Hi, as I had lots of requests to continue 'Screw Them' among the unbelievable number of reviews for this original one-shot, I decided to do so. This is the first chapter of the sequel, which will probably be two or three chapters over all.
As always I don't own anything about Harry Potter.
Hope you like it.
Realizing Being Screwed
Hermione Weasley sat in the office of Professor McGonagall, drinking a cup of tea with a major shot of scotch in it to get over the complete bafflement she felt after having got some basic information about their competitor. She needed about half an hour to pull herself together to be able to coherently tell her colleague what the reason for their loss of students was.
"It's worse than we thought, headmistress," Hermione started, "It's not just some school that was set up and is worse than Hogwarts, it's a really high-ranking school."
"What exactly do they teach and how could they be better than us?" McGonagall asked.
"You could say that they teach everything. They have classes in both muggle and magical subjects. I have a pamphlet with information about the school and they have all the subjects that we offer here at Hogwarts and some others in the magical area. For example they have added warding, healing, magical languages and magical craftsmanship to their curriculum. Some of those can only be elected after four years of studies there, others are available from first year on, even if they count the years differently and continue after the children leave primary school after five years. They have all the subjects of a normal muggle secondary school and for the upper years additional electives are business management, accounting and home economics. The school is a boarding school, but they're much more open for the parents than we are. According to the pamphlet, all parents can visit the school on a parents day, which normally is held in spring to let potential new students and their parents see the school for themselves and the teachers also hold hours where any parent can discuss the development of their child."
McGonagall was shocked to hear that. The concept was revolutionary and she couldn't imagine how they could keep magic a secret with that.
"What about the Statute of Secrecy? Letting muggles into the school would endanger it completely. And where would they find witches and wizards to teach all those classes?" she asked.
"They have a ward around the school that only keeps those out that don't know about magic already. Otherwise anybody can visit the school. And not all of their teachers are witches and wizards. The woman that I talked with was a muggle with a muggleborn witch as a sister," Hermione revealed, "It might even be possible that Harry is a teacher there."
"Harry Potter?" McGonagall asked astonished.
"The woman's name was Angela Potter and she said that her husband was a wizard," Hermione answered.
"My goodness. Why would he teach there when he could have had all the support in the wizarding world?" McGonagall asked, "He must have known that, after the misunderstanding was cleared up, he wouldn't have had to deal with the stigma anymore."
"I have no idea. But the school is taking away basically all the muggleborns from us and, as we know, a good part of the halfbloods. Even if they call muggleborns first generation witches and wizards. They even take werewolves and children of mixed blood like sirens, fae and others that look like humans," Hermione informed her.
"My goodness, and the parents are okay with that?" She asked incredulously.
She had tried to get the numbers of students increased by opening the school to children like that, but the Wizengamot and the board of governors had completely blocked that idea.
"It seems like that. The headmaster of the school and the teachers have a strict policy against discrimination of students. I haven't seen if it really works, but Mrs Potter said it did. And that her husband was especially strict with making sure that bullying and discrimination wasn't tolerated. As far as I could determine, they're completely against the Ministry of Magic and see themselves as a part of the muggle world. Their goal is to prepare their students for life in the real world, as they call it, and I was told that the wizarding world could screw itself for all that they cared," Hermione described frowning.
"They can't do that. All magical beings fall under the rule of the Ministry of Magic. That's part of a treaty. They can't simply take away students from Hogwarts. I'll have to inform the Ministry of this. We'll see about them not following the wizarding laws," McGonagall said peeved.
Sirius Black looked at the letter that the Ministry of Magic had sent him. He had known that it would happen sooner or later and he was prepared. Since the founding of QEA he had expected something like this. The one thing that was surprising was the long time it had taken them to find out about it. Well, there were procedures that had been set up for exactly this case. He took the phone and called the office of the Prime Minister. Even if there had been changes of who held the position since the school had been founded, they were all informed about the designated job the school had and all fully supported it.
After all, which politician that was in his right mind would want to have a large number of unemployed and badly educated young adults running around? People would ask questions if the unemployment numbers rose too much and QEA was a major factor in keeping it as low as it was at the moment. A nice side effect was keeping crime statistics lower. After all, with no perspective in either world, a high number of first generations had taken to stealing, fraud and other crimes that were hard to catch without magical support just to make a living. Others had signed up for the military.
Sirius had never expected that he of all people would end up as the headmaster of a school that taught magical and non-magical subjects. But he really loved his new life. He still taught Transfiguration for a few hours each week, as he didn't want to lose contact to the students and what they needed from their school. With not having to cover all classes for a subject alone, it was much easier to organise things. He didn't understand why Hogwarts hadn't done this way before at least for the magical subjects. According to his investigations Beauxbatons, Rosenstein and Aquaticos had had more than one teacher for each subject for over a century already, and others had also caught up decades ago.
Actually Madame Maxime, the headmistress of Beauxbatons had been hard pressed to keep her amusement hidden when she visited Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament. She found it too funny that the teachers stressed themselves so thin. And she could only shake her head that they had to cancel the Quidditch season for the Tournament, as the teachers were too busy. At her school they would simply have delegated the duties for the Tournament to a handful of teachers, while the others took over other duties. No problem at all and the students that weren't involved in the Tournament wouldn't have been deprived of one of their major free time activities.
"Prime Minister Cameron's office," a female voice spoke up, "My name is Jane Fraser, how may I be of assistance?"
"Sirius Black, headmaster of Queen Elisabeth Academy in Cornwall speaking," Sirius replied, "I would like to arrange an appointment with the Prime Minister in regards to Project Integration."
He knew that mentioning that project would set things into motion. He hadn't had more contact with the government than the regular reports on the progress of his school, which was normal for a newly founded school in England. He had to meet certain standards in educating the children at his school, but as long as that was the case, he had free hand how to manage his school.
"Please hold the line while I look up when it would fit into the Minister's calendar," Mrs Fraser said and Sirius had to wait while listening to music for a minute. Then the line was picked up again. "Mr Cameron will meet with you on the 21st November at eleven in the morning."
"Thank you very much, Mrs Fraser. I'll be accompanied by my deputy headmistress," he informed her.
"Very well, Mr Black. Have a nice day," Mrs Fraser said.
"Thank you and the same to you," Sirius said and hung up the phone.
The Ministry of Magic wouldn't know what hit it when they tried to interfere with QEA because of their arrogance. Not only had a former Prime Minister been the main leader in founding this school, her Majesty herself kept a very close eye on the development of this school that she had given permission to be named after her. She hadn't been amused to find out that the magical world basically declared some of her subjects lesser beings because of them not having parents with magic.
The Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, and Headmistress Minerva McGonagall wondered what the request of a meeting with the Prime Minister was about. They had tried to force the dissolution of Queen Elisabeth Academy, or at least putting it under the control of the Ministry of Magic, after finding out about it and how it stole students from Hogwarts, causing the problems for the school. So far there hadn't been any success and they didn't understand why their attempts to gain control didn't work. They had met at the Minister's office and had then taken the floo to the office of the Prime Minister.
Their arrival wasn't met with niceties, but with stern faces.
"I see you still haven't learned proper manners," Minister Cameron commented.
"What?" McGonagall started only to find her wand and the Minister's wand flying out of her hand into the hands of a man she had hoped to never see again. "Sirius Black!" She exclaimed horrified, "What are you doing here? Haven't you caused enough harm? Did you imperius the muggle Minister?"
"I can assure you that Headmaster Black hasn't done anything to me, Headmistress McGonagall," Minister Cameron informed them sternly, "In fact, if your ministry had done its job in 1981 properly, Mr Black wouldn't have lost eleven years of his life at an inhuman prison for a crime he didn't commit. He was tried by her Majesty's court and cleared of all the charges you put him under without ever granting him a trial, back in 1996. He's been essential to our government's success in taking out the terrorists that your government couldn't bring down by giving us all the information he had on them. He has proven to be an exemplary member of society, which I can't say about any of the people that call the wizarding world their home."
McGonagall and Scrimgeour were stunned by that statement.
"I'll keep your wands in this box until the meeting is over. Witches and wizards from the wizarding world have the bad habit of trying to solve their problems by using magic against non-magicals when they don't want to answer difficult questions. You'll get them back once the meeting is over," Sirius informed them.
"Now that this is dealt with, take a seat, we have a lot to discuss," Mr Cameron said and the two magicals had to follow the veiled command. Without their wands they were at the mercy of the other two men.
They did some small talk, the two not used to the non-magical world were surprised to find out that the Prime Minister had a niece that was a muggleborn witch that attended Queen Elisabeth Academy. Just by listening to them, it was clear to both visiting magicals that the Prime Minister held the other school in high regards and wouldn't let them get their will easily. They had expected no resistance to their demands to put the school either under the control of the Ministry of Magic or to transfer the students to Hogwarts and close it. It seemed they were going to have to work a lot harder for this than they thought. Then they turned to serious topics.
"I'll be open with you. Her Majesty is appalled at the behaviour that witches and wizards show towards their non-magical fellow British Citizens. Or how you basically ruined the lives of hundreds of children that you enticed with promises of learning magic when they were eleven, and whom you later threw away like rubbish. I've seen the statistics about the numbers of first generations, which you call muggleborns, who had to leave the wizarding world because they had no chance to ever earn enough money for a living. As they didn't have any education in the real world, they were either unemployed until they could catch up with their normal education, turned to using their powers for smaller crimes, joined the Army, as they don't require the qualifications other jobs do, or they left the country for others, where they weren't as disadvantaged because of their parentage.
"You have the audacity to demand that we simply undo the great improvements to their situations, just because you can't accept that this was all caused by your own prejudices and bigotry. I should also point out that a good amount of students of Queen Elisabeth Academy are children that you completely ignored for centuries, or called unworthy of a magical education. Children that are partly descended from other sentient races, which you just call magical creatures, children infected with the internationally acknowledged disease lycanthropy, but which you label werewolves and call them dark creatures, or even children that are perfectly healthy besides not having inherited the ability to wield their magic, which you call squibs.
"Then you let a small group of terrorists kill innocent people and did nothing against them. You didn't really care that first generations had to live in poverty or be supported by their families because you had got what you wanted from them. The best many could hope for was finding a wizarding family that was more open-minded and would have one of their children marry them and let them work for the family business. We have contacted some older first generations that Mr Black knew from his time at Hogwarts and I'm appalled how many of them were only seen as fresh blood for lines that were basically too inbred to continue being magically powerful otherwise.
"Other contacts have informed us that the level of magic that the remaining students at Hogwarts can perform is sinking each year. Well, that is the result of your people not marrying outside of their narrow-minded pureblood world. You chased away the first generations with your prejudices and bigotry, denied them the chance to make a living and now you want to have them back to oppress them again. I can only say that her Majesty and my government will never allow that," Mr Cameron said icily.
"But all magical children are to be educated at Hogwarts," McGonagall protested," There's a treaty that stipulates that the Ministry of Magic is responsible for the governing of all magical beings in Great Britain."
"That treaty was voided by your own arrogance," Sirius threw in, shocking Scrimgeour and McGonagall. Cameron only smiled, he had known this already. "The treaty you mentioned did indeed exist since the 1600's. The non-magical government agreed to let the magical government offer education to all magical children in the dominion of the King or Queen of Britain. The negotiations for the wording of that treaty took months, as the King didn't want to let go of his control over a significant part of his subjects. He wanted that nobody could usurp the power of the Crown. Therefore there are lots of clauses in that treaty that regulate exactly what the magical community was allowed to do and what not.
"Part of those clauses was that any child's family could choose the way the child was taught about its magical abilities. The magical schools, at that time only Hogwarts, would have first opportunity to offer a place there, as long as they would treat all children the same, regardless of their heritage. Should the parents choose to not have the child educated at a magical school, a list of tutors for the core subjects would be made available, with the parents having to deal with all the costs it entailed. At the time that was mainly meant to allow children from non-noble families into the schools, but heritage also entails blood status. Even during my time at Hogwarts it was clear that purebloods and halfbloods from important families could get away with things that should never be allowed at a school.
"The second part of the treaty was that any magical school would set up security measures to ensure that the students could safely learn magic to the best of their ability and working attitude. That included protecting the school from the outside against attacks, which was still a major problem thanks to the witch hunts going on, and inside attacks from either adults or students. I'm sure you are aware that back then several magical families had feuds going on. Hogwarts has always been neutral ground and warding specialists were tasked to set up several types of wards that would minimise the damage attacks on children from families that were under feud could cause.
"I know from studying my family's books on our history that before those wards were activated, the heirs of the families were popular targets. The wards of Hogwarts are capable of blocking any kind of lethal hostile spellfire and immediately stun the attacker. There are also wards that can prevent crimes like beating somebody up physically or raping a girl. All of those wards are connected to the office of the headmaster of the school. It was part of the start of Hogwarts' legend of being the safest place in Britain. And the only reason why any family, after the first attacks on heirs, would continue sending their heirs to Hogwarts instead of safely having them tutored at home.
"A third clause is that the teachers are qualified to teach the students and have proven their ability in the subject that they teach, next to swearing an oath to not abuse the students under their care. A teacher has to be mostly neutral. He can have some students he likes better, that is simply human nature, but he's forbidden by oath to blatantly favour certain students over others, be it because of the house they are sorted into, or the families they are from. Next to an ability in the subject, any teacher candidate has to prove that he or she can actually teach children. I think we all know that too many teachers at Hogwarts failed that prospect. Alone making Severus Snape Potions Professor was ridiculous. He may be a genius in the subject, but can't teach worth a damn. And Binns goes without comment.
"But during my seven years at Hogwarts, attacks against first generations were common, no matter how much Albus Dumbledore liked to say he was supporting the rights of those of non-magical heritage. He didn't act like it at all. And his assurances that he couldn't do anything to stop them are blatant lies. I found out that the portraits of the previous headmasters are duty bound to tell every new headmaster about the wards and how to activate them. My great grandfather's portrait at Grimmauld Place confirmed for me that the other portraits have informed Dumbledore of it, but he then didn't act on it and intentionally didn't activate the wards once he took over from Headmaster Dippet.
"Phineas Nigellus also informed me that Dumbledore after some years found a way to disable that specific function of the portraits. Why, I don't know, but he was already manipulating things to his liking. He alone is responsible how far things got out of hand during his tenure as headmaster. Bullying was getting out of control. I know that I wasn't an angel when I was a teenager, but at least I didn't hex people so badly that they needed to go to the hospital wing for treatment of severe injuries. Our pranks were humiliating, I'll freely admit that and in hindsight, somebody should have told us off more than any teacher did.
"But we never used dark curses on fellow students or raped girls in groups, only to later obliviate them," Sirius told them harshly, and with the information about the wards that should be active, it was even more horrifying. It would have been prevented with them active, "There are many reasons the treaty was broken, but a major one is that you hindered the proper education of muggleborns by restricting what they could learn. It's been an open secret among pureblood families that there were three secret electives that muggleborns were simply not told existed. Politics to prepare purebloods for taking up positions at the Ministry of Magic, Ritualistic Magic to increase their abilities, even if you had to cut that out because the levels of power dropped too far to have enough students that could handle the class and then of course Alchemy, which Dumbledore taught himself. I don't think I need to point out the breach of the safety clause."
McGonagall was shocked to hear the reasons for a breach of the treaty pointed out.
"We knew that when Hermione Weasley appeared at QEA, you would attempt to destroy what we built up in the last ten years. Well, you brought this upon yourselves," Mr Cameron continued, "Mrs Potter informed her husband and Headmaster Black immediately after the visit to let us prepare the response to your ridiculous demands. Your government didn't want these children and since ten years ago they have a place where they can learn. And we actually take the safety of the students at QEA serious. We have similar wards to the ones at Hogwarts active, so in case a student or teacher would try to seriously harm another student, it would be noticed immediately and the offender would found himself stunned and bound in ropes within seconds. The use of any high level dark curses is even completely blocked by the wards.
"With enough imagination and brainstorming sessions of which problems could appear and be serious threats, it was easy to compose those warding schemed with experts. Mainly first generations, I might add, that were pushed down by your world. You have no place where werewolf children can learn, because you treat them as creatures instead of humans that have a severe disease. You send children that can't use magic away from their families when they're too young to look after themselves with no knowledge of the real world. Those are criminal actions and still you don't even seem to care.
"You should think about this: Her Majesty can easily dissolve your government and reform your world so that your people learn to follow the law of Britain and not the more than ridiculous set of laws that you came up with. I've been asked to deliver a letter from her to you when you came to this meeting today. It's an order from her Majesty to clean up your mess or she'll see to it that it gets done."
The Prime Minister took out an envelope that bore the royal seal in wax on it. He handed it to Scrimgeour.
"This is what will happen from now on: Mrs McGonagall will activate the wards at Hogwarts to at least give the students that are there more security. You both will start cleaning up your world and prepare your people to better integrate with the real world. You might not have noticed, but technology has developed massively in the last twenty years and we're having a damn hard time to keep normal citizens from finding out that magic still exists, because your people are incapable of not using magic out in the open. Basically our whole police force is aware of magic by now, but we're having them keep it secret. We don't want mass protests or a panic because of that.
"But dozens of wizards were filmed in public places using magic. We confiscate whatever tape we can get into our hands, but it is getting harder with every day, as cameras are a common security precaution with shops. Even normal people can film something on their mobile phones easily and the non-magical governments all over the world have to set up special departments that take those videos off the internet all the time. Other countries don't have as much trouble as we do, because their magical governments have done their homework and schooled their magical citizens to blend in with the normal people. It's high time you did that as well. And the only ones we catch like that, are those that don't have a clue about the real world, because they think it below them. You get a year to implement the first true changes before we will step in. And believe me, we have more than enough capable people to get things done," Minister Cameron declared.
What the two that had been asked here didn't know was that the long-term plans for QEA, next to giving first generation witches and wizards a better future, was to have a large number of qualified magicals that could step into open positions in the new magical government should the non-magical government be forced to take charge. The one thing everybody agreed upon was that it wouldn't be wise to give up the secret of magic openly. While people weren't as superstitious as in the Middle Ages anymore, fear of things you couldn't understand was a powerful force and fanatics couldn't be allowed ammunition to use. No, the better way would be to make wizards and witches capable of blending in with the real world and simply have some special abilities on top of that.
After a while of digesting the orders McGonagall spoke up again.
"I would like to know if Harry Potter is really teaching at your school, Sirius," she asked.
"Indeed he does. He's teaching physics, Arithmancy and defensive magic. If necessary, he can also sub for maths and transfiguration. It was the best thing to happen to Harry that he ran away from Hogwarts when you failed to protect him from the actions of the other students. He bloomed away from Hogwarts and those criminal Dursleys," Sirius confirmed.
"But why wouldn't he want to return to Hogwarts?" McGonagall couldn't understand it.
"After the way he was treated there two years in follow? Are you really that stupid? You let the whole student body bully Harry and didn't take any action against him being cursed all day, except for in classes and when he was eating in the Great Hall. You didn't even notice that he took up residence in an unused classroom because he was afraid to sleep in his dorm. It took years and some counselling for him to be able to sleep in the same room as other people. On class trips he would only share a room with certain close friends of his, whom he was absolutely sure that he could trust. And that took three years to get to that point. If it hadn't caused Harry more pain, I would have sued the school. But it was better for him to be away from the wizarding world and to be able to put it behind him.
"You failed, Professor McGonagall, and I for one, wouldn't want to be in your or Dumbledore's shoes when you have to face Lily and James in the afterlife. They died to protect Harry and you betrayed their trust by leaving Harry with the Dursleys. In their will they clearly stated that Harry was to never go there, but no, Albus Dumbledore always knows best and if you don't like something written in a will, you can easily seal it. What are you Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot for after all?" Sirius asked mockingly.
"You people disgust me and I'm happy that I'm away from your bigoted world. Contrary to you, the non-magical world didn't ignore my rights and gave me a fair trial. They gave me a chance to tell my side of the story. Hell, I had fought at your side against Voldemort in the first war. That alone should have given me at least the benefit of the doubt. And you knew that James was like my brother. I would never have betrayed him. So now you can lay in the bed you made yourselves. I'll continue to give all the magical children that want to have a real life after school, one where they can become whatever they want to be, the means to do so."
It was like a slap into the face for McGonagall. She couldn't deny any of the accusations. She had failed Harry and Sirius. Her own house, which she had been so proud of, had been the worst tormentors in Harry's second year at school. And now that Sirius mentioned it, she was sure that right now Dumbledore would be berated by Lily for how he had treated her son. And they would have to see how they would deal with the royal order. This was something they couldn't just ignore. The Queen was the one person that could force the Ministry of Magic to do things. She dreaded what this would mean for Hogwarts. She feared that more children would leave to this other school. And they already had such a low number of students.
Sirius sat in Harry and Angela's lounge, having just finished his description of the meeting with Scrimgeour and McGonagall. They had left with their tails between their legs, figuratively speaking. They were now put on the spot by the royal decree. Well, they had only themselves to blame. Their backwards ways of doing things should have been overhauled decades ago. When the mundane world started to develop rapidly, they should have found ways to keep the secret of magic safe. But he knew, as he had seen how easily mobile phones could film short events, that any break of the Statute could have devastating consequences.
"So they're going to have to finally take the blinds off a little. I'm not hopeful about a proper government though. Nepotism is too far spread in that world to be easily weeded out," Harry commented.
"Well, they can either shape up, or the Queen will take the option away from them completely. They have messed around enough. If I only think about how traumatised some children are when they start at QEA, I get so angry. Really, I simply don't get the mentality that parents must have to throw their own children away like they do to squibs or werewolves. How many do we have that permanently live at the houses at school because they have no other place to go?" Angela asked grimly.
"Way too many. And they never cared if a child needed help. If they could let me go through all the crap I experienced, just because of the word of an old bastard, other children are open season. I hope that child protection laws finally get shoved down their throats, one way or the other," Harry commented.
It was a really sore topic for him.
"It's certainly part of the laws that Minister Cameron told me about that he had spoken about with her Majesty. As you know, Rebecca and I have met with him before the meeting with Scrimgeour and McGonagall was arranged. I doubt that the Ministry of Magic will succeed in the time frame they got set by the Queen. Therefore there's going to be massive change very soon and we need to make sure that our students are safe. While right now we only have the passive wards active at QEA, I'm ready to activate the more dangerous and stronger ones at a moment's notice. It might happen that some pureblood idiots come and try causing trouble," Sirius told them.
"Let them try. Our wards may not be as old as the ones at Hogwarts, but they have been set up by experts in the area of warding. And if you, the nineteen strongest magical teachers and I together can't bring the emergency wards down with combined powers, then they should hold against a few idiots easily," Harry commented.
"Too true. And it would look really bad if they didn't prevent that with the ultimatum over their heads now," Angela added.
Both men nodded. They knew that they had prepared their school from the beginning and the wizarding world wouldn't know what hit it if they stupidly tried to force their idiocy on others.
The staff meeting at Hogwarts was a lot less positive. Many teachers protested taking orders from a muggle.
"Silence!" Minerva finally shouted, "It's a direct order from the Queen! We can't disobey. You know as well as I do that the one muggle that has the power to order things being done by wizards is the King or Queen of England. I don't like it any more than you do, but I don't know what to do. I was sure that we could bring that school down by pointing out the treaty, but I checked what Sirius Black told me about it being voided, and both the meaning as well as the exact wording do indeed make it clear that by not treating all students, no matter their background, equally, next to not doing all we could to ensure their safety, we broke the treaty from our side. Just nobody really cared before now. But it takes away our options to demand the children being sent to the wizarding world's educational options."
"What can we do to do damage control, Minerva?" Flitwick asked resigned.
"Not much. We can't force any child to attend Hogwarts. The problem is that they consider Queen Elisabeth Academy as a much better option than Hogwarts for their education. From what Hermione found out, they intercept the muggleborns before they ever even hear about Hogwarts. Our policy to only contact the children when they are about to turn eleven is now working against us. They have the muggle schools for the younger children contact a special department at the muggle ministry in case they spot accidental magic. The parents get information on the situation and the pamphlet of their academy is left with the parents, together with a contact address in case they don't know how to react to a case of accidental magic."
"Doesn't the book of births enable us to reach those children earlier?" Hermione asked.
"It would give us the names as soon as a major bout of accidental magic is registered, but how would we be able to act on that knowledge? You know as well as I do that we don't have the manpower to contact all children. Especially we can't provide the service to act when some accidental magic happens," Minerva reminded her.
"As if we should bother with all the muggleborns at that age anyway. Most accidental magic is harmless and nothing to make a fuss about," Snape commented sneering, "And for the harsher cases the accidental magical reversal squad is responsible."
The other teachers nodded. Among them only Hermione was a muggleborn and even she didn't really know how many problems muggle parents had with their children showing magical abilities. Her parents didn't really talk about it when she was younger and she had more or less lost contact with them over the years. They only met once a year or so.
"Could we add to the subjects we offer and employ more teachers?" Neville Longbottom, who taught Herbology, asked, "If I understood it right, that was a major point in favour of that other school, wasn't it?"
"Yes, but how would you finance that? We don't get enough gold from the tuitions and the funds that the Ministry gives us to employ more teachers as it is. And you remember how angry many parents were when we had to raise tuition eight years ago when the student numbers had dropped so far that we were in the red numbers with our budget. A large castle like Hogwarts simply costs a lot of money to maintain," Minerva answered.
The others frowned, but knew that it was true.
"So we're basically trapped," Aurora Sinistra summed it up, "The only way to help us is by getting the student numbers up, but the only ones that come here are the purebloods and halfbloods that grow up in the wizarding world. And even among them a few decide on attending Queen Elisabeth Academy. Word has spread by now and many others switch because they see better chances in life if they go to QEA. I suggest we find new ways to attract the students that we can reach with the possibilities we have. We have one advantage, we have a master teaching nearly every subject. The exception is History of Magic and if we exorcize Professor Binns and put a living teacher into his position, a lot would already be won. That wouldn't cost us too much.
"I think if we add a three more years' option after the NEWTs, in which the students get the chance to work for a mastery in a subject, we could raise the funds. And contrary to normal education, we can charge more for that. We have the library, which is the largest one in all of magical Europe, which is something normal mastery teachers can't supply. We have the greenhouses and the creatures that Hagrid has and the ones in the forest that supply us with nearly ninety five per cent of the ingredients that our Potions students need. We can reduce the hours that we need to teach the lower years easily by simply putting all four houses together in classes where it isn't too dangerous, like all of the electives, History, Herbology and Astronomy for all years and Charms, Transfiguration and Defence up to third year. For Potions I think we should keep the two houses per class rule that we use now.
"That would cut down the time we have to spend on teaching them and free us to work with a handful of mastery students each year. I would limit the number of them to four per year per subject. It gives the impression of an elite system that allows to charge the gold we need. As we only get the children from the old families that could pay the fees for that course easily anyway, I see no problem with it. And contrary to normal mastery students where the master gets absolute control over his apprentice, we could leave that part out of the contract and replace it by the fees. At least it would give us a chance to get back into the game. Hermione, the other school doesn't have a mastery program, do they?"
"No, they depend on muggle universities to continue the education of their students. Magical studies seem to end after they graduate with their A-levels. I have no idea what kind of test they have them take for magical classes though," Hermione answered.
"Well, I like that idea," Bathsheba Babbling stated, "At least it is a workable solution that doesn't cause immediate costs that we can't cover."
"I'll arrange a meeting with the Minister within the next days then. I think we should give it a try. It can't become much worse than right now," Minerva sighed.
QEA didn't have to deal with any trouble from the wizarding world for half a year. They simply continued doing the job they were tasked to do. Educating children in magical and non-magical subjects, being there to take in those children that had no other place to go and cooperating with the government in certain projects.
From a few insiders Sirius heard what Hogwarts planned to do to counter the success of QEA. A mastery program like Hogwarts was planning to start from the next school year on sounded like a good idea, but it would soon show massive problems. There simply weren't enough candidates that had the raw magical power to go through a whole mastery program. The powerful children were mostly at QEA and they had no intention to go and learn a subject that they couldn't really use in real life. Sure, magic was great and if you used it right, it could make life a lot easier.
They had graduates that had founded their own companies and were really successful in the non-magical world. It wasn't strange for companies to keep the process of producing their products a secret. So what if you helped some things along with magic? He knew that two women, one witch and one squib, had developed a potion that allowed them to produce clothes of formerly unknown resilience and which could hold their colours for years, despite being washed regularly. People assumed it was a chemical procedure that they used. And that was simply normal these days.
Another trio of men, all wizards including one werewolf, had come up with ways to grow vegetables that didn't rot for a week, even if you didn't store them in a fridge. It had nothing to do with DNA manipulation, which many scientists worked on to get better plants for production of food, but with preparing special kinds of soil for each type of plant and having them grow in optimal environments. Greenhouses could be improved with runes for example, which he knew they had done. Nobody would ever think it strange. Improvement was normal in all areas.
There were other examples. He was happy that his former students were making their way in the world.
Half a year after the ultimatum had been issued, a group of thirty pureblood supremacists decided that they would try to take care of the problem at the root. They had got it into their heads that any school that taught those that they regarded as dirt, mainly these were the children of Death Eaters that had been killed in the second uprising of Voldemort, had to go and nobody would cry a tear after it. They hadn't really done research on their target, didn't know the size of the school grounds and had no idea that there could be wards to give them trouble.
They also hadn't expected that about five seconds after they had apparated towards the approximate coordinates of the school, alarms would be going off about unannounced apparition. The school might be open to anybody who knew about magic, but they had alarm systems when groups of more than three people apparated in at once. It automatically triggered the alarm, which had the students quickly return to the buildings, where they would be better protected. And yes, the school did do practice runs of this, like every school normally did fire alarm scenarios. After all, the better the students were prepared how to react in an emergency, the safer they were in case something did happen.
Once the alarm rang, the anti-apparition wards of the school activated. Next was a suppressing field for any kind of dark magic activating. That normally took out any kind of really dangerous attacker from the start. Because those wizards that thought themselves above others, tended to use that kind of magic to fight. Any more active wards could be activated by the headmaster, which happened a minute after the group had been detected. Sirius had had two way mirrors installed out on the grounds of the school to immediately get an idea who intruders were.
In case of the Ministry of Magic being stupid enough to attack a school of all things with the aurors and hit wizards, there were special wards that would keep them detained in an area without really harming them. They just wouldn't be able to leave before they were allowed to. In case of others that were willing to harm the students, there were worse wards available. Sirius activated them and watched how the idiots were flung outside of the school grounds forcefully and into the swamp that the biology class used for their studies of flora and fauna in that habitat. The swamp was in a magic free zone, which took away their ability to use any kind of magic. The next thing happening was some trained toads using their long tongues to disarm the group and steal their wands.
Sirius had loved the suggestion of simply putting toads like that into the swamp. It was their natural habitat and they could double as an unexpected opponent. Now that the group was disarmed and couldn't get out, he could have them arrested by the school's security force and call in the police to take them to specialised prison cells. Once that was done, he could remove the emergency state of the school. He was glad that he and the other teachers had put their heads together from the beginning to find ways to take out threats quickly, without looking like the aggressor.
After all, none of the group that had apparated in could claim that any spells were used against them, and he doubted that they would ever admit to have been disarmed by the type of pets that they considered a bad joke.
Sirius had another meeting with the Prime Minister. He was reporting about the attempted attack on QEA, and how the security measures had held up.
"I see, I was worried that some idiots from the wizarding world would try to do something like that. I'm glad that nobody was harmed," Minister Cameron commented.
"Yes, me too. But we need to find an appropriate reply to them even thinking that they could get away with it. It's the lowest kind of violence that targets innocent children," Sirius stated.
"Yes, I agree with you. Hm, you said your godson was seen as a kind of hero by them, right?" Cameron asked.
"He is, but he wants nothing to do with them," Sirius answered.
"Would he perhaps be willing to be present when we give that clear reply? Just to give a bit of impact to the message that we want to send? I would only ask for him to give his honest opinion about the attack on the school where he also teaches," Cameron explained.
"Perhaps, I would have to ask him. He was very angry that they did that," Sirius answered.
This might be one thing that Harry was willing to do actually. Giving the stupid wizards a piece of his mind. And it could help Harry in letting go of the hurt he had experienced because of the magical population.
"I would appreciate it. We need to show that our ultimatum isn't a joke and that actions have consequences. For example that they're going to be tried by our courts and can't demand to be tried in front of the Wizengamot, which they would no doubt bribe to be let off with a fine or something," Cameron pointed out.
Sirius nodded. He was aware that this would be another step of forcing the wizarding world to shape up. He had seen the statistics of the police that head to deal with the mess magicals made by not blending in with normal people.
Okay, I'll make a cut here. Till next time.