Chapter 18 : It's My Party
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“No, Hermione, no!”
About forty people were squashed into the Burrow in what would become a famous meeting. Hermione was at the end of her tether. First Kingsley had refused to join the new party despite having put forward half of its policies.
“As minister of Magic I can’t join a party. I have to work with all sides,” he had argued. “Besides they’d sack me in five minutes if I joined a party that wanted them to face elections.”
Then McGonagall had declined. “I have a seat in the Wizengamot only by virtue of my position as headmistress of Hogwarts. I represent Hogwarts.”
So the two people Hermione had hoped would give the new party strong representation in the Wizengamot had declined to even join. Then all the party policies that Hermione wanted were watered down. Despite her passionate advocacy, only Ron supported elf emancipation. “People aren’t ready for it and the house elves don’t want it,” was the consensus. The most she could get up was a commitment to improve elf working conditions.
On democracy, a policy of gradualism won the day. The new party adopted a position that 10% of the places in the Wizengamot should be filled through direct election by the people. As far as eliminating special privilege based on ancestry the adopted platform consisted of little more than pious platitudes with no concrete policies. Hermione was feeling deflated. Now Neville was on his feet opposing Hermione’s plan for a formal and strong alliance between the DA and the new party. In her vision the DA would be like the youth wing of the new party, a training ground for its future leaders.
“Neville, it makes the whole structure stronger,” she responded. “It builds the base of the party.”
“No, Hermione, no.”
There was no rancour in Neville’s voice just firm conviction spoken gently.
“Hermione, it’s not why I joined the DA, it’s not why we reformed the DA it, it’s not what the DA is about.” Neville stood rock steady as he explained his position, his words attentively listened too.
“I joined the DA to learn how to protect myself. We reformed it to protect other people. If you want to know what I believe the DA is all about read Harry’s speech on respect. I have framed a copy of that speech and hung it in the DA room at Hogwarts. I’ll just quote a little of it; ‘’
"’I therefore implore each of you firstly, to respect yourselves. Respect yourselves enough to be the best person you can be, to stand up and resist tyranny and injustice wherever you find them and to stand up for your own best values. I then implore you to extend that respect to all your fellow human beings and to the other members of our magical community and to understand that each and every one of us has value and an essential dignity.’”
“Harry’s speech is what the DA is all about. Get a copy Hermione, read it.”
“Hermione doesn’t need to read it Neville. She wrote the speech,” cut in Harry.
“Yeah, well, I guess that doesn’t surprise me,” responded Neville. “It sounds like the compassionate and insightful Hermione I’ve known for years. Hermione, listen to your own words. A DA whose mission is to teach those values is something that we can spread to other schools. It will do far more good than some junior branch of a political party. If we teach those values we will have recruits for our new party because the party is based on the same values, but Hermione, we will have done far more.”
“Let me quote once more from your words;”
“’ The fight to restore justice and decency to our society will not be won through laws and administrative arrangements, necessary though they be. The fight will not be won on the battlefield. It can only be won in the hearts of each and every one of us.’”
“’ laws and administrative arrangements’, that’s the party. ‘Hearts’, that’s the DA.”
Hermione was moved. Neville’s conviction and her own words cut through to her and she saw that Neville was right. More than right. His vision for the future of the DA, his understanding of what it truly meant was inspiring.
“I agree,” she said quietly with the hint of a tear in her eye and she went over to Neville and gave him a hug. The applause was spontaneous and enthusiastic. In years to come when people recalled this meeting it was this scene that so often sprang to mind. That and Elphias Doge.
A break was called and Hermione found herself sipping tea sitting next to Elphias Doge, Dumbledore’s childhood friend and by far the oldest member of the Order of the Phoenix.
“You’re disappointed,” he said.
“I’d hoped for so much more. About the only thing we all agreed on was the name for the new party; Party for Liberty Equality Justice or PLEJ. The platform is so much weaker than I had hoped and now we don’t even have a member in the Wizengamot.”
“Miss Granger, what has been achieved today is nothing short of miraculous. Something powerful has been created today. It doesn’t matter if the platform is weak. That’s just today’s menu. It has nothing to do with what you’ll be doing in five, ten or fifteen years’ time.”
“And you’re wrong about not having a member in the Wizengamot.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I may not have attended many sessions of late, so people tend to forget that I am a member. Perhaps if you ask Arthur to give me the nod I believe I can cheer you up a little.”
Arthur, who was chairing the meeting called it back to order and gave the floor to Doge.
“I’m an old man, so they tell me.” There were faint ripples of laughter.
“But today I feel young. In recent years I have rarely attended the Wizengamot. I saw little point. Today I have been given a reason, today I have hope. I have lost many friends over the years to war and to evil. In this last war I lost my oldest and dearest friend, Albus Dumbledore. In every case the root cause has been the same; incompetent and self-serving government and a complacent people. I had long since come to the conclusion that such was the lot of wizard kind and resigned myself to it. Today I have been given hope that things could be different. An old man’s folly? Perhaps, but it is a folly I fully intend to pursue. I will join this new party and represent it with pride in the Wizengamot.” This announcement was met with loud cheers. Doge continued.
“I have held a meeting with every other member of the party currently in the Wizengamot. As I am the only one, it was a very short meeting,” he said dryly. Laughter filled the room. “I am pleased to announce that, at this meeting, I was elected unopposed as leader of the party in the Wizengamot and I thanked my colleagues for their confidence in me.” There was more laughter now mixed with cheers.
“We must build the party both inside and outside the Wizengamot, but we have a very simple and a very compelling proposition to sell. It is simply this. Twice in the space of a generation through incompetence, inaction and complicity the Wizengamot and the Ministry of Magic have allowed Voldemort to spread misery, despair, unspeakable cruelty, injustice and death through the community. Both must be reformed root and branch. We must take this message to every corner of wizarding society. We must fill the media with it. We must thunder it from every pulpit we can reach.”
People in the room were listening carefully now deeply impressed with the clarity of vision and the strength coming from someone most had dismissed as a doddery old man.
“As for building our numbers in the Wizengamot there is a number of things we can do. Firstly I know of two existing members who I believe would be amenable to an approach to join the party. Secondly it would be a good time to revive the old position of Youth representative to the Wizengamot, a position Dumbledore himself once held many, many years ago. It has been vacant for twenty years now but I believe it is in your power to revive it, Minister Shacklebolt. I don’t see that anyone could raise serious objections to appointing Mr Potter to that position. That would give us four members. There is a bigger opportunity though.”
Doge stopped for a moment and had a sip of water. He was shaking a little and his knee was causing him pain but he hoped no one was noticing. “I understand that Waldo Apsley will soon be charged with attempted murder and that a vacancy will become available on the High Warranters. As they appoint most members of the Wizengamot we should develop a strategy to get someone sympathetic to our cause into that slot. Please remember that something like a tenth of the members of the Wizengamot are likely to face charges relating to crimes or complicity during Voldemort’s recent reign. They will need to be replaced. It is a rare opportunity.”
“I will finish with a simple observation, a simple promise. When we launch this party they will laugh at us. They will dismiss us a group of clueless children and doddery old men. Let them laugh. We will tear their house down and build it anew.” He sat down to thunderous applause. No one could believe it. For all the youth around, it was an old man, given fresh hope, who had breathed fire and life into the newborn party.
By the end of the day the new party had thirty members and one representative in the Wizengamot. Harry had been elected president, Hermione vice president and Percy as Secretary, responsible for administration of the party. It was agreed that the party would be officially launched at a press conference in two days’ time and all those present, including those who had chosen not to join, had agreed to keep quiet till then.
The DA had a clearer vision of its role and plans were underway to spread it to other schools both in Britain and in Europe. A number of the older DA members who had left school had joined the Order of the Phoenix, revitalising that organisation, enabling it to continue its role as a watchdog against injustice and dark magic.
Kingsley had agreed to revive the position of youth representative to the Wizengamot but insisted, for reasons he could not disclose, that it was not possible to appoint either Harry, Ron or Hermione to the position. In the end, a reluctant Neville found himself slated to become the youngest member of the Wizenagamot.
“All in all, a very good day,” summed up Arthur as he closed the historic meeting. Soon glasses of fire whiskey and butter beer were floating around the room and everyone began to relax. The mood was jovial and celebratory.
McGonagall approached Hermione. “Miss Granger, I need to have a word privately if possible.”
“Of course Professor,” she replied alarmed at the formal tone. She led McGonagall to Ginny’s room.
“Hermione, it was my understanding that you intended returning to Hogwarts this coming year.”
“Yes, it is.”
“Could you explain how you were planning on running a political party while a student at Hogwarts. I understand you have also been offered a position on the board of a charity.”
“I was hoping to have general permission to leave Hogwarts as needed to attend to various matters. I was also hoping I would be able to receive visitors on business as necessary. The circumstances are hardly usual. I am a lot older than your usual final year students and I believe I have demonstrated the maturity and judgement to justify these privileges.”
“Problems always arise when you give special privileges to any one student no matter how worthy.”
“You could extend the same privileges to all students who would have finished school last year but for the war. That would only be a small handful, all trustworthy.”
“Yes, that could work, but I am worried about your workload. I also need to add to it. I want you to be Head Girl next year. Quite frankly no other choice makes sense. Anyone else I chose would feel totally overshadowed by your presence.”
“I am honoured, Professor.”
“Hermione, it will be Hogwarts that will be honoured, but that doesn’t change the facts. Hogwarts is going to be just as much in need of healing next year as the outside world. There will be a lot for you to do. I don’t want you to wear yourself out by trying to do too much as you did in third year. You can have the permissions you seek. I trust your judgement, but please, be very judicious in what you take on.”
“Hermione, when we’re out of school or in private, please call me Minerva, alright?”
“Oh, and one last thing, Hermione, if Mr Ronald Weasley just happens to be one of those people who need to visit Hogwarts on ‘business’ do be discrete.”
Minerva exited the room leaving Hermione blushing.
It was another two hours before everyone but the Weasleys had left the Burrow. Everything had been cleared away and they were now sitting around the lounge room enjoying the peace. Ginny was sitting in Harry’s lap, something now so commonplace it barely registered. Hermione looked exhausted. She was sitting next to Ron, her head resting on his shoulder.
“Happy, love?” asked Ron.
She nodded. “I wasn’t earlier, but really it couldn’t have turned out any better.”
“Today was marvellous,” added Arthur, “but now the real work begins. It’s not as if we haven’t already got jobs. I hope we all understand what we’ve signed up for.”
Every single member of the Weasley family had joined the party. In addition to Percy’s role as Secretary, Bill had agreed to manage the finances of the party, Fleur had volunteered to help with recruitment and Arthur was on the executive committee. Ron had a sort of roving brief. In a party of just thirty people, a third of whom were Weasleys, formal roles didn’t mean that much though. Everyone was expected to pitch in and everyone would have a say.
Happy but tired, in singles and pairs the family went to bed.
About 2 in the morning Ginny was awoken by loud shouting. “Let me free, let me free, I can save you…. Nooo!”
It was coming from Harry’s room. She dashed in, wand in hand. Harry was thrashing around on the bed, his body rigid. His brow was covered in sweat. He was shouting the same words over and over. She rushed over to him and tried to wake him without success.
Though the furthest away, Ron and Hermione were the next to arrive, also wands at the ready. “You have to wake him Ginny, keep trying.”
“He’s reliving the night Dumbledore died, when he was paralysed in a full body bind,” said Ron.
By this time Molly and Arthur had arrived. Harry was awake, feeling drained and staring at all the people gathered in his room.
“You had a nightmare, Dear,” said Molly “It’s over now.” She went to fetch some warm water and a sponge and came back to wipe down his face.
“I’ll stay with him tonight, in the other bed. He shouldn’t be alone,” said Ginny.
“That won’t be necessary, Ginny,” said Molly firmly, “I’ll give him a potion to ease his sleep.”
Ginny took the sponge from her mother and gently mopped Harry’s brow. Molly returned with the potion and gave it to Harry. Soon they all returned to their beds.
Forty minutes later they were all awoken again by Harry’s shouts. This time it was very hard to wake him and he looked very weak and pale. Molly was worried. This time she didn’t object to Ginny staying with Harry. “Stay in your bed though and keep the door open,” she insisted.
“Yes Mum.” Ginny pushed the spare bed next to Harry’s, climbed in then reached for Harry’s hand. Molly wasn’t sure she approved of this but said nothing. Once again they all retired and this time they all slept through till morning.
Harry awoke to find Ginny asleep in the next bed, just inches away. She looked very beautiful. So it wasn’t a dream he said to himself. He remembered the nightmare. He was watching Dumbledore die, over and over again, unable to do anything about it. One more death he couldn’t prevent. He still felt the horror of it. He looked over at Ginny and thought, maybe it was worth it.
Ginny stirred, she noticed Harry and jumped up in surprise, and then she remembered. “How are you Harry?”
“OK, a bit tired. Thanks for staying with me.”
“It wasn’t a chore Harry.”
“I’m glad,” he smiled.
“How long have you been having nightmares like that?” she asked, concerned.
“I thought they had stopped after you defeated Voldemort,” said Ron entering the room with Hermione in tow.
“So what brought it on last night?” Ron asked.
“Doge mentioned Dumbledore’s death yesterday, that might be it,” guessed Hermione, “but Harry, didn’t Kingsley bring the contract to join the Aurors? Didn’t you sign that yesterday?”
“Yes, I start in three weeks.”
“I’m worried Harry,” said Hermione.
“You’re always worried Hermione. Maybe it was a once off,” replied Ron.
“I hope your right,” replied Hermione doubtfully, “Harry can’t take Ginny with him on Auror training.”
“Sounds great to me,” quipped Ginny.
“Me too,” added Harry.
The Press conference announcing the new party was held the next day in a room attached to the Wizengamot. As a member, Elphias Doge was fully entitled to use the facility. The room was packed. The news that Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Elphias Doge were to make a special announcement had journalists scurrying from far afield and started the rumour mills spinning in overdrive.
Lee Jordan had organised the conference. Percy had appointed him as Press Secretary largely due to his experience with Potterwatch. Lee had spent a frantic morning the previous day in a muggle library reading up on media management and PR. Like just about everyone else in the party he was on a steep learning curve.
Lee checked his watch. At 5 minutes after midday Lee strode to the front of the room and began.
“Good afternoon, my name is Lee Jordan. I’d like to thank you all for coming today. In a moment Mr Harry Potter will read a brief statement. I will then hand each of you a package with greater details. First let me introduce you to the people seated at the dais. From left to right we have Mr Harry Potter, Miss Hermione Granger, Mr Arthur Weasley, Ms Hestia Jones and the venerable Elphias Doge.” Lee had insisted on Arthur and Hestia being present to give the group a better age and gender spread. He was very conscious of Doge’s comment about the party being made up of children and old men.
Harry read the statement announcing the formation of the Party for Liberty Equality Justice (PLEJ) to shocked silence. Not one of the rumours suggested anything like this. When he had finished reading he added a few words.
“Many of you have heard me call in recent time for a shift in our society and wholesale reform of our government. After widespread discussion with likeminded people this seems the best way of achieving the needed change.”
Lee now opened the floor for questions.
“Rita Skeeter, senior correspondent for the Daily Prophet. Mr Potter don’t you think you and Miss Granger are a little too young to be heading up a political party. Government requires a certain range of life experience wouldn’t you agree?”
“Yes I would, Rita, and as you can see from the people at this table we have such a range. Unlike the recent task that Miss Granger, Ron Weasley and I undertook, we are not doing it alone. Surely you’re not going to suggest that Mr Doge lacks life experience?”
“Mr Potter what do you think you can achieve with just one member in the Wizengamot?”
“We don’t intend staying at just one member,” replied Harry.
“Would you like to tell us how you intend expanding your representation in the Wizengamot.”
“No.” replied Doge, raising some chuckles.
“Paula Prescott from the Sydney Morning Soothsayer. You recently visited Australia. Did that have any influence on what you announced today and what you intend doing?”
They had expected this question and Harry gave them the answer that Doge had suggested.
“There are many interesting things happening in your country, Paula, but we are putting forward British solutions to British problems.”
The questions came thick and fast relating to the new party and what it hoped to achieve. The tone was largely sceptical. However some journalists took the opportunity to ask Harry and Hermione questions on other issues. They hadn’t had an opportunity to question them since the day after the Battle of Hogwarts. One question stopped Harry in his tracks.
“Mitch Wildes Salem Howler. Harry, at the press conference after the battle I asked you why Voldemort thought you were dead. You promised us that the story would be revealed in the near future. We haven’t heard anything yet. Can you answer that question today?”
Harry turned pale. He knew the story would have to come out soon but he didn’t want to think about that just yet.
“I’m sorry Mitch, but you’re going to have to wait a little longer for that answer.”
“How long Harry, a day, a week? Surely we’ve waited long enough?”
“More like a week, Mitch.” Harry new he made a mistake the moment he said it, but he was committed now. His heart sank.
The press conference continued for another 10 minutes before Lee wound it up. They all retreated to Doge’s nearby office. All in all they felt it had gone quite well. Then Lee asked a question.
“What was Mitch Wildes on about Harry? What is the story?”
There was stillness in the room, and then Harry said gently “Hermione, could you tell him?”
Hermione then related the story of the seventh Horcrux and Harry’s self-sacrifice.
“Merlin,” said Lee, clearly struggling. “And the rest of you knew this?”
“I didn’t Mr Jordan,” replied Doge. “We have to think very hard how we handle this. It is going to seem very manipulative and cynical bringing this out just one week after we launch the party. Unfortunately, we seem committed.”
“Sorry about that,” replied Harry.
“Don’t apologise Harry,” said Doge, regarding Harry with fresh eyes. “You don’t need to apologise at all.”
Later that day Hermione sent an owl to Grantham politely declining his job offer. She gave as the reason a potential conflict of interest between her role in the new party and as patron of the foundation.
Within the hour she received a return owl from Grantham
Dear Miss Granger,
I am sad that you will not be taking up a position with our foundation, I believe we could have achieved a great deal together. However I agree with your assessment that it would have been untenable given your new role in PLEJ.
Let me take the opportunity to wish you well with the new party, though, having read your platform, it is likely we will be on opposite sides on many issues. Please remember that this opposition is not personal and I hope to remain your friend.
Ps. I hope you do decide to go to university. I believe you would derive a great deal from it (and from my point of view it would keep you out of politics for a few years!). Please feel free to come and talk more about this if you like. OG
That night Harry had another nightmare, waking the household with his shouts. Again it was about the night Dumbeldore died. This time there was nothing Molly could say to deter Ginny moving into Harry’s room straight away. Despite Ginny’s presence Harry still had a fitful night; tossing and turning, waking frequently in a sweat and mumbling when he did catch a little sleep. Both he and Ginny were tired and frayed when they arose in the morning.
Everyone around the kitchen table was analysing the morning’s papers. The announcement was front page news, of course, but not exactly enthusiastic. The general consensus was that the move was well intentioned but more than a little naïve. Some saw it as perhaps somewhat arrogant that such young people would presume to take on such a challenge.
“Well, they may not be cheering,” said Ron, “but for better or for worse we’re on our way.”
“Talking of being on our way,” added George, “I have decided to reopen the shop from next Monday. If you still want it, Ron, there’s a job waiting for you.”
“George,” replied Ron, “you’re on.”
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