Summary: Muggle-wizard relations get convoluted at the most unexpected moments.
Fandom: Harry Potter
Spoilers: All seven Harry Potter books
Title, Author and URL of original story: Meetings with Remarkable Muggles, Drabble #14 by lolaraincoat
Spring was barely underway when there was finally ice cream in Diagon Alley again; Florean Fortescue's niece Vicky Frobisher opened in time for Valentine's Day and it made for a perfect celebration.
Fleur stopped Apparating and using the Floo back in her seventh month; magical methods of transportation aren't a problem for babies, but the unsteady landings can be, so Bill had started popping in to pick up a pint or a gallon on his way home; it's not a bad commute, Apparating to the continent in the morning and back to Shell Cottage around dusk. Trips were via London for months after the end of the war, with stops at either the Ministry or the hub in Diagon Alley, given the remaining bugs and traps in the international systems. Every time he walked down the street, he'd look at Gringotts with hardly a hint of regret.
He couldn't stay there. Not after what the goblins had done during the war.
Ancient wizarding history isn't quite the same sort of discipline as muggle history. Documents and magical items from Alexandria, Harappa, Mesopotamia and Kush have been preserved by witches and wizards, hiding them from muggle eyes and understanding even in the olden times, when muggle and wizard lived side by side.
The goblins have never been happy about that, Bill knows. They alleged time and again over hundreds of years that wizards have kept their treasures in the hands of muggles instead of allowing them to return to goblin control, and from his first week with Gringotts, he'd seen stacks of parchment and reams of paper explaining their arguments to the Ministry, and to wizarding governments around the world, copied in triplicate, bound into books, ancient and old and well-preserved tomes that never served to make any inroads with any of the larger Ministries or Governments. The slights of a thousand years ago were as important as a double-cross that's only a year old.
After the fall of Voldemort, wizard-goblin relations worsened. Harry and Hermione had been relatively quiet about their flight on dragon-back out of Gringotts, and the details the Voldemort-controlled Daily Prophet had promulgated at the time had been generally forgotten. But one night of conversation over firewhiskey with Seamus Finnegan was all it took for Ron's extremely vocal complaints about Griphook's treachery and the goblins' assaults on the trio for the story to make it into all the papers and grow.
Bill thought the recent board book version for little wizards was a little much, although the dragon in the illustration was adorable, but the WWN sound-play had been an entertaining fictionalization of the facts, at least as much as he'd been able to take in during the broadcast; they'd been a little distracted by Fleur being in labour at the time. In private conversations, the wizarding world became very anti-goblin, almost as if the anti-Muggleborn prejudices that dared not be mentioned in public after the take-downs of Voldemort's Ministry patsies and puppets easily metamorphosized into even more strident goblin-hate. But in public speeches and sentiments, Minister Shacklebolt spoke of how the economy could collapse if wizard-goblin relations deteriorated, and he tried to tamp down all those hard feelings.
Bill could accept the politics in public - he was pragmatic enough for that - but he chose to no longer deal daily with the interpersonal (interspecies?) dynamics.
The glass ceiling at the office was now a goblin-made forged-steel wall encrusted with garnets sharpened to fatal points, and Bill reasoned that consulting might be a more lucrative and less head-desking career path in the new millennium. There were enough ancient sites less than a thousand miles from Shell Cottage with curses so different from what he'd seen in Egypt, it was a challenge learning a half-dozen more archaic languages, runes and alchemical processes. And Fleur was thrilled that he'd be Apparating no further afield than Paderborn and Montglane; most nights, he was home for dinner.
It was a very stable, sensible, well-paid, Goblin-free life.
Someone had to monitor the muggles, Bill thought with a grimace. There was a ripple of cohesion every September when a clutch of muggle-born kids started at Hogwarts with their questions about lap-tips and empty-three players, and again in June when those same kids - and occasionally their boyfriends and girlfriends - considered returning to the muggle world for University - but of course, they hardly ever did. The rest of the year, it was as if muggles didn't exist.
Except when they did something ridiculously ignorant.
The wizarding world in the Middle East had never been divided up by European controllers, the way the muggle world had been. Curzon and the oil companies had no sway 100 years ago when families traveled on flying carpets across Europe, southern Asia and Africa, and even now, wizards like Dad and Harry that used cars and motorbikes wouldn't damage them with muggle fuels where magic was so much more efficient. Through the partitions and revolutions, the wizarding communities across Persia, Mesopotamia, Arabia and Cyprus continued their ongoing feuds among each other, while regularly banding together to resist muggle encroachment.
They habitually made deals with autocrats - something that made Bill twitch when he remembered wizarding Britain under Fudge and the damage that an incompetent and easily-(mis)led dictator could do; over fifty years ago, one of those agreements placed wizarding treasures dating to the foundation of Mesopotamia in the museums of Baghdad, under the purview of the Ministry for Magic of Great Britain. It was a convoluted treaty, over seventy pages long, but Bill had at least two hours before he'd be able to Floo to Baghdad; every line out of Iraq was clogged by wizards trying to escape the fighting, because even if the bombs couldn't actually damage a wizarding dwelling or compound, the smoke from the fires set by the incoming Americans and the fleeing Iraqi army was poisonous and unavoidable.
Nobody had expected this.
Dad was at the Ministry, reading up on the last few weeks of muggle newspapers, and his assistant Audrey had managed to bring in a computer so they could track the destruction. There would be questions from the Department for International Magical Cooperation, but not until their head returned from her confab in Rome; there wouldn't be much the wizarding world could do to stop the deaths, but perhaps Bill could preserve some of the buildings and artifacts until things calmed down; it couldn't last more than a month, could it?
He could hear the rumble through the waiting room as the news spread; it was only a matter of time - days, or weeks - before witches and wizards around the world turned their fury back on those who did not care for the past, for the artifacts of time and memory that could help them in the present and the future.
The doors that had been slowly sliding open to the muggle-born were about to slam shut again.
The funky-remix-title comes from the Edwin Starr song War, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong.