Chapter 40 : The Debate
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By the time the Hogwarts Express pulled into Platform 9¾ everybody was excited to be going home for the summer. The doors opened and the students piled off the train, searching for their families while their trunks and familiars were being unloaded from the baggage compartment.
Severus and Lily got off the train followed by Alice, Emily, Jane, Reg, Remus, and Pete. Frank and Caddaric brought up the rear still talking about the final Quidditch match.
Severus grabbed a couple of trolleys for him and Lily and helped Lily load her trunk and Guinevere on it. He lifted his trunk onto his trolley and placed Grey's carrier on top. They said goodbye to the rest of their friends although Sev would see them again in a few weeks.
Severus and Lily wheeled their trolleys down the walkway trying to find Vesper, Marius, and the Magnusson's in the crowd at Platform 9¾. It wasn't hard to spot them as Black Leif stood out like a sturdy oak tree.
"Grandpa, Grandma!" Severus yelled, waving at them and pushing his trolley faster. Lily was right behind him and had to be careful not to run into him when he suddenly stopped. Severus ran over to his grandparents and gave them both a big hug and was in turn enveloped by hugs from them.
Lily was also given big hugs by Marius and Vesper. "Shall we go?" Vesper asked. "Paul, Cinthy, and Petunia are waiting on the other side."
At a nod from the barrier guard, they all went through the barrier. Paul and Cinthy gave Lily a big hug and Cinthy pulled Severus into a hug too. Petunia smiled brightly as Lily gave her a huge hug.
As usual, Marius suggested they stop at the Leaky Cauldron for dinner before they went home. As they were settled at a table in Tom's private dining room, Marius said to the Evans, "You'll be happy to hear that starting in September the parents of Muggleborn students will be able to pass through the barrier to see their children off on the Hogwarts Express and be there when the train arrives from Hogwarts."
"That's wonderful!" Paul exclaimed. "How did this happen?"
"Several of the Hogwarts Governors talked with Minister Bagnold, asking her to change the rules. Since you've all signed the Degree of Secrecy, there wasn't a logical reason to continue not allowing Muggle parents to see their children off."
"Mum, Dad, Tuney, this is so neat!" Lily said. "Now you can see Platform 9¾ and the Hogwarts Express, and meet all mine and Sev's friends."
"We'll be looking forward to it, Lily," Cinthy assured her.
"We'll bring Severus over Sunday evening because we know you plan to leave for the seashore early Monday morning," Vesper said as they were leaving.
"We'll look for you then," Paul replied.
Severus, his grandparents and the Magnussons stepped out of the fireplace at Mirrorvale. Vesper cast a Featherlight charm on Severus' trunk so he could take it upstairs and unpack.
Severus got it upstairs and after letting Grey out of his carrier, unpacked quickly, hanging up his robes and arranging his shoes neatly in his wardrobe. He left the clothes that needed washing out for Misty. He went back downstairs, taking his report with his final scores with him as he knew his grandparents would want to see it first thing.
"Excellent, Severus," Marius said as he and Vesper looked at his report. "You've managed to keep an Exceeds in Transfiguration and Charms."
"And you've kept your Outstandings in Potions, Herbology, and Defense," Vesper added. "We're very proud of you, Sev."
Since he was going to be gone two weeks with the Evans he spent the next day brewing with Vesper, playing with Grey, working on his summer homework, and playing chess with Marius. "You've improved your chess game quite a bit," he remarked after a long game in which Marius had finally won.
"Dorian and I play a lot," Severus replied. "His dad taught him and he's really good."
"Yes, chess is excellent for teaching focus and strategy."
Severus and his grandfather spent some time outside walking the grounds and talking. "Are you and grandma going to watch the debate?"
Marius chuckled. "Yes. I don't want to miss a chance to see Potter make a complete fool out of himself."
"We decided to ask Sirius to join our group," Severus said changing the subject. "But we decided we're going to lay down some ground rules and if agrees to them; he can be friends with us."
"What kind of rules?"
"Pranking rules mainly. We have to approve any pranks before he can do it; he won't be able to prank anybody, even Potter, more than once. He can't ask his cousin for any pranks and he can't do any pranks that will put somebody in the hospital wing."
"That sounds fair," Marius said. "I think you'll find that Sirius will agree to follow the rules you've set down."
Severus spent the rest of the day helping Vesper weed her vegetable garden and the garden containing magical plants and herbs for her potions.
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Lily couldn't wait until she could see Sev again on Sunday night. She worked on her homework, wanting to get a lot of it done before she left on vacation. She worked all morning and then had lunch with her parents. Petunia was working at La Couture as she had mentioned last evening that the last of the summer stock had come in and the shop would be very busy. Lily went back upstairs after lunch and went back to work on her homework until her mother called her down to dinner at six.
Petunia was home by then and when she sat down at the table she was beaming. "Guess what?" She asked.
"What?" Cinthy asked smiling in return. She had a hunch what Petunia's answer might be, but didn't want to spoil it for her.
"Madam Bellefleur has asked me to become her apprentice, with your permission of course, next year when I turn 17. She's going to teach me the business from the ground up. She wants to meet with you so you can discuss the terms of my apprenticeship."
"Oh, Petunia!" Cinthy exclaimed, giving her a hug. "That's wonderful and we're so proud of you!"
"Congratulations, Petunia." Paul said also giving her a hug. "Please tell Madam Bellefleur we will be happy to meet with her at her convenience."
Lily gave Petunia a hug too. "Congratulations, Tuney. I happy that you're getting to do something you enjoy and I know you'll be fantastic at it!"
Petunia blushed a bit from all the attention. "Thanks, everyone."
Marius and Vesper Apparated Severus over just before dinner on Sunday. The Evans would be picking up Petunia's girlfriend, Pamela Lockworth, on their way out of town tomorrow morning. Once Severus was settled in the guestroom, Cinthy called everybody down to dinner. As they ate, Lily told Severus about Petunia's future apprenticeship at La Couture.
"Congratulations, Petunia," Severus said. "I'm sure you'll be opening your own shop before too long."
"Thank you, Severus," Petunia said. She was silent for a moment and then said, "Severus, I'd like to apologize for how nasty I was to you and Lily when you used to come over and last summer when Lily invited you to go with us. Mum and dad tried to explain it enough times that everybody has gifts and talents, but they're just different kinds. I didn't want to hear or listen to anything they said and I just wanted to be nasty. For that I'm really sorry and I hope you can forgive me."
"It's okay, Petunia," Severus replied. "You just had to find your own gift and you have."
The next morning the Evans left Spinner's End on their way to Brighton, stopping to pick up Petunia's friend. Pamela was tall and slender like Petunia, but had short curly brown hair and brown eyes. She seemed very nice. Petunia introduced her family to Pamela. "These are my parents, Paul and Hyacinth Evans and my sister, Lily and her best friend, Severus Snape. Lily and Severus go to a school for the gifted and talented in northern Scotland."
"It's nice to meet all of you and thank you for inviting me to come with you," she said politely.
"You are more than welcome, Pamela," Cinthy replied.
"What do you study at your school in Scotland?" Pamela asked.
"We're both gifted in the sciences," Severus answered quickly. "I'm gifted in Chemistry and Lily is gifted in Botany."
"You're lucky," Pamela answered. "I'm not any good at the sciences, but I do love and I'm good at mathematics."
It was a little over a four hour drive to Brighton and as they had last year, they stayed in Kemp Town Beach and rented a house there for two weeks. Cinthy had brought along enough groceries to fix lunch, but she needed to go grocery shopping. Petunia and Pamela decided to go with her as they wanted to look in the local shops.
Sev and Lily decided to walk on the beach. They wanted to see if they could find any seashells they hadn't already found last summer. Lily still had the blue fan-shaped shell Sev had found and given to her last year. She kept it in the drawer of her desk.
The Daily Prophet had arrived that morning before they left and had an announcement from the editor-in-chief urging the Prophet's readers to send in their questions for the debate between Minister Bagnold and Mr. Potter. Paul had dispatched Ringo with a question he wanted the candidates to answer.
"It's too bad we won't be home in time for dad to go to the debate with your grandparents, Sev, but dad sent Ringo to the Daily Prophet with his question."
"I'm sure my grandpa will be happy to give him a blow-by-blow account," Severus chuckled.
They walked along in silence for a few minutes and then Lily asked, "Sev, did you mean what you said after we got back from the wedding of Helena and the Baron?"
Severus blushed. "Umm …you mean about you looking nice? You always look nice, Lily …you always look …umm …pretty."
Lily beamed. "Thanks, Sev," she replied softly, squeezing his hand.
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Marius and Vesper were sitting in the atrium of the Ministry of Magic next to Harvey and Augusta Longbottom. Black Leif and Conor stood close by them. Walburga Black was seated on the other side of Marius. Two podiums were set up in the very front spaced about five feet apart and slightly turned toward each other. A table sat in front of them and Barnabas Cuffe, editor-in-chief of the Daily Prophet was seated at it. Alastor Moody, Orion Black, and two other senior Aurors patrolled the area in front of the podiums.
There was clapping as the candidates, Minister Bagnold and Charles Potter, walked out from opposite side of the atrium and took their places behind the podiums.
Cuffe turned towards the audience and said, "I ask that members of the audience remain seated and quiet during this debate. I will address the questions to the candidates, but if we have time at the end, I will allow questions from the audience." He turned back to the candidates, "My first question comes from a gentleman who would like to know what your qualifications are for Minister of Magic? Minister, you have one minute to answer the question."
"I'll bet you a Galleon that question is from Paul," Marius whispered to Vesper.
"That, my dear, would be a sucker's bet as I believe the Muggles say," Vesper whispered back with a grin.
Minister Bagnold cleared her throat and replied, "I've worked in the Ministry since my graduation from Hogwarts with twelve NEWTS. I started out in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes as junior assistant to Mr. Oakleaf who was head of the department. Within three years I was appointed department head when he retired and remained there until I was first elected to the Wizengamot at the age of thirty and I was a member of that august body until my election as Minister of Magic in 1968. I feel I'm the most qualified because I worked on various levels within the Ministry and I know what the Wizarding public requires of me and how to meet those requirements."
"Mr. Potter?" Cuffe asked, nodding at Charles.
"I graduated from Hogwarts and of course from the leading house, Gryffindor House. I joined the Ministry upon graduation as part of the Department of International Magical Cooperation."
"Where he still is," Marius whispered to Vesper.
"I've traveled overseas for my department and I know the value of cooperation …"
"With other Gryffindors …" Vesper said.
"... And the value of getting people behind an idea and moving it forward."
"Like walling off Slytherins in a certain area and taxing us poor," Marius muttered.
"What a lot of tripe!" Vesper whispered. "He's speaking in generalities only."
"My second question to you how you plan to deal with the rising power of the individual who refers to himself as Lord Voldemort? I've had this question from several different people and it seems to be uppermost on everyone's mind. Mr. Potter?"
"Well as I said before; I plan to pursue this person relentlessly. He won't be able to spit in the street without an Auror arresting him when I'm minister. All his followers and anybody who offers him support of any kind will be put in Azkaban."
"Somehow, I can't picture Riddle standing on a corner spitting in the street," Marius chuckled.
"As I've stated before we can only use legal means to stop this so-called Lord Voldemort and I'm certainly not going to waste the Auror Department's valuable time following him to see if he does spit in the street."
The audience chuckled appreciatively.
"I will assure the Wizarding public that I will use all legal means to keep them from harm and that includes having Wardsmiths ward their homes and connecting the fireplaces of the Muggleborns to the Floo Network. I plan to increase the size of Magical Law Enforcement and especially the Auror Department."
"Many questions seemed to be concerned with Slytherin House and what was said about it previously. Mr. Potter?"
"I stand by my previous statements. Slytherin House is the epicenter of all that's evil. The only way to stop it is to get rid of Slytherin House and expel all of its members to protect the rest of Hogwarts from becoming infected. All Slytherins should be expelled from the Ministry and any boards they sit on. I will seize all Slytherin assets and they will have to pay extra taxes to cover damages done by their leader and they will be held responsible for anyone that their leader or his followers kill. They should be confined to certain areas to prevent their evilness from spreading."
"What an ass!" Augusta muttered to her husband who nodded in agreement.
"I don't have an axe to grind with Slytherin House. As I've said before a lot of great minds, ministry officials, potion masters, herbologists, and healers have come out of Slytherin. Our lives have been improved by them. It's completely asinine to hold previous generations of Slytherin responsible for this so-called Lord Voldemort and the generations following him. I see no reason to punish them or assume they're evil. After all, the problems I've had personally this year while on a visit to Hogwarts weren't due to Slytherin House. Perhaps if the current headmaster would make an effort to include Slytherin House rather than exclude it; he wouldn't have to worry about further dark wizards coming out of it."
"Good for her!" Augusta said loudly, earning a few hisses from the people around her.
"Speaking of Hogwarts; do you think the Ministry should have more control over it? Minister Bagnold?"
"While I don't agree with the way Hogwarts is currently being run; I do not believe the Ministry should not interfere unless as I've said before, its becomes a danger to the students, but I believe the Hogwarts Board of Governors would take control of the situation before it got to that point."
"I would improve it by getting rid of Slytherin House and expelling all Slytherin students. I would form a special student squad to keep track of and report on any dark activities. Muggleborns would have to go as they learn too slowly and take up teaching time that should be going to the pureblood students. I'm sure they would agree that it's very frustrating and a struggle for them trying to keep up with the purebloods."
"What about Half-bloods? Mr. Potter?"
"Their loyalties will be divided and that makes them easy prey for the dark side so they would be dismissed too."
"Divided by what?" Vesper asked.
"He probably doesn't have an answer for that, my dear," Marius replied
"No. All children who are magical should be welcomed at Hogwarts."
"I have some questions regarding allowing other children to attend Hogwarts; goblin children for instance or children who suffer from Lycanthropy. Minister Bagnold?"
"I wouldn't have a problem with goblin children attending Hogwarts, but I'm afraid we've treated the goblins so badly they would never send their children to Hogwarts. Children with Lycanthropy should be welcome also as long as there's a safe and secure place for them to transform and medical treatment is readily available for them after their transformation."
Charles snorted loudly and commented, "Next she'll want Centaurs and Merpeople to be able to attend too!"
"I take it you don't agree with the Minister, Mr. Potter?" Cuffe asked.
"Those kinds should be kept out. Goblins are untrustworthy and werewolves could end up biting innocent students."
The debate continued with a few more questions before Cuffe said, "I believe that's all the questions we have time for today. I'd like to thank Minister Bagnold and Mr. Potter for their willingness to debate these tough issues and the audience for their attentiveness and gracious behavior."
Once the debate was over, Marius, Vesper, the Longbottoms and Blacks flooed to the Leaky Cauldron for tea and refreshments.
"I don't believe Potter's got a wand's chance in an inferno of winning Minister of Magic," Harvey Longbottom remarked.
"He certainly is a prejudiced old fart," Augusta declared. "I agree with the Minister one hundred percent."
"What he said about Slytherin upsets me," Walburga admitted. "He makes us sound as if we're not even human."
"Potter's an idiot and I'm glad Sirius is no longer hanging around with his son!" Orion said.
"I believe he hasn't a chance in hell of being elected. His views are much too extreme to be acceptable to anybody except his cronies," Marius said.
"I can't believe he would continue to think like that," Vesper said. "And no matter how much evidence is presented to the contrary; he continues in his beliefs."
"And his son follows his beliefs to the letter," Orion added sourly.
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James was practically jumping up and down in excitement. "You won the debate, Dad. You made Bagnold look like the weak bleeding heart she is."
Charles chuckled. "I did indeed, son. The wizarding public knows where I stand. They probably think Bagnold would rather make peace with a dark wizard than fight him."
"And she even admitted wanting to allow goblins and werewolves into Hogwarts," Mavis huffed. "What next? We'll have to pay our house elves and give them vacation time?"
"Too bad I couldn't get her to admit to that," Charles said. "That's probably what she believes. I imagine she'd make it illegal for the elves to punish themselves when they displease us too."
"I want to campaign for you when I get back to school, but Mary told me how McGonagall forbade them to wear buttons, handout pamphlets, or talk about the election."
"If you can find a way to do it without violating one of McGonagall's numerous rules; you go right ahead, Jamie," Charles said with pride.
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The two weeks at the seashore was almost up and unlike last year with Agatha; it was most enjoyable. Pamela turned out to be funny with a good sense of humor. She and Petunia spent most of the days on the beach, "Shopping for husbands," as Pamela joked.
Lily and Sev grew closer and Lily didn't think she could ever have a better friend than Sev. She couldn't wait for school to start again so she could see him every day.
"Do you think it's time to have 'the talk' with Lily?" Cinthy asked one night as she and Paul were getting ready for bed. They already had had it with Petunia.
"I think you're jumping the gate a bit, honey. Lily's only thirteen and I doubt if she and Sev have even thought past being best friends, but if they're still that close in January when they'll be fourteen; we'll probably need to do it then."
Cinthy sighed. "Both our girls seem to be growing up so fast. Petunia already headed towards a career and no doubt you'll probably be walking her down the aisle a few years."
Paul groaned and pulled the covers over his head in mock fright. "Please! I don't even want to think about that right now!"
They packed up the car the next morning and started the long drive back north.
Severus was looking forward to Remus, Dorian, Peter, Caddaric, and Reg visiting Mirrorvale the next week while Lily was looking forward to becoming reacquainted with her older sister. Pamela and Petunia chatted about the boys they had met and had promised to write them. Cinthy and Paul glanced at their daughters and smiled, looking forward to the rest of the summer.
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