Hi everybody. Sorry for the long break in this story, but I couldn't decide if I wanted to do more chapters or end it here. I finally decided to not go into the details of all the changes, but write a more or less open ended epilogue. Thanks for following this story faithfully.
It had been a tiring year, but progress was definitely noticeable. It would take many more years to actually make the changes sink into the minds of the people that had grown used to not having to do much besides making sure that they didn't broke the Statute of Secrecy. They had had their jobs in the wizarding world, but growth inside that world had been basically non-existent. Rarely a new shop opened, and if it did, it was for a known product. Innovation was too oppressed by the Ministry that it ever really took off.
Now, with the limitations decreased, a few new shops had been founded, and had had surprising success. Surprising to the purebloods that were used to nothing ever changing that was. Some graduates from QEA and Shamrock had decided to introduce the wizarding public to new and exciting things that were already the norm for their mundane counterparts. Just that where mundanes used technology and science to achieve things, they had used magic to achieve the same effect.
Mobile Phones and tellies had been the start of things. They had already been created on a smaller scale and were now just implemented for the larger magical population. The idea of two-way mirrors was the base for the mirror phones that were a hit with all ages below seventy, with a few exceptions that were curious what the new phones were all about, as they allowed them to communicate without having to use the uncomfortable floo system. Kneeling in front of your fireplace to just talk to others a good deal away was simply out. Still, for the more traditionally thinking people, there was a similar device, just less mobile.
A bowl that could hold a small fire could be connected to the floo network, with a simple application form that had the bowl's number on it, could be placed into a table or something like that and it had an inbuilt supply of floo powder. Just pushing a button to activate the floo function and then you could call any other connected floo address, be it bowl or fireplace, like you were used to. Those had been sold out within a week and there had been waiting lists for others that also wanted the upgraded version of their trusted communication system. Nobody really knew that it was a team from QEA that had built the prototype during their classes as a project for their graduation.
The new Ministry made sure that everything went smoothly and approved a number of other businesses as well, which had been denied by the previous administration countless times. A fairly large number of young wizards and witches had wanted to improve things before, after it became known that Voldemort and his minions had been killed off, but the traditionalists in charge had put stones in their ways wherever they could, no matter which blood status the ones attempting to change things had. Change had been frowned upon, as it could have cost the ones in charge their power. Well, now they had no power at all left, and many were whining about the better times. But they were pushed to the side-lines by those that appreciated the new options.
The tellies were a hit, especially when people found out that they could see summaries or whole recordings of Quidditch matches at home. Famous actors that were known from the stage had also been convinced to star in magical movie productions before the project had been given green light. Having those movies for sale in the same shops that sold the tellies helped making more people curious and they decided to invest the money to see what this was about. While it took longer than with the floo-bowls and the mirror phones, they were a success with the people, as they offered some entertainment for the wizarding homes that was especially liked by parents that could let their offspring watch a nice cartoon for half an hour for example to get some chores around the house done, or to simply take a break from minding the children.
In fact, a god number of successful muggle cartoons of different companies had been copied and made available to the wizarding public. It turned out that especially Disney had a number of magicals among their teams that had inspired a few of the movies that had been produced over the years. A fee to the Disney coffers and they were free to produce their copies without having to fear lawsuits. The ones in charge of Disney had signed a binding contract with their magical employees to not reveal the existence of magic in exchange for new material that could be made into animated films. Not to mention help in translating magical special effects into ones that could be imitated on a computer. It was a win-win situation.
And certain movies that covered topics that magicals weren't unused to, proved very successful. A new version of 'The Sword in the Stone', which was a famous story even in magical Britain, was soon found in all magical households with a telly. Others that followed were Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Robin Hood and Lion King. There were more movies being worked on, but the producers had decided to start off with movies that included magic in some way and which didn't exclusively paint the magicals in a bad light or which were so clearly fantasy that nothing could be confused with being real. Children soon could be heard singing along with the catching songs from the movies or enacting scenes from them with their friends.
Another step into getting the magical world caught up with their mundane counterpart was also being prepared. While finding first generations among the mundane population was important, it was also necessary to educate the magical children from fully magical families better to not be behind their counterparts when they arrived at one of the magical schools. Therefore, the Ministry was working on a new law that made attendance at a magical primary school mandatory for those children eight years and up. They would lower the age later on, but right now they had decided that giving parents the option to send their children there from the age of five and only force them once the children were three years away from going to QEA, Hogwarts or Shamrock Fields was seen as the better way.
Small steps. The curriculum that would be taught was going to be similar to what mundane children learned, plus some specifically magical things. Mainly magical creatures and plants, as well as history. All families that had children that age would be informed about the changes and the locations of the schools. The idea was to have the children go there using the floo and have the schools take place in the mornings. Parents could either accompany their children in the morning and get them back in the afternoon, or they could just let them take the floo on their own, if they were already proficient enough.
To also make things safer, as small children were not always capable of flooing on their own, the floo regulation office had worked on enchanted buttons that could be sewn onto the child's clothes to give a clear signal to where the child was to go. It would need one button for the location of the school and one for their home address. The teachers would activate the button for home and the parents for the school. There also was a charm on the exit at the school to prevent accidents from stumbling children. The new government hoped that this would prevent that children could be raised with extremist opinions until they were already eleven without any chance to counter bad behaviour.
It would also get the children used to being away from home for a few hours on end and socialising with others their age, away from their parents. The no-bullying policy of the other schools would also be enforced there, which meant it would again help changing things by teaching the younger generation that the prejudices of the past really had no place in the present.
A side effect of the schools being founded, they planned for four schools spread over the British Isles, would be that mothers that had so far been forced to stay at home until all children were old enough to attend Hogwarts, would now be able to work some hours each day again, while the children were at school. It would be a bumpy road to have a number of sexist wizards accept that, after all, while witches in positions of influence weren't uncommon, normally they reached them either by not having children of their own, or after those children were older. This way, well-trained women would not be out of their jobs as long as before and could add to the family's income. Hopefully it would also lead to larger birth rates, as they had fallen dangerously over the years.
It was necessary to counteract that trend, which meant that the younger witches and wizards needed to be encouraged to look for partners outside of the small social circles of their parents. A number of voided laws and new ones that granted each person the right to choose their spouse and could punish families that took offence to that helped along. It was something that Sirius Black had insisted upon. He had felt the ire of his parents for daring to oppose them and now it was illegal to disinherit a child fully just for not sharing the opinions of the parents. The parents could see to it that the child only got a mandatory part of their fortune as inheritance, but they lost a major tool of forcing them to obey their orders.
It was the hope of many people that knew what inbreeding could cause that it would stop the trend of magical potential decreasing further and further.
The three headmasters of the magical schools in the British Isles had come together at the end of the first year of Hogwarts being brought into the fold. They wanted to exchange their experiences, especially of course how Sirius and his team were faring with the work they had done over the year.
"I have to say, it's a good thing that it's summer break," Sirius commented, "The past year wasn't easy."
"True. You had a lot of opposition and we also had a few students that needed to first learn that things they were used to from home would be different at school," Roy agreed.
"Still, I think we achieved major progress. While the majority of people complains about being forced into this, a good number is coming around and sees the advantages and chances this offers," Harry stated.
"It will still take decades until everything will be fully accepted," Sirius pointed out.
"Yes, but there isn't another option. The mundanes will notice us sooner rather than later and I fear we will at most have about twenty years until the secret can't be retained anymore," Roy said, "The only thing we can do is preparing our people for that to lessen the blow it will cause. Thankfully we have the support of the Prime Minister's office and her Majesty herself. And he successor is also already briefed on things, meaning the project will be continued until we have to come out into the open for good."
The others nodded, being fully aware of the situation.
"What do you think of some event about a month after the next school year starts?" Harry suggested, "Not in the sports area, as we keep that one for the parents' visitation days, but cultural."
"Hm, I like that idea. We did start up some art and crafting clubs. Perhaps a competition under a certain topic. The students could get a month to work on their projects and then they will be presented one weekend at one of the schools and each student can vote which work he likes best, of course without naming the artist that created it to make things fair," Roy described his idea.
"Yes, a topic like friendship or peace would be nice," Sirius agreed, "The creativity of the younger generation hasn't really been challenged within the ones that were brought up in the isolated magical community. We could announce the competition at the welcoming feasts and then go from there."
"Sounds like a plan. We will let a team work out the details and then arrange that it can start the first day of school. We could give some nice prizes for the first three winners, like a trip to an art museum or the like and some tolls to continue their artwork for those up to sixth place," Roy commented.
Harry nodded, agreeing with the idea. It would be something the children would look forward to and which would keep a good part of them busy that normally wasn't as involved with the activities, because they didn't like sports that much.
"A concert would also be nice. Like having the music clubs of all schools cooperate to set one up for Hallowe'en or Christmas," Harry suggested.
"Nice. And some theatre plays," Sirius added.
The three men continued suggesting things that could bring the children closer together and then compared results of the end-of-year exams at their schools. The level of Hogwarts' results had risen a good deal, but it wouldn't be enough to bring it up to the level the other two were at. It would need a bit more time. Thankfully nobody planned to have the ICW test the results before five years were over. It was different to Shamrock Fields and QEA after all, as the two schools hadn't needed to work through as much ballast as Hogwarts needed.
And that was it. Until the next story.
The three men knew that there was still a lot of work to be done. Fears needed to be elevated, concerns taken into considerations and worked through, and prejudices needed time to be overcome. But the start was a success and they were determined to see their countries through this change, ensuring a much better future for everybody.