Sophistry and Dialectic

This disclaimer incorporates all necessary language to completely pardon the author from any and all legal action, because I have no legal ownership.

A/N: I read Less Wrong's fanfic, and wondered if there's a middle ground; Harry gets smart but everyone else is as canon. This is my attempt at that scenario. Plus some other ideas …

Chapter 1

Safely installed (read: incarcerated) in a bed under Madame Pomfrey's watchful care, Harry was frantic. Harry had no time. He needed time to think. Cedric was dead, Fudge was aggressively displaying his cowardice and betraying all of Wizarding Britain, Ron was being a faithful friend and just would not stop talking.

And Harry couldn't think. Hermione was who he outsourced most of his brain activity to, but he couldn't dump this on her – first, he needed to know what the questions were. After that, Harry had a feeling that the answers would be obvious.

Dumbledore was sending him back to the Dursley's again. He only had until London to figure out what to do next. He would have to make it count. He needed to think – no, he needed to learn to think – a very different proposition, and one that he felt might pay more dividends than just thinking, this time.

So … what was he going to do about the Dursley's this summer? He really needed a way to keep them off his back. What changes a person's behavior? Threats? Harry snorted to himself, earning a quick glance from Madame Pomfrey at her desk about 30 paces away. The only threat Harry could produce that Uncle Vernon would recognize would involve magic, and that was out. Bribes? Hmm. What would I have that Uncle Vernon would want? Status? Recognition? Immense quantities of greasy food? Hmm…


Hermione was making her usual evening visit after dinner. Homework was sacred to her, and she had taken extra care with her notes to help Harry during his convalescence. Even though he had only missed two days of classes, and final exams were waived for him, which meant that Harry didn't agree with her at all. Still, she was one of his only friends, so he endured her silly penchant for showing off her knowledge.

"… and this is packet is the notes for yesterday, split up by subject, with another sheet of definitions, cross references, and additional reading."

"Yes, Hermione." Harry couldn't keep the boredom out of his voice. He was idly reviewing all the charms he knew.

"Harry!" Hermione scolded. "This is important! You need to know …" She broke off as she saw what he was doing. "Are you going study Runes on your own?"

Harry was confused. He didn't know what would give Hermione the idea that he was studying Runes, of all things, and he said as much to her.

Hermione gestured to his parchment. "Your Proto-Rune set. You're reviewing all of the basic rune lines." As Harry raised his eyebrow at her, she trailed off, "I've been reading ahead for next year …"

Harry looked at what he had drawn. He didn't see Runes. He saw the wand movements for each of the charms taught in First Year. He made a snap decision to keep his own counsel. "Right. Just a second," he muttered. Harry grabbed a smaller piece of parchment, scribbled a note, and signed it. He folded it in half and handed it to Hermione. "Could you please take this to Professor McGonagall? I'd like her to get it this evening, if you see her."

Hermione beamed. "Of course, Harry! Are you going to change your electives for next year?"

Harry looked Hermione full in the face. "When I actually have something to tell you, I'll do just that." As she took a breath to speak again, Harry smirked and widened his eyes at her. "Relax. Nothing has happened yet, so there's nothing to talk about. When something does happen, we'll talk. Okay?"

Hermione's cheeks pinked a bit, but her smile was just a bit wider.

"Oh, and Hermione? Can I hire you for some research this summer? I'll have to owe you until the beginning of next year, but I'm good for it, I promise. All your expenses, plus."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Of course, Harry. What do you want to know about?"

"I want the arithmantic breakdown of some spells; every shield you can find, the Unforgiveables, and … hmm… a hex with a one syllable incantation and next to no wand movement. Then when I've figured out what I can learn from those, I'll need you to build up a new spell using this new information." He paused. "Or, you can simply discover why the Unforgiveables can't be shielded against. That would be a big shortcut."

She smiled, nodded, gathered up her things, and left. Harry reached for another sheet of parchment, and wrote. He was writing a letter, which meant that Hedwig would appear shortly – Harry was on a deadline. His breakdown could happen later.


"Professor, I have a note from Harry." Hermione almost bounced into the Transfiguration Professor's office with her hand outstretched.

Professor McGonagall,

I have made a significant mistake in choosing my electives. I hope that it is not too late to drop my Divination class and add Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. I am aware that the Headmaster has advised that I should take Divination, but as he has neglected to explain how this is not a complete waste of my time, I do not feel obliged to follow his suggestion. Please let me know of your ruling on this matter. I will be studying on my own this summer, and will be happy being placed in the appropriate level class, even if it's not in my year.


Harry Potter

A slight twitch at the corner of her mouth was the only sign of how much she approved of Harry's request. "I see," said the Professor. "I shall be able to respond to Harry's request in the morning." She looked at the messenger over her glasses. "It is close to curfew, and you still have a day of school to attend."

Hermione was able to hear the implied message: Yes, but I will tell Harry myself. Have a good night. Hermione nodded to her head of house, and left.


"Ron said you wanted to speak with us?" Fred and George were both a little red-eyed, and it didn't look like it was from lack of sleep. Harry supposed that most of the castle's inhabitants looked the same way. Fred (Harry assumed) had Harry's short letter in his hand.

Harry gestured at a sack at the end of his hospital bed. "I was given the prize money for the stupid tournament. Mr. Diggory said he didn't want it. I really don't feel like I should keep it. So I was hoping you would let me make an investment."

Both twins glanced meaningfully at each other. The one that hadn't spoken first then said, "What kind of investment did you want?"

"I want to invest in your joke shop." At a sharp intake of breath from both twins, Harry raised his hand and went on, "And there are some conditions. For one, the shop has to be a memorial for Cedric in some way. And some of what you sell has to be items for self-defense – not just joke items that would irritate a bad guy, but stuff that is really for surviving an attack."

"And that's what you want for your one-third ownership?" That was from the one on the right.

"No, that's what I want for my ten percent ownership."

For the first time, the twins were both in perfect sync and, at the same time, working against each other. "No, you can't" and "But that's not" came out of them as they stepped on each other's lines. Harry raised his hand again.

"Gentlemen, this is not a negotiation. It's an offer. Do you want to accept it?"

"Is there a way to get another offer?" The twin on the left was doing the speaking this time.

"I'm sure there is," Harry replied. "But not from me. I can sweeten the pot, though."

The twin on the right perked up first. "What have you got?"

"I know the original Marauders. If things go right, I can introduce you to two of them."

"DEAL!" came from both George and Fred. "Waitaminute," said one. "Did he just refuse our offer of more ownership by giving us more value for less stock in the company?"

"I believe you're right, brother of mine." They turned to Harry. "No deal. Do you have anything else that can persuade us?"

Harry snorted. "Nope. That's it." They began to turn away, and Harry added, "But I'm glad to see that your negotiation skills aren't completely worthless."

"What, like yours?"

Harry snorted. "It's working, right? So my approach isn't worthless."

The twins huddled, facing away from Harry. After a few minutes of consultation, they turned back around. "Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes is no more. Instead, you are now a partner in Marauding Legacies!" proclaimed George (?).

Harry smiled. "Okay, sit down guys. Let me tell you about the Marauders. First, let me say this – I'm only telling you about Wormtail the one time. After that, we ignore the bastard. You knew him as Scabbers, but his real name …"

The young men kept talking for hours. Madame Pomfrey kept watch from her office desk, glad that Harry was able to find something to bring him out of his depression. She carefully didn't acknowledge his silent sobs in the dead of night, nor his red-rimmed eyes each morning. Forcing the young man to confront his emotions could destroy what little emotional resilience he had – the only thing that would build Harry up now was time.


Harry was cleared to leave the infirmary two days later – one day before students boarded the Hogwarts Express for the summer break. One day before Harry would be once again incarcerated at 4 Privet Drive. Not 'home'. Never 'home'. Under pressure, Harry began to apply his thoughts towards how he could – well, not 'have fun', more like 'survive'.

Picking up where he left off during his enforced bed rest, Harry wondered about what he had that Uncle Vernon would find worth changing his behavior. If he told Vernon that his actions would result in Wizarding deaths? Huh. While Vernon was hostile to magic – and those that had it – it wasn't what Vernon really wanted. Power. Prestige. Social position.

And those all boiled down to … money. Wealth.

Harry picked a Galleon out of his pocket. How much is gold worth? He blinked. He needed to know how much the coins weighed – and how much the metals were worth in the Muggle world.

Well, the weighing was easy. One charm later, Harry was scribbling his findings down. And according to a second charm, coins only had the most basic of magical signature – probably to insure that the coins weren't counterfeit.

Harry descended from his room to the Gryff Common Room, asking in general, "Does anyone have a Muggle newspaper?"

A chorus of 'no's were heard.

A seventh year, drowsily tucked into a shadowed corner said, "Just haveta wait 'til ya get home, bucko."

Bucko? Harry shook his head. Temporarily blocked, Harry shifted his focus to other aspects of his Dursley Management Plan.