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Chapter 24 ~ Social Conformity and Obedience
When Rick entered the Great Hall, the first thing he noticed was that there were only three tables. The Gryffindor table was gone. He made his way to the Ravenclaw table and sat down for the evening meal. The Slytherin table, he noticed, had been shortened, as it needed to accommodate fewer than twenty students. There were about forty students at the Ravenclaw table, and it was obvious that over half of them were first-years. The Hufflepuff table was the most crowded, with at least a hundred students – the majority of whom also looked to be first-years. Rick noticed that the Slytherin table was quite different from the others. It was covered with an elegant tablecloth and lit with ornate candelabra. It was laid out with a silver-service and crystal-ware. Rather than appearing magically, the food was served by a host of obsequious house-elves. The children of the Magistocracy appeared to be enjoying a feast, while the rest of the students – and the teachers at the staff table – were eating a rather mundane meal. Rick had learned the names of some of the student informants from his probe of Rita Skeeter’s vitriolic mind. Theodore Nott, sitting opposite him – and sharing his dormitory – was one of them. Rick was going to have to be very careful. As the meal was finishing, Barty Crouch tapped Rick on the shoulder. “Come with me, Godfry,” he said. It was obvious that he didn’t intend waiting for Rick to finish his lumpy tapioca pudding. Jumping up, Rick followed his Head of House. Ominously, Crouch led Rick to the same room where Lucius Malfoy had ambushed Harry a few months ago – and a reality away. Rick was apprehensive, and on his guard. Have I been found out already? he worried. He closed his eyes for a moment, as he walked, projecting a magical map of the room. There was just one person in the room, by the name of Evan Rosier. When they reached the door, Crouch indicated, with a nod of his head, that Rick should enter the room, but did not follow. Rick cast his Reflecting Shield, just in case, as he closed the door behind him. Rosier was a large, balding, middle-aged wizard with a chubby reddish face. He had a grey moustache and goatee beard. He didn’t rise from his armchair as Rick entered, but gestured to Rick to stand in front of him. As Rick stood uncomfortably before him, he was addressed in an arrogant and condescending tone. “I’m Rosier, from the Eugenics Enforcement Agency. You’re Rick Godfry from ... New Zealand,” he said, consulting a parchment in his left hand. “Is that correct?” “Err ... yes,” said Rick nervously. “New Zealand is a bit far out of the way and the wizarding community is too sparse for the provisions of the Wizarding Breeding and Purification Program to have reached there ... yet. However, rest assured, we will be extending the program to even the remotest corner of the world, in the very near future,” continued Rosier, officiously. “Now, under the regulations which came into force when the program began in 1984, only we wizards, who are classified as belonging to the Magistocracy, are permitted to breed. All other wizards, such as yourself, must be magically sterilized. It won’t hurt, you won’t feel a thing.” He pointed his wand at Rick, and muttered a spell. “That’s all,” he said. “It’s done, you may go now.” Rick wasn’t sure if he was expected to thank Rosier for sterilizing him or not. He just muttered “OK,” and left the room. Well, he was right about one thing, thought Rick to himself, it is painless. That pompous Pureblood git didn’t seem to feel a thing when the spell rebounded off my shield and sterilized him! His breeding days are over. I hope he won’t be too hard on his concubines, and blame them, when they suddenly stop producing children. Rick had taken the opportunity to probe Rosier’s mind. He picked up some interesting information about the Wizarding Breeding and Purification Program. Apparently, it had been opposed, at the start, by a small group of highly-knowledgeable witches and wizards, who were familiar with the Muggle science known as Genetics. They had warned that the inevitable result would be serious inbreeding and a lack of genetic diversity. The Magistocracy itself, as well as the offspring of concubines, would be affected. They predicted an alarming rise in the numbers of Squibs, and a significant reduction in the overall intelligence and magical ability of the Wizarding world. These views were very unpopular with the Eternal Emperor and the Magistocracy. Since none of the witches and wizards raising objections belonged to the Magistocracy, the problem was neatly resolved, to Rosier’s mind, by killing the lot of them. Rick also picked up some of the more interesting spells which were Rosier’s stock in trade.
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Rick quickly learned to keep his head down, and his face expressionless – just like everyone else. With his excellent Legilimency skills, he managed to stay out of trouble and avoid suspicion. He had no difficulty identifying the many spies amongst the teachers – and his fellow students – who reported to Lucius Malfoy’s Secret Security Service. Snape had been right about the standard of the classes. Most of them seemed well behind the sixth-year ones in his old reality. Mostly, the classes were just plain boring. But there was one class that Rick hated and loathed with passion. It was Social Conformity and Obedience. It was taught – most appropriately, it seemed to Rick – by Professor Dolores Umbridge. She was right in her element, trotting out the vile state propaganda. The object of the class was indoctrination. There was no discussion, debate, or evaluation of the racist, elitist ideology they were taught, parrot fashion. All that was expected of them was to memorize the content of their textbooks – and believe it. Rick had no problem with the first part, and Umbridge considered him a model student, because he was able to regurgitate, verbatim, in their frequent tests, the evil doctrines with which they were relentlessly brainwashed. The Eternal Emperor, they were taught, was a deity, an immortal god of the wizarding world. His early life as Tom Riddle, who had been a student at Hogwarts, was totally obscured. His origin as the orphaned son of a Muggle father was completely concealed. Even the name Lord Voldemort was never mentioned. It seemed that Tom Riddle had re-invented himself – and the truth – yet again. According to the official mythology, the Eternal Emperor was sent by the spirits of the great wizards of Antiquity, led by Salazar Slytherin. This was supposed to have happened around 1980. He was sent to save the wizarding world from destruction, by the Apostates, who were led by the Deluded One – Albus Dumbledore. The Apostates, they were taught, were working secretly with the Muggles to destroy the wizarding world. No explanation was ever offered as to their motivation for wanting to destroy their own world, and Rick knew better than to ask Umbridge for one. The evil, deluded Apostates had allowed the blood of the wizarding race to become dangerously diluted and polluted with Muggle blood. They allowed loathsome Squibs, not only to survive, but to breed. There was no respect for, or subservience to, the Noble Families who had scrupulously guarded the purity of their blood. They were accorded no honour or preference whatsoever. In fact, they were treated no better than the vile Muggle-born witches and wizards, who were actively encouraged to join – and pollute – the wizarding world. They were taught about the Hierarchy, which must be observed and respected at all times. The Eternal Emperor was not part of the Hierarchy. He was far, far above it. At the top of the Hierarchy, was the Magistocracy. The Magistocracy, itself, was divided into castes. There were seven of them. The highest caste was known as the Noblest Families, although it consisted of two families only: the Malfoys and the Parkinsons. Umbridge made them memorize the names of all the Noble Families of the Magistocracy, and to which caste they belonged. Beneath the Magistocracy came the children of concubines – who were sired by wizards of the Magistocracy. They were ranked into castes according to the proportion and caste of their Magistocracy blood. They were collectively known as the Serving Castes. Finally, came the rest of the Pureblood witches and wizards. However, since the males were sterilized, they would soon die out. Babies were tested for magical ability at birth, and Squibs were immediately killed. The ultimate step in the Eternal Emperor’s Great Scheme for the salvation of the wizarding world was the extermination of the Muggles – every single, last one of them. This was called the Great Salvation because it would never again be possible for the blood of the wizarding race to be diluted or polluted with Muggle blood – everyone would be Purebloods. Except for the Eternal Emperor, himself! thought Rick, ironically. Umbridge also extolled the virtues of the Wizarding Breeding and Purification Program. Over many generations it would purify wizarding blood. In a century and a half, all wizards and witches would have a minimum of ninety-nine percent Magistocracy blood – which was the only blood deemed sufficiently pure. But more than that, the breeding program would greatly increase the population of the wizarding world. In a single generation it would overcome the current manpower shortage. In a few more generations, it would produce the manpower necessary to finally destroy the Muggles. The wizarding world, led by the Eternal Emperor and the revered Magistocracy, would possess the entire world. Since blood was everything, they were taught the importance of respecting and showing subservience to those of purer blood. The Magistocracy held a position of great privilege. There were a number of spells, known as the Restricted Curses, which could only be used by the Magistocracy; and then, only by those of a higher caste upon those of a lower caste – or, of course, upon anyone beneath the Magistocracy in the Hierarchy. The Restricted Curses included the three Unforgivables, from Rick’s reality, along with a number of equally nasty curses that were completely new to him. Voldemort must have created them since coming to power in this reality, Rick guessed. Now he understood why everyone, teachers included, treated the Slytherins with such obsequiousness and deference. Although they were not supposed to use the Restricted Curses until they came of age – which was when they left school and married – they were a law unto themselves, and seemed to do pretty much as they pleased. Rick tried to keep well away from the Slytherins, despite the fact that Snape had told him he would need to cultivate Draco Malfoy or Pansy Parkinson if he wanted to be initiated as a Death Eater. It soon became obvious that it was going to have to be Pansy, because Draco, very quickly, took a distinct dislike to him. It all began in their Dark Arts and Duelling classes. Draco was the star dueller in the school – mainly due to the special tutoring his father had provided for him since childhood. Draco, of course, believed it was due to the purity of his blood. In this world, magical power was believed to derive from the purity of one’s blood. If Rick had thought that the Draco Malfoy in his reality was an arrogant, conceited git, the one in this world was far worse. Everyone, teachers included, treated him like a little god. Rick knew he had to impress Barty Crouch, their Dark Arts and Duelling Professor, with his ability. After only a few classes, Crouch was impressed – very impressed. So impressed, in fact, that he decided to pair Rick up with Draco whenever they were practicing with partners. Rick wasn’t sure whether respecting and showing subservience to those of purer blood, as they were taught by Umbridge, required him to let Malfoy beat him. Rick really didn’t like Draco – and he was damned if he was going to take a dive and let him win. Besides, he needed to impress Crouch. Rick was careful to maintain a subservient and respectful demeanour towards Draco, but, nevertheless, he beat him – every time. Draco became furious. He began cheating; using charms and curses they weren’t supposed to be practicing or even know about. Rick could read Draco’s mind, which made it easy to block or neutralise whatever means Draco was using to cheat. He was careful however, not to use his Reflecting Shield. He wanted to keep it a secret. Finally, in one class, Draco became so furious at his inability to defeat Rick – by fair means or foul – that he stormed out of the class in a huff. That was the last time Barty Crouch paired Draco with Rick. Obviously, Draco had made it clear to Crouch that he would not have Rick as his practice partner again. Despite the fact that Rick disliked Crouch, the Dark Arts and Duelling Professor took a shine to him. One Monday afternoon, he asked Rick to stay behind after class. “Take a seat Godfry,” he said. “You’re the best dueller I’ve ever encountered at your age. I was most impressed with the way you bested young Malfoy. What did you say you wanted to do after you finished school?” “Err, I was thinking about studying some more, sir, and perhaps becoming a teacher,” said Rick, in an uncertain voice. “Well, you’re bright enough,” replied Crouch. “I understand you’re top in all your classes – not that they’re very difficult these days. When I was a student here, the standard was much higher. But the point is, I’ve already made a mandatory recommendation for you to the Secret Security Service. Mandatory recommendations are rare, but in your case, I feel it’s warranted. It means that not only can you join the Secret Security Service – you must join. A wizard with your power is too valuable an asset not to be used for the benefit of state security. Also, we don’t like having wizards as powerful as you, out there somewhere, where we can’t keep an eye on them. We like to know what they’re up to. When you join the Secret Security Service after you finish school, they’ll be able to keep tabs on you.” “Err, thank you, sir,” said Rick. “I’d never thought about working in the Secret Security Service, but I think I might like it.” “Of course you’ll like it,” said Crouch, gruffly. “What we teach here at school is all watered-down kids’ stuff. We don’t teach the really powerful, nasty magic – because we don’t want anyone but the Secret Security Service to know how to use it – you understand? With your ability, you’ll really lap up what they teach you there. I’d also like to put in a recommendation for you to become a Death Eater – what do you think of that?” asked Crouch, as if he’d just offered Rick his most cherished dream. “I didn’t know it was possible,” said Rick. “Err, what does it involve?” “Well, it’s not like a job. Some are even fortunate enough to join while they are still at school. Most Death Eaters are members of the Secret Security Service, but not all. I’m a Death Eater,” he said, proudly pushing up the sleeve of his left arm to reveal the Dark Mark burned into the skin, just below the elbow. “Becoming a Death Eater is joining a very elite and exclusive club. It’s the only prestigious position that the likes of you and me, who aren’t in the Magistocracy, can ever hope to achieve. You see, the Death Eaters are the Eternal Emperor’s personal guard. To serve our Eternal Emperor – the saviour of the wizarding world – is the greatest privilege. We don’t take our orders from the Ministry of Magic or even the Secret Security Service. We are answerable only to the Eternal Emperor himself.” “I’m going to owl through my recommendation today. I’m one of a small number of Death Eaters who are qualified to make recommendations. Once your name is lodged, you wait to receive your invitation. Only a handful of nominees get inducted each year, so it’s just a matter of waiting for your name to come up. It can take anything from a few months to a few years. If you know the right people, of course, you can speed things up. You’re at a bit of a disadvantage there, Godfry.” “Thank you for your recommendation, sir, I really appreciate it,” said Rick. He found it easy to appear grateful because, in fact, he was. He desperately wanted to be initiated as a Death Eater – although not for any of the reasons that Crouch might have imagined. “Yes, I imagine you are,” replied Crouch, with an evil grin. “It’s a lot of fun being a Death Eater. Wizards like you and me who aren’t in the Magistocracy get the opportunity to use the Restricted Curses. I bet Professor Umbridge didn’t teach you that. She wouldn’t know – never having been a Death Eater – or a member of the Secret Security Service. Yeah, we’re having a bit of a rumble this weekend. We’re going to kill ourselves a whole bunch of Muggles ... I can’t really tell you anything about it – it’s all hush, hush. Of course, we’re going to make it look like an accident.” “Until the Wizarding Breeding and Purification Program really starts to kick in, and we have the numbers to take on the Muggles, we don’t want them to know anything about us. In fact, that’s what the operation this weekend is about. It’s a bunch of hippies and whatnots, playing at being witches and wizards. Although, who knows, some of them might have some magical power. Occasionally, you get a Muggle without a drop of magical blood in them, that can do magic. When I was a student here, they were allowed to come to Hogwarts – the disgusting Mudbloods. You don’t know how lucky you are, being spared all of that – having to associate with that kind of filth!” Rick just nodded in agreement. He had been probing Crouch’s mind to find out more about the Death Eater operation. There was some group called the Stonehenge Wiccans who were having a meeting on the coming Sunday afternoon. The Death Eaters were going to wait until the meeting had begun, and then Apparate to the meeting hall. They were planning to torture the Muggles, for fun, using the Cruciatus Curse and other Restricted Curses. Then they would blow up the hall, killing everyone inside. The Muggle authorities would think it was the work of the IRA or some other terrorist group. As he made his way back to Ravenclaw Tower, Rick wondered whether he should try to intervene, to stop the terrible attack that was planned upon the innocent Muggles. On the one hand, it seemed like the right thing to do. But on the other, there was so much evil in this wicked world that he feared he would become side-tracked putting on band-aids here and there. No, he had to focus on his key task, which was to bring this whole hideous reality to an end. Getting side-tracked only risked exposing himself and jeopardising his key mission. There was no point in trying to re-arrange the deck-chairs on this Titanic – the only thing to do was to sink it – and fast! As he walked along, Rick projected his magical map. It had become a habit in this reality. There were spies everywhere. He was also worried that Draco Malfoy might be planning to ambush and attack him – to pay him back for constantly besting him in their Dark Arts and Duelling classes. As he passed a disused classroom, he saw the name Ginny Weasley, all alone inside, on his magical map. That’s strange, thought Rick, I wonder if she’s OK. He easily overcame the locking charm on the door and entered. Ginny was sitting huddled in a corner of the classroom, crying her eyes out. She was so absorbed in her misery that she didn’t even notice Rick, until he sat down beside her. He put his own locking charm on the door and cast an Imperturbable Charm on the room. He put his arm around Ginny’s shoulder and gave her a gentle hug, sending comforting feelings towards her. She was so distraught that she didn’t even ask him how he’d found her or managed to get into the classroom. “Ginny, what’s wrong?” asked Rick gently. “Why are you crying?” Without saying a word, she thrust a tear-soaked parchment towards him. Rick opened it and began reading silently: Weasley, You are required in my chambers on Saturday night. Be waiting at the entrance to the Apartments of the Noblest at 8pm. It will be my pleasure to prepare you for your future vocation as a concubine of the Magistocracy. Draco Malfoy Rick didn’t know what to say to Ginny, the intent of the message was all too obvious. “What happens if you don’t go?” asked Rick. “He’ll send a couple of his thugs to find me,” she cried. “They’ll stun me and drag me off to Malfoy. Then he’ll put me under the Imperius Curse and do exactly as he wants with me. It happens all too often to the older, more attractive Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw witches,” she sobbed. “The wizards of the Magistocracy can do exactly as they like with us. No one dares to challenge them, no matter what evil they do. And Draco Malfoy is the worst of them, by far.” Ginny broke down, sobbing uncontrollably. Despite his best intentions not to get involved in the affairs of this world, Rick couldn’t help himself. “Don’t worry, Ginny,” he said, “I’ll sort out Draco bloody Malfoy – he won’t be bothering you – I’ll see to it!” “No!” gasped Ginny, “Don’t be crazy! You don’t understand how it is here! You’ll just get yourself killed. Please Rick, just leave it. It’s my fate. There’s nothing that you, or anyone, can do to save me from it. I just hoped to have a bit more time, a few more years, before I had to face the inevitable,” she said, bursting into tears again. “Ginny, it will be OK, I promise you. You’ll be getting another message from Malfoy soon, telling you not to bother coming. I can’t tell you how I’m going to do it, but I know a way. I won’t be putting myself in any danger at all. Just promise me that you won’t mention this conversation, OK?” “Don’t worry,” said Ginny with a sad sigh. “I know better than to talk to anyone about anything in this place. But please be careful, Rick, don’t take any chances ... please.”
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After leaving the classroom, Rick ducked into an alcove and made himself invisible before Apparating to the Apartments of the Noblest. It was, in fact, the old Gryffindor common room, which had been divided down the middle into two luxurious apartments for the heirs of the wizarding world’s Noblest Families. Rick was standing in Draco Malfoy’s apartment. It oozed opulence and luxury. But Rick wasn’t interested in finding out how the Magistocracy lived. Draco was sprawled comfortably in an enormous throne-like chair. He was idly thumbing through a book and sipping occasionally from a golden goblet. When Rick probed Evan Rosier’s mind, on the night that Rosier had attempted to sterilize him, Rick had discovered some very interesting – and very secret – spells. Spells which were known only to a handful of wizards in the Eugenics Enforcement Agency. One was the sterilization spell with which Rosier had inadvertently sterilized himself. The sterilization spell did not stop a wizard from being attracted to witches, but it made him infertile, so he could not produce children. There was another spell which Rick discovered in Evan Rosier’s mind, called the Impotence Spell. It worked quite differently. Any wizard, upon whom it was cast, would not only lose all interest in witches, but he would also lose the ability to mate – permanently. This was the spell which Rick cast on Draco. Ginny Weasley and all the other Hogwarts witches were now safe from Draco Malfoy. Rick had considered using the Squibbus Curse on Draco. But the consequence of that would have been evident to all, and would have caused a furore. Rick might have been interrogated by the Secret Security Service, simply because he was new at Hogwarts. They might have investigated his purported origins in New Zealand. No, the Impotence Spell would solve the immediate threat to Ginny, without precipitating an investigation. Rick was certain that Draco would keep very quiet about his impotence problem. It was his destiny, and his duty under the Wizarding Breeding and Purification Program, to sire thousands of children. An impotent wizard in the Magistocracy was like a fire-fighter without a hose – utterly useless! No, Draco will keep very quiet about his problem, thought Rick. He still has a year and a half before he begins breeding. At first, he’ll hope it’s just something temporary. Then he’ll start secretly researching potency spells and potions – hoping to find a cure before crunch time comes. He’ll be too scared to tell his father, or anyone else. The shame would be unbearable. Rick had briefly entertained the idea of casting the Impotence Spell on all the Slytherin wizards. Draco wasn’t the only one abusing the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw witches – although he was the worst. But, much as he wanted to, Rick knew it would be too risky. One or other of the wizards might mention something casually, or notice that his friends had also lost interest in witches. If they started talking among themselves, they would soon realise they all had the same problem, and guess that someone had done something to them. It would very quickly be out in the open and cause an enormous scandal. There would be a massive investigation. Rick couldn’t risk it, so he had to content himself with saving Ginny from Draco. There was just too much evil in this world. He had to get to the root of it – and destroy the whole evil reality.
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On Thursday evening, as Rick was sitting in the Ravenclaw common room, Ginny sat down opposite him at the table. When he looked up she quickly smiled at him and mouthed the word Thanks. Rick checked that they weren’t being observed and gave Ginny a quick smile. Obviously Draco had informed her that she was no longer required to visit him this Saturday evening after all. But it wasn’t Saturday evening that had been occupying Rick’s thoughts of late, it was Sunday afternoon. Rick had been having an ongoing argument with himself, since Monday, when Crouch had told him about the intended attack on the Stonehenge Wiccans. Rick knew that his one-and-only goal had to be getting initiated as a Death Eater, so he could get his wand back from Voldemort, and end this whole evil reality. But somehow, when he thought about innocent people suffering, he couldn’t help himself. But is that really the only reason I want to go to that meeting? he asked himself. Is it just to save those innocent people, or is there something more to it? Like the possibility that there might be some Muggle-born witches and wizards there – or more to the point, a certain Muggle-born witch – by the name of Hermione Granger? Rick’s thoughts were interrupted by a large silvery owl, which landed on the desk in front of him. It gave him a haughty look and extended a leg arrogantly towards him. As Rick took the parchment, he noticed a look of alarm on Ginny’s face. She obviously knew whose owl it was. Rick had no idea, but it seemed likely that others in the common room would know as well – and be secretly watching for his reaction when he read the parchment. Knowing he wasn’t very good at hiding his emotions, Rick decided to take it up to his dormitory and read it there. He drew the hangings around his four-poster bed, before removing the silver-grey ribbon from the parchment and opening it. A small brooch fell out, landing on his bed. Rick inspected it carefully, without touching it. The motif on the brooch was two intertwined serpents – one silver, the other green. Very Slytherin, he thought to himself. He read the message: To Mr. Rick Godfry Your attendance is requested in my apartment, this evening at nine o’clock. For reasons, which I will explain, no one must know of your visit – or of this invitation. The enclosed brooch is a Portkey which will be activated at exactly nine o’clock. Pansy Parkinson. When he had finished reading it, the parchment burst into flames. Rick smiled to himself. He had been surreptitiously giving Pansy the Charm Treatment for the past couple of weeks, ever since it became evident that there was no chance of cultivating Draco. He had no idea how to cultivate Pansy. In this hierarchical, caste-ridden society, the Magistocracy treated wizards like him with utter disdain, as something far beneath them. He knew there was no way a wizard in his position could ever approach a witch of the Magistocracy – particularly, Pansy. All he could do was keep up the Charm, and hope she would make the first move. It looked like it might just have worked. At exactly nine o’clock, Rick picked up the brooch and felt himself being whisked away from his dormitory. A moment later, he arrived, unsteadily, in Pansy’s apartment. It was the other half of the Gryffindor common room from the one he had invisibly visited a few days earlier, to cast the Impotence Spell on Draco. Pansy was reclining elegantly on a chaise lounge. She was dressed exquisitely in pale pink robes and wore enough diamonds and gold to stock a small jeweller’s shop. “Would you care for a sherry?” she asked, waving her hand casually towards a table, where Rick found a crystal sherry decanter and two crystal glasses on a polished silver tray. He poured them each a sherry, handing a glass to Pansy before sitting down on a nearby chair. He was well aware that he was expected to wait subserviently for Pansy to invite him to sit – but he wasn’t going to play her games. With his Legilimency skills, he was well aware of Pansy’s feelings towards him. He waited patiently for her to speak. She took a slow, languid sip from her sherry, before setting it down on a small table to her right. “You may be wondering,” she began, “why I wanted to talk with you. Well, I’m not going to beat about the bush. I imagine, by now, you have a good understanding of our wizarding society and how things work. I imagine it all seems a little strange to you, coming from overseas.” “It certainly does,” said Rick, with a faint smile, continuing to use his charm. “Well, I don’t know what you think about our Wizarding Breeding and Purification Program – but I think it stinks!” she said angrily. Rick was completely taken aback. It was the last thing he would have expected Pansy to say. “Oh, don’t worry,” said Pansy, reassuringly. “There are no hidden spies or listening spells in my apartment – Daddy makes sure of that. If there were, I wouldn’t have invited you here,” she said with a sly grin. “That blasted breeding program – it’s so outrageously unfair!” she continued passionately. “We witches in the Magistocracy absolutely loathe it. It’s not hard to tell that the whole contemptible thing was cooked up by the wizards, without us witches even knowing what it was all about – until it was too late, and it had already been enacted.” “It’s completely unjust to the witches of the Magistocracy,” complained Pansy, bitterly. “I suppose you know that I’m betrothed to Draco Malfoy. In a year and a half, when we finish school, I shall have to marry him – because my father and his father decided it – they didn’t ask me if I wanted to marry that self-centred, pretentious little poseur!” “Then I’m expected to become a bloody baby-factory for him. Damned Draco expects me to bear him at least eight children! Can you imagine what that will do to my beautiful figure?” she asked woefully. “Not that Draco will care, he’ll have his blasted concubines – he’s planning on keeping a hundred and twenty of them! When I’m old and worn out at fifty, he’ll be picking out pretty, young sixteen year-old witches to replace his old concubines. Hell! He’ll still be doing it when I’m a hundred. Is that fair – to me? I ask you?” she demanded, in outrage. Rick really felt like saying that it was a lot more unfair to the concubines than it was to Pansy, but she didn’t seem interested in anyone else’s misfortunes – even though they were far greater than her own. Rick just nodded sympathetically – although it was for Ginny and all the other witches in her situation that he felt sympathy – not Pansy and the pampered witches of the Magistocracy. “I guess there’s not much you can do about it,” said Rick, trying to sound sympathetic. “It’s the law, after all.” “No, there’s nothing I can do about that blasted law, it’s true,” said Pansy, angrily. “Even the Magistocracy have to abide by all these stupid laws – or at least make sure they’re not caught breaking them,” she said with a smirk. “No, I’ll have to marry Draco – and have his beastly babies – I’m resigned to that. But while he’s off playing with his concubines, I intend having some fun of my own. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander – or, more to the point – what’s good for the gander is good for the goose,” said Pansy with smug grin on her face. “Err ... what do you mean?” asked Rick. “What I mean,” said Pansy, defiantly, “is that if bloody Draco can have his concubines, then I can have my gigolos.” She was looking at Rick with a very self-satisfied grin on her face. “Err ... is it ... err, permitted?” asked Rick, nervously. “Of course not,” laughed Pansy. “But that hasn’t stopped a good many witches of the Magistocracy from taking lovers. Narcissa Malfoy is rumoured to have a steady stream of young, handsome beaux – and who could blame her, when you look at that slimy creepy husband of hers.” “Doesn’t Lucius Malfoy know that she’s ... err —” “Making a prize cuckold of him?” asked Pansy, laughing wickedly. “As long as it doesn’t get out, he probably couldn’t care less. Do you think he cares about his old wife – when he has so many young, beautiful concubines at his beck and call – come off it! Obviously the witches of the Magistocracy know exactly what’s going on – what do you think they talk about all day long – each other’s dalliances, of course. As long as it’s kept quiet and doesn’t get any further, there’s no problem at all. Appearances are what count here – not realities.” “But where are the beaux from? The Magistocracy?” asked Rick, confused. “Of course not,” said Pansy, snorting derisively. “The wizards of the Magistocracy are all a bunch of prize peacocks. Anyway, they have their hands full with their concubines. And they’re not sterilized, so it wouldn’t be safe. Breeding and bloodlines are taken extremely seriously here. Newborn babies are very scrupulously checked. Their paternity is easily established by magical means. It wouldn’t do at all, for a Magistocracy witch to bear the child of the wrong wizard.” “Then all of these beaux, who aren’t Magistocracy, must also know what’s going on,” said Rick. “Well, of course they do,” laughed Pansy. “But they’d be the last ones to talk about it. I mean if an indiscretion were to get out, it would be far worse for the wizard than the witch.” “Err ... how bad?” asked Rick, nervously. “Would he be ... killed?” “I don’t know,” said Pansy, shrugging her shoulders carelessly. Obviously, it was of no concern to her. “I suppose it might depend upon how well connected he was. Anyway,” she said, looking Rick directly in the eye, “no one is going to discover us.” “Us?” exclaimed Rick, gulping. “Yes, us,” she said, smiling seductively at Rick. “Why do you think I invited you to visit me? I hadn’t planned on beginning my career as a seductress of handsome young wizards until after I was married. For one thing – there aren’t any here at Hogwarts that appeal to me – or at least there weren’t – until you turned up.” “From what I’ve been hearing lately, Draco’s been having his way with some of the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw witches. I’m damned if I’m going to let that little git get one up on me. So, I’ve decided to begin my career in the boudoir a little sooner than planned – and I can’t think of a nicer way to start – than with you,” she added, with another seductive smirk. Rick’s mind was whirring away – desperately searching for a way to avoid Pansy’s amorous plans. He couldn’t tell her that she had nothing to worry about. That Draco wouldn’t be getting one up on her – or anyone. That Draco would not be having his way with any Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw witches – or any other witches, for that matter – ever again. Eventually, Rick hit upon a way to use the situation to promote his own plans. He smiled at Pansy, using a liberal amount of charm. “It’s a great privilege, Pansy, to be chosen by you. You’re a devastatingly beautiful witch. But ... well, the idea of us ... err ... you know, err ... kind of scares me. I mean it’s not that I don’t want to ... I do ... but, I’m new here, and I don’t know anyone. I don’t have any connections. If we were found out, it would be the end of me – for sure. Draco already hates me.” “He certainly does,” laughed Pansy. “You have no idea how unbearable he was when you kept beating him in Dark Arts and Duelling. Although now he just pretends it never happened and that he’s the greatest dueller at Hogwarts. I just go along with his little self-delusions – I find it best to just humour him. But he’s been in an unbearably foul mood the last few days – I have no idea what’s the matter with him.” But Rick did. “Don’t worry so much,” said Pansy, getting back to the main topic on her agenda. “No one will find out about us – and if they do, Daddy’s got loads of influence. He’s the Minister of Magic, you know – he’ll be able to pull some strings.” “Err ... Pansy,” said Rick, sounding worried. “If we get discovered, I probably have more to fear from your father than from Draco or anyone else. The only strings your father is likely to pull are ones that are tied firmly around my neck!” “Oh, dear! How silly of me, I hadn’t thought of that,” giggled Pansy. It was obvious to Rick that she wasn’t considering his safety at all. It didn’t really concern her – after all, he was just an expendable commodity. “I have an idea,” said Rick. “Professor Crouch has put in a recommendation for me to become a Death Eater.” “Wonderful!” cried Pansy. “If you were a Death Eater, you’d have plenty of protection. Even if we were discovered, no one would be able to touch you, neither my father nor Draco – the Eternal Emperor protects his own.” “Yeah, that’s right,” said Rick. “That’s what I was thinking. Once I’m a Death Eater, I’ll be safe, then we can ... you know.... But I want to wait till then. It will be too risky for me ... until I’m initiated. Unfortunately, Professor Crouch thinks it could take a long time for my name to come up, years perhaps, because I don’t have any connections – you know – people in high places – who could speed things up for me.” “Oh, but you do now,” said Pansy smugly. “You’ve got me ... and I can get Daddy dear to do whatever I want. Draco and I are both being initiated as Death Eaters in a couple of weeks. We’re not really going to be proper Death Eaters, mind you. We won’t have to do all the study and training they do; it’s really just an honorary initiation. Once we’re married, we’ll be the royal family of the wizarding world, you know ... so naturally, we need to be Death Eaters,” she said, haughtily. “Our initiation is going to be a huge event. Everyone who’s anyone in the wizarding world will be there. I’m sure if I asked Daddy to speed up your invitation so you can be initiated at the same time, he’ll be more than happy to oblige his darling daughter,” said Pansy, smiling with self-satisfaction. “That would be wonderful, Pansy,” said Rick, turning on the charm, to further encourage her. “After I’m initiated, I’ll be able to come and visit you in your boudoir whenever you like,” he said, smiling charmingly. “I’ll send Daddy an owl right away,” said Pansy. “I can hardly wait.”
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
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