finals? *cough* what are those?
So yeah. My idea of the multilayered prejudices in the Wizarding World & the lengths to which Slytherins will go. Messy and complicated and- well. I suppose you'll see. Hermione!fic.
I would really appreciate your comments on this.
unsticking the shadow
The Daily Prophet is the only newspaper that sells on September 1st, 1998; even the usual Quibbler adherents suspend their moral objection to the Daily Prophet’s news and risk mass indoctrination by subliminal government charms woven into the stories just to read the statement released by You-Know-Who.
Hermione scratches the little Daily Prophet sigil at the top as she’s reading the article on the train to Hogwarts, and by the end she’s scraped a whole right through the entire sheaf. Ron whistles through his teeth when she shows him. “Nutters,” he says, but Hermione stares blankly ahead until Harry knocks on the door of her compartment with the same issue in his hands.
One definition of irony is: an incongruity between what is expected and what occurs.
Fact One: Voldemort is the leader of a Pureblood group and preaches against Mudbloods and Muggleborns in the Wizarding World.
Fact Two: Voldemort has a Muggle father.
Fact One and Two combine to create a situation or circumstance arising out of such an incongruity. This is another definition of irony.
From the Old French ironie, in turn from the Greek eir neia, which means “feigned ignorance”.
Hermione thinks that’s a bit ironic in itself.
Situational irony was used to great effect by a playwright by the name of William Shakespeare, and Hermione thinks there is something almost Shakespearian in the way that Voldemort begins his article by confessing his name and his heritage and ends it by using his own example to prove his point. Mudbloods are evil bastards, wizards and witches of the wizarding world- take look at how I turned out. Phrases like: a generation of crossbreed Dark Lords a coiled serpent of suppressed Muggle rage a sinister foe that walks among you and slowly drinks your blood.
The word “you” is what disturbs Hermione most about the entire piece.
“You” and “we”
“Them” and “us”
Voldemort has just placed himself on the side of the Muggleborns.
Hermione smiles suddenly.
It is beautiful and unspeakable.
Hermione meets Harry’s eyes and says, “Voldemort has just destroyed us.”
Harry and Ron don’t understand, and so Hermione just continues polishing her Head Girl badge. Polishing, polishing, pressing down with the cloth until her fingers are raw and swollen. Ron grabs her wrist and grimaces before casting a scourgify on the badge and it gleams more brightly than it ever would have done under her fingers. “Honestly, Hermione,” he says, taking the cloth and transfiguring it into a pillow to place behind his head. “Using a bleeding cloth. I mean, are you a witch or not?”
Malfoy and Parkinson comes into the Prefect’s Compartment just in time to hear that last part, but he’s so distracted that he just makes a clamped comment about how non-Prefects aren’t allowed, but of course certain people are special and Harry retorts angrily but leaves anyway. Malfoy stares out of the window and keeps whispering urgently to Pansy and gesturing to the front page of the Prophet. “Looks like he just ate a snot-flavoured Every-Flavour Bean,” Ron snickers, but Hermione knows that he’s upset because he’s daft. Malfoy’s lost in the first layer of irony, that initial shock reaction to the Dark Lord being a poor orphan boy with a Muggle daddy.
Fact and reversal.
Interlocking layers of irony sliding together on the front page of the Daily Prophet, and all Draco has to navigate them are pride and stupidity.
Hermione almost feels sorry for him. Or would if his side hadn’t just won.
It starts right there, when they’re getting off the train and trying to herd the first years into a group. Hermione’s huddles close together and follows her reluctantly, and when the last one steps onto the boats to take them across the Hogwarts moat he turns around and asks, “Do you really resent us?”
The boat pushes off, and the boy raises his voice slightly. “You’re Muggleborn, aren’t you?” He asks.
The Head Girl badge gleams on her chest, and Hermione runs her fingers along its edges absently. “Yes,” she calls back. “Yes, I am.”
The papers the next day are filled with follow-ups, and there’s a particular article on Page 4 questioning whether Hogwarts whether Hogwarts is cesspool of Muggleborns and antiwizard prejudice, because after all, everyone knows Dumbledore’s feelings on the matter. He’d hand the entire Wizarding World over to the Mudbloods in a heartbeat if he could- but of course, they don’t use the term Mudblood. It’s just squeezed into every blank space between the words. They mention her by name. Hermione Granger, appointed Head Girl this year, also happens to be a Muggleborn. Tacked to the end of the third paragraph which details Dumbledore’s pro-Muggleborn actions, like a list of his crimes. Proof positive of a conspiracy. Then there’s the article right on the next page which says that Hogwarts is a breeding ground for Death Eater sentiments, and in paragraph three, after talking about the fact that Death Eaters, Dark Creatures and suspected murderers who were imprisoned in Azkaban have all been on the Hogwarts staff and mentioning some of the Death Eater surnames of the Slytherin students, including that of Head Boy Draco Malfoy, is Hermione’s name and a little comment about how she’s been made Head Girl this year.
It finishes off by reminding readers of another intelligent, seemingly brave and Muggle-raised wizard who was Head Boy of Hogwarts.
The last sentence is what Hermione loves best.
Let us hope that history does not repeat itself.
She looks at the two articles and slowly butters her toast, feeling the flickerings of eyes on her face.
Layers of irony.
You almost have to admire him.
Parvati asks, “Why would he even reveal such a thing? I mean-,”
“This is just step one,” Hermione says, and they all look at her as if she has inside information. “Don’t you understand? He’s planning something. Something terrible and important.”
Ron shrugs and speaks through a mouthful of bangers and mash, “I dunno, Hermione. Maybe he’s just finally gone round the bend.”
“He would never risk alienating his primary support base without a plan. Never!” She gestures so impatiently that she spills her glass of pumpkin juice. It hits the table with a loud clap and shatters; a couple of the Gryffindors sitting nearby end up with slices on their arms and faces. Poppy Pomfrey bustles over and heals them up quickly, but half the school’s already looking at Hermione with fearful faces, as if they don’t quite believe it was an accident.
Later Harry rubs thoughtfully at his scar. “Don’t you think I’d have felt something. If he was planning something?”
“I don’t know, Harry, I just don’t know.”
He claps her on the shoulder. “About the articles-,”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“I know how you feel, Hermione,” he looks decidedly uncomfortable. “It’ll blow over. It always has before.”
He hesitates, like he wants to ask her something, and finally he does. “If you had to make a choice, Hermione, which side would you be on?”
Hermione doesn’t smile. “The good side, Harry.”
“I mean- between Muggles and Wizards.”
“It’d never come to that.”
“But if it did?”
“It just wouldn’t happen.”
“For God’s sake, Harry!”
He steps back a bit after that, and gives her a sheepish, uncertain sort of grin. “Sorry, Hermione. I know it won’t. I was just- I, uh--,” he pauses. “Like I said, it’ll blow over. And we’ll all stick by you.”
“Thanks, Harry,” she says, but after that he never quite looks at her the same.
Harry was raised by Muggles, of course, and Lily was a Muggleborn, but there’s nothing in the Muggle world for him.
Hermione knows exactly what his answer would be.
If it comes down to that.
“Plotting someone’s murder, Granger?” Malfoy asks casually in front of Arithmancy, in the full hearing of the other Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs who take the advanced class. No other Gryffindors, though; Malfoy knows how to choose his moments.
“Shouldn’t you be asking that question to your father, Malfoy?”
He smiles distantly. “You just wait and see, Mudblood.”
The word rolls off his tongue and he’s twisting her arm as he says it, and they’re all watching.
She pulls her arm out of Malfoy’s grip and leans close, close enough for their Head Boy and Head Girl badges to click against each other, close enough for her lips to graze his cheek when she says, “You can only really hate something you understand.”
“Get off me, Mudblood!” He pushes her and her back slams hard against the wall, but she’s smiling, smiling.
Justin Finch-Fletchley make a movement to stop him, but Susan Bones holds his hand. “Let their kind sort out their differences themselves,” she hisses, and both Draco and Hermione turn and look right at her.
“Our kind?” His voice is thin and incredulous.
Layers of irony.
Hermione stands up tall, ignoring the pain shooting up her back. ““There isn’t much of of a line between worship and revulsion any more, is there?” She asks, before walking into Arithmancy.
The entire school hears about it, of course, and that’s the evening that Colin Creevey casually drops a note in her lap as he slides past her at dinner.
Astronomy Tower. 11pm. Come alone.
She’s half-expecting him to jump out and offer her a bunch of roses or something equally silly when she turns up, which is why she’s especially surprised when there’s a whole group of people sitting in a circle on the floor. Colin and Dennis Creevey, Michael Corner, Stewart Ackerly, Seamus Finnigan, Dean Thomas, Daphne Greengrass, Eloise Midgeon-- a few more crowded away from the light, and off to a corner, Justin Finch-Fletchley.
Seamus stands up, glances at Hermione and then says, “I guess you all know why you’re here.”
Hermione nods. “Sure,” she says. “We’re all Mudbloods.”
Eloise Midgeon snaps, “Don’t use that word.”
Daphne Greengrass makes a face. “Why not, Midgeon?” She asks. “Everyone else is.”
After that, Dean and Seamus start hanging around her a lot more. So much so that Parvati and Lavender corner her in the girls’ bathroom one day and ask her exactly what she’s done to them, whether she really is brewing love potions like Rita Skeeter said a couple of years ago. Hermione raises an eyebrow. “I am, actually. Three galleons a bottle, girls. You interested?” She’s so deadpan that they don’t quite know whether she’s joking.
In fact, all of them do, even Justin, who comes around a bit later and apologises to her in the corridor. “It was just-- convincing, you know. And everyone was saying it.”
“They don’t really get it, do they, Hermione?”
They enter the Great Hall, and Hermione spot Ron and Harry waving and smiling at her. She smiles back at them. “No, Justin. Not really.”
“Them” and “us”
Hermione bites her lip every time Colin or Stewart or Eloise calls for a meeting, but when Michael and Colin slide behind Daphne in the hallway with their wands out when a group of sixth-year Ravenclaws call her Death Eater scum, Hermione’s bloody glad there’s an “us”, because there’s no doubt that there’s a “them”. There’s a “them” and a “them” and a “them”, and most of the time Hermione’s only ever sure of the “us”.
Hermione reads the papers in the morning and keeps saying, “It’s coming. He’s planning something.”
“It’s really quiet. Dad says that attacks are at an all time low.”
“The lull before the storm?” Seamus offers, and Ron glares at him.
Finally, Hermione turns in her badge. Places it face-up on Dumbledore’s table, right beside a stack of letters from the Ministry of Magic.
He looks at her gravely. “What do you mean by this, Hermione?”
“I can’t do my duties any more, Professor,” she shrugs her shoulders, and it’s that simple. Nothing’s ever that simple. “The first-and-second-years flinch every time I try and tell them to do something, and last week when I handed out a detention one of them asked whether it was because he was a Pureblood.”
“Your resignation will solve nothing.”
Hermione tilts her head. “There have been six fights since the school year started between Purebloods and non-Purebloods. And I’m not just talking about the Slytherins, Professor- in fact, most of them think that we’re in league with the Death Eaters. Having a Muggleborn Head Girl just serves to fuel the tensions. If I pick on someone, it’s antiwizard sentiment, if I’m nice to someone, he or she has Death Eater sympathies. More than that, Professor- something is coming. Something is coming and we must be prepared. I don’t have the time for my duties anymore.”
Dumbledore picks up her badge. “How easily he has torn us to pieces, my dear.”
Harry and Ron stare at her chest when she comes down to dinner, and if it were any other time she’d have been amused or flattered or both, but she just presses her lips together. “What have you done?”
“Just because of- because-,”
“It’s better this way. Come on, Ron, even you were getting disrespected because of me. Because you’re my friend.”
Harry steps in front of Ron. “What do you mean? You’re letting those bigots win, Hermione. You’re the last person that I thought would give up.”
“I’m not giving up.”
“Hermione- you have to stay in your position and stand up for what’s right. You have to fight, like you always do.”
She nods and says, “Yes. But this isn’t the right battle.”
Parvati almost collides into Hermione that morning and she’s laughing and smiling and clutching the Daily Prophet in her hands like it’s a crystal ball. “You were wrong, you were so wrong,” she says, thrusting the paper at her.
Hermione scans the headline and has to sit down.
Voldemort has been deserted by his Death Eaters and has fled the nation.
There is no more threat.
Layers of irony, and Hermione thinks she might just have slipped between them.
“We have to remember,” Hermione says, looking around at the other Muggleborns and Halfbloods. “Wizards are not the enemy, and we’re not theirs. Remember Norvel Twonk, who died saving a Muggle child from a Manticore. Merlin who created the Order of Merlin and was one of the first proponents of Muggle rights. Carlotta Pinkstone, who campaigned for the abolition of the Statute of Secrecy. Tilly Toke-,”
“Tilly Toke, who Obliviated the Muggles she saved. Erased the nasty little fact that some of their friends and family had died on that beach, attacked by a dragon. And she was given the Order of Merlin for it,” Daphne interrupts.
“They’re not our enemies.”
“If it came down to it, Hermione, who would you choose?” Michael asks, slowly.
“What do you mean?”
“Between the Purebloods and us.”
“It’d never come to that.”
Eloise holds Justin’s hand and nods. “Yeah, exactly.”
Seamus shrugs his shoulders carefully. “But if it does?”
She looks at them, at the way a couple of the children have shifted up closer to Daphne and Michael and how some lean towards Eloise and her. “How easily he has torn us to pieces,” she repeats.
A week later and Lucius Malfoy’s sitting at a press conference and saying the words, “a third way.”
It’s almost ritualistic, the way the Death Eaters- former Death Eaters- step out in front of the cameras and roll up their sleeves and expose their Dark Marks to the world.
Lucius is the last to do so.
“We will continue to wear these marks as a reminder of the past, a reminder of the deceptiveness and cunning of the Muggleborns. And yes, as symbols of our shame. Even though it was against our will, we have been used as pawns in the Mudblood agenda,” he stands up and bangs his hand on the table. “No longer.”
What are your policies, Mr. Malfoy?
Seamus reads the article about the tortures Voldemort inflicted on Lucius and the heroic story of how he masterminded their desertion over her shoulder. “They’re gaining ground,” he says.
“Eight members of the Wizengamot have joined the Party- including Madam Amelia Bones. Publicly. Who knows how many else?”
“It’s ludicrous. They’re Death Eaters, for God’s sake.”
Seamus shakes his head. “That’s You-Know-Who’s fault, not theirs, remember?” He says, impatiently. “They’re speaking to the fears of the wizard on the street.”
“They’re speaking about taking Muggleborn witches and wizards from their parents cribs. They’re speaking about banning Magimuggle marriages. They speaking about us and how we’re destroying Wizard Society, Seamus.”
“Yeah, Hermione. They’re speaking about us, and we’re what the wizard on the street seems to be most afraid of these days.”
The papers say- the Popular Front for Magical Equality.
The papers say- a renunciation of violence and militancy.
Susan Bones stops Draco Malfoy outside Arithmancy, and while Hermione is within hearing distance says, “I’m sorry, Draco. It seems that I got it wrong. I’m glad your father’s all right, after all he’s been through.”
Draco smiles, both at Susan and Hermione. “Don’t worry about it, Susan. It was a misunderstanding.”
“The Nazis called it negative cohesion,” she whispers to Justin as they walk into the classroom. “Fear brings people together.”
Harry says, “Voldemort must be behind this.”
That summer, when Harry’s off in Eastern Europe or Asia somewhere trying to find Voldemort and the election campaigns have kicked into high fear, Hermione realises that they’ve been chasing the wrong nightmare all this time.
She turns up the volume on the radio and hears one of the Daily Prophet reporters interviewing Amelia Bones about her recent political conversion.
“We all make choices,” she says, in that clear and calm and reasonable voice. “We cannot risk another You-Know-Who.”
“We have created him.” She says that to Harry once, when he comes back with his hands empty after a month of searching. “We have created Voldemort, you and I.”
That’s the first time he actually looks at her like a stranger. “Perhaps,” he spits. “But I will kill him myself.”
Hermione realises: it doesn’t really matter whether Voldemort lives or dies.
Layers of irony that slip under her feet.
Voldemort is just a choice.
Voldemort is just a face for the Wizarding World to stick on the front of “them”.
Today, Voldemort is her face.