alt_sirius: (half-smiling)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
Greetings, British Citizens of Albion, and others!

Over the last four weeks, every person in this country has experienced great change. Most of us are still mourning losses - of material things, homes, possessions, jobs or livelihoods, of friends and loved ones, sisters, brothers, parents, daughters and sons. It's no surprise that many of you are clinging to the system and leaders you know, or you think you know, rather than take a chance on something new.

There are some things that haven't changed, however. The Ministry and the Council who brought about and supported Voldemort's tyranny lied to you when he was alive, and they are still lying to you now. If you think you'll be safe from oppression under their rule, you are mistaken. If you've heard reports of atrocities committed by Albion's Aurors or members of the Order of the Phoenix, such as the murder of families who declined to join us, they are untrue.

Some of the people we are attempting to capture are guilty of heinous crimes. They will be held accountable. If they turn themselves in, they will be given a fair trial and treated humanely while in our custody. If they give us no choice, we will kill them fairly in combat, but we will make the attempt to bring them in peaceably unless there is no alternative.

As for specific questions about me or about the Provisional Government of Albion, the Order of the Phoenix, or any topic related to the difference between our policies and those of the Death Eaters, I hereby invite them. When I began my essays, seven years ago, people used to write to me with questions they had about the Protectorate. Oh, there was a fair amount of hateful commentary, as well, but there never failed to be one or two with earnest queries. As well as some who simply had stories of their own that they wanted heard.

Well, today, I am opening the floodgates. Ask me anything. I reserve the right to tell you that I can't answer your question for the security of our ongoing conflict with the remnants of the Protectorate, but if I can, I'll provide as honest a reply as possible.

Let's start off with something simple. These are sure to be questions many of you have, so I'll just get them out of the way:

-Are you a traitor, Sirius Black?
No, but that depends on how you look at it. Am I a traitor to the Protectorate? The Protectorate was never my government. I was never on Voldemort's side and never will be. I was loyal to Britain and I am still loyal to the Provisional Government of Albion, and the Order of the Phoenix.

-But are you a murderer?
No. I've had to kill enemies in the heat of battle, in self-defence. I've been responsible for the deaths of others. In some cases, that's because the Order decided they needed to be executed after being found guilty of terrible crimes, including murder. Other times I've been unable to keep people from being killed. People who ought to have lived. I carry those failures, and will regret their loss, always. But no, I'm not a murderer.

I certainly wouldn't kill an entire family just because they decide not to side with Albion (though we have reason to believe they were contemplating joining us, and that's why the Council had them killed).

What else do you want to know? Public, private - ask your questions, and I'll tell only Grim Truths.
alt_sirius: (Sincere)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
Greetings, British Wizarding World!

The Daily Prophet has made much in the last week of my recent escape from MLE.

I admit, there's only one reason you have read about how I evaded them, rather than about my death by Bellatrix Lestrange's wand. That reason is a young woman named Ellie Summer.

Ellie was born to Michael and Jean Summer in 1977. We think her birthday was in April, because she remembered it being some time around Easter. When she was five, she was separated from her parents and put into one of the Muggleborn compounds in Stoke-on-Trent. At approximately seven years of age, she was given to Madam Leona Dimmock of Ollerton. Her principal duties were to serve at the witch's social parties, mixing drinks and so on. She was treated as something between a house elf and a pet - until, that is, Ellie grew too old for Madam Dimmock's tastes. She was too tall, too spotty and 'no longer elfin' and so the old woman sent her back to the camps.

Ellie never talked to us much about what life was like there, over the next four or five years. I can only imagine that it's a time she would have preferred to forget. It's not hard to guess what she endured: a young girl, growing to womanhood, alone, with no idea how to survive. The best she could say about her mistress was that under her yoke, she did not know hunger, was not physically abused and knew, when she laid her head to rest, that she would not be robbed or murdered in her sleep. No such guarantee in the camps, where too often it's every one for herself, where the gaolers are more dangerous than the inmates. But nothing prepared her to go back, either.

When she came to us, Ellie was concerned about the rules. Things a free person would never worry about: How and where to stand, what to say or not say, what would happen if she failed to meet expectation. The first time she broke a glass, she almost cut herself trying to clean up with her bare hands, sobbing the whole time, she was that frightened of disapproval. She didn't know she could trust us and had no reason not to fear the consequences of failing to please. But from the beginning, she had a way with the customers, particularly the other Muggleborn who would shop for the households they served, or some of the older witches and wizards who would drop in more for the conversation and company than anything on the shelves. Eventually, she grew to understand that her new 'masters' were not going to treat her as a slave. They were interested in her as a person.

In time, Ellie came to be more than a servant - she became a trusted friend. She practically ran the shop by herself and customers often came to see her, even when there was nothing they wanted to buy. She was clever, funny, observant, kind and - above all - decent to everyone who crossed her path.

Ellie also talked with us about the change we desired for England, restoring a government that valued equality, condemning the cruel treatment of muggles for no crime other than being in the majority population, recognising that anyone born capable of magic has the right to hold a wand and freeing all of Britain once more, reconnecting it to the rest of the world. We made sure she had a wand and taught her to use it. Her appetite for learning spells was insatiable. She was always interested in tales about how things were before, as well as stories about our ongoing struggle against Voldemort. She was always willing to help in any effort that would further the Order's goals for freedom.

Ellie wanted to see Paris, Rome, New York City. She dreamed of having her own children. But she was also fierce, and practical, and knew that we had to fight to win those privileges which in other countries are rights.

Ellie Summer was killed last Sunday, 26th October. She leapt in front of a Killing Curse, one that would have killed me if she had not acted with outright bravery. She died to give me, and others, a chance to escape, to keep fighting. She died in service to the Order of the Phoenix. She was twenty years old.

Ellie was never given the opportunity to be Sorted, but if she had come to Hogwarts, I believe she would have been a Gryffindor. I believe she would have brought honour to our House. I am proud to have called her a friend. The Grim Truth is that I can never repay her sacrifice - but I can make sure she is remembered.

Since you will not read her obituary in any account the Prophet might provide, I thought it would be fitting to share it here.
alt_sirius: (intense)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
Greetings, British Wizarding World!

As some of you know, we in the Order of the Phoenix have heard the rumours that the Ministry recently lost the ability to monitor private journal messages.

If you have been taking advantage of the temporary promise of true privacy, good on you. Perhaps you've contacted friends or colleagues and taken the chance to admit to them that you have reservations, conflicts or grave concerns about the Protectorate's philosophies on blood purity or treatment of its subjects or the Lord Pretender's sanity. Perhaps you've had conversations that have led to better understandings of who among your neighbours feel the same. We fervently hope that your trust has been placed wisely and that no one to whom you've written has reported anything you might have said - presumably because you all know that no one is truly safe in this 'utopia' known as Wizarding Britain.

Your safety is about to be compromised again. We have reason to believe that the Ministry are very close to re-establishing surveillance over the private messages. In fact, while we cannot vouch for a specific date, we estimate that messages may be monitored again as early as this Friday, 25 July. Please take appropriate precautions as of that date.

We are reasonably confident that anything you may have written during the last month or so will not be able to be discovered by MLE or the Ministry but they will certainly be making the attempt.

Don't let your communications be in vain. If you took the chance and spoke your mind, continue to speak it, to those who feel the same or to those who can be convinced that the Protectorate is nothing more than a tyrannical charade, more fueled by fear and oppression than by freedom or opportunity.

The next time you find yourself wondering whether the person you are talking to would accuse you of treason if you spoke your mind, remember what it was like to be able to say what you thought, when you thought it. Remember the last time you were truly free to choose friends, not based on their birthright but the kind of person they are. Remember when it was not a crime to fancy Muggle music or Muggle fashion, Muggle gadgets or even Muggles themselves. Remember Britain when it was free.
alt_sirius: (OhHellNo)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
Greetings, British Wizarding World!

In the few weeks since Madam Dolores Umbridge has taken over Hogwarts, she has already instituted a palpable difference in the lives of the students there. She has bent her attention to exposing children’s thoughts, even those which they might regret as soon as they have been voiced. While she has targetted halfbloods with a precision that would make a duellist proud, even those with pure magical heritage have not been safe from her probing. Sophie Fleet suffered the most grievously, as all know from the sudden, swift and summative disappearance of her entire family from New London. I am sure some of you would like to point out that Maribel Fleet was a ‘traitor,’ and that thus Sophie’s punishments were justified. Whether you agree with Mrs Fleet’s politics or not, surely a fourteen-year-old girl’s trangression and a relatively mild statement are not truly cause to beat out a confession and then eradicate an entire family. (While it was believed the Fleets were downgraded in status and sent to the camps, I have heard rumours that they have yet to be included in any roster within the camp system and that, instead, they were all murdered. Perhaps you’ve heard similar whispers.)

Besides Sophie, other purebloods have encountered less than fair treatment at the hands of the new Headmistress. All those forced to read their private messages aloud or at least, to share the content of their messages with Madam Umbridge, can claim she has abused her authority. Mendingus Bainbridge, Jenessa Beaker, Killian McIntosh, Persephone Sanditon, Lavinia Levingworth, Philip MacMillan, Michelle Iskanderian, Felicity Whisp - all have felt the sting of her poisonous touch. The Weasley siblings, too, have experienced a twisted sort of ‘justice’ at her command. In her latest attempt at irony, Hogwarts’ big, pink bully held a young lady to blame for action well beyond her power or ability to control. And while that young lady is no stranger to adversity, she certainly did nothing to invite or deserve Madam Toad’s scorn.

Against this backdrop, we have also learned of these so-called ‘Order of Precedence’ meals - dining in strict observance of arbitrary distinctions, where one is compelled to sit next to neighbours not because of common interest or mutual affection, but merely on an arcane system of determining one’s place in society’s hierarchy.

All this certainly causes me to wonder what in Merlin’s name the Pink Bullfrog expects to accomplish? Has anyone asked her qualifications for such a laudable and honoured post as Hogwarts’ Headmistress? Correct me if I’m wrong but I had thought that at least some teaching experience was required to hold the position. But Dolores Umbridge does not even teach a core subject - worse, in fact: She pretends to teach, choosing instead to divide her lessons along the same ridiculous class distinctions as her suppers, and providing half her students with a glorified picture book in place of an O.W.L. preparatory text.

I admit that I am confused, as you probably are, as to why the Board of Governors has allowed this frank deterioration of a school that has withstood a thousand years of students - but then again, the Council has allowed wizarding society to recede into its Medieval mindset in less than a generation, as well, so perhaps it really does signify a coordinated effort. Perhaps the Grim Truth is that the Governors and the Council have decided that Madam Umbridge’s brand of education is just the sort of Dark Age nonsense they want. If nothing else, raising a load of dunces who can’t defend themselves against Dark magic will ensure that they can persist in their oppressive rule over halfblood, muggleborn, squib and muggle alike.

I’ve no power to make the Governors remove Madam Umbridge, no more than I had the power to keep the Lord Pretender from punishing my brother whenever I spoke out. No more than I have the power to keep Madam Umbridge from oppressing innocent students in an impotent attempt to strike at me.

But what I do have the power to do is call her on her actions. Oi, Dolores: Next time, pick on someone your own size.
alt_sirius: (Default)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
Greetings, British Wizarding World!

I have wondered from time to time whether our chats are really doing any good. Whether the points I try to make are falling on deaf ears or whether some of my reminders of life before the Protectorate can even reach those younger people who have never known what it was like to live in a free nation.

Because make no mistake, the country’s wards are more like prison walls than protective garden hedgerows. They may keep the rest of the world from tearing down the illusion of wizarding supremacy but they also - and primarily - serve to keep captive a people who are oppressed and brutalised by their cagers.

I do not just mean muggles or muggleborn, although Merlin knows they are sorely tried by the abuses they receive. Over the last two days, in particular, we’ve seen the dangers of a government and of leaders who truly believe themselves above reproach, who truly think that they and they alone can decide what is right to think and believe, who truly disregard the personal freedom - obligation - to call the question, to doubt.

Sophie Fleet is a thirteen-year-old girl who until yesterday was a typical Hogwarts student. Without cause, she was forced to read in public a message she had written to her mother. She was then called before Ministry staff, including one of the most contemptible members of the Aurors, to reveal the content of messages she and her mother had exchanged over several months. Because she expressed a twinge of doubt regarding the motives and methods of the Protectorate, she was put to the question under physical torture until she ‘confessed’ to treason.

This morning, before the entire school, her wand was snapped and she and her mother are both being sent to the camps, where other members of her family may soon follow.

All because she dared to voice a dissenting opinion.

Because no teenager has ever expressed frustration with her life, the lives of others, the world, the universe, the unfairness of teachers, the arbitrary nature of fate, the evil of enemies (or even friends), the decisions of parents or the shortcomings of the future. Imagine if you will the improbability of a teen finding fault with the status quo.

My point is that if this young witch could be tortured and coerced into a confession when she had done nothing but mildly observe that life sometimes doesn’t work the way one wishes, or that her teachers seemed to wish her ill, then think what might happen to anyone who dares disagree. Hundreds of years ago, muggles persecuted each other on suspicion of witchcraft and thousands of young girls, some as young as Sophie, were tortured until they invented stories of deeds that even wizards cannot achieve. All because they were desperate to make the pain stop.

Friends, we’ve taken one step closer to that benighted point of view today. Not even your children’s thoughts are safe from intrusion.

Privacy is not a ‘privilege’ as Dolores Umbridge would have it: It is a basic right to which all people - muggle, squib or magical - have a claim. Here are some other basic rights I and those who fight alongside me also uphold:

The right to learn to use magic if one is born with the ability, regardless of bloodline;
The right to liberty and the freedom to choose where and how one makes one’s living;
The right to contact with one’s loved ones, be they muggle, squib or magical;
The right to think and speak freely in agreement with or dissent from authority without fear of reprisal;
The right to conduct one’s business without inflicting or becoming the victim of random violence;
The right to live peacefully and without fear of government detention, arrest or attack without just cause;
The right to food, clothing, shelter, healing care and education for all, regardless of magical birthright;
The right to fair pay in exchange for labour, goods or services rendered for all people, by mutual agreement of both labourer and beneficiary.

If you find that this list represents many of the things the Protectorate lacks, then you know the Grim Truth: You are not a citizen, but a prisoner; not a patriot, but an activist; not a collaborator, but a revolutionary.

My allies and I were once like you, isolated and unsure how to fight against what seemed an unstoppable and growing mass of dark wizards. We found each other and have for years been working together quietly, slowly, carefully, but steadily, to reverse the course this country has blindly taken over the last fifteen years. Here is how:

When you read this, if you agree, find one person you trust. Agree to meet that person the next day and introduce that person to a second person who also agrees. Now there are four of you. And so on. Take that step, just that one, and you will find more allies than you knew existed. Together, action becomes not only possible but imperative.
alt_sirius: (Serious)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
Greetings, British Wizarding World!

It’s story time. Are you all sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

There was once a young man from a pureblood family who wanted to serve his country. He saw others of his generation growing more concerned with the bloodlines of their classmates and less with the proficiency of their spell-casting or the kindness of their actions. He found others who thought, as he did, that there was an insidious force at work in the land. This surreptitious influence was corrupting vulnerable and ambitious minds, convincing them of their superiority and turning law-abiding wizards into a gang of thugs.

Being a young man of principles, courage and good sense, he asked his friends what he could do to help Magical Law Enforcement stop the rising tide of murder and abductions. A plan was formed: The young man would feign interest and infiltrate the gang, reporting back through protected channels. In this way, MLE would learn the identities of the gang members and obtain evidence of their involvement in the gang’s crimes.

They hired the young man in an unobtrusive department of the Ministry, and took every precaution to ensure that no hint of connection could be found between him and his commanding Aurors. He played his role well, or so everyone thought, though to MLE’s great frustration, he was not able to offer up much in the way of intelligence that would lead to arrests. Owing to the nature of his undercover work, he had to exercise particular caution when it came to preventing the planned actions of his supposed comrades - for no hint of betrayal could reach them or he might be compromised.

Still, MLE were patient, and allowed the young man to infiltrate further and further into the organization. They believed that his efforts would pay in time, would lead them to a bigger opportunity to break the gang’s growing power.

Before he could bring them indisputable proof, the Ministry fell to the gang’s assault. The gang-leader destroyed both the Muggle and Wizarding governments and set up his own puppet administration. Many of the Aurors and other MLE officials were named public enemies and sent on the run.

Not long afterward, the Auror who had been in charge of the young man’s activities, a family man by the name of Brodie, came home to find his door hanging from the hinges and the Dark Mark slithering overhead. In terror, he entered his house, wand outstretched for anything - or anyone - lurking inside.

He found nothing disturbed, nothing amiss. Until he walked into his kitchen. There at the table, the young man sat, cradling a cup of tea, still warm. A scrap of parchment and quill lay on the table next to his elbow. The Auror noticed three things immediately: The young man was wearing Auror’s robes; he was completely unharmed; and he was unmistakeably quite dead.

Brodie approached and read, with a sinking feeling, the note left behind for him: ‘Dear Sir, I deeply regret that I must tender my resignation from the Auror programme, effective immediately.’ Up close, he could also see a curious but significant object: a single Galleon at the bottom of the teacup.

In what must have been an extreme act of determination and courage, he searched the rest of his house. His wife was not yet home; he found their nanny asleep in a bedroom cupboard with no idea how she came to be there. But his daughter was playing happily in her bedroom. As Brodie checked her for wounds, hex damage or evidence of curses, she asked him, ‘You didn’t go in the kitchen, did you, Daddy? The nice man told me I wasn’t allowed. He said he was going to take someone on an awfully big adventure.’

Auror Brodie sent a Patronus to his wife and the family fled within the hour. More extensive examination of the child found faint traces of the Imperius Curse, used to prevent her from witnessing the atrocity committed in her own house. Brodie and his colleagues recognised the warlock’s calling card from other victims: The Galleon on or near the body, the taunting messages. They knew whose work it was. But the Grim Truth was that by then, they had no way to bring him to justice. Months later, the Brodies were caught and killed, their daughter placed in the care of distant relations and raised to believe her parents were traitors.

The young man’s name was Columbus Clarkson.

His murderer’s name is Antonin Nikolaevich Dolohov.
alt_sirius: (Lemme'Splain)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
Greetings, British Wizarding World.

A few days ago, we all learned of the sweeping rout of an organisation that had set itself the task of bringing down the Protectorate regime. In what appears to have been an operation comprising months of work and dozens of staff, MLE managed to ‘crush’ most of the group that called itself the DogStar Company.

I’ve written before about my mixed reaction to that group and its supposed origins. It’s not easy to find oneself becoming a rallying cry, especially when one’s stated objectives and motives seem to have been adopted and ignored in equal measure by the group using one as its touchstone. The DogStar may have expressed sentiments many of you in the Protectorate feel and think and wonder and wish, but they spent too much time indulging their darker impulses, pursuing their goals by any means and giving too little thought to the collateral consequences of their actions. Nonetheless, the men and women of the DogStar clearly believed in their cause and in their final moments, proved their dedication to their credo. As tragic as it is to have lost so many lives, it would be more tragic still to decry them as having sacrificed in vain, or in service to a fool’s notion.

Perhaps some of you reading this don’t think of it as a loss. Perhaps you do think of it as ridding the country of a dangerous menace, a disruption that needed to be put down. Perhaps you were happy when you learned that the group behind the Quidditch World Cup bombing had met its inevitable sticky end. That's understandable, I suppose, especially if you lost someone there or through any of the other deeds attributed to them. But if you look more closely at who those people were, it’s more sad than gratifying. Because they were, in the end, people: Mothers and husbands, sisters and sons. They were shopkeepers and teachers, office-workers and potioneers. They recognised that the Protectorate is an oppressive place and they took action to overthrow the despots who created the current state. Whether we agreed with their methods or not, they did sacrifice themselves in service to an idea of a better life for us all.

Yet that sacrifice may well lead one to wonder how the DogStar could have grown so large when its values were so radical and violent. Do the sentiments espoused by its members really pervade the entire realm? If all their members - muggles, muggleborn, witches and wizards alike - did not support those darker impulses, then how could they have joined DogStar? How could they have worked so hard for an organisation that believed it could be acceptable to set off bombs that would kill hundreds of innocents, on the chance that they might take some of their enemies with them? There are probably as many answers as there are fallen.

Of course, I can’t be sure but I think that in many cases, it may be because they thought there was no alternative. It could be that the strain of living under the yoke of oppression created by the Pretender and his Death Eaters drove many to choose DogStar’s plan to take desperate action over sitting back and doing nothing. Or it could be that people began to think that DogStar’s methods were necessary, that their violence answered the cruelty of the Protectorate in a way that non-violence could not do, that they were fighting fire with fire, as it were. That it was the only way to stop the brutality of the Ministry.

Unfortunately, as we’ve seen over and over, losing one’s scruples in the face of an enemy does little but lower oneself to the same level. Using Dark methods to fight Dark wizards only turns one into the thing one is fighting. Instead of upholding justice, the DogStar became as brutal as the Ministry, as indiscriminate and as unjust.

I can’t know why they did it, but I fear that many who found themselves in DogStar may not have realised before joining how ruthless a group it was. In that respect, they may have been similar to several who initially joined Voldemort without seeing the pit into which they were about to fall. I wonder how many who still serve him have now seen that the pit has no bottom, that there are no depths to which he will not sink, and who now deeply regret their choices but believe they are unable to escape.

I wonder how many in the DogStar felt a similar way, and how many justified their actions because they were in the name of the greater good.

The difference between good and evil is not just in motivation. It’s in the lines one draws and will not cross. It’s in the fundamental choice to not kill, no matter the provocation, to not bring harm to innocents even if doing so would stop a thousand murderers, to refuse to cast spells that violate the basic rights of the victim, such as subverting their free will. It is in looking long and hard at what we are and are not willing to do to improve the lives of those we wish to help. It is in continuing to seek out others with the same moral code and freely advocating to take only those actions which uphold that code. It is in relying on one another, constantly and continually, to help each other resist the temptation to resort to magic that will cause irreparable harm.

If there is a Grim Truth from the events of the last several months, it is that the surviving members of the DogStar - and anyone else who is mourning their colleagues - still have a choice. The remnants of that organisation can still remember and honour the lost by reforming to fulfill a better purpose. I urge them to re-examine their goals and the path to achieving them. I hope that they can find alternatives to wasting the human potential their former comradeship had amassed.
alt_sirius: (Shocked)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
Greetings, British Wizarding World.

If you were in the arena tonight, you need no words to tell you the Grim Truth.
alt_sirius: (Serious)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
Greetings, British Wizarding World!

It’s hard to believe that the first class to enter Hogwarts after the journal project began is now beginning the second half of its education. I hope that education will still prepare them for the work to be done, particularly if we’re to reverse the damage wrought by the Protectorate, but perhaps that is too much to ask on top of rudimentary skills in potions, charms, astronomy and transfiguration.

Still, I’m glad that so far, this year seems to be progressing with fewer calamities than in the past and indeed, cause for celebrations (public Cruciation aside, of course). I gather that the Tri-Wizard Tournament (and particularly the Yule Ball) has been successful so far in bringing the students together in new and exciting ways. One thing I agree with is the goal of making new friends and gaining new perspectives, which is a hallmark of the collaboration that the Tournament affords.

But the Tournament is also meant to be a competition, an opportunity to put each school’s best students against one another in a fair and unbiased test of their skills. We’ve already seen some unanticipated results, what with two Champions being chosen from Hogwarts. That’s either a sign that the Goblet is not to be fooled by the Lord Pretender’s whims or it’s a sign that once again, someone cleverer than the combined intelligence of Beauxbatons, Hogwarts and Durmstrang found a way to put my godson, Harry Potter, at risk despite all the protections he’s given. One can only hope that he’ll continue to show resourcefulness beyond his years.

Speaking of protections, however, there’s another matter that we really ought to discuss. That’s the recent incident at Hogwarts in which one of the French delegation nearly lost his life due to bullying.

Yes, I know that it turns out he was bullied by two of his own schoolmates and it had almost nothing to do with Hogwarts’ students. Yet in this case, there are parallels to Hogwarts’ students that cannot and ought not be ignored.

In the first place, the young man had endured a history of abuse, which could have been halted earlier had his teachers taken closer note of his situation. While his own fortitude is to be applauded, he should never have had to bear up for that long without anyone taking an interest. I wish I could say that nothing like it ever happens at Hogwarts but we all know that prefects and professors alike often expect students to resolve their own problems. Even without this most recent example, Hogwarts is no stranger to crops of young tormentors, which seem to come and go in waves but are never quite addressed consistently.

In the second place, his torment is symptomatic of insensitivity toward wizards who do not come from pure wizard blood. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the idea persists that pure blood and magical ability are inextricably linked and worse, that the old, pure families themselves are more worthy than newer bloodlines. Englishmen have always been preoccupied with matters of class; it is one of the (many) ways wizards are no different from muggles. But as the regime solidifies its power, that idea has taken root with new fervour. I’m disappointed to see it pervading French thinking as well, though I wonder if that has more to do with personal ties forged between families and less to do with any policy changes on behalf of Beauxbatons or the French government. Either way, it seems clear that had the student had wizarding parents, and not squibs, it is likely that he would not have presented such a tempting target - and more likely that his professors would have acted much more quickly to protect him.

But beyond the injustice of this incident, let’s take a moment to discuss the effect of a bullying culture on its citizens. These systems rely on elevating the importance of class distinctions so that those in the middle perpetuate both ends of the spectrum. Those in the middle admire and envy those above them, and they buy in to the promise that if they make those below them feel worse about themselves, they will in turn feel better, and may even be admitted to the elite as a reward. They buy in to the idea that they can ‘join in’ to make themselves stronger, less helpless in a society that belittles them for an accident of birth, standing or finance. Of course, some wizards, finding themselves tempted or pressured to spurn those weaker than themselves, recognise that the social obligation to harass, bully or even torture is wrong, but they feel they must go along and pretend. Doing otherwise would mark them as targets of bullying themselves or worse, expose them to accusations of being rebels, possibly putting their loved ones in danger.

The biggest danger of all, though, is in the coercive power of bullying as an acceptable cultural structure. It manipulates people into justifying their wrong actions by appealing to their fears for themselves and for their loved ones. It subverts their concern for those they are being coerced to harm, forcing them to either dismiss their doubts as unfounded, or to dismiss the people themselves as contemptible or inferior (and therefore not deserving of mercy). The culture of bullying also tempts moral people to invent twisted justifications for their deeds, even to the point of absurdity. Under extreme circumstances, one might come to conceive of these violent deeds as a way to protect the oppressed. Then it’s the voice that says, ‘If I don’t take this action, someone else will, who will enjoy it more, who will be more cruel, more vicious, who will feel less remorse.’

While it may be necessary, from time to time, to perpetrate such an act, it is never all right, never justified. In such a situation it is important to remember what is really right and proper and fair - and to ask who is victimised. The ones who create that pressure are the real bullies and their actions, the creation of that culture, passes through those in the middle and makes them instruments of their brutality. Sometimes it can be impossible to see a way out. But it is vital to think carefully and closely about what can be done to break the cycle.

And that brings me back to friendships - the best friends are those who challenge each other to become better people, without judging but without necessarily accepting one’s failures. So as the term starts up again, students, ask yourselves who your real friends are - are they the ones who accept you but also push you to improve yourself? Are they the ones with whom you feel comfortable speaking the Grim Truth? And if not...why not? There are risks in speaking out but if your friends are worth having, they will help provide the key to a longterm plan for escape. True friends, friends with whom no topic is taboo, no problem is unsolvable, no question too unthinkable, they are the way out.
alt_sirius: (Bedraggled)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
2 September, 1994

Greetings, British Wizarding World!

And here you thought you were done with me. Well, with the Prophet seeing fit to splash my face in the papers again, I thought it only proper to set some rumours to rest. Yes. I’m not actually dead.

Cousin Bellatrix: Surprise! Guess you were more off your aim than you thought. (Oh, and just in case you’d like to claim I’m an impostor: I remember what hat came out of the Christmas cracker you pulled at your fifteenth (my seventh) birthday party. Do you?)

But you know, alive - and dead - and alive again, I still get my share of mail. Things like, ‘Your sainted mother turns in her grave every day just knowing she spawned you’ (clearly written by someone who never met my mother) and ‘You’re nothing more than a pustulent Pogrebin. I am sending you a curse by parcel post.’ And other invectives far more interesting but less printable here. Most of the time, though, it doesn’t really bother me, I have to admit. Because I used to read the Letters to the Editor long before I was an outlaw, and people don’t change much, no matter who’s in charge.

I did get one letter yesterday, just after the announcement of my resurrection, that troubled me very much.

It said: ‘You needn’t worry about my bothering you anymore if you’re the sort of person who sets off a bomb in a crowd.’

It said a deal else, as well, including very grim and very true things about what bombs do when they’re ignited among mobs. Especially when heavy objects fall (or threaten to fall) on helpless people below. More eloquently than I could hope to argue here, in point of fact.

As it happens, I do know what bombs do and I didn’t need this week to remind me. Monday was not the first mass conflation I’ve seen, I’m sorry to say. I had the ill fortune to be in Barcelona in 1987, when Basques killed 21 people with a bomb fitted into a car. I’ve seen more footage of the effects of Muggle warfare than my young correspondent has ever or I hope will ever see. I was at the Cup, as well, but not to set off any weapons, Muggle or wizard-made, and certainly not to harm innocent spectators.

Let’s make no mistake about that: The majority of people who died or nearly died at the Cup were not guests at the match. It was Muggleborn servants, penned up below the Lord Pretender’s viewing stands, who took the brunt of the blast, and were largely left to their fate by their wizarding ‘masters.’ Yes, I was there, but I chose to risk revealing myself in order to help them escape their deathtrap. And then there were the Muggles in the camp nearby, and we all know who’s responsible for their injuries and their deaths, even if we’ll never be able to trace all the wands.

There are a number of groups (the last count I heard was 23) claiming some responsibility for the device that detonated at the Cup. I’ve seen the article trying to blame the Irish Muggle Army; I’ve read the sickening claims that the DogStar Company have made; I’ve even heard tell that the Crimson Company is using Malfoy’s condition as a recruiting slogan.

I’ve got one thing to say about all that: Claim what you like, but leave my name off it. During the time I’ve been ‘dead’ you seem to have forgotten what I wrote back when I was alive. So let me remind you what I really support and what I don’t. Free the people who should never have been enslaved in the first place. Depose the puppets you have given control over your society, your livelihoods and even your very thoughts. Do it without taking more lives in the bargain.

It occurs to me that it’s amazing what a large group of people can do when they’ve the luxury of hiding behind the mask of the faceless mob. If you’d turned your wands in the other direction that night, what a difference it might have made.
alt_doris: (Pensive)
[personal profile] alt_doris
Greetings, British Journal-Readers.

We’re saddened by the comments that we’ve received, alleging that we neither knew nor cared anything for Sirius Black. Some people have even accused us of working for the Ministry! That could not be further from the Grim Truth that we set out to communicate by taking up our quill in Doris's journal.

Some have also questioned whether we’ve purloined the journal of an innocent, as others have done, to accomplish our mission. This is simply answered: Doris herself is one of our number and volunteered her journal expressly for the purpose of spreading the word. She fervently believes, as do we all, in Sirius Black’s legacy and his original message.

However, it’s true that one of the difficulties facing many who disapprove of the Protectorate is finding a way to speak together without attracting unwanted Ministerial attention. That’s why codes are a vital tool. With a sufficiently clever code, members of secret societies may communicate openly under the very eye of Ministry officials - even those tasked with monitoring private messages.

There are many books on ciphers and cryptography which detail the creation of an effective code. The simplest involve using a book that all readers own or have access to read. A combination of numbers embedded in the text of your entry represent the page number and word on the page.

The Ministry are not so foolish, however, as to ignore a post consisting of nothing but numbers. We suggest a more subtle means of communication through creating a code in which discussing one topic equates to a place of meeting, another topic signifies the time, and so on, so that all who read your post will receive the signal to meet. Once assembled, you may discuss your discontent and make whatever plans you need.

For example, a leader may post something seemingly innocuous: a book review or an account of a child’s recital. Hidden within the writing, however, may be phrases or words which are rare enough not to be confused, but plain enough not to attract attention. One location may stand in for another place - St Paul’s for the Old Vic, for example - and the phrase ‘one dozen’ might signify noon or midnight. (As you might imagine, using a 24-hour clock among yourselves may be helpful to avoid confusion about that.)

The right code can mean the difference between a solitary dissenter shouting into the void and a united coalition of like-minded wizards and witches, working together to bring about change.

Use this information wisely.
alt_doris: (Crazy)
[personal profile] alt_doris
Greetings, British Journal-Readers,

Over the past few months, the moniker ‘Grim Truth’ has been used for a variety of purposes which, we are sure, would have sickened and disturbed the original author of the column. Although sadly, Sirius Black can never again provide truth from his own pen, we, his companions-at-arms, have determined that we can no longer maintain silence while his goals are corrupted and his writings are twisted by any insurgent who chooses to adopt his mien or his by-line.

Therefore, we have joined together to post this, a Grim Truth, which we believe Sirius Black would have endorsed.

First, we wish you to know that while Sirius deplored the Protectorate, he would never advocate murder. Whether your act is picking up a ‘sharp knife,’ as the eponymous Charlotte Smythe would have done, creating bombs, or the insidious and subtle preparation of poisons, as the latest iteration and author seems to direct, the real Sirius Black would never have condoned any of his followers committing such a crime against the soul. We can’t control anymore who chooses to publish articles claiming to be ‘Grim Truth,’ but whenever one appears and calls for murder, know that you are reading a false claim to the path he would have set.

Second, it is useful to note that the real Sirius Black always imbued his posts with a sense of humour - albeit, self-deprecating or unkind to his own heritage at times, but nonetheless, a certain insouciance could be read through his rhetoric. As everyone knows, humour is one of the most difficult tones to imitate, which may be why those who have come after him have not tried to capture this vital component of his posts. But while he approached his topics with a flair for the off-colour, he always advocated extreme caution when carrying out his advice.

Third, Sirius Black was a gentlewizard. Owing to his class, and later to the circumstances of his status as an irregular with Dumbledore’s freedom-fighters, Sirius Black never worked, nor did he have much contact with muggles or muggleborns. Consequently, any messages containing practical instructions such as drawings, mechanical information or any other 'working-class' information are unlikely to follow in his footsteps. Moreover, his messages were consistently aimed at the audience he knew best: other wizards and witches. Men and women who ought to have it in their power to change the face of the nation - not the oppressed who will surely suffer worst and first if they attempt to rise up on their own. His goal was to cause a majority of you, the citizens of the Protectorate, to come together and oppose the mistreatment of others in your care.

Now, some have argued that the latest ‘Grim Truth’ articles surpass Sirius Black’s own, because they provide concrete and specific actions one may take to express one’s utter disapproval of the status quo. Even among our number, some have become enthused by the recent spate of posts, which they have described as ‘empowering’ to any and all who may read them.

But ask yourselves: How would a muggleborn read the post? And how may he implement the recommendations made in them? Not without extreme personal risk, and certainly not without accomplices among the wanded set, who provide copies of the posts in a format that may be distributed far and wide. Now ask yourselves: Does that sound reasonable? Or does it sound like entrapment?

Finally, we utterly refute the claims in the last Grim Truth but one concerning the application of wandless magic. If magic could be directed in such a way, why would wizards and witches still use the time-honoured and tested tradition of employing wands for nearly all their spellwork? Although it is true that certain categories of magic must be mastered without wands, we believe that the author is in all likelihood trying to trap the hapless muggleborns who might heed his advice, while their captors stand by, laugh at their pathetic efforts, and subsequently clap them in irons - or worse, execute them - for their pains.

We, who keep his legacy alive, have taken the risk of debunking the false Truths, because it seems to us that whomever is offering the reckless and endangering courses of action outlined in the Grim Truth appearances of late does NOT have the best interests of muggleborns and muggles at heart. We believe that it is a scheme presented with such logic as to trick its readers into trying the techniques contained therein, and expose them to those who could take swift action against them. Do not succumb to the lies, particularly when packaged as if they are truth! Keep Sirius Black’s memory best by continuing to follow his course: Hold the truth in your hearts and wait for the right time to act.
alt_charlotte: (fearful)
[personal profile] alt_charlotte
They're coming, and I may only have a little time.

Here is the grim truth, my friends. Here is the truly grim truth. No one our society deems worthy of magic can possibly be trusted with it. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Want power of your own? You must TAKE IT!!

If you are a muggleborn wizard or witch, one of the despised and spat upon and enslaved and crushed and miserable, that same power that your oppressor has RESIDES IN YOU. They will never expect it, but if you seize their wands, if you turn their own weapons against them, you will be grasping the sword by the hilt and not the blade. That power will be YOURS and remember, they have to sleep sometime. Wait and watch and you will have your chance!! THEY know you can do it!! It's what they fear ABOVE ALL ELSE. You've seen the magic done, you've had it done UPON YOU. You know how it works, you know the gestures, you know the words, if it's been done to you you have every right to do it to them. EVERY right. Crucio. Imperio. Avada Kedavra. If you have the will, if you believe in your own rightness, you CAN use these weapons. Rise up, because together with the muggles we can destroy our oppressors. Tear down the walls, break the chains, you are powerful and strong and you CAN be free!!

If you are a muggle, you won't be able to use a wand but know THIS grim truth, wizards are human, they are mortal, they can be gutted like animals and they will die just as surely as animals, and they will always - always!! - underestimate the power of someone who lacks magic. Keep a sharp knife by you. Make sure it is SHARP!! Poisons are risky, wizards can cure poison but only if they know they've swallowed it, so if you use poison use something that kills swiftly and give it to them just before they're going to sleep. A wizard without his wand will panic, will think he's defenceless, will think

alt_charlotte: (dubious)
[personal profile] alt_charlotte
Greetings, Fellow Prisoners!

Surely you're waiting for the next jinx in the duel. You won't hear the Grim Truth from your gaolers! It is left to me, Sirius Black, to expose their infamy.

You'll all be interested to know that your so-called 'Protectors' were quick to assign blame to a scapegoat. Usually it's me, Sirius Black, they blame for actions they have perpetrated. But this time they've descended to new depths. An innocent twenty-year-old, Meg Wynn, was apprehended in connection with my message from earlier this week.

Last night, the journal of Charlotte Smythe received this note from Death Eater of Protectorate Oppression Dominic Selwyn:

What happens to [Meg] now depends on you. If you return the journal to my office within two days, she will be sent to Azkaban. If you fail to return the journal, she will be handed over to Auror Bellatrix Lestrange. Auror Lestrange is perhaps the world's foremost expert on the cruciatus curse, and has personally developed a number of alternative spells and techniques that, while somewhat less excruciating, can be used for longer periods without causing permanent damage. That said, we have no further use for Meg -- so permanent damage is no longer something any of us are particularly concerned about.

See how quickly their benevolence turns to threat! In the face of any freedom of speech, they hide behind the iron grip of censorship, violence and destruction!

I don't know who this young woman is or why she was chosen to stand in for me - probably because they are so incompetent that they have not yet managed to stop me, despite all their professions to the contrary. But I do know that it will take more than one innocent life to bring down the wards. and free us all from this fascist regime.

It's not enough that they subject our children to the likes of the Carrows - they have to torture and imprison our young patriots to make themselves feel secure in their positions of dominance.

I call upon all citizens to demand that the wards be lifted, that we trade freely again with the world. Look around you at the excess of the rich and the squalor of the poor! Look at the atrocious lack of concern in the ruling classes for their oppressed underlings! That is the crime deserving of justice!

I will not stop alerting you all - reminding you all - of the call to arms. I will not be demonised for their cruelty! We must all stand NOW before worse fates are doled out to the masses. Meg Wynn, whether she knows it or not, is a freedom fighter - a warrior, warring against the oppressive dictators who are setting themselves on high while the rest of us live in chains.

Stand Up and Be Counted! Do not let Meg Wynn pay for your complicity! Tell the Ministry you are appalled, as I am, by this heinous act of cowardice!
alt_charlotte: (Default)
[personal profile] alt_charlotte
Greetings to the Protectorate! It is I, Sirius Black, speaking to you this time from a borrowed diary. The Lord Pretender's minions may bark and howl but they cannot reach the Dog Star to stop me!

I speak to you today about serious matters. Our ruler styles himself our 'Protector,' and surely if anyone has a right to protection from him and from ALL of us, it is the children of our nation. Our wizarding children, our precious next generation! Listen, and you will hear their cries for succor, their demands for justice!

The Headmistress of Hogwarts School has shown callous disregard for the well-being -- nay, the VERY LIVES of our precious children! So-called professors AMYCUS AND ALECTO CARROW are notorious for their cruelty both in the classroom and anywhere they might be found, and yet MINERVA MCGONAGALL offers them both shelter and continued employment! I submit to you the following known incidents:

AMYCUS CARROW has routinely cast the cruciatus curse on defenseless first year students. In one case this was punishment for the 'crime' of expressing curiosity about the spell.

AMYCUS CARROW is a habitual drunkard and is known by all to be violent and dangerous when intoxicated, even threatening students on occasion with both wand and makeshift weapons. His drunkenness has repeatedly caused him to fail in his classroom duties. Not that he is any use as a teacher even when present. Since HEADMISTRESS MCGONAGALL is also a notorious and wayward drunk, perhaps it is the sort of friendship found at the bottom of a bottle of firewhiskey that has given CARROW his secure position?

AMYCUS CARROW has made cruel and malicious attacks on a student who arrived at Hogwarts after mistakenly being consigned for years to the mudblood camps. On one occasion he set the boy ablaze, causing both injury to multiple students and serious damage to Hogwarts Castle. As punishment for this wanton behaviour his own servant was reassigned -- AND YET HE CONTINUES TO TEACH. How much more, one wonders, will HEADMISTRESS MCGONAGALL accept?

BOTH CARROWS routinely use the cruciatus curse as a disciplinary measure for trivial misbehaviour.

BOTH CARROWS instruct students in the darkest of Dark Arts and encourage them to act on their basest and most PERVERSE instincts in dealing with their peers.

BOTH CARROWS are known to have used the Imperius Curse to force others into dark and horrifying acts -- some merely humiliating, others that would shock the conscience of all who knew.

BOTH CARROWS are known to have devoured the roast flesh of murdered muggle infants, after cutting out their hearts and kidneys to use in Dark potions.

AND FINALLY, ALECTO CARROW attacked one of the school governors with the cruciatus curse, doing him grievous injury to the point that he was seen requiring a cane for support days after the incident.

AMYCUS AND ALECTO CARROW are cruel and unstable maniacs and a COLLECTIVE MENACE to the Hogwarts students. If MINERVA MCGONAGALL will not act, we call on the school governors, even the so-called LORD PROTECTOR HIMSELF to immediately remove them both from Hogwarts so that they will no longer have any contact with children!
alt_sirius: (Contemplative)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
Greetings, British Wizarding World!

Like you, I’ve followed the events of the last few days at Hogwarts with mingled shock and admiration – shock at the origins of the attacks and admiration for the young heroes who dove (literally) into danger to save their metaphorical sister. It’s a relief, of course, to see that the mystery has been solved with no additional loss of life.

It’s equally nice to see that for once, the blame has not settled on my shoulders, though, as should be no surprise to anyone by now, it perhaps has not fallen upon the guiltiest parties in the conspiracy. Oh, Lockhart certainly threatened students and deserved to be unmasked as a fraud, and I’ve no idea whether the unfortunate house-elf was truly culpable or not, though he surely has also received a just punishment for his actions. But I have no confidence that either of them were the real masterminds behind the Secrets of the Chamber, or bringing them to the fore at Hogwarts this year.

In all the excitement and festivity, however, it is important to remember that not everyone was, in fact, saved. And not everyone is leaving school this year unscathed by death – some have seen far more than their share. It is cold comfort to simply tell our children (and wives) we love them very much: They know. They know, too, that those who have left us behind do not only leave us with questions; they leave us with a seemingly insurmountable surfeit of grief.

Those who have lived long enough to have lost close friends or relatives understand that loss can feel like a tide of pain, wave after wave of blue, as if there’s nothing we can do. And really, there is very little remedy. It lessens with time, though it often relapses with the merest thought or reminder. But although the focus of much of wizarding Britain is on Hogwarts, we should also remember that there are more people than ever who grieve this year: People who need not have had their loved ones taken from them, who ought to have kept them close for years to come.

I’m speaking of course of the thousands of enslaved Muggles and Muggle-born who have lost a family member – or more than one – to the Ministry’s plague. But my words apply just as readily to those suffering any personal loss.

It’s easy to feel one’s world has turned utterly black, as if one can never be happy again. That is a trap. Carry the memories, even the flaws, but the important part is to carry on, learning from what enrichment our departed gave our lives. And their disappointments, as well. I have found that very few people we love manage never to disappoint: There is always some point at which those relationships are tested. It’s even more disappointing when they cannot withstand those tests. Particularly when there’s no way to go back and discover what went wrong.

Just as a random example, I take it the Lord Pretender lost no time in excoriating the memory of my late brother. I suppose the opportunity to disavow the acts which Regulus was ordered to perform was simply too tempting. Anyone with a brain could easily review his posts to see that he was being systematically broken, destroyed by atrocities that grew progressively perverse. After all, I know of few Death Eaters who were less bloodthirsty, which is not generally a recommendation for their little club. And anyone who is familiar with the Dark Lord’s past methods can conjecture that certain acts – ones that seem the most out of character for someone of his sensibilities – were devised not just as punishments against me and my writing, but specifically calculated to torment him, push him and mould him into something he could never be.

There are still a few gaps in the explanation, things we may never understand completely, though I suppose, some of us will never stop trying. It’s clear enough that Regulus truly was being driven mad: Not the madness that the Prophet described, but mad with guilt over his own weakness and at the same time, his ruthlessness. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part, and the grimmest of Grim Truths, is that time and again, Reg was capable of carrying out his instructions. He was even able on occasion to twist them to something he thought might gain him an advantage of some kind (something I believe backfired on him horribly, but nonetheless, worth noting if only to show how far from sanity he had travelled). He was, in fact, both stronger than he ever imagined he could be, steeling himself to any number of heinous and depraved acts, and simultaneously, paradoxically weaker than he ought to have been. Because sometimes, true strength is refusing to act, when one’s orders are unreasonable, unjust or inhumane. Ultimately, whatever his reasons, he chose the course that led to his downfall. To imply or assign a lack of control over his actions is merely an attempt to absolve him of the guilt, fear and weakness that contributed to his deterioration as a wizard, and more importantly as a man.

It is a lesson we should all remember: That weakness takes many forms, and does not always translate directly to the inability to force oneself to new heights (or depths) of cruelty. Sometimes, it is measured by one’s inability merely to retain one’s own integrity.
alt_sirius: (plotting)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
Greetings, British Wizarding World!

It’s been a long time since you heard from me, I know. In the interim, I hear that the papers have been full of my supposed exploits, nearly none of them anything for which I would wish to claim credit. You’ve also been inundated with information about the recent discovery that Nigel Cullenden was, and always has been, none other than yours truly.

So you might think I’m too busy running from Ministry Enforcers to come back to writing these entries. I can’t deny I’m disappointed that I have had to leave my home and a life that was, all things considered, rather successful, because the Lord Pretender’s assassins got lucky. But I can weather that, I assure you.

However, the reasons I have not written – or not written more often – have precious little to do with the very recent lively events outside your borders, in which I became a more direct target of the Protectorate. There are two reasons I have been silent, both of which are now, I believe, no longer relevant.

The first is that the epidemic your officials have dubbed after my family name rather eloquently spoke for itself. The Ministry fell over themselves declaring that my supporters had somehow infiltrated the camps, poisoned the water and somehow further mutated the disease to infect both halfbloods and later purebloods. First they denied the disease’s existence altogether. Next, they admitted the disease was real but denied any danger to those with ‘true magical heritage.’ Then, when that didn’t protect them, they tried to keep the cases of halfblood sickness quiet by quarantining the cases in a secret, locked ward at St Mungo’s. They even obfuscated the bloodline of a pureblood wizard – Xenophilius Lovegood – in order to maintain that the illness could not affect anyone with sufficiently potent magical blood. But that didn’t work for long, either (though the aftermath of that lie has continued to impact his surviving daughter’s life negatively). All the while, the Ministry knew that the real cause of the disease was the tampering of one of their own Unspeakables. Eventually, they had to reveal enough information that the Healers at St Mungo’s were able to craft a vaccine, but not before countless lives were lost or otherwise brought to harm by their arrogance and cowardice.

Apart from a few moments along the way, it seemed clear to me that the truth was speaking loudly enough for all to hear, and needed no comment from me.

The second reason, I’m ashamed to say, was both more personal, and more important to me. It had to do with the retaliations that followed any of these discussions. I have reason to believe that each atrocity was committed by the same culprit, though not by his own choice. I gather from yesterday's Prophet article that somone's going to suggest pretty soon that he was insane. But I swear to you he had no history of mental illness to my knowledge. I believe that he was pressured, possibly forced, to torture, to maim, to desecrate, to mutilate and to murder in order to associate my words and the Black name with deeds most of us find abhorrent. Ironically, the deeds were correctly attributed to the House of Black. They just pinned them on the wrong brother.

For a while, I thought that if I kept quiet for his sake, it would provide him some protection. Still, I failed – on both counts. First I failed to keep my silence at times when I could not sit idly while the public health risk raged on, or when the Ministry continued its muggle hunt and implicated men and women with no active part in this struggle. Moreover, my silence failed to shield him in any way from being used at the hands of his keepers, from being directed to destroy himself piecemeal. From chipping away at his soul.

The bright side, if one can see it that way, is that their tactic had limits. Eventually, the moment had to come when his ‘usefulness’ ran out and he would be discarded.

I believe that day came recently. I believe that we have witnessed the ultimate lesson of loyalty to the Dark Lord: Not ‘Serve or Die,’ but ‘Serve and Die.’

I don’t know whether the Grim Truth is that he was killed by Voldemort’s hand, or simply at his command. I don’t know, and may never know, whether he finally made his stand, refused to act on his instructions, and paid that price, or whether he was simply deemed too broken and therefore no longer worth keeping. I don’t even, in all honesty, know for sure that he’s dead. It's just possible that this could be an elabourate ruse. It could be designed to bring me out (in which case, I'm playing into their hands by writing this), or it could be a story they're telling us all to cover for themselves in case he actually did come to his senses and ran, like they claim, and found a way to go back into hiding. If so, then they've enlisted a large cast of players in the charade.

But I feel certain that Walburga Black’s demise was no mere tragic coincidence, and further that the woman who bore us would not be dead if her youngest son were still alive.

I also know that I have two fewer reasons to keep silent.
alt_sirius: (OhHellNo)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
Greetings, British Wizarding World!

Last weekend in America, they celebrated the birth of one of their former presidents. He was a man named Abraham Lincoln, and he was perhaps most famous of their political leaders because he led the country during its Civil War. That war was fought over a difference in philosophy astonishingly similar to the one in which we find ourselves. When half his nation chose to defend the practice of racial slavery, he freed them by presidential edict. Lincoln followed in the footsteps of great British men like William Wilberforce, who successfully outlawed slave trading in Great Britain more than fifty years before Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

While Wilberforce died peaceably just three days after learning Britain would abolish slavery, Lincoln was assassinated because he made a decision that was progressive and just.

Obviously, I’m over-simplifying the situation. Other historians can offer a lot more detail, most of it more accurate than I can provide. Books and examinations of his life – and death – fill entire shelves in libraries and bookstores, not just in America, but all over the world.

In the case of British wizardom, your leaders have borrowed opinions and positions from, among other things, slave-owners of the 18th and 19th centuries, undoing all the good Wilberforce achieved on the topic two hundred years ago. They cling to the fiction that purity of blood is a shield to all sorts of hardship – especially illness. I’ve read posts swearing that ‘Muggle paralysis’ (also known as the Herfordshire Scourge) has no effect on purebloods, that halfbloods who contract it are somehow weaker for their susceptibility to the disease. I have even seen purebloods claiming that those who have died due to the Scourge somehow deserved their fate. As if anyone who falls prey to a germ deserves to sicken and fail!

But there are those who have suspected for a while that this disease had a more sinister beginning. They theorised that the Ministry may have been trying to kill off the Muggle population, despite the fact that without them, as we’ve seen, your society would quickly collapse. Well, they’re partially right. The motive wasn’t genocide, but in some ways, much more insidious and repulsive. I recently came into possession of evidence that the source of the epidemic gripping the country was none other than an experiment begun in the camps by the Department of Mysteries itself.

‘Project Panacea,’ so dubbed by its Ministry overseers, began as a trial in selected internment camps in the spring and summer of last year. The premise was to introduce a potion into the drinking water, which would ensure the cooperation and willing subjugation of all its drinkers. I gather it was conceived as a potable version of the Imperius Curse. Unspeakable Augustus Rookwood conducted a few controlled experiments, first on animals in the DoM, then on human subjects in Epping Forest and elsewhere. The effort was expanded to all camps in the early autumn. The effects, as we have seen, were dramatic. By mid-October, there were cases spreading throughout the Muggleborn and Muggle communities.

I don’t believe it took long for the Ministry to realise the camp populations were under attack, but I do think it took some time for them to connect the DoM’s involvement to their predicament. Tracing the threads, it looks like what turned the tide was an incident in early November, when the Ministry attempted to meet the labour shortage by awakening some of the Muggles you refer to as ‘Sleepers.’ The Ministry and the camp administrators must have known that the Sleepers would be disorientated and less docile when they were revived, so they contrived to provide a high-dose regimen of Rookwood’s ‘panacea’ potion in an attempt to make them pliable. You may recall that in mid-November the epidemic suddenly took a dramatic turn for the worse? That was the moment that these poor souls were unwittingly infected with enough of Rookwood’s panacea poison to send them into paralysis.

Unfortunately, by that time, it seems the disease had taken its own turn for the worse. It adapted somehow, mutated to find new hosts, and the first halfblood cases were already showing up. If it can mutate once, it is only a matter of time before a pureblood falls.

In all fairness to the Ministry, I suppose it should be acknowledged that the goal was not to kill any of the subjects. The fact that the contagion was introduced in the water explains why the camp personnel were never infected; I can’t imagine many workers would deign to drink the same water as their charges. But the fact remains that the Ministry covered up its secret agenda. Had anyone shared the Department of Mysteries dossier with St Mungo’s, the Healers might have been able to understand and control the spread of this ailment much sooner. The lives that could have been saved, the suffering that could have been avoided, had they owned up to the Grim Truth, may never be quantified.

But they must be held accountable. The Ministry are responsible for this plague. Even had not a single life been lost, they are responsible for the wholesale oppression of innocent people and they are culpable in the attempt to rob those workers of their free will. Augustus Rookwood and his colleagues directly brought about a public health crisis and compounded it through their attempts to obfuscate their involvement in that same crisis.

I don’t pretend that the Ministry will seek justice on behalf of the thousands who have died or become paralysed, even those who have suffered milder cases of Panacea poisoning. Nonetheless, I could not in conscience withhold this information from you, especially when forcing it into the light might also compel the Ministry to work with St Mungo’s on a credible cure.

I pray they put reason above self-interest, for all your sakes.
alt_sirius: (Default)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
Greetings, British Wizarding World.

Things have been moving quickly of late - so much so that I could likely write to you every day. But then if I did, I hate to think what retributions might occur, whether 'in my name' or despite it.

Still, there are some items that bear attention, and demand response. Back at the beginning of last year, and then again in June, we talked about the debate over whether the Head Boy and Girl ought to be allowed to use the Unforgivable curse known as the Cruciatus. At the time, I wondered if teenagers had really become so much more unruly in the present generation that torture was the only way to control them.

However, it seems that the Grim Truth of the matter is even more insidious: Apparently the youth of Hogwarts no longer need to do anything wrong to earn punishment in extremis. Anyone with children at Hogwarts or soon to begin attendance should be righteously afraid for them, if they were not already. Especially now that they have been locked into quarantine by Ministry edict!

There were two incidents this week alone, neither of them provoked or deserved. I have seen some comments to the effect that the second student invited the curse, for academic interest, and therefore the occurrence is of no concern. I could not agree more with those who counter that an underage witch cannot be expected to give informed consent to be tortured. Although the witch in question has my respect and kudos for the way she bore the curse, she should never have been allowed to subject herself to it. I am sure her father wishes she could have gone through her whole life without ever experiencing the torment of an Unforgivable Curse. (As do we all.)

Some of the students have been braver than others at expressing their outrage – and their fear that they may be next. Even the Hogwarts Board of Governors have questioned the wisdom of allowing the Curse when it can be applied to callously and for so little reason as has been exhibited this week. Perhaps the least of these messages is the one that reminds us the journals are not to be trusted, for they are tools the Ministry intends to use against you as they monitor your thoughts and statements, much the way Amycus Carrow held a theoretical discussion against the student he tortured Thursday night.

This incident, and others like it, demonstrates more clearly than I can say how abhorrent the use of the Unforgivable Curses ought to be, and how there can be no safe haven for Hogwarts’ students while those in charge take it upon themselves to punish the people in their care so brutally. What justification can possibly serve? How can anyone of conscience allow such a miscarriage of duty? One can only hope that yesterday's emergent Board meeting will lead to a more sensible attitude toward the Curse. (It is especially intriguing to note Lucius Malfoy's shock over the use of the Curse, considering he had no such scruples when it was applied to his own goddaughter about a year ago - and by none other than my benighted mother!) I admit that I'm heartily curious as to the outcome and the particulars of their discussion!

At the same time, Hogwarts has now become a quarantine state, at the very time that its students are more concerned than ever that they'll be attacked by one type of madman or another. We now see that the Ministry cover-up of the epidemic has led to its spread far beyond the confines of the camps. Supposedly, the Ministry claims that half bloods are 'more vulnerable' to the ravages of disease. However, is should be clear that this affliction, whatever its origin, recognises no barriers of blood. It is working its way through the whole population, not just those with no magic. This fact alone ought to remind everyone that there is no difference between purebloods, halfbloods, Muggle-borns, and Muggles. All are human. I don't know what makes wizardkind able to perform magic. Is it a genetic trait? Is it something more mystical? I'm no biologist. But I do know that our abilities do not give us the right to style ourselves more worthy than those without the talent.

It's that distinction that I suspect may be the downfall of St Mungo's efforts to discover a cure for the Scourge - or paralysis, if you prefer. I shouldn't be surprised if they started, or were ordered to start, from the assumption that the camp epidemics could not touch the magical population. It's clear you're all at risk.

That assumes that the Ministry are (finally) telling you the Grim Truth themselves, and not obstructing your right to travel out of some authoritarian desire. One thing they have not told you is that no matter what, there is still hope. You owe it to yourselves to take precautions, but in addition to demand that the Ministry bring all its resources to bear, to make no assumptions about what may be causing this disease or how to resolve it. And you owe it to yourselves to keep questioning what you hear, to keep your eyes and ears open and to continue to speak when you can - and when you must.
alt_sirius: (intense)
[personal profile] alt_sirius
Greetings, British Wizarding World!

Last time, I wrote about a literal plague – one that the Ministry have denied, but which by all reports continues to rage despite their blind indifference.

Today, I think it’s high time we consider with more gravity the trouble plaguing the corridors of Hogwarts. Who is petrifying people and what can the authorities do to bring it to an end?

I’ve seen some shameful arguments against worrying. They range from dismissing the incidents as pranks to discounting their impact because the victims so far have been deemed ‘less important’ than wizards. That argument, even if it were ever valid, certainly can no longer be believed. After claiming three previous victims, a student is now among their number. Regardless of the justifications or their cogency, whoever is responsible is as misguided as the individual who callously murdered uninvolved innocents in reaction to my last couple of columns. There is a fine line between civil disobedience and vigilantism – and anyone who engages in murder or mayhem to further an agenda of fear, reprisals and oppression cannot claim to have the betterment of society as his goal. He is in moral, as well as ethical, danger.

More to the point is the danger in which the students at Hogwarts now find themselves. Read half of their entries and you may perceive a climate of fear and distrust. No child can thrive in such a constant state of anxiety. To make matters worse, it seems that at least until now, no one has been tasked to find the source of the attacks. The general and appalling attitude seems limited to the idea that once a mandrake restorative can be brewed, the effect can be reversed, thus resolving the threat. This treats the symptom, not the disease. Like the ravages of the Hertfordshire Scourge, the real problem has received next to no attention from the proper officials.

To truly resolve the situation, we must ask and definitively answer several questions:

Is the Chamber real? Prevailing wisdom says no. The castle was searched thoroughly the last time rumours spread about a Chamber and no such room was found. I can testify that as a student, my classmates and I discovered nearly everything we could about the castle, including its more elusive hiding places, tunnels and oubliettes, and found nothing that matches any description of the Chamber. It seems likely that someone is using this old legend to heighten the drama surrounding these attacks.

What sort of dark magic can petrify an animal, a person, and a ghost? Much to the disappointment of my late father, I have never been a great scholar of the dark arts. How lucky for us all that your current government is peppered with wizards who have delved into the field with positively ghoulish delight. I humbly suggest that they be pressured to conduct an exhaustive search until some credible theories may be discovered and tested.

Who is behind it? This is the one that counts. Again, there is certainly no shortage of dark wizards at present within the realm. There is always the possibility that the very people trusted to find the answers may themselves be the perpetrators! But we must also consider that at no time have Hogwarts’ protections been compromised or broken, so far as we know. This assurance alone rules out most of the available suspects, leaving only a handful of candidates. Recall that last year, the culprit in a plot against the school’s safety turned out to be a Professor; it may be so again.

The Hogwarts Board of Governors must investigate any and all persons who had the opportunity and ability to orchestrate these attacks, or else they must appoint someone to pursue the matter on their behalf. If they will not, then they must fully empower the Headmistress to conduct her own inquiry and provide her with any assistance she may require. The threat to the students and other inhabitants of Hogwarts must be neutralised.

I’ve seen people wave away their concerns by claiming that the victims must somehow be enemies of the Protectorate, therefore deserving of whatever they get. This intimation is both unfounded and specious. It’s unfounded because in the first place, it has not been determined whether they are anyone’s enemies and in the second, it is entirely unknown whether the Protectorate’s goals and the attacker’s are the same. It is specious because these claims deliberately mislead everyone from the central issue – whether for reasons of prejudice, a personal or political agenda or to ensure continued blind insensitivity to the realities of the oppression in which you all live. It is also at this point a harmfully spurious attitude, because all signs indicate the exact opposite of the claim. The timing, identities and disparate circumstances point to an attacker who shows neither rhyme nor reason, nor even a premeditated choice. These are victims of opportunity – that is, they were bystanders simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Regardless of their guilt or innocence, if they fell to this mysterious force, anyone can. Until the attacks are unmasked, there is really only one acceptable, if Grim, Truth: Your children are in danger. Call for measures to ensure their continued well-being, before another is claimed in this bizarre campaign.


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July 2015

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