James Potter's teenage rebellion started later than most people's. Part of it was probably that he had always been a bit rebellious, but most of it was that even James had to admit that his parents were extremely cool. With everything. Sure, they set rules and boundaries, but they were reasonable rules, and when James broke them, his parents' punishments were also reasonable. Of course, James didn't think they were reasonable at the time, but looking back, he could admit that his parents were basically the best parents in the world.
It all started with his brother Albus being sorted into Slytherin, which seemed to be the start of a lot of things, including James realizing that not all Slytherins were bad. After all, although James would never admit it to anyone, Albus was basically the nicest person in the world.
Obviously being sorted into Slytherin caused Albus to come into contact with other Slytherins, including Scorpius Malfoy. Malfoy was awful to Albus for about a year before suddenly changing his mind and becoming friends with Albus. James took a while to forgive Malfoy for that, and he would never forget all the times his little brother had been upset because of something Malfoy had done.
But Albus forgave easily (which was often lucky for James), and soon considered Scorpius one of his best friends. But his Slytherin friends and his friends (and family) in other Houses still had little to do with each other.
Albus and Rose (who was in Gryffindor) worked to get their Slytherin and non-Slytherin friends to interact with each other, but it took years. Decades of bad blood didn't go away just because two tweens wanted it to.
But Albus and Rose apparently didn't know the meaning of 'impossible'.
Even so, James didn't really hang out with a group of people that included Scorpius until he was a seventh year – although that was just as much because there was a two-year difference in ages between them as because Scorpius was a Slytherin.
It wasn't really planned – it was simply a Hogsmeade weekend where James, his cousin Lucy, and their friend Skarpoe MacFusty had happened to leave the castle at about the same time as Albus and his friends. They had started chatting, and when they arrived at Hogsmeade, they had stayed together in one big group, going from shop to shop and just generally enjoying the day together.
But of course a day at Hogsmeade wasn't complete without a stop at the Three Broomsticks, so after a while they started to head in that direction. But when they got there, Albus said, "Let's go to the Hog's Head instead," and all of Albus's friends, including the Gryffindor ones, immediately agreed.
"Why?" James asked, confused. "I know Ab is a friend, but seriously, you lot – you have seen how he cleans his dishes, right?" Aberforth was ancient, and clearly his age had affected his mental capacity.
Albus shrugged. "We like it better."
There was vague agreement from Albus's friends, and Rose added. "It's not that bad, really."
And that was when James realized that something strange was going on. Rose did not sound convinced of what she said – but if she preferred the Three Broomsticks, why would she rather go to the Hog's Head?
James glanced at Lucy. She had picked up on it, too. Skarpoe hadn't, but he didn't know Rose as well as James and Lucy did. "What exactly is going on?" James asked.
"Nothing," Albus answered. "We just prefer the Hog's Head."
"Is there a reason you can't go to the Three Broomsticks, just this once?" James asked suspiciously.
"Is there a reason you can't go to the Hog's Head just this once?" Albus asked in response, being uncharacteristically stubborn.
It wasn't that Albus was incapable of being stubborn; it was that he preferred to avoid conflict if he could, especially over stupid things. The exception was when Albus was protecting someone. If he was protecting someone then he was as stubborn as a troll.
James glanced at each of Albus's friends. Whom could he be protecting? It wasn't Rose, and it probably wasn't Hiram McGonagall or Phoebe Wood, who James knew fairly well, since they were both in Gryffindor with him, and Phoebe was on the Quidditch team. So that left Albus's Slytherin friends Scorpius Malfoy and Sigurd Nott.
James grabbed Scorpius and Sigurd and started pulling them towards the Three Broomsticks.
"James, no!" Albus bellowed, and he and Rose grabbed James, pulling him back, and freeing Scorpius and Sigurd.
James turned around, standing too close to Albus and glowering down at him. "What is going on?"
Albus swallowed, glancing behind James at either Scorpius or Sigurd to . . . what? Ask permission to tell James?
Apparently, he got it, because Albus finally answered James, and what he said is what caused James to become truly mutinous. "Madam Rosmerta won't let Scorpius in because his dad put her under the Imperius Curse."
"That was more than twenty years ago!"
"Scorpius wasn't even born yet!"
"He looks a lot like his dad –"
"So what!? He's not his dad! And anyway – it was over twenty years ago!"
They ended up going to the Hog's Head, James still fuming at the injustice and resolving never to go the Three Broomsticks ever again.
But it wasn't just him. Lucy and Skarpoe were equally appalled, and the three of them made sure that everybody in Gryffindor Tower knew about the injustice, and hoped to spread it from there to Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.
But then Rose pulled James quietly aside and mentioned that Scorpius hadn't ever told anybody except for his closest friends about Rosmerta, and that he might not appreciate James spreading it around the school, especially since it involved reminding everyone that his dad had used the Imperius Curse.
So although the story had already spread through practically the entire school, James, Lucy, and Skarpoe caught Scorpius alone and apologized. And that's when they learned that Rosmerta wasn't the only person who refused to help Scorpius because of something his family had done – and that several other Slytherins had similar experiences.
So James started a list of all the places that refused service to Slytherins for things that had happened during the War. He talked to Slytherins in every year (and for the first time, he was glad he was Head Boy, since it made it easier to talk to people outside his own House), and collected stories. He wrote them all down, and he gave the whole thing to his cousin Louis, a year below him, who had started a newspaper that actually told the news instead of whatever the Daily Prophet was doing.
Louis's newspaper was called The Herald, and it had become very popular, very quickly. Apparently the rest of the Wizarding World was also sick of the Daily Prophet's sensationalist lies. So when Louis published the stories James had collected, thousands of people read them. And when he wrote a heartfelt piece on how people should move on from a war that ended over twenty years ago and stop punishing children for the crimes of their ancestors, people responded.
Not all the responses were good. Louis had kept names out of the stories he had published, but the Death Eaters' crimes were well known, and it wasn't too difficult, if someone was determined, to ascertain the names of some of the students who were referenced. Some of those students were sent angry letters, some were sent Howlers, and some were sent poisons of various kinds. Several Slytherin students ended up in the Hospital Wing because of Louis's article.
James apologized to each of those students individually, and to the rest of Slytherin as a whole, for what his interference had caused. (He apologized to Louis, too, who also ended up in the Hospital Wing because of the response to the article.) But nobody was too upset, because the positive response to the article far outweighed the negative response. Letters of support came pouring in – and some of the supportive people went to the same lengths as the angry ones to figure out exactly which students were referenced in the article.
It was really all because of Louis. James knew there was a lot of prejudice against Slytherin in the world (he had been part of it, at one time), and he was all too aware that publishing the stories could have backfired spectacularly, if it hadn't been for Louis. Where people could have seen Slytherins begging for attention, Louis showed them Slytherins whom society had ignored for decades. Where people could have seen Slytherins supporting the awful things Death Eaters did during the War, Louis showed them children trying to make a name for themselves in a world that refused them. And where people could have seen Slytherins wanting to tear down the perfection of the Wizarding World after Voldemort, Louis showed a Wizarding World that was not perfect, and would not be until all four quarters of it were accepted by everybody.
But the article did more than cause people to send letters. The first James heard of it was during the next Hogsmeade weekend, when the Hog's Head actually had an extremely large number of people packed into it.
"What's going on?" James asked Aberforth, who was wiping a rag so dirty it was brown on a glass that was approximately the same color.
"You – this is all your fault," Aberforth growled, shaking the rag at James.
"What did I do?"
"That article your cousin wrote – I've heard you were behind that," Aberforth said, ignoring James's question.
"Er, yeah. Why?"
"Why do you think?" Aberforth had a way of speaking that made James feel like an idiot. "You wanted the world to accept the Slytherins, and it agrees. But the world wants someone to despise, and you gave them that, too: nobody will go to any one of those shops or deal with any of the people mentioned in that blasted article!"
"But Louis changed all the names!"
Aberforth grunted. "It's not that difficult to figure out, Potter. Madam Rosmerta is about to go out of business, and she's not the only one."
"Well, maybe she should have accepted that Scorpius isn't his father!" James argued, suddenly angry.
Aberforth sighed. "Have you talked to your parents about this?"
James didn't understand why it mattered – of course his parents would agree with him: they never supported discrimination. But just then someone burst into the pub and yelled "Ron Weasley's fighting with his daughter in the street!" and everybody streamed out to watch this newsworthy event.
James went too, because they were his family, and arrived just in time to hear his uncle yelling, "I don't agree with putting people out of a job!"
"She refused to serve Scorpius!" Rose screeched back, her face as red as her father's.
"That's her right as a private business owner!"
"And it's our right as customers to shop elsewhere!"
There was a huge crowd gathering around, avidly staring. James's family had always been in the spotlight, but they had managed to keep disagreements private – until now. James had a feeling he knew what the front page of the Daily Prophet was going to be tomorrow.
"You have no idea what Rosmerta went through! And I'm glad for that, I am, but trust me when I say that she is justified in refusing service if she wants to!"
James heard someone suck in a sharp breath behind him, and turned around to see Scorpius, clearly hurt by Ron's words.
Albus was there, too, and he met James's look, horrified at what was happening, and begging with his eyes for James to fix it.
"She refused Scorpius! You've said yourself – Scorpius is a good person! He doesn't deserve that!" Rose shrieked at her father.
But James didn't know how to fix it! What was he supposed to say or do to make his family stop fighting, to heal Scorpius's hurt feelings, or to reassure the other Slytherins in the crowd that the world wasn't going to turn against them again (which James wasn't sure was true, since the world followed his parents – and his parents and uncle agreed with each other on most issues).
"The Malfoys did awful things during the War, and I don't begrudge anybody refusing any of them service! They all look alike, they all act alike, they all talk alike, and it is almost impossible to separate Scorpius from his father or his grandfather!"
James swore. He needed to get Scorpius out of here. Now. He didn't know how to fix Scorpius's hurt feelings – he was bad with feelings. Albus was better, but Scorpius was probably going to need to have a chat with Ron before he was completely okay again, and that obviously wasn't going to happen anytime soon.
"Albus, Scorpius," James started. "Get out of here; you don't need to hear this." Then, deciding to try doing something on the feelings front, he added, "And Scorpius? He didn't mean it like that."
James waited until Scorpius gave a hesitant nod and Albus started pulling him away before turning back to his fighting family members. Their faces were even redder than before, if that was possible, and Rose was screaming again: "YOU'RE THE ONES WHO TAUGHT US NOT TO JUDGE PEOPLE BECAUSE OF THEIR PARENTS! YOU'RE SUCH A HYPOCRITE!"
He needed to get Rose and her father into a private area. It was probably too late for it to do any good, but they couldn't keep fighting like this in the middle of the street, when every word either one of them said was likely to end up in the Daily Prophet tomorrow.
Gathering all his Gryffindor courage, James stepped towards them. "OI!"
Their fight had been so loud that James was surprised that they heard him, but they both turned to him, still looking extremely angry. "Let's go somewhere private."
Rose and Ron looked around, seeming to notice the crowd for the first time. They nodded in agreement, although Rose looked like she had been about to refuse.
James led them to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, which was closer than the Hog's Head or Hogwarts castle, and quickly closed the shop (having plenty of experience from helping out over the summer), blocking all the curious people who had followed them there.
"You're lucky I agreed to come in here," Rose hissed at her dad as soon as the automatic privacy wards came up when James locked the door. "Otherwise people would have heard even more of the hateful drivel you were spouting!"
"Me?! What about you – saying all those people deserve to lose their businesses!?" James's uncle was rapidly reddening again.
James tuned them out as they repeated their arguments, watching the people outside starting to wander away once it became clear they wouldn't be able to see or hear any more. He wondered if he should leave, and let Rose and her dad work it out themselves, but James had been as much a part of this as Rose – probably even more – so he felt he should stay and offer her his support if she needed it (which she probably didn't).
At least, she didn't until Ron shouted, "The fact remains that Scorpius looks like his father, and Rosmerta has bad memories of what Draco did to her that completely justify her never wanting to look at his son!"
Rose gaped at her dad, shocked, and James commented, "Scorpius was in the crowd. He heard what you said."
Ron swore quietly, closing his eyes.
Rose seemed to have recovered, because she snarled, "Why do you care? His family did awful things in the War, after all, and apparently he's exactly the same!"
Ron shook his head. "You don't understand. You can't understand – and I thank Merlin for that every day. But please, Rose, please accept that some things are impossible to forget."
She shook her head, glaring. "Well, I'm never going to forget that my dad is a bitter, unforgiving hypocrite."
Sure enough, the Daily Prophet had a transcript of the argument printed on the front page the next morning. James and his friends and family (at Hogwarts) made it a point to chat with Slytherins that day, to show that they weren't going to change their minds just because Ron didn't agree with them. The atmosphere at Hogwarts was subdued, but the Slytherins didn't seem to be ostracized again, so James counted it a success.
Scorpius seemed to be fine, but James knew better than to trust a Slytherin's facial expressions. There was no way Scorpius had already gotten over what Ron had said, and Albus's worried look confirmed it.
James wrote to his parents, asking what they thought. He had honestly thought they would agree with him until that fight between his uncle and Rose. But now he was worried that they might agree with Ron. James didn't understand – so he asked his parents to explain.
But their response didn't help at all.
Their letter sounded like exactly the same things Ron had been saying, only more politely worded. And James just didn't understand. His parents liked Scorpius. And Sigurd Nott had stayed over at their house for half the summer – everyone liked him, too! So why did they not care that people were prejudiced against them?
It just didn't make sense!
His parents had told him to stop 'rabble-rousing,' and James didn't know what to do. He couldn't remember the last time his parents had been wrong about something. That didn't mean that James had always agreed with them – but they had always been proved right in the end. What if this was the same?
But James believed with all his heart that this was the right thing to do. It was nearing the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, and people needed to let go of their lingering bitterness – and that included his parents. He thought they were supposed to be heroes!
So James didn't stop. He had barely two months left at Hogwarts, but his friend group almost doubled in size in that time. He had always been popular, but never had he had random Slytherins greeting him in the hallways or wishing him luck in Quidditch! (James had literally fainted when that happened – although, looking back, that may have been the sneaky Slytherin's intention all along.)
Things hadn't calmed down at all by the time James graduated. If anything, having the younger generation at home with their parents just caused more fights. Albus and Hugo, Rose's brother, seemed to be the only two who understood both sides of the argument. James certainly didn't.
It wasn't really surprising that Albus understood both points of view – he was extremely empathetic. He always seemed to know what people were thinking and feeling – why they acted the way they did. It's what enabled him to be so forgiving and kind all the time. But in this case his compassion was a problem. He tried to get everyone to stop arguing, but as a result he fought with everybody.
Albus tried to get their parents to understand why they were boycotting certain businesses, and their parents got mad at him. He tried to get James and the cousins to understand why their parents were upset, and they shunned him for defending the prejudice.
And then Albus came home from visiting Scorpius one day almost in tears because the two of them had fought. Apparently Albus had been trying to get Scorpius to understand why Ron and the others weren't happy with the boycotts and Scorpius had thrown him out.
James figured they'd make up soon – and he kind of felt it was Albus's own fault anyway, trying to defend bloody discrimination. So James didn't really pay attention to Albus for the next couple of weeks, especially since he had finally gotten his NEWT grades and they were even better than he had hoped – and more than good enough to start training to be a Healer at St. Mungo's. That took up all his time, so he barely noticed when Albus became more and more withdrawn.
It wasn't until the end of August, when his parents mentioned that they were taking Albus and Lily to Diagon Alley the next day for school supplies, that James realized he hadn't seen Albus at all for almost a month.
After dinner (which Albus had missed), James grabbed the plate his mum had prepared, took it up to Albus's room, and knocked. "Al?"
"I have food."
"I don't care. Go away."
Right then. He could either do as Albus asked and go ask Rose what was going on with him – she would know, being his best friend. Or he could bug Albus until he let him in. Being a good big brother, he went with the second option. He knocked again. "Al?" And, before Albus even had a chance to answer, he knocked again. "Albus?" Knock. "Al?" Knock knock. "Albus?" Knock. "Al Albus Ally Allybaby Allykins." Knock kn–
"What?" Albus had yanked the door open and was glaring at him.
James shrugged and shoved his way into the room before Albus could slam the door on his face. "I haven't seen you for weeks. What is wrong with you? Are you still brooding about some stupid fight? You've had so many arguments in the past few months, don't expect me to know which one you're upset about."
And, okay, so maybe James could have been nicer about it. But he wasn't good with feelings – he just wanted Albus to stop being mopey and start being his usual insufferably peaceful, friendly self.
Although Albus did manage a passable impression of not being upset as he sat down at his desk, putting the dinner plate down. "It is good to see you, James. You've been busy – I take it that's a good thing?"
James rolled his eyes. "Don't change the subject. Yes, Healer training is going well – except that I was too busy to notice you hiding out in your room all summer." He sat down on Albus's bed.
Albus looked away. "It's nothing."
"Oh, okay then," James said. "I'll just go ask Rose."
Albus didn't react.
"Or maybe Scorpius," James added.
"You don't even know where he lives."
Not well enough to Apparate there, true. "Malfoy Manor. I'll Floo." That's what Albus usually did, anyway.
Albus shook his head. "Floo's blocked."
Albus shrugged. "Scorpius blocked it." He sounded devastated.
Why did James always end up in situations where he needed to deal with feelings? How was he supposed to cheer Albus up? "You're better off without Scorpius. He was a wanker anyway."
Albus shook his head, slightly amused. "I'm pretty sure he admires you."
James blinked. That was unexpected. "Did I say wanker? I meant extremely smart and talented. I know I've mentioned this before, but do you think his parents would be up for trading their son for you? I'm sure Mum and Dad would agree. I'd certainly rather have a brother who looks up to me rather than who rolls his eyes every time I talk –" As if to prove James's point, Albus rolled his eyes. James ignored him. "Lily might object, though – I think she likes you, for some reason."
"She likes me because I'm not as annoying as you," Albus shot back. But he was grinning slightly, so James counted it as a win.
He stood up, ruffling Albus's hair (earning another eye-roll), and turned to leave.
James turned back to Albus curiously.
"What you did this year – getting everyone to start seeing Slytherins as human beings. It was . . . pretty impressive."
"Thank you," James said, slightly confused.
"I'm just saying, . . ." Albus looked up. "I might roll my eyes at everything you say, but . . . actions speak louder than words."
James was pretty sure Albus had just told him he admired him. Well, the feeling was mutual. James took a few steps forward so he could put his hands on Albus's shoulders. "What's impressive is you being sorted into Slytherin and excelling there when nobody thought you would. That's what started this whole thing. Don't sell yourself short just because I'm awesome and you're short. We're both awesome."
Albus rolled his eyes. "You wish." He grinned. "Now get out of my room and leave me in peace!"
James left, a plan already forming for something else he could do to help Albus.
After briefly telling his parents where he'd be (just in case he was brutally murdered), James Flooed to Ron and Hermione's house, before immediately Flooing again to his final destination.
He stepped (more like stumbled) out of the Floo and almost ran into Scorpius Malfoy, who was carrying a bottle of wine and two glasses.
After a few seconds of shocked silence, Scorpius spoke. "What are you doing here?"
James shrugged nonchalantly (even though Merlin's bollocks was Malfoy Manor stately and impressive, and in no way the type of place James felt comfortable in). "I wanted to talk to you, and since I can't Floo here from home anymore, I came from Rose's." James paused, narrowing his eyes. "Odd that you'd block one of your friends, but the other – the female one who has fairly recently become quite beautiful – she can visit you all she wants."
Scorpius turned pink, which confirmed that suspicion. "She didn't call me a Death Eater."
"There is no way he did that."
Scorpius shrugged. "Close enough."
"No. He didn't," James stated. "I don't know what exactly he said to you, but I do know that he's on your side in this."
Scorpius snorted in disbelief.
"Look, Scorpius, you know him. You know he understands people – their motivations and desires. Just because he understands their point of view doesn't mean he agrees with them." James sighed. "He's been fighting with everyone this summer, trying to get people to understand each other."
"Yeah, but James – that's the problem. Al's too peaceful – it hurts that he knew about the prejudice for years and did nothing about it, while you, who had no Slytherin friends or any reason to help us – you're the one who, as soon as you heard about Rosmerta, went and changed the world for us." Scorpius shook his head. "I just don't get – why didn't he ever fight for us?"
"Why didn't . . ." James stared at Scorpius. Did he really not know? "He fought for you. D'you think we didn't know how much you bullied him first year? D'you think we were just going to let that go? Albus is the one that convinced us to try to get to know you instead of . . . of . . . destroying you.
"He's not a Gryffindor – he's not going to shout about prejudice to the world. He's going to do it quietly – convincing people to change their minds without forcing them to." He shook his head. "You think I would have done anything about the prejudice if it weren't for Albus? He's the one who convinced me Slytherins aren't all bad. Without him, I would never have fought for you. So don't blame him for not being as outspoken as I am. Don't get angry at him because he understands Madam Rosmerta's point of view – it doesn't mean he doesn't fight for yours."
Scorpius stared at him.
Figuring his point had gotten across, James finished. "Albus is going to be in Diagon Alley tomorrow. You'll be there, right?"
Scorpius nodded silently.
James sighed. "And . . . look, I don't understand my parents' point of view. But they – and the rest of my aunts and uncles – none of them have a problem with you. . . . They also don't have a problem with Rosmerta refusing you service, which I don't get – but that has nothing to do with you."
James yelped as an unexpected voice came from behind him. He whirled around to see Draco Malfoy sitting on an extremely uncomfortable-looking armchair. James suddenly realized that barging into someone's house – especially since he'd never been there before – was extremely rude. And the Malfoys and the Potters weren't exactly the best of friends in the first place. "Er, . . . Mr. Malfoy. Hi." (Out of the corner of his eye he could see Scorpius smirking at his discomfort.) "I, er, probably shouldn't have come without being invited."
Mr. Malfoy waved a hand. "When we connected our Floo to yours, we accepted that some level of . . ." He pursed his lips. ". . . barbarity . . . would occur."
"Right . . ." James said uncertainly. (Scorpius was currently shaking with laughter beside him – James decided suddenly that he didn't like the kid.)
"As I was saying," Mr. Malfoy continued, "Perhaps you should look at it from Rosmerta's point of view. She knows that Scorpius is not me – but every time she looks at him she is reminded of a time when I had complete control over her every thought, word, and action. She probably has nothing against Scorpius – she just doesn't want to remember that."
"Are you saying," James asked incredulously, "That you agree with my parents!?"
"Don't be ridiculous." Mr. Malfoy's voice was low and deadly.
"Because that's what it sounded like," James continued blithely. And then, when Mr. Malfoy glared at him dangerously, "And they know where I am so you can't brutally murder me –"
"On the contrary, if I explained my reasoning I'm sure they'd help me hide the body."
That was a joke, right? "Er, . . . I think I may have overstayed my welcome." Mr. Malfoy and Scorpius just stared at him. James continued babbling. "It was, er, . . . nice . . . to meet you, Mr. Malfoy. Scorpius, I'll see you around." James reached behind him for some Floo powder, trying not to turn his back on either of the Malfoys, who were both smirking at him.
He managed to get back home alive, wondering how Albus ever decided he liked the whole Malfoy family – because Albus somehow managed to get along with every single one of them. Granted, Albus had actually been invited the first time he went to Malfoy Manor . . .
James managed to forget all about Albus and the Malfoys the next day, since some poor guy's birthday had gone horribly wrong when he decided to mix multiple Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes products. The results were hilarious and also, quite possibly, permanent, keeping James busy at St. Mungo's the entire day.
That night, although he got home late, Albus was waiting up for him to thank him for getting Scorpius to talk to him again. The two of them had made up – but there was a new problem. "Several stores in Diagon Alley have signs saying 'No Slytherins' on the doors."
"What?! Is that even legal?"
"It is, apparently. All the laws against discrimination specify: discrimination against Muggle-borns, discrimination against non-humans; but nothing about discrimination based on Hogwarts House." Albus huffed a laugh. "Mum and Dad weren't happy. Neither were Ron and Hermione – all that work against discrimination after the War, and someone found a loophole."
"Wait, wait, wait." James held up a hand, delighted. "There's a loophole in a law Hermione wrote?"
"No, of course not." Albus looked at James as if he were an idiot. "Those laws were written when Hermione was still in the RCMC."
Right. Hermione had worked in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures before becoming head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, which not only oversaw law enforcement, but also worked with the Wizengamot on creating laws.
"And there won't be loopholes much longer," Albus continued, "Since Hermione went straight to the Ministry as soon as we saw the signs and probably won't leave until all the laws are fixed." He sighed. "But according to her, the signs are a reaction to the 'movement' you started."
"Which was a reaction to the anti-Slytherin sentiment that already existed," James replied.
"Yes, and I still agree with what you did," Albus said. "But now that we pro-Slytherin people are being more vocal about it, the anti-Slytherin ones are getting louder, too. It's just going to get louder, and soon everyone will have to choose a side."
James was silent for a few minutes, digesting this. "What side do you think Mum and Dad, and the rest of the family, are going to be on? I mean, they still love you, and they like your Slytherin friends – but they were really against the whole boycotting thing."
Albus shook his head. "They have no problem boycotting the anti-Slytherin businesses. But that's not what we were doing – we were boycotting the Three Broomsticks and the rest of the shops that had problems with specific Slytherins. Rosmerta has been serving Slytherins since our grandparents' time – it's just Scorpius she has a problem with. But that's what Louis's article focused on – those places that refused to serve certain Slytherins, not all Slytherins."
"But nowhere refused to do business with all Slytherins." At least, not that James had heard.
Albus shrugged. "Not directly. But there were plenty who didn't like Slytherins. Now they've come out into the open."
James nodded. "Okay – but I say we just add these new anti-Slytherin shops to the blacklist – not replace the ones already on the list."
Albus nodded. "I agree. But Mum and Dad, and the aunts and uncles, are only going to stop doing business with the ones with 'No Slytherins' signs, not the ones that only refuse certain Slytherins."
James nodded. He was starting to see the nuances of the issue. His parents didn't hate Slytherins, they just understood why some people might hate certain Slytherins. James didn't agree, but he understood. Kind of. Being completely anti-Slytherin, on the other hand, was absolutely incomprehensible to him.
"I suppose Louis is already writing about this?" James asked.
Albus nodded, rolling his eyes. "Obviously."
James grinned, shaking his head. Louis was a great reporter – somehow he always knew what was going on before anyone else.
A few days later, it was the first of September, and Albus and Lily went back to Hogwarts. The pro- and anti-Slytherin factions both grew in number and volume until the Wizarding World seemed at the brink of another war. The Daily Prophet gained some of its readership back by being clearly anti-Slytherin, while the Herald was more pro-Slytherin – although Louis did try to keep it fairly un-biased.
Then, during the last Hogsmeade weekend before Christmas, Madam Rosmerta publicly invited Scorpius into the Three Broomsticks. The picture of the two of them shaking hands was splashed on the front pages of every newspaper the next day. According to Albus, she had written Scorpius a few weeks before, apologizing for not allowing him in the Three Broomsticks, and promising to welcome him in the future. Being a Slytherin, Scorpius had suspected she was simply desperate not to go out of business.
But out of the goodness of his heart (ha!), Scorpius had written back, suggesting they make her changed opinion public knowledge. But James suspected there was an ulterior motive: Rosmerta was a popular figure (pun totally intended) in the Wizarding World, and seeing her accept Scorpius might cause others to change their opinions.
And, according to Albus, it did work quite well. The other businesses weren't quite so public about their change of heart, but Albus had heard stories from other Slytherins who were now accepted in places they used to be banned. James didn't know how many of those businesses actually welcomed the Slytherins and how many were simply trying to stay in business, but, overall, he felt that things were getting better.
Hermione's reformations to the discrimination laws passed, making discrimination against Slytherins illegal – but, of course, that didn't end it. According to Albus, there were still plenty of places where Slytherins knew not to go if they didn't want to run into problems.
Ron and Scorpius had that chat about the stuff Ron had said in Hogsmeade. And while James didn't know what was said, Ron and Scorpius seemed to be a lot closer at the end of it than they had ever been before – close enough that Ron didn't object at all when Rose and Scorpius started dating.
About a year later, nobody hated Slytherins anymore.
As much as James would have liked to take credit for that, he had to admit that it wasn't his doing. People had simply found another group to hate.
Turns out all you need to bring people together is a violent goblin rebellion.