Chapter 8 : Division
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I agree with the idea.
I know it’s absolutely crazy, but I agree. The longer we keep the Statute in place, the longer the wizarding world has to become intolerant and elitist. It took only three hundred years before Voldemort took over, and if it continues, it will only get worse.
“What are your thoughts?” I ask Scorpius hesitantly, walking along the edge of the Great Lake as the sun sinks behind the hills to the west.
“On the Statute?” he asks, eyes fixated on a clump of weeds at the edge of the water.
“No, on purple Pygmy Puffs.”
“I think…” he begins cautiously, and immediately my stomach drops; he’s going to be on the opposite side of this, and the prospect of disagreeing with him on something so major holds no appeal. Sure, we fight, we argue, he’s had pumpkin juice poured over his head in the Great Hall and my nerdytendencies have been insulted, but to disagree over something so fundamentally important? What will that do to us?
“I think your mum has a point,” he says in one breath. “I think she’s right, I think if we don’t lift the Statute pureblood families like mine will just get worse.”
“You agree?” I blurt in surprise before I can stop myself.
“I’m a Malfoy, Rose,” he points out curtly. “There are people who still look at me like dirt on the bottom of their shoe because of what my father and grandfather did in the Second Wizarding War. There are still Malfoys who look at me like I’m dirt on the bottom of their shoe because I don’t subscribe to their beliefs. I know what blood purism can do, and I’m fucking sick of the legacy.”
I don’t know what to say to that, but Scorpius doesn’t seem to expect an answer. He stops, picking up a stone from the shore and skimming it across the lake’s surface. He does that when he’s thinking. Some people drum their fingers on tables, some people run their fingers through their hair, some people just stare into space. Scorpius throws things.
“What about you?” he asks finally, talking to the lake.
“I agree with Mum,” I say, coming alongside him. “She’s right about the elitism. And you’re right about the elitism. Much as I hate to be seen as the Minister’s-daughter-of-course-she’s-going-to-agree, I think…it’s time for change.”
“Jem and ‘Lyssa probably won’t agree,” he says, addressing the hills on the far side of the lake. “They’re against it, I can tell already. And that could be an issue.”
“They’re our best friends, Scorp,” I say quietly. “Do you really think any idea of my mother’s could change that?”
“Your mother’s the most powerful and influential witch in Britain! This is huge, Rose, and you know it. I’m not stupid enough to believe you don’t realise that.”
“I realise it, I just don’t want to believe our friends will stop being our friends over this.”
“Wars have been started over far less.”
I glance sharply at him. “You think we should be worried about war?”
“I’m not going to say anything about war. But what I will say is this: You heard the Sorting Hat this year. ‘Troubled times are on their way. In times of darkness’ et cetera. Can you foresee a better catalyst for times of trouble than the restructuring of the entire wizarding world and everything we know?”
“No, not when you put it that way.”
Approximately three weeks later the official anti-my-mum’s-idea organisation is established and takes root within Hogwarts.
“DOWIAH,” Riordan explains, pinning a red badge with the word stamped across the front to his robes.
“And what’s that in English?” I inquire.
“It’s an anagram. D-O-W-I-A-H. Stands for Defenders of Wizarding Integrity and Heritage.”
Riordan raises one eyebrow. “You have a problem with the name, or the cause? Because the cause is absolutely worthy, and the name reflects the cause.”
“You’d be better off naming it Impenders of Progress.”
“And I’d be proud to, if destroying the wizarding world is your mother’s idea of progress!”
“Destroying?” I challenge. “Tell me, then, how is lifting the Statute destroying the wizarding world? Who’s dying? And how, dare I ask, are we going to avoid another Lord Voldemort if we keep promoting the idea that wizards are separate, superior and all-powerful by refusing to allow integration? Explain that to me, Riordan Carter.”
“How do you expect this to benefit us?” Riordan shoots back. “We go back to being persecuted and hounded. Muggles left, right and centre asking us to help them. Religious groups wanting to kill us. Does the word jihad mean anything to you?”
“Times have changed!”
“And they’ve changed from Voldemort’s time as well! Muggles are accepted amongst wizards, Muggleborns are respected, there are systems in place to prevent anti-Muggle hatred from taking root. We do not need to integrate our lives with them!”
“If Muggles are so accepted amongst wizards, why are so many of you parading around wearing badges to protest against interacting with them on a daily basis?”
“That’s not what we’re protesting against…”
“Yes it is, and you know it, no matter how you try to sugarcoat the issue. I’m going to History of Magic.”
“Yes, Weasley?” the ghost asks in a monotone, lazily gliding over the top of his desk.
“What are your thoughts on the lifting of the Statute of Secrecy?”
“The Statute of Secrecy!” Binns proclaims, and something almost resembling life seems to flood into his translucent face. “The Statute! I was there when it was signed! A marvellous, marvellous document, saved more lives than could be counted. Some say the Statute oppressed us, forced us into hiding, but no. No, I was there, when it was signed and in the days before. We were already in hiding, students, in hiding from the Muggles that endlessly hunted us, particularly the women—we lived in secret, in fear, yes indeed. But the Statute freed us, it did not entrap us or ensnare us! You of course all know the Statute lead to the creation of the Ministry of Magic, and from there our entire world sprang forth! Diagon Alley took off, the entrance to Gringott’s was made visible, the finest of witches and wizards were sourced and trained by the Ministries to cast anti-Muggle charms on whole villages such as Hogsmeade—we were no longer persecuted or made to live in fear. Students, the Statute of Secrecy is why you’re sitting here right now, why wizards did not die out in Britain hundreds of years ago.”
“The ghost has spoken!” someone calls, and I turn around to see Antigone Islington of Ravenclaw grinning with a DOWIAH badge pinned to her robes.
“Professor Binns!” I call, not wanting to let Antigone win. “What about today, does the Statute have any significance?”
“Of course it does!” Binns near thunders. “Didn’t I just tell you it’s saved your life and that of your ancestors?”
“Yes,” I say patiently, “But you haven’t left Hogwarts in four hundred years, Professor. The world outside has changed a lot.”
“Hmph!” Binns says. “Next you’ll be telling me they don’t burn or stone witches here anymore!”
“Well…you see…they don’t,” I explain. “There are laws in place. Nobody hunts witches anymore.”
“You’re the Minister’s kid, aren’t you?” Binns asks. “I may be old and I may never leave this castle but I still know a thing or two! Don’t you try to fool me!”
“She’s not lying,” Scorpius calls.
“No respect for your elders!” Binns bellows. “It kills me to know you’re just going to get worse and worse and here I am stuck for eternity teaching you disrespectful little waifs! Ten points from Slytherin!”
“Disrespectful?” Scorpius asks. “Professor Binns, it’s you being disrespectful, not to mention closed-minded and ignorant.”
“Twenty points from Slytherin!” Binns thunders, his features contorting in anger. “Four. Hundred. Years, and I have never had such rude, deceitful students! The Statute of Secrecy is our saving grace, and that Minister Weasley is out to destroy us!”
“If that’s what you think,” I say, getting to my feet, “Then let me give you another first in your four-hundred-year teaching career.” I walk out of the classroom, pausing briefly to call back, “And History of Magic is a load of bullshit anyway!”
Scorpius joins me seconds later, firmly closing the door on a blustering Binns and a classroom full of seventh-years struggling to comprehend seeing their Head Girl walk out of a lesson and swear at a teacher.
“You okay?” he asks.
“They’re. So. Stupid,” I manage, though my voice is shaking with anger. “It’s propaganda he’s teaching, outright propaganda, he hasn’t set a metaphorical fucking foot outside this castle in four hundred years, how dare he think he’s qualified to teach anything, to pass comment on anything that’s taken place outside these walls?”
“It’s one extreme or the other,” Scorpius says simply, leading me towards the library. “Because if the school tries to regulate what he teaches, sooner or later someone’s going to cry censorship. And that really is the last thing the Ministry needs, any accusation of propaganda, or the wizarding community will be on them like a ton of bricks.”
“Then just get the hell rid of him!” I cry. “He’s four hundred bloody years old, surely he’s due for retirement? Maybe some new blood? Maybe somebody with blood? Or some body, for that matter?”
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Scorpius concedes. “Hogwarts is stuck with him, just like we’re stuck with Moaning Myrtle and the Baron and Peeves and all those other banes of our existence.”
“You missed a few,” I point out.
“Oh, some of them are all right. Nearly Headless Nick, he’s friendly enough. The Fat Friar, likewise for him. The Grey Lady minds her own business. The others, though? The Baron’s been a poster boy for clincial depression for a thousand years, and for some horrible reason we’re landed with him as our house ghost.”
“We’re also landed with Salazar Slytherin as our Founder, and he was the Dark Ages’ answer to Adolf Hitler,” I point out wryly.
“Morning,” Jeremy greets us as we enter the library.
I give him a quizzical look.
“Correspondence,” he explains, holding up a booklet of Muggle paper printed with various symbols and lines.
I’m fairly sure Jeremy Nott is the only Hogwarts student in history to successfully request a Muggle correspondence course in Calculus.
“So what are you doing in here?” he continues. “Shouldn’t you be in class? Skipping’s not a good look for the Head Girl.”
“Better than swearing at Binns and walking out of the classroom,” Scorpius says, “Which is what she did.”
“He was spreading propaganda about the Statute of Secrecy,” I explain. “And my mum. Jem—” I say, cutting myself off abruptly at the flash of red on his robes.
Jeremy fiddles with the DOWIAH badge. “I figured you’d know where my loyalties lie,” he says, staring at his shoes. “I’m sorry, Rose, but I don’t agree with lifting the Statute.”
“You’re holding a booklet for fucking Calculus by correspondence!”
Jeremy tosses said booklet onto a table behind him. “A few Calculus booklets are a far cry from lifting the Statute of Secrecy, Rose.”
“You’re a hypocrite,” I tell him angrily, turning on my heel and marching back out of the library, regret crashing in around me before my words have stopped echoing.
I’m not keen on proclaiming myself a member of DOWIAH yet, and remain neutral for weeks as Lorcan and I continue our duelling sessions with the Slytherins. They’ve slowly morphed into something less of a duelling session and more of a joint lesson in more powerful magic, and I’m enjoying it more and more each week as my skills improve and I learn more ways of using my power.
“Got something interesting lined up here,” Natalia says when we meet in the Room of Requirement again. “The Imperius.”
I feel my eyes widen in shock. The Imperius? An Unforgivable Curse?
“Calm down, my young one,” Natalia says, laughing at the expression on my face. “You’re a sixth year, a Gryffie, a Prefect and a Potter, so we’ll forgive you for looking so horrified at the thought of an Unforgivable. The Imperius shouldn’t even be an Unforgivable, but we won’t get into that. The fact is, Lily, what is darkness? Darkness is the absence of light. And what is light when it comes to magic? There is none. Even the little hexes you learn in first year can cause damage or harm to someone. Dark magic is misnamed; there is no light and there is no dark, and those who think there is are afraid of their own power.”
“Couldn’t have put it better myself,” Damascus says cheerfully. “Relax, Lily, we’re not about to go out and take over the Ministry of Magic with this stuff.”
I glance at Lorcan, but his eyes are alight at the prospect of learning the Imperius, and I have to admit I’m curious as well. To control someone else’s mind…It’s hard to believe that’s even possible, and I feel the urge to rise to the challenge.
“We can kill two birds with one stone here,” Natalia says. “Some of us will practice casting, the others practice blocking, which is of course an intensely difficult mental task in itself. Emily, I proclaim you teacher, because you’re good with the mind stuff.”
“You have to make a connection with the other person,” Emily begins, stepping forward and twisting her wand in her fingers. “Eye contact. Always use eye contact. Visualise the person doing what you want themn to do the entire time the curse is in place. When you’re casting, visualise them being under your control. And be purposeful. If you’re reluctant to take over their mind, it won’t happen. Lorcan, if you wouldn’t mind.” Emily gestures for him to step forward. “I’m just going to get you to walk around a bit. Imperio.”
I watch nervously as Lorcan walks in large circles around Emily, with glazed eyes and a relaxed, docile expression that reminds me of a mindlessly loyal puppy, and a shiver runs down my spine at the thought of being controlled like that.
“Teach me how to block it,” I say urgently, causing Emily and Natalia to turn to me in surprise. “I don’t want that to happen to me. Teach me how to block it.”
“It’s about willpower, once again,” Emily says, and I notice the almost ethereal tone is gone from her voice as she explains. “You have to focus, all the time, on what you want to do. The moment you listen to the internal voice of the caster, you’re gone. You have to know what you want to do, picture it in your head, never for a moment entertain the thought of obeying the voice, because that’s how they gain power of you and you can’t regain it.”
“Right,” I say determinedly.
“Shall I cast it on you?” Emily asks.
“As long as you promise not to do anything horrible to me.”
“It’s your job to make sure I don’t,” Emily says, before grinning at the nervous look I send her way. “Relax, I won’t make you do anything more than Lorcan. Imperio.”
I stiffen in nervousness. Don’t listen, don’t listen, don’t listen, I chant in my head over and over again. Think, what do you want to do? Even now I can feel my thoughts slowing down, as if my mind is thick with mud and they have to labour to get anywhere. Nobody said anything about this.
Step back, I tell myself, the moment I hear Emily’s voice in my head telling me to step forward.
No, but the idea of resisting seems to take so much effort, and obeying Emily’s command is so much easier…My mind is tired, it’s so tempting to just let go…
“Fight it, Lily,” Lorcan’s words break into the fog of my mind, and with renewed determination I force myself to step backwards.
Forward, Emily’s voice resonates in my mind, and suddenly the fog is thicker; my own thoughts and decisions are barely shadows in the distance, but still I fight it. Another step back. And another. Turn around. I’m fighting it, but how do I break it?
All of a sudden the fog seems to clear and I spin around to face Emily, my senses coming back to me in a rush.
“Not bad,” she observes. “I took it off for you, you may have noticed, but you managed to fight it.”
“How do I throw it off properly?” I ask. “I don’t want to have my senses impaired for the entire time someone’s trying to control me.”
“You may have to deal with that,” Emily says matter-of-factly. “It depends on the strength of the curse whether you’ll be able to throw it off at all or just keep fighting it. Most Imperius curses cast aren’t that strong, and continued resistance will eventually wear it down until you can throw it off. A weak curse will wear off without any resistance over time, but a strong curse…A strongly cast Imperius requires Occlumency to throw off or even resist, and that’s a whole new skill.”
“What was the strength of yours?” I ask.
“Average to start you off. I can cast much stronger than that.”
“I don’t doubt it,” I murmur.
Lorcan and I walk in silence back from the Room of Requirement. We’ve taken to walking in an almost full circle of the castle after our sessions in the RoR, though usually we’re full of excited chatter. I can’t help but feel the idea of the Imperius Curse has unsettled Lorcan, and I refrain from asking for fear of a massive disagreement with him.
Wait a minute. Does that mean I’m condoning the use of the Imperius Curse? Does that mean I’m not, in any way, shape or form, unsettled by it?
“Lorcan,” I say uneasily, breaking the silence.
“Is it worrying that I don’t have a problem with what we did back there? Is it worrying that I find it interesting, intriguing even, more so than anything else we’ve done so far?”
“Don’t ask me questions like that,” he replies abruptly, and I look at him in surprise. “I want to be powerful, I want to learn this magic, and I don’t want to question myself about whether this is right or wrong. If we were being asked to kill people, that would be a different story. But as it is, it’s harmless and I honestly do not give a shit whether it’s Unforgivable or not.”
“I’m glad we agree.”
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