And now in anticipation of Part 5 of "New York State Wizarding School," tentatively titled "Ernie's Letter," an entry from Hannah, written for Theatrical Muse:
Moral of the story?
Ernie's got the ultimate story to tell there. He and his brother David.
They come from one of those pureblood families that you don't see anywhere in America, but seem to be everyone whose anyone in British wizarding society. His parents disdained the Malfoys, partly because they were bigots, but mostly because they've *only* been in England for about a thousand years or something, while the McMillans have, or so they claim, been there longer! They grew up with certain expectations, and they had them of their two children as well.
The problems, from the way Ernie and David describe it, started when David was put into Hufflepuff. Ernie was too young to remember this, but apparently even though they didn't outright disown David, or even admit that they thought there was anything wrong with being in Hufflepuff, they got embarrased and they increased the pressure on David and they yelled at him more and things like that. Then when he was fourteen, David fell in love with a Muggle-born. The McMillans won't say they think Muggle-borns are actually inferior, the way the Malfoys will, but Mr. McMillan still thought it necessary to make sure that David had no intentions of marrying his new girlfriend. Of course he didn't, they were only fourteen, after all! But he got really angry at his father's attitude, and he accused his father as being as bad as the Malfoys.
Mr. McMillan got angry, and wouldn't talk to his son for a month. Ernie remembers all this, and also siding with his brother, after which his parents actually tried to keep them from talking to each other! They talked about how David would "corrupt" Ernie. It just got worse and worse.
David was in his last year at Hogwarts when we were in our first, and when Ernie went into Hufflepuff, his parents went into hysterics. I saw Ernie receive letters and hastily burn them, though his parents never used Howlers; David said they didn't want strangers paying attention to their family difficulties.
David went home for Christmas, though he urged Ernie to stay at Hogwarts with Justin and me. I don't know exactly what happened at their house. From what I understand, an argument ended with someone dealing a physical blow to someone else, though whether Mr. McMillan actually hit his son, or David hit him, I truly have no idea. Either way, the results were the same. When David returned to Hogwarts, he told Ernie to start keeping his letters, saying they'd need them in court.
David was of age by this time, but he petitioned to obtain legal custody of Ernie as well, arguing before less than sympathetic Ministry officials that the McMillans were emotionally abusing both of their sons. I think he only won his case because either the McMillans were perfectly ready to disown both their sons or possibly due to some backroom negotiations; there was a mysterious adjornment in the middle of the hearing, and what happened during it was considered a closed-door proceeding.
For three years Ernie and David lived completely estranged from their parents. They tried not to mention it at school, but people did notice that Ernie had a lot less money. In fact, I stayed with them twice during that time. Both times David slept on the floor of his and Ernie's bedroom and moved his bed into their kitchen so I could sleep on it; there was nothing else to sleep on, and no other room except the bathroom. I had to bring them money so they could feed me properly. The place was dirty and cold, though I did my best to clean it. But they were proud, Ernie and David. They blushed when I offered them help, and got angry when anyone else did.
Then, after our fifth year, Ernie had been home a week when the McMillans came together to their sons' door, and said they couldn't do this anymore. Dumbledore had written to them, and informed them that You-Know-Who was back, and that meant everyone who opposed him had to stick together. Because when it came down to it, the McMillans supported most what Dumbledore was trying to do at Hogwarts, and the respect for the man overran any objections anyway, and they certainly opposed You-Know-Who.
David and Ernie have both said that if they their parents hadn't brought the letter from Dumbledore with them, if it hadn't begged the family to reconcile, they would've said no, and that likewise, only Dumbledore could have moved to their parents to accept them back. But it happened, even so. They're obviously not very close, but they're still there for each other. They'll even die for each other.
I suppose the moral of the story is that parents are complicated things, but you can never write them off completely. It's easy to think of them as monsters, or evil gods, but they're not. They can make terrible mistakes. But your life isn't ruled by them the way you think it is when you're young; you can address them as fellow human beings, if you make the effort.
My father's human, just like me, and he behaves the way he does towards me because he is. He's imperfect, but he's not a bad person, and his anger at me is simply because of his own human feelings. It's hard for me to remember that these days, but I have to do it somehow.