Chapter 19: Confictiomagus
"'The Confictiomagi are a little-known but amazing variety of wizards. Also known as Inventors, they are best known for their ability to create new spells. Though these mysterious wizards certainly have played a vital role in magical history, we still know very little about their abilities and how they work. This is mainly due to their singular scarcity. Over the last 3,000 years, there is historical mention of less than ten actual Confictiomagi, and none living within 400 years of each other. Historians speculate that, over our entire history, there have been no more than twenty Confictiomagi—"
"Hermione? What does this have to do with—"
"Just wait, Ron! There's more here…. 'The most recent Inventor, a wizard named Felix Summerbee, died in the early 1500's, leaving behind a plethora of new spells, specifically charms and jinxes. Unfortunately, historians and magical theorists must rely on many ancient sources for their study of Confictiomagi, which makes it very difficult to acquire much knowledge of these wizards.
'However, recent advancements in Magical Theory have opened doors for new understanding of the Confictiomagi that have been documented. It is thought that the secret to the Confictiomagus' ability to create novel spells can be attributed to an excess of magical source, the diffuse substance responsible for generating a wizard's magic or magical "ether." Sources describe past Inventors as wizards with very high overall magic levels and surprising wandless magic capabilities…' Oh here we are – 'Compared to average wizards, the Confictiomagi can perform far more extensive wandless magic before they become drained of the essential ether. It is suspected that they actually begin utilizing small amounts of magic source before finally becoming exhausted. One account describes an Inventor casting a barrage of wandless hexes upon his next-door neighbor, and then immediately collapsing into a magic-drain coma. The wizard was revived moments later, however, by falling onto his forgotten wand, and he stood up to finish the duel. Experts hypothesize that the wand of a Confictiomagus can store the magic source that they release and restore it to them as needed.' See, Ron! It fits perfectly!"
"You're trying to tell me that Harry is some sort of….spell-maker…?"
"…Just because he felt a bit faint the other night?"
"Ron! This describes it almost exactly! You were there. He was about to black out until Professor Dumbledore told him to hold is wa —" Hermione stopped suddenly and looked thoughtful for a moment.
"What?" Ron asked warily. He was quite familiar with Hermione's sudden, often unpleasant, epiphanies.
Ron was not surprised. "Of course. He's Dumbledore." Hermione looked confused.
"But…why didn't he just tell Harry?" Ron just shrugged.
"I suppose he will…if that's actually what's going on…"
Hermione groaned. "Why are you so difficult?"
Ron turned slightly red, but kept his voice calm. "I just think that if Harry were this great, spell-inventing, powerful wizard, he would have noticed it sometime before now."
"Ron. We're talking about Harry, here. This is the boy who thought talking to snakes was just a normal, everyday thing." Ron had to admit, she had a point, but still….
"Hermione….wandless magic is the kind of thing anyone would notice." He sounded rather unconvinced. "Not to mention spell-writing…"
"Spell-creating. And who says he hasn't noticed." She had a funny look in her eye as she spoke, and Ron could help but feel curious as she went on. "He could have done loads without even thinking. I still haven't figured out how he transfigured that little snake of his…it's not in any of our books since first year."
"I can't believe you're still on about that," Ron grumbled.
"And that whole hair-growing business."
For several minutes, the two friends sat silently in the otherwise vacant common room, each pondering their own thoughts, until suddenly the silence was interrupted by the opening of the common room door.
Harry entered and headed uncertainly towards the boys dormitories, too distracted by his own thoughts to notice that he was not alone. His friends, too startled by his sudden appearance to speak, could not help but notice the lost look on his face as he clumsily mounted the stairs and finally disappeared into the darkness above.
Upstairs, Harry barely registered the noise of Neville's quiet snores has he methodically went about getting into bed. He was torn between wanting to fall into a deep, forgetful sleep and wanting to scream at the top of his lungs. His first instinct had been the latter, and he was relieved to have made it out of Dumbledore's office before doing just that. The look on the old headmaster's face as he spoke made Harry want to lash out and perhaps break something, but he'd had enough of that at the end of last term. He could not stay in that office a moment longer, watching those twinkling eyes as the older wizard calmly shared his mind-numbing revelation.
Harry had rushed away from those eyes, that gentle smile, and those worn, delicate old hands which seemed to hold his life so dangerously in their grasp. He felt empty. This new information rolled about in his head, crushing all other thoughts which dared to emerge. With just a few words, Dumbledore had finally severed the last shred of familiarity that Harry had clung to. He was no longer Harry. He felt like a stranger in his own skin, except it wasn't his skin. It was Harry Potter's skin. Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived. Harry Potter, famous son of the brilliant James and Lily Potter, destined for greatness. With a sort of frantic energy, Harry searched everything about himself for some sign of the person he used to be. He looked the same, but even his appearance had taken on new meaning. He wasn't the skinny, messy-headed boy from down the street; he was Young Potter, who bore a striking resemblance to his father. Oh, except for the eyes, he thought, but the eyes were not his own either. No, Harry Potter had inherited his mother's eyes. And his scar, the only thing that he had ever liked about himself, the only part of him that was truly his and his alone, had gradually become nothing more than a painful reminder of the person everyone expected him to be. It was just another ridiculous trademark of the stupid, fairytale celebrity of the entire wizarding world.
To his surprise, he found himself wishing for the days before Hogwarts, before he knew anything about magic or wizards. If only he had never known! Certainly, his years with the Dursleys had been anything but happy, but at least he knew who he was then. That was something. Even in the worst of times, he could count on himself. But here he was, thrust into a life he had never imagined with a past he had no memory of and a future he didn't want. How could Dumbledore be so calm about this? It was one thing to find out he was wizard. That had been easy to accept, since it meant a chance at a happier life away from his relatives, but as each additional truth was revealed Harry felt his former reality slipping away as he gradually learned what it was to be the famous Harry Potter. And now this. Everything he'd learned about his past, everything he'd worked so hard to be had been dashed aside with the knowledge that he, Harry Potter wasn't an ordinary wizard at all.
Harry gave up on his mental search. Nothing remained of the little boy who lived in a cupboard and used to be chased up trees by his cousin, and it seemed that everything he had learned since that time had suddenly been up-ended, totally scattered and confused with only a few words. He pulled off his socks mechanically, tossed them aside, and wearily unfolded himself on the comfortable bed. He felt like an empty shell of a human being – a robot whose programming could be installed or destroyed on a whim, and he wondered tiredly, as he drifted into an uneasy sleep, if Voldemort would somehow manage to locate an on/off button.
As the sun rose the next morning, a heavy, cheerless drizzle feel from the same sky. The birds were making feeble attempts at their daily business while soggy-looking clouds collected overhead. The general mood about the castle was one of mild excitement mixed with a bit of frustration over the hindering weather. Many students, it seemed, were inspired by last night's All-House Defense lessons and were quite eager to practice some of what they had learned. But since there was hardly room in the crowded hallways and the downpour discouraged spending time outside, most settled for quick discussions between lessons and longing glances through rain-splattered windows.
Harry, wandering distractedly from one lesson to the next, was mad. He had woken late, and growled as he realized that even an early morning sprint to Transifguration couldn't take his mind off of last night's disturbing news. To his disgust, his head was filled with a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that he found quite distracting. Between bouts of annoyance and spells of confused nostalgia, he was having a very hard time listening to Professor McGonagall. So, about halfway through the lesson he gave up and settled on being just plain mad. Anger was familiar. Anger was something he could recognize. Anger was so much easier to take than some of those other pesky emotions, like that nagging, jittery, panicked feeling that was lurking in the back of his head. So, ignoring the worried glances from his friends, he settled into his anger and allowed it to stew for a bit.
After all, it made perfect sense to be mad. Once again, Dumbledore, who he had trusted so freely, had let him down. Or so it seemed. He had finally reached the last straw and effectively stolen Harry's last speck of identity. In return, Dumbledore had happily heaped a fresh load of responsibility on his student's lap, with a side of doubt and loneliness.
"Just what I needed!" Harry thought bitterly. "More to worry about. More ways to let people down."
He was being overly dramatic and he knew it, but deep down he knew there was truth to his complaints. The old headmaster had made it quite clear that this Conficitomagus business was quite extraordinary, not to mention important. With a massive effort, Harry had willingly taken on the weight of responsibility that accompanied that wretched prophecy, but that had been a simple choice when considering the future of his friends and family. Now, this new information left him questioning the relationships he'd cherished for so long.
Were Ron and Hermione really friends with him? How could they be if they didn't even know who he was? What he was? Harry swiped the thoughts from his mind. Of course they were his friends. They'd been through everything together and he'd do anything for them, just as he knew they'd do the same for him. And yet….
Harry nearly jumped out of his skin as Ron bellowed loudly in his ear. As it was, the hand that had been supporting his head slipped jerkily away from him, allowing him to fall rather loudly against the hard wood desktop. He looked up in confusion to see Ron smirking happily, while Hermione looked on from behind, not quite as amused.
"Are you quite all right?" she asked anxiously, causing Ron to roll his eyes. Harry nodded gloomily as the scare wore off and his thoughts began to return. He barely noticed the frowns that fell over his friends faces as he wearily picked himself up and slung his bag over his shoulder. The hallways were rather vacant and Ron was clearly eager to get to lunch.
"I didn't wait for a whole period just to miss the meal because Harry wants to daydream!" he complained. Harry faced him quizzically.
"What d'you mean 'wait a whole period'? What were you gonna do? Skive off class?"
"Class? I've been done since Transfiguration. I could have been at lunch an hour ago!" Harry was still baffled, but Ron ignored his confused look and went on mumbling about this friendship costing him far too many missed meals. Hermione, however, was never one to allow confusion.
"Harry?" she prodded, "Are you certain you're all right? Maybe you're a bit overtired? You weren't even paying attention in Healing."
"Healing?" Harry couldn't stop his shocked outburst. Had he sat through his whole Introductory Healing lesson without noticing it? Hermione's frown deepened.
"Oh! Honestly, Harry! Only you could sleep through a lesson and not even know it." Ron snorted, but Harry ignored it.
"I wasn't sleeping," he argued.
"Well, you might as well have been if you don't even recall being there! Harry, what's wrong?"
Harry stiffened and forced himself to acknowledge reality. Sooner or later, he would have to tell his friends the truth. But who could blame him for wanting to put it off? And yet, watching Hermione's worried face, he felt a sudden urge to talk to them. 'After all,' he thought, 'I made a promise to myself and I won't go back on it.' There would be no more secrets, and if that meant losing his best friends, then so be it.
Seeing no other way around it, Harry grabbed each friend by an elbow and dragged them behind a nearby tapestry. He had no idea how they might react, but there was nothing for it. To his relief, Hermione set cast a quick silencing charm around them without a word and before Harry could change his mind he just blurted it out.
"I'm a Confictiomagus!"
For a moment, both friends stared at him. In the dim light behind the tapestry, he could see two sets of eyes focused on him. His own eyes were stinging as he forced himself not to blink. He wished Ron or Hermione would say something. Yell at him, sneer at him, anything! But they simply looked blankly at him until he wished he could just sink into the stone wall behind him. He was just on the verge of trying it when suddenly Hermione spoke.
"Ha!" she said haughtily. "I told you so."
Ron cast her a very sour look and rolled his eyes in the other direction. "Thanks a lot, mate! I'll never hear the end of it, now."
"Well, maybe next time you won't be so stubborn," Hermione warned.
"Right! That'll show me to trust my best mate's powers of self-observation." He looked at Harry grumpily. "You could have told me about this before I went around sticking up for you."
Harry, feeling slightly light-headed at this bizarre and unexpected response, simply shrugged and mumbled incoherently. "I…I did-didn't even…Dumbledore…"
Ron gave a half smirk, dropped his bag, and sunk to the floor in resignation. "Honestly! How is it that Hermione knows more about you than you do? We can't let her get away with this, Harry!" Hermione started to argue, but Ron cut her off. "I mean, really! This is the sort of thing you ought to know. Are you even sure your name is really Harry Potter?"
Harry's breathing was accelerating quickly, but he managed a sharp "Yes!" as he too slid down the wall and settled on the castle floor. His thoughts were racing through his head at top speed. Ron had just said it all out loud! It was true. He barely even knew himself. There were books that could probably teach him more than he knew about Harry Potter. But were they right? It was very disconcerting to realize that he had no idea who he was. Then again, neither of his friends seemed to be walking away. In fact, they were prattling away as if he hadn't even said anything.
"Really, Ron! You're just exaggerating now. I merely pieced some things together, that's all. Anyway," she turned to Harry, "Tell us all about it! What did Dumbledore say? I assume he told you? Have you invented any spells yet? Do you have any books on it, because I found one and it's quite good…"
With typical Hermione enthusiasm, she began elaborating eagerly on the many aspects of Confictiomagi and the possibilities and how she had figured it out. It made Harry rather dizzy, but he found he hardly cared. For once, he was thrilled to see her acting so very much like herself. Maybe this meant that everything would be all right after all? He'd told them the truth, and they hadn't cared in the least. As a relieved grin spread over Harry's face and Ron groaned beside him, Hermione plopped herself down and began to rustle through her school bag, still chattering excitedly. Ron took the opportunity to elbow Harry in the ribs. "We'll never get to lunch now…"