the employed adults in the magical world work for the Ministry, and most of the others work for St. Mungo’s, or in Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley or Quidditch or support businesses, like the Knight’s Bus. Where does the money come from? It can only come from investments in the Muggle world, investments that, like our land, are largely untaxed by the Muggle government and undertaxed by ours.”

Malfoy took a deep breath to deny the horrid idea that the Malfoy fortune was generated by, of all things, Muggles . . . but then he realized that he really didn’t know where the money came from. He knew where it was kept, but not where it came from in the first place.

“And let’s talk about wealth. I won’t ask exactly how much your family is worth, Malfoy, but the richest Muggle is worth about seven billion Galleons. How well do you compare?”

Nearly every magically raised person blinked.

“That’s . . . that’s impossible!” Pansy stated.

“There are a number of Muggles worth more than a billion Galleons,” Hermione shrugged. “So, our food comes from the Muggle world, our wealth comes from the Muggle world, most of our ideas come from the Muggle world. . . .”

“Now wait just a minute!” Daphne protested.

“Other than the determination of the twelve uses of dragon blood, name one major change or innovation wizarding Britain has had over the past hundred and fifty years or so,” Hermione challenged, “especially when it comes to everyday life. The gas lighting still used in most houses is mid-to-late nineteenth century Muggle technology, just conjured by runes, since the gas doesn’t have to last too long. The Wizarding Wireless – an odd name, don’t you think, since the magical world was never wired? – comes directly from the Muggle world, just operating on different wavelengths. Transportation? The Hogwarts Express in also late nineteenth century, while the current version of the Knights Bus is the second half of the twentieth. That new ‘miraculous’ clothes washer they announced last summer? That’s based on a 1930s Muggle machine.”

“Muggles are inferior!” Malfoy shouted.

“We don’t get some Muggle ailments and conditions, but are affected by others,” Hermione stated. “We are physically more resilient, and the more powerful we are, the longer we are likely to live. Even the average magic users will live at least ten to fifteen years more than a Muggle living in the same basic conditions these days. Beyond that, no one has yet to tell me how wizards, Pure-blood or not, are better than Muggles.” She held up a hand to stop the protests. “Notice, I am NOT saying Muggles are superior to wizards in any way.” She leaned forward and demanded, “In any case, that doesn’t matter! I am not asking for evidence that wizards are superior to Muggles – we’ve established that, other that being a bit more physically resilient and longer-lived, we are not. I am asking for ANY evidence that Pure-bloods are superior to anyone else magical. EVIDENCE, not opinion.”

The silence in the Great Hall was almost oppressive for nearly a minute.

Finally, Theodore Nott nearly shouted, “That cannot be right!”

“Maybe it’s not,” Hermione agreed, “but other than wishful thinking and propaganda, what evidence is there? What evidence is there that we are all, Muggleborn and Pure-blood alike, anything other than a tiny self-governing minority within the vast ocean of the mundane world? Believe me, I am not saying, I’m not even suggesting, anything about us exposing us to that larger world. We would be exploited at the least, if not worse.”

“What could be worse?” Tracey asked.

“Muggle science has advanced, but does anything think they would not want to know why and how we can access magic? Even in this country, we would be studied and tested, not to mention exploited. Any success we had in the mundane world would be suspect, as people would think that success came only from our use of magic.”

“Don’t bet on things being even that good,” an older Muggleborn Ravenclaw put in. “There are places in the world where we would just disappear into Muggle laboratories, to be not just tested, but even dissected. I wouldn’t put it past the intelligence services even here.”

Hermione turned to McGonagall. “In the last war, back in the seventies, You-Know-Who attacked the general population as well as the magical, didn’t he?”

“He did; not as often, but he did.”

“And Ministry workers?”

“Of course.”

“Were there any in the Ministry he avoided attacking?”

Into that silence, the Headmaster voice was finally heard. “Well-reasoned, Miss Granger. There were two groups of magical people who were never attacked, in the field or at home. Their families were never knowingly attacked either.”

“Aurors and Unspeakables?” Ernie Macmillan ventured.

“Oh, no, they were amongst the hardest hit of the Ministry workers. The people outside the direct employment of the Ministry were those connected to St. Mungo’s. One never knows when one would need their aid, no matter which side you were on,” the Headmaster explained.

Hermione mused, “I would say the other group was the Obliviators.”

“And those connected with them, yes. Officially, the Muggle Prime Minister is briefed about our world, but he is given very little information about us and what happens within our world. There are rumors that the Royal family knows more, but as far as I know, those are just rumors. However, it is suspected that the Muggle intelligence and police groups have at least some inkling to our existence. Hopefully, it is no more than that.”

“As more surveillance, more cameras, hidden and open, more recording devices, become more and more common, as information floods the normal world, as I assure you all it is starting to, it’s going to become more and more common for images of us to leak.” Hermione looked at the Headmaster. “That worries me.”

“It worries all who know about it,” Snape stated, surprising people at his reasonable tone. “Any one of us, sixth year and older, should be able to easily defend ourselves from almost any Muggle, no matter how well-trained, providing he does not know about us and does not take us completely by surprise. Our abilities are outside his frame of reference. However, if they know our capabilities and are not taken by surprise, an armed, well-trained Muggle could take down Merlin.”

“To Muggles, we would seem like people from a fantasy novel,” Hermione said. “The fully magical live lives that superficially look like Muggle life in the 1890s. In reality, it was somewhat more advanced and much more comfortable a hundred years ago. However, mundane life has radically changed, and continues to change ever more quickly. Most magicals had more affluent and healthy lifestyles two hundred years ago than any Muggle. A hundred years ago, even seventy years ago, the magical world was still a more comfortable and materially advanced one. But now? The Muggle world is much more expensive, but in many ways –many, not all – it is now more advanced. But again, that is besides the point.”

Hermione’s voice turned pleading. “You keep saying that the Muggle-raised can’t fit in, that wizarding culture is too different, that you have to be born into to understand it. Yet none of you can point out ANYTHING that justifies that attitude, other than the fact that we don’t WANT to fit into the changes around us. Don’t you see, we have to work together to survive. . . .”

Malfoy stood, and sneered. “We Purebloods are superior, we just are. Someone,” he knew better than to openly declare for the Dark Lord, even if everyone knew he was a follower, “will prove it to all the” (here he spat the word) “Muggle-born and blood-traitors.” He left the table, and the other followers left after him. Hermione’s arms dropped.

“One point to Gryffindor,” Snape murmured. This gained him several dirty looks from the rest of the staff, since custom dictated that once points were awarded by one professor, the others could not add points for the same actions.

“You tried,” Harry told her.

“You weren’t the first, Miss Granger,” McGonagall assured her. “There were at least two others between yourself and the time Lily Evans asked much the same questions, made that same plea, twenty-one years ago.”

“And there will be others, until such time as it is no longer necessary to ask,” Dumbledore stated.

“Or until we are destroyed,” Hermione muttered dejectedly.

Back at the Gryffindor table, Ron Weasley sat down in front of the pie he had been eating, glad to still have it all for himself. He turned to Cormac McLaggen, who had been pretending to ignore what was going on over around the Slytherin table. “I know Muggles aren’t primitive, but I didn’t understand any of the rest of it. Did you?”

McLaggen shrugged. “It doesn’t matter.”

Ron shrugged and went back to his pie.
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