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Chapter 2 : A Council of War.
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I also want to thank my friend S.L. for letting me reference werewolf colonies which are her creation.
Although the debate soon moved off the front page, it showed no signs of dying down and for the rest of the week, every edition of the Daily Prophet published at least one letter on the issue.
To Rose’s relief, many of them appeared to support Blackburn, including an extremely irate letter from somebody called Augusta Longbottom, who expressed her utter disgust at the slurring of such illustrious names as those of Albus Dumbledore and Remus Lupin.
“Augusta Longbottom,” Rose muttered. “I wonder if she’s related to Neville.”
“His grandmother.” Her mother grinned to herself. “And from what I know of Mrs. Longbottom, I strongly suspect that’s a censored version. The Daily Prophet probably wouldn’t take too kindly to direct attacks on their reporters.”
“You think she made them?”
“I’d be extremely surprised if she didn’t. Good on Mrs. Longbottom. She was a force to be reckoned with when we were at school and doesn’t look like she’s changed much. She was never taken in by Skeeter’s lies and misrepresentations.”
Unfortunately, there seemed to be at least as many letters from people who agreed with Skeeter. Then the following Monday, the issue made the front page again.
Anti-Werewolf League Call for Lydia Blackburn to be Fired.
Theodore Nott, President of the newly formed Anti-Werewolf League, today led calls for Lydia Blackburn, revealed in this paper to be a werewolf, to be fired.
“We’ve taken enough,” he said. “For years now, we’ve been expected to stand back and watch as the laws relating to part-humans have been liberalised. If we don’t agree, if we express any reservations at all, we’re accused of being prejudiced, of wanting to drag the wizarding world back into the ‘bad old days'.
“I’m not prejudiced. I’ve absolutely no objection to anybody’s rights being increased.”
“Oh no,” Rose muttered, “you’re just heading an organisation called the Anti-Werewolf League and have a daughter painting pro-Voldemort slogans. I’m sure you’re completely unprejudiced.”
“However,” the article continued, ”the ‘rights’ of part-humans have to be balanced with those of everybody else and when those ‘rights’ start endangering our children, I believe we’ve crossed a line. Theory is one thing. Reality is another. And however unpopular it might be to say so, werewolves are dangerous Dark Creatures.
“Certain Ministry officials and correspondents to this newspaper have reminded us, repeatedly, that the Wolfsbane Potion is now freely available to all werewolves. This, they argue, gives us complete security and prevents werewolves from being a threat, even when transformed.
“But let’s just pause for a moment and examine the implications of this. We are completely dependent on a potion, a potion that can fail or be imperfectly brewed or which a werewolf can simply forget to take.
“There is only one way to ensure our children’s safety and that is for Lydia Blackburn to be fired. This is what I and my organisation are now calling for. We’ve been lobbying both the Ministry and the Headmistress of Hogwarts and we hope to get a response to our demands as soon as possible.”
The Nott family have, of course, received negative publicity in the past but Theodore distances himself entirely from his father, Nicodemus Nott, who was imprisoned as a Death Eater after the last war.
“I have had absolutely no contact with my father since he was imprisoned and, to be honest, I resent even being asked about it. I am not responsible for what he has done and am tired of his actions being used to shame and silence me.”
I am quite sure nobody has any wish to silent Mr. Nott.
“That’s what you think,” Rose muttered.
“You’ve seen the Daily Prophet, I suppose?” her mother asked, when she arrived home that afternoon.
She nodded. “Mum, how can they be allowed print such rubbish? Isn’t it slander or something?”
“Libel when it’s printed,” her mother corrected her. “And no, only if it’s not true. Unfortunately, all the facts they’ve printed have been accurate enough. Their interpretation of them, on the other hand…well, anybody can express their opinion. There’s no law against that. And it’s not as if our world has ever enforced libel laws very strictly anyway. So many bigger issues to be dealt with.”
“But calling for somebody to be fired?” Rose was incredulous.
“Is something they’re perfectly entitled to do. It’s not even necessarily a bad thing. If there’d been a few more calls for Umbridge to be fired when I was at school, we’d have been a lot better off. The problem with this demand is that it’s clearly prejudiced.”
“Can’t you do something about it because of that?”
“As Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, I’m afraid not. Our anti-discriminatory laws are still in their infancy. There’s no law granting werewolves employment rights. Yet.”
“I mean it’s something we’ve been working on. It’s a hard one though. I’ve been pushing for it for a while and Teddy obviously feels very strongly about it, but it’s likely to face even more opposition than the code of house elves’ rights did. A lot of people, even those you wouldn’t usually consider prejudiced, tend to get twitchy when it comes to werewolves.” She paused for a moment. “But this,” she continued, jabbing a finger in the direction of the newspaper, “cannot be allowed to succeed. If she’s fired, it’ll set a precedent and no werewolf will be able to feel secure in their place of work. Again. I think it’s time we got organised.”
“You’re going to do something?”
“I most certainly am. And whatever you might think, my dear, I haven’t exactly been sitting on my backside all week. I’ve already spoken to a number of people. Now, however, I think we need to begin pooling resources.”
“What does that mean?”
Her mother laughed. “Nothing too mysterious. Just that we need a proper campaign. I’m going to send off a few owls to some people I know will help – Teddy, Harry and Ginny, Professor McGonagall and so on.” She gave her daughter a sympathetic look. “It’ll be an adult-only meeting, though, I’m afraid.”
“Muum. I was involved in this before any of you. I was there when Dora made the threat in the first place. And it’s all about Hogwarts, it’s about our safety. I think I’ve more right than anybody to be involved.”
Her mother bit her lip. “That’s partly why. We’re going to be discussing your school, Rose. I’m not sure Professor McGonagall or Professor Blackburn would want you involved.”
Without answering, Rose turned and slammed out of the room. She was going to hear what was said whether her mother liked it or not. There was no way she was being left out of a meeting taking place at her own house.
If she’d Uncle Harry’s Invisibility Cloak, she could have slipped into the room, but as it was she’d have to rely on Plan B. Extendable ears.
Having an uncle who ran a joke shop really did come in handy sometimes. Not really being a practical joker, it wasn’t as much use to her as to some of her cousins or even her brother, but there were occasions when it truly was a God-send. And this was one of them.
Not being a practical joker also meant her mother was far less likely to suspect what she was planning to do. Rose doubted she’d even remembered she had Extendable Ears, but they were among the few Weasleys’ products she found really worth having, along with the Unnoticeable Notes and some of the less amusing ones like their quills and the reusable hangman.
Sure enough, by the following evening, her mother seemed to have completely forgotten her reaction to being told she couldn’t attend.
“Your father’s working late,” she told her. “So he won’t be able to make the meeting. Not that it matters. I don’t think there’s anything for him to contribute really anyway. At least nothing Harry or I can’t say instead.”
Rose grinned, somewhat ruefully. She couldn’t help suspecting her father’s absence was entirely deliberate. He didn’t enjoy meetings at the best of times and would far rather his wife summed up the main details for him afterwards.
And even then, he’d complain she was being too long-winded and couldn’t she just give him the important points?
The irony of his avoiding it when she’d have loved to attend but wasn’t permitted wasn’t lost on her.
People began to arrive just before eight o’clock. Unsurprisingly, McGonagall was the first to do so.
“Who are we waiting for?” she asked Rose’s mother immediately.
“Almost everybody. Come inside, Minerva. Have a glass of gillywater while you’re waiting.”
“Thank you, Hermione.” She turned to Rose, who wilted slightly under her gaze. If there was one person she wouldn’t want around when she was planning to do something she shouldn’t…
“Enjoying your holidays, Rose?”
“She’s been doing some reading for next year already,” her mother put in. “The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 2).”
Professor McGonagall nodded approvingly. “Always a good one to start with. We’ll be sending the booklists and other information out soon.”
A pop on the doorstep announced another arrival.
“Sorry Minerva. I’d just better get this,” Rose’s mother said.
It was awkward being alone with your Headmistress in your own home and Rose shifted uncomfortably as McGonagall continued to address her.
“You did very well in your first year exams, I believe. Keep up the good work now. I must say, it’s quite heartening to see you following in your mother’s footsteps.”
Her mother’s reappearance, accompanied by Harry and Ginny, saved her having to answer.
“Wasn’t too easy to find a babysitter,” Ginny said. “Half the alternatives are on their way here. Eventually though, Mum said she’d let Dad attend by himself and have the kids over. I know you leave Rose and Hugo on their own every so often, but Rose is reliable. James on the other hand…”
They all laughed.
“I think leaving James in charge would leave us without a house to go back to,” Harry added.
“I seem to remember his father breaking a few rules in his time,” McGonagall said. “His mother too.”
“Oh please, don’t give us away,” Ginny said.
“Don’t worry. I’m used to keeping my students’ secrets.”
Bill, Teddy and Victoire arrived next, followed by Arthur, Neville and finally Blackburn.
Blackburn turned to look at her.
“Oh, hi Rose.” She smiled weakly. “Enjoying your holidays?”
“Perhaps we’d better make a start,” McGonagall said. “Sorry Hermione. Old habits die hard.”
“Not at all, Minerva. You’re quite right.”
The adults headed into the sitting room and Rose raced upstairs. She didn’t want to miss a moment of the meeting, but bringing the Extendable Ears downstairs before the guests arrived would have been risky. Either her mother or McGonagall would certainly have noticed them.
She hadn’t even dared leave them lying on her desk or bed, in case her mother entered her room before the meeting, so she’d stuffed them under her pillow.
She snatched them up and hurried out of her room.
Hugo, however, was waiting for her.
“What have you got there?” he asked.
“I don’t believe you.”
He grabbed at her hand, but she pulled it away quickly.
“I don’t care what you believe.”
“Want me to call Mum?”
“You wouldn’t dare. She’s in a meeting. She’ll go mad if you interrupt her.”
“Mu…” He raised his voice slightly, but not enough to be heard from the sitting room.
“Oh, all right.” She didn’t think he’d really call their mother but she was in a hurry and he’d draw this out forever if she didn’t answer. Plus he’d follow her downstairs and see what she was doing anyway. Better to get it over with. “You can’t tell anybody about this now. Not ever. But I’m going to listen to what they’re saying downstairs.”
She opened her hand to show him the Extendable Ears.
“Oooh! Give me one,” he said.
She deliberated for a moment, then “all right, but you’ve got to be really quiet. We don’t want them hearing us.”
Letting him “help” was probably the best way of ensuring he didn’t tell. She’d just have to hope he didn’t do anything stupid and give them away.
Despite his interruption, they didn’t appear to have missed much.
“The staff at Hogwarts remain my decision,” McGonagall was saying when Rose slipped her Extendable Ear under the door. “Kingsley won’t intervene unless he’s given a reason to and he’s made it perfectly clear that that means some real indication a staff member is a danger to students. Not just newspaper articles and complaining owls. The Governors have said much the same, though I think they’d raise concerns if student numbers were decreasing. I really don’t see that happening though.”
“Well, I think Kingsley should intervene,” Teddy said hotly. “He should sign the legislation Hermione’s been calling for. That’d put a stop to this once and for all!”
“It’s not that simple, Teddy,” Rose’s mother said. “I think Kingsley is on our side. He was in the Order with your father after all. He knows how werewolves are treated and has never supported it.”
“I’m quite sure he supports us,” said McGonagall. “He didn’t say anything directly; he has to remain fairly neutral, but he gave me the impression he completely agrees with my decision and wouldn’t give this Anti-Werewolf League the time of day, unless put in a position where he had to.”
“The thing is,” Rose’s mother continued, “he can’t introduce legislation unilaterally. Not legislation like this. There’d be ructions. Whether we like it or not, people like Lucius Malfoy still have their contacts. And you can see what’s happening already. Introduce that legislation now and the Anti-Werewolf League would be calling for Kingsley’s resignation.”
“That’s just saving his own skin,” Teddy protested. “I thought Kingsley was better than that!”
“I don’t think that’s his main concern,” her mother said. “Can you imagine the sort of person they’d put up against him? I don’t think they’d try to run Malfoy and anyway, I think he’s had his fill of politics, but I imagine it’d be somebody who shared his views.”
“Are we forgetting Lucius Malfoy was a Death Eater?” Teddy cried. “Who would support him? Apart from these crazies, I mean?”
“That’s why I don’t think they’d run him, but they could find somebody less tarnished, who’s equally anti-werewolf. We can’t risk it. I’m not suggesting we drop the legislation. Just that we need to play it clever for a while.”
“How do you suggest we do that?” There was humour in Uncle Harry’s voice. “I’m sure you’ve a few ideas.”
“We need to build up support,” Rose’s mother said. “Once we’re sure we’ve enough, we can introduce the legislation once again. What would really help is if this Anti-Werewolf League disgraced themselves and considering some of those involved, that may only be a matter of time. We can’t depend on that though, so in the meantime…Ginny, do you think there are other reporters who’d support us?”
“Definitely. I wasn’t the only one unhappy with Skeeter’s article. And I’ve been in contact with Luna…”
“Her father would, of course, print any articles we chose to write, but since he’s already suggested the Anti-Werewolf League are planning to overthrow the Ministry and lock all werewolves away in colonies, I’m not sure how seriously it’d be taken.”
“That isn’t so far-fetched,” Rose’s grandfather said.
“Oh, I’ve no doubt they’d like to,” Ginny agreed. “But I’d be very surprised if they’d enough members to threaten security in any way. The Quibbler’s contention is that they’re in league with subversive organisations in China who have magic we in the West can’t even dream about. That strikes me as rather less plausible.”
There was a general burst of laughter.
“It isn’t funny,” Teddy declared.
“No, you’re right,” Rose’s mother agreed. “It isn’t. The very name of this group makes it clear their aims extend far beyond stopping werewolves from teaching and if they’re allowed succeed on this issue, there’ll be another one and then another. I’m not sure it would go as far as rounding werewolves up, but after all, within our own lifetimes, or most of our lifetimes, we’ve seen that happen to Muggleborns, so I’m not going to say it’s impossible.”
“So we’re agreed about fighting it?” Teddy said.
“That’s my opinion, certainly,” said Rose’s mother, “but I’m not the one we’re putting in the firing line here. How do you feel about this, Lydia? The odds are this organisation is going to go after you personally, try to discredit you in any way they can. Are you prepared to face that?”
There was a sigh. “I don’t have much choice really, do I? The rest of you have, though. You don’t have to go to all this trouble. For me.”
“I do,” Teddy said firmly. There was a pause before he continued. “My dad was a werewolf. He died fighting for a society that, quite frankly, treated him like dirt. And now that same society, or elements of it, are saying ‘oh yeah, thanks for helping to free us, but if you were alive today, we still wouldn’t want you having any of the rights you fought to preserve for us.’ I’m not going to stand back and let that happen, let people say my father still wouldn’t deserve the job he loved. Not if I can do anything to stop it.”
“Well said, Teddy,” Harry said. “I feel the same. I suppose I only knew Remus for a short time really, but he was such an important figure in my life. That day in the Shrieking Shack with him and Sirius…it was the first time I really felt what it must be like to have a family. They’d only known me such a short time and yet they seemed to love me, far more than the relatives I’d grown up with ever had. And then, all of a sudden, it felt as if I’d lost them both, just when I’d found them. Sirius had to flee and Remus left Hogwarts.
“And despite how he was treated, he still gave his life for all of us. It would be an insult to his memory not to fight this Anti-Werewolf League’s campaign.”
“You’ve just given me an idea,” McGonagall said slowly.
Rose listened even more carefully. Thankfully, Hugo seemed to be paying attention too. So far, he’d done nothing to draw attention to them.
Inside the room, everybody appeared to be listening closely too. There wasn’t a sound to be heard.
“What is it, Minerva?” Rose’s mother asked.
“The Governors and I were just saying last week what a pity it was we didn’t do anything to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts. Well, we’re a few months late now, I suppose, but I don’t think that’ll matter. I’m going to suggest we erect some kind of memorial to the Hogwarts teachers who died in the struggle against Voldemort – Albus, Severus, Charity and of course, Remus.”
“I like it,” Rose’s mother said. “It draws attention to what he did without looking as if that’s what we’re trying to do.”
“We can always explain the slight delay by saying we didn’t want to interfere with the exams taking place at the end of the school year,” McGonagall continued. “And we could begin the school year with the unveiling. Harry, perhaps you’d be willing to do that for us?”
“I’d be delighted. I didn’t know Charity Burbage that well, but the others…well, I’ve already mentioned how much Remus meant to me and as for Dumbledore…well, the words may have been said as an insult, but I’m still proud to be ‘Dumbledore’s man through and through.’ And Snape…I’m not going to say I ever liked him, but it was only after his death, I learnt to respect him. I wish I’d had the chance to shake his hand and tell him I was grateful, even if I said it grudgingly. So thank you, Minerva. Even if we didn’t have an ulterior motive here, I’d be honoured to unveil a memorial to those brave men and woman.”
“Would you mind the press being there, Minerva?” Ginny asked. “I’m sure Iris Clarke would do it. She feels pretty strongly about this issue. She threatened to walk over Skeeter’s article.”
“So long as it doesn’t lead to the kind of intrusion into the personal lives of the students we saw when Skeeter wrote about the Triwizard Tournament, I have absolutely no problem with that.”
“Oh, I think I can guarantee that,” Ginny said.
“We need as much positive media attention as possible,” Rose’s mother said. “And of course, examples of werewolves who’ve made positive contributions to society are limited, not because werewolves haven’t made such contributions, but because lycanthropy is something most people prefer not to broadcast if at all possible. It’s hardly surprising when this is still the reaction.”
“Not surprising at all,” McGonagall said briskly. “Our world still has a very long way to go when it comes to its treatment of werewolves and other part-humans. But one thing I want you to be absolutely clear about, Lydia is that I want you on our staff. I wouldn’t have hired you otherwise.”
“Thanks Minerva.” Rose thought Blackburn sounded tired.
“It’s nothing to thank me for. I’d be a pretty poor Headmistress if I didn’t hire the best people for each job and you’re a good teacher, Lydia. I think we’ll see an improvement in our Transfiguration results this year. From what I heard, the practical examiners were impressed.”
Victoire giggled nervously. “I hope nobody’s expecting much from mine. Not that that’s your fault, Professor. I was just never much good at it, that’s all.”
Rose bit her lip to keep from laughing. Victoire wasn’t exactly an O student in any of her subjects. She wasn’t stupid, just average.
“I’m certainly expecting the best from all our students, Victoire.” McGonagall sounded stern. “Yes, even you. Not everybody is capable of Os, but everybody can do their best.”
“I’d like to get a general idea of how much support we have.” Rose’s mother changed the subject. “I’ve been talking to people in the Ministry and there’re quite a few who’d be supportive of legislation supporting werewolf employment rights. Quite a few who’d be against it as well, of course. I take it we can count on your grandmother’s support as well, Neville?”
“Definitely. Gran’s appalled at the way Skeeter spoke about Dumbledore in particular. ‘Calling his judgement into question like that!’ She’ll back us all the way and believe me, Gran’s a woman I’d rather have on my side than against me.”
A cough from behind her started Rose’s heart thumping and she twisted around awkwardly to see her father glancing down at them, a look of amusement on his face.
Beside her, Hugo was grinning, half-nervously and half-amused.
Rose grabbed his arm and dragged him to his feet.
To her slight surprise, their father said nothing, but beckoned them through to the kitchen.
“Please don’t tell Mum,” she begged him.
“I’m not going to, don’t worry. When I was your age, I’d have probably done the exact same thing.” He winked at her. “I’d imagine they won’t be much longer though, so I’d advise you to make yourselves busy doing something harmless.”
She kissed his cheek, before snatching the second Extendable Ear from her brother and racing upstairs to hide them. She grabbed The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 2) and brought it back downstairs.
Hugo was still standing by the kitchen door, watching the door of the sitting room.
She slapped his arm lightly.
“Don’t make it so obvious. Go and do something.”
She was flicking through her spellbook and Hugo was half-heartedly glancing at a book on Quidditch skills when the door of the sitting room opened and the adults spilled out into the hallway.
Rose followed her father out to greet them.
“Good evening Minerva, Neville, Bill. Good to see you, Harry. How’re the kids?”
“They’re fine. Glad to be home, at least Albus is. Think James is getting bored already.”
“Albus is off to stay with a friend of his now next week,” Ginny added. “I can’t believe how nervous I am about it. Far more nervous than he is, I can tell you.”
“She’s warned him a least a dozen times not to mention anything about magic in front of Derek’s Muggle friends and relatives.” Harry laughed.
“Well, he’s not used to being around Muggles. Sometimes I wonder if we should have sent them to Muggle primary schools. It would have got them used to keeping certain things quiet.”
“He’ll be fine, Ginny,” Rose’s grandfather said. “Do him good to experience the Muggle world. Tell him to bring me back a few plugs for my collection.”
“Oh, Dad.” Ginny rolled her eyes.
“He will be fine, though,” Harry reassured her.
“I know. It’s just…it’s his first time away from family, apart from school.” She sighed. “They grow up so fast, don’t they? Another year and Lily’ll be off to Hogwarts. And I can’t believe you’ve finished school now, Victoire. How’s the job going?”
Victoire’d started work at Gringotts, dealing with currency exchange for French visitors to Britain or British witches and wizards travelling to France. As the World Cup was taking place in France that summer, there’d been quite a few of the latter.
She smiled. “I’m really enjoying it actually. I know my hours will probably be reduced once the World Cup is over, but I’m hoping there’ll still be some work, maybe even representing Gringotts to the French bank. I’d actually quite like to work in wizarding tourism eventually.”
“There aren’t many wizards who speak more than one language,” Bill explained. “Not in Britain anyway. It probably should be part of our education system, but it isn’t. So Gringotts have a real problem when it comes to foreign witches and wizards looking to exchange currency. She’s doing a good job, but she’s right, once the World Cup is over, it’ll probably be part-time.”
“I’ve started studying Italian, so I might be able to take on some of the work with Italian customers too eventually. It’s harder than I thought it’d be, though. I never really had to learn French. Just picked it up from Mum.”
“Don’t mind her,” Teddy said fondly. “She’s doing brilliantly. I don’t know how she does it. One language is about as much as I can manage.” He turned to Blackburn. “Victoire and I are going to go out for a couple of drinks, if you’d like to join us, Lydia?”
Blackburn smiled. “OK, Teddy, thanks.”
Rose wondered how Victoire felt about that. She didn’t think she’d like one of her teachers joining her if she was going out for a few drinks just after she’d finished school.
McGonagall checked her watch.
“I’d better be going too, Hermione. Good to meet you Ron.”
The guests started gradually drifting away. Harry and Ginny were the last to leave.
“I suppose we’d better make a move,” Ginny said finally. “The kids will probably have Mum worn out by now.”
“She raised the seven of us,” Ron pointed out. “I don’t think your three are going to bother her.”
“Still, it’s past Lily’s bedtime. We should get them home.”
“See you in work tomorrow, mate,” Harry said. “Good to see you, Hermione. And you two of course.” He glanced at his niece and nephew. “Here, have this.” He tossed them each a couple of Sickles.
“Thanks Uncle Harry,” Rose said.
“Yeah, thanks,” Hugo echoed her.
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