Harry Potter and the Memories of a Sociopath, Ch 1: Secrets
"Wands or no wands, everything doesn't magically reset to the way it used to be just because the good guys win. That only happens in stories. In the real world, people experience traumas that may never fully heal and have to live with consequences."
Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres is a genius and a wizard. His parents, James Potter and Lily Potter (formerly Evans), were killed by Wizard-Satan-Hitler, after which he was raised by his non-magical aunt, Petunia Evans-Verres, and her husband, Oxford Professor of Biochemistry Michael Verres-Evans. As you might expect, Harry had difficulties growing up in the muggle world, resulting in homeschooling and remaining largely isolated from others his age.
This ended when he learned he was a wizard and went off to a magical school. Along the way, he met a witch named Hermione who is brilliant, has a near-perfect memory and enjoys reading as much as Harry, allowing her to keep up with him and stay interesting. He also met a professor who was the first person who understood him and who seemed sane, quickly becoming Harry's mentor.
Unfortunately, this professor turned out to be possessed by Voldemort, the aforementioned omnicidal maniac. Voldemort had Hermione killed but instantly regretted it due to a prophecy that implied, as a result of that action, Harry had grown into someone who would end the world. So Voldemort obtained a powerful magical artifact and used it to revive Hermione (now with extra super-powers), but also locked Dumbledore in a magic mirror and recalled his minions, threatening Britain with an unprecedented reign of terror unless Harry submitted to an unbreakable vow to protect the world and surrendered all of his secrets.
So Harry had to kill them all, except for Voldemort, who was obliviated and transfigured into a gem on a ring. But Harry couldn't avoid the vow.
"You will swear, Harry Potter, not to destroy the world, to take no risks when it comes to not destroying the world. This Vow may not force you into any positive action, on account of that, this Vow does not force your hand to any stupidity.
"We are dealing with a prophecy of destruction. A prophecy! They can fulfill themselves in twisted ways. We must be cautious that this Vow itself does not bring that prophecy about. We dare not let this Vow force Harry Potter to stand idly after some disaster is already set in motion by his hand, because he must take some lesser risk if he tries to stop it. Nor must the Vow force him to choose a risk of truly vast destruction, over a certainty of lesser destruction. But all Harry Potter's foolishness", Voldemort's voice climbed, "all his recklessness, all his grandiose schemes and good intentions- he shall not risk them leading to disaster! He shall not gamble with the Earth's fate! No researches that might lead to catastrophe! No unbinding of seals, no opening of gates!" Voldemort's voice lowered again. "Unless this very Vow itself is somehow leading into the destruction of the world, in which case, Harry Potter, you must ignore it in that particular regard. You will not trust yourself alone in making such a determination, you must confide honestly and fully in your trusted friend, and see if that one agrees. Such is this Vow's meaning and intent.
"If you can think of any trick that I have missed in being sure that Harry Potter's threat is ended, speak now and I shall reward you handsomely... speak now, in Merlin's name!"
There was stunned silence amid the cemetery; no one made to speak.
"Useless, the lot of you."
Harry awoke, sweating, shaking, and trying to fight off his sheets before fully regaining consciousness.
It wasn't the threats of injury or death that brought the nightmares. It wasn't the threats against those he cared for or the knowledge that he'd had to kill human beings. It was Voldemort's request for ideas. It implied that Voldemort hadn't been absolutely, mathematically sure that he could save the world from Harry. That the vow may have loopholes through which Harry may end the world, or even be forced to end the world.
Harry glanced at his watch, 5AM. He wouldn't be getting back to sleep tonight... this morning. No matter, he had enough things on his to-do list; having a few extra hours was always a good thing.
Auror Alastor Moody, known to his friends and enemies as Mad-Eye, was in maximum stealth mode. Disillusioned and under an invisibility cloak, he continuously watched for anyone approaching. He had encountered a few individuals and each time wordlessly confunded them with a 15-minute command to stay well away from his destination. He was becoming concerned that some Hypothetical Dark Wizard Genius would deduce his location by watching the people moving away, or even from the general lack of people in his vicinity, when he finally reached the correct room. He scanned inside the room for traps, weapons, or any hidden magic. This took longer than normal due to the amount of magic in use in the room, which could have been used to mask something more sinister. Eventually satisfied, he slowly opened the door and entered. He closed the door and cast a locking charm on it, followed by a series of privacy charms on the room, and checks for polyjuice, metamorph magic, illusions, and muggle disguises on the occupant.
That individual sat up from his hospital bed and looked around, "Who's there?"
"Who I am is unimportant", Mad-Eye answered (using a voice-changing charm with a ventriloquism charm to sound like an old man, standing near the head of the bed), "What is more interesting is what I can offer you, doctor."
"Well, you may have noticed that you have a somewhat captive audience. You may as well say whatever you've come to say."
"My sources inform me that you were one of the preeminent magical healers in Britain. That you worked here at St. Mungo's for over a century and a half and are known for inventing several healing potions. Basically, you've devoted your life to helping the sick and injured, and I'm offering you a way to continue to do that."
"Your information is correct, as far as it goes. You realize I'm dying? That's something that happens when one is nearly 200 years old. So I can only conclude that whatever you're offering is incredibly dark and dangerous."
Moody chuckled quietly, "I've been assured that it's not at all dark, though I still have my suspicions. Although some things have to happen that probably should be considered dark: if you accept you'll be asked to take an unbreakable vow and probably sacrifice some magic binding vows for others, and if you decline I'll obliviate you."
"If you're going to obliviate me anyway, why don't you at least give me some damn details? At least tell me who you're working for: Department of Mysteries? Some rising dark wizard?"
"Someone may be listening, some people can beat obliviation, and that information is need-to-know. Constant vigilance!"
"But you- Auror Moody?!"
Moody cursed while pulling back the hood of the cloak. The retired doctor visibly relaxed. "From your reputation, you're the last person who would work for some evil bastard doing evil bastard stuff. You really believe I can help do something good with what's left of my life?" Moody nodded. "What do you want me to do?"
Moody handed him a potion, "Drink this pepper-up and sign yourself out of this hospital then I'll apparate you to meet your new boss."
Draco tripped as he accidentally discovered the third safe.
To be fair, he hadn't really been paying attention to where he was walking; he'd been understandably preoccupied by worries about his future. Of course he was glad to have his mother back, but only a Gryffindor like McGonagall would think being reunited with a woman he could barely remember (and who couldn't completely hide her bitterness about a decade having been stolen from her) would be a storybook happy ending. She had no idea how to run a noble house or how to be a parent, not like his father did, and it showed. Aurors had raided Malfoy Manor after that night, allegedly to investigate the new evidence that Lucius was a death eater, but really to confiscate money for the Victims of Voldemort Compensation Fund. And to search for illegal items to justify further searching and confiscation.
They had located and opened the first safe, in the Manor's office, within moments after arriving. It had contained a few family heirlooms and several financial documents, mostly Gringotts transaction records and statements about his part-ownership in companies such as The Daily Prophet, Madame Malkin's Robes for All Occasions, Nimbus Sporting Brooms, and several muggle companies (evidently he had diversified quickly after learning about the muggle economy from Harry). The aurors, clearly disappointed, continued tearing apart the manor until eventually finding the second safe, hidden in the fireplace where it would be masked by the floo charms. The second safe had contained information about individuals who owed Lucius money, accounts kept outside of magical Britain and, strangely enough, a rolled up flying carpet. Draco had been confused at the time, but now realized that this was intended to satisfy any investigating aurors, without seriously inconveniencing Lucius. The aurors had to work to find it, found information that was secret, but that they couldn't exploit, and an illegal item that was ultimately of no consequence. And this plan had worked flawlessly.
But despite everything, Draco had mostly been distracted thinking about Harry Potter. His thoughts kept returning to Harry, for no reason he could fathom. He was becoming convinced that Harry would renege on his promises regarding Draco's political future now that his father was dead, much of the Malfoy fortune was gone, and Harry's best friend became a worldwide celebrity-hero who clearly had new abilities she was trying to keep hidden. Instead of leading magical Britain, now Draco would be lucky to form an alliance with Longbottom to tie for the third slot in the inevitable Potter government. Harry and Hermione were apparently even getting private tutoring from Hogwarts professors over the summer so they could take their OWLs early and claim their Wizengamot seats. They hadn't even asked Draco if he had been interested in working with them, despite Draco being similarly positioned to represent the House of Malfoy. Draco had to do something drastic to regain his importance quickly. And more importantly, Draco was sure Harry was somehow responsible for Hermione's resurrection, which would have been a happy event except for Harry's solemnly expressed regrets about Draco losing his father. The power to raise the dead so close by and a 'sorry about your dad'? From a Slytherin, it would have been a deliberate insult. But from Harry, one could never tell...
So Draco was absent-mindedly playing with his father's cane and repeating this same circle of thoughts when the staircase he was descending slid open in a direction that made Draco's head hurt to think about and he barely stopped himself from taking a very inelegant tumble into the dimly lit basement.
No, not a basement, more like a dungeon. There was a single hallway with doors lining both sides. The doors looked heavy, and each had a small, barred window. Like prison cells. Draco decided it would be best not to try to look into any of them at the moment. Anyway, the room at the end of the hallway looked far more interesting.
Pushing the door open, Draco's jaw dropped. The spatially-folded room was full of ... everything. Some artifacts Draco recognized, like an invisibility cloak or Dragonhide armor, a large array of wands and spelled objects, large and small ward anchors, and what he was suspected were highly illegal ward-breaking tools. Some artifacts Draco couldn't begin to identify.
Thinking about Harry once again, Draco's attention shifted to the bookshelf. Herpo the Foul? There was a scroll written by Herpo the Foul. Draco picked it up and began scanning it. Basilisks... but there was no silliness here about chickens or toads; this was more reminiscent of Harry's description of what muggles knew about blood mixed with what looked like advanced arithmancy. Draco replaced the scroll and continued browsing. There was a book Draco recognized, describing relatively dark spells, like Gom Jabbar and Horrid Wilting, which was banned in many countries, and which the ministry had tried, unsuccessfully, to ban in Britain. Other books, which most certainly were banned, apparently contained instructions on topics such as making an inferius, or describing the finer points of using the cruciatus or imperius curses for different goals. And then... a blank diary? Who the hell was Tom Marvolo Riddle, and why had father kept his apparently unused diary?
Harry and Hermione stepped off the geometry-defying staircase to the headmistresses' office. "I know what you mean. I wouldn't trade places with anyone, but it's still a lot to shoulder. I mean, we're only human", Harry concluded.
"Speak for yourself", Hermione retorted.
They were interrupted by a raving gray-haired portrait, "The end approaches. Everything will burn! But not with fire, burnt into ice."
"That's the portrait of former headmaster Amrose-Swott", Hermione lectured. "He was confunded when the portrait was created, but no one noticed until it was too late. Probably because divination was one of his main interests so people expected bizarre outbursts from him. I think Dumbledore usually kept a silencing charm on it."
Harry nodded. He had previously wished that portraits retained consciousness because making portraits would've been a quick method to preserve everyone, but it was better for Swott that he not experience this. Harry could imagine few things worse than being trapped forever in such a lobotomized state.
The office door was ajar and as they approached an argument became audible. "I'm the headmistress of Hogwarts, Alastor. That's just not acceptable."
"You always say that, and you always pay for it. You got lucky with Monroe. What are the odds this year won't blow up in your face."
Harry pushed the door open, smirking at McGonagall and Moody's ongoing disagreement. "So who's too suspicious to teach Battle Magic this time?"
"Gilderoy Lockhart. Though I still have trouble reconciling his school history with his current list of accomplishments, the fact remains that he is clearly qualified and, for reasons I can't fathom, interested in the job", McGonagall answered.
Harry sighed. "Okay, Mad-Eye, you investigated him, what did you find?"
"We checked him for possession, imperius, legilimency, or any signs of recent dark magic and came up empty. That was good enough for Dumbledore; it ruled him out as a Voldemort host. But I was still suspicious so later on I interviewed people who witnessed his expeditions. They showed no trace of deception nor magical influence like obliviation, memory charms, legilimency, or confundus charms. They all confirmed that Lockhart's books, while disgustingly sensationalized, basically described things that really happened. I finally followed him on one of his field trips to see for myself and didn't see anything suspicious. His pattern is to find local qualified people who are hunting something dangerous, offer to help them out in exchange for things like interviews or monster hunting lessons. Sometimes, they trip or make a mistake and Lockhart is somehow able to save everyone and defeat the monster of the week. I don't think he's qualified to stun gnomes unsupervised, but he falls ass-backwards into doing something heroic often enough to keep writing his books. And he pays the people who helped him enough of the royalties to keep them from bad-mouthing him in public."
"Which knocks him down from being too-good-to-be-true to merely being the most qualified candidate to apply", McGonagall answered.
"I don't mind if you hire him, just so long as you fire him quickly."
"On what grounds?", she replied, exasperated.
"Because he'd be the defense professor."
"I thought if we consulted you on the next defense professor that you'd stop recommending that we fire that individual."
"I'm afraid I can't do that, Minerva."
Before McGonagall could form a response, the floo caught fire and Bones stepped out and sat down at the table. Before she could speak, Moody gestured at McGonagall, "Can you believe she's going to hire Lockhart to teach Defense?"
"As opposed to whom? I believe you stated that you'd prefer my job to defense professor. I don't imagine there are many applicants", Bones answered.
"How about canceling the class? That would end the curse."
Bones appeared to be almost offended by this. "Hogwarts graduates going into auror training already need a ridiculous amount of remedial training. Let's not make that problem worse. I'm pretty sure that was Voldemort's goal with the curse."
"No, that can't be right", Harry added. "I'm not going to get into details, but the whole 'Voldemort' persona and the death-eaters were originally just intended to form public opinion as part of his longer-term plan. Sabotaging magical self-defense training would've been counter to that plan."
Everyone silently stared at Harry for a moment. Moody spoke first, "How the hell do you know Voldemort had a larger plan? Or find out what it was?"
Bones replied, "I'm not sure we want the answer to that. But what exactly was his plan?"
"In a sentence, to start a war between wizards and muggles and ensure wizards would win. Any action by Voldemort that would make wizards less able to defend themselves is confusing. Changing the subject, anything worth reporting about magical Britain politics?"
Bones looked down at the table and spoke quickly, "The Wizengamot isn't taking any actions to move prisoners out of Azkaban. I'll keep working on it, but they are unlikely to approve funding to pay another country to house prisoners or to build something new when Britain already has a working prison." She looked up and added, "Moody, how's progress on the maximum-security hospital?"
"Well, we've got some early recruits on board, and I've had some warding specialists do preliminary surveys of the site. The three independent groups I approached gave me similar results, and I didn't detect them conspiring with each other, so I'm provisionally accepting their report as true. Basically, Hogwarts' wards are among the strongest in the world in some areas, but they're a mess made from generations of people trying to improve them with no known documentation or top-down planning. It's going to take a long black-box testing process for anyone to learn enough to set up the warding we need without the existing wards... reacting badly. It's probably worth thinking about starting from scratch somewhere else, but then you won't have Slytherin's anti-apparition ward or Gryffindor and Ravenclaw's shielding spell. The anti-apparition ward is considered more unbreakable than Azkaban's, and no one alive knows how to cast that one either. And with the shield activated, Hogwarts is more impenetrable than anything short of the Wizengamot chamber or maybe the Department of Mysteries. I suspect you want to use those charms, despite the complications."
"Exactly what can the shield do?" Harry did a quick Fermi calculation, 100 megatons is about 4 Peta-joules. if fiendfyre produced the power equivalent of several plasma torches, that'd be about 40kW, so eleven zeros difference... "Could it hold off a hundred thousand wizards casting fiendfyre for a week and a half?"
"I don't think anyone's asked me a question like that before", Moody nodded approvingly. "From what I remember, the numbers were easily high enough to handle anything I would've anticipated, but I'll have to check on that."
Bones frowned, "You realize there aren't that many wizards who can cast that spell?"
"There are ways to generate that much fire in less than a second. If anyone uses them against us, we've probably already lost the fight that matters, but it's still good to know what defenses we have available. Anyway, first we need a list of the critical wards, and to find out if those can't be implemented here. Otherwise, we'll have to find an alternate site."
"So obviously, you need to control access, by apparition, portkeys, and approach on foot or by broom", Moody began.
"Or a phoenix", Harry added. "And with the guards, that should be sufficient to deflect most efforts to directly break in. Unless it's an especially powerful dark wizard or an actual army. Let's step back a second; who do we need to defend against? Obviously dark wizards and their followers, and also independent thieves, organized crime, foreign armies..."
Moody replied, "Other countries would send spies before armies. Also, we need to consider non-humans; I'd bet that the goblins attack when they realize we're making gold, and there's been chatter from the centaurs about attacking the hospital even though no one could've leaked the plans for one."
"Okay, then we need to think about what those groups can do and what countermeasures we should use. Obviously, any of them could try a brute force approach, so we're controlling access and using guards. Spies or organized crime could try to send one of their people to a legitimate meeting using polyjuice or fake IDs. Dark wizards are probably more likely to imperius or legilimize people to do the work for them. And any of them could bring muggle weapons to try to bypass magical scans, or send magical creatures to try to beat defenses designed for humans."
"Yeah, that's mostly standard security. Blocking unauthorized transportation, thieves' downfall, and guards to stop anyone who tries anything. Scans for imperius or legilimency are more difficult to implement, but doable. I've seen dark wizards use magical creatures to create a distraction, but that's rare because spelled objects are usually more effective. Scans for magical objects are pretty standard for high security arrangements.
"For the hospital, we can make things a lot simpler than normal: just stun everyone who comes in and take any magical or muggle objects off them. Guards attack anyone walking around who isn't supposed to be there. Then you don't have to worry about polyjuice, imperius, hidden weapons, etc. on the patients."
Harry nodded, "Agreed. And the staff will take unbreakable vows, so that's nominally everything. Now we can start working on the details: how could someone break in despite the wards? How could someone defeat the stunner or smuggle something in undetected? What are the doctors and guards vulnerable to? What exactly happens if someone imperios someone who's taken an unbreakable vow and tries to force them to break the vow?"
"Not sure, I'll have to look into that. And most of those details will depend on the ward scheme we can get."
"I wish Dumbledore were here", McGonagall said. "He would know exactly how to handle the wards. I think he and Flamel did all the work you're talking about decades ago. And it may have taken them years to finish."
"We've been looking for information about the mirror", Hermione began. "But there's nothing. A few contradictory stories about its origin and abilities but nothing reliable. And absolutely nothing about how to use it."
Harry lowered his head into his hands, "No one wants to say it but we know what we need to do to get Dumbledore out."
"No", Moody said authoritatively, staring directly at Harry.
"I don't know. What do you mean?" McGonagall asked.
"I don't know, but I have a feeling I'll be siding with Alastor", Bones added.
Hermione turned to Harry, who was staring back at Moody while spinning the ring around his finger. "What... oh. NO!"
"Voldemort is the only one besides Dumbledore and Flamel who knew enough about the mirror to use it. I obliviated him, but I think that would've only affected his episodic memory, not his semantic memory. If we wake him, heal his transfiguration sickness, and give him a large dose of anti-depressants, he may be happy to help. And he won't have hands or wands. We can set up lots of precautions, like scanning him for additional magical objects and having dozens of guards ready to stun him if he does anything unexpected."
"NO!" shouted everyone else.
"Fine, I won't try it when you think it's a bad idea. But I'm still going to try to convince you it's necessary and can be done safely. And I expect you all to come up with viable alternatives. The last thing I wanted to say today is that Hogwarts needs to quietly start acquiring lots of unicorns. By 'lots' I mean just short of newsworthy. And look for someone who has experience with unicorn breeding to add to the staff. Again, as quietly as possible."
"Why?" asked McGonagall and Hermione.
"When the hospital opens, at first we can tell people that it's an experimental ritual with significant risks, so only people with no other options should go there. But once people will notice that it works and has a decent safety record, that won't be enough. Everyone will want the secret for themselves. We can say that it's a ritual that must only be spoken of with those who can cast it, and that will be enough to stop most wizards from asking questions. We can let it leak that it depends on part of the ancient Hogwarts wards, and therefore can't be performed elsewhere, but anyone undeterred by dangerous rituals will see through that.
"The most effective lie isn't something you tell people, it's something you let them figure out for themselves. If they think they've deduced one of your secrets, they'll more likely believe it without applying the suspicion they would apply to things others tell them. They'll probably figure out that the doctors have taken unbreakable vows not to disclose their methods. They'll see that Hogwarts obtained a large herd of unicorns just before the hospital opened. They'll know that unicorn blood can keep someone alive regardless of their condition. And therefore, they'll conclude that the hospital is using a potion or ritual based around unicorn blood. Anyone who wants the healing ability for themselves will likely start obtaining unicorns for their own research and researching everything our doctors have written. They'll have no reason at all to believe there will be anything in the hospital that can help them; no one would go to the trouble of making the doctors take vows and then leaving instructions laying around where someone could steal them."
"We'll have to regularly scan for espionage devices, though. The easiest attack on that setup would be to record and watch the procedure", Moody corrected.
"I think I need Ravenclaw's Diadem to follow this." McGonagall said.
"Ravenclaw's what?" Harry asked.
"It's a magical device said to make the wearer smarter, rivaling Rowena herself", Hermione contributed.
"We should probably be using that for hospital security and international politics and stuff. Who has it?"
"It's been lost for centuries. And it's probably better that way. Some... side-effects are also part of the legends", McGonagall added.
"Does the ministry or Wizengamot have anyone looking for it?", Harry asked. "Usable or not, we at least have an interest in making sure no one uses it against us. Imagine how bad things would have been if Voldemort had found such a thing."
"The Department of Mysteries searches for and collects such things", Bones replied. "Do you think the artifact you just learned about should be a higher priority than everything else on their lists."
Harry smiled at the obviously rhetorical query, "I could use a new hobby. Sending people on mysterious and possibly dangerous quests could be fun."
As the meeting concluded, Bones subtly caught Harry's attention. As Moody exited via the floo, she followed Harry and Hermione out the door, almost running into a figure pulling back the hood of an invisibility cloak. It was Harry, naturally.
"You're using a time-turner to talk to me, too? I trust these people. I don't enjoy lying to them", she stated angrily.
"Neither do I, but it's necessary. If everything goes well, we'll be able to tell them everything at the next meeting."
Pomona Sprout walked briskly toward the great hall, eager to start the day. She had returned to Hogwarts yesterday, after spending a few weeks visiting the magical botanical gardens outside Berlin with her counterpart from Beauxbatons. The director had given them a personal tour, appreciating the chance to talk to people who were equally knowledgeable. The two professors had left with magical pouches straining to hold the seeds and seedlings they had been given and had promised to send various plants and magical horticultural tools back to Germany. The first thing she had to do was find a long-term home for the mandrakes to grow, where they would be healthy and where they wouldn't pose a danger to anyone.
She had reached her seat and began filling her plate with breakfast when a black owl flew into the hall. With a single glance, the bird of prey scanned the room and locked onto its target. It glided straight at Sprout, leveling out just above the height of the table. The owl released the package, made a tight turn, and exited the hall without a single moment of hesitation or even a single flap of its wings. Meanwhile the package slid across the table, stopping just short of Sprout's plate.
She removed the letter from the top of the package and began reading:
"To Pomona Sprout, Head of House Hufflepuff,
I recently received the enclosed object as part of an inheritance. I don't know how my family obtained it, and honestly I don't want to know, but I believe it rightly belongs at Hogwarts and am therefore returning it.
Also, I regret to tell you that the object has been corrupted; some form of dark magic has been inflicted on it. I haven't been able to identify the spell used, so while I haven't noticed adverse effects, one should still take every precaution with it. Any auror, or even most wizards, would probably recommend that it be destroyed, but I can't bear to think about such a priceless artifact, an important piece of Hogwarts' history, and a symbol of House Hufflepuff, being so casually thrown away. I know that you, of all people, will agree, and will be willing to expend the effort to find an alternative. Also, being a professor at one of the world's premier magical institutions, I know you'll be up to the challenge of dealing with this problem. You should have no trouble identifying the magic that was used and finding the appropriate counter-charms to restore this artifact to its intended state.
As most people probably won't understand the importance of cleansing, rather than destroying, this artifact, I recommend against letting anyone know you have it, unless they have earned your absolute confidence.
Sprout pulled back the outer covering of the package to peek inside and utterly failed to hide her astonished gasp: someone had just mailed her the long lost Cup of Helga Hufflepuff. Having lost her appetite, she gathered her things and hurried out of the hall.
Sprout decided to just leave the mandrakes in their travel pots in the main greenhouse for now. They would be too young to hurt anyone for several months, and she didn't have to worry about anyone doing anything stupid in the greenhouses during the summer anyway. They would need to be replanted in a few months... maybe that would be a good lesson for her students anyway. She had a more important project now.