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What is your "base HP world" for fanfic?

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by Taure, Jan 19, 2019.

  1. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Let's say you're going to write a fanfic. It's not a massive AU. It's just a normal HP fic which is intended to take place in the canon world.

    Nonetheless, there are some things about the canon world which you just don't like. Not major things that would make it an AU, but little things that you want to change about the basic setup. Similarly, there are some things that canon is silent about which you feel like you need to know.

    What are the things you change? What are the things you add?

    What is your base version of the HP world?

    Some of mine:

    Population

    There are approximately 20,000 wizards and witches in wizarding Britain, around half of whom attend Hogwarts (approx. 70 students a year). The rest decline their Hogwarts invites and choose home schooling instead, which is the global norm in magical communities.

    Parents of home-schooled students often group together to educate the children within their community and sometimes these groupings develop into what might be comparable to a Muggle school. But this is a school which teaches magic. The school itself is not magical like the "main" schools (Hogwarts, Durmstrang, etc.). As such the calibre of those students is much lower.

    Hogwarts

    Hogwarts has more than one teacher per subject. The teachers we know are the heads of department e.g. Snape is the Potions Master, Flitwick the Charms Master, etc.

    The Defence curse is on the Defence Master

    The true magic of Hogwarts is not in the enchantments cast over it by wizards. The true magic is the magic of the school itself. Hogwarts is magical in the same way love is: it's not a spell, but it has magical significance. That magic has a kind of fate-warping power that means that events will generally work out well for those under its protection. It takes a momentous individual like Voldemort to be able to overcome the magic of the school, and even then he is taking a significant risk in setting himself against such a mysterious and fickle power.

    Other schools

    There are 13 truly magical schools in the world, not 11 as in canon. They are:

    1. Brazil - Castelobruxo - Amazon Rainforest
    2. China - Xifang Xuexiao ("School of the West") - Jade Mountain (Chinese/Tibetan Himalayas)
    3. Egypt - Wadi Al Mujawis ("Valley of the Magi") - Theban Necropolis
    4. France - Beauxbatons - Pyrennes
    5. Great Britain - Hogwarts - Scottish Highlands
    6. India - Suvaloka - Mount Meru (Indian Himalayas)
    7. Japan - Mahoutokoro - Minami Iwo Jima
    8. Persia - Alcaraz (Palace) - Badab-e Surt
    9. Peru - El Dorado - Peruvian Altiplano
    10. Russia - Koldovstoretz - Mount Elbrus
    11. Norway - Durmstrang - Svalbard
    12. Uganda - Uagadou - Mountains of the Moon
    13. USA - Ilvermorney - Mount Greylock, Massachusetts.

    Power scale

    The significant gap in magical talent between normal wizards (even talented ones like Aurors) and wizards like Dumbledore is not natural. In normal times, there would be a bell curve of magical talent. Dumbledore is at the very top end of that bell curve, but there would exist a small number of "almost Dumbledores" who fill the ranks between him and the average wizard. So while Dumbledore might be able to take on 20 Aurors, he would struggle against 2-3 "almost Dumbledores" attacking him simultaneously.

    However, in the 1960s and 1970s Voldemort systematically killed most of the "almost Dumbledores" in the world (maybe around 100 wizards globally). This is why it took him much longer to take the Ministry the first time around than the second.
     
  2. Anarchy

    Anarchy Totally Sirius DLP Supporter

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    My core world is pretty similar to yours. Obviously, as everyone knows, JKR really sucks at numbers. This is by no means a definitive list, just what I could think of upon seeing the prompt.

    I agree that the wizards has a minimum of 20k wizards/witches. This is still a very small number, but is quite a bit larger than what we're lead to believe was JKR's intention. Like, if we assume the average life expectancy of a wizard is 100 years old (it’s probably a lot lower), then that means Hogwarts would have 200 students a year, so 1400 students for 7 years. Of course, this is the very basic math and is missing a lot of nuance.

    1) Hogwarts is not the only school in the UK, but they are by far the largest. I do not think they wholesale invite everyone to the school just because they have magic. I do think there is some form of tuition.

    2) There are a lot of “local” schools, and homeschooling. Hogwarts draws in students from across UK (perhaps they even rarely accept foreign students from elsewhere), so smaller communities have their own schools, with probably no more than 30 students who only have a few different teachers throughout all their years.

    3) Tuition is necessary. How prestigious can a school be if it’s “free”? Being subsidized by the Ministry is technically an option, but it’s weird, since if that was true, no one should really have a right to complain when the Ministry places a teacher there.

    4) The Weasley’s aren’t necessarily “poor.” Arthur is a department head, so he does make decent money. However, he has put seven children through Hogwarts, and tuition is not cheap. So there’s not much extra, but it’s worth it since his children have the best education in the UK.

    5) Hogwarts years are larger than canon. Even if we assume that only half the children in the UK are offered a spot at Hogwarts, that’s 100 students a year on average. And, I feel like if you increase the total pop from 20k to 30k, the Hogwarts numbers don’t change and only become more exclusive. So, 100 students per year means, on average, 25 per house, much more than we see in canon. This may seem like a large amount, but it is still a minuscule number when you realize that there's 750,000 babies born a year in the UK.

    6) There has to be more teachers for the canon classes. Even using canon numbers or maybe 300 students, 1 teacher per year is barely enough. That’s assuming no time turners, and assuming a teaching block of something like Block A = Mon/Wed, Block B = Tues/Thurs, and Friday is a double class “lab day”. Block A would be 2 houses, block, B would be the other 2, and essentially each class would be 1 hour, or perhaps, 50 minutes with 10 minutes travel, and you’d have it 2 times a week. That’s not a lot of schooling, but it’s the best I could come up with for the canon numbers. So almost assuredly, there would have to be more teachers, and in all likelyhood, if there’s 25 students for each house per year, those are you classmates for every class, unless they intentionally split everyone up. Which, I think if you want to avoid the evil!Slytherin trope, would actually help. So I think there would likely be 4 teachers for the core classes, though I’m not sure on the exact split. The obvious way would be to have 1 teacher per house, but like previously, that does not help with diversity. Essentially ¾ of the school would be unknown to you if Snape just teachers slytherin potions. So, more likely, Snape would be the overall department head and teach the NEWT level stuff, while other teachers do the lower years. You can increase it even further, so a teacher can also teach the main course for a year as well as an elective, or perhaps they simply teach that elective

    7) There has to be more classes than canon classes. History is important, but is it so important that it takes precedence over some sort of literacy class? Are we to assume that whatever is taught before Hogwarts is enough, and/or whatever is absorbed during their years at Hogwarts? Similarly, Arithmancy is not a substitute for actual math, though it should be either a math or divination elective. What about biology? With 1 hour class blocks split into A/B, that’s at least 14 different classes. Something like herbology should probably be a potions elective (if potions itself it’s an elective of alchemy). 14 slots gives a fair amount of room for fundamental classes and electives.

    8)Latin as the base root for spells. I do like the idea that a german wizard and english wizard can still communicate. As for why Latin specifically, well, I’m not actually that picky, but I suppose at some point it could have been a conscious decision when the Roman Empire was at its largest. I do also like the theory of resonance, where these spells have meaning because wizards gave them meaning, reinforcing itself perpetually through the years. so Harry casting Sectumsempra without having any idea of what it’s supposed to do, actually works as intended. And I will add on that I think the idea of Snape inventing a spell that basic is kind of silly. More likely, he just worked out another incantation for a pre-existing spell, or a permutation of it.

    9) Other schools like Durmstrang. I don’t actually care how many others there are. But, I assume it will work much the same way as UK. Populations with sufficient enough numbers will have their own prestige school, where if they don’t, they send them out of country (this doesn’t even consider that magical country borders aren’t necessarily the same as their muggle counterparts.) or have their own small schools.

    10) Runes is just another language, albeit a dead one. That doesn’t mean there’s isn’t a lot to be gained by studying them.

    11) There *are* potential advantages to being a pureblood. Things like Seeing and Metamorphagi are passed down through the family. But, they are extremely rare, and things like Animagi can theoretically be learned by anyone, but they aren’t. But power levels don’t actually mean *that* much. It’s not like dragonball Z where it’s Cell vs Gohan trying to power over each other. It’s very rare that a wizard actually hits their full potential, though theoretically that potential is different in people. Instead, there are things that are far more important, namely experience, raw knowledge, and personal skill. Those are more an indicator of how powerful someone is.
     
  3. Sowaka

    Sowaka Squib

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    Cool thread.

    If I were to write a fic, one where the Japanese school of magic comes up, I'd rename it from Mahoutokoro. This probably already became a topic when it was first announced, but "Magic Place" just sounds stupid and it bothers me.
     
  4. Lindsey

    Lindsey Headmaster

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    Taure, y u do this? I should be writing my fanfic, not this post.

    Population
    I agree with the roughly ~20,000 wizards in the UK, or about 3 million wizards world wide. I tend to go with about 1 wizard for every 3,000 Muggles.

    I also place Muggleborns of being much rarer than one would expect, with only about 5-10% of the population being Muggleborn, while something like 40% are purebloods, and 50-55% being half bloods.

    However, with the rise in muggle populations, the muggleborn percentage has risen as well. 100 years ago, muggleborns made up less than 5%. This has led to more friction in the community.

    Hogwarts
    Hogwarts is not free. It is a highly sought after school where parents sign their children up when in the womb. It is first offered to those parents who attended. However, all muggleborns are given a full ride to try to integrate them into society as well as keeping them away from Muggles due to risk of exposure. This is why the vast majority of students at Hogwarts are pureblood, muggleborn or first generation half-bloods with at least one pureblood parent who attended hogwarts. The Weasleys' are poor because they sent all their children to Hogwarts.

    As my fic diverges in OOTP, I can't change Hogwarts too much, but I agree that they should have much more teachers, in addition to more classes. I love the Prince of the Dark Kingdom's class structure, of far more electives and many courses are only a semester or year long. Things like healing, or ward creation/breaking should be offered as single standalone courses.

    Other schools
    1) Schools only appear in regions where magic has been standardized, and thus able to be taught to a group of students at once. This leads to large sections of the world where people do not use the wand and learn magic from families and apprenticeships.

    2) There are smaller schools, they just are not prevalent. When I am looking at the 11 schools, I am thinking they are the international recognized-- meaning ivy league. Many smaller regions of the world have schools, they are tiny and nothing compared to the major institutions. This is much of the case with Australia and New Zealand. The native wizards use their own brand of magic, while the 'wand-wielding' wizards are far and few between.

    3) You need both the population and similar culture for a large school to appear. As many nations are broken into hundreds of cultures, most tend to send their children to their local school to learn their local magic.

    1. Brazil - Castelobruxo - Amazon Rainforest
    -- This is the only school in South America, as Brazil tended to be the only nation to accept the wand and other western style of education. They also take muggleborns from the various tribes if desired.

    2. China - UNKNOWN - South China
    -- Over the years Chinese schools have come and gone, except a small school located in the southern rainforests where war did not touch. Over the years, the school expanded to be the largest in the Asia.

    3. Turkey - Enderûn-i Hümâyûn Mektebi - Istanbul
    -- One of the only schools located close to a major city. However, Enderun is a special private school that only accepts the best students from various smaller schools. They come together each year and do a Triwizard-like tournament and those who perform well, are welcomed into the palace. It's accepts students between the ages of 13-16, and they end up becoming the local nobility.

    4. France - Beauxbatons - Pyrennes
    5. Great Britain - Hogwarts - Scottish Highlands
    6. Japan - Mahoutokoro - Unknown
    7. Persia - UNKOWN - Unknown
    8. Russia/Central Asia - Koldovstoretz - Unknown
    9. Northern Germany- Durmstrang - Unknown
    10. Uganda - Uagadou - Mountains of the Moon
    11. USA - Ilvermorney - Mount Greylock, Massachusetts.


    The World
    As Wizards have the ability to teleport, they were able to have much larger empires without much of an issue. I tend to take the world around the 1600s, when the SoS was enacted, and modify it a wizarding history. This also means that many old world tribes and nations still exist. While America is still a wizarding nation, canada and mexico are not, and several tribes exist within the American nation. This is why America, even with its large population, only has one major wizarding school.

    Here is a map i've created (and still working on), of various nations. It's still missing a ton.
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1OOv2yC3bRaXt2N83Aod0zPrVDzidCwSI&usp=sharing

    The economy
    I don't want to dive too deep into this but the economy is made of home made goods and magical objects. With the rise of muggle commercial goods, it has disrupted the wizarding economies. Why spend a ton of money on custom made objects, when you could get a piece of muggle furniture at a quarter of the price... even if it doesn't last for generations? I believe there needs to be economic reasons for any sort of civil war to start.
     
  5. Silirt

    Silirt Groundskeeper DLP Supporter

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    This is not something that's necessarily true based on the books, this is just the way that certain donnée of the book make sense. The first and most important assumption I make of the world is that where the canon is silent, it's because of Harry's reasonable ignorance rather than nothing of interest being there. This served as a way for Rowling to introduce things when she felt like it, rather than all at once, at the beginning, which is the expectation of some readers.
    As it happens, I'm writing a minor AU at the moment.

    Population of Britain:
    This does not exceed the tens of thousands; there have to be logical limitations to their ability to conceal themselves geographically. Consider the Lotka-Volterra population growth model with a carrying capacity for reference; this is the reason, I suspect, that most of Harry's friends have no brothers and sisters, though this does not apply to rural wizards, who make up roughly fifty percent of Britain's magical population. Whatever would or would not happen as a result of the loss of Secrecy(who knows, maybe they're just keeping it a secret for the fun of it), they have some vested interest in preventing discovery by the nonmagical. As they approach the carrying capacity, the birth fraction goes down. We can see from Hogwarts being huge and the student body being minuscule that it was built to accommodate more students, which would have been much easier in ancient times, before the Statute of Secrecy, before the muggle population exploded, which in turn was before mass-surveillance. The magical population of Britain is hedged in by the carrying capacity, though the carrying capacity shrinks over time.
    Rural wizards, in contrast with those who mostly live in wizarding cities or towns, have a few more children and usually homeschool them. The Weasleys are an exception with a hyperbolic amount of children, all of whom they can somehow send to Hogwarts(I'm talking about school supplies, not tuition; I don't think there is a tuition to pay). Rural wizards frequently owe an unspoken loyalty to the house that owns the land they work, something that is not a strictly legal contract relationship, but the weight of thousands of years of traditionally doing things a certain way and the reality that very few of these wizards go to Hogwarts. They learn the necessary spells from their parents, leave perfectly non-coercive gifts at the doorsteps of the old families, and have this unhappy thought in the backs of their minds that should the worst occur, they will rally around their masters' manors, and the ancient houses will protect them. This constitutes a sense in which the old families of wizarding Britain are powerful.

    Light and Dark Magic:
    The darkness in dark magic refers to a veil of obscurity, the ignorance that surrounds it. Consider the dark web. Innumerable pages out there, each with its purpose, though very few people ever use each one and as a result, it is poorly maintained, hard to navigate, and filled with viruses. There is evil out there of course; the dark is a place where evil can hide. Dark magic is similarly uncharted territory, usually requiring more than a simple incantation- emotion, sacrifice, the acknowledgement that curses aren't limited to the intended targets. If a dark spell comes into fashion, it will be steadily modified through repeated use until like a beaten path it is easy to use and relatively predictable. The unforgivable curses, while requiring emotion and likely to leave a stain on the soul, are at least understood.

    The West and Magic:
    Latin being the basis of many spells, these can be assumed to be standardized across western Europe, as well as the Americas, though the further you get from the prestigious schools and authoritative governments, the more prevalent esoteric magic becomes. The magic is most likely completely unrecognizable in some place like Papua New Guinea or Jacksonville. Being human, wizards desire much the same things from magic spells that people do from technology, and consequently it can be expected that where there is not a spell for something, one will be invented, books will be sold, and the spell will spread around. It is unlikely that the Selknam down in Chile have an equivalent for the tooth growing spell, but it's unlikely that they don't have a light spell or a killing spell. The methodology is probably unrecognizable, though.
    It can be expected that during the Age of Imperialism, western spells would spread to places like Vietnam and Barbados, though these might well have been tossed out with the foreign investors.

    Power Levels:
    The idea of rattling off spells like a machine gun is fan fiction, and I suppose it makes dueling more interesting and provides more room to distinguish one wizard as better than another, but in canon wands basically work like single-shot pistols. The highest-level canonical duel is still one in which Harry can track what's going on, even if he can't hear/discern the spells. The skill of a duelist is his ability to respond appropriately to any spell thrown at him, with different viable strategies(shielding versus moving, aggression versus planning, light magic versus dark) being taken into consideration. In this sense knowing a wide variety of spells is key in being considered powerful, though nothing beats experience. This is only for Britain and probably much of the western world, though, the power scaling might be completely different elsewhere.

    Magical Government:
    Worldwide, these should essentially be analogous to the muggle equivalents. American wizards are probably highly regional and freedom loving, I could imagine given the size of the United States government there might not be a magical analogue, only a confederation of regional governments, each having only informal loyalty to the other. America is most likely a haven for the goods and evils of dark magic, where other places have it more or less banned or taboo. I would think that the Chinese government would be interesting to explore, with wizards on either side of the cultural revolution, though it's possible they were all on the losing side, resulting a near extinction. Most likely, this kind of war is the only kind in which the magical would take part. Wars between states are not really threats to them and they really can't intervene that much without risking Secrecy, though it's doubtful they would want to intervene.

    Magical Schools:
    As with magical governments, the way they work follows the general character of the people being educated in them. There are most likely many of these, with only a few being prestigious/internationally recognized. Students most likely learn in different ways depending on their cultures and the magic that they learn. In, say, Korea, the teachers would be treated with absolute respect by students unwilling to face expulsion. If you graduate from school at seventeen, you likely have a few more courses to complete before starting work, especially if your choice of employment has little to do with what you learned. I imagine some schools would be willing to draw up fake diplomas to allow interested students to carry on in muggle universities to learn things like economics and the natural sciences.

    Magical Economies:
    There most likely is a world bank, though different regions of the world do not follow each other into success or poverty in tandem. Consider by contrast the shock almost all markets experienced in 2008. With the use of gold and silver, I imagine the magical despise the idea of money creation, or at least the goblins do. The argument can be made that goblin magic can create an un-counterfeit-able currency, but this is most likely not the reason since anyone not looking closely enough could mistake one of Hermione's galleons for the real thing. Again, wizards live an insular life, and there is serious doubt they have any need of muggles, though some most likely do business with them and trade in their currency, hoping the nonmagical will fall for their ridiculous disguises.

    That's all for now.
     
  6. DarthBill

    DarthBill Dark Lord

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    In my world, most witches and wizards are not actually part of the Wizarding World. They live either in the muggle world, or they live isolated from society all-together. I like to think that there would be no need for them to leave their homes if they can keep food from spoiling indefinitely and duplicate it as needed.
     
  7. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

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    @Anarchy Despite both of us going for a 20,000 population, I believe our different numbers for births/year is a result of our different life expectancies. You had wizards living to 100, whereas I set average life expectancy at 150. So my 20,000 wizards are stretched across a wide age distribution, resulting in fewer wizarding births a year despite the same total population.
     
  8. Anarchy

    Anarchy Totally Sirius DLP Supporter

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    Changing the average life expectancy that much just feels too arbitrary. Arbitrary enough that it overrides any sense of playing into the old magical fantasy trope that would be gained from it. I mean, I get it. With a population of 20k, we just don't see the vast majority of people out there. Griselda Marchbanks and Bathilda Bagshot could be the norm, not outliers. Dumbledore, Muriel, Doge, they're already ancient, but they still have a long life ahead of them. It's just... weird. I think there's far more ramifications for doubling the life expectancy of a human, rather than just adding 25 years. Too many hoops to jump through for it to be worth it.
     
  9. vlad

    vlad Professor Prestige

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    I am sure I am in a tiny minority on this one but I like a bigger magical Britain. Up to 100k. Their form of government (professional politicians, multiple branches of governments and departments, etc), the existence of professional sport leagues with reserve teams and extra personnel (even if we assume they are professional in the sense of part-time, 19th century style professional sports), doesn't work for me with a population the size of Milledgeville, GA.

    For another there are too many surnames. You can obfuscate this a bit by pointing out that Harry doesn't know everyone and it's all from his point of view, but if the goal is to make clear we are dealing with a very small community, at some point there should be reference to Malfoys or Weasleys or Diggorys outside the main line, and at the various sorting feasts (when Harry actually attends) we should have Carrows or Fudges or Umbridges or whatever. It's just too broad for what's supposed to be a very tightly knit, for centuries, tiny community. Especially if it has to be more or less independent.

    tl;dr Rowling might say the numbers are small but her inability to math is well known. She did however paint a picture that intentionally or not suggests a population advanced enough to require a fairly high minimum population.

    So to that end, I like to think Hogwarts is the Eton/Oxbridge of Magical Britain, but it is not by any means the only school.


    Kinda tangentially, while I like the idea of Hogwarts as this sprawling castle (as does Rowling, as does the rest of fanon), there's several things in the books that contradict it. For one, most people like to imagine vast halls in Hogwarts decorated in portraits and magical armor and such, but in book one Harry specifically mentions the hall with the suit of armor in a way that suggests it is the suit of armor. For another, when Harry gets caught in book 2 and assumed to be the Heir, multiple classes of students burst out onto him from the same hallway, suggesting that some combination of all the indoor classes not explicitly mentioned as occurring elsewhere (potions, astronomy, herbology, care of magical creatures) all occur in neighboring classrooms.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
  10. wox2d

    wox2d Fourth Year

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    This is tangentially related to this thread, I suppose, but as someone struggling to write some HP fanfiction, it's kind of annoying how if you want to start in, say third year, you sort of have to stick with the math and weird headcannon that Rowling set up. If you want to create your own, then it's easier to start in year one so you can introduce your version of the world to Harry at the same pace as you do to the readers.

    Obviously a talented writer can start later and retrofit their changes to cannon but I don't think I'm that talented.
     
  11. vlad

    vlad Professor Prestige

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    Eh, not really. Everything we see is from Harry's point of view, and so fairly limited in scope and always plausibly unreliable.

    By book three for instance, Harry has seen:
    - Hogwarts
    - Parts of Diagon Alley
    - One store in Knockturn Alley
    - The Burrow

    Plenty of room to world build without being stuck too much on anything Rowling has said. Hell, it takes middle of fifth year before Harry ever knows who Theodore Nott is (because Hermione tells him, reeeeee).

    In short, don't worry about Rowling's math. Just tell the story you want to tell and go with it.
     
  12. wox2d

    wox2d Fourth Year

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    Very true. It just sometimes can feel like an exposition info dump if you're starting in third year and then have to explain Harry's potions professor, who is not Snape but is in fact the teacher for the third year curriculum. I mean I know it can be done but I certainly struggle with it.
     
  13. vlad

    vlad Professor Prestige

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    Good rule of thumb: the bigger the lie (change), the more just brazenly sell it.

    Harry walked into the third year potion lab, where Professor Kaldroon was setting up the day's ingredients.

    "Good morning class," the professor said five minutes later as the class settled down. "We will pick up where you all left off with Professor Boil last year. I expect all of you to have kept up to date over the summer - your OWLS are sooner than you think and Master Snape does not take on any NEWT students who have not received an O."

    Harry shared a look with Ron - neither of then had any intention of spending more time in the presence of the schools greasy haired potions master than absolutely necessary. A NEWT in potions was as high on his list of things to do as snogging Millicent Bulstrode.
     
  14. Faun

    Faun Second Year

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    One possible solution to have a greater population and not change what has been set up could be that Hogwarts attendance is not mandatory. The only people who attend Hogwarts are those who wish to achieve something substantial and not be limited by what they can achieve if they stayed home. People who are going to end up joining family business don't need to attend Hogwarts unless they need a broader and deeper understanding of magic.
     
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