DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Well Part 2 as promised. It is considerably longer than the first part and I hope it makes sense. Thank you to all those who reviewed the first part – you'll find extended comments below.
Arms folded, Hermione looked directly at her son and said, "I'm waiting for an answer young man. What does the article say? If it's so accurate and noteworthy that you'd waste your money on it, it must have some interesting tidbits of information that help you work out if a girl is worth talking to and if her heritage is pure."
Justin had heard about his mother's legendary rages. They were supposed to be a thing of the past, a reaction to the stress of the war, father's spying activities and his godfather's safety. She had never before raised her voice to him or hit him, albeit with a magazine, but then that wasn't the point. She was supposed to love him for who he was; didn't she tell him that every day?
"I…I hid them because I knew this'd be how you'd react."
"Oh no you don't! You are not throwing this back to me as my fault, Justin," Hermione stated coming to stand directly in front of him.
"You also hid them from your father which says more about the situation than you are comfortable with. What I don't understand," as Hermione paused and flashed a brief look at Severus who nodded curtly, "was why you would think my reaction is an over-reaction."
Severus had, in the interim alighted from his perch on the edge of the desk, come down to stand behind Hermione and threaded his arms around her waist. Hermione clasped his hands gratefully and leant back to absorb his strength and silent support.
Severus looked over her shoulder at Justin, now looking every inch the penitent, eyes downcast trying to divine the secrets of the universe from the rich grey carpet under his feet. He was going to be looking for a long time, Severus thought sagely. Severus could feel Hermione's rage dissipating to a bone weary fatigue. If this was to be resolved, it had to be soon or the animosity and resentment from both parties would fester. The best way to nurture a bigot was to give them an excuse for their stance.
Severus squeezed Hermione gently, removed his hands from her waist and placed them on her shoulders, massaging them and her neck gently. Hermione hunched her shoulders, turned to face Severus and muffled a request to be held.
She rested her head on his left shoulder, kissed him gently on the neck before returning her head to his shoulder and whispering thickly, "I don't know what to do Severus. How do I fix this when I'm not even sure what this is?"
"Shh…it'll be alright," Severus murmured to Hermione as he circled her back with his hands. "He won't turn out like me…I'll make sure of it. We'll fix it, Hermione. All three of us need to find the cause and the answer. I think you and I need to have a talk alone first though."
Hermione nodded her assent.
When they both turned to Justin, Severus briefly wiping the top of her cheeks with his thumbs, their eldest son was looking squeamish. He knew his parents were fond of each other, but he'd never been privy to such a private moment, would never have been included except for the unresolved situation. He could feel the beginnings of genuine remorse gradually overcoming his stubborn countenance. If he could cause this much grief with a few ratty magazines, what would happen in the future if he really disappointed his parents?
Justin saw his parents embrace again – he was starting to feel like an interloper and watched as his mother gave him a tearstained look of resignation before she headed towards the master bedroom.
Justin was startled when he heard his name called.
"Do Antonius and Lucy know you have these magazines?"
"No father. I kept them hidden in my warded trunk."
"To have kept them in a warded trunk meant you obviously had some inkling of their inflammatory nature, or would you have me believe you have suddenly become over cautious?"
"I don't know, father – honestly. Everything seems all mixed up now. I didn't mean to hurt you. I didn't want mum to cry. I didn't think this'd cause much of a fuss."
Severus bit back. "That you didn't think is patently obvious, Justin. Now, you are to sit near the fire with the magazine your mother thrust at you, read the article on Muggleborns and then when we return – read it to us. You should know better than to take things at face value, rarely is anything so cut and dried."
Justin answered his father with a nod of his head and let his father guide him to the leather armchair closest to the fire. Severus summoned a House Elf, ordered some hot chocolate and biscuits for his son, turned away with one final piercing look and strode quickly towards the bedroom.
A swift click of the oak door saw Justin relax somewhat, reach over and have a generous slurp of his hot chocolate, put the mug down and open Wizarding Watch to the article he had to read.Muggles and Muggleborns
By Draconis Major
Independent research conducted by Messrs. Windermere and Todd.
The Wizarding world is at the zenith of a new conflagration. All around us, our world is being undermined, belittled and taunted as inferior, cited as prejudiced and given little warning of new change. Why is this happening?
Muggles and their magical offspring are creating a new class of Wizards and Witches. They would seek to dress differently, change age-old traditions with the cry of obsolete and infer that purity of heritage is an anathema to the modern way our world should behave. Purity of genealogy, ideals and outlooks has helped to stave off countless attempts by Muggleborns to dilute the essence of what it is to be Magical. They have raised the levels of Squibs, an affliction thought to have previously been rare and according to statistical variances, diminishing prior to this influx; their genetic dilution being one cause cited for this increase.
When Messrs. Windermere and Todd were asked for input to corroborate the findings of this article, they waived their usual consulting fees as testament to their assurances regarding the quality of their quantitative and qualitative data. We few owe them our thanks for their stringent testing techniques in addressing our questions.
Our in-depth analysis will focus on the following points
Muggleborns are just as powerful as pureblood witches and wizards! Muggles are not trying to eradicate the magical world. Squibs are more prolific than at any other time in the Wizarding timeline. Do mixed marriages work? Appendix of specific genetic differences between Muggles, Muggleborns and pure Wizarding genealogy.
Messrs. Windermere and Todd in their groundbreaking article published last autumn in Mungo's Maladies cited Muggleborns who excel as aberrations; anomalies on the scale if you will. They could find no definitive proof that Muggleborns tested at a higher level, unless the scales were skewed to aid their success. Several high performing Muggleborns have been noted, but all declined to be interviewed for this article. One might suspect the aberrant statistical argument to hold some weight given this appalling lack of co-operation. Hermione Snape (nee Granger), Professor of Field Potions Defence at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry cited professional differences with the aims of this article and could not be contacted for further explanation. Her reticence and that of her Muggleborn colleagues does not augur well for our world.
All through Muggle history are instances of wars, purges and attempts to cull magical people from the face of our combined earth. Religious intolerance, bigotry and prejudice are Muggle inventions, ones that do not fit well into the ideals of a united Magical entity. More Muggle conflicts have been caused by their intolerance of others differences than all of the combined upheavals in our world. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, whilst reviled as evil, intolerant and elitist, must now be re-evaluated in a new light. Were he to be compared to Muggle leaders, would he be lauded or lambasted? The quaffle is in your field of play, gentle readers.
Mungo's Maladies also cited in-depth research that suggested that Squibs were more common than previously thought, all of which may point towards the dilution of pure magical genealogy. An inflammatory statement perhaps, but a survey of a thousand magical families; Muggleborn and pureblood conducted last June by Magical Machinations, the research facility that currently employs Micah Windermere and Acacias Todd, presented some disturbing findings. We here at Wizarding Watch were stunned when the figures, correlations and distribution scales were first shown to us. We do not intend our presentation to be alarmist – information, education and co-operation are our by-lines. A more detailed breakdown with animated graphs and charts is included in our appendix, but as the data was presented it became very clear that the prevalence of Squibs within Muggleborn ancestry far outranked those of the more pure genetic inheritances. Further, more detailed research will be needed to understand some of the more obscure precursors to this condition…
Justin heaved a sigh. This was very dry reading and the mention of his mother's name unnerved him, especially the doubt that her intelligence was through her own hard work. He was confused, tired, unsure of just what his parents were discussing without his presence and just wanted this day never to have happened. He flicked the pages towards the appendix in the hope that he might find something a bit more interesting.
…The Muggleborn brain versus the Pure Blood brain shows significant changes in the temporal region. Detailed analysis of deceased subjects also highlighted differences in cerebral mass and weight. If you look to figure 1, you will see animated cross sections highlighted for your appraisal. Cerebral analysis of live test subjects is also to be noted in figure 2. Differences are noted in red, similarities in white and intelligence levels broken down and reported separately.
Turning to figure 3,…
Justin swallowed heavily, screwed the magazine up and threw it across the room. It landed with a dull thud against his parent's bedroom door. He put his head on his knees and hugged his legs as he tried to desperately work out whether the information flying around his head was true, exaggerated or misinformed. He did not hear anything until his mother leant down, kissed him on the back of the head and urged him up into a sound hug.
"I'm sorry, mum. I…I hadn't read that before. I'm confused. I don't know what's right or wrong anymore. Please, make the pain go away."
"Shh…hush my darling, it'll be alright." Hermione continued to hug Justin, now nearly as tall as her and continued, "we three have to talk about a few things first though…clear the air." She lifted his tear stained chin up so that their eyes met. "You understand we need to talk about this, not hide it, don't you?"
Justin pulled back, rubbed his sleeve across this face and under his nose and nodded heavily. A green handkerchief appeared at the side of his line of sight and he turned then to thank his father as he took it. Justin was stunned to see the look on his father's face – as though all his old demons had come home to roost. Justin would have given all of his savings to know what was said behind that closed door, but his father's face effectively chased that suggestion away.
"Did you finish the article your mother asked you to read?"
Justin shook his head. "No father," he replied barely above a whisper. "I thought it was really dry and boring at first, then I saw Mum's name and the cold way they discussed brains made me feel sick. The pictures were really gross too."
"What do you mean…when you saw your mother's name?" Severus queried coldly.
"Well," Justin started, "it was in the first bit, you know the part about Muggleborn intelligence and ho…"
"It's alright, Severus. I'll fill you in later," Hermione cut in. "Needless to say I was not contacted by anyone for a statement, but the article was correct in one thing – I would have declined comment most strongly."
"But why?" Justin asked, suddenly interested in knowing the answer.
"Because, my love, no matter what I would have said, it would have twisted to suit the tone they wished to convey. Their comments are erroneous and libellous, but I see no advantage to engaging the family solicitor in a long drawn out, mentally defective argument."
"But their research said…"
Severus huffed, turned to his son and said, "surely you are old enough to realise that research, however factual can be twisted to defend any argument. Throwing big words and numbers around only proves you are actively trying to confuse your audience, make them doubt the validity of their long held beliefs. You are a fool - an April fool to believe these things so readily."
"But why would someone want to confuse me?"
"Because, Justin, there are many in our world who see people such as your mother as a threat. Your mother is proof positive that their arguments are false and if it takes a Malfoy and his sycophants to make you doubt what you have been taught to believe, how much harder is it for those brought up in an environment of prejudice to escape?"
Hermione cut in before Justin could ask another question. "Severus, what do you mean – 'Malfoy and his sycophants'?"
"Lucius Malfoy had an alias when he ventured into Muggle locales – Lukas Major to be precise. Given that he's been fertiliser for the last fourteen years, Draconis Major is a little too coincidental, don't you think? Only a Malfoy," Severus continued, "would have the money or connections to put out this sort of drivel and watch it sell to a new generation. Target marketing might be a Muggle concept, but Draco is nothing if not resourceful. If it served his interests to create a new regime of Death Eaters, I have no doubt he would do anything to achieve it – even using Muggle ideas he espouses as filth."
"So, do we just let him print what he likes and wait for the fallout?" Hermione asked.
"No, we enlist the aid of the other parents. If Justin's reaction to their discovery is anything to go on, there will be quite a few discussions such as this in the coming weeks – not to mention flustered owls ferrying howlers."
Justin blanched and cut into the discussion quickly, "but they'll think I dobbed them in. You can't do that…my friends will never trust me again. It was hard enough with my parents being teachers. I don't want to be lonely again…"
"Which brings us neatly to the next decision," Severus cut in. "You have a decision to make, Justin. Your mother and I have discussed this and we feel that Hogwarts is not the school for you."
"Justin, we want you to be happy…and you're not really happy now, despite your protests about friends, are you?" Hermione queried.
"Well, it's better than it was last year, but it's hard to turn off from the others when you give them too much homework or detentions. I don't want to have to defend both of you all the time…I want a chance to be me."
"Then you shall have it," Severus said, reaching for Hermione and wrapping his arm around her waist. "We want you to be happy, Justin. That you are not is partially my fault. I wanted you close so that I could see what sort of man you would become. I can see now…thanks to your mother's reasoning that it might have been too restrictive an approach."
"Where are you going to send me?" Justin asked, trying to mask the feeling of relief that he would have a chance to make friends who weren't constantly on his back about his parents.
"Well," Hermione started, then continued with a nod from Severus, "Beaubaxtons has a wonderful record and your father and I discussed the idea that you would be close enough to come home if you wanted, yet far enough away that you could grow into the man you are yet to become. Do you think Beaubaxtons will make you happier than you are now?"
Justin nodded his head, trying to hide his excitement, but a wry grin from his father put paid to that idea.
"As it is now an hour past the third year curfew, do you think we could leave the rest of this discussion until the morning?" Severus queried then continued, "as to your punishment for bringing this garbage home, we think a suitable task would be the loss of your first Hogsmeade weekend tomorrow and you are to report to my office in the Dungeons at ten o'clock to assist me – indefinitely."
"Yes, father," Justin replied having lost some of his excitement.
Justin looked at his parents side by side, stepped forward and hugged his mother, then turned and after a moment of indecision, hugged his father too. Justin didn't see the look of complete surprise on his father's face as he had already turned and was exiting the family suite of rooms.
Hermione was desperately trying not to laugh outright, but the playful smirk was clearly irritating.
"Not one word, Hermione…not one."
"I don't think I've ever seen you lost for words, Severus," Hermione teased playful, having turned to face Severus. "I rather like the thought that you're not as shock proof and aloof as you pretend to be…it makes me love you all the more to know that you can still surprise me after all these years."
A not so subtle grunt of irritation from Severus curbed Hermione's teasing, but she couldn't help one last parting shot. Reaching closer to pull him down towards her, she whispered in his ear, "so, old man, are you too tired for a relaxing bath, an invigorating massage and some quality playtime?" Hermione then nipped his left earlobe and started slowly for the bedroom.
Severus swept up behind Hermione, picked her up and sped through the bedroom door.
"I'll show you old!"Fin
Thank you to the following people for your reviews. I'm not sure what to think of the conclusion. Part of me thinks it's all right and the other part is recognising the need for a beta reader to iron out the kinks.
Dahlia: Given the JKR's pre-occupation with Muggle versus Pureblood, I'm actually rather surprised no one has thought to use Xenophobia as an idea before now. I'd be interested to see the fic you were thinking of writing and perhaps that could be a challenge all on its own. I've skimmed your challenge entry and I've bookmarker it to go back and read properly.
Goddessnmb1: Thank you for the praise. I've actually just started reading, 'The Joke's on Her'. Once I've had a chance to finish what's extant, I'll leave you a review.
Ramos: Many thanks for your review. I haven't read much of 'Hinge of Fate', an oversight I'll correct shortly. I can say that I have read part of it and you made Hermione and Severus' violation suitably gruesome, yet with an inkling of a great many layers to unravel. I'm hoping to finish it in the next couple of days, work permitting.
septempopuli: My first review for this fic and added to your favourites – Thank you! I hope I've answered a few of your questions. I tried to focus the fic only on the family interaction and so inadvertently I might have forgotten a few other interesting tidbits. But as you really are curious,…
Minerva McGonagall is Headmistress. Albus Dumbledore retired to Jamaica to work on his tan and write an unauthorised edition of Hogwarts: A History. Given all the secrets he was privy to in his role as Headmaster, it promises to sizzle. Severus is Deputy Headmaster – he didn't want to give up his Potions lab to the incompetents who applied thinking he was a shoe-in for Headmaster. He also states that you can't sneer at the school governors, patrons and parents. Their children however – are fair game! Harry, well Harry is perfectly content for people to guess what he's been up to and doesn't mind the endless speculation. He is Justin's Godfather – Severus still feigns irritation at Hermione's choice, but did you really expect a perfect world?
Thanks also to; JoeBob1379, Secret Agent Smut Girl (love the handle), Talon DragonFriend and Witchy-grrl.