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Summary: After the war, reconciliation between enemies is necessary to create a better future, one that is only possible if one embraces the past. Begins during the final chapters of Deathly Hallows, ignores the epilogue. Will eventually be Harry/Draco. Disclaimer: Harry Potter, his friends, his enemies, and the lovely world they live in all belong to JK Rowling.

Chapters Posted:  20
Words Posted: 132,783 (this chapter was Exactly 10,000 words!)

Notes: Thanks to  for beta reading and giving good suggestions.  She has been very patient with me.  Chapter 21 is nearly done as well, just one more scene.

Comments and questions are always welcome. I find they inspire me to write further, knowing someone else cares about the story.

On to the Chapter:

 


 
 

The Light of Learning

 

May 20, 1998

 

When Harry reported to Filch that morning, the old caretaker sent him up to a room on the third floor.  When he got there, he saw the cauldron he had guarded a few days ago, and the Auror standing guard over it.  He groaned.

 

It couldn’t be.  Filch wouldn’t do that to him again, would he?  Of course he would.  It wasn’t that the work was difficult, he thought.  How hard could it be to keep dust out of a cauldron?  The company left something to be desired, however.  He already knew that Filch hated him.  He didn’t know why he expected that to have changed.

 

Sure enough, another Auror came up, with Draco Malfoy in tow.  “Potter!  Good, you’re here.”

 

Harry stared at Malfoy.  The git actually seemed pleased to see him.  He was beginning to get a really bad feeling.  Anytime Malfoy was happy, something bad was about to happen.

 

“Since the others aren’t here yet, you get to help me set up.”

 

Harry moved toward the carry box, when Draco interrupted him.  “Wand to the nice Auror, Potter.”  Harry glared at the blond, but handed over his holly wand, glad he had found a protected spot to store the other two wands.  He had felt exposed, carrying the Elder wand around with him, but while Dumbledore’s tomb was the right place for it to go, he wasn’t sure if it was secure there.  It needed to be so hidden that it would be lost to time, like the resurrection stone. 

 

“First, Potter, since it seems you just can’t stay away from our group, I guess you’d better learn how to control your magical field.  Keeping your attention away from it will work while guarding the cauldron, but not if you are to be of use in the room.  And I guess I’ll be stuck as the one to teach you.”

 

“I don’t think I’ll be on this team much longer.  There’s no need to exert yourself.”

 

“Too good to do the work you were assigned to do, Potter?”

 

Harry felt his blood heat up.  He had not shirked his duty when it most mattered.  This wasn’t a duty.  It wasn’t a task prophesied for him.  Helping rebuild the castle was something he’d volunteered to do.

 

“Potter, I know you have a tendency to get into danger, but I don’t think you are at imminent risk of death.  I think we’ll be stuck with you for a little longer at least.”

 

“I meant that I don’t think they’ll keep assigning me to your group.  I can talk to McGonagall...”

 

“Yes, do exert your special privilege.  What are they calling you now?  Saviour of the Wizarding World?  Why are you working at all?  Surely you could be out with your fans bowing before you!  The great slayer of the Dark Lord!  Oh, wait, what is it... The Slayer of You Know Who!  Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?”

 

Harry’s anger rose further, as Malfoy kept needling him.  “I’m here to work.  But I’m sure there are jobs I can do where I would not be stuck with your company.”

 

“Sure.  Potter gets to cherry-pick the jobs.  Unlike the rest of the volunteers who go where they are needed.  Run along to McGonagall, tell her you are too good for the job you were assigned.”

 

“Never mind, Malfoy.  Let’s just get on with this.  What do I need to do?”

 

Malfoy’s smirk was unsettling.  It was the same smirk he gave every time Harry rose to his bait.  “Can you sense your own magical field?  Or is that something you never bothered to learn?”

 

Harry tried to remember a lesson in which that was taught.  Charms, perhaps?  Defence?  He couldn’t remember mention of it.  The closest he came was the sense he got when he was at the Black estate, but he was not about to talk to Malfoy about that.

 

“I can tell from your gormless look that you haven’t an idea what I’m talking about.”

 

“Just explain it, Malfoy.  Or are you taking a leaf from the Snape school of instructing through insults?”

 

Sudden fury burst onto Malfoy’s face.  “Leave Professor Snape out of this, Potter.  Just...”   Harry watched, fascinated, as Malfoy took a breath and composed himself.  Why was he making the attempt?  Why wasn’t he throwing a fit?  Malfoy was certainly angry enough.  It felt so familiar, baiting Malfoy, but the blond wasn’t rising to the occasion.  For just a moment, Harry had felt thoroughly alive.

 

The moment passed, and the world faded. 

 

How had he not noticed?  He had been drifting through this colourless world for weeks, with only a few bright spots – playing with Ron the other day, and flying as fast as the school brooms would let him the night before.  If one of the few things that really made him feel alive was fighting with Malfoy, that wasn’t much of a life.

 

“Never mind.  What do I need to do?”

 

“Come over here.”  Malfoy moved further from the door to the contaminated room they likely had to cleanse that day.  Harry followed.  “Close your eyes.”  Malfoy commanded.

 

“You’ve got to be kidding.  I’m not closing my eyes with you around.”

 

“Fine, Potter.  If the presence of an Auror with his wand drawn and ready, and the fact that I don’t have a wand isn’t enough to make you feel safe in the presence of the big bad Slytherin, I give you my word that I will not attack you while you are learning what you need to learn here.”

 

Harry just stared.  The word of a Malfoy.  Sure.  But a faint tug inside him, that he was beginning to recognize as the Black family magic, stopped him from saying that aloud. 

 

“My word, as a scion of Black.”

 

The tug became definite.  That was something he could no longer ignore.  He could feel it all the way down.  It told him there was no way one of Black would violate that word to the head of Black.  Not even Malfoy.  It made no sense, and went against any instinct of self preservation he had, but Harry closed his eyes.

 

Malfoy’s voice went soft.  “Imagine you were casting a spell.  Don’t do it, but imagine.  Feel your wand hand.  Point your hand as if you had a wand in it, as if you were about to cast Lumos.  Not that direction!”  Malfoy’s voice grew sharp, and Harry’s eyes flew open.  He had pointed his imaginary wand directly at the open door of the room.  Oops.  He dropped his arm.

 

“Close your eyes again.”  Harry did. “Now—no, I’ll do it.”  Harry felt a hand lifting his arm and directing it.  With his eyes closed, the touch of the hand startled him. He drew a breath to relax.  The hand was still on his arm.  It was soft, gentle even.  He couldn’t believe it belonged to Malfoy.  He was about to open his eyes to check, when Malfoy continued. “Now, hold your hand as if you were pointing your wand in this direction.”  Harry felt his muscles moving in response, holding his wand arm out.  His muscles remembered the position instinctively.

 

“Now, think of the spell.  Think of the incantation, Lumos.”  Harry thought the word, remembering the first time he had cast it.  He remembered how it felt to see his wand light up. 

 

“Feel the wrist of your wand hand.  I want you to feel the magic, ready for use, waiting for you.” 

 

The area in front of Harry’s closed eyes grew brighter.

 

A muffled gasp.  “Very good, Potter,” Malfoy said dryly.   “As usual, you learned the wrong lesson.” 

 

Harry opened his eyes again.  His hand was grasping around an imaginary wand, and light was spilling out from his palm and between his fingers, as if he were holding something bright.  It wasn’t as bright as his usual Lumos, but he had done it without his wand!

 

“I’m not sure if that will make this easier or more difficult,” Malfoy said.  “Clearly you don’t need your wand to use your magic.  Harry Potter is, of course, one of the select few.”  His voice was bitter.  “In your case, this is unfortunate.  You have no choice now but to learn this.  The need for a wand prevents accidents.  Now that you seem to have awakened your ability to use wandless magic, you’ll have to find a way to control your magical field, or you’ll be casting accidental magic like a child.”  The sneer could be heard in that last word, leaving Harry no doubt about how Malfoy felt about that.

 

“Now, try again.”

 

“Where are the others?”

 

“I arranged for them to come a bit later.  Filch was quite accommodating.”  Harry could hear the annoying smirk in Malfoy’s voice.  “There’s no reason for them to wait out here in the corridor while you learn what any pure-blood wizard should have learnt within a year of getting his wand, if not earlier.  Now close your eyes.”

 

Harry rolled his eyes, then closed them.  “Wand hand out—this way.”  Again that soft hand guided his arm to point somewhere safe, Harry hoped.  “Now, imagine yourself holding your wand.  Yes, like that.  Now, imagine casting Lumos.  Feel the energy in your hand, but hold it there.  If you must, imagine you’ve got hold of it in your fist.”  Draco’s voice got oddly distant.  “Good.  Now, wait until after I’ve described what I want.  Don’t do anything yet.  Keep your awareness on the magic waiting to be used, the magic you are holding back.  Now, in a moment, I want you to release it, but not outward.  Imagine water spilling back into a carafe.” 

 

Harry imagined the crystal carafe at the Dursleys.  They had bought it one year during a weeklong vacation in Ireland.  Uncle Vernon spent the next week complaining about the wild Irish, and Petunia chipped in about their poor manners.  But apparently, they made excellent crystal in Waterford.  Harry, of course, had spent the entire week of their absence with Mrs Figg in her cat-infested home. 

 

“Imagine that the magic you prepared for the spell is no longer needed. You are going to let it spill back into you.  Follow it inward as you do.  Now, release.”  Harry imagined the brightness in his hand that he assumed was his magic flowing back down his arm, and watched it as it flowed.  He loved how bright it was.  He’d never thought of magic as something bright.  He saw the colours of powerful spells, but never considered that magic itself was anything until it was cast.  He watched the brightness of the potential for magic flowing down, through his wrist and arm and into his body, imagining his body as a carafe to accept it all.  Suddenly the image of the Dursley Waterford carafe intruded, and he was suddenly seeing the warm light of his magic spilling over the angles of the cut crystal like a demented fountain.

 

“You’re hopeless.”  Malfoy commented, sounding slightly strangled.

 

Harry opened his eyes, and there was light shining out from him, like refracted rays, from his wrists and neck and spilling through his robes and... he looked down at a particularly bright beam of light and flushed a deep red.  Nox!

 

“Erm...” 

 

The guard had turned away, and seemed to be shaking.

 

“Potter, have you never had to control yourself at all?” 

 

Harry thought about years at the Dursleys, having to keep silent or he would be punished, having to restrain comments he so wanted to make when Vernon Dursley was yelling at him.  There had been a freedom at Hogwarts, despite the rules, because the most he had to fear were detentions and loss of house points, instead of being hit with Petunia’s cast iron frying pan, or loss of access to food. 

 

He never wanted to feel so helpless as he did at the Dursleys, when he was not allowed to use magic, and when that was the only thing he had that was more powerful than they were.  He imagined how he would restrain his magic if he were there.  He imagined his dingy room, and imagined magic as if it were sound that he could not let the Dursleys hear.  He could do it then.  He could do it now.

 

He held out his hand in a direction away from the contaminated room, wrapped his fingers around an imaginary wand, and closed his eyes.  Once again, he could see the line of bright fire extending through his outstretched arm, pooling a little in his hand as if waiting to be released.  He followed the bright line of magic back into himself, and found a cluster of it so bright he almost had to turn his attention away. 

 

He returned his attention to his hand, and allowed the brightness there to return, flowing back down his arm, rejoining with the bright blob of light in the middle.  As he watched, he breathed deeply, feeling to the edges of it.  He breathed again, trying to relax, and let it calm.  He didn’t need it right now.  He needed it calm, like a pool, waiting.  He felt it calm, dimming, as if it were turning from sun to moon.  When it had reached the soft glow of the moon, he pulled it into himself, so it was completely inside his skin, contained.

He opened his eyes.

 

Malfoy was staring at him as if he were something he’d never seen before.

 

“Not bad, Potter.  There seems to be hope for you after all.”

 

Harry grinned.

 

The other Slytherins arrived just then, so further practice was delayed in favour of doing the actual work.  Harry was again relegated to keeping the contents of the cauldron from getting contaminated.

 

The day passed without incident.  After they had packed their tools back up and were about to leave, Malfoy called, “Potter!”

 

Harry turned.

 

“When you come tomorrow, I’ll start teaching you the runes.”

 

Harry didn’t understand.  Why was Malfoy doing this? 

 

 

 

Dinner at the Burrow

 

May 20, 1998

 

Harry couldn’t believe it had been a week since he had seen Hermione or the Weasleys.  He could have Apparated over to the Burrow at any time, but he had stayed at Hogwarts, working, repairing, exploring. 

 

It was good to see Hogwarts slowly returning to its former self, and good to participate in creating that, even if it was less fun now that Ron had been disinvited as a volunteer.  Still, it was rewarding.  He’d rather go back to his old task, though – he preferred the hands-on work to whatever Malfoy was having him do.  Perhaps he should talk with McGonagall about it.

 

That evening, after Harry had cleaned up from the work with Malfoy’s team, he Apparated to the Burrow for dinner.  For the summer, he was not a student, he was one of the volunteers, and an adult, and could go where he wanted.

 

Ron was outside and they had set up a table in the garden.  It was a pleasant evening, not too hot, with a clear sky and occasional clouds. 

 

“Hey.”

 

Ron looked up at his greeting.

 

“Harry, glad you’re here!  Here, help me with this, would you?”  Harry hefted one of the two boxes in Ron’s arms, and set it on the bench next to the table.  He looked at Ron, who looked back at him with a bit of challenge in his eyes.   They both got out their wands and flicked the tablecloth over the table, and then flicked each dish, cup, and fork to its place.  Harry grinned.  It was good to use magic for something so normal.  This time, there was no Filch to catch them.

 

“Ron Weasley, what are you doing??”

 

Oops.  There was no Filch, but Mrs Weasley was certainly present, and was bearing down on them with a glare on her face that would do Snape proud. 

 

Ron shrugged.  “Setting the table?”

 

“I asked you to set the table, not juggle my dishes.”

 

“Nothing broke.”  Ron protested.  “It’s all fine.” 

 

“It’s good to see you, Harry dear.”  Mrs Weasley turned to him as if he had not likewise been using magic to toss her dishes about.  “Go on inside, Ron will be in as soon as he’s finished.  Without magic!”  With a final emphasis on her last words, she turned and re-entered the house.  Harry shrugged at Ron apologetically, and followed her in. 

 

They were adults!  How was it that Mrs Weasley could still make him feel as if he were eight years old?

 

Hermione was already in the house, sitting at the table, conversing with Mrs Weasley as she finished the last touches of their meal.  Even though it was a weekday, Mrs Weasley had made a roast, with some potatoes and vegetables nestled around it.  It looked delicious.

 

He sat next to Hermione, sharing the long wooden bench.  “She won’t let me help,” she whispered to him.

 

They settled into a conversation about her work and his volunteering.  Both were working to rebuild, to reconnect.  Harry felt a stronger connection with her than he had in a while.  It was more than her staying with him through the Horcrux hunt.  It was that, when it was all over, she still wanted to help.  It was part of what he liked about the volunteers at Hogwarts, but Harry knew Hermione had been there throughout, never failing.  She didn’t sit back and say, “done.” 

 

He didn’t tell her immediately about working with Malfoy. 

 

Malfoy’s offer had confused him.  Why would the Slytherin want to teach him to draw runes?  Why would he want to teach him magical theory, or to see that amazing brightness that was his magic?  It made no sense. 

 

Of course, the way Malfoy said it, it was not so much an offer as a command.  Where did Malfoy get off trying to order him around?   Harry had checked with McGonagall.  Malfoy was one of the prisoners who had volunteered to help with the repairs, rather than sit in their cells all day.  That alone was out of character.  Since when did Malfoy volunteer for anything if there wasn’t something in it for him?

 

That meant there was something in it for him.

 

It was funny, he had barely thought of Malfoy all last year, and now that he was back at Hogwarts, as soon as he saw the git, he could not get the Slytherin off his mind.  What was in it for Malfoy?

 

After dinner, Harry, Hermione and Ron went to sit in the back garden.  They took off their shoes, and curled their toes around the cool blades of grass.

 

They sat in silence, listening to the breezes and pulling the occasional blade of grass. 

 

“I saw Draco Malfoy today.”  Harry broke the silence. 

 

Hermione turned to him.  “Isn’t he imprisoned?”

 

“McGonagall says yes.  He’s on this crew, all Slytherin captives, volunteering to fix some magical contamination at Hogwarts, from the final battle.  There are guards watching over them.”

 

“Magical contamination?  Is it safe for you to stay there?”

 

“They have the dangerous areas marked off.  They wouldn’t let me stay there if it was dangerous.”

 

Hermione’s face looked doubtful.  Harry continued on, wanting to get to his point.

 

“Filch put me on Malfoy’s crew.  Malfoy said he wants to teach me how to draw runes tomorrow.” 

 

“But you never took runes.”  Hermione objected.

 

He explained more about the task they were assigned to, and who was on the crew with Malfoy, and what they were supposedly doing.  At Hermione’s request, he tried to explain the sigils he’d seen them draw, and the idea of residue from dark magic.  From Hermione’s frustrated expression, he knew she’d be looking it all up.

 

“Are you sure the evil git isn’t just spreading it around?  Leaving little traps for the rest of us?  It would be just like him.” 

 

“Ron, I don’t think that’s likely.”  Hermione chipped in.  “Besides, wouldn’t the Auror have noticed something, if he were doing it wrong?  But, Harry, what can they do without their wands?  That’s what I don’t understand.”

 

“Malfoy says it is dangerous to have wands near the dark magic stuff.”  Harry answered.

 

“Sure.”  Ron snorted.  “I bet his dad always put his wand away before doing any dark magic.”  He huffed.  “They just don’t want you to have a wand when they don’t.”

 

“They’re doing the rune work ’cause apparently you can’t use magic in those areas without something bad happening.”

 

“Oh!”  Hermione exclaimed.  “That makes sense.  Runes are passive magic.”

 

“I don’t really know.  It was just strange.  Malfoy kept going on about teaching me stuff—runes, controlling my magic, magical theory.”

 

“He did what??”  Hermione choked.

 

“He said he wants to teach me Magical theory.  Didn’t we learn theory at Hogwarts?  All those essays we had to write…”

 

“Well, we learned the theory behind the specific spells we were being taught, or behind the ingredients we used in potions.  Those of us who read the additional readings, learned it.”  Hermione gave Ron and Harry a pointed glare.  But I don’t think that is quite the same thing.  There is something mentioned in a lot of the texts I’ve read… kind of a unified theory of how magic works.  If he’s talking about that, Harry, do you know how rare that is?”

 

“I’m not sure I understand.”

 

“A lot of that research was done in the early days, before all the rules defining what was Dark Magic.  Because those texts examined the theory of both dark and light magic, they were considered questionable.  Nothing from them would have been taught at Hogwarts.  Most of those texts are hoarded in private libraries.”

 

“So Malfoy wants to teach me something dark?”

 

“Well, he’s not to be trusted, that is certain.  But Harry, that knowledge has been the exclusive purview of pure-bloods!”

 

The sound of Hermione’s frustration and longing made Harry want to laugh, but he knew she’d take it wrong.  It was mixed in with caution and judgment.   He remembered how much she had objected to using the Half Blood Prince’s book, even if it helped him understand the potions better.  He knew it was because she was cautious about the source of the knowledge, but suspected it was also because he was learning the results without learning all the reasons for them, which Hermione had emphasized frequently in their studying.  Theory again.

 

“So, you saying you think I should do it?”

 

“It is not often someone who is not pure-blood gets access to those books.  It’s a rare opportunity.”

 

“I don’t know that Malfoy has access to the books either.  All I know is that he offered to teach me – twice now.  Besides, wouldn’t I have access to books like that at one of the Black properties?”

 

“I suspect you would.  Would you know how to find the information you wanted?  I could help.”  Harry heard the longing in her voice.

 

“Hermione, until I figure out how the Black Estate understands your status, I’d rather you don’t go there.  It could be dangerous.  The whole toujours pur thing.”

 

Hermione frowned.  Harry wasn’t sure if it was knowledge she could not access or the pure-blood prejudices that caused the grimace, but he knew she was not happy.

 

She sighed.  “Even if I could get access, you’d learn better from someone who already understood it.  I’ve only glimpsed the edges.”

 

Ron grinned.  “There’s something Hermione Granger doesn’t know?”   She swatted him on the back of the head.

 

“No one talks about theory.  I looked for it all over the library.  The only references to it were to various texts in some pure-blood’s library.  They don’t talk about it to outsiders.  I don’t know if it is forbidden, or just not done.  If you can get a pure-blood to teach you that...”

 

“But it would be Malfoy.”  Harry got up, too agitated to sit, and started to pace in the grass.  “How would I know he was not lying to me?  How would I know he was not setting me up in revenge for killing their Dark Lord?”

 

“Harry.  Sit.”

 

Harry looked at Hermione in surprise.  The intensity of her voice stopped his pacing, and he figured since he had stopped, he might as well sit down.  His restless hands started pulling up blades of grass.

 

“Harry, whenever I was researching magical spells, when we were looking for the Horcruxes, almost every single time, I ran into the same thing.  There were assumptions made, no reason given.  I just had to take those assumptions at face value.  And sometimes, just sometimes, an author, always a pure-blood, would comment in such a way to indicate that the assumptions were based on something. 

 

“Our entire time at Hogwarts, we learned what spells did.  In potions, if you read the background reading and the extra assignments,”  Ron flushed at that pointed comment, and Harry found his own face grow warm as well, “if you read the material assigned, you would have learned how the various ingredients react with each other, based on magical and physical categories, but that is as close as we got.  In ancient runes, again we learned categories of runes, and properties of each category, which runes will cleanse, which will empower, and what kind of spells the runes will interact with and how.  What we didn’t learn was why the runes were divided into those specific categories, instead of others. 

 

“When I was taking Muggle studies, it was clear that wizards see the world differently than we do.”

 

Harry snorted in agreement. 

 

Ron looked between them.  “What do you mean, Hermione?”

 

"That's exactly the point!  I don't know what I mean!!  I can sense it, Harry and I both can sense it," Hermione included him, and he nodded, “but I don’t know what the root of the difference is!  I know there are lots of little things, and many of them vary from wizard to wizard, like the way your father is so fascinated by everyday Muggle stuff like plugs and radios, but you aren’t.  There is the way Wizards just can’t seem to get the hang of Muggle fashion.  I don’t understand how they can see Muggles dressed as they are, and then come up with such outlandish costumes when trying to look ‘Muggle’.”

 

“Have you seen the way Muggles dress?  There are so many variations!  How are we supposed to figure out what goes with what?”  Ron protested.

 

Hermione thought for a moment.  “I suppose you could just match a given outfit.  Or use catalogues.  The people in catalogues are dressed in complete outfits, usually.”  She hoped no witch or wizard decided to use a lingerie catalogue as their guide.  “But that’s beside the point.  I see so many things that witches and wizards take for granted, and there is a sense of a fundamental difference that is at the root of it all—and I can’t put my finger on it.”

 

“Ummm, Hermione.  It’s called magic.”

 

“Argh!”  Hermione shouted.  “I know that.  But while magic powers the wizarding world, that isn’t what I’m talking about.  That’s like saying that electricity makes Muggles think like they do.  It’s like saying that the electrical power generator controls Muggle culture.”

 

“No, wait.  Hermione,” Harry interrupted.  Electricity can do a lot, but it isn’t part of us like magic is.”  He thought of the call of the Black family.  In some ways he felt like the Black family magic was compiling a to-do list for him... he could feel the demand growing in his mind.  He needed to talk to Mrs Tonks again soon.  He wanted to make sure that he would be the one in charge of his own direction.

 

He wondered if Malfoy’s magical theory instruction would help him understand what was going on in his head, or in his magic, since he allowed himself to become Head of the Black Family.  That was, of course, assuming he could even trust what Malfoy taught him.

 

“That’s part of it.  I don’t know.  But as long as whatever it is remains a mystery to us, we will remain outsiders to this world.”

 

Harry nodded slowly.  He had stumbled into cultural assumptions, and assumptions about the place of magic in their lives.  He had slowly become used to cleaning charms, and charms to protect him from the rain.  In some ways he was glad that he never really integrated with Muggle culture, and that Hogwarts took students at the age of eleven.  He could not imagine entering into the Wizarding World at his current age, if he had never known magic.  He could do magic, but he didn’t automatically use it for everyday things.  He was used to using a comb for his hair, and never really thought of warming charms when he was cold.  Even after seven years, it wasn’t automatic, perhaps because there had been so many places they weren’t allowed to use their magic.  Of course, he never learned the cooking charms Mrs Weasley used.  Hogwarts didn’t teach those, as far as he knew.  Perhaps there were certain charms you learnt from your family?

 

“But what does that have to do with magical theory?”  Harry asked, getting back to the point.  Ron looked as if he had wanted to ask the same question.

 

“The Wizarding World is based on magic.  It is based on how magic works, what magic is, and yet, here we are, at the age when students typically have completed their Hogwarts education, and I still have no underlying understanding about how magic works.  Do you?”

 

Harry slowly shook his head.

 

“When I was at the funerals,” Hermione did not specify which ones, “they were beautiful, and moving, but there was so much that I did not understand. It did not seem like a good time to get into a conversation about comparative sociology--” 

 

Harry snorted at the thought.  He could have seen eleven year old Hermione doing just that.  Over the years, she had acquired a sense that not everyone was willing to jump into an academic discussion at any time and place.

 

“--but the funerals emphasised that there were cultural differences, and that these cultural differences were based on lifetimes of interacting with magic.  It is the first time I have gotten a sense of religion in the Wizarding World.  I never saw sign of it at Hogwarts.”

 

Ron started.  “Do Muggles celebrate their beliefs in front of outsiders?”

 

“See?  That’s what I mean.  Harry, did you even know there were religious practices before the funerals?”

 

“I’m not sure I even thought of the funerals as religious occasions.  The Dursleys did not give me anything to compare it to.  Sure, the funeral for Colin was at a church, but that was a Muggle thing.  But the funeral for Remus and Tonks... that was–” he struggled to say what he meant.  Hermione thought of it as religious, but religion was about belief, not something that was real.  Harry had felt Remus and Tonks joining that entity in the back of his mind, felt their personalities and their magic join with the family. 

 

“So you never thought in that context.  My parents went to church most Sundays.  It was odd at Hogwarts not to go each week.  It never occurred to me that they might practice religion in private.”

 

“Not so much in private.  And it’s not so much religion.  It is a family thing.” Ron interjected.

 

“But Hermione, what does this have to do with whether I should let Malfoy teach me magical theory?  What does that have to do with culture, or religion, or …”  He trailed off.  There was a glimpse of something. 

 

“How did Voldemort come to power?”  Hermione’s abrupt change in subject threw him.

 

Harry stopped.  “He got a bunch of bigoted pure-bloods into a murderous frenzy,” he muttered.

 

“Yes, but how?  What did he offer them?”

 

Ron took this one.  “Ummm, the chance to kill people?”

 

“Ron, have you ever wanted to kill anyone?”

 

“Yeah.  Snape.  After he killed Dumbledore.”

 

“He took away something, someone, you valued.”

 

“Yeah, and I hated the evil git.”

 

“Ron…”  Harry started.

 

“I know.  I know.  You say he was good inside.  But I can’t just change what I think about him after six years of him tormenting us.  That is not the sign of a good guy.”

 

“Let’s not get sidetracked.”  Hermione interrupted.  “Harry, have you ever wanted to kill anyone?  Besides Voldemort?”

 

“I never even wanted to kill him.   I just wanted him gone.  I wanted to kill Bellatrix, though.”

 

“See?”

 

They both looked at her.

 

“Do you think most people just decide one day that they want to kill someone?”

 

“But they were Slytherins, Hermione.  Who knows how they think?”  Ron protested.

 

“Exactly.  Who knows?  Everybody that joined Voldemort either wanted something or was afraid of something.  When I was sorting papers at the Ministry, I came across an entire file of court records that were misfiled—from the first war.  Death Eaters giving testimony.  The rhetoric they spouted was fairly consistent.  They were in it because they saw the Wizarding World as being in danger.

 

“Mental, the lot of them.”  Ron flopped down on the sofa with a huff.

 

“Well, if they weren’t when they joined, Voldemort certainly made them so.”

 

Ron looked at her as if she had flipped.

 

“Harry, you remember what Tom Riddle looked like when he was at Hogwarts?”

 

“Yeah, sure.”

 

“Was he unattractive?”

 

Harry paused.  “No.”

 

“He was a powerful, not bad looking wizard, right?”

 

“Hermione, you’re creeping me out.”  Ron said.

 

“What’s your point, Hermione?”

 

“I have heard from some of the firsthand accounts that the early Voldemort was a charismatic wizard, who offered the pure-bloods something they wanted.”

 

“What, a chance to go out and murder Muggles?”

 

“They never quite gave the details in the journals and reports I read.  It was just assumed that the reader would know.  But they were intent on ‘protecting our way of life’.  The Wizarding way of life.  So, what is it that they were protecting?”

 

“I don’t know!”

 

“Ron?  Do you?”

 

“It’s bollocks!  There was nothing for them to protect, and no one for them to protect it from.  I’ve grown up my entire life in the Wizarding World, and I haven’t a clue what you’re on about.”

 

“Just bear with me.  Harry, leaving aside the possibility of them all being power-hungry, sadistic psychopaths, they had to have thought they had a reason to join Voldemort.  They thought they had something to protect.  Something that you and I have never experienced.  Something that even Ron, who has been part of the Wizarding World, has never experienced.  But all these old books hint at something, something that seems to be assumed that you either know, or don’t deserve to know.

 

“What if Voldemort had never gotten the followers he did?  What if all those Wizards never felt that their world was turning its back on them?  What if they never felt threatened?”

 

“What does all that have to do with Malfoy?”

 

“If I’m right—“

 

Ron snickered at that.

 

“If I’m right, wizarding culture is based on how magic works.  If you understand that, there is a chance you can understand wizarding culture.  And if we can understand that, then maybe we could recognize and prevent the rise of the next Dark Lord.”

 

Harry stared at her.

 

Ron shook his head.  “That makes no sense Hermione.”

 

Hermione turned to Harry. 

 

Behind her, Harry saw Mrs Weasley beckoning them in to dinner.  He got to his feet, brushing the grass off his jeans.  Hermione stayed where she was, following Harry with a challenging stare.

 

“I’m not sure.  I’ll think on it.  I will!” 


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Chapter 1 (If you've not read the story yet, start here...)

Chapter 19 Part 1  (if you missed the previous chapter, click here) 
Chapter 19 Part 2 (or click here if you only missed Part 2)

Chapter 19 Part 3 (or click here if you only missed Part 3)

Chapter 20 Part 1 (This is a two part chapter. Click here if you missed Part 1)


 On to the next chapter... Chapter 21

 

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