One Tin Soldier
: If you recognize it, it's someone else's. Not for profit.A/N
: I'm depicting real members of the British Government, no intention of mis-representing them.
The two figures paused before the doorway. Ms. Harkness was about to knock when they both heard a wail coming from inside.
!" They heard thrashing. "No! Don't!"
Ms. Harkness knocked sharply, then said loudly through the door, "Willow! I'm coming in!" They came through the door to see Willow writhing back and forth on the bed.
"No! No! No! I'm sorry!" Willow nearly shouted in her sleep. Ms. Harkness gently shook her shoulder, and was about to say something when Willow sat up, intoned, "Back!" as she held her hand up, and with her magic pushed Agatha to the far wall. The act seemed to wake her, as her eyes flew open and she said, "Ohmygosh!" Waving her hand again, she cancelled the spell. "I'm so sorry, Ms. Harkness. Are you all right?" She rushed up to her host.
Panting, Agatha nodded. "Just got the wind knocked out of me." A few breaths later, she spoke again. "Willow, this is Hermione Granger," she said, gesturing to the other occupant of the room. "She's a student of my aunt, and I'd say that she knows far more of what's going on with the Wizarding World than I do, at this point. Added to that, her parents are Muggles, so I think that you should be able to understand each other better than someone brought up in a Wizarding household."
"Ms. Harkness, aren't you breaking the Statute of Secrecy?" Hermione asked, confused.
Willow smiled. "The way I understand it, you're just forbidden to tell people who can't do magic and don't know about it. I can, and I do." She nodded to the place on the wall where she had pushed Ms. Harkness. Seeing Hermione grudgingly nod, she smiled. "So why don't you tell me about this Wizarding World of yours." She looked Hermione up and down, smiling again.
Hermione cleared her throat. "The Wizarding World is a society or grouping of people, witches and wizards, who have decided, with few exceptions, to live and interact separately from their non-magical neighbors, known to them as Muggles. Well, that's the polite term. People trying to be arses generally call people without Wizarding parents, 'mudbloods,' whether they've got magic or not."
Willow raised an eyebrow. "You understand that both of those names show nothing other than bigotry and fear? You don't give people a derogatory nickname unless you want to make them less than human, so that it's okay to do things to them that you wouldn't do to regular people. And you don't do that unless you're afraid of what they'll do to you, or unless you're afraid of what'll happen to you if you don't make them the problem." She blushed. "Sorry, my experience as a Jewish lesbian coming to the fore." She waved her hand, "Please, go on."
"To be fair, some of that fear comes from a quite reasonable source. The witch hunts between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries actually caught a fair number of witches and wizards, and while some avoided the consequences, most did not. Things went from bad to worse, until some three thousand, which was most of the Wizards on the continent and Great Britain at the time, petitioned the Crown for protection, in return placing themselves, at least nominally, under Crown rule. It seems to have worked, as estimates of the Wizarding population today, even after the Wizarding war two decades past, is anywhere from twelve to fifteen thousand."
"So everything's all hunky-dory?" Willow silently chastized herself. Bad, bad girl! Underage!
Her face took on a wistful cast. Maybe in a few years...
"It most certainly is not
, Ms...Willow." Hermione stood straight and, using her wand to draw, explained. "Currently, there are four major power groups in the Wizarding World. First, and by far the most numerous, are the bulk of ordinary wizards and witches. They have nothing against Muggles, but they see no reason to stick their necks out for them."
"Not the brightest of outlooks, but we have to deal with people with eyes wide shut most of the time."
"Perhaps the next largest, at nearly ten percent of the population, is the magical government, the Ministry of Magic."
"I can see how that might be comforting to some people," Willow nodded.
"It would be a lot more 'comforting,' to me, if the past five years of my experience with it hadn't shown it to be more interested in appearances than actual danger, more interested in wiping people's memories of anything magical than protecting them from harm, and as corrupt as any government I've ever read about!" Hermione's face was flushed, then she took a deep breath. "I must apologise. You're not to blame for the situation, and I shouldn't take out my feelings for it on you."
"That's okay, Hermione. Believe me you've got a long way to go before you catch up with me on flyin' off the handle points."
Hermione gave a small smile. "Thanks. The third group rivals the government in numbers. It's a mixed group of witches and wizards known as the Death Eaters. They're a combination of pure-blood bigots and people who see their fortunes bettered with that kind of people in charge, combined with a group of people who simply like doing horrible things without being held to account for them. At the moment they are highly disorganized, as their leader is incorporeal, but -"
"Wait. Incorporeal? Do you mean dead?"
"No. From my understanding, he can't die all the way..at least for a while. He gave a killing curse to a friend of mine, and for some reason, it rebounded on him. But his...spirit, has shown itself to us, these past couple of years. He is there."
"Hmmm." Willow took her lip between her teeth. "And the last group?"
"That's the wizards who have the courage to fight against this bigotry and hatred of Muggles. However, they seem to be the most disorganized of the lot, and they're certainly the smallest, numerically. They're constantly being targeted by Death Eaters, as well." She looked at Willow. "It's not time to despair, because many of the best wizards anywhere are in that group. It's just that so often it all seems to come down to Harry - that's my friend. People look to him as the savior of the Wizarding World, just because he didn't die."
One side of Willow's mouth quirked up in a grin. "That's my best friend's number one rule - Don't Die. Now if she could just actually follow it..." She stood up and stretched. "Now if you could just tell me what you know about the politics of your world..."A Few Hours Later
A beetle crawled to the sill of the room that Willow was staying in and prepared to fly off. It spent the next several hours bouncing between the wards on the inside and outside of the window.