Two thousand and twelve started out as a reasonably normal year for Harry and Ginny. There was progress on all fronts with the Auror Department, and progress with all the other responsibilities that Harry was carrying. Oh, there was drama in the Middle East, but little of it involved danger to the Aurors under Harry’s supervision. Drama in the Muggle world was not always drama in the world of the Magi.
Ginny’s Quidditch column was popular, and she was doing some editing of material being submitted by what they called ‘stringers,’ Magi who were mostly avid fans of one team, who knew their favorite team much better than Ginny ever could. The best stringers could get articles published in their own name, and although Ginny had a very flexible schedule she was close to working full time. During the Quidditch season Ginny put in long hours on the weekend getting her part of the paper put together.
Harry also learned that Donna Lionheart was helping Ginny with the column. It seemed that Ginny had a hard time remembering what she had written before, and the further back it was the harder it was for her to remember. Donna had a fantastic memory for Quidditch, although she was no great writer.
“There is a good reason Bill and I were in Hufflepuff,” said Donna. “Neither of us was smart enough to be in Ravenclaw or had the bravery to be in Gryffindor.”
Most of the teaching of the children was being done by other people, including Molly and Audrey, and Jean Granger in the case of Albus and Rose. Ginny did put in a reasonable number of hours with the home schooling, but of course she did not have to clean the house or make most of the meals, because of the house elves. Harry and Ginny took turns standing over Lily trying to get her to finish her homework. They had to do very little of this type of supervision with James.
Albus had to be watched for other reasons. He and The Department for the Regulation of Underage Magic had continued their battle. Albus was caught performing magic for the most trivial of reasons. He never came close to revealing anything magic to Muggles. He never got mad when they asked him what he was doing, and tried to be reasonably honest. Often enough Albus had no idea why the Department Inspectors were mad at him, and often they would not tell him. Harry and Ginny emphasized to Albus that he had to keep magic secret from Muggles, except Uncle Dudley and Grandmum Jean, of course, but otherwise supported him, and if Albus did not get mad and Harry only got mildly annoyed, Ginny on occasion exploded at one of the inspectors.
Since music lessons were in Muggle space it was one, regularly scheduled place where The Department for Underage Magic could try and catch Albus at magic.
Toward the end of January Albus was at a music lesson, and the door to the studio opened and everybody’s sheet music blew on the floor, except Albus’s. One of the other students asked, “Al, what kind of magic did you do keep your sheet music from flying?”
“I guess the wind just didn’t catch it,” Al said, as he made one of the pages flutter to the ground. He picked the music up and put it back on the music stand.
The teacher said, “We usually use clothes pins, these things with springs, to hold music when it is windy.” She brought out four clothes pins and pinned her music to the music stand.
Al realized that he had been holding music onto the stand with magic, and that he would have to stop.
That night there was a letter from Ursula Crabbe, again, this time not only complaining something had happened but saying that, “Albus used magic to hold his music on his music stand, and other people noticed.”
When Harry came home Ginny waved the letter at Harry, saying, “Another Merlin blasted letter from that crabby Umbridge witch.”
Harry read the letter. He called Al, and asked, “Al, did you realize that you held your music on with magic?”
“Only today, when someone noticed it,” Al said. “I am going to have to use clothes pins to hold my music.” Al had gone to the internet, and had a photograph of what a cloths pin was. “I’m sorry. I messed up this time.”
Harry looked at Ginny and said, “I guess you have better get some clothes pins for Albus.”
Ginny looked at the printout of the clothes pins with disgust. “Look at this letter!” Ginny said her voice just barely under control. “’This was a blatant use of underage magic. Muggles were present, and noticed the magic. This is an egregious violation of the Statue of Secrecy!’ For one little incident!”
“Mum, I did mess up,” Albus said. “I’m glad she pointed out the problem, even though I recognized it too.”
“Albus is going to make a few of these mistakes,” Harry said, trying to sooth his agitated wife. “Don’t let Ursula get to you.”
It helped that Al was usually calm, as was Harry. Al tried to learn what was causing the problems with the Department, and with Mrs. Crabbe (since she had gotten married), with modest success. The tension was mostly between Ginny and Ursula, and it continued all year.
Most of the turmoil Harry was aware of, at least in Great Britain, seemed to revolve around the Malfoy household. Harry had brought Al VanLente and the International Aurors into listen to the arguments taking place as Draco and other members of the Malfoy family visited Lucius.
Right after Christmas Draco and Astoria were visiting Lucius, and they heard him say, “You two have to take over educating Draco and Cleopatra!”
Astoria said, “I didn’t marry Draco, as disgraced as the family is, to lower myself to become a working witch. Hire a teacher!”
Draco said, “We’ve talked about that. As long as I am on probation we don’t have much choice in the matter.”
Lucius said, “There will be Dementors haunting the house if you don’t start teaching those children soon. Draco, you have to teach the children if this worthless wife of yours will not help.”
Draco said, “I have tried! They will not listen to me. Mother says she will call the DMLE on me if I beat the children, and they just don’t listen to me. There are already Dementors haunting the house, although Mum seems to be able to drive them away.”
Lucius strained against his restraints. A verbal fight followed, with everybody mad at everybody else.
The next time they met Narcissa told Molly, “The house elves are helping to drive the Dementors away. I am not sure how they are doing it, but I guess it is not strictly legal. You had better tell Harry.”
When Molly told Harry he had Hermione and the Prophecy Department in Switzerland both look into it. How house elves could drive out Dementors was a real mystery for some time.
The middle of March Kreacher wanted a meeting with Harry and Ginny and Albus, Ron and Hermione and Rose, to talk about house elf issues. Kreacher had hoped that Albus and Rose could help because they were learning elfish. They met in Harry and Ginny’s drawing room. In addition to Kreacher the house elves included Dobedo and Harriet and their son Martin, and a new house elf couple Solon and his mate Sojourner Truth.
After they were introduced Kreacher said, “Kreacher is getting old, master Harry. Kreacher needs someone who can help, if he is sick, someone to take over after he is gone.”
“How old are you?” asked Harry.
“Many years past one hundred,” said Kreacher. “Old, even by house elf standards.”
“Too old to wait for your son?” asked Harry.
“Is not fated to have son serve Harry Potter,” said Kreacher. “Needs someone wise and capable now.”
“Is that why Solon and Sojourner are here?” asked Harry.
“Solon has the abilities and temperament to do my job, to do it better,” said Kreacher.
“Fine, let him work for you and learn from you,” said Harry.
“Is not so simple” said Kreacher. “What I do for you is not allowed, no, not allowed, except that I your house elf, I bonded to you with old magic, so I have to obey.”
“Is Solon a P/W house elf?” asked Harry.
“Is, but is not enough,” said Kreacher. “I is, but I is also bonded to you by belonging to this house and those in it, and by the bond of,” Kreacher turned to the three students, Albus, Rose and Martin, and talked to them, then turned to the room, “Bond of love?” Kreacher shook his head a little and talked to the three students again, then said, “It is love, but it is also relationship, is what each owes each other.”
There was a flurry of talk in elfish. Rose said “It’s not just love the feeling, it’s mutual obligation. It’s being responsible for the wellbeing of a person or a place belonging to a person.”
Albus said, “The English word ‘love’ is not very …” he looked at Rose.
“Precise,” said Rose, “accurate, no, that’s not right. Precise, has too many meanings, and ‘love’ in elfish is many words with many different meanings.”
“I can do what I do because I head house elf of this house,” said Kreacher as he waved his hands around the room. “This physical house owned by Harry Potter, and now Harry and Ginny, and also Harry Potter has respect and trust for me because he thinks he knows me, we know each other. Many things tie …bind…us together.”
Kreacher looked at Albus and Rose to see if he had said the right word. They both sort of indicated that he had. “Elfish is real hard when it comes to relationships like this, dad,” said Albus. “I’m still little. I think I know what Kreacher is saying, but I do not know how to help. Elfish is changing too … because… there are no words to talk about some stuff, no … it’s more than words dad, but I don’t have the words to talk about it.” You could almost see the strain in Albus as he tried to relate the complexity of what was going on.
Kreacher said, “Solon needs to become <u>your</u> house elf, like me. How? No way. But now, with Potters New Burrow, and need to do a better job of managing your property, Solon and Sojourner can become head elves there. Is important, but is also important that you know, and together you manage the property, to develop relationship and …” again he looked to Albus and Rose, and they had a brief discussion in elfish.
Albus said, “Friendship, love, respect.”
Rose piped in with, “Mutual respect.”
Al said, “Moving into the attic of Potters New Burrow, with nice rooms, is very important.”
Harry had kind of taken the property for granted, but he was going to have to learn what he owned, and, with Solon’s help, manage it. Harry had learned to delegate, and life was reasonably easy right now. Harry did make sure he was involved in any potentially dangerous activities, and occasionally having Fawkes the Phoenix along was very handy healing injuries. The armor and more modern communication were helping, and Harry was reasonably happy with the state of the Aurors and the Magical Law Enforcement Department.
Early one spring day during the first part of May Harry met Solon to survey his property. Although it was May and it could still get cold, the sun was shining, there was only a very light breeze blowing, and it was about 43 degrees (75 degrees F.) Harry had never walked around all the property he owned. It was about a mile wide by two miles long, if you were looking at all the property from a magical point of view. It was more like half a mile wide by a mile long if you were looking at the property from a Muggle map, or Google Earth, because a lot of it was hidden. It was on the bank of the Otter River, closer to the mouth than to its origin. The Otter River was not exactly a large river. In some places a modest stream like the Otter would not even be called a river, but it did empty into the sea, so it was not a branch of another river.
Potters New Burrow faced south, and Harry and Solon walked out of the front door and turned west and walked to the river. From there they turned north and walked along the banks of the river. In the middle of the river was an island that Harry also owned, with no buildings or anything on it. The island was a scrubby looking piece of property, swampy with gnarly trees and bushes, but it was green and full of animal life. To their right as they walked was the green lawn in front of the New Burrow, then the pond and climbing play thing. There was a little stream leading from the pond to the Otter, but it was small enough that Harry and Solon could just step across it. A couple of hundred feet beyond the pond a field of grain started. “The Muggles see the grain,” said Solon, “but not the pond.”
Finally they came to the northwest corner of the property. Running right up to the river was a Muggle road, almost more a path, two tire tracks with grass in the middle, ending at the river. This hint of a road continued for about two hundred feet, and then there was a paved road, going north more or less parallel to the river. Muggle homes were along the river. On the east side of the road was the start of Longbottom property. The road turned so it was heading east along the border of Harry’s property, all a grain field visible to Muggles. About half way towards the north east border of the property, across the street from ;Harry’s property, was Longbottom Mansion, a very large English Tudor style house three and a half stories, with several fireplaces, all brick, with a very interesting complicated tile roof. It looked like a large house if you were a Muggle, but if you were magical you could see that it was far larger than it looked to Muggles. Next to Longbottom Mansion was a smaller house and some farm buildings. You could see a couple of greenhouses if you were a Muggle, but there were far more hidden greenhouses. The Longbottoms were farmers as well as Aurors, and when times were good you served twenty or thirty years as an Auror and then came home and helped with the family farm. Neville came by his love of plants naturally. The Longbottoms raised enough Muggle vegetables and fruit to more than pay the Muggle taxes on the property, and a variety of magical plants as well. Like Harry’s property less than half of the Longbottom property was visible to Muggles, the rest hidden.
“Longbottoms very good at raising magical plants,” said Solon. “Need much more help, many other farmers to help, and all can make lots of money. Magi need the plants, too. So do elves and Goblin. Good for all.”
Harry asked, “Frank and Alice, the older ones, do they help tend the plants?”
Solon answered, “Working in the greenhouses good therapy. Not so much help but some.”
Still further north, at the boundary between the Longbottom property and Muggle property, totally hidden from Muggles, was the Lovegood hill and house. The land along the Otter was reasonably flat, and the Lovegood hill was by far the highest, and strangest, piece of property for miles around.
At the northeast corner of the property they turned south along another paved road. To the east was all Muggle, a couple of farm houses, farmland. To the west was the boundary of the Potter property, was an all grain field as far as Muggles were concerned. Harry and Solon could see the back of houses that had been built on the property. They reached the path that led into the property, a modest gravel roadway, but kept on walking down the road.
To the left, on the Potter property, were two modest houses and some farm buildings. The two houses were occupied by the grandchildren of one of Arthur Weasley’s brothers. Arthur’s brothers were older and their grandchildren were grown up. Solon said “Weasley brothers’ needs to be better farmers. Needs to be better marketer of crops.”
Harry knew that some of the property had been farmed by Arthur’s family, and that to maintain the property the Potter Estate had hired the two brothers. He had heard a little grumbling that while they were hard workers they were not always the smartest of workers. “Needs to get them to use house elves,” said Solon. “Work with their father and uncle.” Harry and Solon had a discussion on how the Weasley family could and should capitalize on the fame of Harry Potter and their Weasley relatives to market their Muggle crops to Magi better. They could also start raising magical plants, but they would need house elf help, and occasionally help from the people living on Harry’s property. Right now the brothers were a cost to the estate, a very modest cost, but they could be an asset instead of a liability if they did things right.
After the farm houses they passed a modest section of wooded land, then a significant sized grain field, on the Potter property. At the southeast corner of the Potter property they turned west again. “Land to the south Weasley, brothers of Arthur. You hold a mortgage. With house elf help they could pay off mortgage,” said Solon. “Growing magical plants they could be well off not poor.” Harry and Solon had several discussions on this matter in the previous weeks, and Solon was just reminding Harry, and making conversation. They came to the two houses, and Harry went up to see if they could see Anthony the father of the boys tending his property, and the father’s brother Adrian. Both brothers were out in their fields planting, and their wives were planting a large vegetable garden. Harry asked if they could please meet with him and talk about financial matters. They knew that Harry held the mortgage on the farm, and they did not feel they had any choice but to meet with him, even if it interrupted their planting.
Harry got right down to business. “The property you are farming has been mortgaged for well over 100 years. Right now you owe more than the property is worth.”
“We’ve had a run of bad luck,” said Anthony.
“If you had house elves you could plant more and more valuable crops,” said Harry.
“We can’t afford house elves,” said Anthony.
“I’ve offered to give you the house elves, several times,” said Harry.
“We cannot accept that kind of charity from you, Harry,” said Anthony.
“Did it ever occur to you that it was less charity than wanting the mortgage paid?” said Harry. “Let’s look at the numbers.”
Harry was no financial wiz, but Solon was. Solon went through several scenarios showing how having first two pair of house elves, then getting more into magical plants and truck farming, that is planting produce to sell, could bring the farm from marginal to solidly profitable in three years, and pay off the entire mortgage in another ten.
“One of the keys is working with your sons and the Longbottoms on magic plants. Neville is an expert in magical plants,” said Harry when the brothers said they did not know much about raising magical plants.
“Another way you are going to get more money for your crops is by selling them at local magical markets. Be sure to let the Magi know that the crops are being raised on Weasley, Potter and Longbottom land.”
“We cannot take advantage of your fame, Harry,” said Anthony, “and Arthur and his children’s fame.”
“It’s your good luck to be farming right next to Potter/Weasley land, Anthony, Adrian,” said Harry. “I know you have had some bad luck, but I am getting the feeling that you could not recognize or take advantage of good luck if it tried to knock down your door. You seem to have a talent for turning a Unicorn into a Thestral. We are going to turn your bad luck into good luck if I have to force good luck down your throats.
“Look at the numbers, brothers. It’s the only way I am going to have my mortgage paid. Solon and I are going to go over to your boys’ houses and do something similar with them this afternoon. Tonight we are all going to have a meeting, you are going to meet your house elves, and we will get started making these changes. Are you with me, ready to get lucky and become prosperous, or do you want me to foreclose on the farm and find someone else to farm the property.”
“Yes sir, Mr. Potter, sir, Sir Harry Potter, sir,” said Anthony. The two wives had very small smiles, but both Anthony and Adrian had stony faces, trying to contain their obvious resentment.
When they were back on the road Harry looked at Solon in frustration and yelled, “BOGGARTS! Stupid stiff necked Weasley brother. AAAAAhhhhhh, Boggarts.”
“Good job, Mr. Potter, sir,” said Solon, with a grin that reminded Harry of Kreacher’s “Subversives.”
“It is not going to be easy, is it, Solon?” Harry asked.
Solon said, “Sojourner is farm elf. Taking orders from female house elf going to be very hard. We need you back often, I fear.”
“Subversive?” Harry asked.
“Very hard, very subversive,” Solon said.
They walked west to the river, then back north past the end of the grain fields and a big orchard, until they were where they started, then headed east past Potters New Burrow to the houses of the Weasley brothers. There Harry and Solon put on a similar presentation. The big difference was that the younger Weasley brothers were Harry’s employees, and he just told them about the changes. Solon had worked out the numbers so that if the farm became solidly profitable they would share in the increased earnings, and become, if not wealthy, at least in Wizarding terms solidly middle class, and not poor farmers.
When they were done with the brothers Harry was mentally tired. Negotiating with the Weasleys was not easy. They were set in their ways, and responsible for way too much of their ‘bad luck.’ He and Solon wandered over to the New Burrow. Outside some kind of lesson was going on. Ginny was talking, then Fleur, then Audrey. Harry just watched, fascinated. He was seldom there in the middle of the day when teaching was being done.
Despite the help of the house elves with housework, Ginny really did work hard. She had almost a full time job as Quidditch columnist, and although she was only a part time teacher she did plenty of teaching in the middle of the week between columns.
For some reason it was just the Potter and Weasley children at this lesson. All of the boys were in short sleeve cotton shirts and shorts, including Martin the house elf. Harry thought that Martin was with Albus and Rose a lot. Roxanne was also in shorts. She was very comfortable in pants as well as in a dress. Lucy was in a reasonably conservative cotton dress. Dominique was also in a dress, but like almost everything Dominique wore it was frilly and feminine and just on the edge of showing too much skin. Rose was in shorts; they were practical. Lily was in a dress; it was not near as skimpy as Dominique’s dress but it was hardly a lot more practical, and Harry was almost sure Lily and Ginny argued over the dress that morning. Harry knew that they spent more on clothes for Lily then for the two boys combined, and what Lily wanted to wear and what Ginny wanted her to wear was the occasion of frequent battles.
Ginny was wearing a sleeveless cotton blouse and a pleated skirt that came down to just above her knees. The cotton blouse was white with flowers on it, had a scooped neck that almost showed some cleavage, and did show the start of her scar. The blouse looked like it had been woven to fit Ginny exactly, and was charmed so although it never looked painted on it showed off her shape and moved with her. She was a little bigger around on top since having the children. You could see the wisp of a bra under the light weight cotton. Ginny had told Harry that she could not see how Muggle women put up with the bra’s they wore. “It’s like wearing a band around your middle,” she said. Witches bra’s held you up by magic, levitation spells and the like. “Besides, the size is infinitely adjustable. I’m a size bigger than before I got pregnant.” Harry knew that a lot of Ginny’s bras were almost transparent, very wispy little garments. He was almost sure that she was wearing one now, because of how much you could see through the white cotton. Harry though the dress was very sexy.
Harry had to admit that Ginny was more cute than beautiful. She had the light freckled complexion of a red head, and had worked to keep her complexion youthful. Not only was her face freckled but her arms and legs were as well. Harry knew some very old witches who had kept the freckled complexion. Magi aged much slower than Muggles, but they still aged. There was no reason Ginny would have to lose the freckles.
Ginny had never been able to lose the thirty pounds she had put on after having James, nor all of the extra ten that stubbornly stayed on after Lily. “I’m not moving as fast as I was,” said Ginny, and that was true. Every time they went for a check up on her head injury the specialists told them that the injury was better, but that they could still see evidence of the trauma, and that Ginny would have to be careful. “I have to keep Mitzi with me, or even if I’m careful I can lose my balance,” Ginny said. “It is just hard to be vigorous and exercise now.”
Audrey wore a short sleeve dress that went down to well below the knee, conservative but not inappropriate. She was obviously a thin pretty girl, but you never could see anything through any dress she wore.
Fleur in contrast had on a pastel dress made of some silky sort of substance. It was not exactly transparent, but it was not totally opaque either. She must have relied on charms and spells for support. There was no evidence of a bra, and was low cut enough to show some cleavage. Unlike Ginny Fleur had lost all the weight she had put on when she had been pregnant. The bottom of the dress whipped around Fleur’s legs in a most sexy manner. Fleur had the slightly smaller than normal waist and slightly larger than normal hips she had when she was married. She was blond hair blue eyed, and although she had a fair complexion it was not a pasty white but a very luscious touchable appealing flesh tone, just dark enough to show that you had been in the sun without being tanned. It had a sheen that Audrey’s skin did not have. Ginny may have been cute, but Fleur was classically beautiful.
Molly had on a witches robe that was short sleeved and came down to below her knees. Molly was the biggest around on top, and when she gave you one of her big hugs you found yourself surrounded by her ample bosom. Molly was also reasonably thick in the middle, with very large hips. She was still hourglass shaped, but the middle of the hourglass was pretty big.
Harry must have looked at this scene for twenty to thirty minutes, just enjoying the ... Harry was searching for a work or phrase. The goodness, the normalness, the ‘this is what life should be ness’ of the scene. He found out that what he was looking at was French lessons, with the group coming together to talk in French, then breaking apart to do lessons age and skill appropriate, then back together for more talking.
As they were taking leave of the class Harry said to Solon, “This is what we were fighting for at The Battle of Hogwarts. I think this is why I work so hard to do the right thing, for moments like this. To know children, and not just my children, are growing up free of fear. I do not think Tom Riddle ever knew any moments like this.”
“Is what House elves wants for their children,” said Solon. “Too late for old house elves like Kreacher.”
“Is that what you want?” asked Harry of Solon.
Solon looked at Harry pondering for a moment, and then said, “If I is going to want this for myself I need to be ordered to want it. I still old style house elf. Is not really allowed to wish anything for one’s children but that they faithfully serve a master.”
“It’s not fair to deny house elves hope, hope for self and hope for their children,” said Harry. “Can I order you to have hope for your own future, and the future of your children?”
“I think you just have,” said Solon. “Thank you Harry Potter, friend of house elves and goblins.”
That evening Harry and Solon went over the changes in the farming with a group of people that included Neville Longbottom and his farm supervisor, all the Weasley farmers, and also one or two people from all the households on the Burrow
The problem with magical plants is that some of them needed to be transplanted over a time window of a few hours, or harvested over a time window of a few hours. When that happened you needed a large number of people right away. This usually kept the number of plants down to some small multiple of the number of people in a household that were not otherwise working. However, all the school children who were old enough and many of the house elves were recruited for the rush of transplanting and harvesting, earning money in the process. It taught a lot of young Magi the value of hard work, and that money was not something that magically appeared when you needed it.
Harry and Solon had to keep selling the idea that relying on other people to help you was a good thing. They spent hours that spring and summer encouraging the Weasley’s. By the end of the fall, when everybody realized how much money they made that year, everyone was eager to listen to Solon as he worked on the plans “Harry” had for the next year. Harry and Solon meanwhile were building that kind of relationship necessary when you are going to trust each other.
From the first year the combined marketing referred to the farms as The Farms of the Potter-Weasley Community. Neville did not feel the Longbottom name needed to be mentioned, but Magi knew that the Longbottom family was part of the group. Eventually there was a formal marketing co-op, managed by Solon, but that would take a couple of year.
The evening meeting was after dinner, and by the time Harry got home all the children were in bed. Ginny still had the blouse and skirt on that she had been wearing that afternoon. “I think I spent half an hour just looking at you in that dress this afternoon, Ginny,” said Harry. “You sure are cute. You are still the bouncy delightful cute little girl I fell in love with.”
“I’m a middle age mother of three children,” said Ginny, looking at herself. “Maybe a young mother, but I’ve extra pounds on me.”
“They went to nice places,” said Harry.
“You like it because I’m a little bigger around on top?” asked Ginny, with a gleam in her eye. “It’s not because of the belly.” As she said this she put her hands first up to her breasts and then down to the little belly.
“If it is the price of children then I love the little belly,” said Harry. “Ginny, you are beautiful.”
“You’re not a bad looking man yourself, Mr. Potter,” said Ginny. They went to bed early, and for the first time in a very long time said the spells for endurance and made love for a long time. When they were done, snuggled in bed with nothing on (although with three young children night clothes were always close at hand) Ginny said, “I love my life. I love being the mother of small children, and watching them grow up. I love writing the Quidditch column. I love being able to spend so much time with my family. More than anything I love making love to my husband. Sometimes I want it to continue like this forever. I’m not sure I’m ready to have them all grow up just yet.”
“No way to stop them from growing up, and you would not like that either,” said Harry.
“I’m not sure I am done being a mother,” said Ginny. “No, that’s not what I mean. My mum is still a mother. It’s just that I always want it all, and I loved it when I had an infant nursing. It feels so good. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to give that up. For all the problems Lily has been, when she goes to school I’m going to be lost. James goes in four years, then Al the next, then two more and…,” Ginny let the final sentence hang.
“Whatever you decide,” said Harry.
The middle of May Nausicaa Scheria asked to meet with Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione, and Dobedo and Harriet. They all met in the Potter’s drawing room. After introductions Nausicaa said “There are ten house elves being brought up with Magi, in all cases being brought up with and teaching a boy and a girl elfish, twenty Magi children. Twelve of those children are at least tri-lingual with two languages besides elfish. Albus and Rose speak French very well, due to Fleur’s teaching. They have spent just enough time in France in the summer to really be fluent in it. We have one pair in North America fluent in English and French, one pair fluent in English and Spanish, and one pair fluent in English and Korean. There is a Chinese pair fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese and English. Finally we have a pair in Switzerland that are fluent in English, German, French, Italian, and two other obscure Swiss dialects.
“We think language is very important in what we are trying to do to improve the condition of the house elves. All the children are about the same age, four to six, and they all still have the ability to learn languages very fast. What we want to do is to bring these twelve of the twenty children together for all of this summer and next, mostly in Switzerland but rotating around to everybody’s home. We think they all need to learn the logic of and some of French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Korean. It is interesting that they all seem to know English as well as Elfish. We would love for everybody to spend a week at Potters New Burrow. I know it is taking your youngsters away from you for a long period, but they will be home every other weekend, and you can go over and visit. We feel this is going to be a two summer long program, with shorter sessions after that to keep these twelve from losing their language skills. ”
“That is only six of the ten pair,” said Hermione.
“I know that,” said Nausicaa. “I do not know why.”
After no little discussion all the parents agreed.
Albus and Rose were thrilled to be learning all these languages. Toward the middle of the summer they were back home for the weekend, and both families were eating together at Potters New Burrow. Dobedo and Harriet and Martin, plus Martin’s little sister Oprah were eating with them.
Albus said “There are some things you cannot say in one language but you can say easily in another. We started with Korean because it is a language that is very aware of who is the superior, and very deferential to the superior.”
“Would Lily be more deferential to me in Korean?” asked Ginny.
Lily got a sour look on her face. Albus answered, “Yes, she probably would be.”
“It would be a good thing if we were all a little more obedient,” said Ginny.
“Would it have been a good thing if Daddy had obeyed the Ministry instead of fighting Riddle?” asked Albus. “You cannot choose to be deferential in one situation and not in another. For example, do you know anything about Muggle airplanes? Remember we went to Uncle Dudley’s wedding in one. They have two people flying the airplane, a pilot and a copilot. One of the jobs of the copilot is to point out to the pilot when something is wrong. In Korean the copilot cannot tell the pilot he has to do something right now, even if the airplane is going to crash. He has to speak to the pilot in the deferential, and the pilot does not have to listen.”
“How do they keep the airplane from crashing?” asked Harry.
“They don’t,” said Albus. “We heard the conversation between a pilot and copilot before an airplane crashed killing over a hundred people. It was real hard to listen to. In Korean there was no way the copilot could stop the crash, even though he could see it coming.”
“What do Korean Pilots do? Are they still having fatal crashes because of the language?” asked Harry.
“Korean pilots fly airplanes in English, and they practice in … you know what a Muggle video game is … a sort of video game in a pretend airplane … the thing pilots sit in … one of those. And they practice the copilot telling the pilot and the pilot listening to the copilot until they can do it.”
“Is elfish like that?” asked Hermione.
“Not exactly,” said Albus.
Rose said “There are things you cannot say in Elfish, but there are also assumptions about relationships between Magi and house elves that are buried deep in the language. Some deep magic also connected to the language.”
“Korean and Elfish are very deferential languages. English is not,” said Albus. “English and American people also are not deferential. Here’s another example. Muggle Naval services have boats they land airplanes on. In English the name for this kind of boat is an aircraft carrier. In US aircraft carriers they land very fast very powerful airplanes on a very small flat space. The airplanes have a big hook on the bottom of the airplane and it catches the plane very fast. After each catch all the crew members walk the flight deck that is what they call that little flat part of the boat the airplane lands on. If anyone sees something wrong they have to let everyone else know, and no one else can land until it is fixed. Everyone from the newest least experienced sailor to the most experienced person has the <u>authority</u> and the <u>responsibility</u> to stop the next airplane from landing if they see anything wrong, and they all use the same words. No apologies and deferential language. In Korean or Elfish talking this way is … I do not know how to say it. Not wrong, because wrong says you can say it and it is just not proper, like a word we know but should not say, swear words, naughty words. You just cannot even talk that way because the language does not allow it.”
“And Elfish is like that?” asked Hermione again.
“Some of the changes needed in treatment of house elves is like that,” said Harriet. “Not bad words you can say but should not, but no way to say in Elfish. Need to understand the language because deep magic buried in the language, and then need to change the language to change the magic. Only a wizard that knows the language and more, much more, can change the magic.”
There was much more discussion about language. Harry was glad he was not going to be the one to change the relationship between house elves and Magi. He was all in favor of it, but the details were making his head hurt.
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