This is a fanfiction of a fanfiction; what have I become? I heavily recommend reading Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality before this fic, as this is a direct sequel to it. J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter, Eliezer Yudkowsky has thankfully forfeited ownership of the methods of rationality to humanity in general, and I own very little, being broke.
Themes that may trigger traumatic associations in some readers are present in chapters twenty two and twenty four.
muttering to themselves, constantly
a growing grid of points in space
arranged with perfect regularity, and no gaps
ignoring the world around them and each other
now it is complete
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had seven children and were perfectly content leading lives they considered perfectly normal, thank you very much. Arthur Weasley had a desk job at the Ministry of Magic, where he gave people notice that they had illegally modified Muggle artifacts and would have to pay a fine or face the Wizengamot. His favorite hobby was illegally modifying Muggle artifacts – in the privacy of his own home, of course. He was very familiar with the network of enforcement wards he would have to avoid to avoid being caught, and this familiarity was his favorite perk of his job. Despite Arthur's fascination with Muggles, he did not know any, nor had he ever spoken to one for longer than five minutes. The Weasleys were a well-known pureblood family, and few of Arthur's friends were Muggleborn - "not that there's anything wrong with that," he would add.
Molly Weasley was a housewife, and as she was the mother of a family of nine, one can see how this would consume all of her time, even if they were rarely all in the house at once – the summer holiday could really be hellish. Her eldest, Bill, was living at home; he had been fired from a promising Gringotts position years ago for psychological reasons and would probably not find the willpower to take his medication alone. Charlie had moved out to study abroad, but she doubted she would ever see any grandchildren from him; Charlie was queer like that. But with seven possible heirs, that was not a matter of grave concern. Percy was entering his sixth year in Hogwarts, and had a promising future in the Ministry. Fred and George (members of the increasingly common demographic of magical twins) were entering their fourth. Ron was entering his second, and Ginny – little Ginevra was entering her first. With the beginning of the new school year, for the first time in many years, it would just be Arthur, Molly, and Bill at home. What a day to think about! Arthur and Molly were arguing, as they often did, about that day. They spoke sharply, and often resorted to shouting.
"I'm telling you, I knew him," said Arthur.
"I did too," said Molly. "Better, even."
"He was no great wizard," said Arthur.
"Perhaps not with magic," said Molly, "but with people."
"He tried to join the Order and was practically laughed out of the room!" said Arthur, increasingly exasperated. "Do you realize the implications of that fact? We were strapped for everything and needed all the help we could get! But he was a joke! Completely incompetent!"
"He came off that way at times," said Molly, "but he showed sparks of potential. I don't find it surprising that he shaped up eventually, let alone unimaginable."
"Sparks of potential, my arse," said Arthur. "I don't know who Minerva thinks she's dealing with, but he's not who he says he is. Gilderoy Lockhart is plainly either an impostor or a fraud, and frankly, it concerns me that he's one of the first decisions the new Headmistress has made. Dumbledore is irreplaceable, but I'd never thought so lowly of-"
"Gilderoy Lockhart is a late bloomer," said Molly. "That's all."
"A late bloomer," said Arthur. "I'm sorry, I'm not buying it."
"It is known to happen!" said Molly. "Merlin was particularly unimpressive in his younger years."
"Yes, because he was growing feeble and senile," said Arthur.
"I know Merlin was no ordinary wizard," said Molly. "But my point-"
"You don't have a point," said Arthur, "and I-"
"My point is that you're probably just jealous and trying to justify to yourself why he suddenly jumped from average midlife blah to Mysterious Dark Attractive Rising Hero and you're still stuck in average midlife blah," said Molly, all in one breath.
"Jealous?" was all Arthur got out, before he realized to his dismay that his wife did, indeed, have a point.
"If anything, I think the suspicious part about him is his ties to the Muggle world," said Molly.
"Oh, here we go on this again," said Arthur. "How many times have I told you, Molly, Muggles are mostly harmless-"
"Yes, but what business does a pureblood wizard have cavorting with Muggles?" said Molly. "I suspect that he's actually a half-blood or Muggleborn, visiting relatives-" Arthur looked at his wife as though she had just grown a second and third head and declared herself a secret hydra. "-no, Arthur, I haven't turned into a blood purist. It's just that on all of his records, he says he's a pureblood; that's what he tells people, but I think he might have had some documents forged."
"As many wizards did, to dissuade You-Know-Who from targeting them," said Arthur.
"Exactly," said Molly. "I don't think he's suspicious at all. And you can say Voldemort; he's quite dead now."
Ten feet above, in the Burrow's third-floor Potions cellar, Ginny Weasley sighed. This was her favorite hiding spot in the Weasley family's multi-story, labyrinthine, magically makeshift house, a rarely visited, secluded place where she could escape from a family she found dull and exhausting. She was lying on her back, still but restless, burning with irritation towards her parents. Ginny's mother and father often argued, and she wondered at their patience that they had never gotten divorced, but this was simply the dumbest argument she had heard them having in months. They were talking past each other, failing to consider each other's points, missing vital evidence, and failing to fully consider the evidence of which they were aware.
First off, Ginny's father was right. A failure of a wizard suddenly making something of himself later in life and becoming a household name, a legendary hero, over the course of mere months, was rather dubious. But, as Ginny's mother failed to point out, there was a massive gap in the timeline; nobody present had seen or spoken to Lockhart since the war, and few details of his life in that decade were public knowledge except that he was often known to live with Muggles. That made for a potential explanation of Lockhart's sudden rise, which Ginny's mother had missed – Muggles had a much more creative, industrious spirit than wizards, as a general matter of culture, and living among them for years might have unlocked hidden talents in Gilderoy that allowed him to make more of himself in the wizarding world. But Ginny still gave her father a point for this: there was a massive hole in the record, which could be considered "suspicious", and which her mother seemed to be desperately trying to ignore.
But second off, and seemingly evading both of Ginny's parents' notice, the Defense Professor at Hogwarts was supposed to be incredibly suspicious. Gilderoy Lockhart wasn't half as suspicious as his predecessor, Quirinus Quirrell, now known to be David Monroe. Monroe's mysterious identity and incongruous skills had ultimately proven to be part of a plot to save the school from Voldemort, and that plot had gone off without a hitch. Why did Ginny's parents think this year would be any different? Perhaps they hadn't been tracking the events of Hogwarts' previous year as closely as Ginny had.
It had all started with Harry, Harry Potter. Ginny had, of course, first heard of Harry Potter many years ago, so many years ago she could not remember the precise occasion. It was simply part of her learning about the world around her, just as she was taught of the existence of gnomes, or France, or the moon. They celebrated Harry Potter Day each year, the day after Halloween, asking each other various questions to ensure his famous infancy was not forgotten. Every year the holiday seemed a little less exciting and new to Ginny; on some level she was growing sick of all of her routines. But that had all changed around last September, when Ginny had had a brief chance encounter with Harry at King's Cross, and it truly hit her what she had intellectually known for her whole life: Harry Potter was not the mystical Power-Baby she had heard about every first of November for years, but a real person with a future ahead of him, and for that matter was only a little older than Ginny. More than that, it hit her that Harry was cute.
And so, from home, Ginny followed every scrap of information she could about Hogwarts, hoping to learn more about Harry. She accomplished her goal, finding not just accounts of his escapades but of his personality, of what he was like. He preferred to go by his full name, Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres, an allusion to his Muggle childhood from which he learned his unique ways. He was clever enough to outsmart He-Who-May-Now-Be-Named, and to nobody's surprise he was Sorted into Ravenclaw, torpedoing the Weasley family notion that Gryffindor was the best House. He was altruistic enough to be a Hufflepuff, though too clever, and what ultimately drove him was his deep concern for all humanity. And he was mysterious enough to do absolutely anything without so much as snapping his fingers, even winning the heart of a young dissatisfied Weasley girl who lived many miles away. Every night Ginny dreamed that he would appear at her windowsill, perhaps in a flying car - he did like enchanting Muggle devices, much as her own father did - and take her away from this hell hole.
After the Incident Where Voldemort Was Destroyed Again Under Mysterious Circumstances That Harry Probably Set Up, summer had commenced, and Harry had begun publishing a sort of periodical, the Methods of Rationality, devoted to promoting "critical thinking skills and metacognition" in wizards. Of course Ginny lapped it up. Though she had accepted by this point that a Muggleborn prodigy, Hermione Granger, was probably Harry's True Love, and her fantasies were just fantasies, she was delighted to find that the Methods of Rationality provided clarity in her life, and her hero worship of Harry continued. They simply outlined how to properly think, and how to avoid common pitfalls in the process.
They also confirmed her slowly-growing lifelong notion that there was something fundamentally wrong with her family, that only she could see. None of Ginny's siblings nor either of her parents ever seemed willing to think about a problem for even a minute. They never cared to find the optimal solution to anything, only the nearby one. Ginny touched the crucifix pendant resting on her chest and sighed. For all the irritation they provided, they were still her family, and she still loved them, out of storge if nothing else.
Someone crashed into the cellar door and began to fumble with the lock, trying to get in. Oh, what now, thought Ginny. Will this endless string of interruptions never cease? Who could this be? Bill? Fred or George?
"Is someone in there? Ginny? Stupid little sister, you know you're not allowed." Ron. As her nearest older brother continued to fail Magical Lockpicking 101, Ginny made no noise, holding in even her breath, and wished for some force, any force, to take her away from here, away from this world of noises and siblings and Weasleys. And some force did.
Ginny found herself immediately outside, looking up at the Burrow from the tall grass that surrounded it. She was far too young to legally Apparate, but, as she had not yet started her formal magical education, she was still subject to the effects of Accidental Magic, a branch of magic theorized to exist to protect children in stressful - possibly life-threatening - situations. With time, her education at Hogwarts would allow her to harness the same power, and, in fact, more, and carefully and deliberately at that.
"RONALD WEASLEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY POTIONS CELLAR?" Ginny could hear her mother's voice even from this distance and through magically-reinforced walls.
"Ginny was in here, honest!" pleaded Ron. "I was looking for her!"
"IS THAT SO?" screamed Molly Weasley. Ginny turned away from the Burrow and ran, as if from a Velociraptor.