Harry Potter and the Memories of a Sociopath, Ch 22: Conclusion
Harry cast a stupify at Ginny to ensure she was unconscious. He put her wand in his pouch then searched her and found a backup wand. He partially transfigured part of the floor into handcuffs (still attached to the floor) and restrained her.
He used a hover charm to pull the diary from the basilisk's mouth, cast analytic spells until he was convinced that the venom had neutralized the magic, then put the diary into his pouch as well.
Harry tore a sheet of paper from a notebook and cast Flitwick's mapping spell with vitalis revelio. The paper exploded and fibers shot off in all directions, bouncing around corners and leaving the room. A moment later they returned equally quickly and formed a representation of the nearest few rooms. There were two red spots in the neighboring room.
When he stepped through the doorway, nothing was immediately visible. Harry brandished the elder wand and cast the most powerful finite incantatem he could manage. Hermione became visible and dropped to the ground as the transfigured chains holding her reverted. A large, bubbling cauldron also appeared on the floor nearby.
"Harry... I mean... thanks for the rescue, but you could have dispelled the disillusionment and reversed that transfiguration without cuttings my hands off." While talking, she jumped to her feet and kicked the cauldron over.
"I thought it best to make sure any booby traps were dispelled as quickly as possible." Harry stared at the smoking, pitted floor where the cauldron's contents had spilled.
Hermione, now mostly healed, reached into the cauldron and retrieved a gold egg speckled with red spots. "Fake Ginny knew about Crookshanks somehow, so when he came to rescue me, she trapped him in an acid bath. He burned up and regenerated as an egg. The egg hatched a few times but just burned up and turned back into an egg each time. And Ginny kept refilling the acid as it boiled away."
Harry started walking back toward Ginny. "That's actually a pretty smart way to neutrali- Crookshanks?"
"Yeah, I finally found a name my phoenix liked."
"What would you name a phoenix? Blood commando?"
Harry shrugged, "You must have really enjoyed that argument the first time if you want to have it again."
"Let's just get out of here. I don't suppose you know where my wand is?"
"Uh... yeah, I think I know where it is. I'm going to..." Harry pulled a mirror out of his pouch and opened it, "Mad-Eye, I'm in the Chamber, headed to an exit in the first floor girls' bathroom. I destroyed a horcrux, but Ginny Weasley had been possessed by it, so I need someone to guard her and take her to... wherever they treat this sort of thing. Also, Hermione is down here with me, conscious and unharmed. Harry out."
He put the mirror away, cast another stupify at Ginny, then cast a hover charm and moved toward the exit.
As they passed the potions table, Hermione stopped and looked over it. "Harry, my wand isn't here either."
"Hold on, I'm going to take Ginny upstairs. I'll be back in just a second." He hovered Ginny up the pipe and floated after her.
He set her on the ground, cast another stupify, then turned to go back down the tunnel. He was startled by Hermione standing behind him. "How did you-"
"I climbed up. Because I can do that."
"Oh." He levitated Ginny again, opened the door, and walked out into the hall.
Hermione followed him out, "Harry, stop. You've been acting distant and weird for months. What is going on?"
Harry froze for a moment. He tried to think of things that he would say to either Hermione or Voldemort pretending to be Hermione, "Well, you've been acting unusual too, you know."
"Whatever happened today doesn't count. You know that was her polyjuiced as me, right?"
"Well, yeah, Everyone noticed 'you' acting strange today. But all year you've been, well, 'distant and weird' is a good description. You've barely been around except for classes and briefly at meals; what exactly have you been doing all year?"
"I was just working on a project. And don't think I haven't noticed that you changed the subject."
"I do do that sometimes but in this case I was acting weird around you because you were acting weird. And you know most of what I've been doing: I'm always busy working on stuff, like studying various aspects of magic and/or technology, trying to get a super-hospital running smoothly, or subtly puppet-mastering the national policy of wizarding Britain."
Hermione sighed, "I don't know how you do it. All the secrets you have to keep, all the pressure you're under from the things you're trying to do, and you come downstairs every day and keep being Harry like everything is normal. It's easier for me to play normal when the other students aren't looking at me, expecting me to talk to them."
Harry tried to quickly estimate how likely it would be that Voldemort's model of Hermione would say something like that, and concluded that Voldemort could use that excuse to avoid frequent social contact but would likely prioritize keeping informed and building relationships of possible future value. "Hermione, are you... maybe, depressed?"
"No." She sighed, "Well, maybe. Who wouldn't be? I mean, how are you okay?"
"I... I'm having some problems. I have to use a few sleeping charms to get a minimum healthy amount of sleep in a night anymore." Harry sighed, "I have to keep going anyway. 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. I'm not immune." Harry remembered something that he had to inform Voldemort about, and could potentially end the current situation peacefully, "Actually, one of the things that's been bothering me is that I found a serious problem in Voldemort's vow for me to not end the world: Dumbledore said that the world is prophesied to end, that it's inevitable, and that humanity can only survive if I'm the one who destroys it. But Voldemort's vow only lets me take that action if you agree, so you're a single point of failure for... everything. For example, if Voldemort or someone else possessed you, you'd no longer be my trusted friend and humans are doomed to extinction."
"Harry, you're being silly. From what you told me before, he didn't specifically name me; you can discuss those things with anyone you trust and consider a friend. So basically, you need to make more friends."
Harry smiled; he hadn't thought of that and considered it virtually impossible that Voldemort would suggest such a thing. Then he frowned, "The vow includes intent, and that was clearly not Voldemort's intent. It was your death that caused the apocalyptic prophesy he was trying to prevent."
"But Voldemort's intent wasn't relevant. He wasn't a participant in the vow ritual. The death eaters didn't know about the prophecy and wouldn't have been thinking about me. So it's only on you: is that what you intended?"
"I... I'll have to think about it."
"Wait, this isn't just hypothetical is it? Do you think I'm Voldemort now?" Her voice had risen until to almost a scream for the last question.
"Yeah, we thought you were possessed by Voldemort. It seemed like the best explanation at the time for your behavior and other stuff that was happening. Also, it makes sense that he'd want a super-powered host that I would trust."
She shuddered, "Well, I guess that's something I have to look forward to." She suddenly scowled at him, and almost-yelled, "Dammit Harry, you just said that Voldemort revived me to avert a prophecy and that he revived me so he could possess me. Those can't both be true." She continued in a calmer voice, "If you assume both of those things, because they're contradictory, you can reach any conclusion by the principle of explosion. So of course you've been coming to the most ridiculously horrible conclusions you can think of."
"Well... Mad-eye also thought you were possessed. And the defense curse is at least partially responsible for anything dumb I've done this year."
"I bet Mad-eye has a list of reasons why Headmistress McGonagall is probably possessed by Voldemort. And why Hannah Abbott is probably possessed by Voldemort. There's a place where 'constant vigilance' becomes ridiculous, and I think Moody uses it as a summer home." She gave Harry a confused look, "And you are not the defense professor."
Harry smiled, "I wonder- what are the odds that two weeks ago you'd have used Ginny instead of Hannah in that statement. And it turns out that it's not a defense curse in the strictest sense; it's just set up such that the people it affects correlate extremely well with defense professors. So if you're not secretly Voldemort, what is this secret project you've been spending all your time on?"
"Harry... I've read everything the library has on unicorns and trolls. And then read other stuff based on what I learned. Because I don't know what I am anymore. I don't think I'm even human now."
"Hermione, you're being silly. You're the same person as always, you just have super-human powers now. I'm pretty sure the hospital will be giving everyone those upgrades in maybe a decade."
Hermione growled and for a second, Harry was concerned that she was literally going to hurt him, "Is this 'silly'?"
Hermione walked over to a window, and put her hand outside. Harry watched her hand turn gray, as if the blood had drained from it. She then knocked on the wall, making a distinct stone-on-stone sound.
"My skin mineralizes in sunlight now. I can't go outside anymore. I had to wait for a blizzard for it to be safe enough. I've spent half the year reading books about dark creatures, trying to find the spell Voldemort used to protect his troll from sunlight. Just so I can maybe pretend to be normal and just do things that normal people do once in a while."
"That ca... I don't understand... I know I've seen you outside during the day before."
"It started after Azkaban. At first it was just like my joints were getting stiff but it got worse and I started avoiding direct sunlight. A week later, I went to the upper levels and tried to stand in front of a west-facing window shortly before sunset. I couldn't move away until the sun was mostly below the horizon."
"Let's think about this for a few minutes."
"Do you think I haven't done that?"
Harry ignored her comment, "Why would a troll turn into stone in sunlight? There must be a reason."
"Besides 'magic'? There isn't always a reason; sometimes magic just does weird things."
"There must be reasons. We just don't know what they are."
Hermione rolled her eyes, "Maybe someone created trolls to be a weapon and wanted them to have a weakness in case they turned on him?"
"That doesn't make sense; the weakness would apply whether they were attacking hypothetical wizard's enemies or allies. And if he or she was using magic to protect them from sunlight, why not just require a spell to keep them functional regardless of the weather, like a magical dead-man switch. I think it's more likely a side-effect, like a magical allergy... Similarly, it's hard to imagine someone deliberately setting out to invent a spell that protected trolls turning to stone. It's more likely a spell used for some other purpose and troll day-walking is a side-effect."
"Maybe you're right, but I'm not sure how to search the library for spells that have a side-effect no one else cares about."
"You mentioned Azkaban. If we knew exactly what triggered it, that would be a useful clue. But you were exposed to a phoenix, dementors, and who knows what other magic at around the same time. Was there anything that seemed especially... I don't know, painful or hard to deal with? Or that had a lasting effect?"
"Lots of stuff was annoying, but I think the burns from the rocket launcher lasted longer than anything else."
"That's familiar: fire and acid... What mineral is it?"
"Really? It was like four months before I ran out of better leads than that. I think it's chert."
"It's really not. It's a relatively common rock."
"No? Doesn't chert mean flint? Like, the stuff that's really hard and therefore the material of choice for stone age tools and producing sparks to start fires? The fire connection seems like it might have some potions-magic related significance."
"Okay, that... might be interesting."
"Fire and acid..."
"Why would they slow a troll's healing process?"
"How quickly can you heal when you're on fire?"
"That's kind of my point: I wouldn't. When most life is exposed to fire, cells are damaged and killed until they stop being exposed to fire. Troll healing is extremely fast compared to non-magical wound healing but it's not instant. In principle, if a fire is hot enough it should kill a troll's cells faster than it can regenerate them, and it should eventually die or even burn up completely. And if the fire isn't hot enough to kill a troll then the troll should regenerate cells more quickly than they're damaged, so the fire shouldn't do any noticeable damage. Same with acid, it should either progressively make troll-juice, or not do much at all. But that's not what happens. Instead, it just slows down the troll's healing."
"So something you believe is wrong. Namely, that... (the word hypothesis is probably being generous) you just made up."
"How does flint relate to acid?"
"Uh- it's like a type of quartz, and silicates are usually pretty acid resistant, I think. Unless it's hydrofluoric?"
"So it would actually be useful to have it over your skin if you were exposed to acid."
"Except for the obvious practical problems, you mean?"
"And I'd think pretty much any mineral would be better than skin against fire. What if it's purposeful? Like trolls transfigure a mineral layer when exposed to fire or acid to protect themselves from further damage, even though it delays their healing until the fire or acid is absent? Like a magical immune system?"
"You're about to suggest setting me on fire as an experiment, aren't you? I can tell because you still haven't given me back my wand."
"Oh, right." Harry absently retrieved two wands from his pouch and tossed them to her, "It's probably one of those. And that reminds me..." He turned and cast a stupify at Ginny.
Harry continued, "Ultraviolet light is ionizing radiation. It can damage DNA and kill cells; that's what a sunburn is. Maybe troll magic interprets a sunburn as close enough to a regular burn. An overreaction of a magical immune system analogous to an allergy."
Hermione sighed loudly, then pointed her wand at her other hand and cast incendio. "Huh. You may be right", she commented while tapping on the mineralized patch of skin that formed where the fire had impinged.
"Have you tried using the highest-powered sunscreen you can find?"
"Or, there's probably a relatively common charm wizards use instead to keep from getting sunburned. That's probably what Voldemort used on the troll."
"I don't know whether to hug you or strangle you right now."
"I get that a lot. Also, as strong as you are, those really aren't mutually exclusive..."
Bones shook her head sadly, "This is all such a mess."
Moody looked pointedly at Harry, "Let this be a lesson: the next time you defeat a Voldemort mind-clone, just kill it. Everything is simpler before the damn bureaucrats get involved."
Harry sighed, "How was I supposed to know he was telling the truth about Ginny's... mind? identity? having being destroyed? No one else who touched the diary suffered permanent harm."
Moody continued staring at Harry, "We don't know that for sure. I believe I broke Ginny's occlumency barrier. I determined that she found the diary while snooping in her brother Ronald's room. After interrogating him, I concluded that someone passed it to him, but it ended up in a junk pile under his bed apparently without him having touched it or payed much attention to it at all. But he did have some memories of having seen it so at least that much of what I got from Ginny is likely to be true. So the likely explanation is that the diary passed from Lucius to Draco to Tracey to Daphne to Lavender to Ron to Ginny, but there's no way to be sure no one else was affected."
Hermione added, "I've been talking to students about what they saw. Lots of people remember Ginny having the diary, and carrying it with her regularly, since January. No one remembers seeing Draco with it at all, so he must have only used it when he was alone and had much less exposure than Ginny. The others only had the diary for a few hours. There wasn't time for what happened to her to have happened to anyone else."
Moody frowned at Hermione, "You're assuming duration is the only factor that's important."
McGonagall asked, "Isn't there some way to keep Ginny in DMLE custody until... I don't know, until someone decides she's safe to be around people?"
Bones groaned, "Her parents found out that she was at St. Mungo's and went to see her. Preventing a ministry department head from removing his child from custody when said child hasn't been formally accused of anything is... to be blunt, the first unanimous Wizengamot vote in history would be to remove the acting head Warlock."
McGonagall countered, "But she killed people."
Bones sighed, "Legally, a basilisk killed people. We can't prove she created the basilisk, we can't prove that she controlled it, and even if she did, she was under the control of the diary at the time and can't be held responsible. All you can do is... be vigilant. Get some evidence of her doing something wrong so we can do something about it."
Moody added, "Or, you know, just handle the situation before witnesses show up next time. It's a lot easier for the government to conveniently ignore lots of evidence than to do something without a mountain of paperwork."
Harry asked, "About the basilisk... why did Ginny/Riddle create one? What was the plan?"
"It was one of the most ridiculous plans I've ever heard. It's part of why I'm suspicious that she may have only pretended that her occlumency barrier failed. But if my information is correct, she was trying to create a horcrux for Slytherin's basilisk by hatching and sacrificing her own basilisk. Because she believed Slytherin's basilisk would share Interdicted spells with her. She had no idea whether it's possible to create a horcrux for a basilisk, to use the death of a basilisk to create a horcrux, to create a horcrux for an already dead body, to revive a dead body using a horcrux rather than possessing a live person, or even if all of that worked, whether the result would retain Interdicted information it had died with. She was trying to figure out how it would all work, but rushed ahead after her basilisk escaped and killed those students."
Harry exhaled slowly, "I believe Slytherin's basilisk is where Voldemort got much of his knowledge of Interdicted magic. I've been thinking about reviving it myself. Even after being dead for decades, it hasn't decomposed, so basilisks must be so toxic that even bacteria and fungi can't survive on them. Therefore its brain may still be intact. And I'm a parselmouth, so the danger of it killing anyone is negligible."
Everyone shouted variants of, "no, that's crazy."
Hermione added, "Harry, don't start creating new monsters. We already have enough problems to deal with."
Harry conceded, "Fine, I'll wait to bring it up again until we have fewer problems. Or an urgent need to learn Interdicted spells."
After a pause, McGonagall asked, "What about Lockhart? Was he kissed by a dementor, or can the healers do something to help him?"
"They can't help him. He never had liquid luck. He inherited an unregistered time-turner a few years ago. He'd been using it so he could invisibly watch dangerous situations first, then go back and act. So he always knew what was coming, what he had to do, and what he could get away with. And, understandably, he considered being Hogwarts defense professor dangerous, so he tried not to stay in the castle for more than six hours at a time. And if he hadn't spent an extra six hours in Brazil, he may have been able to use the same trick to avoid getting possessed."
Harry nodded, "That explains a lot. I wonder if everyone who claims to be able to brew 'liquid luck' is just covering up a secret time turner, like an advanced model spimster wicket."
Bones questioned, "And what happened to that horcrux?"
Moody sighed, "It flew away. Literally. Voldie drove Lockhart to the tower with the owls. He handed the Hufflepuff Cup to an owl and it took off. Lockhart was free from Voldie, but not from time. The last thing he'd seen before time-turning was a dementor advancing on his future self. He was compelled to walk into our trap, thinking he was going to die. He has a serious case of temporal psychosis. Really, what's surprising is that he didn't go nuts earlier with the way he was playing with time."
"So we'll add the Hufflepuff Cup to the ever-growing list of artifacts we have to track down. And presumably someone has obliviated Lockhart of Voldemort's memories?"
"That won't help temporal psychosis. And the cup doesn't seem to overwrite memories like the diary. It just takes over, leaving the victim aware of what's happening but unable to do anything about it."
Harry added, "That implies that the Cup is Voldemort's new type of horcrux. The diary was clearly the original type, presumably made while Riddle was still was a student. And that implies that Voldemort wasn't really obliviated, and you guys can destroy this-", Harry removed a ring and sat it on the table, "-at your convenience. His horcrux network has some defense against obliviation, either blocking that spell from traveling through the network, or leaving a backup occasionally in case something defeated the network. He would have been careful enough to leave such a backup before that night last year, and probably would have left it with Bellatrix. The bottom line is that Voldemort is still out there."
Moody nodded and picked up the ring.
Hermione asked, "Harry, you seem to be making a distinction between Voldemort and Tom Riddle. Aren't they the same person?"
Harry laughed humorlessly, "Yeah. By the way, you can probably take Ravenclaw's Diadem off your list of artifacts. I'm pretty sure I know what happened to it."
Bones looked surprised, "You know where it is?"
"Not exactly. If I had to guess, I'd say either the bottom of the ocean or deep underground. Or deep under the bottom of the ocean."
"That's not particularly helpful. Unless you think that means Voldemort will never get it?"
"I know I haven't actually interacted with young Tom Riddle, because it was always some Riddle personality merged with some of his host's personality, But there was enough of a pattern. Voldemort made a few comments about how he was stupid when he was younger and I had assumed he was talking about the standard process of learning and gathering experience that people do as they age, but after meeting his younger self, I realized it's something else. He was needlessly violent, had no self-control, spent little time planning, and was just... dumber. I think Draco-Riddle was significantly smarter than Ginny-Riddle, enough that I think Draco is smarter than original Tom Riddle was. And also, Voldemort once claimed that adding the resurrection stone to his horcrux network would allow him to possess people without requiring them to touch a horcrux. Either it didn't work out for him or he wants us to believe it didn't work, but the point is that his new horcrux spell allows him to use the magic of the objects he horcruxes.
"Therefore, I think Riddle found Ravenclaw's Diadem. And rather than just putting a standard horcrux (which would overwrite anyone who tried to use it) he decided to use it for himself. He wanted to be truly immortal, and found the old horcrux spell inadequate because of the merging effect and the loss of Interdicted knowledge. And he would've wanted to find a way to ensure he'd always be able to use the Diadem. The advanced horcrux spell he invented solved both problems: he was permanently linked to his new horcruxen so they updated their copy of his memories and kept his consciousness alive, and by making the Diadem a horcrux, he remained permanently linked to it as well. We don't urgently have to keep it away from him because he's effectively never taken it off. And that's why I make a distinction between pre-Diadem Tom Riddle and post-Diadem Dark Lord Voldemort. This year the later operated invisibly, mostly planting remote sensing devices to watch us, while the former was actively trying to obtain power and become Voldemort."
Hermione looked concerned, "Um, Harry, what about you? Does that mean we can't kill Voldemort without you getting dumber? And being unable to do world-saving stuff?"
"I've never been linked to the horcrux network. He created a basic horcrux on me while he was linked to the Diadem. I believe I got a permanent copy of that effect: just like a portrait of a confunded person stays confunded, a horcrux of a Diadem-using person retains that ability."
Moody asked, "Isn't that academic? You don't have a way to actually find and destroy all of his horcruxen, right?"
Harry started casting privacy spells. After 15, he asked Moody to cast as many more as possible. While Moody complied, Harry cast the wide-area confundus detector.
After he was satisfied that everything was safe, Harry replied, "I think Luna can find them. I don't think Voldemort knows that or she wouldn't still be alive."
Hermione sighed, "Not this again. Harry, she's not a seer. She's said some things that were surprising or coincidental, that's all."
Harry shook his head, "You're half-right. She was never a seer, but she has a sense we don't. I suspect that her mother died trying to remove a horcrux spell from something, and it resulted in Luna being able to see through the horcrux network. Everything she's seen or known is something she could've seen through a horcrux or something Voldemort would've been spying on himself."
"And what evidence do you have for that?"
"I'll admit it's mostly circumstantial..."
Hermione nodded and smiled.
"Except for one thing..."
Her smile faded.
"I got some of the details that I didn't hear originally about her mystery star that can't be seen in the Hogwarts' night sky. It's the sun... as seen from Pioneer 11."
As they walked down another flight of stairs, Harry glanced out the window. "Why is it snowing outside? It's June!"
Moody smirked, "You're asking me? I was going to ask for your theory."
"Fair enough. I wonder what would happen if I flew outside and looked back at the castle."
"I don't know but I'd recommend against it. Is this the highest you've ever been in Hogwarts?"
"Probably. I can't see the ground anymore through the snow, so this is probably high enough. Let's set up on this floor. Fawkes?"
The phoenix cawed and burned away. He quickly returned with a few of the healers Moody had recruited. A second later, Crookshanks arrived with Hermione and the rest of the healers.
"So no problems getting here, I take it?", Harry asked Hermione.
She shook her head, "I don't know how it works, but they can either follow each other or communicate a destination somehow."
Harry addressed the healers, "I'm going to teach you all a new healing spell today-"
Someone interrupted him, "Mad-eye, did you bring us here to be lectured by a ten-year-old?"
Moody scoffed, "I brought you here because this place is now more secure than Azkaban ever was. Phoenix travel is the only way in, and phoenix or portkey are the only ways out. I'm thinking that time here isn't even synchronized with the rest of the world. Anyway, have fun." He triggered a portkey and was teleported back to the empty hospital front at the edge of the Hogwarts grounds.
Harry continued, "I probably should have asked earlier; can any of you cast a patronus?"
They looked at him skeptically, but shook their heads.
"I'm not surprised."
"What's that supposed to mean? You don't think healers can be good or happy people?"
"Nothing like that; let's go over the wand movements..."
A short time later, Harry was satisfied, "Everything I'm about to tell you is covered under your non-disclosure oaths. Dementors are a magical representation of death and animal patroni represent a kind of immunity-by-ignorance to the fear of death. Healers are regularly confronted with death, so it doesn't surprise me that you can't just forget about it with happy thoughts. There is a stronger patronus charm which is powered not by hiding from death but by defiantly confronting it, and that's the form you will all need to learn."
The healers appeared skeptical, but they were listening carefully. Harry un-transfigured a stretcher, then took a coin from his pouch, placed it on the stretcher and un-transfigured it as well. It was Cedric's corpse.
The healers stepped forward, casting analytic charms. One stated the obvious, "He's dead."
Harry continued, "Yeah, a basilisk killed several students this week... The mission of this hospital isn't merely to heal the sick and injured. It's not even to heal people who can't be healed anywhere else. Its mission is nothing less than to defeat death. We aren't done until no one dies ever again. So we're going to revive them. Pay close attention; I suspect this moment will be your patronus-powering-happy-thought for the near future."
Harry got into the patronus charm starting stance. Fawkes flew over, perched on his left shoulder, and screeched confidently. Harry moved his wand, then shouted, "Expecto patronum!". Cedric lit up from inside. Harry could feel... life flow from Fawkes through himself and into his wand.
Again, the healers stepped forward.
"His heart rate is 50 beats per minute and climbing."
"His internal temperature is rising fast."
Harry interrupted, "We have 5 more students and even more aurors from Bellatrix's attack. We may not be able to revive all of them... today. But it's a step forward."
The esteemed members of the Wizengamot were bickering as usual.
"An institution that exists solely to help people, healed dozens of presumed-dead aurors, and you want to destroy it with bureaucracy. What the hell is wrong with you?", Ogden demanded angrily.
Umbridge smiled, "With all due respect, I don't think you realize how improper it is to have an organization that powerful working independently of the Ministry. Would they even obey the orders of the Wizengamot? Other countries are starting to contact them. It's undermining our foreign policy."
"I never thought I'd see the day", Harry began. "I've mostly only read about you, of course, but it's a day for the history books when you and the Goblin Nation are on the same side of an issue. People may expect a kid like me to be afraid of a goblin army, but I thought you'd be all 'let them come, we've put down rebellions before and will do it as often as they make us.'"
Umbridge turned toward him and sputtered for a few seconds.
Harry began again "Or is it something else? Would you support the hospital if they were willing to fix that human-toad thing you've been cursed with?"
A large portion of the Wizengamot, an organization known for its pretense of dignity and solemnity, erupted in a very undignified laughing fit.
As the laughter died down, Harry spoke again, "Weren't we going to talk about werewolves today?"
Someone nearby replied, "Oh, no. That was just added to the schedule a few days ago. We won't get to it for weeks."
Someone else added, "We should really talk about the goblins. We need to find out what they have against a wizard hospital and then decide how many of them we have to kill to make a point..."
Harry had a flash of regret, not for the first time, that he hadn't cleaned out the governing body with a dementor when he'd had the chance.
"Harry! I was hoping I'd find you after the Wizengamot meeting was finished."
Harry's thoughts could best be summarized as a resigned, "Oh, crap." It was Arthur Weasley. Harry turned to face him.
Arthur continued, "Thank you so much for saving my daughter. If there's anything I can do for you, don't hesitate to ask."
"Um... I was told that I was too late..."
"Nonsense. I know my daughter. She's been through a lot but she's already mostly back to her old self. All she needed was some time back with her family."
Harry attempted to find an expression more appropriate than a blank stare, but was unable to think of anything appropriate other than 'totally horrified'.
Arthur continued, "In fact, I think you should come back to my house to dinner to meet my family. I mean, you know most of us already, so I guess, just meet Molly. And I have lots of muggle artifacts that I'm sure you'll find interesting. I insist!"
After more time during which Arthur said irrelevant things and Harry was unable to tell the man he was harboring a monster in his home, Harry found himself flooing to the Weasley home.
Ron scowled at Harry, "What's he doing here?"
"Manners, Ron!" Arthur chastised. "Where's your mother?"
Ron shrugged, "Everyone else went... I don't remember. It wasn't Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade. They would have been fun."
Arthur pulled a calculator from his robes and began tapping at it. "Oh, Harry, I'm so sorry. It's not working. I swear this hasn't not worked here in years. Not since my son Bill still lived here."
Ron frowned, "I remember that summer. Bill didn't play with us at all because of that arithmancy tutor. He spent the whole summer at the kitchen table doing homework so he could take the second year arithmancy elective with his friends. And you spent the whole summer complaining about things not working."
Harry looked down at his pouch, "I do have an arithmancy book with me. Maybe it matters."
Arthur shrugged, "Try putting it in Bill's room, and we'll see what happens."
As Harry walked to the stairs, Ron got up and followed him, quietly warning, "You'd better not try anything. I'm onto you." Harry rolled his eyes.
As they reached the second landing, Arthur called, "It works now!"
Harry set the pouch on the stairs, and he and Ron began descending again. Arthur called out, "now it's off again."
Harry backtracked and Ron followed.
Harry thought for a moment. "Ron, walk about halfway down the stairs. We have to determine if it's you or me or both."
Ron scowled, "Of course it's you." But he turned and took a few steps down. While his back was turned, Harry pulled the Elder Wand out of his robes and put it into the pouch.
Ron called, "Dad, it's still working, right?"
Ron turned back to Harry, "Told you."
Harry shrugged and walked toward him, "How about now?"
"It's still on."
Harry pushed past Ron and ran back to the kitchen. He typed a calculation into the device to confirm the result and exclaimed, "This is big! What's the fastest way to the ministry?" He ran back up the stairs to retrieve his pouch.
Arthur asked, "I don't... You want to talk to Minister Fudge? I don't know if this is something he'd be interested in, but I could introduce you..."
While running back, Harry replied, "No, I have to tell Chief Warlock Bones about this."
"You requested an urgent meeting, Mr. Potter?", Bones asked, not bothering to hide her annoyance.
"We just made an important discovery. You know how muggle technology doesn't work at Hogwarts?"
"Yes, and I know how obsessed you are with that stuff-"
"It's not all magic; technology only seems to be affected by objects and texts covered by Merlin's Interdict!"
"Oh...", Bones straightened in her chair, giving them her full attention. "So muggle devices can be used to determine whether something is genuinely Interdicted or a forgery? Or determine if something valuable is nearby?" Harry had started nodding while Bone was talking. She continued, "How close do they have to get? Is it the same for all muggle devices? Is there a way to include a point-me spell?"
"Those are questions that it would be a very good idea to find answers for. I suspect some things, like cameras with telephoto lenses or laser range-finders or parabolic microphones may experience a directional effect at longer ranges, but that will require some-"
"Right. Mr. Weasley, I'm going to have Fudge assign additional personnel to your department to take over... your department's usual functions, so you can make this your highest priority. Do you understand what's required of you?"
Arthur stared forward, his mouth opening and closing as he struggled for a sentence.
After a pause, Bones continued, "Well, feel free to address any questions to Mr. Potter. And make an appointment as soon as you have something the aurors or unspeakables can field test." After another pause, she added, "Was there anything else?"
Arthur shook his head and backed out the door. Harry met Bones' eyes and inclined his head slightly.
Outside the office, Arthur still had a slight deer-in-headlights look. Ron inquired, "What happened in there?"
"Uh, I'm not totally sure, but I think I got promoted."
Inside the office, Bones stared at Harry, "What else do you need, Mr. Potter?"
"I know you've studied a lot of old texts looking for forgotten magic. I assume you're familiar with the pattern of spells having a second and more powerful hidden version?"
Bones nodded slowly, "I'd ask how you know that, but I suppose it's one of those many things Voldemort managed to tell you during those brief hours you were with him?"
"Have you ever heard of a second level fidelius charm? A confundus that, rather than hiding a specific, relatively small area from detection, can hide information? For example, the instructions to a spell? And is powerful enough to cover the whole world?"
Bones smiled slightly, "The first person wise enough to discover such a spell would likely use it to hide knowledge of itself. What would be written down?" Her smile faded and her eyes widened, "You think it was Merlin. A higher level fidelius that blurs information unless a secret keeper gives one the secret. One living mind to another. It does fit."
"If someone tries to use a spell to copy an Interdicted text, is it copied, or does the spell fail to produce anything useful?"
"There are spells that can copy Interdicted texts, but both texts remain Interdicted."
"Does it matter whether the person casting the copying spell has the secret or not?"
"At the DMLE, I've seen copies of things in evidence that I could read and know that the aurors who made the copies could not. It's not a transfer of information to a living mind."
"Merlin knew. That's the only explanation. The disruption of technology isn't an accident or side-effect of something else. It's a deliberate part of Merlin's Interdict. That makes the pattern obvious: only technology capable of storing or transmitting information is affected in order to prevent it from storing or transmitting Interdicted information. That's why I could transfigure working calculator circuits but a commercial calculator didn't work: I made a calculator that used combinatorial logic while everyone else makes sequential logic calculators. You type a number and it has to store it while you type another number. It explains why radio receivers work but not transmitters. Centuries earlier than everyone else, Merlin knew that muggles would develop technology that could break his Interdict unless he took steps to prevent it."
Harry's face took on a look of determination, "I don't know how to break the Interdict of Merlin, but for the first time, I know something about what that solution will look like."