Chapter 7 : Catalyst
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I’m about to announce something to the Daily Prophet. There may be a fallout from it at school. If you have any concerns don’t hesitate to come home, even if it means skipping classes.
“What the hell can this mean?” I demand of Scorpius, shoving the note in his face.
“It means,” Scorpius explains calmly, “She’s going to suggest a controversial piece of legislation, and there’ll be people in the school who don’t agree with it.”
“But she told me to skip class,” I point out, extremely concerned. “This is my mother, telling me to skip class. What the hell is going on?” I can hear my voice rising in panic.
“She didn’t tell you to skip class. She told you to go see her if you have any concerns, even if it means skipping class. You know your mum, she worries too much about everything.”
“She also forced me to go to school when I had appendicitis,” I point out dryly. “I was eight, and the Muggle teacher sent me straight to the hospital.”
“Maybe she’s calmed down a bit since then?” Scorpius suggests.
“Okay, if your mum told you something was going to go down, and to take classes off to see her if you had any concerns, what would you think?”
“That she’s gone off her rocker, but she’s a Charms professor, not Minister of Magic. Your toast is going cold.”
I pick up said piece of toast, take one bite of it and drop it back on the plate. “Not hungry.”
“Bullshit,” Scorpius declares. “It can’t be that bad. What does she think will happen, we’ll all go after you with torches and pitchforks because you’re the minister’s daughter?”
“They’d be more likely to go after Hugo, he wouldn’t fight back.”
“Exactly. Now eat your breakfast, quit worrying about your mum, and worry about the Potions essay we were meant to have written last night.”
“It’s half done.”
“So you’re only half dead, then. Isn’t that nice?” Scorpius pulls out a piece of parchment with the words “Properties of Veritaserum” written on the top. “Here’s my essay.”
“Hand it in, I dare you.”
“You know what will happen if I do?” he asks, pulling out a quill and bending over the parchment. “Rochester will go to Mum, Mum will restrict the hours we can practice on the pitch for, and Mum will go after me threatening to make my life a living hell in the holidays, OR threaten to expose various secrets of my personal life to second-year Charms.”
“Your mum is awesome.”
“My mum is batty,” Scorpius counters. “When do we have Potions? Second, right?”
“Yeah, and History of Magic first, so you can write it then.”
“An excellent plan. When does the Prophet come out?”
“Lunchtime, they changed the issue time because all the major announcements from the Ministry are made in the morning.”
“Understandable. Don’t go crazy before then, all right?”
“That was stupid advice.”
“I know it was, but I had to say something. Supportive is in the job description of boyfriend, last I checked.”
“I’d be interested to see that job description at some point, see how long ago I should have fired you.” I push my chair back and walk around the table to return to the dungeons.
“Love you too!” Scorpius yells after me.
Several hours later I’m in the Great Hall to collect lunch and Daily Prophet when a hundred owls come flying into the hall carrying papers for the few students who care about the world around them and not just their grades, their friends and their hormones.
An owl flies towards me, recognising me as a subscriber, and I pull the paper off its leg and send it on its way, unravelling the paper and scanning the front page.
“Holy shit!” I yelp, scrunching up the paper and sprinting out into the quadrangle where Scorpius, Jeremy and Alyssa are sitting.
“Where’s lunch?” Jeremy asks immediately.
“Who gives a shit about lunch?” I cry, throwing the paper onto the grass. “Look at this and tell me you’re worried about lunch!”
“Statute…Of…Secrecy…Set…To…Go,” Alyssa reads aloud. “You can’t be serious!”
“My mother is!” I wail, dropping to my knees and forcing myself to read the article.
Statute of Secrecy Set To Go
In a shocking move, Minister of Magic Hermione Weasley announced plans this morning to remove Britain from the International Statute of Secrecy agreement. The move would see policies of secrecy lifted across the country and the integration of various areas of wizarding and Muggle life.
“It’s high time we did away with the Statute,” Weasley said in a statement to the Prophet this morning. “Since its inception in 1692, it has led to escalating views of blood purism by wizards. In alienating ourselves from the Muggle world, we encourage elitism, ignorace, intolerance and hatred, views that threaten to destroy us. Let none of us forget that Lord Voldemort and his followers’ principal purpose was to terrorise and hunt down Muggles and Muggleborn wizards. We can only move on from this so much with the Statute of Secrecy still in place.”
Weasley intends to begin integration as early as next year, saying, “We will, of course, enlist the help of the Muggle Government. The Minister of Magic has always made himself or herself known to the Muggle Prime Minister, and I have talked to him on a number of occasions. We will no longer have to regulate the playing of Quidditch, the transportation and keeping of magical creatures, or the use of magic in front of Muggles. We will coexist with them, in their cities, in their schools, in their universities and workplaces, and build a culture of integration, tolerance and friendship. It will no longer be a case of us and them, but us.”
“She’s serious,” I manage in a hollow voice. “She’s dead serious.”
“Wow,” Scorpius articulates.
“This,” Alyssa says, picking up the paper, “Is not going to be popular. Jeremy and Scorpius, you’re now Rose’s bodyguards.”
“I really don’t think that’s necessary, Alyssa,” Jeremy says wryly. “If anyone’s going to go after anyone, they’ll go after Hugo.”
“That’s what I told Scorpius this morning,” I agree.
I take a look around the quadrangle; a few people are coming back from the Great Hall with their papers, running towards their friends and yelling. I can’t see a single person holding a paper who seems calm, and a sense of foreboding settles over me. Oh Mum, what have you done?
“What the hell is this shit?” a Hufflepuff yells at me as he runs past, waving the Prophet.
After a long silence, Scorpius clears his throat. “So, ah, what are our thoughts on this?”
“I need time to think,” I say flatly.
“I think we all do,” Jeremy agrees, “Though I’m leaning towards a negative reaction, myself.”
“Likewise,” Alyssa says, nodding. “No offence to your mum, Rose, but this…”
“She’d be lucky if she survives the night,” Jeremy finishes.
“Jeremy!” Scorpius says angrily, and I look at him in surprise. He hardly ever raises his voice in anger, and certainly not to Jeremy.
“It was a joke, man,” Jeremy says hastily.
“It’s not funny,” Scorpius says, his voice shaking. “Because there are wizards out there who would do that, Jem, wizards out there who would do anything in their power to stop this from happening…I know, my grandfather’s friends with them. My grandfather would agree with them for all I know.”
“Scorpius, stop it,” I say quietly. “I don’t want to talk about this, I don’t even want to think about this.” Terrifying images of wizards in masks breaking into my house flood my mind, and I fight the urge to break down or run away.
“I’m sorry,” Scorpius mutters. “I didn’t stop to realise you’d hear that.”
No I’m sure your mum will be fine, I’m being paranoid I’m sure. Just you weren’t meant to hear that. The fact that Scorpius, always so calm, analytical and sensible, confirmed my fears makes me feel sick to my stomach. I know I’m prone to overreacting, but for Scorpius to agree…
“Come with me,” Scorpius says suddenly, seeing my face and pulling me to my feet. “Let’s go for a walk.”
We walk in silence down to the Great Lake, holding hands and waiting for the other to speak.
“Are you scared, Rose?” he asks finally.
“For Mum, yeah,” I say at length. “You’re right…there are wizards who would stop at nothing…The best thing to happen would be if she gets kicked out of office now, at least she won’t have any deadly enemies…”
“She won’t be kicked out,” Scorpius says simply. “She can’t be. Maybe if there’s no support behind it, it won’t get off the ground. It’ll be time to worry if there’s a group of supporters big enough to make it happen. Then she’ll have enemies. Rose, no matter what I said to Jeremy, we’ve come a long way since the days of Voldemort. There’ll be opposition, but the Death Eaters…they’re in Azkaban or they’re dead. They’re the only ones likely to go to extremes. I’m not trying to offer you meaningless words of comfort. The shit might not hit the fan at all, but if the shit hits the fan, I’m here and I always will be.”
I turn to him, burying my face in his robes. “Thank you,” I mumble into his chest.
“I haven’t done anything yet,” he points out, wrapping his arms around me.
“You’re here. That’s all I need.”
Lorcan and I meet Damascus, Natalia and Emily in the Room of Requirement that evening. Damascus, to my slight surprise, immediately steps forward and extends his hand towards Lorcan. “I’m Damascus,” he says.
“Lorcan,” he returns, shaking Damascus’s hand.
“I take it we all saw the Prophet today,” Natalia begins.
“Yes,” Lorcan says coolly.
“What are we thinking?”
Emily’s watching Lorcan again. I get the feeling he’s almost being tested.
“It’s unthinkable,” Lorcan says flatly. “There’s a reason that Statute was established in the first place. Just because a few hundred years have passed doesn’t mean we’re going to be any more accepted now than we were then.”
“If Hermione wants to be burnt at the stake by a bunch of angry Muggles that’s her problem,” I add. “But to condemn us all?”
“I’m glad we’re on the same page,” Natalia says. “The wizarding world has gone from strength to strength since the Statute was put in place.”
“It has,” Damascus agrees. “That, and how, exactly, are we going to integrate? Our worlds are entirely different. There’s no middle ground. It’s always going to be an us and them. Hermione Weasley’s asking us to throw away our culture, our heritage, our lives by throwing away the Statute, and I won’t stand for it.”
“Well said,” Lorcan agrees, and Damascus smiles at him.
“Now, what we’re here for,” Natalia begins. “Does anyone have any ideas on what we want to work on?”
“Start off with some extra power in the standard spells, perhaps,” Damascus suggests. “We can get into the heavier stuff later, but stuff like stupefy can be much more effective if we can cast them strong enough. I heard of a wizard who could knock people out for days with his stunners.”
“Good idea,” Natalia agrees. “The standard ways of casting spells more powerfully are, of course, related to intent, concentration and natural ability. For example someone like myself or Lily would naturally cast a stronger Stunning spell than someone like Emily.”
“Granted,” Emily says softly.
“We won’t actually stun anyone as yet,” Natalia continues. “We’ll just practice casting the spells at the walls for now. You should be able to sense the extra power in your spellwork. Eventually, we’ll choose a guinea pig, and we’ll get some pillows.”
We spend the next half an hour practicing our stunning spells on the walls, and slowly I can feel myself improving; my aim is better, but more importantly I can feel the power running through me, almost buzzing; a strength beyond what I’ve felt before. It’s almost intoxicating.
By the time we decide to start practicing the spells on the others, the Room of Requirement has supplied us with a large pile of cushions.
“That almost looks fun to fall into,” Damascus observes. “You can Stun me first.”
“With pleasure,” Natalia replies, and in seconds she’s whipped around and fired the curse towards Damascus, who’s thrown off his feet and flies several metres across the room to land on the pile.
“Rennervate!” Emily calls, and Damascus flounders to the top of the cushion pile, glancing at his feet and across the room to where he was, an expression of respect forming on his face.
“Nice work,” he tells Natalia. “You sent me flying.”
“I think we should extend the crash zone a bit,” Natalia says. “That wasn’t my best work, and you nearly went off the edge.”
“Good thinking,” Damascus agrees, shifting the pillows around.
“Lily’s turn,” Natalia says, waving me forward.
I summon all my power, concentrating hard on sending Damascus flying across the room.
Like a detonator, the word goes off in my head and the spell explodes from my wand, striking Damascus hard and flinging him high into the air. We watch in awe as he comes to a rest at the very edge of the extended crash zone.
“We were right about you, that’s for sure,” Natalia observes.
I’m buzzing for the rest of the evening, long after Lorcan and I have left the Room of Requirement and slowly started making our way back to our respective towers.
“It’s brilliant, isn’t it?” Lorcan asks quietly. “Having that much power, and being able to use it. I never knew I could cast a stunner with that much force. Those three are intense.”
“They are,” I agree. “It’s rewarding, do you feel that? Like you’re just drunk on your own power. I’ve never noticed it before, but now that I have…well, it’s like flicking on a light switch, isn’t it? The magic we learn at school barely scratches the surface of what we’re capable of.”
“That’s exactly it,” Lorcan says enthusiastically. “Breaking down the barriers of what’s expected.”
“You’ve never had a problem with that,” I comment, though my words come out more bitter than I intended them to be.
“I have,” Lorcan counters. “I just choose to rise above it. I don’t have to go out of my way to be different. I just am. Mum, Dad, Lysander…they’ve all got their heads in the clouds. I don’t want to be like that. I want to have a purpose-driven life…to strive for something and achieve it, to know who I am, what I’m doing and everything that’s happening around me. That’s just me. I didn’t just wake up one morning and pull my head out of the clouds.”
“But that’s just it,” I say. “I don’t know who I am. I’ve been living out of other people’s expectations of me for sixteen years.”
“You do know who you are,” Lorcan says. “Either that, or I know better than you know yourself. Maybe that is the case. But the real you, Lily—the real you is what I see in DA and what I saw this evening. The real Lily is a powerful and capable witch. The real Lily commands respect.”
“What do you think?” Lorcan asks, turning to me. “You don’t really need me to confirm that, do you? You already know. You know because ever since DA started and you began duelling with a higher calibre of wizard, it’s like a fire’s been lit inside you.”
“You do know me better than I know myself,” I say finally. Every word that Lorcan’s just said resonates within me. He’s right. He knows the real me. So do Natalia, Damascus and Emily. My parents, brothers, cousins, friends—they don’t.
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