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Post last updated: Sep 28, 2014 9:45 PM
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With all the hubbub, a seventh-year Gryffindor - Hermione Granger, which is rather exciting - takes Miranda aside for a brief chat about how she has some experience with famous eleven-year-olds and also with prodigies, and says that she is willing to be a tutor/supervisor for Miranda's wand experiments. This is much appreciated, and Miranda accepts, but doesn't have time to take her up on that before Easter's on the horizon.

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.
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The day before the meeting, Alli sends all her friends (except Jenny, poor Muggleborn soul) an owl. The note just says Mum can't be bothered to go, too lazy to make her. Let me know if I should unlazy, otherwise, tell me what happens, k?

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Emma does not bother telling Alli to 'unlazy'. She can't think of a reason to, and if nothing else, a Slytherin will likely be politely (or less politely) unwelcome.

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.
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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.

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Miranda gets a quick smile back, carefully timed so her parents won't wonder who she's looking at.

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.
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It's not 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.
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Eventually, someone makes the mistake of mentioning "the safety of the children." Emma misses if it was the actual moderator or someone asking a question or who, precisely, it was, but it happens. And Emma's parents have things to say.

"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?"
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Miranda's mum stiffens a little. Miranda sits up straighter.

"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...
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Emma's father, after his indignant question, remains standing, but now Emma's mother takes over.

"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.
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"We are spread very thin," says the Auror tightly. "However, we are... looking into... the possibility of having Miranda 'Silverlight' conducted on a Dementor hunt in light of their recent... wartime undomestication."

Miranda attempts to sit up even straighter and finds that there is no straighter to sit.
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"Well, you can't very well recruit Americans then, we know how they feel about Dementors."

"Doesn't that make them a good choice, then?"

"Besides, who else would they recruit? The French?"

"Surely the Muggles have something-"

"Muggles? Against Dementors? They can't even see them!"
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"That's your solution?" Emma's mother practically screeches. "Our children are attacked by a Dark creature in one of the safest locations in Britian, and you send one child- no matter how precocious- to protect all of us in the rest of England?"

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"Previous attempts at controlling live Dementors resulted in their being used against the population," says the Auror stiffly. "It is clear that they cannot be safely handled, and now also clear that they cannot be safely left wild. If Silverlight can teach others to destroy them, clearly that will be preferable, but it is the opinion of relevant experts that it may be a power limited to her or possibly a latent family trait of some kind."

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.
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"Relevant experts thought Dementors were a good idea, too," Emma mutters to herself. Fortunately her parents don't notice.

"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?"
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"Our access to her has been restricted by the Hogwarts administration so far," says the Auror. "It's out of our hands for moment."

I'm right here. I'll tell you how I do it. Professor McGonagall isn't here, Miranda doesn't say.
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Emma can't decide if she's surprised Miranda's staying quiet. She knows how much Miranda hates the publicity, after that awful man 'interviewed' her, but she also knows how very much Miranda wants to kill Dementors. She'll ask her afterwards.

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.

However.

"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?"
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"Our department is spread very thin," says the Auror.

"Which is the entire overarching topic of this meeting," interjects the moderator. "Does anyone else have any questions...?"
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No one else has any questions. Emma is relieved to find the meeting over, but rather dismayed that her parents had to be the last big main event, as it were. Rather than dwell on it, she waits for the hall to progress far enough into its 'people departing' phase for her to go reasonably unnoticed, and darts over to Miranda.

"Aaaah my parents," she splutters when she arrives.
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"Sorry," says Miranda. "I wasn't sure what to say that wouldn't make it worse."

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"It's okay," Emma sighs. "They've done it before. And it would've been way worse for you." She smiles, a little. "Learn to silverlight, heh. Are you a verb now?"

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"Sure. I'm a verb. I should try teaching people to silverlight, I should talk to Aurors about it over summer hols."

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"Have you tried teaching anyone yet?" Emma asks, curious. "I mean, who already can do a Patronus. Karen doesn't really count."

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"I couldn't do a regular Patronus first," Miranda points out. "I was going to try teaching Hermione but then it was hols..."

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Emma shakes her head. "You say that so- you're learning magic from Hermione Granger and Aurors want to learn to kill Dementors from you. Your life is crazy, you know that, right?" She's smiling as she says it- it's crazy in a good way. (Mostly).

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"She's not actually going to teach me magic, or at least that's not the plan, the plan is she will watch me do things with my super-wand and make sure I don't burn Hogwarts down or anything, maybe later she'll teach me things - but yeah my life is pretty weird."

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"Fiiiine, she's supervising your super-wand. Sorry, life still crazy."

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"Kinda. Are you here because you wanted to be or did your parents drag you along as a prop?"

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"I got dragged, mostly," Emma admits. "It was okay sometimes, but... tax credits. And beets."

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"I asked to come. The tax credit part was actually interesting. If people can save money by having kids they might have more and then the population might recover."

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"True," Emma agrees, "but that's, um... kind of far off. They seem to have lots of plans for way far away and not a whole lot for now."

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"Yeah. I don't know. The way-far-away plans are the only ones that we're probably going to be able to have useful opinions on, since we are currently eleven."

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"I'm sure we'll have opinions," Emma giggles. "Just, no one will listen to us."

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"That's why I said useful opinions."

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"They might listen to you," Emma points out. "You did kill a Dementor."

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"They think it might be just a weird thing I can do, like how Harry Potter talks to snakes, I'm not sure if it will help much."

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"But... but... Harry could talk to snakes because he could kill Voldemort, right? That's kind of an important skill...?!"

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"Well, I mean, Voldemort could also talk to snakes. It's a thing some people can just do, is talk to snakes, they think it might be like that."

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It's at about this point that Emma's parents decide to follow her; it somewhat lessens their indignant spluttering about protecting their daughter when they cannot produce her upon demand.

"There you are," her mother says, coming up behind Emma. "Oh, Miranda! Hello. Did you have a good time at the meeting?"
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"I'm glad I came," says Miranda diplomatically.

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"Thank you, for what you did," Emma's mother adds, pulling Emma into a hug. Emma sort of awkwardly half-cuddles, half squirms in embarrassment. "I don't know what we would've done..."

Emma's father nods along solemnly.
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"You're welcome. I'm really glad it worked," says Miranda.

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"Me too!" Emma says fervently.

"Do you know anything about the plans the Aurors mentioned?" Emma's father asked.
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"I think Professor McGonagall has been giving them trouble because I'm, you know, eleven. I really, really want to kill more Dementors but I don't know a way to talk to Aurors about it without reporters being all over me."

Miranda's mum pats her shoulder.
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"Reporters," Emma's father scowls. "Bane of the wizarding world and no mistake. Some of the drivel the Prophet is writing nowadays, it might as well be the Quibbler!"

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"The Quibbler sometimes runs legitimate articles, you just have to tell the difference," says Miranda's mum.

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Emma's mother looks like she is about to say something about that. Emma not very subtly steps on her foot.

"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.
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"Well, if the Auror doesn't talk to reporters, then as long as I get a chance to talk to the Auror, we can find ways to meet that don't involve being places reporters might find us," Miranda says.

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"Aurors do not typically sign up for their job expecting fame and glamour," Emma's father says with a cynical smile. "I'll see who I can find."

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"Thank you!" says Miranda sunnily.

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"Welcome. Least I could do," he says. "Coming, Emma?"

Emma starts to drift after her parents. "See you at school, Miranda?"
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"See you."

And then hols are over. Back on the train with them. Miranda's mum cuts the timing close so she doesn't have to linger on the platform as a media target.
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Alli also cuts the timing close, out of a combination of laziness on her part and scatterbrained-ness on her mother's. She's hurrying onto the platform when she sees Miranda. "Heyyyy Silverlight! How were hols?"

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"Are you just going to call me that now?" asks Miranda, stepping onto the train and waving Alli on after her.

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"It amuses me! I'll stop if it really bothers you, though." She thinks about that for a second. "Pretend-bothers or mild exasperation may be fair game."

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"It doesn't bother me that much. Anyway, hols were fine, yours?"

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"I did pretty much nothing. Except for eating chocolate Easter bunnies. So, pretty awesome."

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"Sounds fun. Where do you suppose the others have gotten to?"

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"Probably on the train already? We are kinda late."

After some awkward squirming to see around and over people, Alli points. "I think I see Jenny through that window. Let's go check."
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Off they go! Is that Jenny?

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It is!

Jenny waves as they arrive. "Hey! Emma saved us all seats!"
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Emma squirms. "We were here early anyway," she mumbles. "Hey. Glad you made the train."

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"We cut it really close. How were your hols?"

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"Mine were pretty good. We went to Madrid for a couple of days, it was nice."

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"Madrid! That's so cool! I just had piles of family to hug," Jenny says. She does not look particularly upset by this. In fact, she's noticeably cheerier than when she left school.

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"I was... mostly just reading. Some studying. That meeting was probably the most interesting part of hols," Emma sighs.

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"Right. Meeting. That happened. How was it?" Alli feigns sadness. "I never got a report!"

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"Did you want one? I took notes."

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"Don't copy your notes or anything, I'm just vaguely curious. A summary sounds good."

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"Politics, Emma's parents complaining about a Dementor getting on campus, me refraining from saying anything, her dad might try to get ahold of an Auror escort for me to go hunting with."

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"Thanks. See? Now I'm all caught up."

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"Why did you refrain, anyway? I forgot to ask. Just the reporters?"

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"Things sounded - complicated. I'm smart, but I'm eleven and I haven't had any politics lessons, and I wasn't sure I could avoid making something worse."

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"I am a little scared at the thought of meetings that need politics lessons."

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"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."

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"Wait, no, I'm confused. Enough for what?"

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"Oh, my parents have been complaining about that, shops are closed or understaffed and everything is harder to get ahold of. Enough to do - anything. That's why we have the American teachers I guess?"

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"I mean, some things probably need magic, but if it's just shopkeepers and jobs like that, couldn't they hire Muggles?"

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"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."

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"If the other countries don't want us to break it, they should help us not need to," Alli grumps.

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"Well, they are. We have American teachers. But some people don't like that they're 'meddling'. And some people don't think they're doing enough."

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"Wizards are complicated... so no Muggles, no outside help. What do the 'meddling' people want to do instead...?"

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"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."

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"Most of that won't do anything for years," Emma sighs.

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"It really won't. I'd like to see the Statute of Secrecy set on fire, but not if it means that all the other wizarding countries get mad at us and start more wars or something."

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"What's wrong with the Statute of Secrecy?" Alli asks, surprised. "We'd have to explain everything to Muggles without sounding all scary and doomlike."

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"Okay, look, what's the reason you always hear for why we need the Statute?"

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"Muggles would... want magic stuff?"

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"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."

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"But magic also has monsters," Jenny says in a small, small voice.

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"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'."

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"Are they really not in extra danger? Are people getting attacked by monsters every day and we just don't know about it because it's getting covered up?"

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"There aren't really that many," Miranda says soothingly. "And they tend to prefer magic places and Muggles can't see most of them, I don't think there are that many cover-ups."

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"How much would we bring in Muggles, though? If they find out there's magic, do they go looking, do things just get worse because now we need more people for stuff like warding dangerous areas?"

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"Muggle-repelling charms work fine when the Muggles know about magic, right? There's already loads of those around the important places."

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"They need to be recast sometimes I think, but they work really well," Alli contributes.

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"So there'd be that, although I think the concept of a Muggle-repelling charm is sort of gross there would be time to switch over to, like. Signs."

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"Is there a more general one? 'Only enter if can defend against dragons'? I mean, we're not Muggles but we shouldn't be let near dragons anyway."

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"I'm pretty sure that hasn't been invented."

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"Silverlight's next project!"

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"I'll talk to Hermione about it."

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"Bet you take over the world before you even graduate Hogwarts."

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"No bet."

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"I don't even have an angle on world takeover."

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"You have six years! Did you have an angle on Silverlight when you were five?"

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"I didn't have an angle on Silverlight the morning of, it just - came to me all of a sudden."

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"See? World, meet Silverlight. All bow before her."

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"She's not even a Slytherin."

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"Almost was."
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"Wait, what do you mean?"

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"Yeah, that, huh?"

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"I had to, uh, threaten to go to the Owly instead, to get Ravenclaw."

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"Oh, huh, you never said."

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Suspecting that her fear of Slytherins is related to that 'never said' thing, Emma will just be sitting here guiltily.

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"Hah, wicked! You threatened the Hat!" Alli crows. "That is too cool. Wish I could've gotten away with that."

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"It really wanted to put me in Slytherin but I told it that it could do that for like - a week, and that furthermore if I wanted to let it put me there, now, then I wouldn't qualify anymore. So it let me have Ravenclaw. And I fit Ravenclaw, right?"

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"Yeah, of course!"

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"You're probably a better Ravenclaw than I am a Slytherin," Alli points out. "But still. Slytherin buddies!"

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"I don't want everybody to hear about this any more than I want everybody to hear about my dad," adds Miranda. "If that wasn't obvious."

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"Well, yeah. Remember the 'actually bothered' vs 'pretend bothered' thing? Lips, sealed."

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Emma nods in agreement.

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So does Jenny. "Of course, whatever you want."

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"No problem," agrees Karen.

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"Thanks."

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The car descends into companionable silence for a bit. Most of them have books of some kind (Jenny has books somewhere, but opts for a unicorn coloring book she admits to borrowing from her sister) and they amuse themselves well enough.

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?
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Miranda buys one of those. It's sensationalism and she doesn't care right now.

(She also gets Chocolate Frogs and a pack of sugar quills.)
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Karen peers over her shoulder and eats the pumpkin pasty she bought.

"They think the American professors are spies? Really?"
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Alli snorts. "Reed's okay, but Fisher's kind of a doofus, yeah? Dumb choice for a spy."

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"And what would they be spying on? It's a school. If interesting things happen at it the news finds out anyway."

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"They never said what... happened," Jenny points out quietly. "Some magic object, left from the war? That's what McGonagall said." She shivers. "Maybe the Americans want it?"

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"Maybe. I didn't think she'd tell me if I asked, but I could try it..."

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"Okay, but... whatever it is, what would the Americans do with it?" Emma wonders. "They don't use Dementors there, they've been illegal forever."

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"Merlin, you even know American laws?"

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"You should know that, that's part of the intro history stuff for before we can start Hogwarts."

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"I didn't learn that in primary school, but I did learn it in the Dementor books. Anyway it probably has other uses besides Dementor-bloating."

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"Some kind of weird growth enchantment?" Alli wonders. "Or an energy source?"

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"Or something. Dementors eat, well, souls, I'd be really surprised if it was a generic sort of make-things-bigger spell that worked just alike on them..."

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Scrunch scrunch shiver.

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That... is a sad Jenny. This is Emma's least favorite form of Jenny. Subject- not change, but at least a slight detour. "Maybe it's just a Dark Magic thing," Emma suggests. "There were lots of Dark wizards around for the battle."

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"Yeah, that could be it. That'd explain why they wouldn't tell eleven-year-olds what it was. Uh, Jenny, do you need some topics to wait till you're not around?"

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"Kinda...?" Jenny says, trying to piece her thoughts together. "Like- yes, but also, if it's in the news all the time and I have to hear about it all the time, I'd rather it was you guys than not."

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"But if the news shuts up about it you'd rather we left it be?"

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"I just..." she shivers again. "I hate thinking about them, so much, they were so awful and cold and I still have nightmares where I just lie there again, for hours and hours and hours and it's just dark and empty and my head keeps screaming, it's so..."

Fetal position it is, insofar as she can scrunch herself up on the bench.
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"Have you talked to Madam Pomfrey about the nightmares? Or Professor Slughorn? I don't think you could take Dreamless Sleep every night, but sometimes..."

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"Can't yet," Jenny mumbles. "They need a better idea of when I get them, so they can figure out when to give me the potions. Got another couple weeks."

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Hug.

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"I'm sorry." Pause. "I don't know what happens if my Patronus is up when I'm sleeping but I could see if it could sit by you at night? Would that help?"

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Jenny blinks. "Probably?" she says. "Er, don't stay up for me or anything, but... could we try it?"

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"Yeah, if it can persist while I'm asleep and if it helps - and it won't keep everybody up being shiny - then I don't mind a bit. I'll ask Hermione if it's safe to have a spell like that running before I try it though."

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"I've never heard of using too much magic doing anything bad," Emma says, thinking out loud. "I think you just- stop the spell. But, the Silverlight thing is new too, so who knows I guess"

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"Hermione should know. Or know where to look it up at least."

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"But does she know all the rules like Emma?"

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"Uh, pretty much definitely," Emma says tiredly.

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"I'm pretty sure there isn't going to be a rule against having a Patronus in the Hufflepuff dorm, and if there is, it is stupid and I will go to Madam Pomfrey about it."

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"Very stupid," Emma agrees. "I don't think they'd care though. A Patronus has to be easier than all that potion, right?"

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"Yeah. And if they're worried about the chimaera wand I can send a little one and it'll fit better in the room anyway."

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"And it's not as glowy, right?"

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"Yeah. Well, because it's smaller, it's not actually any less bright."

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"Still. If they both help and one is less total glowy, I as housemate think that one is better. If only the large one helps, well. That wins, of course."

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"Yeah. But I'll talk to Hermione first thing, I'll find her at dinner."

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"Thanks guys."

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"You're welcome."

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The journey's not that long; they're pulling into the station shortly thereafter.

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.
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Miranda has no strong expectation that she's the one being waited for. She sticks with her friends.

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Professor Reed does not seem particularly bothered by the presence of Miranda's friends, but she is apparently the one being waited on. "Miss Swan? A minute, please."

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Miranda pauses. "Yes, Professor?"

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Tamara falls into step with them. This isn't private, precisely. And in some ways the opposite.

"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.
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"Uh, sure. This weekend?"

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"Certainly. Saturday, then? I can come by the Ravenclaw common room around nine."

So it's not a Ministry workday. They're the ones complaining. Tamara has no sympathy. If she doesn't get spend the day with her son, they don't get to have the day off.
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"Sure. Am I just going to the Ministry the first time or do they think they can get me Dementor-hunting right away?"

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"Unfortunately, your guess is as good as mine. But mine would be that they'll try to learn it, before they send you adventuring. Just... in case."

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"Yeah, that's fair."

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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.

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Alli blinks after her as she goes. "That was weird," she announces. "I mean, she couldn't even wait till we got back to school?"

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"I guess not? I don't really mind."

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Emma sighs. "I bet people from the meeting were being annoying." People including Emma's parents, but oh well. "But you wanted to be more useful, right? This sounds useful."

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"Yeah, it does, I'm glad."

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Classes resume, as they have been known to do. Come Saturday morning, Professor Reed is waiting in the Ravenclaw common room at nine, as promised.

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Miranda meets her there. "I'm all ready to go," she says.

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Professor Reed smiles. "After you, Miss Swan."

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.
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"No, never. Not the British one - I came along when Mum got her teaching credentials transferred over in Australia."

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"I've only been the once," Professor Reed says, looking around. "It's... changed."

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.
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Miranda goes after her, not hurrying because that's a guarantee to fall over her feet.

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They're led through rather a maze of hallways, lifts and offices until they arrive at a room that is, if not actually a classroom, has at least plausibly been repurposed as one. It's hardly full- Aurors are in short supply nowadays, and on top of that it's still a Saturday morning- but there's four people waiting for them.

"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.
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Miranda shrugs and reaches for her wand -

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 -"
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"Did you leave it at school?"

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"I remember putting it in my hair this morning. It never falls out - I didn't hear it hitting the ground or feel it on my back or anything -"

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"I'm sure it fell out somewhere on the way here," Professor Reed soothes. She takes out her wand. "Accio Wand!"









*crickets*









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."
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"O-okay. I can still show the spell with this one, it's the same procedure..." Miranda clutches her ordinary wand. "It's just like I read in the book, like this." She waves it in the prescribed manner, focuses, incants, "Expecto patronum!"

Glowy person is glowy.

"I don't know why it's a person or whether the little person can still kill Dementors though."
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"We already know how to cast a Patronus," one of the watching Aurors points out. "Do you know what you're doing differently?"

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Miranda thinks. "I'm not focusing on a memory," she says slowly. She waves away the glowy person. "It's more - I couldn't do it before I'd looked at a real Dementor, have you all seen real Dementors before?"

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Professor Reed snorts quietly with laughter, and shakes her head. All but one of the Aurors nod.

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"Okay, so - sorry, I don't really know how to explain it, but you know how they're sort of - death-y?"

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"...yes?"

It's not clear if this Auror has a lot of force of will, or is very polite, or is just extremely good at poker, but they do somehow manage not to imply the 'duh' at the end.
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"And - well, instead of a memory I think about how they are not allowed because death in general is not allowed, I don't know how to stop any kinds of it except Dementors yet but I want to. I think you might have to want that."

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This earns her a couple dubious stares, and a request to repeat it. After they've heard the explanation again, they murmur among themselves until they have selected a sacrifice volunteer to be the first to attempt the spell.

"Expecto Patronum!"

Nothing happens.

"Wait, what the- where's my Patronus?!"
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Miranda sure doesn't know. "...What is it usually?"

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"A frog, like Amata!"

"...you named your frog Amata?" One of his colleagues asks, laughing.

"Ugh, not the point, where's my Patronus?!"
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"...Frogs don't think about death, I think. They probably can't decide it's not allowed very well."

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"Okay, but- it's not a person, either, it's just gone."

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?"
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Professor Reed looks at him tiredly. "I don't have one," she says. "I'm American, we don't need them. We outlawed the things."

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!"

Noooooooope.
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"Maybe you can get a person eventually?" says Miranda in a small voice. "I'm - I'm sorry. I didn't know it would do that."

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"I can't imagine why you would have," Professor Reed assures her. Then she stares pointedly at the Aurors, until they hasten to repeat the point. They still look rather disgruntled and panicked, though. Those were their Patronuses.

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"I - I'll avoid telling anybody else? At least unless it turns out you get them back or get people later."

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"That seems wise," Professor Reed agreed. "Gentlemen? Is there a plan?"

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?"
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"I definitely want to look for my wand."

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"All right then."

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.

"Accio Wand!"









*crickets*









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.
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"What does it mean when the spells do that?"

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"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."

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"...Someone's hiding my wand?"

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"It certainly looks like it."

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"Someone stole my wand."

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"Unless you just happened to have dropped it somewhere with counter-spells against both the Summoning Charm and the Four Point Spell... most likely, yes."

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"At least I have this one, but what if this one can't kill Dementors?"
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"Well, I suggest waiting to experiment until you find an Auror with a working Patronus," Professor Reed says dryly. Underneath the dryness is a hint of- sorrow? Anger? Whatever it is, stealing children's wands is not okay.

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"I just wrecked four Aurors' Patronuses," whimpers Miranda.
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Professor Reed puts a hand on her shoulder comfortingly. "It's okay, it's okay. It wasn't on purpose. And remember: you have a Patronus. Even if you can't kill a Dementor, you are hardly defenseless against them."

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"Yeah," sighs Miranda. "But - just chasing them seems really stupid when I know they can die."

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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."

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"I guess. Who would have taken it? Why would somebody do that?"

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"As a guess- you've said a number of times you think the Silverlight effect is related to the wand. Just now, even, when you weren't sure you can still kill Dementors without it. If someone wanted to imitate the spell, but was failing..."

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"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'..."

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"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."

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"I know you can borrow wands, it just - doesn't work as well, but yeah, I guess with the chimaera wand that might help it not explode them. Even though they are a thief and should maybe be a little bit exploded."

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"I'm not well versed in the punitive laws here in England, but I'm quite sure the Ministry doesn't let thieves go unpunished."

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"Well, it used to be they'd go to Azkaban, but. I'm not even sure what they do anymore."

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"Thieves went to Azkaban?"

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"Yeah."

Miranda likes it even less than Tamara, but feels compelled to add: "Not for very long."
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Professor Reed shakes her head in disgust. "Ugh. Ugh, that prison." Then, remembering that she is talking to a first year and should really be more professional about it, she puts her Professor Face back on. "To the Headmistress' office, then?"

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"Yeah."

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To the Headmistress' it is, then.

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."
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The Headmistress stands rather abruptly. "Stolen?" she exclaims. She looks at Miranda. "Swan, what happened?"

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"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."

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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?"

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"I didn't take note of who we walked by. It could've been anywhere between the Ravenclaw dorm and the edge of the grounds, or in the Ministry."

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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."

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"I will."

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Two inquisitors arrive that evening. They interrogate Tamara at length; everything from "exactly what time did you leave Hogwarts, and from where" to "and why didn't you protect her better, hmmmm?"

(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.