In Bad Faith Chapter 12
A Harry Potter Self-Insert Fanfiction
Chapter XII – Winter Woes, Meeting in the Spring
Regulus had been right.
Virgo and Tarry's mother didn't make it through the year. She barely made it to December before passing in her sleep. Regulus had taken the twins earlier that week after receiving a notice of the woman's declining health. Understanding what it most likely meant, I'd offered to come and help the twins through the difficult time, but Regulus had turned the offer down.
I'd nodded and left it at that.
There were some things people needed to handle alone.
Given that I was now more or less alone for the holidays, Hestia and Flora having gone with their parents to visit relatives in Ireland, I decided to indulge myself. Draco had decided to stay with the Notts for a short period, leaving the house even emptier than it usually was, while Mother and Father had received invites for one of the last society balls of the season, allowing me a full weekend of time on my own, with only the House Elves for company.
Narcissa had been concerned, initially, about leaving me alone while they schmoozed and lived it up in London, but ultimately Father consoled her with the fact that I was only a floo call or apparation away.
As my parents vanished in a flash of green fire, I exhaled deeply and sloughed onto the front parlor's couch, leaning back and throwing up my sock-clad feet onto the shoulder-rest of the furniture.
"Mother would have a heart attack," I smirked, "If she could see me now."
I'd been feeling much better over the past few weeks. True to her word, Mother had convinced Father to start cutting back on my lessons. Given that much of it was, at best, a refresher of classes I'd taken a lifetime ago, the sudden lack of busywork allowed me to actually get full nights sleep and relax a little. Granted, the lack of scholastic material was replaced by more informal tutorials in politics, government, finance, and asset management. It was still a rather intense schedule, but...
...it was new, exciting things that I hadn't learned before.
Instead of ending each tedious day bemoaning my wasted time, I was filled with a sense of accomplishment.
But now, with Regulus out of the country, Andromeda and Ted on vacation, and Father away for the weekend, I get to really enjoy some of my time off...
I groaned and stretched luxuriously enjoying the warmth of the merrily crackling fire and the rising darkness of the late evening. Snow had been on the ground for over a month now, but the last few days had seen a winter storm pour in, resulting in a nearly pitch-black night. Combined with the howling winds and even the occasional roll of thunder or crack of lightning, it was...
"A Dark and Stormy Night," I said gravely to the empty air, then broke into a fit of giggles. "Honestly, all I need now is a power outage...although, when you look at it one way, I think the power is already out...given that we don't have electricity. Now...what to do?"
It was an interesting question.
I had some absolutely free time for once, though I wasn't sure exactly how to use it. Even as a log split and cracked, releasing a flurry of embers, I pondered my options.
"I could do...nothing," I contemplated, frowning.
I shook my head, I wasn't in quite such an apathetic mood as to want to do 'nothing.' It was true that, in my prior life, I'd been a bit lazy, but I'd also gotten up and done what was necessary when it needed to be done. I'd also broken myself of the slothful habits I'd had so long ago...or, well...I'd had my habits broken for me, at least. I wasn't under any illusion that I'd have come so far academically, linguistically, or culturally without the constant tutorials and lessons.
I just wasn't that motivated, really.
However...I hadn't done it all on my own. I'd managed the good luck to find a life that would actually force me to live up to more of my potential. I snickered, an ironic smile twisting my lips.
"Good luck...to be born a Malfoy," I muttered quietly. "Never thought I'd say that."
I suppose one of the greatest ironies of my life, though, was the fact that it was good luck that I'd been into this family. The fact that I'd voluntarily learned French, on my own, was a testament to my own growth as an individual, I guess...in my last life, I'd tried to learn a language using...Rosetta Stone? That weird talking computer program thing, but I'd never had the follow-through for the subject. I'd picked things up and put them down, leaving half-finished projects everywhere in my wake.
Now, in this life, I was having trouble learning to stop.
I'd been in motion...learning, striving, achieving for nearly...what? Five? Six years? I sighed loudly and turned my eyes up to the ceiling. "Almost a decade. Ten years...damn, when I say it like that...I can barely believe it."
Some things had faded...various anime series I'd watched were little more than blurs of giant robots, bishonen, and plots that I now considered absurd after living nearly a decade with real, honest magic. I could barely remember my elementary school days, my friends' faces were a little indistinct now...
Other things...had stayed sharp, still having the power to cut into my heart even after so long. My family's, my first family's, faces...I hung on to those for dear life. My grandmother's death...and how much it had hurt my father...I saw bits and pieces of my dad in Regulus, probably why I'd taken a liking to him. And, of course, there was that one memory that never faded...
-lights, oncoming traffic-
I swallowed, trying to force the sudden well of sadness back down.
-my brother, laughing beside me...what joke was it?-
My eyes closed of their own accord, tears squeezing out.
-frenzy of movement, spin the wheel!-
I reached for my handkerchief, now weeping quietly.
-sirens, pulling someone...light-headed-
My stomach ached, a deep bit falling out from under me, my entire world shattering.
-watching the light fade, seeing my own eyes flicker shut in the cool steel of an emergency room mirror-
With a titanic effort, I shut the box containing my...
I got to say goodbye, not many do. Be thankful for that and let it go.
I shivered, not merely from the memory, but from the emotions it brought up. Even after ten years...there was so much pain attached to that one memory it staggered me every time I touched it.
"Is Missy Dezzy okay?" A squeaky, quiet voice asked from the opposite end of the couch I'd sobbed into.
"Not really," I answered honestly, my tear-stained red eyes locked onto the burning fire once again. I didn't need to look, though, I already knew it was Dobby.
"Is Missy Dezzy sick? Should Dobby be getting the Mistress and Master?" Dobby asked anxiously, kneading his hands.
"No," I stated, my voice firm despite its watery croak. "No. I'm just...sad, Dobby. Just...remembering sad things, wondering if they'll ever stop being sad."
Do I want them to stop being sad, though? I've already lost so much...do I really want to lose that too?
"Is there anything Dobby can be doing?" The house elf's question jarred me from my introspective.
I sighed, lingering for another moment on things long-past, then I shook my head. It wouldn't be right to keep that pain...to let it slowly swallow me whole over the years, but...neither would it be right to throw it away. One day, hopefully, the memory wouldn't hurt to touch and I could pick it back up and look in my parents' faces, remember the good times through it, remember the family meals we'd had every Sunday, remember the way mom used to badger me about eating healthier...
I suddenly smiled.
"Dobby...would you happen to know how to make pizza? The really greasy kind with stuffed crust? Or...know how to get some soda?"
An old melody floated through my mind, mixing with my thoughts.
Pieces of my heart...pieces of my soul...gave a lot to lovers...gave a lot to friends...
My smile turned bittersweet as Dobby vanished on my errand.
Everything I took from them...made me who I am.
For the first time in nearly a decade, I had pizza and soda.
I bounced off the walls for the next two days, a combination of sugar and caffeine leaving me feeling more like the nine-year-old child I was and not the...whatever I was, instead. In the end, I didn't do anything constructive with my 'free time'...but, I wouldn't say I didn't accomplish anything either.
In Bad Faith
Virgo, Tarry, and Regulus came back.
Winter passed, spring came and turned into summer.
I continued my fencing lessons, becoming quite adept with the sword, especially now that my body had developed enough muscle tone to really wield it. My tutorials in Cornish, Irish Gaelic, and my lessons in French from the twins wound down. I had attained a level of fluency in each that let me read and write and allowed me to converse at want. Granted, the only people I could actually 'talk' to in Cornish or Gaelic were the last of my tutors. Draco knew enough Middle English and Old English (before he'd dropped the lessons, as I'd predicted) to follow what I was saying, if I went slow enough, and the Black twins (and Regulus) were my designated French partners.
All in all, by the time my tenth birthday arrived, the only complaint I had were Mother's parties.
I'm not sure I can adequately describe the atmosphere of such a gathering, to the uninitiated at least. I suppose...if one were to imagine a gathering of ancient martial arts masters, ready to battle to the death, then one might have an idea of what they were like. Although, instead of physical punches, verbal insults and spiteful barbs were inflicted upon their opponents.
I think I learned more about psychological warfare during that interim than during the entire reading of Sun Tzu's The Art of War. Under Mother's guidance, I learned to see the tactical intricacy of a well-fought battle that never spilled a drop of blood. I learned how to utterly destroy an enemy with only a single, well-place quip. Before, I had thought I understood the childish sniping the upper crust engaged in, I had though I was...if not 'great,' then at least 'good enough.'
I was horribly, unimaginably wrong.
But, in taking all of Mother's lessons to heart, I forgot a few of my own most treasured teachings. I suppose that was why it happened the way it did...
"Justinius, how pleasant to see you once again. I trust your aunt is recovering well?" I asked, a cool half-smile on my face as I greeted the boy.
Justinius had lost a bit of baby fat since the last time I'd seen him (his own birthday party), and would probably have a fairly handsome appearance in a few years, if his father's features were anything to go by. My guest mimicked my expressions, the smile not meeting his eyes as he presented a wrapped box to me. "You flatter me, Desdemona...she is doing much better and, I believe, due to be released next week. However did you hear of her accident?"
'Accident' was putting it graciously, Justinius, but then I suppose not everyone has the great fortune to 'accidentally' splinch themselves while blind drunk...
"Oh, nowhere in particular, though I seem to recall a few of the Healers at St. Mungo's at one of my mother's garden parties last week," I stated, my eyebrow raising lightly.
"Then you have my advantage," Justinius admitted, acknowledging the point I'd scored on him. "It is gratifying, though, to see one such as yourself assorting with more...proper individuals, from time to time."
Oh, bravo you little twit...I'd give you points for gall and stupidity, but I'm afraid the last twenty people to comment on my friendship with the Blacks took all my good favor.
"I could say the same of others," I sneered subtly, my eyes cutting away towards his parents quickly. "Though at least my...predilections as excusable in the reality of family and politics."
I smothered a grin as tiny cues of alarm and worry popped up on Justinius' face, his own eyes betraying confusion as they cut back to his parents.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you bluff. Now that the young mister Harper is occupied wondering what I know about his parents that he does not, I think he can be left to his own meager devices for a while.
I left the dark-skinned boy with a pair of girly-girls, ensuring his misery as I made my rounds once again, my present being placed among the mounting tower of gifts beneath the pavilion tent which had been set up for the occasion. The tent itself was, to my eyes at least, remarkably garish in shades of green, black, purple, bronze, and gold. Although Mother had a good sense of fashion and tried to keep our family's wardrobe subdued, I had to wonder about the rest of the Wizarding world. Sometimes the world around me seemed completely ignorant of the very idea of 'subtlety,' when it came to design at least.
A color scheme like the one my birthday party had went a long way to reminding me how close magical society was to the Medieval age, at least in some ways.
I shook off the odd though and moved through my guests, back towards Mother and the group which had just arrived, smiling slightly as I recognized the auburn-haired girl. Astoria Greengrass was someone I...might not quite be able to call 'friend,' but she at least made life interesting. She was intelligent for her age, insightful, and sadly, more than a little cruel.
Granted, much of pureblood society would never be 'nice,' what with their tendencies to snipe and verbally abuse each other at the first sign of weakness, but...Astoria did wait for that sign. The Greengrass's second-born was mean in a way I'd seldom encountered in either life.
I hesitated to use a word so droll and simple as 'bully,' but when the shoe fit...
"Desdemona Malfoy," Astoria...well, it wasn't quite a sneer, as that would be impolite, but it had more in common with the former expression than a smile. "How pleasant to see you again...when did we last meet? Was it my birthday?"
"I believe we saw each other at the Quidditch match last month? Wasn't it the Harpies against the Cannons?" I asked, feigning uncertainty.
"Ah, you are correct," Astoria smirked. "I believe that little urchin that follows you around, one of a set of two? He was cheering for those inept fools flying for the Cannons, correct? I suppose he and his family could use the money a successful bet would bring."
I restrained the snarl about to burst forth and smiled placidly instead. "Well, I hardly think the Black family to be so badly off, even if they must depend on my humble self for leadership."
Astoria winced slightly, and my smile grew into a sneer.
Tut tut little girl, you forgot that their family is my family. You could have gotten away with that jab were you speaking to them directly, but not to the Head-In-Waiting of the family.
"I meant no disrespect, of course," Astoria backtracked quickly, "Merely that the head of such a noble family might wish to keep those beholden unto them on a slightly tighter leash."
"Your unsolicited advice aside, I wonder at the giving of such when one's own house is hardly in order," I stated, my sneer growing sharper. There was a tiny voice in my head crying out for me to back off, but I wasn't particularly in the mood at that point. I'd stood for two hours, hearing two of my best friends reputations, lineages, and standings in society slandered. Astoria and I were in a suitable enough locations for me to...
...make an example of her.
Astoria swallowed, "Desdemona, I'm not sure what chicanery has reached your ears, but rest assured that the House of Greengrass is-"
"-floundering?" I interjected, a twist of cruelty appearing in my expression. "Why I believe it was just last week that your family's attempted purchase of those lands near Kent failed so spectacularly. Tell me, did you father merely misinterpret the new land reforms...or did he not bother to read them at all?"
Astoria winced again, a bit of obvious hurt seeping into her expression even as she attempted to rally. "Yes, Father has talked of that legislation...and the pandering it shows the mudbloods. Tell me, your regent was one of it's principle supporters, wasn't he?"
"Regulus?" I feigned disinterest. "I suppose, then again, he managed to sell of quite a few of the less profitable and failing lands the Blacks owned at considerable profit, so I'm not sure if you're accusing my regent of being politically savvy or of dubious blood heritage...perhaps you should be clearer?"
By this point, conversation around us had stilled, expectant eyes following the byplay with all the interest of carrion-eaters.
For clarification, the legislation we were talking about was a complex and many-faceted thing which ultimately boiled down to placing in more roadblocks for Ancient and Noble Houses to acquire more lands. From this point of view, one could argue that, yes, it benefited the muggleborns quite a bit, seeing as how magical properties were at a premium in the British Isles and rezoning a muggle property was extremely difficult. However, Regulus and Andromeda (with a bit of help here and there from myself) had seen to it that pureblood families who voluntarily sold off properties or lands would receive a hefty sum from the Ministry as incentive.
Father, Lucius, had come around to understanding that the law was, in fact, very beneficial towards purebloods (at least in the short term) and could show long-term growth as long as the family heads weren't stupid enough to sell of the 'rents' with the 'lands'...which essentially meant that any properties which would be rented out to a third party, would see the lion's share of the income go to the family which had ostensibly 'sold' the property. If a family was extremely selective regarding what properties they sold, and to whom, the new laws could make them quite a bit of money.
At the same time, of course, those individuals who wouldn't deal with the ancestral houses and their agents, could now comfortably deal with the new owners of the property who would still have to pay a certain percentage of their incomes to the owners of the rents...
It was all very complicated, but it meant that as long as you were 'in' on the deal, you could make quite a bit of money. Guess who hadn't been in on the deal?
The Greengrass family, which had cost them money when they had attempted to buy lands in Kent and had to forfeit a rather large fine.
"I-I," Astoria choked, stuttering at my thrown gauntlet. I'd verbally cornered her into either admitting she'd insulted my regent or publicly complimenting a political tactic which had cost her family money, making her look like a fool. She visibly swallowed and thrust the present into my arms, "I'm terribly sorry, but I must be going, do enjoy your party."
I cocked an eyebrow and watched as the girl swept off towards her parents, an embarrassed flush on her cheeks as the tittering laughter of my guests followed her. As the adults gauged the atmosphere and prepared to depart, Astoria shot me a dark look over her shoulder. It was the kind of hate-filled stare with red-rimmed and nearly-tearing eyes that spoke of a grudge which would be held for far longer than was reasonable.
After she vanished in a side-along apparation, I cursed myself softly.
And...you just pissed someone off, congrats. Why do I have the feeling this is going to come back to bite me in the arse?
I shook my head and turned around to make my way through the crowd again, accepting the sharp compliments bandied my way just as appraising looks of caution and fear spread. I refrained from sighing aloud, not wishing to show any sign of weakness after I'd just shown such strength. Instead, I made my way towards Regulus, who was quietly ensconced away from the greater part of the guests, either children or adults, his gaze already turning my way.
"Impressive," he commented lowly.
"I suppose," I conceded, "though I believe I just made an enemy."
"I'm rather surprised you've gone this long without making one already," Regulus commented. "Then again...I don't think I've ever seen you fling an insult like that either."
"Offending someone to the point where they can't do business with you is counter-productive," I said sourly. "That was a mistake."
Regulus snorted, "If you say so...we're seeing good turnover from the sales."
"Good," I sighed lightly, masking the exhalation under a normal breath. "You know...muggles have done away with the idea of dividing lands and rents as separate salable items since many years ago."
Regulus rolled his eyes, "So you tell me, I can't see why though. Granted, some of those games you purchased last week are intriguing. I suppose I can concede that not every muggle idea must be a bad one."
I snorted, still itching to play a few more rounds of board games. Exploding Snap and chess might be all well and good for wizards, but there was precious little variety in their gaming genre, though gobstones would have been tolerable if it hadn't mandated the pieces be enchanted to spit foul liquids at you. Thankfully, I'd managed to con Regulus into a trip to the muggle world for my birthday present, picking out a stack of board games (Risk, Axis and Allies, Diplomacy, etc...), as well as a fair number of my old favorites from muggle literature, and a few history books to double-check the muggle world's timeline.
My conclusion was that the muggle world was operating under a history which was nearly, very nearly identical to my old world.
Save for a few, minor, rather insignificant items.
Like...the fall of the Soviet Union...or the lack thereof, in this case. I was still trying to work out exactly what had gone 'wrong,' but it seemed as though the Russian policy of Glastnost had never been enacted, the Soviet had successfully invaded Afganistan, and a few other bizarre inconsistencies meant that this world wasn't quite the one I'd known.
It also meant I was probably going to look into building a nuclear bunker sometime soon.
Just in case.
"So gracious," I snarked, then paused in thought. "What about phase two?"
Regulus frowned. "I've just started opening up to old contacts on the continent, but if you really want such a wide-scale build up, it's going to take time. Maybe years. It's very ambitious, after all."
I shook my head. "We've got time. Make sure everything is above-board, too and have Ted look over the finances. We're dealing with, what, twenty different sets of laws, rules, and regulations?"
"At least," Regulus nodded, scowling.
"...and Plan Periwinkle?" I asked, my mouth threatening to twist into a full-bore grin.
Regulus cringed. "Must you insist on that inane...code?"
The frustration in his voice was more than evident, but I smiled back all the same. "So...progress?"
"Ted is still getting the paperwork outlined. He's had to hire a few assistants since everything's gone through, you know?" Regulus mentioned offhandedly. "He's seeing quite the commission from the business we're giving him. I think he was talking about...shell companies? Something like that, when we last met up."
I resisted the urge to cackle and tent my hands, instead opting to quietly hiss, "Excellent."
Regulus shook his head, "Was there anything else?"
"You've been supporting my father, right?" I asked, suddenly serious.
My regent nodded, "Discretely, but yes. Beyond the few votes and the land reform bill we've thrown Dumbledore's way, I've been talking the moderates towards a more conservative point of view. If I play my cards right, I think I'll have a chance at a Wizengamot seat."
I grimaced. "Turn it down and recommend...someone else, anyone else."
Regulus blinked, "You're serious?"
"We're running the Black family's assets," I reminded him. "I'm fine with working behind the scenes, but I would really rather not see either of use, or Andromeda for that matter, take a seat in the actual government. It's too public, too restrictive, too..." I shook my head silently.
Regulus made a thoughtful noise, "I'll see about finding a good pawn, but that might take time. By the way, Dumbledore commented on my workload, made some noise regarding an assistant."
My eyebrows rose, "Did he recommend anyone?"
"Remus Lupin," Regulus replied shortly, his face twisting in distaste.
"Ah," I nodded, smiling, "his loyal...dog."
Regulus snorted, restraining a sneer. "You know him, then? I'd have thought Lucius to insulate his children from those...influences."
"I know of him," I corrected. "He was one of James Potter's best friends at Hogwarts and a guest at his wedding. It made the society pages back in '79; everyone was scandalized because of his...condition."
"An interesting euphemism," Regulus commented.
I waited a moment for him to say anything further before replying. "You should hire him."
Regulus made a strangled noise that threatened to draw unwanted attention towards him before swallowing the sound. "What?"
I looked at the older man seriously, "Regulus...have I ever done anything without a reason? Am I so mad that I would recommend you hire a werewolf without just cause?"
Regulus' expression soured. "No, I suppose you wouldn't. I still don't understand what you're trying to do with all of this. What's your goal, Desdemona?"
I'll tell you just as soon as I figure it out.
I didn't voice my thoughts as I took a moment to answer. "...complicated," I admitted finally.
"That doesn't exactly tell me anything," Regulus noted, his expression thoughtful.
I exhaled heavily, "Regulus, do you think I would be able to do this without you?"
My regent blinked, "...I'm not sure what you mean."
"I'm a...well, you could call it 'big picture' kind of person, I suppose. It's one of the reasons I don't like politics; you have to know each and every person, each and every law, be up to date on all of the scandals, gossip, etc...that's what I rely on you and Andromeda for. I'd never be able to coordinate something like this, even if I was a decade older, on my own. Money, land, political power...these are things that you might think I want, but I don't...want them, that is. I want the things they can bring, or at least facilitate...and to do that, I need you to hire Remus Lupin as your personal assistant." I explained laboriously, watching my guests mingle with each other and hating the fact that I was slowly learning how to track their conversational habits.
It was just so...mind-numbingly boring.
"So what's your 'big picture,'" Regulus asked eventually. "How do you picture all of these ideas and plans ending?"
"Hopefully," I stated, "in the only way that matters, a happy one."
"A...happy ending," Regulus said, the words speculative rather than mocking.
I decided to head back to my party, leaving the man staring off into the distance. It wasn't enough information, really, to satisfy him, but it would serve well enough to explain that I had benign intentions. After all, I couldn't just explain my ten-year plan to him...
Route political tensions, reverse centuries of discrimination, defuse a war, destroy a dark lord's power base, and try to make the world a better place while I'm at it.
I couldn't do it on my own. I couldn't do it tomorrow. I couldn't even be assured of success.
Hopefully, though, I wouldn't end up causing a disaster.
In Bad Faith
I had put a lot of thought into the upcoming years.
Granted, of course, there was quite a lot to think about in any case, but I was considering Harry Potter specifically. As the days and weeks passed seemingly faster and faster towards the when The-Boy-Who-Lived would rejoin our world, I knew I had to come to a decision. There were dozens or hundreds of ways I could move to overtly or covertly influence the preteen, to either help or hinder, to mold the child in any way I wanted. After all, I knew 'a' future, albeit one that was less and less likely as time passed, and that made me qualified, right?
Of course, because I was doing so with the best of intentions, to head off a war, to save the world, to keep people alive.
Did it matter that Harry would be a politically valuable asset? Did it matter that my words and deeds might influence the path of a nation? Did it matter that I could fool myself into thinking I was doing this for his own good?
Did it matter that I had no idea what the bloody fuck I was doing?!
Yes. Yes, it did.
That was why, the day Lucius and Narcissa took Draco to get his wand and other Hogwarts supplies, I went with Regulus and Nymphadora to the bank and removed myself from temptation. Regulus needed me to sign off on a draft for a few hundred galleons for various 'business expenses' related to throwing parties and schmoozing with the pureblood elite and Tonks wanted her 'allowance' for the month.
Let what would happen, happen.
After all, if the world was dependent on my help to avoid the apocalypse, we were already past the point of no return.
All in all, I called the day productive and stopped in to look over the new arrivals in Flourish & Blots before heading back to Grimmuald Place. Regulus and the twins had already stopped in at the Cauldron for an early dinner while Nymphadora had wandered off to splurge a bit before her final year at Hogwarts. I been a little confused by that fact, given her age and birthday meant she should have already graduated, until the metamophamagus had explained, blushingly, that she'd walked into one of Professor Sprout's classes to deliver a message at the behest of another teacher and been exposed to the screams of a partially-mature mandrake, which had left her paralyzed and unable to attend her NEWTS.
Which meant she'd been held back a year, given that she'd only attend two months of classes before her accident.
I had, admirably, refrained from laughing.
Regulus and the twins hadn't been so polite.
I grinned slightly, even as I resolved that nothing interesting or worth reading had come out in the past month. Wandering over to the 'used books' section, I at least hoped to find one of my 'treasures' this visit to make the entire thing worthwhile. Reaching into my Bag of Holding (which had a proper name in this world, but I didn't care to remember it), I mumbled the name of the slim notebook I needed and pulled it free.
"Look mom, Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts, that's one of my books!"
I twitched, my left hand clenching as I resisted the urge to comment.
"Oh, a 'detailed history of the conflict between the vicious Dark Lords of days past and the heroic forces which rose against them.'"
I shook my head, there was absolutely no reason to barge into a conversation some naïve young muggleborn was having with their parents.
"Look, there's even a note about how this edition includes the 'much acclaimed' Gilderoy Lockheart's examination of the battle between Albus Dumbledore and the Dark Lord Grindlewald!"
There was absolutely no reason to...
Aww, fuck it.
"You'd be far better off with Ross Gibberling's The Shadow Struggle: Wars of Light and Darkness," I offered, not turning to face the individuals, but my tone making it clear to whom I was talking to.
There was a beat of silence.
"I mean, Ezekiel Highchruch performs only very rudimentary research, draws vague and self-evident conclusions, and inserts his own opinions where they aren't relevant or necessary to understand the wider scope of the material. In addition, his writing style leaves something to be desired of, he doesn't communicate the overarching ideas clearly, and...well, I could go on for hours." I finished, finally winding down and pulling free a copy of an interesting book on the magical properties of woods, oils, and dyes. It wasn't on my list, but it might make for a good recreational read.
There was another, longer beat of silence as I finally turned around.
"That book's not on my list," the voice I'd heard said, her brown eyes looking up from a folded parchment letter as I nearly had an aneurysm.
Fate, Destiny, or whatever bitch is pulling strings up there? We will have words one day. They will not be pleasant.
Frizzy hair, check.
Slightly large front teeth, check.
Obvious love of books and knowledge, check-a-frickken-roo.
"Hello there," the girl's mother said sweetly, though her expression was slightly off given my introduction. "Are you going to Hogwarts too?"
"Next year," I affirmed. "My older brother is going this year and I took a look at his book list. I apologize for my...coarse interruption, but I felt you should know that that author's work really is...subpar."
"That can't be right," the girl argued, "I can't imagine a school would recommend the kind of book you described. Are you sure you're talking about Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts?"
I felt my hackles rise at the superior tone, but forced them back down. "Yes, I read that one...oh, what was it? Two years ago? Anyway, the reason why it's on your list is because the author has a connection in the Ministry of Magic, which makes recommendations regarding the Hogwarts reading list every year."
Which explains how that piece of shite gets on the list every year...
The busy-haired girl looked scandalized, though her parents were much more understanding regarding my explanation, if their facial expressions were anything to go by. Still, there was the odd look they were giving me, as if they weren't expecting a child to be so intuitive or mature.
"I'm terribly sorry, where are our manners? I'm Howard Granger, this is my wife, Elizabeth and our daughter Hermione," the husand-father explained, smiling as he offered me his hand.
Of course she is...one day Fate! One day! Bang, zoom, pow! Straight to the moon!
I refrained from looking at the man's hand as though it were a grave insult and kept a straight face as I introduced myself. "I'm Desdemona Malfoy...although, I believe I've known of Hermione before, even if we've never met."
The Grangers blinked, the parents looking to their daughter in surprise as she vacantly stared at me.
"Though it's been a Bard's age since I've read tell of her," I commented with a smirk.
Mr. and Mrs. Granger's lips twitched as Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Oh, ha ha," the newly minted muggleborn groaned, shaking her head. "I suppose that is true, though I admit I prefer Othello to The Winter's Tale."
"The opposite on my part, actually," I smiled. "I know The Winter's Tale has something of a problematic reputation, but I enjoy the rapid change of pace from complicated romance to the resolution, even if it is a bit saccharine."
"But it's completely unrealistic!" Hermione argued, somewhere between outrage and disbelief.
Now I rolled my eyes, "I'll remind you, this is Shakespeare we're conversing about."
The Granger adults snorted as they looked on, amused.
Hermione just shook her head, grumbling about having 'proper appreciation for the arts.' "What am I going to do with this, though?" She asked as she held up her textbook. "If it's really as bad as you say...I can't believe they'd allow that kind of...favoritism. How did you know about that, anyway?"
I refrained from snorting, knowing she might take it as an insult. "My father, Lord Malfoy, is on the Board of Directors of Hogwarts and heavily involved in Ministry politics; he doesn't really have much attention to spare for things like the book lists, but I do hear things."
Hermione huffed as the two adults looked at me in a new light.
"I wasn't aware the...magical world had nobility as well as our own," Howard Granger stated, his gaze appraising.
I frowned thoughtfully and debated my answer. "Technically...we don't, although the situation is a bit more complicated than that," I explained, then looked around. "There should have been someone assigned from the school to escort you around Diagon Alley. The professor should be able to explain a bit."
"Actually, Professor Mcgonagall had another appointment and excused herself," Elizabeth Granger explained. "She saw us to Gringotts and the tailor's...Madame Malkins, and the apothecary, but then she was called away. I was taken to understand she was very busy with...um, muggleborn, I believe the term is? Muggleborn children."
Howard Granger interjected before I could respond, "And we still have quite a few questions regarding the magical world which she wasn't able to answer. I don't suppose my wife and I could ask you? How about at that delightful little ice cream parlor across the way? Especially since you've given Hermione such good advice."
I debated telling the man ice cream hadn't worked as a bribe since I was four, but sighed. Mother, Father, and Draco had already finished with their shopping and returned to the manor or I wouldn't even considered this little diversion. If we seated ourselves in a back booth...
"I suppose that would be acceptable," I said neutrally, then I turned to look at the despondent bookworm, her eyes still locked on the volume in question. "Personally, I'd buy a good-condition used volume if you absolutely have to have a copy of all of your textbooks and..."
I reached over, pulling out The Shadow Struggle from a few shelves away, then Intricacies of Ingredient Preparation. "...take these two, as a personal suggestion."
It was a short wait from there, as I went ahead and seated myself at a relatively secluded booth at Florean Flortesque's and ordered myself a maddening concoction of five types of ice cream, three syrups, and a handful of toppings. The Grangers didn't take too long at the checkout, likely using me as an excuse to pry their daughter free from the bookshop. I sighed deeply into my ice cream, savoring the sweet taste as I tried to make sense of the last few minutes.
So...when did 'avoid Harry Potter' turn into 'chat with Hermione Granger?' Because, I swear, this was not part of my 'whatever happens, happens' philosophy...
"Oh, you've already paid," Howard Granger's voice cut through my reverie as he observed me toying with a knut in idle thought. Obviously, the man had intended to pay for me.
Strike one...let's see if you get to triple digits, Grangers...
Swallowing my ice cream, I looked the other man in the eye, "Mister Granger...may I offer some unforgivably rude, unsolicited advice?"
The entire family blinked, though the father's lips twitched. "Well, given why we've asked you here, I don't think it's entirely unsolicited."
I took that as a sign to continue. "If you eat, travel, or otherwise interact with wizards and witches, especially anyone calling themselves a 'Lord' or 'Lady,' allow them the opportunity to pay before you attempt to do so."
As the two parents sat down on either side of their daughter, Elizabeth quirked an eyebrow. "Is this some kind of social cue that we're not familiar with?"
I nodded. "It dates back to...the Medieval period, honestly. During that time, many witches and wizards from the older family lines actually were some form of nobility. Although there aren't any true British noble wizarding families left, there are a few old habits left...more than a few, actually. One of them is the perception that anyone..."
I paused, searching for the right word.
"Not as well off?" Mr. Granger suggested, looking as intrigued as his wife and daughter.
"Indeed. We've been brought up with the idea that there is an obligation for polite members of our society to...take care of anyone 'not as well off' as we are. Think of it as something like a miniature Medieval Feast Day, where the Lord of the castle or lands would provide food for...guests and vassals." I grimaced, not liking how I'd worded that. "We honestly don't mean to act insulting or entitled...we're actually trying to be accommodating in our own way."
"And what if someone...a witch or wizard who subscribes to this custom, doesn't offer?" Howard Granger asked intently.
I frowned, "That could mean a few things...a slight to you and your family in some instances, but they could also be complimenting your social standing by letting you pay." I explained.
"But it's probably a slight," Howard said shrewdly, smiling even though I grimaced and nodded. "I have to say, you're awfully knowledgeable regarding the history of your..society."
"Thank you," I nodded.
"...but, it all seems so backward," Hermione complained, frowning. "I mean, if your family aren't 'real' nobility, then why are there customs and traditions like that? It doesn't make sense."
I nodded, though I didn't bother to hide my scowl at the 'backward' comment. "I suppose, from an outsider's viewpoint, it doesn't. Well, do you want the complicated answer or the blunt answer. Both are technically true."
Hermione stared at me with piercing intelligence, "Both, if you don't mind."
I smiled. "The technical answer is that, even though the last of the true noble titles were striped from magical families with the Statute of Secrecy, families who have heads that call themselves Lords and Ladies still control a large amount of influence in the government, society, and economy. The customs we abide by are a kind of coded language used to identify individuals of rank, power, and prestige amongst ourselves. Additionally, a 'Lord' or 'Lady' is considered, legally speaking, something of a sovereign over the lands they control; I'm vastly simplifying the matter, but there are still certain 'rights and privileges' associated with wizarding...gentry and these traditions are representative of that fact."
Hermione seemed to digest this explanation for a moment, nodding as she did so before looking back to me, "and the 'blunt' answer."
I smirked, though not threateningly, and removed a galleon to drop in the waiter's hand to pay for my 'vassals' food. The muggleborn girl blinked when I didn't answer, then allowed her face to sour as she understood.
"The golden rule," I explained softly, "whoever has the gold, makes the rules."
Hermione looked as if she'd bitten into a lemon. "That's just-just...!"
As their daughter threatened to boil over in outrage, her parents exchanged a look. Elizabeth was the one who spoke, "That's actually a bit of a relief."
Now I blinked in confusion, "Pardon?"
"The woman from Hogwarts," Elizabeth explained, "wasn't very forthcoming about...well, problems in your world, I'm not sure how else to put it, but she seemed to want to paint details in a more rosy light than what we had thought possible for a realistic view of...anywhere."
I nodded slowly, understanding the point now.
"You seem to understand the reason behind that," Howard Granger noted perceptively.
I frowned, schooling my expression and chastising myself for becoming so easy to read. I didn't need to break a good habit, even if I was in company that wouldn't take advantage of it to my detriment. "I suppose," I said warily. "Although I'm curious as to why you would be so suspicious of the magical world."
Hermione scowled at the change of tone which the conversation had taken, "What do you mean? My parents were very nice to Professor Mcgonagall."
I raised an eyebrow at her, "Are you always this naïve or is this a special occasion?"
As her parents frowned, Hermione bristled. "Excuse me!?"
I smiled at the hissed question. "Your parents are worried about you, you foolish girl."
The brunette rocked back, having leaned forward to 'confront' me, then looked first to her father, then mother. "What?"
Both Howard and Elizabeth's faces warmed slightly, her father choosing to answer. "As the young Ms. Malfoy has pointed out, Hermione, we are worried."
"Why?" Hermione squeaked out, surprised. "I'm just going to school. Professor Mcgonagall said Hogwarts is the safest place in Britain and that the headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, is the greatest wizard of the age!"
"And they've never met Albus Dumbledore," I stated. "I can attest that he is a great wizard, but he's also very nearly the undisputed ruler of the British Wizarding World."
The two adults and the child looked at me askance.
"He's the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, Wizarding Britain's highest judiciary body, the unofficial primary adviser to the Minster of Magic, leader of the liberal political faction, Grand Sorcerer of the British Isles, and Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation as well as Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry," I explained.
"He holds all of those offices?" Hermione asked, wonder lacing her voice.
"Yes, one could almost mistake him for a dictator," I stated neutrally, taking another bite of my dish as I paid for my guests' food. Hermione's awe quickly soured as she frowned at me.
"Must you do that? Everything I've heard of the Headmaster paints him as a great man, who are you to insult him like that?" Hermione asked, digging her spoon into her ice cream with anger.
"I don't believe I've insulted anyone," I stated, my hackles rising as her tone turned superior. "I've merely pointed out the fact that one man hoarding political power could be construed as a bad thing. As to who I am, though," I let my eyes flare slightly, enjoying the way the older girl flinched back, "I'm Desdemona Malfoy, someone who has spent a decade's more time in the Wizarding World than you, the daughter of Lucius Malfoy, a leading wizard in the conservative, or opposition movement, and heiress to two lineages which, combined, date back more than fifteen hundred years."
Hermione winced, "Oh."
"I'm not entirely sure that was necessary," Howard said quietly, looking at me with silent reprimand.
I sighed, "Actually, I will have to disagree with you there, sir."
Elizabeth's eyes narrowed, "and why is that?"
"Because my rebuke was fairly mild in comparison to the one you would receive from another witch or wizard of standing in society," I explained.
"What do you mean?" Hermione asked, her tone still wounded and her parents' eyes intent.
Only by long habit was I able to force down a nervous fidget.
Instead, I took my time answering and then looked up to the muggleborn girl in front of me, meeting her eyes. I wasn't addressing her parents. They were, in the grand scheme of things, unimportant. Hermione, by comparison was, should nothing change, one of the pivotal individuals of the next decade.
"Principally," I said slowly, "the wizarding world is made up of only four or five true 'factions,' or classes or castes, or whatever you'd like to call them. You, Ms. Granger, are a Muggleborn. This is an individual characterized by their birth parents not having magic. Do you follow?"
"Professor Mcgonagall said as much," Hermione nodded, a bit of her fire coming back.
"What she did not tell you, likely did not want to tell you either, was that there is another faction known as Purebloods. These individuals have magical ancestors, usually a long and distinct line of such dating back quite a ways. The Black family, my mother's family, dates back to the early fifteenth century as far as I know. The Malfoy family, my father's family, we can trace back to Armand Malfoy, who came over with William the Conqueror in 1066, after that records get a bit difficult to track down."
Hermione's eyes were wide now, and I have to admit I preened a bit under the impressed look.
"Now, Purebloods are generally made of two groups: the first group is those who either do not care about Muggleborns and our society or see them as a positive influence. The latter group is made up of those who see Muggleborn individuals as a mostly negative influence, at best. At worst...well, my father could explain it better, I'm sure, but the words 'danger to our culture and society' would doubtless be thrown about."
"But how can he say that! I'm not dangerous! He's never even met me?" Hermione nearly cried, even as I edged a bit deeper into my seat, thankful that I'd had the foresight to choose a secluded booth.
I noted that the Granger parents' eyes showed a quiet consideration of my words.
"Tell me, Hermione, wasn't it? Tell me," I asked, "Have you ever celebrated Samhain? How about Imbolc? Do you observe the equinoxes? Do you know any traditional Wizarding dances, artwork, songs, or societal traditions? Did you know that proposing to shake a witch's or wizard's hand is considered extremely rude? No, nothing? How about The Tales of Beedle the Bard? It's a classic set of children's stories that any child half our ages would recognize. If I asked you to name the most common childhood accidents in any wizarding home, what would you say?"
My voice was quiet, my tone understanding as I spoke. I took great care not to badger the girl or raise my words. Still, by the time I was done, Hermione looked near tears.
I sighed again, "I won't insult you by saying that that is all there is to the matter, but neither is it an insignificant portion of the argument. Headmaster Dumbledore's political faction draws active support from the muggleborn individuals in our world, who are in turn mostly ignorant of wizarding traditions and form the group of the progressive or reformist politcal faction. This is some part of why Deputy Headmistress Mcgonagoll gave you such a pleasant portrayal of our world."
"So that Hermione would choose to continue living in the magical world after she's done at Hogwarts," Howard realized, his expression shrewd.
I nodded once, "A notion which I am not against. In addition to possible political support, the professor was far more likely thinking of the fact that the Wizarding world relies on...immigration, for lack of a better term, from muggleborns to keep our population afloat at acceptable levels. I would merely rather see individuals who come to live in the wizarding world come to live in the wizarding world, not bring the muggle one with them."
Personally, I approved of the 'cultural separation' of the wizarding and muggle worlds, even if I didn't completely condone the Statute of Secrecy. There were some ideas which were...dangerous in the wrong people's hands. Even an accidental catastrophe was magnified numerous times when a wizard made a mistake, rather than a muggle. Did I really want wizards fooling around with Plutonium?
No, I have enough nightmares, thank you very much.
Ideally, we could all live in peace and harmony and fart butterflies or something...
...but this was reality, and reality didn't often conform to such.
"I think I understand," Hermione stated, a curious and thoughtful look on her face, though her eyes still glistened slightly.
"If it helps, think of the experience you're undergoing as moving to a new country," I offered. "Take the opportunity to broaden your horizons. Take everything, including what I've said, with a grain of salt. Learn everything you can about everything you can, but be polite about the matter. Seek to understand the world around you on it's own merits, not in comparison to the world you've come from and again, above all, be polite."
Hermione turned an raised eyebrow towards me, "How so?"
I smirked, "I believe the most common impression purebloods have of muggleborns is roughly analogous to the concept of 'Ugly Americans,' if you understand my meaning."
From the dawning expression of horror on her face, I believe she did. "Was I...I'm so sorry. Did I really come across like that?"
I shook my head. "Apology accepted and no harm done, this time. Now, do you have any questions?"
Hermione frowned thoughtfully, "Is there anything you could recommend? Like books or...maybe a primer on manners?"
I pursed my lips slightly. "I can't really recommend any reading...most traditions and formal behavior are passed down among families verbally. I suppose if you found someone from an older family you could associate with long-term, they might be able to teach you."
Hermione's interest was obviously piqued, "Is there anyone specific, please?"
"I believe the Longbottom family has a boy in your age group," I commented. "If I remember correctly, his name is Neville. Then...there's Susan Bones...and, hmm...there's another Weasley boy at Hogwarts this year. I'm fairly sure his name is Ronald, but the Weasleys are very firmly in Dumbledore's political camp and don't observe many of the old traditions. I believe there's also a Macmillan and an Abbot this year. We don't move in many of the same social circles, so I'm afraid I'm not exactly sure of their leanings or care to follow the old ways."
Hermione, wonder of wonders, had taken to writing down the advice and names I'd been giving her. "Is there anything else?"
I mulled the question over for a moment, "You might try getting a fountain pen or two. It would be good to practice with the quill, but you'd probably benefit from being able to give your professors cleanly written final drafts of your work. I've heard it's somewhat difficult for muggleborn children to transition to our writing instruments."
Hermione's eyes widened and she nodded enthusiastically.
I hesitated with the next part, though Hermione's sharp eyes found me out, "What is it?"
"I think I need to give you some advice, though I'm not exactly sure how to do so. There are some topics which are not fit for polite discussion, but..." I explained haltingly.
"I should probably know what they are so that I don't make a fool of myself," Hermione realized. "Or...are the subjects...dangerous?"
My silence was enough to answer her.
Her parents' eyes narrowed again, though they seemed to be content with their role as observers for the remainder of the conversation, baring a radical change. Hermione, though, seemed to understand what I was driving at.
"You mean Dark Magic, don't you?" She asked and I cringed at the volume. Thankfully, though, no one seemed to have heard her.
"Yes, and no," I temporized. "I'm warning you against certain things, things which any magical child would consider second-nature. For instance, what would your response be if I asked you for a few drops of blood? It's for an enchantment I'm working on you understand, perfectly harmless."
Hermione's face scrunched in thought, "What kind of enchantment? I've read a bit of the school books already and I don't recall anything-"
I held up a hand. "Wrong answer. Anyone asking for your blood means you find a teacher or an auror, a magical policeman. If someone asks you for something like that, they don't have your best interests at heart and plan to work Evil Magic on you."
Hermione's eyes were wide in alarm, "You mean D-dark magic?" I appreciated the fact that, though she was repeating herself, she whispered the words now.
"No," I intoned gravely,"I mean Evil Magic. Black or Dark Magic is magic which is poorly understood and little-studied. It is also illegal in many cases and any approach to it, academically or practically, should use the greatest of caution because it can be, but is not always, destructive or harmful." I forced my face into an even more grim expression. "Evil Magic is that magic which cannot be used constructively. The greatest examples of this form of magic are the...Unforgivables."
"What, exactly, is 'unforgivable?'" Howard asked quietly.
"Three curses which your daughter will learn about in school," I demurred, though the man's expression was intent. After a bit of wheedling on the man's part, I huffed and explained in a low tone the intricacies of the most infamous spells in the western Wizarding world. "Three pieces of magic which, respectively, can impel a person against their will, cause extreme pain and physical torture, and murder someone by ripping the soul from the body, if you must know. Each of them, for a single use, would earn an individual a lifetime sentence in Azkaban, the Wizarding prison. They are not only terrible for what they do to the individual who is cursed, because they are that, but also because of what they inflict on the caster. These curses, I have read, feed on viciously negative emotions and require them to be able to perform the spell properly. The last spell in particular, damages the user's soul as well, such to the point that murder becomes less and less meaningful or repugnant with each use. That is Evil Magic."
Howard was grim, though Elizabeth and Hermione were silent and white-faced.
"It is also the reason you will not hear anyone say the name of the last dark lord," I whispered, now deeply nervous of the subject matter, but also knowing that it needed to be said. It didn't help that Voldemort was one of the truly, pardon the pun, taboo subjects in the Malfoy home. "He was, very much, a worker of Evil Magic, which is why you will only hear people refer to him as 'You-Know-Who' or 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.'"
"Professor Mcgonagall told us about the last 'war' your people had," Elizabeth noted quietly. "Though she said it was long-over and that people didn't mention the dark wizard's name out of fear."
I grimaced, "That is true...to an extent. For individuals of great bravery and power, it appears that common wizards and witches flinch at his name merely because of fear...but, he killed so many friends, loved ones, destroyed so much...on both sides of the war, that referring to him by name is a slap in the face of anyone who lost someone. It's saying that you don't care about the fact that the Wizarding world suffered a terrible tragedy."
"Oh..." Hermione said, nodding thoughtfully, "Though...I can't really call him anything else, can I? If I don't know his name. I saw that that book, Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts, doesn't even mention it."
I scowled at the invitation and took a moment to stand and motion for a waiter to clean our table. As he was doing so, I discretely scanned the room for watchers and listeners, taking care to look at the various empty corners out of the corner of my eye. It was one of the lesser-known and mundane tactics to detect disillusionment.
"I believe I need to be going," I said pointedly, "If you'd like to learn how to greet and say farewell to other witches and wizards, I have a moment to teach you."
Hermione jumped at the offer and I gave a quick summary of the proscribed method of determining how, when, and to what degree to bow, where to place your gaze, and what to expect from other wizards. As I leaned closer to point out a minutia, I placed my mouth close to her ear and whispered.
"Don't repeat what I'm about to say. Don't tell your parents where other wizards can hear. His name was Lord Voldemort," I stated quietly, then leaned back and bowed a final time to her.
Hermione nodded once, showing she understood.
"My original point, which I think we've strayed quite far from, was that, if someone makes a request of you, which you don't feel comfortable with, don't do it unless you trust them implicitly," I advised. "There are enchanted items which can do terrible things, but also wonderful. Magic can be awe-inspiring, or merely awful. My advice is just that you should think about what you do before you do it; choose who you want to be by informing yourself about our world before you decide who you are in ignorance."
"I can, at least, get behind that argument," Elizabeth smiled, taking her turn to bow awkwardly.
Howard Granger eyed me curiously, then bowed tightly, "Good day, Ms. Malfoy...I think we bit off quite a bit more than we could chew in asking you for advice, though I won't deny it was quite...illuminating. Will Hermione be seeing much of you at school?"
I half-smiled coolly, "Next year, Mr. Granger...although, as I said, your daughter will be in the same year-group with my older brother, Draco."
I paused, then turned back to Hermione. "Be careful of him, he's more than a bit of a ponce."
Hermione's gobsmacked expression had me very nearly laughing as I strolled out the door...
...and straight into my Godfather.
I swallowed deeply, and schooled my expression.
How much did he hear? Was he listening in? Oh shiteshiteshiteshite...
"Desdemona, how fortuitous to see you here, I was just passing through the alley on my way to see your father. Would you mind accompanying me back to your house? I'm sure dinner is very nearly on the table," Snape stated, his gaze cold and calculating.
...I'll lay good odds he heard at least part of that...though he doesn't seem to want to make an issue of it. A public setting never particularly bothered the man in dispensing discipline before...
"Of course, Godfather," I nodded, as he laid a hand on my shoulder and we moved towards the Cauldron. Eventually, I came to doubt whether or not the man had actually heard anything, due to the fact that he remained utterly silent on the matter, instead opting to discuss the last set of bloodline research I'd sent him through the vanishing cabinets, from behind an anti-spying charm or two, of course. I suppose that, given the topic change, it was confirmation enough that he had heard the better part of my discussion...and would keep silent on the matter.
It was likely as close to a stamp of approval as I'd ever receive on the matter.
Though the ponderous and meaningful glances he cast my way for the rest of the evening were just as close to a hissed word of caution as he would ever come.
Ultimately, we never truly exchanged words on the subject, but I think we each knew where the other stood on matters of blood purity and the like. After all, you can draw just as many conclusions from what people don't say as what they do.
Geez this chapter was long. Ugh, anyway, things keep rolling. Anyone surprised by the decision not to influence Harry Potter to become a super-badass? Anyone? Oh well, I think this chapter brought up a few interesting dynamics between Desdemona and Hermione, who will be the two great 'voices' of their respective positions in society. Hermione has made a canon-hobby of looking out for those who are under-represented. Desdemona is trying to put a 'nice' face on pureblood society and explain why things are the way they are. I very much look forward to the "House Elf Argument" in a few years. Heh.
Now, for those of you who don't agree with Desdemona's position, I encourage you to leave a review and EXPLAIN WHY. This is not an opportunity to work up a righteous condemnation against pureblood wizarding society. This is an opportunity to explain your position on any topic Desdemona broaches and your disagreement with that stance. Provided your argument is logical and reasonable, it may be included (in spirit if not word-for-word text) in the fic itself as Hermione, or someone else's rebuttal to pureblood ideology.
As always, Read & Review Plz...