Miranda meets her mum at the train station at the end of Easter hols and is promptly Apparated directly to Charlie's house in Fordwich. She is successfully not-found by reporters there.
But partway through the vacation her Daily Prophet mentions that there is a sort of town hall meeting, open to any British-residing wix, about - the agenda's about forty items long, but it boils down to "there are not enough of us" (and also, "oh no, wild Dementor").
Miranda owls her mum.
Her mum dithers but agrees to take her on the condition that they will Apparate away if anyone shows too much interest in Miranda. (The paper seems, in its small flurry of articles about her after the one she was tricked into giving "quotes" for, to have decided to call her "Silverlight", almost like it's her last name: "Belgian Theoretical Magic Expert Weighs In On Possible Mechanisms for Miranda Swan's "Silverlight" Feat". "Miranda Silverlight: Evidence of New Family Trait Magic?" "The Prophet Investigates The Source of E. Miranda "Silverlight" Swan's Unusual Wand.")
Miranda brings a copy of her agenda, crosses both wands in her hair even though she isn't allowed to do magic over hols, and walks in at her mum's elbow into the Ministry hall being used for the meeting.
Her parents, of course, put it on their calendar the minute the notice arrived. They make vague noises about "a space to air their concerns" and "finally a place to make themselves heard". Emma tunes them out mostly; knowing them, they'll be complaining about the neighbor's hedges growing too tall and the cat down the lane that keeps destroying her mother's crocuses.
Emma doesn't bother to mention to her parents that Miranda's planning to come. They still occasionally ask her questions about her friendship with "that Silverlight girl," which Emma mostly answers, unless she thinks her parents are too likely to gossip about it. (How they met: reasonable. Miranda's life story: less reasonable.) She just hopes they don't make a nuisance of themselves if they do run into Miranda at the meeting. She thinks it'll be okay. She made them promise, even before this meeting was announced, to behave themselves if they ever meet Miranda again.
On the day of the meeting, her parents fuss over her until she puts on a nicer pair of robes- "take some care about your appearance, Emma, people treat you better if you take care of yourself you know!"- and then they take the Floo into the Ministry. Seeing the full room, Emma gulps and is ashamed of a moment of pure thank Merlin I'm not the famous one relief; she wouldn't want to be the focus of all these eyes for anything.
Miranda is self-conscious about the attention, but there's not all that much of it. The photographs the Prophet has of her are not very good and tend to be shy, so most people won't recognize her on sight. She sticks close to her mum and catches Emma's eye and smiles quickly, while the moderator peers at his agenda at the front of the room.
There aren't many people their age present; or at least, not in their year. She supposes that makes sense, given how few students there actually are in their year. Mostly it's older witches and wizards. Many have scars; a few are missing limbs. There's a somber air hanging over the whole gathering- for many, it's the first real Event they've been to since the war ended. Emma squirms uncomfortably. Hogwarts is like this, a little bit, but it's... muted, somehow. Or maybe the children just deal with it differently, and she's adjusted to that? Whatever the case, it's an uncomfortable feeling.
Be grateful you're here and you're alive and you're whole, it whispers. Look what happened, think how recently.
She hopes, fervently, that the meeting is short.
Various ministry officials give little talks about immigration, about relations with the Muggle prime minister, about clearing out the last of the nasty little blood prejudicial laws that were left behind after Voldemort's control of the ministry was broken, about emigration, about child tax credits and working-class tax burdens and the rumblings of displeased goblins and about house-elves and about imports and about primary schools and Hogwarts and homeschooling and the Auror training program and about the price of beets.
There are not enough people.
Industries are disintegrating, and not all the foreigners eager to fill the gap have British values at heart, and this in a time when it is desperately unclear what British values might be.
Miranda listens solemnly.
"And what about us, then? What about our daughter? She was almost Kissed by a Dementor right in Hogwarts itself! How can you claim we're protected when something like that happens?"
...Emma wonders, very briefly, if she could somehow learn to Apparate on the spot. Even Splinching sounds preferable to all of these people staring directly at her. She slumps in her seat as she hears murmurs amongst the crowd.
"...was one of the girls with Silverlight?" "Must have been, how many Dementor attacks were there?"
"Sir," says the low-ranking Auror who was saddled with the job of appearing at this meeting, "the Dementor was handled without any lasting injury to anyone -"
"By a child!" scoffs someone else in the audience. "Where were you?"
"The Americans have been offering us loaner Aurors -"
"And, what, you want Americans crawling around Hogwarts? Hogwarts itself?"
Miranda thinks of things to say, and doesn't say any of them, because she's rapidly realizing that this situation is more complicated than she fully grasps and that people are using facts not because they're curious about what actually happened but because facts are weapons. The fact that there was an American crawling around Hogwarts itself with her when she met the Dementor, and he passed out, will be interpreted as an argument, without the least reference to the fact that it might as easily have happened to a native teacher... the fact that even if there were Aurors around Hogwarts it would be unlikely that one would have been called upon at the time when it was so unclear that there was high-level danger about will not be noted...
"No lasting injury, that was a Dementor attacking my eleven year old daughter. I don't care about injuries! I want answers! Results! What is being done to prevent this from ever happening again?!"
"Motherrrr!" Emma hisses, horrified and embarrassed beyond belief. Her mother ignores her. Emma slumps even further down, attempting to hide between the two standing adults.
Miranda attempts to sit up even straighter and finds that there is no straighter to sit.
Miranda has no idea how she's supposed to have a latent magical family trait with four Muggle grandparents, but she continues not to say anything.
"So, are you organizing Dementor-control classes for her to teach? Have Aurors been arranging to learning how to, to, 'Silverlight'? Have you in fact done anything at all other than wave your hands and say well the first year can handle it?"
This response- actually manages to quell some of her parents' questions about Miranda. Most of the possible responses involve overriding the Hogwarts administration. The same Hogwarts administration that collectively won the war last year. They will not be suggesting anything of the sort.
"So, if you don't even have access to Silverlight, what are you doing instead?" her father demands. "Does this mean you have done actually nothing?"
"Aaaah my parents," she splutters when she arrives.
"There you are," her mother says, coming up behind Emma. "Oh, Miranda! Hello. Did you have a good time at the meeting?"
"Ah. Well. Let us know if there's anything we can do?" she says instead. "Bill, perhaps you could find an Auror for Miranda to talk to?"
Emma's father looks at Miranda doubtfully. "Don't know how it would help with the reporters and all, but I'll try if you want," he agrees.
"Well - like - people were talking about whether we should invite foreigners into Britain to help us do things since there aren't enough British wix left. If I had said any facts, I think people would have thought I was arguing for a side, and I didn't know how to control which side."
"That's a violation of the International Statute of Secrecy. Which is international, so breaking it would be a big deal, we can't just do it internally. I didn't hear anyone seriously proposing it, but it's an idea. It'd probably also make it easier for wixen to meet Muggles and have half-blood kids who are almost always wix."
"Uh, I heard - more use of house-elves. Starting kids at Hogwarts at a different cutoff age - like how I hadn't turned eleven when I started, there would be more kids like that - and declaring us of age younger so kids could help with things. Encouraging people to have more kids with tax things I didn't understand. Ignoring the problem and hoping it goes away."
"Yes. And why shouldn't they? Why shouldn't we tell them 'yes, if I poke you with a stick and say episkey it'll fix your broken nose and it'll stop hurting and you won't have to get used to your face with a different nose shape for the rest of your life' - why shouldn't we tell them 'yes, I can get unlimited clean water if I wave my wand and say aguamenti' - why shouldn't they want that? Why wouldn't we want to let them have it? Especially now that they have something we want, too."
"The Muggles aren't going to be in extra danger," says Miranda. "They'll just be better informed. If we did the big reveal now then at least in Britain we could make it sound like the good guys just took over from a bad government that wanted to keep them in the dark, instead of 'yeah we decided one day you should know that Dementors exist'."
Eventually, the cart lady comes by with her cart. There is the usual pile of candies, sweets and drinks for purchase. On the side of the cart is a rack containing copies of the Daily Prophet. The main article is something about the progress of Reconstruction, complete with a smiling picture of Minister Shacklebolt.
Towards the edge of the paper, just above the fold, is a headline that reads OP-ED: Spies in Hogwarts?
Fetal position it is, insofar as she can scrunch herself up on the bench.
Hagrid is waiting for the students, as usual; waiting with him is Professor Reed, which is not usual. She is standing towards the edge of the platform, fiddling idly with a parchment and quill she has with her, but still very clearly waiting for something.
"The Headmistress would, for a variety of reasons," including no small number of owls from parents, Ministry Officials, or both, "like to begin arranging for your visits to the Ministry. I'll be escorting you. I thought perhaps we could set up a time for a Ministry excursion, before you get too busy with schoolwork?"
And so the owl senders can be placated as quickly as possible with a date, however far off. There's that too.
Task completed, Professor Reed drifts back into the crowd with the other students. Her work is done here; she'll hang around long enough that it wasn't so terribly obvious what she was doing here, for the sake of Miranda's privacy, but then she is going right back home to cuddle with her son before school starts up again tomorrow.
The anti-Apparation spells around Hogwarts complicate the trip a little, but ultimately not very much. As soon as they're off campus, Professor Reed puts a hand on Miranda's shoulder and Apparates them both to the Ministry entrance hall. There are a surprising number of people there for a Saturday, but that's still a very small number of people in general. For the most part, the hall is large, marble and almost entirely empty.
"Have you been to the Ministry before, Miss Swan?" Professor Reed inquires, looking around.
No more Magic is Might statue, for instance. Someone finally got rid of that particular eyesore.
Fortunately, they are spared attempting to find their way around when a harried-looking wizard hurries over. "Tamara? Are you Tamara?" he asks her.
"...yes," Professor Reed says slowly. She manages to not take a tone with him, but really. How many other women do you see with an eleven year old standing around?
"Good, good, so nice to meet you both, this way please," he says in a distracted rush, turning right around and heading back the way he came.
Professor Reed looks at him strangely for a second, then shrugs and follows.
"Here you are," their guide says, checking his watch. "Right on time, too, very good. Today's just to see if anyone else can learn the Silverlight spell, we asked for only volunteers who already have a working Patronus, hopefully at least one can pick it up. Do you two need anything?"
Professor Reed shakes her head- what would she need, really, she's not the one teaching the spell- and looks inquiringly at Miranda.
then claps both hands to the bundle of braids at the back of her neck.
"My chimaera wand. It's - this is only my regular one -" She pulls it from her hair and braids tumble over her shoulders. "It's - I can still make a Patronus with this one but it's not big and I don't know if it can kill Dementors -"
When it's clear the wand is not forthcoming, Professor Reed puts her wand away and frowns. "We can try again when we return to Hogwarts," she says, "Accio does have a range limit."
Glowy person is glowy.
"I don't know why it's a person or whether the little person can still kill Dementors though."
The remaining three Aurors try their own.
Nope, nope, nope.
"It's a good thing we didn't have everyone here- we'd be totally defenseless- what did you do?!" demands an Auror.
(It appears he is being mostly rhetorical.)
"What about you?" another one asks Professor Reed. "How's yours?"
And it's a difficult spell she never actually mastered, but she's annoyed at him and that tidbit seems optional.
"Just to humor you." She pulls her wand back out. "Expecto Patronum!"
The Aurors seem to want to practice their Patronus spells some more and see if they can get them back. It's left unclear if they actually need Miranda present or not. So, Professor Reed asks, "Miranda? Do you want to stay and help, or go look for your wand?"
They leave the Aurors futilely continuing to attempt their spells behind them. They go back down to the lobby and Apparate back to their starting point outside of Hogwarts, where Professor Reed tries again.
Professor Reed frowns, and tries something else. "Point Me."
Her wand spins in a crazy, crazy circle.
She frowns more.
"I think perhaps we should go talk to the Headmistress," she says slowly.
"Summoning Charms are hardly perfect," Professor Reed explains. "It's progressively more difficult to Summon things that are far away, and there are some obstacles they can't get around, and there are a number of counterspells. But Point Me-" she sighs. "The Four Point Spell isn't terribly useful, because it doesn't provide any information about distance, but it's hard to get it wrong short of a counterspell interfering."
Professor Reed smiles. Mini-Crusader she has here, it's adorable. " 'Just chasing them' is very different from 'chasing them to find out if they can still be killed'," she points out. "And even if your wand was stolen-" okay, by now it's pretty obvious, but that seems less reassuring- "the Ministry will find it. This is hardly for forever."
"I think it less now - if some people can't cast Patronuses anymore after they hear how I do it it seems like it's probably to do with that. But why would they want to do it themselves with my wand? It won't even behave right for them - right? - and it's not like I was saying 'no I refuse to kill any Dementors'..."
"You can use other people's wands," Professor Reed says, surprised. "Do they not tell you that, in England? It's much, much easier to use your own, of course. It's... tuned to you, you might say. Spells on a wand not your own will be unusually weak, but then again, with that wand of yours that might work to their advantage."
As a teacher, Professor Reed can pretty much walk right in, despite the presence of a student. Luckily for them, Professor McGonagall is there. (Well, she's usually there, but still.)
"Headmistress," Professor Reed says, politely but curtly. "Miss Swan's wand appears to have been stolen."
"We got to the Ministry and only my regular wand was in my hair, not my chimaera wand. And Professor Reed couldn't find it with the summoning charm or Point Me. I had it when I put my hair up this morning but didn't check after that. And now the Aurors can't cast any Patronuses at all anymore after I told them how I do it."
McGonagall blinks, processes all this, and then sits back down. "The Aurors- the Ministry can worry about them," she says sourly. Displeased at the pressure to interfere with a student's life? Maybe. "Unless you think their Patronuses are related to your wand. But- who did you pass, today? Where could it have been taken?"
McGonagall doesn't look thrilled by this answer- it doesn't exactly narrow down to convenient suspects- but as this is clearly not Miranda's fault, she doesn't say anything. "Very well. I'll tell the Ministry, and make sure they have investigators over here immediately. Let me or a teacher know if you think of anything that might be relevant."
(That last question receives an extremely disapproving look followed by the point that they were going to the Ministry of Magic, isn't it safe there?, at which point that particular line of questioning is dropped.)
They talk to the Aurors Miranda was teaching. They talk to the minor official who guided them through the Ministry. They talk to Miranda, to everyone she (or Tamara, or the Ministry official) could remember passing by. They talk to everyone again.
And then they vanish for two days with no word.
Just as the Headmistress is about to send them another exasperated- and moderately furious- owl, they return to the school, right in the middle of dinner. Because tact, basic courtesy and good timing are for lesser wizards.
And they tell Professor Reed that she'll need to come with them now, please.