A/N: Be aware that chapters 27 and 28 were posted incorrectly the first time. If you came straight here from a subscription email please go back!
By the time Harry scraped himself off the floor and navigated the complex set of wards in order to leave with most of his memory intact lunchtime was imminent. The sweet taste of victory filled him as he walked down the second floor hallway, still slightly damp from his rushed shower. His memories of his time below the castle were still firmly held between his own ears. They had a slightly detached fuzziness to them, like a particularly clear dream, but he considered himself properly whole. He'd left behind a short chain of memories - copies and not the originals this time - that contrasted Hermione's effusive love of her muggle parents and his own less loving muggle family. With the age-old argument about muggles and wizards mingling being a frequent topic of debate for the other heirs, he thought that was a good vote against any black-and-white views. He rather wished he wouldn't lose his magic and mind if he chose to disclose anything about the chamber, if only so he could publicly display the memory of Salazar Slytherin himself bragging about how many 'children of mundane parentage' he'd personally rescued from burning at the stake by adopting them. The confused history and blatant politics that must have gone into shifting the ideal from 'all muggle-born kids should be adopted into magical families so they don't get us all burnt at the stake' to 'muggle-born kids shouldn't be allowed in Hogwarts' was something for another day. For the moment he focused on getting large amounts of calories into his person.
He didn't notice much beyond his plate for the first few minutes, but gradually the need to refuel after his impromptu exercise session was reduced enough for him to recognize that Ginny was once again sitting right next to him. Hermione was on the opposite side of the table sitting next to Fred, with George next to Ginny and Ron at Harry's left. Hermione had apparently spoken to him, and it took a moment for him to churn up a proper response.
"Oh, sorry about ditching. I just needed to work off some steam and spent a while blasting off every spell I could remember. I figured you'd rather I showered than come join you immediately," Harry explained.
"You should have told me that at breakfast," Ron pointed out. "I'd have joined you."
"Nah, it was better I didn't have company," Harry shrugged off.
"Well, I suppose I can't hold that against you," Hermione conceded, "but…"
"He doesn't have to justify himself to you," Ginny snipped, and the arrogance in it was starting to grate after her performance at breakfast.
"But," Hermione pressed on, "I think we all should try and keep track of each other in case any of us gets attacked. It is no secret that we were going to do something like this, and people might already have plans to put some of these spells back on us."
"Some of them were for our own good," Ginny primly pointed out.
"Not even one," Harry countered. "Sorry, Ginny, but some of the spells that caused me the most trouble have been cast with the best intentions. I'm not a big fan of your mum right now, even if she has been nice to me."
"But she's practically adopted you," Ginny pointed out, scandalized.
"She also mucked around with parts of my brain," Harry added.
"Mine as well," Hermione chipped in. "I actually wonder how far she thinks is appropriate, given how your family avoids magical cleansing."
"That's dad's family tradition," Fred pointed out, "Mum's family tree has some darker branches."
"Fred!" Ginny growled.
"I'm just giving her the benefit of the doubt, Gin. If this was how Mum came up, but with cleansing rituals like some neutral and darker families do, then she might not see the harm in it even while taking on Dad's family traditions. That's the real problem with our way of doing things: The Light way of doing things only works if you don't cast any permanent spells on people. That's fine if you only use Light magic, but a lot of neutral spells and even small 'd' dark spells get cast on people all the time. Especially kids. I'm really, really glad the ministry wouldn't give George and I a permit without finishing school, or all this wouldn't have come out."
"It's not that great," George grumbled.
"On your end," Fred shrugged, "because I was made to act like you and not the other way 'round. Have you considered that I want to be like you? That maybe that is enough, and I don't need a spell enforcing it?"
"Fred," George said, glancing around the table in embarrassment. "This is between us."
"Well, you won't listen to me in private when I try to tell you that I like being your twin and don't want much to change," Fred huffed. "We've gained the ability to have more privacy, and I like that, and that doesn't mean I'm suddenly going to keep everything from you."
"I'll drink to that," Harry said, hoping to dissolve the growing tension. "Just because we can change doesn't mean we will, and we've all been through enough together that I don't see our friendships falling apart just because we aren't magically welded to one another."
"We should be closer, now, since we don't have anything keeping us apart," Ginny said, her hand finding its way onto Harry's knee.
"Gin, what Fred and I are going through is fundamentally different from that," George admonished. "You're overreacting."
"Um…" Harry said around a mouthful of cheese sandwich. He swallowed quickly. "Ginny, maybe you want to trade seats with…" Harry quickly changed his mind from Hermione in a flash of self-preservation, "with Fred?"
"Why?" Ginny asked, a flash of anger in her green eyes.
"Because," Harry started, glancing down meaningfully at her hand, "I don't think the person who put a spell on us to make us get together thought much about how you look a bit like my mum. I had a spell on me to want you to be my girlfriend, but it didn't take. I'm just, you know, not into it."
"What?" she breathed, as if Harry had just declared the sky to be made of whipped cream and blue taffy.
"I'm not into gingers, at all," Harry lied. "No offense to all present, but after over a decade of nightmares involving my mum's death I'm kinda ruined for it." The whole group was looking at him slack-jawed.
"That's just twisted," George was the first to speak. He slung an arm around Harry. "I am so sorry Mum did that to you, and no wonder you were so shy when you first got to the Burrow."
"I suppose, it's not all bad, since it didn't take," Ron mumbled. Ginny sniffed, blinking back tears before suddenly running off.
"It's best that Harry was blunt about it," Hermione suggested, twisting her napkin in uncertainty. "Ginny can get over it now, and she can stop being so weird about it."
"What was all that about?" Harry asked, "I mean, I know what just happened. I'm not that thick, but, before when you guys were arguing. What's really wrong with Ginny?"
"Mate, she was convinced that the only reason you weren't dating her was that other girls had ensorcelled you. We, well, Hermione mostly, told her that would only be true if her spell was the only one on you."
"Her spell?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, when Mum's spell didn't take she tried on her own," Ron said apologetically. "She admitted it a little after I got up to the tower. Hermione and Ginny had been shouting loud enough I thought they were hurt when I first got to the stairway, and I thought she was kidding at first because they were both mad as hell, but after a bit I realized it was serious."
"I had so much crap cast on me, I really didn't get a good idea of who cast each thing," Harry admitted. "Just the biggest offenders."
"I don't know if I've ever thought of Ginny as a friend, but after this I don't think I ever will," Hermione admitted with a wince. "She was really offended when I said I didn't like Ron romantically anymore. She seemed to think that I was just pushing back because my 'silly muggle thought process' didn't understand magic properly, and that I'd realize I still liked Ron just fine once the shock wore off."
"Um, that's kind of what I said," Harry pointed out. "I don't want to judge anyone until I have more time."
"Yes, well, you weren't rude about it," Hermione argued. "Ginny said it was just a matter of time, that it was just helping fate along. She said that since I didn't have any appreciation for Divination and the other subtle magics of life that I didn't have the right to judge what was done to me."
"Basically Ginny thinks that the magic couldn't make anyone do anything they weren't meant to do, so long as it was cast the right way," Ron scoffed. "Like it matters if the spell is cast by Mum or a Death Eater - if it's the same spell then it's the same spell. It isn't going to act differently just because someone cast it who loves you or hates you."
"Emotions and intentions do matter," George argued.
"Too right," Fred agreed, "but a compulsion to be friends with Ron cast by someone who likes Harry or cast by someone who hates Harry isn't going to act much differently short-term."
"Long-term," George continued, "it's more about how powerful the emotion fueling the spell is, at least when it comes to spells like these. Something like the Patronus, which requires a certain emotion, is more fickle, but compulsions don't care why they are cast."
"They are clockwork creations," Harry said with a shrug. "The magical equivalent of computers and AI." Hermione nodded and the rest looked confused.
"Artificial Intelligence," Hermione offered, "is something muggle scientists have been researching for ages. If you built a machine that could think and feel emotions, is it a person? What makes a person a person? At what point do you draw the line? My Dad is into robotics - building machines that do things - with some of his old University friends. They aren't good enough to make a thing that can think, but others can. It's the newest and most complex technology muggles have."
"That's great, but it's not exactly relevant," Harry said, taking in the arched eyebrows around him. "The point is that they do what they are meant to do, and after a while they break down, like simple wind-up machines. How they break down has more to do with the person the magic is cast on and their environment than anything else. When they break down is more about how strong the caster is, right?"
"Yes," Fred and George said in unison, and with a bit of relief at not having to figure out what Hermione was talking about.
"So Ginny has that turned around and she's being stubborn about it because she really truly wants to be my girlfriend?" Harry questioned.
"Mate, she's got the wedding half-planned," Ron warned him, "with mum."
"I'll have to write her a letter, I think…"
"I don't know, Harry, you might want to leave it alone," Hermione warned. "Mrs. Weasley might get really offended.
"Well, then she can be offended while being very far away from me," Harry pointed out.
"Harry's got a point," Fred agreed.
"Sound reasoning, having maximum distance between yourself and Mum while she's angry," George nodded.
"If Harry sends her a letter, she'll know we all did this. She won't need Harry to say anything about it, even if Ginny hasn't already given us away to mum," Ron pointed out.
"We should write to Bill," Harry suggested, "and maybe Charlie, but later. We've got an appointment."
The group split up and re-assembled in Professor Snape's office. The twins had arrived well ahead of Harry and Ron. Hermione was just behind, having ducked into the girl's room outside the Great Hall to see if Ginny was there. A spare chalkboard had been left in the room; Fred and George commandeered it to list all the conclusions they had come up with so far, so that the professor didn't have to explain what they had just finished talking about at lunch and correct them where necessary. They got tripped up by the loss of their mental connection when they realized they had repeated a couple items, but Fred calmly erased the offending lines from his side of the chalkboard. George took a deep breath and tried to look less bothered. The professor had ignored them since letting them in. He looked much the same as ever, although he was marking essays with less red ink than Harry was used to seeing.
"None of you are stupid," Professor Snape opened. "You are, in all honesty, the worst waste of potential I have yet seen enter my classroom. Every one of you could be straight O students, but you languish in your distractions and laze about instead of giving your best to your studies. It is sickening to know that James Potter had the organizational skill to create a think-tank out of his pack of bullies which led to the invention of several spells beginning in their fourth year, all while getting top marks. Yet, his spawn is quite happy to take Acceptable grades and live off good luck. Miss Granger could have gone to Eaton, but even with her high marks she has no extra-curricular accomplishments beyond saving Potter's neck, and no critical thinking beyond devising the best way to memorize whatever is put to her. Messrs Weasley, the two of you should be graduated and working in a laboratory somewhere and the youngest Mr. Weasley takes sloth to the next level."
"Um, off topic?" Fred ventured.
"Hardly," Snape dismissed. "The common theme in the enchantments we have all suffered under is emotional manipulation. I hate all of you. I hated you before, for far less rational reasons, and yet with that gone I remain unmoved. Do not expect me to go about reordering my life. Now, is the simpering little damsel in distress going to make an appearance?"
"Ginny's angry at me for not having any love-spell related problems," Harry shrugged.
"What?" Snape asked, his face twisted in bewilderment.
"She thought I was disinterested because there were several conflicting spells on is, I'm disinterested enough to start with that they didn't take," Harry explained as simply as possible. He really didn't want to get into why he was disinterested in girls at age sixteen with Snape.
"A boon for you, but something you might wish take up with a healer," Snape deadpanned. "I do take certain precautions against such spells being cast on my person, but these were of particularly insidious nature. I actually doubt anything less drastic than the approach we used would have worked properly. I was able to do some deep analysis of the spell-work on my own. Their structure is far less rigid than most mind-altering spells, and actually morph when exposed to light cleaning charms. This allows them to remain in place, though compromises their effect to some middle ground between how the subject would normally act and their original intent. Part of the structure is based in medicinal transfiguration, which is both brilliant and bewildering." With a flick of his wand the chalkboard flipped over and the blank side was quickly covered in arithmancy. "This is a masterwork, though one does not need to understand the inner mechanics of Lumos to properly light a room. Any reasonably talented witch or wizard could cast this, if given instruction."
"So, the Headmaster invented it and…"
"No, Miss Granger. While the Headmaster may owe me some measure of explanation for the spells he cast on me, and apparently on you as well, I have seen this maddening style before. I have half a mind to delve into necromancy so that I might have the opportunity to berate Potter and Black for being so hair-brained as to create such a thing and not immediately burn all of their notes and forget it ever existed. You said Miss Weasley cast this on you?" Snape asked Harry, eyebrow raised.
"I think she used something less powerful. I didn't even realize she'd done it, since it was hidden under everything else."
"Potter, the ritual clearly granted the knowledge of all the spells it striped…"
"Yeah, well, the Headmaster cast a compulsion on me when I was one to live up to expectations. It was hard to sort out the weak but intentionally cast ones from the unintentional expectations people put on me. Ginny's spell got buried under the mountain of everything else I was carrying around," Harry huffed.
"A compulsion of similar make to the one cast by Molly Weasley?" Snape asked pointedly.
"Yeah," Harry agreed. "How did you know she cast…?"
"Wait, wait," George interrupted. "This doesn't quite follow."
"Yeah, there are tons of different compulsion spells out there," Fred agreed.
"We don't use cleansing spells, so how do you know the spells we were under are of the same make?" George asked.
"Half of this is gibberish," Fred complained, waving at the chalkboard. "Transfiguration and compulsion charms are not the sort of thing you can spell-o-tape together."
"While transfiguration can effect the mind during full-body human transfiguration, it's just to keep your head when becoming an animal inside."
"You can twist that to make someone bay like a donkey…" Fred gave George a nod, a missed beat that wasn't there before when one of them failed to finish a sentence.
"…or cluck like a chicken, but other than instilling some animal urge you can't transfigure someone into a different personality."
"Why not?" Ron asked. "The brain is a thing. Alter that, and you alter how someone thinks, right?"
"Ron has a point," Hermione admitted, though she sounded unconvinced.
"Molly Weasley compelled me to not spend any down time at Headquarters," Snape stated blandly. "It was really quite petty of her. Black did not wish me there, but I am a member of the Order and often not interested in cooking for myself after spending the better part of the day spying."
"I thought you stayed at Hogwarts during the summer?" Harry asked. The man narrowed his eyes at Harry, but he stood his ground. "Either Mrs. Weasley or Remus mentioned it, I think."
"I have a home, Potter, and a life. Your professors don't get put away on the shelves like so many books during the summer months," he snapped. He took a deep breath and elaborated. "However, yes, I spent last summer here. It both cut me off from doing what I was meant to be doing and affected my health. Not all for the worse, I will admit, but it was a waste and now I'm off-form. I should have been working, instead I was stuck here obsessively doing pointless research like a child sent to his room. Lives may well have been lost needlessly, all because certain people thought I needed a time out."
"Mum did that?" Ron questioned.
"I doubt she did it without the approval of the Headmaster, or he would have ordered me back out into the field," Snape dismissed with a wave of his hand. "Nor was she the only one to cast such a spell on me. You, Mr. Potter, should never have left that park. If I hadn't been so thoroughly leashed, so deeply compelled to invest all my time into potions, I would not have gotten distracted."
"Voldemort hit you too, didn't he?" Harry suggested.
"Do not speak his name, idiot child," Snape scolded. "Yes, he did. It would appear both he and the Headmaster decided I was too much of a liability. It is public knowledge that I was a spy, and it seems neither of them are convinced enough that I am still of use to let me keep that position. I can only suppose that he came upon the spell through Pettigrew, though I would be shocked to find that the man could cast it properly himself."
"So the Marauders invented this and gave it to the Order of the Phoenix," Hermione summarized. "Then members of the Order abused it."
"Quite right, and not only on you. You originally wanted to know why the Dark Lord had so many followers, now it seems I do not need to give you the answer. You already have it," Snape shrugged. "The light has operated on the same principles as a mother hen all the way back to the Headmaster's youth, at the very least. My personal knowledge is limited to the current century, but it would seem that the system has been creeping out of bounds for some time. He and Grindenwald once worked together under the banner of 'The Greater Good' to do all sorts of things. The political equivalent of a grown man's mother wiping his nose for him: Safety laws that restrict personal freedoms from where one might buy a house to what jobs you can take. In the muggle world A Levels - the equivalent of NEWTs - are a guideline for employers hiring those with no work history. They do not apply to older adults who have real world experience, or to those who have gone on to do specialized training. For myself, I have a Mastery in Potions, over a decade teaching experience, and a number of discoveries to my name. However, should I wish to change employment I would need to furnish both my OWL and NEWT scores, as well as my house affiliation. Why? The test scores are excellent, but quite irrelevant to my current level of skill, and what house I was in is even less relevant to my ability to do a job. This is but one way adults are treated like children, and how this school has become a tool to control the public."
"But, the Order has only been around since You-Know-Who came to power," Hermione argued.
"Don't be silly, the Order has been around much longer than that in one form or another. Also, there were many other secret societies that the Dark Lord eradicated. Grindenwald started off in one, as I mentioned, on the light side," Snape explained. "At least three generations have passed through this school since he fell, and I wonder what percentage of them spent seven years being molded by compulsions. It is no secret, or perhaps I ought to say it was no secret until recently that behavior modification spells are frequently used on children by their elders. There is a semantic, if not functional, difference between putting a compulsion on a child and using magic to correct miscreant behavior. The 'dark' families are simply more honest in their use of them, and have traditions in keeping with shaking off any leftover parental magic as a matter of course."
"It's illegal to use compulsion charms on children," Harry said.
"You will find a great many loopholes in that law, Mr. Potter, if you looked beyond the more simplified books in the school library and read more detailed texts. It is much like the laws regulating the use of magic over the summer. It favors the pure-blooded families with complex wards, access to certain resources, and closely guarded family magics. That is what makes a pure blood child different from a muggle-born one: no inherited magical knowledge. All those little spells handed down, invented by some ancestor or another and never published, add up to a unique set of skills. Names matter in such a society."
"That's not fair," Hermione mumbled.
"Exactly so, Miss Granger, and so the light is seeking to stamp it out. The goal is for all magical children to have access to the same resources. A noble goal at the face, but one must think of the implementation. In this case, the aim is to suppress knowledge and access to knowledge rather than spread it, destroying countless generations of research simply because it was not 'sanctioned' and was passed down through families privately. Exactly the opposite goal I would aim for, and the reason I agreed with the 'dark' side of things despite my mixed heritage."
"Mixed?" Fred and George asked together.
"Messrs Weasley, have you ever met or heard of another wizard named Snape?" the professor asked. "Of course not, my father was a muggle. Originally, a half-blood could easily join the Dark Lord. So long as one agreed with his principles, it was perfectly acceptable. Back when it was possible for propaganda to paint him in a favorable light, persons such as myself were used as clear examples of how our society could be 'purified' without purging whole branches of families. Muggle-borns where not ever accepted, but those with mixed parentage were once welcomed with open arms. As his sanity degraded, so did that policy."
"What were his principles, beyond preserving family magic?" Harry asked, hoping to get out of long-winded pontificating and back into something of real substance.
"Preservation was a big theme. Remember that this was a rebellious political movement at the time and not a rigid dictation of ideals; it was neither uniform nor strictly standardized. So, you had those wishing to protect the Old Temples from redevelopment, to allow for the expansion of neighborhoods and construction of more magical homes, others who wanted to build small schools for pre-Hogwarts age children… The majority of the big names pushed for some kind of cultural education similar to Muggle Studies, but from a magical perspective. There was an accusation that such classes for children would be indoctrination, and could not be created without being abused, and therefore thought it ought to be something for seventh year or beyond. Others said History of Magic covered it all, but needed to be updated. Most importantly, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki terrified everyone who bothered to pay attention to the non-magical world. The muggles could evaporate whole cities, and that was terrifying. Most purebloods see muggles as overgrown children to be patronized, but also feared. It worked against both sides that it was the Americans who had this power and not British muggles."
"Britan has nuclear weapons," Hermione stated plainly.
"We… they… what?" Ron sputtered.
"A fact known by few wizards, Miss Granger," Professor Snape shrugged, "and a fact that would not aid your cause if it became well known now."
"Muggles could do that here?" Ron asked, outraged.
"Don't be silly, Ron," Hermione scolded. "Those weapons cause fallout that poisons everything around the blast for years. The British army wouldn't use it on our own soil. We're all still British citizens."
"Wizards do not consider themselves to be within the same nation as muggles, Miss Granger," Snape snapped. "What world have you been living in that you missed such an obvious point of fact?"
"If you are about to make the tedious argument about what muggles do or do not think about their national pride and borders, let me assure you that it simply is not relevant," Snape cut her off. "They do not know we exist, by and large, and so no one on this side of the divide will care at all for their opinions about crown and country. It is the opinions of Wizards that matters."
"It's all rather… dull," Harry commented. "I mean, several people bothered enough to nearly drive both the Professor and I insane to prevent us talking about this and… and for what? This is all either obvious or uninteresting. There's no big bombshell. There is no point where we might point our fingers at Volde-thing and say 'well, that was worth it.' It's all just bland."
"Harry, The Order of the Phoenix goes around messing with people's minds!" Hermione scolded.
"Yeah, I got that, but the thing they are hiding is dumb," Harry complained. "If you got rid of the taboo on it all then it would just dissolve and… and they would fall apart. It would all just stop if a few intelligent people got together and had a public debate about it."
"The old families will not give up their traditions so easily, Mr. Potter," Snape scoffed.
"Of course not, but no one would be asking them to. It's all this secrecy that is the problem. Let magical kids learn from their parents. If they blow themselves up it's their problem."
"A decidedly dark viewpoint, Mr. Potter."
"On the other side of the coin, we also need muggle-borns to be accepted into this society. We're all magical, no matter what family we were born into. So, we all come to Hogwarts and get a standard education, including cleansing spells and other basic survival stuff like how to use a Floo. That way if someone's parents missed something or they came from a muggle background, it's all the same for everyone. The political system is shit," Harry continued.
"Language," Snape warned.
"Well, it is. The majority of people don't have any national pride."
"Hey, that's not true," Ron argued.
"That's cold, Harry," George agreed.
"No one cares. I saw it with my own eyes at that convention. No one cares about anyone other than their own family and friends. The edge of their property is the end of their concern." Harry's long hours of study in the chamber were bright in his memory, and he could actually think about why he felt so passionate about these things. "The whole point of civilization is to improve everyone's quality of life by working together. As a group, magical Brittan has become so isolationist at we've stopped acting like a country at all. The rich purebloods are barons of their own little kingdoms, populated by those they employ. We don't work toward the common good, we work toward our own good and expect that to be just fine for everyone. Parents expect their children to be better off if they are just like them, because they can't understand that other people don't live the same way or enjoy the same things. What makes me happy and what makes you happy are different, and we should be able to accommodate those differences while still functioning together as a group. Fred and George don't have to be perfectly identical just because they were born looking alike, or just because Molly Weasley had identical twin brothers that did everything together."
"Oh, my god. I didn't even connect that," George moaned.
"If everyone just looks out for their own, we're no better than wild animals. We need a compromise, not a war," Harry concluded. "It's not glamorous or heroic, it's boring and tedious, but that's what government should be. We don't have to purge all muggle-borns in order to preserve magical traditions. We don't have to close all the Temples and outlaw family magic to give everyone a fair shot. We just make sure no one is taking advantage of anyone else: no murder, no fraud, and no theft. Job done."
"You sounded like a good many of my compatriots back when I first joined the Dark Lord, Mister Potter," Snape warned, standing up so he could loom over Harry. "When you began. However, you quickly descended into idiocy, as usual. How do you expect to rally people to the cause of bland and boring mediocrity? Beyond that, how do you expect to convince both the Dark Lord and the Headmaster to lay down their wands after decades of extremism?"
"So you admit they're both part of the problem," Harry accused.
"If I held such and opinion I would have left Europe," Snape countered. "I am a spy by trade, understanding both sides is a requirement."
"Saying they are both wrong doesn't mean they are both equally wrong. Dumbledore is better because he doesn't murder people who disagree with him, and You-know-who went insane after one too many life-extending rituals. The ends don't always justify the means, professor."
"We don't have to fight them both at the same time," George pointed out.
"Maybe we do," Fred argued. "Maybe the only way we fix this properly is to say that the light caused You-Know-Who to exist and throw them all out of power."
"Secrets built on secrets," Harry despaired, "we're an entire society so focused on secrecy that we don't trust anyone who isn't exactly like us. The four houses of Hogwarts don't mix, people with different political views don't mix, people with different family backgrounds don't mix… anyone else ever hear of divide and conquer? Anyone who doesn't have a werewolf in their family ever consider that Wolfsbane should be provided by the NHS? It would mean fewer accidental bites…"
"And more intentional ones," Snape pointed out.
"It would make it pretty obvious which werewolves were dangerous and which weren't," Harry countered. "If they aren't in a hospital or other secure location during the full moon they are arrested, full stop. No employment restrictions necessary; no death sentence for anyone who didn't intentionally spread their disease. We'd keep all the harsh penalties for the deranged people who actually hurt others, but none of that 'arrested for being guilty of being sick' crap. We should treat them like they are terminally ill, unless you are suggesting that the majority of wizards actively want to murder people and just lack opportunity."
"What else would you suggest to right all the ills of society, Mister Potter?" Snape condescended.
"Allow muggle technology in. There is no reason we can't learn about computers…"
"Electronics don't work with magic," Hermione countered.
"Yeah, all that stuff stops working at Hogwarts," Ron agreed.
"Um, no, Creevy's camera works just fine," Harry said.
"That's a camera, mate, not muggle stuff," Ron laughed.
"No, it's a muggle camera with a spell on it to allow it to work within the wards," Harry pointed out. "He told me he got special permission for it, and it worked just fine before he learned how to use magic film and developer to make moving pictures."
"Good to see you use your brain properly for once, Mr. Potter. Muggle electronics suddenly and mysteriously stopped working on Hogwarts grounds during my second year. I believe a large cassette player with impressively loud speakers had been confiscated after a bout of Disco Fever took hold of the upper years," Snape shrugged. "I preferred Pink Floyd myself, and was generally glad of the quiet."
"Muggle electronics can make you sick?" Fred asked.
"It's a dance," Hermione corrected. "It was very… um…"
"Loud, modern, and extremely muggle," Snape offered.
"Modern?" Harry questioned.
"At the time, and even now it is modern compared to a waltz," the professor defended. "I doubt the governors of the school realized they had commissioned a spell that would short out most muggle electronics or that such things could have other uses, but they had."
"Muggle technology doesn't work because," Hermione started, pausing to take a steadying breath mid-sentence, "because of 'those dang kids and their loud music?' Really?"
A/N: And, that's all there is! All there will ever be! I am now over on AO3 and don't plan to write any more of this story. I might, maybe, pick up some of the ideas in it for later, but short of a full re-write from page one you won't be getting any more of this from me. I started writing this story in notebooks during high school before I read Half-Blood Prince, way back before HBP was even published. There are people reading this story who were born after I wrote the original outline, so I figure I might as well call it here. I know, I know, it's a terrible place for an ending, but anyone interested in the ideas I used is welcome to use them in their own Harry Potter fanfiction. Just drop a line in an author's note saying where you got the ideas. Though now that I think about it, a lot of these aren't as fresh as they were when I first wrote them down and some have even become rather played out and overused over the last 16 years. Anyway, I had originally put Harry's transformation into a phoenix as caused by Lily Potter doing some rather taboo magic with a phoenix egg after finding out Harry was a target. Very desperate mom, but not terribly great writing since it all smacks of Deus Ex Machina to my much more mature mind. Harry burns with Voldemort during a thunderstorm and ends up as a cute little phoenix chick able to return to his normal self after the battle.
And now this snatch of story that was written out of order and is just a bit too amusing to bin:
Draco trudged down the hall behind his mother. Looking up at the snakes carved into the molding, he couldn't believe this was the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. How long would he have to hide in this dingy old house? Confined to an unplottable location until the Dark Lord keels over, what a lovely way to spend my life! A door stood ajar off to the left with candlelight streaming out into the dark hall. Hmmm, everyone but Potter is downstairs, and his room is on the next floor up. Wonder which Weasley left their door open. Draco walked through the door with all the confidence of someone who knows the room they are entering is empty, only to find that it wasn't.
"Annoying little ball of soot. Stay out of my dessert." A sleepy Severus Snape was pushing a tiny black bit of fluff with legs away from a plate of apple pie. "If Poppy sees you on my plate she'll have us both quarantined." The obviously drugged Professor hadn't noticed Draco's frozen form, but the lack of Draco's footsteps and sleepy voice attracted Narcissa Malfoy's attention.
"Draco what are you… Severus! How? What? I thought you were dead!"
"Is that you Narcissa?" Snape seemed unable to focus on the skinny blond. "No… No you can't be here. Only members of the Order are here, and you aren't part of the Order. Poppy must have gotten that potion from MacCatchers… could never get proper mastery of narcotic pain relievers, shouldn't be let near medicinal potions."
"Sweet Merlin he's delusional." Mrs. Malfoy sighed.
"Is Professor Snape a prisoner?" Draco asked his mother.
"Not anymore." Snape slurred. "Imber saved my life. He's a fuzzy little fluff-ball now, not at all like when Fawkes has a burning day." While he was rambling on, the pale man was surgically removing the raisins from his apple pie and feeding them to Imber.
"He's gone stark raving Mad." Draco could only nod.
"Good Evening, Professor." The two blonds spun around to see Harry Potter walk into the room. "Almost finished with desert?"
"This pie has raisins in it." Snape mumbled before taking another bite.
"Yeah, Remus made it. I don't know why he'd ruin good pie that way. I've got your after-dinner potion."
"Potter, what in Merlin's name are you doing?" Draco interrupted.
"Oh, good, did you hear that? I'll be myself again Imber." Snape continued, ignoring the Malfoys.
"I insisted that Dumbledore give me equal membership in the Order. I might be a kid, but Voldemort…"
"Don't say it!" Snape cringed, hugging the little fluff ball to his chest.
"…has always been inordinately obsessed with me. I just happened to make this self-empowering speech right before they were going to draw straws for something. I got the short straw, so here I am with Mr. Happy and his baby bird."
"I don't see any Mr. Happy…" Snape seemed oddly put out as he grumbled about not meeting this new person. "…His bird could play with my Imber."
"What happened to him?" Narcissa Malfoy asked.
"Voldemort." Harry answered as he opened the wardrobe. Everyone else cringed again and Snape protested the name. "Professor Snape has been a spy for the light since he was sixteen years old. He sent anonymous letters about everything in the beginning. When he was forced to take the mark, he went straight to the Headmaster the very next day. It is his opinion that Voldemort is crazy, dangerous, and untrustworthy." Another shout about the use of the Dark Lord's name issued from the bed. "The old snake finally cottoned on to what Snape was doing and decided to torture him to death."
"So, he isn't sound?" Draco wondered, tapping his head.
"Oh, no he's perfectly sound. That's just the pain-relieving potion he takes before dinner." Harry had selected a long black nightshirt and laid it out with a towel and robe on a little cart. "When he takes this restorative potion," Harry held up a little green vial, "He'll come back to his senses. He can't take them both at once; Madam Pomfrey said something about stress on his liver. Now, if you'll excuse us, it's time for Professor Snape's bath."