DISCLAIMER: That part of this world and those characters you've seen before belong to their Creator: JKR. The rest is mine - although I cannot quit my day job as I make no $$$
A/N: And finally, the final chapter – about 100,000 words and 10 chapters longer than I had once predicted…
CHAPTER FIFTY-FOUR: END OF THE BEGINNING
SATURDAY, JUNE 29th, 1991 – THE WATANABE SCHOOL OF MAGICAL STUDIES, KYOTO, JAPAN.
"Not again!" a girl's voice said in exasperation. Harry and the others looked over and saw Hermione's cousins approaching the patch of ground they had staked out near the Red Gate.
"More?" Erin McGonagall asked with a laugh in her voice, "or is this reception committee for last year's barbarian hoard?"
"Oh, last year's hoard shifted in yesterday," Hermione said. "We decided we needed substantial reinforcements."
"We're more than doubling out numbers," Clarice said.
"It's not an invasion," Lyle Donovan laughed, "it's a bloody viral infection – the British Flu!"
"You three bent on world conquest or something?" his sister Stacy asked.
"Britain first," Harry quipped. "Never bite off more than you can chew."
"We'll be forced into afternoon teas by summer end!" Steve McGonagall moaned.
"Never forget," Clarice said, "you are still part of the Commonwealth. Your Head of State is the same as ours."
"Elizabeth the Second," Hermione added with fake solemnity, "by the Grace of God Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Head of the Commonwealth and so on."
"Right," Lyle said, "just so you know, Manchester United sucks."
"Hey!" Harry replied in mock protest as the cousins started to head to their dorms and the new British contingent began emerging from the Red Gate.
"Oh look!" a new voice said. The three turned and saw that Luna had joined them, "it's Mr. Remus! You never said he was coming."
Harry looked and sure enough, Remus Lupin had in fact emerged from the gate. He soon spotted their smaller group and headed in their direction.
"What are you doing here, Remus?" Harry asked in genuine surprise.
"Magical Minder," Remus said. "Aside from Bob Granger, everyone else in the house has done it so I figured why not? Besides, the thought of Time Compression and a couple or more years where I can avoid a full moon was too tempting not to attempt."
"Why didn't you say anything?" Clarice asked.
"Didn't get final approval 'til last week," Remus replied. "The school had to work around my furry problem, which was last week and will come again during Fifth Session, and I had to get approval from work. Would have told you at the dinner thing on Sunday, but you were busy."
"I wasn't all that busy," Clarice said. "Unlike some, I did talk to people," she added looking at her brother and Hermione who tried and failed not to blush.
"So that wasn't you I saw dancing the night away with Neville Longbottom," Remus said back.
"It was hardly dancing the night away!" Clarice protested, blushing herself. "I did take breaks!"
"One," Remus said. "And don't try and say otherwise. Sirius and I counted."
"Busted," Harry chuckled.
"Could say the same about you dear brother," Clarice replied.
"'Cept it wouldn't work," Hermione said.
"'Cause everyone already thinks they're boyfriend and girlfriend," Remus said before Hermione could respond.
"This is going to be a long summer," Harry groaned. "Even Sirius wasn't this bad right out of the gate."
"That's 'cause Sophie keeps him on a short leash," Remus chuckled. "Speaking of Sophie, have you told them yet, Clarice?"
"Told us what?" Hermione asked.
"Sirius and Sophie found out a little over a week ago," Remus said. "She's expecting."
"Now, come on," Luna said. "Emily is almost a year old."
"Yeah, but you're parents…" Harry began.
"Are talking about it," Luna said with a smile just before skipping away before anyone could formulate a witty reply.
SCHOOL DAY 149, THE WATANABE SCHOOL OF MAGICAL STUDIES, KYOTO, JAPAN.
Harry had not known there were certain advantages in being a "Senior Master's Candidate." Last summer, he had been primarily an Undergraduate. It was, without a doubt, the hardest summer he had to date. Going for a Mastery was not easy, but the time commitment for that first university degree made secondary school look like a vacation. However, that was now behind him. Had he no other responsibilities, this summer would be a holiday in comparison to the prior three.
But the Watanabe School did not promote idleness. Now that he was fully invested in post-graduate studies, he was expected to take on additional time consuming responsibilities. For one thing, he was expected to teach. He had two magical masteries and a degree in chemistry. As a result, he was teaching basic chemistry at the secondary school level, one class a week (which met three times per academic week) and was also teaching Potions at the Masters level. In that course, he had three apprentices including his friend Neville Longbottom.
On the one hand, he was probably just as busy as he always had been. Harry did not mind that in general, but much of his time was now spent helping others rather than immersed in study. Again, he did not mind that so much. It was actually kind of enjoyable and he did get something from it he had not had before. He had an office in one of the academic buildings. It was small, to be sure, but it was his and it was a good place to get things done when he was not in a lab or in classes.
But, he and his flat-mates were now also expected to take some role in monitoring all the students from his country. Mostly, this simply meant they spoke with the Minders about once a week and reviewed any reports from the professors. This was more a paper drill than anything. Or at least it had been. The first term exam results had been posted and now there was a problem. One of the new students was in serious danger of being asked to leave. That student excelled at any practical demonstrations, magical or non-magical, but could not seem to write an exam, or paper for that matter. A report identified the reason. The student was not "slow," quite the opposite. But reading was an issue. This was not just the case that as a Brit, the student had no real formal education before coming to Japan. This student suffered from a learning disability.
The student needed help – a personal tutor. There was one who the school suggested would be a perfect fit, the proverbial square peg, square hole situation. Harry was now asked to try and make this work. But Harry knew he could not force or order the person to help. Without the help, the struggling student probably would not continue. It would be only one failure out of over nine-hundred students, he had been told. To Harry, however, one failure was one too many especially where the person could succeed with the right help.
There was a knock on the door to his office.
"Come in," Harry said. The door opened and Ron Weasley walked in. "Have a seat."
"Nice room," Ron said. "How'd you get it."
"Post-graduates get one," Harry said. "It's not much, but it is quiet."
Ron nodded as he took a seat. "What'd you want to see me about, Harry? I know my marks aren't brilliant but…"
"They're not that bad, Ron. Your practical marks … well, just between you and me you're right up there giving your brothers and sister a run for their money. In maths and science, again excellent. On the reading and writing side…"
"I know," Ron said. "That's a problem."
"You're still doing well enough. Upper half and all."
"Which is why you're here. I need to ask you a favor. I know you have a reading problem, Ron…"
Ron looked surprised. "How?"
"Obviously, I was told. Might have been your sister, can't remember, but the school knows and because of the favor, they told me. You got help, right?"
Ron nodded. "Still isn't easy. I'm told it'll never be real easy. But yeah. Glad I did. You have no idea how worthless I felt before. I know I'm not dumb, but I couldn't learn to read or write and everyone else could? I want to be good at something other than chess or quidditch. Don't know what, but I did and do and yet…"
"Ron, you are doing quite well."
"Thanks. You know the reading is easier if I really like what I'm reading about. It's the stuff I don't like as much that is still a pain."
"What do you like reading?"
"Got loads of books on chess and quidditch," Ron chuckled. "Mostly strategy and stuff. But I'm also interested in buildings and stuff so I got books on those too. Muggle books! Stuff about forts and castles and those huge churches they built without fancy machines and stuff. One of the non-magical professors suggested something 'long those lines for an elective next Session. I'm doing pretty good in Japanese. Oddly, it's easy to read for me. But I don't know 'bout other languages. So he says maybe their drafting course. Learn how to design things and survey and stuff. Sounds like fun, but that's just me."
"Sounds brilliant," Harry said sincerely. "Of course, your ability to – er – overcome your problem is why you're here."
"There's another student in your year with your problem. Unlike you, they only recently discovered it."
"Can't imagine how hard this place would be had I not gotten help a few years ago," Ron thought aloud.
"So you see my problem then? The student, like you, does quite well in the applied stuff but …"
"Yeah," Ron said understanding.
"I don't want to have to send her home, Ron. Now she is getting help, but the school suggests a study partner – one who's been through it before, one who understands what she is going through …"
"Is that a problem?"
"Er … no, I suppose not. Not unless you want me to room with her. Honestly, sharing a flat with Ginny is a pain…"
"You won't have to do that. Just help her. You know, study and all that? The two of you will be excused from the rule that requires you to do your own homework and such. The only thing you can't help her with are the actual exams."
"I don't know," Ron said. "Never done that before. What if I'm rubbish at it? Then again, Ginny didn't know what she was doing and was a huge help. I thought she hated me, but … But what if I can't help?"
"Don't sell yourself short, Ron. You were very good helping others with magic last year. I kept you with the First Years not because you were at their level but because you were a damn good instructor."
"But that was magic. That's different."
"Ron, at my level I am expected to teach. I taught Chemistry and Potions last Term. One is magical, the other is not. You know what the difference is?"
"From a teaching standpoint, nothing except the course material. It really isn't all that different, teaching that is. I know you can with magic. All this is really is something else you know that she does not."
"I don't know…"
"Well, you can't know that unless you try. Without help, I'm afraid she might have to leave. She's been with the Club for three years. This is what she wants and … it would destroy her."
"Yeah." Ron said. The tone indicated he could relate to that. "I'll try, but no promises."
"I understand, Ron."
Several minutes later, Ron got up and left the office. His student was in a room just down the hall. Ron still was not sure if he could do this, but he had promised to try. He reached the door and opened it. Inside there was a table with several chairs around it. Only one was occupied and at this point all he saw was a head of long, light brown hair and all he hear was what could best be described as not so silent tears. She was clearly crying and Ron was not actually ready for that. Still, he made a promise. He took a seat across from her and thought to himself. He remembered what Ginny had told him over and over again.
"Think before you speak Ronald! It just makes things worse when you don't!"
"Hello," he said. The girl looked up and any doubt he might have had that she was crying was erased. Her eyes were red and puffy and there were clear indications that a flood of tears had fallen very recently.
Ron recognized her from the Club. He could not remember her name, just that she was a Third Year Club Member and her badges did not show that she was in school yet. Odd that, he thought, she looked bigger than most kids his age.
"So," she practically spat, "they're sending you home too, I suppose."
"Er … um … why would they do that? Did they tell you that?"
"They said I might have to, means I probably will." She seemed almost resigned to her perceived fate, much as Ron had been once.
"Might does not mean will," Ron said.
"Does if you're as dumb as a troll," she almost whimpered.
"Someone tell you that?"
"No. But I know that's what they meant."
"Except, that's not what they meant," Ron said. "Least it's not what they told me."
"What?" she asked in disbelief.
"Harry told me you were really smart and that your practicals were extremely good. You just need help on other things."
"And I suppose you're the help?"
"Are they trying to be mean to me? I thought Harry was a friend."
"What do you mean?"
"How can you possibly help me," she said growing indignant.
"I don't know," he replied sharply, "maybe it's 'cause I'm the only person he knows who probably knows what's wrong and what you're going through and that someone like you can get through it?"
"You can't read too good, can you?"
"It's 'too well.' Can't read too well. And yeah. Try not at all in English."
"See, smarter than me already," Ron said. "It turns out, I have the same problem you do."
"You do? So you might have to leave too?"
Ron shook his head. "It still isn't easy, but I can deal with the problem and get okay marks. I had help. Had it before I even came here. They think with help, you can get through this and will not have to leave."
"What do you think?" she asked with the first glimmer of hope Ron had seen since he entered the room from the girl.
"I want to think that you can."
"You only want to?"
"I think you can. I just hope I can help."
"Why? Why do you want to help me?"
"I don't … damn! Sorry! That's not what I meant. What I mean is a lot of people helped me and I can never pay them back directly. I think by helping you, I can kind of do that."
"What was that other bit?" The girl was too stunned to feel hurt yet.
"My stupid mouth. That's one problem I still have. I say stuff before I think and it comes out all wrong."
"Maybe I could help with that, to … you know … well in that way we'd kinda help each other."
"Yeah," Ron said. "I'm Ron Weasley, by the way."
"Nice to meet you, Ron. I'm Millie Bulstrode."
SCHOOL DAY 297, THE WATANABE SCHOOL OF MAGICAL STUDIES, KYOTO, JAPAN.
"Dear Mr. Potter:
"We are pleases to inform you that you have been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…"
Harry dropped the letter on the desk in his office. He thought of binning it, but decided that one day he might want it as some kind of souvenir. The letter from Aunt Minnie was more amusing. It turned out that the Wards on their house in London made it impossible for any of the Hogwarts owls to deliver the letters. Fortunately, with Clarice being a supposed "Muggle Born," Minerva had simply stopped by for the obligatory visit. She handed their letters to Bob Granger who promptly signed the permission form as their Guardian and then posted the letters to Japan. They were one step closer to destroying Voldemort, Harry thought. A small step, but it was an important one.
His thought process was interrupted by a knock on the door.
"Come in," he said.
The door opened and Ron Weasley entered with Millicent Bulstrode. They both looked nervous.
"Have a seat," he said and they did. "I take it you haven't seen your end of Session marks yet?"
They both shook their heads. Harry could tell that Millicent was terrified. What amused him a little was first that she was holding Ron's hand and second he looked to be in pain.
"You can relax, Millicent. You passed all your courses."
"Oh!" was all she could say, but a smile was soon on her face and she let go of Ron who shook it as if to get the blood moving again.
"You actually did fairly well," Harry added handing them each their marks. They both looked them over and smiled first at each other and then at Harry.
"So I don't have to go home?" Millicent asked.
"Not unless you want to," Harry said.
"Does this mean Ron's not going to help me anymore?" she asked nervously again.
"That's really up to you," Harry replied. "The school would prefer you continue the same study routine, but we can't force you."
"Brilliant!" Ron said. "You remember what I promised?" he added turning to Millicent.
"Yep!" Ron beamed. "Be prepared to lose your first chess match!"
"I think you're thinking about the wrong one, Ronald," Millicent responded with a mischievous smile. "I never lose."
"Well, neither do I."
"We can call it a draw now…"
"More fun if it is one."
"Agreed. Just don't hate me when I win."
Without even asking, the two practically ran from the office. To the nearest chess board, most like, Harry thought. He then thought about what he had seen. He did not know Ron well, but he knew that the boy had few real friends. He was friendly enough and people liked him, but that was not the same as a really good friend. Harry knew how important that was and was glad to see that it appeared that Ron now had a close friend. He could not help but smile, however, when he realized that with Fred and George as older brothers, the fact that Ron's friend was a girl might prove – er – uncomfortable. Poor Percy had to put up with the teasing, and he had been seeing Penelope Clearwater since last summer.
SCHOOL DAY 851, THE WATANABE SCHOOL OF MAGICAL STUDIES, KYOTO, JAPAN.
"What are you looking at there, Harry," Hermione asked. The three of them had just received their mail from home. It always arrived the day after their real day.
"Letter from Lord Black," Harry said. "He's saying it's time."
Harry handed Hermione the letter. She read slowly and as she did her eyes widened slightly. "Oh. This is …."
"Yeah," Harry agreed.
"I guess we should…"
"Well, there's no real hurry for us," Harry said. "No need to drop everything as we still have two and a half Sessions 'til we head back."
"End of this Session during the post exams break. No one will be stressing too much then."
Hermione nodded in agreement.
SCHOOL DAY 901, THE WATANABE SCHOOL OF MAGICAL STUDIES, KYOTO, JAPAN.
In a large room within the British Dormitories, a group made mainly of students assembled. There were some adults with them, but not many. All of the adults present were magical minders of British Students. In addition to Harry and his four closest friends, the other students were: Justin Abbot and his two younger sisters, Susan Bones, Oliver Wood, Cedric Diggory, Dean Thomas, Jackson Trotter and the five Weasleys. The adults included Minerva McGonagall, Amos Diggory, Frank and Alice Longbottom, and Remus Lupin.
"Many of you are probably wondering what this little meeting is about," Harry said. There were several nods. "Well, I am going to be a little indirect. Will the following people please rise? Justin Abbott, Cedric Diggory, Neville Longbottom, Dean Thomas, Jackson Trotter and Oliver Wood?"
The individuals stood. "These individuals and myself are the Heirs Apparent to an Ancient and Noble House. Mr. Diggory and Mr. Longbottom are Heads of two such Houses. The fathers of the Weasleys and Luna Lovegood are also Heads. Susan Bones is the daughter of such a line. What we will be telling you is just what that means. Sometime this month, my cousin Lord Black will be doing the same thing with all the other Ancient and Noble Houses."
"Why?" a voice asked.
"The main reason is most of those lines forgot what it meant to be an Ancient and Noble House. As you may guess if you all know each other, the Houses are not necessarily Pureblood, rich, famous, or politically powerful or large."
"Large?" "What do you mean?"
"Two examples," Harry said. "First off, the Ancient and Noble House of Potter, of which I am de facto Head. It is wealthy, old, and has votes in the Wizengamot – although someone else holds those for now – but it is really small. It consists of my sister and me. That's it. And we are Half-Bloods. Now the House of Weasley is not very wealthy and lost its votes on the Wizengamot a long, long time ago. It is Pureblood and huge. Five of the Head's children are with us today and there are two others. Then there's loads of cousins and such as well. The Head only recently became a major Department Head within the Ministry.
"These lines, the Ancient and Noble Lines, are passed down from father to oldest son. If there is no son, the line ends, even if the property remains in the greater family. In that regard, the title of Ancient and Noble House is among the more fragile inheritances in British Magical society and does not even mean the Heir Apparent will ever see a knut for it. But, as we shall show, they are probably among the most important lines in magical Britain. I'll now let Hermione explain as she's the one with the degrees in History and such."
Hermione then stood. "Since before either magical or non-magical recorded history, and until the end of the twelfth century, the magicals in Britain did not rule at all. The various magical clans governed themselves and there was some form of assembly of magical clans, but they existed merely to arbitrate disputes between the magical clans when such arose. The right to govern vested in the non-magical ruler of the land where each clan lived. Each ruler was advised by a wizard or a council of wizards regarding magical affairs. On occasion such ruler, be it King or Chief or whatever, might be magical himself, but the magicals were ruled by said King or Chief without regard to magic.
"Now magical clans are not what the pureblood elites would want you to believe. Blood status meant nothing. A clan was any family of witches and wizards with at least fifty adults. For example, if a Muggle Born wizard married a Muggle and had seven magical children, and if each of these children married Muggles and had six magical children, when the youngest grandchild became an adult, the Muggle Born could declare Clan status and the Clan rights would be recognized by all others even though they were, at best very Half-Blood. It usually did not happen that way and it was not uncommon for recognized clans to merge for economic, political and other advantage. Still, the point is that the notion of Pureblood held no meaning in reality.
"At the end of the twelfth century, the magical clans for a variety of reasons decided it was in their best interests to rule themselves. Their treatment at the hands of their muggle rulers varied, but by and large it was not in their general interest. At that time, there were many Muggle rulers in what is now Magical Britain. Ireland was a hodgepodge of kingdoms. Wales was a collection of Lords and clans and such. Scotland had a King, but really was ruled by the lesser nobility. England had a King as well and while he exercised power through his nobility, he was the one and only true authority. The magicals were less regionalist than their non-magical kin and decided to ally themselves with the most powerful Kingdom and ruler in the islands. That was King Richard the First of England, known to history as Richard the Lionheart.
"What the magicals wanted and received was home rule and freedom from muggle taxation and conscription. That meant they no longer wanted to be vassals to any muggle lord nor did they wish to be required to provide men for their armies or pay for them. The magicals also wanted some guarantee against persecutions from their non-magical neighbors. King Richard was not about to get nothing in return. That meant that the magicals were to keep the King's Peace within their community. They were to protect the King's non-magical realm from magical crimes against persons or property. Non-magical committing crimes against magicals were to be turned over the Crown for punishment. No wizard could demand tribute or impose any tax upon any Muggle for any reason without leave of the King. Most notably, the Clans would be loyal to the Crown from that day forward.
"That meant that the Clan Heads could not stand against the Crown in whatever the Crown desired. This included making war on any non-magical country. Richard wanted this because at least a few Clan Heads had openly opposed the Crusades. From here on out, no Clan Head had that right. Disloyalty to the Crown would not be enforced by any Court, rather by an Oath that bound the Clan Head and all who might one day succeed him for so long as a descendant of Richard's ancestors sat upon the thrown. Violation of the Oath, and the entire Clan would be stripped of their magic forever."
There were more than a few gasps at that.
Hermione continued. "At first, aside from the fact that no wizard was required to march off on the Crusades or pay taxes, the Treaty between the Crown and Clans really had little effect. However, it might be argued it made Britain what it is today. About a hundred years later, a new King – Edward the First – decided he had had enough of the border wars with Scotland and Wales. Prior to the Treaty the wizards in those places would have been expected to defend their lands from the English invaders. Now, they did nothing or worse. In Wales, they sided with the English allowing Edward's army to make short work of the land.
"In Scotland, they sat idly by as the English invaded. True, the Scots under Sir William Wallace did defeat the much larger English Army at Sterling Bridge, but that was entirely a matter of superior leadership and tactics and not magical support. There is some evidence to believe at least some Scottish wizards supported Edward's next attempt, the one which saw Wallace defeated at Falkirk. However, that victory was due mostly to the Scottish nobility who decided not to support Wallace and only chose to let him know at the last moment by riding away when they were ordered to attack the English. The Scottish victory at Bannochburn under Robert the Bruce was again a magicless affair.
"Now when the Treaty was signed, there were three hundred Clan Heads, all forerunners of what we now call the Ancient and Noble Houses. All were invested into the English nobility at that time. Most forgot or abandoned those titles over time. There are today only fourteen such lines left intact. However, those fourteen lines by law and by magic are still the Lord Protectors of magical Britain. Neither the Wizengamot nor the Ministry of Magic has legal authority to rule."
"Hold on," Percy said, "there were three hundred clans and three hundred seats or votes on the original Wizengamot. You're saying they're different?"
"The Wizengamot was founded by the Clan Heads shortly after the Treaty with King Richard to handle the day to day governance of the magical population. Many of the Clan Heads wanted little to do with such matters as the original Wizengamot handled all government functions, to include tax collection and all aspects of law enforcement. Being on it was practically a full time job and most Clan Heads had estates to run. What most did was appoint a member of their Clan to the Wizengamot. Some Heads did not, but they were the minority."
"But if there are only fourteen 'Clan Heads' left, why are there still three hundred votes on the Wizengamot?" Percy asked. "Why are there sixty-five members?"
"The Magical Council set the basic rules for seating on the Wizengamot. Each member was appointed for life and their position was passed on per magical inheritance law upon their death. The Magical Council, as defined by the Treaty, was also a hereditary position, but its successors were defined by the then recognized inheritance laws of the Muggles. Membership on the Magical Council passed from father to oldest surviving son. If there was no son, that line ended insofar as the Treaty was concerned.
"However, inheritance on the Wizengamot was less restricted. It could go from father to oldest child, or to the father's designated successor. Daughters who were members sometimes married sons who were members. The result was when they passed on, the oldest child took over both seats. Seats were also bartered and sold. In this manner, over the centuries, the three hundred became smaller and smaller. Entire lines were divested of their seats so that now only sixty-five are left, most of whom have no direct connection to the original members. Only five seats are directly related to the original membership and, perhaps by sheer coincidence, they are five seats that were originally held by that Clan's Head: The Blacks, Bones, Longbottoms, Potters and Prewetts. Even as to those, right now Dumbledore, who is not descended from any Clan Head, holds the Potter and Prewett proxies.
"Originally, the Magical Council which sat only the Clan Heads had the authority to override any decisions of the Wizengamot or disband them altogether at their pleasure. The Ministry for Magic was formed by the Wizengamot in 1692 solely for the purpose of enforcing the laws passed in support of the International Statute of Secrecy. Said Ministry had no other Charter or authority and its establishment was never sanctioned by a vote of the Magical Council."
"Are you saying the Wizengamot and Ministry are illegal?" Percy Weasley asked. "Now THAT'S a masterful prank!"
"Illegal?" Hermione replied, "not exactly. They lack a Charter from the true legal authority, the Crown. Under the notion of 'Home Rule,' which is what the magicals received from King Richard, the Ancient and Noble Houses could set up a governing body. But that body answered to the Heads of the Ancient and Noble Houses as they did to the Crown. The fact that this chain of authority has not been exercised in over five hundred years does not mean that it no longer exists or is of no relevance. So, the Wizengamot is legal, provided it is executing the will of the Heads and therefore, the will of the Crown. The Ministry, however, has no legal authority as it was never authorized by the Heads."
"Bloody hell," Percy said. "And the Ministry does far more than merely see to the enforcement of the Secrecy laws!"
"How so?" Oliver Wood asked. It was almost rhetorical.
"Noting in the International Statute of Secrecy authorizes any magical action against Muggles. It can be read as forbidding them altogether and yet the Ministry obliviates Muggles all the time."
"Among its other crimes and misdemeanors," Hermione said.
"Why is this important?" Cedric asked. "You plotting a revolution?"
"To understand the importance we need to look back at the last War. When the War began, there were sixteen known Ancient and Noble Houses. There were only twelve when it ended. Four of the Houses lost their magic: every witch and wizard, regardless of age became squibs instantly. Well, at least everyone in a house did. The four houses lost their magic at different times."
"Their Heads committed treason?"
"That's just it," Hermione continued. "At the time, the wizards who were thought to be the Heads were either opposed to the Death Eaters or actively fighting against them. The other Houses certain sat up and took notice, but it didn't make sense.
"Except that the true Head of House is always the oldest son still alive when his father passes. The magic does not work like property rights. If a Head's oldest son is born out of wedlock, that boy is the rightful Heir Apparent. Lord Black looked into this when the Time Chamber scandal broke. Each of those four families had an unknown Heir Apparent. Obviously, each of those Heirs Apparent became the Head and then committed treason. Lord Black identified them. Three were Death Eaters before their preceding Head of House died. All three families lost their magic the very day that man passed away. The fourth became an obliviator and on his first mission for the Ministry, he and his House lost their magic."
"But why?" Frank Longbottom asked. "He wasn't a Death Eater."
"Obliviators use magic on Muggles," Hermione said. "Using magic on Muggles without the Crown's authority was one of the things the Treaty forbade and tasked the Clan Heads to prevent. As the Ministry has no such authority, it technically violates the treaty every time its Obliviators are sent out. A violation of the Treaty by such a Head is treason against the Crown, whether they knew it at the time or not."
"So basically what does all this mean?" Frank asked. "I mean everyone knows that the Black family had more than a few Death Eaters among them, yet they didn't lose their magic."
"The Heads never committed treason," Hermione replied. "The oath binds the Heads and by extension the Heirs Apparent. The rest of the 'Clan' is not so constrained. As I understand the Journals, no one really expected the Heads to be absolutely responsible for everyone else, only to rule a magical world that was not by its nature a threat to the Crown."
"Journals? Surely you haven't had access to the Longbottom Journals," Frank began.
"And the Blacks and Potters," Neville finished. "Surely you did not expect us to learn the 'official' history of magical Britain the Ministry expects us to believe. Those Journals are a far better recitation of the then current events than the Pureblood propaganda our youth are expected to learn. And it accurately describes the history of our government, warts and all. None of the nonsense that every decision was for the best, including the series of laws that effectively made both the Wizengamot and Ministry a full employment bureau for half-witted Purebloods from the 'right' families while those 'lesser' witches and wizards were all but relegated to shop keepers.
"The Wizengamot was supposed to represent the common interests of the Clans. Each Clan had a representative and that representative was expected to look out for his or her Clan. At that time, every witch or wizard – even the Muggle Borns – were affiliated with one Clan or another. Thus, they had direct access to a seat on the Wizengamot and that seat was supposed to protect its constituents. Well, at least the law abiding ones anyway. Is that what we have now?
"What we have now is a Wizengamot that protects the interest of the Wizengamot. As most of them are now Purebloods from the 'Right Families,' that means they protect Purebloods from becoming what they have always been: a minority. Through in a Ministry that basically does what the Wizengamot tells it to do, and over eighty percent of our population is there to be stepped on.
"I know you were a respected Auror, Dad, but I will not support that illegal government, assuming it can even be called a government."
"Are you suggesting open revolt?" Amos Diggory asked, "treason against the Ministry?"
"You missed the point Sir," Harry replied. "The Ministry cannot be betrayed because it has no legal authority to exist. However, I am forced to admit that fourteen families, even if empowered by law, cannot simply walk in and start handing out notices and expect those who believe they are in power to simply nod and go home to update their resumes. From a practical standpoint, that's not going to happen.
"But that was not the point of this – er – lesson. The point should be obvious. As Heads of Ancient and Noble Houses or Heir Apparent, if we must choose between the Ministry of Magic and Her Majesty's Government, there can be only one choice. By law and by magic, we cannot stand against Her Majesty. That is, of course, unless you want your family to become Muggles, which means you'd answer to Her Majesty's Government anyway."
"Do the Muggles know about this?" Amos asked.
"Some," Harry said.
"And some always have," Remus added. "The Crown never gave up its magical advisor. There's a witch currently serving as part of Her Majesty's Court. When the Parliament finally forced permanent concessions from the Crown following the ouster of Charles II, there have also been at least some magicals within the muggle government proper. Currently, the Prime Minister, Home Secretary, Defense Minister, Foreign Minister and a couple other cabinet offices have magical advisory offices. Likewise, the various intelligence agencies have offices dedicated to magical affairs. All told, well over two hundred witches and wizards, mostly Muggle Borns but not entirely, work for the British Government in the area of magical affairs."
"Surely that violates the Statute of Secrecy," Alice Longbottom started.
"What Statute of Secrecy?" Harry asked. It was clear he knew of the statute. It's existence was not being questioned.
"Are you saying it does not apply?" Alice asked. "I know they teach about it here."
"They also teach us about magical oaths and contracts," Harry said. "For example, if I entered into a magically binding contract with Hermione to be her best friend and later entered into another binding magical contract to ignore her, which one applies? You can't honor one without violating the other, can you?"
"No," Alice agreed. "But if the first contract was still valid, it could only be broken if you and Hermione agreed. Only then would the second contract apply."
"Something like that happened then?"
Harry nodded. "The Treaty between the Clans and Richard the First was a Magical Contract enforceable against the signatories and all of their defined heirs. So long as an heir of a Clan remains and an heir of William and Matilda remains upon the throne or claimant to the throne, the Treaty remains. Now, the Statute of Secrecy is much later. It was signed some five hundred years later, to be exact. No Head of an Ancient and Noble House signed on behalf of Britain and there is no valid repudiation of the prior treaty by all then surviving members of the Magical Council and the Crown. Moreover, the Statute was never ratified by the Magical Council as required under the original Wizengamot Charter to make it permanent. Consequently, the Statute of Secrecy is subordinate to the Treaty with the Crown. Arguably, enforcement of many of the provisions is consistent with that Treaty as the magical signers vowed to keep the King's peace within the magical realm and as between the magical and non-magical realms. But, that Statute cannot be enforced in any way in contravention of the Treaty. The Magical Council was by that Treaty the Council of the King. Again, the actual day-to-day activities were delegated to designated wizard courtiers. Still, some degree of permanent magical advice to the Crown was required and to attempt to remove that advice and cooperation by any other artifice would be a violation of the Treaty by the magical realm."
"And what happens if that old Treaty were violated?" Amos asked.
"Like any Treaty, it's only truly violated when one side calls the other on it," Hermione replied. "Even so, it would render the Treaty in Breach, which would revert everything to the way it was before the Treaty."
"And that means?"
"The Muggle government would be restored to its former position as the government of all Britain. That means it would become our government."
"And we'd have to pay their taxes which are quite steep," Harry added.
"Has it been breached?" Amos asked.
"Not by the Muggles. They agreed not to rule us, tax us or force us to fight for them and they never have."
"What about our side?"
"The surviving Clan Heads never have, obviously. But as to our government? Yes. It seems to be second nature to them. They fail to keep the King's Peace, they impose taxes on Muggles, they condone the use of magic against Muggles…"
"Taxes?" Amos interrupted.
"The parents of all Muggle Born or Muggle Raised children pay more for just about everything than those who are magical. They pay a fee to convert Muggle money into Galleons and back again. The magicals do not. They pay sales fees on magical goods. Magicals do not. They pay higher tuition for their children to attend school. They pay more for goods and services. Admittedly, it's not shockingly more. But it is a tax on Muggles."
"In our world," Amos began to argue.
"The treaty made no such distinction. Muggles cannot tax magicals and magicals cannot tax Muggles – period," Hermione said. "My parents have a dental practice in London and in Diagon Alley. They pay taxes to both governments when the Treaty clearly states they may only be taxed by the Crown."
"Have they called us on it?"
"They almost did," Remus said. "During the last War, Her Majesty's Government was less than amused with our Ministry and its lack of either a policy or backbone. The Ministry refused to take serious action for fear of messing up the Pureblood society it was built to protect. The Muggles could care less about that rubbish, especially since it was a bunch of society members that were out and about murdering their people.
"The Muggles did not call us on it for two reasons. First of all, until Bagnold became Minister, it seemed as if there was a new Minister every few months. It's hard to enter into a dialogue with a government that changes that often. Second, with their own magicals, they learned how to deal with the situation. They became very good at dealing with Death Eaters. One of their raids bagged over fifty."
"What became of them?"
"The Death Eaters the Muggles captured."
"The Muggles never took prisoners. Every Death Eater who had the misfortune of encountering Her Majesty's Government's forces is dead. The Muggle Government does not like terrorists."
"Bloody hell!" Amos said. "And that stopped because Bagnold …"
"It stopped because the war ended. Bagnold refused to speak with the Muggles. Another month or two, and they would have intervened under the authority vested in the Crown for such a breach of the Treaty. Took them almost ten years to almost lose their temper with us. I would not count on them being that patient again. That and they learned a lot about how to deal with magic."
"And the problem is," Hermione said, "the magical government is either totally ignorant of the mess they created or unconcerned. They live under the false belief that the Muggles don't know anything and that magic will protect them. That is a very dangerous assumption if things should ever return to the way they were during the War."
"The magical government of Britain is our own worst enemy," Harry added.
"And just what can we do about it?" Frank asked.
"Right now, all we can do about it is start to think about how to fix it. That was the task our ancestors left to us eight hundred years ago and one which has been ignored most of that time. We can no longer ignore our responsibilities. How to deal with them, though. That I cannot answer.
"Lord Black is telling the others pretty much the same thing. For now we think. One day, we may have to act. Hopefully by then we will know how and in what direction."
FRIDAY, JULY 26th, 1991 – HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY, SCOTLAND, U.K.
"Ah Quinirus," Albus said, "it's good to see you again! How was your sabbatical?"
"F-f-fascinating H-headmaster," the pale man in an odd turban replied.
"Good. Good. I assume you will be ready to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts come September?"
The man could only nod.
"Excellent. Well, the others have been told as well. I have been asked to guard a particularly rare and valuable artifact by a friend for a time. He's particular that he feels best if it were kept here. Anyway, I've asked the others to help set up defenses so that the object can be as safe as anywhere."
"I-I s-see. A-and what is it?"
"A nondescript jewel of immense magical value," Dumbledore replied.
"Th-the S-s-stone y-you mentioned?"
"Indeed. Nicholas has set his sights on travel and fears it would not be safe on his person. For now it's in one of the Hogwarts Vaults at Gringotts, but as you should know Nicholas cannot trust the Goblins. Lived through one too many Goblin wars, I should guess. It will be relocated here in due course. I was hoping you could provide me with some insight into suitable traps, within your area of expertise, of course."
"O-of C-c-course, H-h-headm-master."
TUESDAY, JULY 30th, 1991 – THE WATANABE SCHOOL OF MAGICAL STUDIES, KYOTO, JAPAN.
Harry looked at himself in the mirror in his room. He was wearing a white collared shirt and tie, but that was beneath his doctoral robes. It was black and was arguably the closest thing non-magicals wore to British style wizard robes. But while wizard robes only said "magical," these robes supposedly said "learned." He didn't feel that way. If he was, the problem he was thinking about would be solved.
Today was the end of summer. Over nine hundred young British witches and wizards would be receiving degrees and certificates of some kind. The youngest were only seven and still would be getting their O.W.L.s. The oldest included his cousin Jason Evans, now nineteen. He would be getting his Masters Degree and at least one additional Mastery.
The problem was security. It was hard enough last year, but this year might well prove impossible. Hogwarts alone would see loads of "overeducated" children arriving, including over half of the supposed First Years. All in all, Harry knew that at Hogwarts alone, there would be three "students" with Muggle Ph.D.s, one who finished her Masters, an additional twenty-one with their undergraduate degrees and another thirty-six who had finished Secondary School. These degrees did not concern him, it was the magical ones. Sixty students would enter Hogwarts having completed everything that school could possibly offer and then some. All had Defense Masteries. Seven had between one and three additional ones. Another thirty-five, including a little over half of the supposed "First Years" already had their O.W.L.s. That was almost a quarter of the entire school. There were an additional thirty-six who were too young for Hogwarts who also had their O.W.L.s.
"What's the worst they can do?" Harry asked himself. "Send me home?" He was too young under their law for anything else. British magical law did not recognize "assimilated age." In their eyes he was still a minor and minors got sent home. Thus, he decided this was a line of thinking for another day. Today, his friends and family would be there as he and hundreds of others got their degrees and magical certifications.
"You ready Harry?" a voice called.
Harry turned and saw Hermione standing in the door to his room. She was already in her robes and had obviously spent a lot of time on her hair, something she ordinarily did not do at all.
"You look pretty," he said softly.
"Oh hush! These robes are ghastly!"
"Still…" Harry liked it when she blushed.
"You okay Harry?"
"Just thinking. This really shouldn't be necessary, you know?"
"The lot of us having to go half way around the world just to have any hope of a decent education," Harry said. "It shouldn't have to be that way."
Hermione nodded. "No, it shouldn't. For now, however …"
"Yeah. One day, maybe."
"Is that you're big plan?" Hermione said almost joking.
"Well, it's a good one. But we both know a lot has to happen before it can become reality."
Harry nodded. "In a way, this is the end, you know."
Hermione nodded. "End of one adventure. We'll never be students again, at least not all the time students."
"But another adventure awaits," Hermione said. "Come on. It's almost time."
Harry turned and took his best friend's hand and they left their "childhood" behind.
(as opposed to Epilogue)
Ronald Bilius Weasley, youngest son of the Head of the Ancient and Noble House of Weasley, was born March 1st, 1980 at St. Mungo's in London and lived outside of Ottery St. Catchpole, Devon. On July 30th 1991, aged eleven by the calendar and fifteen by the number of days, he completed his first summer at the Watanabe School and received the results of his O.W.L.s. His lowest mark was an Exceeds Expectations, which considering that is what he received on every written portion of his exams, exceeded his own. His practicals were Outstandings. In his non-magical subjects, he had also done better than he expected and was doing really well in maths and sciences.
Millicent Agnes Bulstrode was born April 15th, 1980 in London where she was raised. She was also aged eleven and fifteen on July 30th, 1991 when she finished her first summer in Japan. Her marks, it was later remarked, were almost identical to that of her friend and mentor Ron Weasley and she would be returning with him the next summer.
Luna Celeste Lovegood, the oldest daughter of the Head of the Ancient and Noble House of Lovegood and Magical Heir of Helga Hufflepuff, was born September 21st, 1980 outside of Ottery St. Catchpole, Devon, where she lived with her parents. On July 30th, 1991, she was aged ten and twenty-three having completed three summers in Japan. That day, she received her degrees in Journalism and Biology. In addition to the Combat Defense Mastery she received the year before, she picked up her Mastery in Magical Zoology and was now working towards a Mastery in Spell Crafting and an advanced business degree. She planned to return for one final summer.
Neville Longbottom, Heir Apparent to the Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom celebrated the eleventh anniversary of his birth on July 30th, 1991. He had seen over twenty-three years of life as well. On that day, he completed his third summer in Japan by receiving his degree in Botany. He had really applied himself in his magical studies and added to his Defense Mastery from the year before with a Mastery in both Potions and Herbology. He would return the next summer to pursue advanced degrees in Agronomy and at least one more Mastery. While undecided, he was leaning towards Transfiguration.
Clarice Lillian Jameson was born on July 12th 1981 in Godric's Hollow, U.K., the younger sister of Harry Potter. On July 30th, 1991, she completed her formal education in Japan aged ten and twenty-six. She received her Ph.D. in Economics, much to the surprise of many who wondered what that degree had to do with her real passion. In addition to her Basic Healing and Defense Masteries, she picked up her Charms Mastery and an advanced Healer Mastery in what Muggles would call Obstetrics, Gynecology and Pediatric Medicine. Her days as a full time student were at an end.
Hermione Jane Granger, magical Heir of Rowena Ravenclaw, was born on September 19th, 1979 in Loughton, Essex, U.K. and now lived in London. On July 30th, 1991, she was eleven and twenty-eight years of age and also had completed her fourth summer in Japan. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science with a dissertation that was a scathing critique of the Magical British government. She completed her Mastery in Spell Crafting to go along with her previous Masteries in Defense and Transfiguration.
Harry James Potter, magical heir of both Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin would become Head of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter the next day. On this July 30th, 1991, he was almost eleven and was twenty-seven years old. He finished his fourth summer by earning his Ph.D. in Chemistry where he had written a dissertation on the Chemistry of Potions which his advisor recommended he expand upon into a book on the topic. He was still debating that point. He would leave Japan with Masteries in Defense, Potions, Curse Breaking and Warding.
A/N: "End of the Beginning" … "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But, perhaps, it is the end of the beginning." Prime Minister Winston Churchill following the victory of the British 8th Army over the Germans at El Alamein, 1942.
I would like to thank the hundreds who have taken the time to review this to date as well as all of you (hundreds, maybe even more) who have had alerts on the story. I cannot say for certain how many there have been, but I have had no less than thirty a day since I posted the first chapter. I appreciate your support.
I hope to begin posting Part II soon. (I also hope to finish my other story as well…)
While the full title to Part II remains undecided at this time, it will begin: "30 Minutes II:" so those of you eager for Hogwarts can find it… (Leaning towards "The Gathering Storm.")