Title: Not So Different After All
Archive: fanfiction.net. If you would like it, all you have to do is ask.
Disclaimer: The characters and situations of Harry Potter belong to J. K. Rowling. No infringement is intended.
Summery: Hermione has a conversation with Professor Binns and discovers that Muggles and Wizards are more alike than most people think.
Author's note: This is my first Harry Potter fic ever. Also, this is unbetad, so all mistakes are mine alone. The idea for this story came to me in a dream. It has a message that I think is important to tell. I would really like to hear what you think. Oh, and I'm an American so please excuse the attempt at Britspeak.
Not So Different After All
Hermione Granger sat crying in the one place at Hogwartz School of Witchcraft and Wizardry she knew for sure she wouldn't be found: the empty History of Magic classroom. Most of the Hogwartz students avoided this room like the plague. And Hermione had to admit, she didn't much care for History of Magic either. Oh, she liked the class well enough, no doubt of that. Hermione liked all her classes. But she much preferred attending Transfiguration or Defense Against the Dark Arts. In fact, Hermione couldn't think of a single student who would answer History of Magic when asked their favorite subject.
Which is one of the reasons she chose to come here. That, and it's close proximity to her former location. Hermione had been sitting in the library preparing to write an essay. It was an easy assignment; Professor McGonagall had only asked for two and a half feet. That was when she saw it- someone had gotten into her school bag and over every last bit of her parchment scrawled the words "Go back where you came from, Mudblood." Hermione knew that she shouldn't be upset. It was probably Malfoy or one of his goons. It was just so unexpected, and it caught her by surprise. It was all Hermione could do to restrain the tears until she found some privacy.
Hermione took a handkerchief out of her pocket and dabbed at her eyes. She supposed that she best be getting back to Gryffindor Tower. Pretty soon, Harry and Ron would begin to wonder what had happened to her. But Hermione was unwilling to leave the safety and security of the empty room. Just as she gathered all of her courage and prepared to once again face the rest of the school, she was startled by a translucent figure that floated through the wall next to her.
"Aahh!" yelled Hermione. Then she looked closer. She realized that the ghostly form that had scared her was, if fact, a ghost; Professor Binns to be exact.
To his credit, Professor Binns looked quite shook up as well. As shocked as a ghost can look, anyway. The professor quickly recovered his stiff composure and said, "Miss Granger, I didn't expect you to be here. I didn't expect anyone to be here."
Hermione blushed slightly. "I'm- I'm sorry Professor. I didn't mean to intrude. If you have lesson plans you need to prepare-"
"No, stay if you like. I won't be working this evening."
Hermione's brow wrinkled in thought. "Then," she said, "if you don't mind me asking, why are you here?"
Professor Binns gave a soft shrug and said, "It's somewhere to be."
"Oh," said Hermione. "I guess I never thought about it. But why aren't you with the other ghosts?"
Professor Binns sniffed in disapproval. "Much too raucous for my taste. What with their parties and haunting. No, I much prefer the quite of my solitude."
"Then why don't you go to your office?"
"I don't have an office."
Hermione looked shocked at this. She couldn't believe that one of the teachers didn't have his own office. "Why not?"
"For what would I use it?"
Hermione was stumped. For the first time the full impact of Professor Binns' incorporeity struck her. He couldn't sit in a chair, or eat dinner. He couldn't pick up a book or even a single sheet of parchment. Since he could use notes, Hermione realized that all of Professor Binns lectures were from memorization. "Um, I guess... nothing?"
"Which explains why I do not have an office."
Professor Binns looked at Hermione. He noticed her slightly disheveled appearance and the puffiness of her face. "Now, if I may ask, why are you in here?"
Hermione imitated Professor Binns' shrug and said, "It's somewhere to hide."
Professor Binns nodded sagely and said, "Ah." He floated up next to Hermione and said, "Would you like to talk about it?"
"I don't want to take up any more of your time."
"Professor Binns spread his hands and said, "I have all the time in eternity."
"Um, okay. Well, I was in the library. I was working on my essay-"
"The one I assigned on the Trade Dispute of 1608?"
"No. I've that one finished, already. I was working on one for Professor McGonagall's class. It's about famous Transfiguration spells. Anyway, when I unrolled my parchment, I found this..." Hermione took the offending parchment out of her bag and opened it.
Professor Binns took a careful look at the message. "Yes, I suspect this is the work of young Mr. Malfoy, or one of his housemates in Slytherin."
"How- how did you know?"
"Miss Granger, I am dead not blind."
"It's quite all right. Now, as a teacher, I am telling you that you need to report this to Professor Dumbledore immediately. There are tracing spells that will allow us to track the culprit."
Professor Binns held up a hand to silence Hermione's objection and said, "But despite the way I occasionally appear, I'm not completely out of it. I know that you won't be doing as I advise."
"I think if I go to Professor Dumbledore, it will just make things worse. I should probably just ignore it."
"A wise decision."
Professor Binns thought for a moment. Then he said, "Miss Granger, how much history have you studied?"
Hermione looked at him and said, "Well, this is my second year in your class. Of course, I've been doing extra reading to-"
"No, I mean how much did you study before coming to Hogwartz? What did you study of Muggle history?"
"How do you know about Muggle history?"
"Most educated witches and wizards know quite a bit of the Muggle world. It is helpful since our paths cross so frequently. But I know, because I was born into it."
"You... you were Muggle born?"
"Yes, I am what Mr. Malfoy would so affectionately refer to as a 'Mudblood.' Though not to my face, perhaps."
"I didn't know."
"You never asked. Though it was so long ago that it hardly seems to matter now. Now, as I was saying, you've studied quite a bit of history?"
"Yes, my regular coursework plus additional topics on my own. I've always liked school."
"So you know the relevant points of the Spanish Inquisition."
"Yes. They were Muggles that were supposedly hunting out dangerous witches in their midst. They killed hundreds of other people- all non-magical. I suppose it turned out to be quite pointless."
"It did indeed."
Hermione lifted her tear-streaked face to look directly at Professor Binns. "So what you're telling me is that Muggles are bad? That I'm bad?"
Professor Binns scoffed. "Not at all. What I'm telling you is this- Muggles and Wizards aren't as different as most wizards would like to think. Muggles have always feared what is different or new. This fear has started wars and cause people's rights and even lives to be taken away. The best example I can think of is the second Great War. Millions of people exterminated, because they were different. But that was exactly what he-who-is-not-named tried to do. Flush the wizarding world clean of half-breeds and Mudbloods."
"So, wizards aren't any better than Muggles?"
"Exactly. Take Mr. Malfoy's harassment of you, for example. He believes that he is superior to you because he is a 'pure-blood.' But he is a nasty little monster. He is hateful and spoiled and vicious. Muggles are often seen as primitive, but the truth of things is that the only difference between Muggles and Wizards is the ability to do magic. When you strip that away, we are all just people. We make our own decisions and live with the consequences of those decisions."
Hermione nodded and said, "I think I understand what you're getting at. Wizards aren't morally superior to Muggles. And a person's background has little bearing on what they become. So I shouldn't let Malfoy bother me, because he's wrong. I belong here as much as any other student."
"Thank you, Professor Binns."
"You're quite welcome. I must admit though, it's been quite a while since I've given anyone a pep talk."
"You did very well."
Professor Binns made an expression that might have almost been a smile and said, "Yes, well, off with you."
Hermione stuffed the parchment back in her bag to dispose of later and left the almost empty classroom. She walked to Gryffindor Tower- her home- with her head held high.
The end- completed 10/5/03